Is Dating Luke-Acts to the 2nd Century Still Only A “Fringe View”?

It is becoming increasingly common to find scholars dating Luke-Acts to the 2nd century CE. Below is a collection of scholarly quotes:

“The Acts of the Apostles is not history. Acts was long thought to be a first-century document, and its author Luke to be a disciple of Paul – thus an eyewitness or acquaintance of eyewitnesses to nascent Christianity. Acts was considered history, pure and simple. But the Acts Seminar, a decade-long collaborative project by scholars affiliated with the Westar Institute, concluded that Acts dates from the second century”
– Dennis E. Smith & Joseph B. Tyson (editors), “Acts & Christian Beginnings: The Acts Seminar Report”, blurb

“A number of factors serve to locate Luke-Acts in the second century […]. Luke-Acts shares genre conventions with both the Apocryphal Infancy Gospels and the Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles, all products of the second (and/or third) century. The Apocryphal Acts are, in turn, heavily influenced by the Hellenistic novels. They also manifest the apologetical and theological agendas of the emerging “nascent Catholicism” that is on full display in the Pastoral Epistles. With the late second-century Apologists and heresiologists Irenaeus and Tertullian, Luke-Acts asserts possession of a definitive way of interpreting scripture allegedly received from the original apostles. Paul, for instance, tells the elders of the Ephesian church that God has appointed them bishops (episcopoi, “overseers, supervisors”) of the flock of Christ (Acts 20:28). Here is the “apostolic succession of bishops,” the cornerstone of the church governance policy of Orthodoxy and Catholicism even today. Acts 21:29-30 has Paul warn “in advance” that the heretics of Asia Minor will, after his death, appeal to him as the source of their Gnostic, Marcionite, and Encratite heresies. This represents our author’s attempt to wrest the apostolic figurehead away from these sects, and it plainly presupposes a standpoint long after Paul. Luke-Acts is the prime example of what F.C. Baur identified as the Catholicizing tendency of the second-century church.”
– Robert M. Price, “Holy Fable Volume 2: The Gospels and Acts Undistorted by Faith”, p.202

“[Luke-Acts] belongs to the second decade of the second century (c.115). The author’s use of Paul’s letters and his probable knowledge of the Antiquities of Josephus rule out a date before 100. And whereas the Gospel of Matthew, for example, seeks to justify the existence of the Jesus movement as an increasingly gentile body, Luke and Acts justify an existing boundary between two religions, “Judaism” and “Christianity,” the latter of which is the valid heir of God’s promises. Acts is also familiar with the organization and issues of Christian groups during the first decades of the second century. The author we call Luke writes narratives like those of the evangelists (for example, Mark, John, Matthew) who told their stories for believers, but his mind is partly occupied with the questions of the “apologists,” who, from the middle of the second century onward, defended the faith against its polytheist critics and those who they thought were betraying it. Acts is also aware of the different understandings of the Christian message that would give rise to “orthodox” and “heretical” formulations of the faith.”
– Richard Pervo, “The Mystery of Acts”, p.9

“[Luke-Acts] can be seen in part as responding to both the [second century] difficulties of Jewish-Christians and the challenge of Marcion. Regarding Jewish-Christians, Acts suggests that Gentile Christians welcome them into their fellowship by respecting their sensibilities in dietary and sexual practices. The work also espouses many views that [second century Jewish-Christian] pseudo-Clementine-like Christians would find appealing. In particular, Acts has treated Paul in a way that would make him acceptable to Jewish-Christians without alienating Gentile Christians. As for Marcion, the author of Luke-Acts has a response to him as well. The author would accept [Marcion’s hero] Paul without the theology of his epistles. To do so the author replaced Marcion’s canon with a two-volume work of his own. He merely expanded Marcion’s gospel with added traditions, but he rejected entirely the Pauline epistles as theologically unacceptable. In their place the author of Luke-Acts wrote a separate volume affirming the importance of all the apostles. In particular he singled out Peter, the Jewish-Christian hero of the pseudo-Clementine literature, and Paul, the hero of Marcion. […] In summary, the date when Luke-Acts was written cannot be determined conclusively because of a lack of evidence; however, whatever evidence exists is compatible with a date that approaches the middle of the second century. In such a situation the work can be understood in part as responding to situations faced in the church of that period.”
– John T. Townsend, “The Dating of Luke-Acts” … in Charles Talbert (ed.), “Luke-Acts: New Perspectives from the Society of Biblical Literature Seminar”, p.56-58

“It would not surprise me that the first two chapters [of Luke-Acts] take an anti-Marcionite view. In the first two chapters, Jewish piety is terrific. There is reference to John the Baptist’s circumcision, to Jesus’ circumcision, to people going to the Temple and making offerings. It looks like Old Testament wonderland! It’s fabulous! And you don’t see much of that particular view of Jewish piety, that particular view of the Temple and ritual in the rest of [Luke-Acts]. Everything in the first two chapters rings an anti-Marcionite bell. […] I put [the bulk of Luke] to probably the 90sCE, [and] I put Acts in the early second century. By the same author”
– Amy-Jill Levine, “Trinities Podcast Episode 236”

