Giancarlo Biguzzi, «Witnessing Two by Two in the Acts of the Apostles.», Vol. 92 (2011) 1-20
The program of Act 1,8 is carried through by the Twelve only in Jerusalem, Samaria and the Mediterranean coast, — but not «till the end of the earth». Their witness, however, is prolonged by the Seven of Jerusalem, the Five of Syrian Antioch, and the Seven companions of Paul of Act 20,4. Surprisingly, for everyone of the four groups of witnesses, the author narrates then the witnessing of only two of them. The narrative lacuna, apparently intentional since it recurs four times, allows Luke to involve the reader in reconstructing the spread of the gospel in all the directions for the remaining ten twelfths.
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6 GIANCARLO BIGUZZI
speaking through the debates of the apostolic assembly and the
hard-won achievements from below (â€œIt has seemed good to the
Holy Spirit and to us to ...â€). Thus, after the apostolic assembly of
Acts 15, the Twelve can disappear from the stage and make way for
the activity of Paul.
All this, however, is paradoxically both more complex and at
the same time more straightforward than it appears, as the rule of
the witnessing two by two will make it clear.
II. The testimony given â€œtwo by twoâ€
1. Of the Twelve apostles, only Peter and John
The book of Acts mentions the apostles whom Jesus appointed
as his witnesses in Acts 1,8, some twenty times, but describes only
the testimony of Peter and John. Furthermore, of these two, John
never speaks or acts autonomously, and seven times out of eight he
is represented as Peterâ€™s companion 8, seeming to be nothing more
than his shadow 9.
Peter appears alone nine times in the narration of his visit to
the coastal cities of Lydda and Joppa (Acts 9,32-43), nineteen
times in the long episode of the centurion Cornelius, first at
Caesarea Maritima and then at Jerusalem (Acts 10-11), and a fur-
ther nine times in the account of his imprisonment and prodigious
liberation from prison (Acts 12,1-19). At times, Peter speaks â€œwith
the apostlesâ€, â€œwith the elevenâ€ (2,14; 2,37 and 5,29), or indepen-
dently when he addresses the apostolic assembly in Jerusalem
(Acts 15,7). Finally, he speaks and acts seven times together with
John, as already mentioned.
These two, Peter and John, the only ones among the Twelve of
whom Luke reports the testimonial activity, are protagonists
Cf. Acts 3,22.214.171.124; 4,13.19 and 8,14.
The only time when John is not at Peterâ€™s side is found in Acts 12,2, in the
account of the martyrdom of James, called â€œJohnâ€™s brotherâ€ to be distinguished
from the James of Acts 15,13. The two â€œJamesâ€ (and the two â€œPhilipsâ€) of Acts
are erroneously identified in D. MARGUERAT, Les Actes des ApÃ´tres (1-12)
(GenÃ¨ve 2007) 49-50; cf. also R. PESCH, Die Apostelgeschichte (ZÃ¼rich â€“
Einsiedeln â€“ KÃ¶ln 1986) I, 287-290, and C. MATTHEWS, Philip Apostle and
Evangelist. Configurations of a Tradition (NTS 105; Leiden 2002) 93.