At least not for history. On a number of occasions, I have made reference to historical errors within the book of Acts as they pertained to the discussion at hand. For a handy reference (at least for me) I thought I would compile them.
First—a note of caution. At times people categorize Acts as “history” whereas the question of which Dewey Decimal to assign to the book is not resolved. Simply because one happened to find “Gone with the Wind” in the historical section of the Library, and it even includes historical events, does not mean the author intended the book to be taken as actual history.
I often see the argument (made out of hyperbole), “If you don’t accept Acts as history, then you can’t accept any ancient writing as history ‘cause that would be a double standard.” Posh and nonsense. First of all, we don’t know Acts was considered history. Second, we treat various historical books with varying degrees of skepticism. There is a difference between “Gone with the Wind” and an 8th Grade History book’s account of the American Civil War and General Sherman’s personal diary. In the same way, we don’t treat ancient documents with an all-or-nothing approach, either.
We don’t know what the author intended the book to be. Was it a Greek Novel? It shares many of the same elements as such. Was it an argument for Christianity? Was it solely intended for the in-group of Christianity? Was it an argument against the Jewish roots of Christianity for a Roman audience?
We don’t know where the author obtained his information. We don’t know when it was written. We are not certain it was this fellow “Luke.” It is not until 180 C.E. Irenaeus attributes the Book to to Luke (and due to the similarities, I presume the author of the Gospel of Luke and Acts to be the same author).
The famous “we” passages do intonate the author to be a one-time traveling companion of Paul, and perhaps it was the Luke of Philemon 1:24. The fact the pseudo-Pauline writers of Colossians (4:14) and 2 Timothy (4:11) both mention Luke only bolster the connection between the two. (Although the author of 1 Timothy demonstrates knowledge of the Gospel of Luke when s/he quotes Luke 10:7 in 1 Tim. 5:18.)
However, the author’s record of Paul’s speeches is unlike the doctrine we find in Paul’s letters. The author has Paul portrayed as a great orator in such passages as Acts 17:22-31, yet Paul indicates his presence is weak, and his speech contemptible. 2 Cor. 10:8-10. Further, the speeches contain little of Paul’s doctrine of Justification. (Once in Acts. 13:39)
So here’s a list--a few will have a link or two for further study (I will not address the additional errors in the Gospel of Luke.)
1) Acts has Jesus telling the disciples to stay in Jerusalem (1:4) whereas Mark (16:7), Matthew (28:16) and John (21:1) all have Jesus telling and meeting his disciples in Galilee. I wrote on the fictional nature of this mass move here.
2) Acts does not know who the High Priest was at the first Jewish accusation of the Disciples. Acts 4:6. This makes chronology of the claim of persecution difficult. I touch on the issue here.
3) Acts 5:36-37, has Gamaliel putting Theudas and Judas of Galilee in the wrong order which appears to be a misunderstanding of Josephus’ account.
4) Acts has a mob stoning Stephen (7:58) whereas the Gospel of John (18:31) claims it is unlawful for the Jews to put anyone to death.
5) Acts contradicts Paul’s account of visiting Jerusalem three and 17 years after Damascus in Galatians 1:17-2:1. The most common resolution of this contradiction is to ridiculously place a three (3) year interval between 9:19 and 9:20. For example. I wrote on this problem here.
6) On a related note, Acts has Paul persecuting the Church in Jerusalem (8:1, 9:1) yet Paul says he was not known by face in Judea. Gal. 1:23. Only by reputation.
7) Acts chronologically places a famine (11:27-28) followed by the death of Herod (12:1-23) The order is actually reversed: Herod died in 44 C.E. whereas the famine was in 46-47 C.E.
8) Acts has Ananias the Priest talking to Felix the procurator. (24:1-3). Since Ananias was High Priest from 46-52 CE. and Felix was the Ruler from 52-60 C.E., the only year in which this could occur was 52 C.E. Yet Acts says Festus replaced Felix “two years later.” (24:27) Festus replaced Felix in 60 C.E., not 54 C.E.
(Edited to Add: I am wrong on this one as demonstrated in the Comments.)