“[While] we cannot prove beyond doubt that Luke knew the writings of Josephus […], Luke’s product is much more difficult to explain if he had no knowledge of [them] […]. If he did not [know of the writings of Josephus] we have a nearly incredible series of coincidences, which require that Luke knew something that closely approximated Josephus’ narrative in several distinct ways. The source (or these sources) spoke of: Agrippa’s death after his robes shone; the extra-marital affairs of both Felix and Agrippa II; the harshness of the Sadducees toward Christianity; the census under Quirinius as watershed event in Palestine; Judas the Galilean as an arch-rebel at the time of the census; Judas, Theudas, and the Egyptian as three rebels in the Jerusalem area worthy of special mention among a host of others; Theudas and Judas in the same piece of narrative; the Egyptian, the desert, and the sicarii in close proximity; Judaism as a philosophical system; the Pharisees and Sadducees as philosophical schools; and the Pharisees as the most precise of the schools. We know of no other work that even remotely approximated Josephus’ presentation on such a wide range of issues. I find it easier to believe that Luke knew something of Josephus’ work than that he independently arrived at these points of agreement. Nevertheless, we await a thorough study of the matter. Of course, if Luke did know Josephus, then we can fix the date of Luke in the mid-90s or later, for Josephus finished Antiquities, the major work in question, in 93/94. Luke may have heard an earlier version or only a part of the work recited, perhaps in 90 or so. But a date of 95 or later for Luke would seem most plausible if he knew Antiquities 18-20. Although such a late date may seem troubling at first, I see no cause for concern. Even without the hypothesis that Luke knew Josephus, most scholars date Luke-Acts to the 80s or 90s (or later), on entirely different grounds. Recall that the author does not identify himself at all; the name “Luke” became established only in the mid-second century as far as we know. He implies that he is not an eyewitness of Jesus’ life (Luke 1:2). He takes Paul’s career up to the mid-60s (Acts 28), and seems to know about the destruction of the temple in AD 70 (Luke 19:41-44). Most important, he reflects a period when the era of the apostles was seen as a bygone “golden age” of serenity; the sharp intramural conflicts of Paul’s letters appear only as mild disputes, resolved with good will. Furthermore, the author assumes that a high degree of church structure is normal. So the acceptance of Luke’s knowledge of Josephus would not have radical implications for dating Luke-Acts”
– Steve Mason, “Josephus and the New Testament: 2nd Edition”, p.234-235

“There are problems of dating [Luke-Acts] in light of current theories of Gospel relations […], since the Gospel of Luke must be later than both Mark and Matthew, and thus no earlier than 80-85CE […]. A recent trend among scholars has seen the date edge slightly later, to about 90-110CE, and this now seems more likely”
– L. Michael White, “From Jesus to Christianity”, p.248

“Acts makes sense if we see it as relating to many problems of the early second-century Church […]. The historical details Luke gives normally relate to the circumstances existing at the turn of the century. […] For example, […] the degree of civic autonomy evidenced at Ephesus is only consistent with a dating in the late first and early second centuries […]. The whole sequence of Paul’s trial, too, which represents the judicial process terms ‘provocatio’ [also fits this period]. Likewise, the question of jurisdiction, which is reflected uniquely in Luke’s Passion account (see Luke 23:6-7), was important only at this period, when there was a move away from hearing cases in the ‘forum delicti’, where the crime was committed, to that of the ‘forum domicilii’, where the defendant lived. The evidence we have of the change shows it was only at the end of the first-century and the beginning of the second-century, when the new practice, which was unworkable, was ‘on trial’, that the situation in Luke-Acts can be substantiated. This too suggests it should be dated to this period. […] [Regarding the issue of whether Luke used Josephus as a source], from the evidence it seems more than likely that Luke used Jewish Wars [c.75-79CE], quite likely that he used Jewish Antiquities [c.93-94CE], and possible that he used Against Apion [c.95-96CE]. This too supports a dating for Luke-Acts c.100CE.”
– Barbara Shellard, “New Light on Luke”, p.28-34 [In the same book, Shellard argues strongly that Luke-Acts is also dependent on the Gospel of John, which she dates (in line with the general consensus) to the “early 90sCE” (p.15)]

“The Gospel of Luke […] was certainly written after the time of the composition of the works of Flavius Josephus and probably a decade after the composition of the Gospel of Mark, so c.AD 110-120”
– Bartosz Adamczewski, “Hypertextuality and Historicity in the Gospels”, p.111

