12 Dec 2012 
#12 What is the historical value of the Pentecost event, as described in Acts 2:1-41?

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According to 'Acts', the Galileans stay together in Jerusalem. Then, a few days after the alleged Ascension, they convert a large number of Diaspora Jews (in less than a day!).

Part of the account is suspiciously mythical:
Ac 2:1-3 "When the day of Pentecost came, they [the Galileans] were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them."

Then, after the (uneducated) Galileans would have spoken intelligibly in many foreign local languages, somehow attracting a large crowd of "God fearing Jews from every nations ..." (2:5) who "heard them speaking in his own language" (2:6), the following comment and the answer of Peter are rather unrealistic:
Ac 2:13-15 "Some, however, made fun of them [the Galileans] and said, "They have had too much wine."
Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: "... These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning!"

Since when drinking wine makes you speak an unlearned foreign language? How could those Diaspora Jews think so?

Notes:
a) Most Diaspora Jews, from cities in the eastern part of the Roman empire, would know only Greek and likely not any "native language" (2:8) of their area of origin. And according to the text (2:9) Judeans would have their own native tongue. But these people were communicating in Aramaic, the same language spoken in Galilee which could be spoken by the disciples without help from the Holy Spirit or wine!
b) Would the Diaspora Jews consider themselves nationals of their country of origin rather than from the Jewish nation? Very unlikely according to:
Josephus' Wars, Preface, 2 "for the Jews hoped that all of their nation which were beyond Euphrates [amidst Parthians, Medes, Elamites, etc.] would have raised an insurrection together with them."
Josephus' Against Apion, I, 7 "... not only in Judea, but wheresoever any body of men of our nation do live; ... I mean at Egypt and at Babylon, or in any other place of the rest of the habitable earth"
Philo of Alexandria's Flaccus, VII "For no one country can contain the whole Jewish nation, by reason of its populousness; on which account they frequent all the most prosperous and fertile countries of Europe and Asia"

Next, only one short speech by Aramaic-speaking Peter (with extensive quotes from 'Joel' and the Psalms in order to "prove" Jesus' resurrection!) achieves the following result:
"about three thousand were added to their number that day" (2:41) to the initial "about a hundred and twenty" Galileans (1:15).
Remark: could that be an admission the Diaspora Jews were predominent from the very beginning?

That explains (dubiously) the creation of the "Church of Jerusalem"!

Cordially, Bernard
Tags: {"Nazarenes"} {"Nazarenes" NOT having been Christians} {Acts of the apostles} {Church of Jerusalem} {Galileans} {Pentecost} {tongues}
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