The Apostolic Council
The rivalry of different sources still makes it difficult for us to assess the socalled Apostolic Council. Many commentators associate Acts 11:29–30 with the two accounts, Gal 2:1–10 and Acts 15:1–29. Here, they say, the same event must be described as in Galatians 2, for Paul knows nothing in Gal 1:2024 of any visit to Jerusalem before the conference of the apostles. To touch briefly on this,1 it certainly seems to me that Acts 11:29–30 is an innocent allusion, intended to wind up the information about Agabus and perhaps used by the author in the wrong place. In any case, the important thing reported in these verses is simply the collection; they are not intended to report any thoroughgoing apostolic conference.
A further complication in the question of the source arises out of the p-text of Acts 15:1–5 (to give as neutral a name as possible to the so-called Western text). This text contains a sharper presentation of the conflict. Christian Pharisees from Judea who, according to this account, promoted dissension in Antioch by their insistence on circumcision and moral observances request Paul, who holds fast to his own view, to go with a few companions to Jerusalem and there allow himself to “be advised.” But, as the β-text continued, it precludes the idea that any aspersion upon Paul is intended here, for the contribution to the discussion2 made by the β-text minimizes the dispute, rather than magnifying it. We can thus regard the corrections provided by the β-text in 15:1–5 as supplements to and summaries of the somewhat general “popular” text, amplifications such as β often provides, rather than the emergence of a new point of view.
There remain, therefore, the accounts in Galatians 2 and Acts 15, but it is remarkable that the peculiarities of these are seldom fully appreciated and that our understanding of Acts 15, especially, suffers from the fact that the comparison with Galatians 2 is brought in too soon. This account must first be appreciated for its own sake. Indeed, this is important, and I find it difficult to understand why attention has not been drawn more often and more forcefully