“[Luke-Acts is from] around the year 120 C.E”
– Burton L. Mack, “Who Wrote the New Testament?”, p.167

“In those first few chapters of Acts, you’ve got characters saying things right out of the gate after the event of Jesus’ execution and resurrection that it took close to 90 years to develop in thought. Sorry! You don’t get to do that. But you do when you’re writing in the year 120CE or so, and you’re looking back and writing this retrospective ‘historia’, which is different from history. Peter says things that there is no way he would be saying. Paul says and does things that he never talks about in his own letters – in places where it would be really helpful to reference if it had been true.”
– Jennifer Grace Bird, “MythVision Podcast: Anti-Judaism in The New Testament with Dr. Jennifer Bird”

“I hold that the Acts of the Apostles was composed in the second century of the Common Era, sometime between 100 and 130CE, likely toward the latter end of that date range”
– Shelley Matthews, ‘Does Dating Acts to the 2nd Century Affect the Q Hypothesis?’, in “Gospel Interpretation and the Q Hypothesis”, p.246

“Acts of the Apostles was written in the early 2nd century, roughly 50 years after Paul’s last letter [Romans] was written”
– Laura Nasrallah, “Yale Divinity School Open Courses: The Letters of Paul”, Part 5: Canon Part 1 Video 4

“Dating Luke-Acts to the 80s or 90sCE is far too early. Analysis of various parallels suggest that Luke knew not only Matthew (c.85-95CE), but Papias’s Exposition as well (c.110CE). I date Luke-Acts to c.115-120CE”
– Dennis R. MacDonald, “Two Shipwrecked Gospels: The Logoi of Jesus and Papias’s Exposition”, p.47, 78, 89 (paraphrased)

“I lean toward the idea that the author of Acts used Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews (c.93CE) as a source”
– Laura Robinson, “Interview with Laura Robinson: When the historical evidence isn’t enough”, @ 46:53

“Luke looks much more like a 2nd or 3rd generation text than Matthew does. When you look at the very opening of Luke’s Gospel (Luke 1:1-1-4), [the author] self consciously refers to the “many” who have written narratives before him. And for someone to write in such a self conscious way makes it much more likely that he might be a little bit later than Matthew. What’s more is that Luke goes on to narrate in his second volume, Acts of the Apostles, a whole load of history that happens after the Jesus movement, all the way up to Paul arriving in Rome. Luke feels like a later document. Plus, Luke also seems to know the ‘Antiquities of the Jews’, written by the Jewish historian Josephus in the 90sCE. If that’s the case, then Luke-Acts would be written either in the 90s or the early 2nd century.”
– Mark Goodacre, “The Synoptic Problem: Did Luke Rework Matthew’s Gospel? Q Source with Dr. Mark Goodacre”, @18:05

“It would be only natural if the later canonical Gospels [including Luke/Acts] were created in close proximity to each other, in both time and location, most likely at Rome beginning in the 140sCE.”
– Markus Vinzent, “Christ’s Resurrection in Early Christianity and the Making of the New Testament”, p.92

“I follow F.C. Baur‘s placement of Acts and canonical Luke in the second century […]. The following stages of development seem clear: The prototype of the text, already established, originating in Marcion‘s circle as an anonymous composition ca. 100; (b) the intercalation of sayings – traditions (Q), independently of Matthew‘s use of the same tradition; (c) a second century ― “Lukan” redaction, including the dedication, an infancy story, editorial additions (e.g., temple-finding), an expanded resurrection account, and ascension story carried over into a still later composition, the Acts.”
– R. Joseph Hoffman, ‘Controversy, Mythicism, and the Historical Jesus’ , p.30

“How can we measure the gap between these two different sensibilities, the incandescent apocalyptic expectations of the original community circa 30 C.E., and the calmer, de-eschatologized perspective of Luke, circa 110 C.E., who provides our only ‘history’ of this moment of that community?”
– Paula Fredriksen, “When Christians Were Jews”, p.104

“Whoever was updating Luke, was doing so in conscious reaction to Marcion”
– M. David Litwa, “Mythvision Podcast: The Evil Creator: Origins of an Early Christian Idea”

“I concur with the conclusion that the Paul of Acts is a rehabilitated version of the Paul of the letters, a Paul who was recast in terms more attractive to the church of the late first or early second century.”
– Thomas E. Phillips, “Paul, His Letters, and Acts”, p.197

“While a precise date is impossible to establish, Acts was most likely composed early in the second century CE”
– Gary Gilbert, “The Jewish Annotated Jew Testament”, p.197

“I’m getting later and later with Luke […]. I’m almost willing to go into the 2nd century now, when for years I’ve said [it] was written around the 80s or 90s. But there’s just good evidence that it might even be later – what we call Luke, that is…”
– James Tabor, “Dead Messiahs Who Don’t Return”,

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