2013 Book of Acts

Session 1

Ἀνοίγω and διανοίγω in Luke and Acts: ‘Opening’ as a Narrative Motif

In Luke and Acts, the terms ἀνοίγω and διανοίγω, appearing a combined total of ten times in the Gospel and nineteen times in Acts, are used to depict the opening of mouths (Luke 1:64; Acts 8:35; 10:34; cf. Acts 8:32; 18:14), eyes (24:31; Acts 9:8, 40; Acts 26:18), a heart (Acts 16:14), minds (Luke 24:45), doors/gates (Luke 11:9, 10; 12:36; 13:25; Acts 5:19, 23; 12:10, 14, 16; 14:27 [metaphorical]; 16:26, 27), heaven/sky (Luke 3:21; Acts 7:56; 10:11), and the Scriptures (Luke 24:32; Acts 17:3).* Examining parallels between these references in the Gospel of Luke and the other Synoptics, as well as parallels between Luke and Acts, a moderate case can be made that Luke uses the terms to create a narrative motif of ‘opening,’ usually in contexts where perception, sight and blindness, or revelation are prominent. This motif serves to develop a component of Luke’s theology, more specifically, how it is characters come to a true knowledge of the Scriptures (or the messianic/soteriological truths they reveal). This motif is, of course, one among others, and no claim will be made that it ‘controls’ the narrative in any kind of singular way.

*And, in a citation of Scripture, for the opening of a womb (Luke 2:23).


Dr Tom Stanford

Smoke and Mirrors: How Some (Feminist) Scholars are Deceived by a Patriarchal Interpretation of Luke-Acts

(An edited extract from a book, Luke’s People: The Men and Women who Met Jesus and the Apostles, to be published by Wipf & Stock).

Luke-Acts has been interpreted from the viewpoint of a patriarchal ideology for millennia and feminist scholars have wrongly believed that this ideology is promoted in Luke-Acts. This paper rebuts three important misinterpretations by these scholars: that Luke, through the mouth of Peter in the story of the selection of Matthias (Acts 1:12-1:26), required the successors of the apostles to be male; that widows are a symbol of destitution in the Septuagint, and therefore in Luke-Acts; and that Luke suppresses the prophecy of women. It also describes two important aspects of Luke’s writings about women which have been missed. We argue, on the basis of evidence in Luke-Acts and the Septuagint, that:

  1. Luke uses the story of Matthias to portray the pre-Pentecostal (unreliable and ambitious) Peter as a contrast to the post-Pentecostal apostolic Peter (Acts 2:14-4:22) – it does not reflect his own views.
  2. In the Septuagint widows are not symbols of destitution, being so described in only two stereotyped contexts, curses, and when associated with orphans. In other contexts widows are resourceful and promote the purposes of God, as they do in Luke-Acts.
  3. Acts does not show prophecy as made manifest only in oracles. Luke does not suppress the prophecy of women.
  4. Lydia, in whose household Luke lived for six or seven years, is portrayed with marked honour in Acts.
  5. Women in Luke-Acts are autonomous and agentic. That their autonomy is a deliberate choice by Luke is evidenced by the omission of all three instances in his source, Mark, where someone commands a woman or group of women.


Session 2

Prof. Howard Marshall (University of Aberdeen)
Dr Matthew Sleeman (Oak Hill College, London)
Prof. Craig Keener (Asbury Theological Seminary)

Book review discussion of Craig Keener, Acts: An Exegetical Commentary, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2012)

Responses to the first volume of Prof. Craig Keener’s commentary by Prof. Howard Marshall (University of Aberdeen) and Dr Matthew Sleeman (Oak Hill College, London), followed by response by Prof. Craig Keener (Asbury Seminary) on Skype, and discussion.

Session 3

Dr Peter Doble

Paul at Pisidian Antioch: A Narrative-intertextual Reading

Based on an hypothesis following multiple readings of Luke-Acts, this paper re-reads Paul’s Antioch much-discussed synagogue scene (Acts 13:14b-41) as a significant moment in Luke’s narrative development and use of scripture:

  • Paul dominates about a quarter of Luke-Acts (13-28);
  • Luke’s account ends enigmatically with Paul in Rome proclaiming God’s kingdom and teaching about the Lord Jesus Messiah (Acts 28:31) –
  • thus echoing Luke’s two-fold introduction of Jesus in his Infancy Gospel as God’s fulfilling of promises to David (Luke 1:26-35 (2 Sam 7); 2:8-20 (Ezek 34:15-25)).

Paul’s sermon demonstrates how Paul’s preaching was deeply rooted in Luke’s systematic narrative of ‘the things fulfilled among us’ (Luke1:1-4):

  • it is Luke’s sole example of what he reports to be Paul’s regular synagogue activity;
  • a much condensed account of Paul’s practice of scriptural reasoning;
  • its introduction (Acts 13:17-25) draws heavily on 2 Sam 7:5b-12, on Luke’s Infancy Gospel and Luke 3:1-22 (John the Baptist; Jesus’ anointing);
  • the sermon focuses on God’s fulfilling the promises to David (13:23, 32-36), and the expectations of John the Baptist.

This sermon demonstrates how Jesus’ followers typically argued from scripture that the Messiah must be raised from the dead (e.g., Luke 24:26, 46; resurrection is a Lukan focus):

  • Luke’s base-text for his whole narrative was the David-promise in Nathan’s oracle (2 Sam 7); it is also the base-text for exegesis in Paul’s sermon;
  • Luke’s enriching subtext for this sermon comprised extensions from his base-text drawn from prophets (e.g., Ezek 34; Isa 55) and psalms (e.g., 2, 15, 88 and 106);
  • Luke’s midrashic argument in Paul’s sermon is that Jesus’ story is God’s word of salvation (13:26 (from Ps 106)) ‘for us’; that God’s first anointing, then raising Jesus from the dead, incorruptible, fulfilled the David-promise (13:32-37); that this fulfilment confirmed Israel’s salvation, her being forgiven (13:38).

By focussing on the sermon-like, scripture-based exegesis of Paul’s synagogue sermon, this paper’s reading dissents from recent accounts of this passage’s role in Acts or Luke-Acts (e.g., Bock; Parsons; Pervo), and from work on the role of Ps 2 in the sermon (e.g., Jipp, Sloan and Weren). This re-reading also throws light on Paul’s later defence speeches and on Luke-Acts’ final scene (28:14b-27).

*This reading’s approach parallels that in my recently published essay on Stephen’s speech in the Menken FS (Brill, 2013).