9) There are differing portrayals of the people with whom Paul deals (in 15:2-21 James is the mediator between conservative Pharisees on one side and Peter, Paul and Barnabas on the other. However Paul records in Gal. 2:9 to be sided with Barnabas against Peter, James and John.)
10) The decision of the apostolic conference differs between 15:22-29 and Gal. 2:10
11) Why did Paul have to defend his Gentile mission against the “three pillars” (Gal. 2:1-10) if Peter (one of the pillars) had already been given such a mission in 10:1-11:18?
12) One of the intriguing aspects of Acts is how it incorporates common Greek themes regarding gods. For instance, one theme was that the opening of prison doors or the magical releasing of prisoners, (such as that found in 5:17-20, 12:6-11, and 16:23-30) was a sign of divine intervention.
Or the fact the phrase “kick against the goads” (26:14) was used for more than 500 years previously as a saying about a person arguing against a god. Peter Kirby has written an outstanding article outlining these themes. (And it should be noted the author of Acts demonstrates at least a passing knowledge of Euripides when he quotes him at 17:28)
Acts demonstrates a propensity to be anti-Jewish. It is almost exclusively used as a claim the Jews (not the Romans) persecuted the early church—yet when one reads it as a whole it is demonstrated the Jews are perpetually portrayed as the “bad guy” and the Romans are portrayed as the “good guy.”
In Acts 9:23 it is the “Jews” who plotted to kill Paul in Damascus. Yet in 2 Cor. 11:32 Paul records it was the local authorities; not the Jews who were attempting to arrest him.
Sadducees imprison Peter and John. (4:1) No Roman authorities involved.
Sadducees imprison Apostles. (5:17-18) No Roman authorities involved.
Jews flog apostles. (5:40)
Jews seize Stephen (6:9) and stone him (7:58). No Romans involved.
Jews persecute all Christians (8:1-3) including in foreign countries (9:1-2)
Jews in Damascus seek to kill Saul/Paul, not non-Jewish government. (9:23)
Herod (Jew) arrests Christians, kills James, imprisons Peter. (12:1-2)
Roman leader wants to learn about Christianity, but Jewish sorcerer opposes Paul and Barnabas. (13:6-8)
Jews oppose Paul and Barnabas. (13:45) whereas Gentiles welcome them. (13:48) Jews stir up local governments against Paul and Barnabas (13:50)
Jews stir up Gentiles against Paul. (14:2)
Jews go from Antioch and Iconium to Lystra to stir up crowd against Paul. (14:19)
Local governments beat and imprison Paul and Silas. (16:22-24) Curiously, the Magistrates then order them to be released (16:35) and then attempted to appease them (16:38)
Jews harass Paul and Silas in Thessalonica. (17:5) Then travel to Berea to pursue them. (17:13)
Jews oppose Paul in Corinth (18:6) accusing him before the local Government. (18:12) However the Roman Government supports Paul. (18:14-16)
A non-Jew, Demetrius stirs up trouble against Paul. (19:23-26). A Jew, Alexander, is unsuccessful in calming the crowd. (19:33-34). The Roman City Clerk, however succeeds quite easily. (19:41)
Jews plot against Paul. (20:3)
Jews stir up crowd against Paul in Jerusalem. (21:27) Roman authority saves Paul. (12:30-32)
We enter a familiar, repetitive scene. The Jews seek to kill Paul (23:10, 12; 24:1; 25:7) while the Roman Authority wishes to free Paul (23:23; 24:23, 26; 26:32)
Over and over the designation between Jew and Gentile is stated, with the chief instigators and problem-makers being Jews. I encourage the reader to spend the time reading Acts straight through, comparing how many times “Jew” and “Gentile” is contrasted. The author apparently intended the comparison to be emphasized.
Finally, a few links if any of this has whetted your appetite. Those interested in textual criticism are aware the Western Text of Acts is 9% longer than the version we have. Here is another article on Acts’ Reliability. And if you prefer a Christian perspective on the book, please read Chris Price’s article on Acts. (This is a download of a Word Document.)