TRUSTWORTHINESS OF LUKE AS A HISTORIAN.
The Bible and its contents are not in need of vindication. To us Christians the Bible in all its parts is the inspired Word of God, whose foolishness is wiser than men. In taking this standpoint, we do not throttle reason, well knowing that the doctrines of Scriptures are not, strictly speaking, against human reason, but simply above and beyond reason. In studying the Bible, therefore, we make use of our reason in a very decided fashion, but always so that we take it captive under the obedience of Christ. For this reason, also, we welcome all research in history and archeology which will throw additional light on Bible lands, Bible customs, Bible language, and all other questions pertaining to a better understanding of the Word of salvation. For this reason we feel a great deal of satisfaction in the fact that the trustworthiness of Luke as a historian, aside from the fact of inspiration, has been established most gloriously by recent investigations.
A number of years or decades ago, especially at the time when the rationalistic theological literature had reached the crest of its flood and its criticism was accepted by a large part of Christendom without question, there were several charges registered against Luke as a historian. It was stated that there were several mistakes in his account of the nativity of our Lord. 54) It was said that Cyprus, in the days of the Apostle Paul, had been a praetorian, not a consular, province, and that therefore Sergius Paulus was incorrectly called proconsul. It was alleged that Luke's geographical knowledge of Asia Minor must have been extremely hazy, to express it mildly, that he did not know into which province the various cities belonged, and that therefore his geographical notes were altogether unreliable. It was charged that his calling the city of Philippi a colony was an obvious mistake.
But in each single point the holy writer has been vindicated so completely that the opponents are forced to retire in utter dishonor. This is due to the untiring zeal and to the indefatigable exertions of a number of scholars, among whom were Duchesne and Collignon, Hamilton, Waddington, but, above all, Sterret in his book Epigraphical Journey in Asia Minor in 1884, and Sir W. M. Ramsay, in his series of monographs, among which the Historical Geography of Asia Minor, St. Paul the Traveler and Roman Citizen, Pauline and Other Studies, Was Christ Born in Bethlehem, The Cities of St. Paul, and The Bearing of Recent Research on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament should receive mention. The results of these researches have been ably summarized by Cobem, in his The New Archeological Discoveries.The fact that Sergius Paulus was, not propraetor, but proconsul of Cyprus, has been shown both directly and indirectly, as noted above. The fact that Paul had entered into the district of Lycaonia in going to Iconium, and that this city was incidentally, administratively considered, reckoned with the cities of South Galatia, has received confirmation which takes away all reasonable doubt. The fact that Philippi was a colony in the time of St. Paul has been demonstrated by the finding of a coin which stated this fact, in short, the very stones are crying out in vindication of the Scriptural account and of the truth of the Gospel-story, as any one may convince himself if he will go to the delightful trouble of consulting the books mentioned above. And each new discovery, bringing further witness of the truth of the Bible account, aids in stopping the mouths of the gainsayers, if not in convincing them of the truth of Scriptures, and thus the glory of the exalted Christ is further increased.