Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv

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The Author

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pp. v-vi

Richard I. Pervo, born 1942 in Lakewood, Ohio, received his B.A. from Concordia College, Fort Wayne, Indiana; his B.D. from the Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, Massachusetts; and his Th.D. from Harvard University...

Contents

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pp. vii-x

Foreword

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pp. xi-xii

Editor’s Note

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pp. xiii-xiv

Preface

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pp. xv-xvi

Reference Codes

1. Sources and Abbreviations

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pp. xvii-xxiv

2. Short Titles of Commentaries, Studies, and Articles Often Cited

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pp. xxiv-xxxvi

Introduction

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1. The Earliest Witnesses to Acts and Its Canonical History

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p. 1

The earliest explicit references to Acts appear in the Adversus Haereses of Irenaeus (c. 180), who cites the book and regards it as an authoritative composition by the author of the Gospel of Luke.1 The Acts of Paul and the Didascalia Apostolorum quite probably knew and drew upon Acts, without attribution...

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2. The Text

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pp. 1-5

The passage of two generations has not rendered his judgments obsolete. The translator of Acts soon discovers that the conventional text (N-A27/UBS4) represents what its editors view as the earliest recoverable text, based on that reading which best explains the origin of the others, rather than a fully intelligible Greek composition...

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3. The Date and Place of Composition; The Author

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pp. 5-7

Acts was written c. 115 by an anonymous author whose perspective was that of Ephesus or its general environs. This date26 is close to the end of the second generation of Deutero-Pauline activity, the era of the Apostolic Fathers and the Pastoral Epistles, when the focus was on the protection of established communities from external and internal threats.27 The standing of believers, who may be called “Christians”...

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4. Language and Style

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pp. 7-12

The author of Luke and Acts could write in middlebrow Koine Greek.40 His greatest facility is an ability to “write like the Bible,” that is, to imitate the language of the LXX, most notably in Luke 1–2.41 He can suit style to matter. As Acts moves into the Greek world, in its second half, the quality of its Greek improves...

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5. Sources64

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pp. 12-14

Extant sources65 used by the author include the LXX,66 the Gospel of Mark, a collection of Paul’s letters, and some of the writings of Josephus.67 The hypotheses that Luke used Paul and Josephus are not new but have long been out of favor. With regard to Paul’s letters the burden lies on those who contend that Luke did not use them...

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6. Genre

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pp. 14-18

Genre is one of the most hotly contested topics in the study of Acts.78 Two issues drive this controversy. One is formal. Unlike the Gospel, which can be compared to and contrasted with other Christian Gospels and with a variety of biographical texts, Acts is without peers in the NT. The quest for form involves the identification of comparable texts...

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7. The Unity/ies of Luke and Acts

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pp. 18-20

Studies of Luke and Acts face two challenges: to account for the similarities of the two works, including interrelationships, and to explain the differences.111 The former has been dominant for the past eighty years.112 The same person wrote canonical Luke and the Acts...

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8. Structure

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pp. 20-21

Acts exhibits careful attention to structure at several levels. The work begins where its author chose to start and ends where he wished to close.121 Structural organization is apparent also in units of different sizes, such as the cycles of persecution in chaps. 3–7, and individual units such as 19:1-7.122 Ring composition (chiasmus) and inclusion are means for presenting rounded sections123...

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9. General Purpose

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pp. 21-22

Acts (and Luke) can blandly but accurately be characterized as “legitimating narrative.” “Narrative” is the function: making a case by telling a story (or stories), rather than by means of a treatise or a dialogue. “Legitimating” serves to express the object of the work...

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10. Theology

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pp. 22-25

At one time it was presumed that the theology of Acts was to be discovered in its speeches.137 This view is out of favor: Acts is a narrative, and its theology must be recovered from the narrative rather than from the embedded speeches.138 If, however, the claim is made that the narrative is a triumphal story built on the words and deeds of Spirit-endowed leaders...

11. Bibliography and History of Research

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pp. 25-26

Commentary

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Title

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pp. 29-30

The best-attested title1 for this book is πράξεις ἀποστόλων (“Acts of the Apostles”). Alef 1175 pc have πράξεις (“acts,” “accomplishments”) alone, but this must be an abbreviation, since this noun requires a genitive or the equivalent. In due course, this title became more elaborate, for example, “The Acts of the Holy Apostles, composed by St. Luke the Apostle and Evangelist2...

