The Mystery of Acts

The Mystery of Acts: Unraveling Its Story
by ichard I. Pervo 2008

About the Author
Richard I. Pervo is the author of several books on Acts including Profit with Delight: The Literary Genre of the Acts of the Apostles (1987), Luke’s Story of Paul (1990), Rethinking the Unity of Luke and Acts (with Mikeal A. Parsons, 1993), Dating Acts: Between the Evangelists and the Apologists (2006), and Acts. A Commentary (Hermeneia, 2008)

About the Book
The author of Acts unwittingly committed a near-perfect crime: He told his story so well that all rival accounts vanished with but the faintest of traces. And thus future generations were left with no documents that recount the history of the early Christian tradition; because Acts is not history. According to Richard Pervo, ‘Acts is a beautiful house that readers may happily admire, but it is not a home in which the historian can responsibly live.’ Luke did not even aspire to write history but rather told his story to defend the gentile communities of his day as the legitimate heirs of Israelite religion. In The Mystery of Acts, Pervo explores the problem of history in Acts by asking, and answering, the fundamental questions: Who wrote Acts? Where was Acts written? When was Acts written? Why was Acts written? How was Acts written? The result is a veritable tour-de-force that enlighten, entertains, and brings Acts to life.

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This is Pervo’s amazing, clear, and unsullied conclusion to his long and magnificent scholarship on Acts. Pervo’s conclusion is stunning because it is won by impeccable scholarship and thorough consideration of the traditional views of Luke as historian. It changes the picture of Christian beginnings, and should change the minds of New Testament scholars. –Burton Mack, Professor of Religion and Early Christianity, emeritus Claremont Graduate University

Pervo writes with verve and has a commanding knowledge of the literature on Acts, and his assessment of the theological intent of Acts is informative. –The Bible Today

Richard Pervo, who has dedicated most of his scholarly life to the study of Acts, is an international authority in this area. His new book is intended specifically to introduce the non-specialist to recent research in the field by focusing on the problems of attempting to derive history from the text; indeed, Pervo appreciates the author of Acts more as a creative catechist than as an historian. Ever the thorough expositor, Pervo takes the whole text of Acts into account and, adopting the guise of a detective searching for clues, presents his conclusions in such a lucid and enjoyable way that any intelligent reader will be both instructed and entertained. The specialist, too, will profit from the book, for it presents complicated data along with insightful observations in a simple and thus convincing way. Pervo s new volume is the best concise analysis of Acts that I know of, and that is to say nothing of its wry wit and stylistic polish. –Gerd Ludemann, Professor of New Testament at the University of Gottingen, Germany