Who is speaking about Paul’s conversion* in Acts?

There are three stories of Paul’s conversion experience in the book of acts. The first is given by the author of Acts directly, as if recounting history, in chapter 9. In chapters 22 and 26, Paul is said to telling the story in his own words. Do not worry about the seemingly apparent contradictions between the three. This is a perfectly valid tactic used by ancient authors.

We are given two insights into Paul’s conversion (it is an anachronistic term, but you understand) in Galatians and in 1 Corinthians 15.3-6. But, what is said here is that Jesus appeared to Paul, just has he had to others. So, in all of Paul’s letters, there is no hint at the magnificent account of the Damascus Road event. We only get to read about this nearly a generation after Paul’s death.

Do not be so hasty as to assume that Luke is recounting a historical record, free of theologizing blemishes. This is simply not the way it was done, nor, if we are to be honest with ourselves, is done.

My question, consider that the last time I posted on Galatians and Paul’s story, is who is speaking in Acts. Is it Paul or is it Luke?

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Joel L. Watts
Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

4 thoughts on “Who is speaking about Paul’s conversion* in Acts?”

  1. Well just read Thomas Brodies “Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus” where he argues that not only is the Damascus experience fictitious, but that Paul is entirely mythical…

  2. Yeah chapter 15 and 16 look at Paul. I guess this is partly why his book is “Beyond the Historical Jesus”. He argues (p.145 ) “the entire narrative regarding Paul, everything the thirteen epistles say about him or imply–about his life, his works and travels, his character, his sending and receiving of letters, his readers and his relationship to them–all of that was historicized fiction. If was fiction, meaning that the figure of Paul was a work of imagination, but this figure had been historicized- presented in a way that made it look like history.”

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