Book of Acts 2019

The Book of Acts Chairs: Sean Adams and Matthew Sleeman

Session One

Aspects of the Reception History of Acts 2 and 4 (jointly with the Use and Influence of the New Testament seminar)

Steve Walton, Trinity College, Bristol; Taylor Weaver, University of Kent; Simon Woodman, Bloomsbury Baptist Church

Session Two

Monique Cuany, HET-PRO, St-Légier, Switzerland, ‘The Resurrection in the Kerygma: A Re-assessment of the Use of Psalm 16 in Acts 2’

The speech delivered after the effusion of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in Acts 2 includes a long Christological development focusing on the resurrection of Jesus and including several OT quotations. By and large, exegetes have interpreted the use of Ps 16: 8–11 in vv.25–28 to function as a ‘proof from prophecy’, aiming at proving either the resurrection or the messiahship of Jesus. Alternatively, it has been argued that what happens is a ‘proclamation from prophecy’. This paper challenges those interpretations on narratival and historical grounds and offers a new understanding of the function of the Psalm in the argument.

Peter Doble, University of Leeds, ‘Thus it is Written…’

In this paper I offer an account of how Luke ‘uses’ scripture throughout Luke-Acts. Reflecting on my argument demonstrating that he was not mistaken, I account for how he wrote to Theophilus of the ἀσφάλεια of ‘the things fulfilled among us.’ He wrote using scripture structurally and contextually, embedding Jesus’ story in Israel’s scriptures. Without this scriptural structure there is no narrative. Essentially, Luke argues that through Jesus God fulfilled two broad scriptural threads.

First, a reference-frame rooted in the David-promise, both base-text and its developments, encloses Luke’s narrative from its Prologue to its enigmatic closing in Rome. This reference-frame governs Luke-Acts’ principal Jesus-descriptors and his concepts of Messiah and of ‘fulfilment.’ Second, Luke’s understanding of God’s anointed Messiah—David’s seed Jesus—is basically shaped by his Isaianic Exodossubtext, initially rooted in Luke’s John the Baptist story, but focused by his distinctive account of Jesus’ Transfiguration. Luke’s story is of one person, two long-standing hopes, and promises to David, Moses and Abraham fulfilled in and through that person, Jesus.

Session Three

David A. Smith, Duke Divinity School, NC, USA, ‘Acts and the Praxis of Early Christian Ecumenism’

 This paper is a study in practical ecumenism as it comes to expression in the Acts of the Apostles. As the only canonical narrative to tell the story of the church, Acts has always been a key text for reflection upon the church’s identity and mission. Yet one feature of the ecclesiological vision of Acts, which is particularly relevant for our time, remains largely unstudied: how does Acts deal practically with difference as a characteristic of early Christian life? A surface reading of Acts, as of early Christian history generally, makes clear that ecclesial difference was a pervasive and often troubling fact of life in early Christianity. Indeed, since the time of F.C. Baur, Acts itself has often been understood as a rhetorical attempt to remedy a situation of ecclesial discord, though the precise divisions and troubles facing the Lukan community have been variously understood. In the last two decades, studies of the ecclesiology of Acts have rightly stressed the theological character of Luke’s vision, according to which the church’s identity and witness are fundamentally grounded in its life in Christ. Yet such articulations have been, perhaps necessarily, somewhat abstract and, to the degree that they resist abstraction, focused on all-encompassing patterns of life in local communities. Yet the question remains: how did such communities, separated as they were by geographic, ethnic, and theological differences, practically come to understand themselves as one church—brothers and sisters in a single family of God? This paper seeks to clarify the methods of practical ecumenism according to which, in Luke’s telling, the theological identity of the church was given tangible expression, and it argues that Luke’s attention to these practices of ecumenism provide key data for characterizing the socio-rhetorical character of Acts as an ecumenical document in its own right.

David J. McCollough, Durham University, ‘Prescription and Coherence in Luke-Acts: A Narratological Exegesis of Spirit Reception and Christian Initiation’

This paper will address two questions: first, whether Lukan narrative is in any way prescriptive, second, whether Luke presents a coherent picture of Christian initiation. This paper employs discourse analysis, narratology, and literary analysis to demonstrate that Luke both coherently describes and didactically prescribes for his implied audience particular ritual behaviour related to Christian initiation, and especially, to receiving the Holy Spirit, and that the prescription is of a standard ritual structure with allowance for minor variation.