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Preface (1:1–5)

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pp. 31-32

Acts 1–7 moves the narrative firmly but without haste toward the gentile mission, the legitimacy of which is the governing theme of the book. The pace is deliberate insofar as the narrator wishes to show that Christianity is the divinely directed final manifestation of Israelite faith1...

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Excursus: The Prefaces to Luke and Acts

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pp. 32-38

Scholarship has long held that by the inclusion of prefaces Luke and Acts make a bid to be considered as literature and that the two books are to be considered historiography. The scrupulous research of Loveday Alexander has challenged these assumptions.7 She has shown that these prefaces do not conform to the conventions and style of historical writings...

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Excursus: Direct Speech in Acts

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pp. 38-39

Although the use of set-piece speeches in Acts— which distinguishes this book from the Gospel—has long invited comparisons with historiography, Acts has proportionately more speeches than do various types of historiography (particular histories, universal histories, and historical monographs), as well as biography...

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The Ascension (1:6–14)

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pp. 40-41

The first episode in Acts is narrated from the viewpoint of the apostles.1 Readers are not immediately aware that these verses constitute a distinct episode, and its location is revealed only at its close (v. 12). The “Mount of Olives,” as it is usually called in English (“Olive Grove Hill” is more accurate2 ), had served as Jesus’ base...

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Excursus: Power in Luke and Acts

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pp. 42-47

“Power” is a key word in Lucan theology, an indicator of its consistency and transparency no less than of its difficulties.10 In the simplest of both socialscientific and theological formulation, power is what people want and what God can give them. The Hellenistic and early Roman eras intensified questions about the nature of power...

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Replenishing the Apostolic College (1:15–26)

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pp. 48-55

Verses 15-26 propel the reader medias in res. The believers have assembled, evidently in conformity with v. 14. The narrative seems straightforward enough: following the departure of their Lord, the community, led by Peter, attends to its first order of business: the selection of a replacement for Judas....

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Excursus: Punitive Miracles

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pp. 52-56

In his reflections on Lactantius’s treatise De mortibus persecutorum, Pierre de Labriolle observed, “The idea that Providence manifests in the world below the effects of its rigour by the chastisement whereby it strikes the impious in their bodies and in their life had for long brought to the Christians (as to the Jews . . .) its avenging consolations”26...

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Excursus: The Beginning of Acts

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pp. 56-57

An alternative approach to the “acts of the Apostles” holds a prominent place in early Christian literature. 1 Clem. 42.3-4 reports...

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The Descent of the Spirit at Pentecost (2:1–13)

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pp. 58-63

Acts 2 follows a general pattern that is dominant in the first half of Acts, Apocryphal Acts, and what may be called “narrative of religious propaganda” in general: a miracle draws a crowd which is rewarded with a sermon, leading to an accession of devotees, followed often enough by persecution.1 The essence is that miracles bring converts. Acts 2 introduces a novelty in NT narrative: a chapter-long episode including an incident, an explanatory address, and an appropriate reaction by the hearers, followed by a summary2...

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Excursus: Glossolalia and Prophecy in Acts

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pp. 63-66

The quotation from Joel in Acts 2:17-21 directs the reader to understand the phenomenon described in 2:1-13 as prophecy. This leads Hans Conzelmann to say, “It should be noted that Luke himself no longer has any exact conception of the original glossolalia...

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Excursus: The List of Nations

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pp. 66-71

In vv. 9-11 the crowd of foreign-born residents recites a catalogue of nations.61 Such lists are very widely attested.62 The purpose of this catalogue is patent: to symbolize—in fact, to achieve—the universal mission of the church.63 It is equally clear that Luke did not invent this list...

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Peter’s Speech at Pentecost (2:14–41)

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pp. 72-76

For this premier missionary address and fundamental exposition of the Christian message, the narrator makes no attempt to provide a detailed description of the setting or make any concessions to the conventions of realism. Peter is, to be sure, readily imagined as standing before the eleven others—but where?...

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Excursus: The Text of Acts 2:17–21

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pp. 76-86

The text of this citation from Joel is difficult to establish.20 Manuscript data provide no warrant for appeal to alternate forms of Joel here,21 and hypotheses about florilegia, collections of “testimonies,” deal with christological texts rather than quotations about spiritual gifts and are not applicable. The variants therefore belong to the textual history of Acts...

