There was a time during in the not too distant past that I attempted to crack the Pauline chronology question. However, like many I came away confused and mumbling. However, recently I have begun to wonder if the real problem starts with Gallio. As anyone who has worked with Paul’s chronology knows scholars tend to use Paul’s encounter with Gallio, as described in Acts 18:12, as the lynch pin for any Pauline chronology. Since we are able to date Gallio’s time in Corinth to 51-52 this provides a key date for building a chronology. In Jewett’s A Chronology of Paul’s Life he states that “The high level of certainty that can be claimed for this conclusion makes it the pivotal date in the construction of Pauline chronology.” This statement seems to be reflected in every chronology I have examined.
My question though is why do scholars assume that Acts’ account of Paul’s encounter with Gallio is historically accurate? For scholars who are not hesitant to accept Acts as a historically accurate work this is of course not an issue. However, there are many scholars who have asserted that Acts is not always a reliable historical source. Often it has been noted that the author of Acts seems to attempt to link Paul closely with human authorities such as the Christian leaders in Antioch and Jerusalem. Additionally, the author of Acts links Paul to a number of important provincial governors and authority figures such as Agrippa, Festus, and Felix. Is it not possible then that Paul’s meeting with Gallio also falls under this category of the author of Acts linking Paul to authority figures?
My question is not what is the likelihood that Paul met Gallio, but rather is it really safe to use this event that is only recounted in Acts as the lynch pin for any Pauline chronology?