Important Discovery by Prof. Spiro: Addendum
to Anchor "Acts' Shows Stephen Was Samaritan
An important discovery, in his
New Testament research, was
made by Prof. Abram Spiro, head
of the Near Eastern Department at
Wayne St ate University and a noted
biblical scholar. The newest vol-
ume in the Anchor Bible Series
published by Doubleday, "The Acts
of the Apostles," carries an ap-
pendix culled from the writings of
Dr. Spiro showing that Stephen, one
of the apostles recorded in "Acts",
was a Samaritan.
The new Anchor Bible was edited
by the late Prof. Johannes Munck
of Aarhus University, who was a
visiting professor at Princeton in
1964-65 and who died shortly after
his return to Denmark.
This "Acts" volume was revised
by the editor of Anchor series,
Prof. W. F. Albright, and Dr. C.
S. Mann of London. The brief
preface which was written by
Prof. Munck is supplemented
with an added prefatorial note by
his widow, Elisabeth Munck.
longer as contrasting but as
appendices deal with Luke's
of the Apostles."
The understanding needed in the ethnic background, with "Eyewit-
reading of the "Acts" is provided nesses" in Luke," with Pentecost
in the scholarly introduction which in Acts and Jerusalem Church in
explained the position of Acts as Acts, as well as with "Hellenists"
following the gospels, preceding and "Hebrews." Of special value
Paul's epistles, originally having and unusual interest is the chapter
been the second part of a single "Stephen's Samaritan Background"
work, the first being the Gospel of which is the condensation of the
material that was prepared by Dr.
Acts' authorship by Luke, the Spiro.
In his analysis of the character
physician who was Peter's fellow
worker, is thoroughly analyzed. of Stephen, Prof. Spiro shows how
Prof. Munck's evaluative study the member of the cast in Acts,
states: "To read Acts through from Stephen, had downgraded Moses.
beginning to end is like traveling lie shows that the exaltation of
in mountainous Switzerland, a land Abraham and the downgrading of
sharply divided into separate areas Moses in Stephen's views repre-
which has nevertheless been molded sented "an early stage in Samari-
1 into a whole both by nature and by tan attachment to Israel." But the
human effort . . . With Acts, the laws of Moses, he declares "were
individual chapters have their own slow in becoming a vital force
character both with regard to form among the Samaritans.
Dr. Spiro's research is exten-
and content, but they are united in
sive. He delves deeply into Sa-
a work that is infused and unified
maritan regulations and the de-
lby the purpose of the author."
a sad background for Christian-
Jewish relations are in "The Acts
Regarding the purpose, the
Prof. Munck's work includes his •
question is posed whether "Acts
comments on the text of "Acts"—
is a piece of propaganda intend-
his explanatory notes on the ex-
ed to represent an adjustment of
periences of the Apostles, on the
the original contrast between
arrests and imprisonment of Paul,
Jewish and Gentile Christianity."
Peter and John, on Paul's experi-
Prof. Muck's view is that "Acts
ences as recorded in the New Test-
is actually an example of the
ament books, on the Crucifixion ani
compromise between the two
the charges against Jews, the San.
contrasting groups, for it de-
hedrin and the priesthood. The
scribes Peter, the representative
Christological elements involving
Jews, the charges and the tragic I of Jewish Christianity, and Paul,
the apostle to the Gentiles, no I
occurrences that established such
velopment of their activities. He
states: "Since the Samaritans de-
rived their knowledge of the
heroes and the lore of Israel—
Abraham, Moses, Egypt, Sinai—
largely from the oral traditions
of the North Israelites among
whom they had been settled,
Moses and his laws, known to
them chiefly from the Pentateuch
which they had imported from
Jerusalem, made relatively slow
progress with them. Moreover,
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There are excellent evaluations
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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
pears, part of the anti Jewish atti-
tude among Samaritans.
Dr. Spiro points to some incon-
sistencies in New Testament books
and he disputes some of the claims
of commentators. He points out
"Paul, the Jew, was hurt by
the anti-Jewish propaganda of
the Samaritan Christians, and it
galled him to see that they had
laid claim to Jesus, making him
either a Samaritan or a champ-
ion of Samaritan causes. Corinth
had a synagogue of the Hebrews,
that is, a Samaritan synagogue.
The Samaritan missionaries of
Corinth presumbly used this syn-
agogue as their base of opera-
tions. Not only were 'Hebrews'
Paul's enemies, but also the allies
of the 'Hebrews,' namely, the
'Hellenists.' We are informed of
Paul soon after his conversion
that 'he spoke and disputed
against the Hellenists; but they
were seeking to kill him' (Acts
Abraham was intimately con-
nected with Shechem . . Be-
cause of Abraham's association
with their own Mesopotamian
home the people of Samaria pre-
ferred Abraham to Moses . . .
He adds: "But the dominance of
Moses reached great heights
among the Samaritans in the
centuries that followed Stephen."
The new Anchor Bible volume
thus is greatly enriched by schol-
arly research and the Spiro essay
exposes the "anti-Semitism" of the
Samaritans, at the same time indi-
cating the anti-Jewish attitude of
Stephen. Dr. Spiro's research is in
progress and we are informed his
complete text, now in the making,
will take considerable time to con-
clude since it requires much added
study and search for historic data.
DR. ABRAM SPIRO
In his examination of Stephen's
missionary discourse, Dr. Spiro
shows that the study of it is rela-
tively easy because "it was trans-
mitted faithfully by Luke." Dr.
Spiro points to Stephen's use of the
argument of "the illegitamacy of
Jerusalem" as part of his "polemic
against the Jews." It was, it ap-
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