In the case of Acts 2:2-4, is there any evidence supporting the events of the day of Pentecost?
As far as I know, there is no independent extra-biblical source for the events on the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem as recorded in Acts 2. Bear in mind that this lack of specific extra-biblical support is the case with virtually all the historical material in the Bible. Obviously, there is no archaeological or other non-biblical support for the fact that Paul said some particular thing to some particular person on some particular day. For example, we will not have archaeological or historical evidence that Paul and Barnabus visited Iconium during his first missionary journey. Such insignificant details from the fairly distant past are virtually never recorded. Historical events which are found in the New Testament which have either specific or general historical support include where Jesus lived (Galilee), the fact that he was killed in Jerusalem by crucifixion. The fact that he worked miracles (or at least that many believed he worked miracles) is also a historical "fact" based on extra-biblical sources. However, we cannot confirm the Pentecost story, except in the broadest sense, from extra-biblical sources. Indeed, one would not rationally expect to have such confirmation. Who would have reported this? It is interesting to note that we have nine non-Christian sources on Jesus in the first 100 years after his life, while we also have nine sources (Christian or otherwise) for the emperor Tiberius, who ruled at the time of Jesus. Our sources from ancient times are relatively scanty.
But this brings me back to your question. We do have one extremely reliable source for the account in Acts 2. That is the book of Acts itself. The evidence is that Luke was an extremely careful and therefore reliable historian. Luke records 95 cities, provinces and other places. In every case, his description is accurate. He reports dozens of rulers and in every case we can test Luke, he gets their title right, a feat which is extremely difficult in the confusing plethora of Roman names for rulers (tetrarchs, autarchs, procurators and many other titles). To quote from an eminent historian who began his study of Luke assuming the Bible was not accurate history:
"I found myself brought into contact with the Book of Acts as an authority for the topography, antiquities, and society of Asia Minor. It was gradually borne upon me that in various details the narrative showed marvelous truth. In fact, beginning with a fixed idea that the work was essentially a second century composition, and never relying on its evidence as trustworthy for first century conditions, I gradually came to find it a useful ally in some obscure and difficult investigations.
Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy; he is possessed of the true historic sense; he fixes his mind on the idea and plan that rules in the evolution of history, and proportions the scale of his treatment to the importance of each incident. He seizes the important and critical events and shows their true nature at greater length, while he touches lightly or omits entirely much that was valueless for his purpose. In short, this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians."
Sir William Ramsay, St. Paul, the Traveler and the Roman Citizen, (Hodder and Stoughton, 1920).
Bottom line, it seems unavoidable to conclude that the apostles and thousands of eye-witnesses were quite unanimous, at least in the general facts that the events in Acts 2 did indeed happen. There was a sermon preached that day, amazing things happened and many were baptized. Luke, being the meticulous and careful historian that he was, probably interviewed a few people before giving the best faithful account of the actual events of the day. I believe that it is reasonable to conclude that the account we have in Acts 2 is an essentially accurate historical rendering of the events on the day when the gospel was first publicly proclaimed in Jerusalem.
Is the case iron-clad? Absolutely not. That is where our faith in the inspiration of the Bible steps in. Of course, at this point we have left the realm of evidence and moved into belief based on faith that the Bible is in fact inspired by the Holy Spirit, but that is not what you asked about! I believe from the evidence that an event described in Acts 2 happened, but I accept that the list of languages spoken is accurate partly because I trust Luke but also partly because I believe the Bible is inspired by God. In asking such questions, faith and evidence must be balanced.
John Oakes, PhD