In the Hellenistic-Roman world, both philosophical schools (Platonists) and ethnic groups (Romans, Athenians, Judeans) were committed to the authority of founder figures. Dionysius, Josephus, and Luke included biographies of their founders (Romulus, Moses, Jesus) within their historical works. Luke-Acts also acculturated Roman politics: 1) Luke narrated the official leadership of early Pauline assemblies exclusively by males, not narrating earlier leadership by women (Junia, Euodia, Syntyche). 2) Luke gave Jesus an inaugural address “to declare God’s age open and welcome to all [nations]” (Luke 4:19 quoting Isa 61:2), urging Luke’s auditors to become multiethnic. Peter instituted this crossing of ethnic boundaries in Judea (Acts 10) and Paul “accepted all” in Rome (Acts 28:30), the concluding sentence of the two volumes.
Taking Stephen’s lengthy speech in Acts 7:2–53 as its case study, this paper considers the complex ways that narratives function politically, and especially how the author of Acts constructs the act of storytelling as a purposive persuasive strategy within the complex political landscape of the first-century Mediterranean world. Although some have interpreted Stephen’s speech in light of ancient rhetorical conventions, I contend that Stephen is not portrayed primarily as an elite classical orator; he is, fundamentally, a storyteller. This paper considers previous approaches to Stephen’s speech, and then analyzes the speech as an act of persuasive political narration. In the end, I argue that Stephen’s audience reacts so violently because of the particular kind of national narrative that Stephen tells about the people of Israel.
The text-critical discussion about the originality of καί in Phil 2,4 (ἀλλὰ [καὶ] τὰ ἑτέρων) and the discussion around the understanding of the syntagma ἡ ἑαυτῶν σωτηρία in 2,12 have reached a dead end. In order to bring both discussions forward, the present contribution will link the two issues together more closely. This is in response to the observation that both questions reveal a common vanishing point. This vanishing point consists in the fact that the respective answers have a significant influence on the assessment of an overarching, ethical-parenetic question: To what extent did Paul, in his instructions for action surrounding the Christ Hymn in 1,27–2,18, which are essentially oriented towards the well-being of others, not only presuppose aspects of caring for oneself, but also specifically allude to such aspects in the text of the Epistle itself, thus granting them their own, albeit small, space? If such traces can be found, the argumentation-strategic function of this balancing is to be ascertained for the Pauline way of thinking in 1,27–2,18.
This article revisits Mark 5,1–20 from the perspective of trauma theory, in light of historical contexts of Gerasa’s collective trauma and the cultural contexts of ancient perceptions of demons and their exorcism. The interplay between individual and collective levels of the story sheds light on symbolic overtones of an unresolved trauma about Roman military presence in the country of the Gerasenes. The story represents this trauma through literary indirection, including not only the enigmatic relation between “Legion” and the drowning swine, but also the paradoxical contrasts between individual and collective requests to Jesus. Mark 5,1–20 evokes meanings not only as pre-Markan tradition, but also as Markan redaction which intersect in crucial ways with the prelude to Jerusalem’s destruction (68–70 C.E.).
The new Paul within Judaism Perspective claims that Paul remained a Jew and loyal to the Torah throughout his entire life. His letters were addressed exclusively to Gentile Christians. However, all the Pauline letters do not give the impression that their contents only applied to certain groups within the different congregations. Without a doubt, Paul remained closely tied to Judaism throughout his life, but numerous texts document a break with the past and a departure towards something new. In addition, the Paul within Judaism Perspective ignores the theological standpoint and the organizational efforts required by the emerging group of Christians to establish themselves as a religious community. Any group who decides to set up its own meeting places, give itself a new name, develop new rituals and laws, organize its own communal meals, determine a new holy day and celebrate its own worship services based on a new and unique group image cannot be seen as part of another religious group. Ultimately, a new, impressive theological world comes to light, expressed in its own original style and with an extraordinary literary production. Neither the Jews, nor the strict Jewish Christians, nor the Romans of the time perceived the apostle Paul as someone who continued to consider himself and his congregations to be within the framework of Judaism.