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Excursus: The Size of the Early Jerusalem Church

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pp. 86-87

Acts 1:15 reports that the community had about 120 members, that around three thousand received baptism on Pentecost, and that, by the time of 4:4, there were five thousand adult males, permitting readers to envision a total of about twenty thousand believers. It therefore comes as no surprise when James later observes that there are “myriads” of observant believers (21:20)...

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A Summary (2:42–47)

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p. 88

As after the ascension (Acts 1:13-14), summary follows an exciting account. Narrative is well served by interludes between dramatic high points. Such pauses allow readers to digest the story and prevent them from becoming jaded...

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Excursus: The Summaries in Acts

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pp. 88-95

In a 1923 essay that may be said to have inaugurated most, if not all, of the more productive contemporary approaches to the study of Acts, Martin Dibelius identified the narrative purpose of the detailed summaries in the early part of the book (2:41/42-47; 4:32-35; 5:12-16)2 and their inspiration3...

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Peter and John Heal a Paralytic (3:1–10)

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pp. 96-101

The first two chapters portray the origin and growth of the community in an atmosphere devoid of conflict. In chaps. 3–7, opposition erupts. Henceforth, persecution will drive the plot of Acts.1 Rather than narrow the outlook of the movement or quash its development, hostility leads to ever-increasing numbers and widening boundaries...

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Peter Addresses the Crowd (3:11–4:4)

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pp. 102-112

(Scene 2: I.B-C) The balance of chap. 3 conforms its structure to that of chap. 2: a miracle that draws a crowd, which is rewarded with an oration. The sermon of Acts 2 ended with a successful call for repentance. Repentance is also the closing note of 3:12-26, but the aftermath is arrest by angry officials...

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Peter and John before the High Priests (4:5–22)

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pp. 113-118

5-7 (I. D; Scene 3). The arrival of day brings the trial. The initial verses constitute a single sentence (of sorts) intended to convey the solemnity of the occasion, to underscore the formidable character of the opposition, and, no doubt, to effect additional retardation. The style is Septuagintal (ἐγένετο + infinitive)...

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Excursus: Confronting Tyrants

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pp. 118-119

“Tyranny” in the sense of arbitrary one-person rule was contrary to Greco-Roman ideals of good government. One of the actions of a tyrant was suppression of free speech (παρρησία; cf. Acts). Conversely, tackling an alleged tyrant was one means of acquiring philosophical credentials...

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Prayerful Celebration (4:23–31)

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pp. 120-124

(I.E; Scene 4) This unit describes the pair’s return to the community (?). Those assembled offer a prayer for courageous proclamation and accompanying wonders. A quake affirms that their petitions have been heard. Courageous proclamation follows. The prayer echoes a number of themes from the immediate context...

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Community Life and Outreach (4:32–5:16)

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pp. 125-137

The structure of 4:32—5:16 (Y2 –II.A) is quite uncomplicated. Following the summary of vv. 32-35 are two examples, one of which is positive: the generosity of Barnabas. The other, which narrates the grim fate of Ananias and Sapphira, is negative. Critical commentators find tension between summary and specific instance...

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The Apostles in Prison and on Trial (5:17–42)

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pp. 138-150

The episode (II. C1 –E2 in the organization suggested above) reports the second collision between the new movement and the religious authorities. The episode follows, in general, the path of 4:1-22, but the development is complicated by two unexpected twists, and both the number of the accused and the danger facing them are greater...

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The Appointment of Seven Assistants (6:1–7)

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pp. 151-159

(III in the outline in 3:1—4:31) For the historian of nascent Christianity, the story of the “Hellenists” introduced in chap. 6 testifies to a crucial link between Jesus and Paul.1 The chief difficulty for investigators since Ferdinand Christian Baur is that Luke does not attempt to make this link transparent. The result is that every researcher must attempt to discover what the narrator has chosen not to reveal...

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Excursus: Luke’s View of Ecclesiastical Office

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pp. 160-163

Luke was familiar with the concepts of “supervision,” “seniority,” and “ministry,” the first and third of which are present as abstract nouns.68 He uses the terms “presbyters” (πρεσβύτέροι) and “bishops” (ἐπίσκόποι) but not “deacons” (διάvκονοι)...

