Vol 6, No 1, 2006

Between Jerusalem and Antioch: The Advent of the Gentile Mission

Ian J. Elmer


The primitive Christian movement was a diverse phenomenon – all the more so with the advent of the missionary outreach to the Gentiles. Our earliest and most direct evidence for the origins of the Gentile mission is derived from the letters of Paul, which, however, tell us little of events that transpired prior to his conversion (c. 34 CE) and association with the Christians in Antioch. Our only significant source of information on the pre-Pauline period is the initial eleven chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, and therein lays certain problems. It is widely recognised that the data supplied by Luke in Acts is late and secondary and generally accepted that Luke has woven together disparate and conflicting traditions to present an artificially idyllic picture of primitive Christianity. Close, critical attention is necessary if we are to tease out the genuine historical reminiscence from the tapestry of the Lukan narrative.