Infographic – Book of Acts – Comprehensive Relationship & Timeline Diagram

*Updated 09-07-2016*

As part of my ongoing historical research efforts, I found it necessary to develop a comprehensive outline of the book of Acts. This has taken several forms, one of which is the following relationship diagram and timeline for Acts. The notion was simple, but the doing turned out to take a good deal longer than I had anticipated. I’ve decided to pause my research long enough to publish this as an infographic, in the hopes that it may prove useful to others. Feel free to print and repost; all I ask is that attribution to JerichoBrisance be included. Further details and notes are below.

Click on image for high resolution PDF.

Acts RD Preview Whole

Additional Notes: 

  • There are probably a few errors, or at least a few places where I could better represent events. If you find such an instance, please let me know in the comments, as my intention in all such enterprises is accuracy.
  • Timeframes are very approximate for two principal reasons. First, the author did not see fit to help us much in that department. Second, a good deal of what is in Acts likely did not occur in the way described or the sequence described. Paul’s own history of his travels stands discrepant to the account of Acts in a few places. Given these factors, I adopted “nominal” dates typically cited in Christian sources, and they remain very approximate where applicable at all.
  • The break line before Chapter 16 indicates the beginning of content phrased in the first person plural, or “we.” This content likely represents a more accurate original core document, that may have been (i.e., in all likelihood was) pre-pended by later editors. As such, the latter half has more travel details, less fantastic supernatural events, etc. (see Eisenman, “James the Brother of Jesus.”)
    • Updated 09-07-2016: “We” passages marked with red bands at bottom of blocks.
  • Formatting for various blocks has been done to allow visual tracking of recurring figures, etc. I have not included a legend due to space, but the attentive viewer should be able to catch on quickly.
  • Most portions of Acts follow a central character, which rotates section-by-section. Where a clear central character existed, I made them the backbone of the timeline. However, in a few cases the vignettes did not suggest a strong central character, and no backbone occurs in those segments of the diagram (block #25 is one such example).
  • This document has been formatted at 42 x 30 inches, which can be printed at Staples, Kinko’s, etc., as an engineering drawing/blueprint using their large plotters.

Comments

  1. Great to see you back around, my good man. And as always, I stand in awe of your powers of concentration.

    If you get the chance, I think you’d really enjoy the thoughts of Tim Stepping Out. You share a common love of the detailed historical nature (sceptism) of this story.

    https://timsteppingout.wordpress.com/

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Matt, that must have taken you ages to complete! So much information!
    Here’s someone else you might be interested to read: https://adversusapologetica.wordpress.com

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thanks Matt, your work is brilliant as always (and thanks Janelle for your wifely nudging).

    One of the long-standing questions I’ve had is who authored the “we” sections of Acts (yeah, I’m fun like that).
    You’ve flagged these in the document with a single marker from chapter 16 onwards, but they’re more typically summarized as Acts 16:1-17, 20:5-15, 21:1-8 and 27:1-28:16. (Outside these narrow ranges, there’s likely other sections that could well be included but which don’t require the first person plural pronoun, so remain ambiguous.)
    Armed with your chart, I thought it would summarise things nicely for me to efficiently evaluate and untangle some options.
    I had wondered for a time if the author of the ‘we’ passages might be Timothy, but that seems impossible because of 20:5.
    I’ve also wondered about Silas, but your chart showed him elsewhere for one of the sections. However, you show Silas disappearing with Timothy at 19:21, but I can’t see why – the text only says Timothy and Erastus, without mentioning Silas. Is there a reason for having Silas disappear then too? The whole end of chapter 18 and the start of 19 is quite confusing plot-wise (aptly shown by a large red question mark on your diagram). It’s quite ambiguous whether Silas is around or not, after 18:5 – which I guess is one of the difficulties of this kind of analysis.
    So it looks like I won’t be able to solve the ‘we’ passages quite yet…

    [Oh, and a quick look at the Tim Stepping Out site made it look very interesting! I haven’t been quite persuaded by the ‘strong’ mythicist position to date, but the article on Jesus ben Ananias in Josephus was fascinating, and not something I’ve heard covered before. There seem definite literary connections to Mark’s gospel (although I thought Mark is supposed to predate Antiquities by a decade or three).]

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks man, will look in detail at your Silas points manana. He was dubious there, and I’d rather generally err on the side of claiming only the explicit statements. “We” is such a vague pronoun, isn’t it?… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • OK, so, several comments.

      First, thanks for the itemized “we” passages. I’ll amend the diagram to include some red thermometer bars on those regions, which is much better than having the hard break point alone.

      Next, good catch the Barnabas line. It shouldn’t have ended where Timothy and Erastus departed. That was a boo-boo and unintended. I will fix that one.

      Last, the area in block 34 was a very confusing (to me) passage about who’s who:

      1 After the uproar ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them, he said farewell and departed for Macedonia. 2 When he had gone through those regions and had given them much encouragement, he came to Greece. 3 There he spent three months, and when a plot was made against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia. 4 Sopater the Berean, son of Pyrrhus, accompanied him; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy; and the Asians, Tychicus and Trophimus. 5 These went on ahead and were waiting for us at Troas, 6 but we sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days we came to them at Troas, where we stayed for seven days.

      The comment about Sopater appears to stand alone (v 4). Then it is amended by semi-colon with the remaining names. Then “us” occurs in verse 5, which indicates Luke – or whoever the author was – wasn’t alone. Perhaps that included Silas, but he seems important enough to have been mentioned if present, particularly given the exhaustive list of names that preceded the “us”. Yet Silas never appears by name again in the book. That junction was where I intended the Silas line to end, but it remains ambiguous to me where (or if) it should end.

      As with most characters in Acts (Paul, Peter, etc), it isn’t clear what became of nearly anyone. They just stop getting mentioned at some point. As with the other historical problems it remains frustrating to try to pin down much of anything.

      Open to suggestions. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Umm, yep, sorry, I’m not sure man.
        I’ve exhausted my month’s quota of Bible study (about 10 minutes), so it may have to wait ’til I’ve recharged. 🙂
        Thanks Matt. You’re much more patient and focused than me!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Huh. I just learned something from this little “we” document correction. Every place Paul’s origin in Tarsus is mentioned, it isn’t in “we” passages. There are only a few ways Paul could have been a Roman citizen by birth, and being from Tarsus was one of them. Convenient explanation if one wanted to hide something else, like half-Roman parentage, or relationship to the Herodian dynasty. Paul never says he was from Tarsus in any of the authentic letters. And the original “we” author of Acts doesn’t either.

      Thanks Ben. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. ” Another weirdo I interacted with ended every sentence with an ellipsis. They often aren’t drawn from the upper half of the IQ pool.”

    . . . Hey! I object 😛 . . .

    Zoe, a lover of the ellipsis. ❤ 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Infographic updated with corrections and enhancements per OftenBetterThanFine suggestions. Thanks!

    Like

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