Are there any other documents in church history or Roman history that indicate whether the earthquake experienced by Paul and the other prisoners in acts 16 was experienced elsewhere or just at the prison?


It's highly unlikely (that there are documents, not that it was experienced elsewhere) as the earthquake in Acts 16 is described as only doing minimal damgage and according to Bradt's guide to Macedonia:

...due to the fact that three tectonic plates, African, Asian and European, meet in this region...there are frequent earthquake tremors... The earliest well-recorded earthquake in the region was in AD518 when Heraklea was destroyed. - page 4

  • I'll wait another day or two to give anyone else a chance to offer documentation, and then award yours if none show. Thank you for the documentation explaining why not. – user2956947 Apr 2 '14 at 5:08

A small earthquake like this one was unlikely to have been recorded in the first century. However, if you are looking for evidence for or against this earthquake and the events described in Acts 16:26, then there is literary evidence that suggests the earthquake did not happen, as these events appear to have been a literary creation by the author of Acts. The story of Paul's escape from prison has reasonably close parallels to words in the ancient play, the Bacchae by Euripides (d. 406 BCE) -

Acts 16:26: "... and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed."

Bacchae: :"The chains on their legs snapped apart by themselves. Untouched by any human hand, the doors swung wide, opening of their own accord."

To eliminate any doubt that this is just a coincidence, we can also look at Acts' story of Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus. Acts 25:14 includes the words "it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks." which is a direct quotation from the same play, the Bacchae, with Jesus speaking instead of the Greek god Apollo.

  • So Paul (or the author of Acts, at least) drew on ancient literature in his speech and/or writing. Don't most modern authors draw on Shakespeare, Milton and the Bible in their writing (even if they're unaware of the origin of a turn of phrase)? I don't see why that indicates the authenticity or otherwise of a geophysical event. – David Miller Sep 2 '18 at 16:09

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