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Stephen’s Ministry (6:8–15)

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pp. 164-170

Stephen’s story (6:8—8:1a, 2) is a fine example of artful narration. Although nearly seventy verses in length,1 three-fourths of which are devoted to his speech, the reader gains a vivid impression of a meteoric career, a mission that immediately detonated an explosion. The historical Stephen—presuming that the person existed...

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Stephen’s Speech (7:1–53)

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pp. 171-193

Following a lengthy speech that questions the need for a temple and hurls the charge of lawbreaking at the Sanhedrin (7:48, 53),1 Stephen meets a violent death. This speech, the longest in Acts,2 has generated immense discussion. At first sight this is surprising, since it contains little more than an indubitably partisan review of biblical history...

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Excursus: Popular Justice in the Ancient Mediterranean World

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pp. 193-194

Lynching, which is far from extinct and has left an indelible stain on the American conscience, held an established place in the ancient Mediterranean world. Reasons for this standing include the general absence of a criminal justice system, including police and prosecutors,185 a prevailing sense of purity...

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Stephen’s Martyrdom (7:54–8:3)

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pp. 195-201

Stephen’s prophetic denunciation of the Jewish people for killing prophets is verified by the audience reaction. They kill him. The martyrdom of Stephen has been shaped to conform to the passion of Jesus.1 In addition to previously noted material from Mark utilized in 6:12-14...

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Simon of Samaria (8:4–13)

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pp. 202-206

In contrast with chaps. 3–7, Acts 8:4—11:18 does not display a tight organization. The cloud of persecution that hung so low in the previous section has vanished and will not return until chap. 12. The dominant and unifying theme of 8:4—11:18 is conversion...

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Excursus: Simon of Samaria

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pp. 206-207

The tradition that attributes to Simon the foundation of a religious movement in Samaria and traces his influence to Rome (Acts 8; Justin 1 Apol. 26.1–3) may be historically valid.27 Everything else is open to dispute. The Simon of the Acts literature (Acts, Acts of Peter) is a magician worsted by Peter...

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Excursus: “Magi,” “Magic,” and “Magicians”

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pp. 207-211

In Greek “magus” bore different meanings: (1) the member of an Iranian priestly caste, (2) one who had and utilized knowledge of the transcendent, (3) a practitioner of “magic,” and, metaphorically, (4) “a deceiver” or “seducer.”37 Matthew 2 uses the term in the second sense; Acts 13, in the third....

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The Spirit, Peter, and Simon (8:14–25)

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pp. 212-216

A surprising aftermath follows the report of Philip’s mission. The apostles send two of their company to bestow the Spirit on the Samaritan converts. This leads to a confrontation between Peter and Simon, who made Peter an offer that had to be refused. After a vigorous denunciation of both the offer and its proponent...

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Philip Converts an Ethiopian Official (8:26–40)

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pp. 217-221

If Luke had a source for this splendid episode,1 it has been concealed with such success that proposals of its extent involve little more than that Philip was said to have converted someone (perhaps a person of importance?) somewhere at some time...

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Excursus: Ethiopia and Ethiopians

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pp. 221-229

The Ethiopia in view in Acts 8:26-39 is not the actual ancient kingdom of Meroe19 so much as the legendary land of romance,20 an exotic region21 whose inhabitants enjoyed that utopian22 existence available to those noted for their exemplary piety.23 “This story . . . has a romantic character that neither the author nor his first readers would have missed”24...

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The Call of Saul (9:1–19a)

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pp. 230-238

Acts 9 is embedded in a series of remarkable conversions, the most important of which is the conversion of Christian leaders to the acceptance of gentiles. Saul’s experience follows the paradigmatic baptism of an Ethiopian official (8:26-39). The narrator then turns to reports that Peter continued the work of Philip (8:40) along the coast of Palestine (9:32-43)...

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Excursus: Source Hypotheses for Acts 7:58; 8:1, 3; 9:1–19

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pp. 239-244

In summary, Acts 9:1-19a is the third stage of a tradition. The earliest apparent stage (source1) was an edifying novella about the punishment and subsequent healing of a notorious enemy of God. Subsequently this story was transformed into a narrative about the conversion of Paul (source2)...

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Saul in Damascus and Jerusalem (9:19b–31)

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pp. 245-250

The section describes how Saul took up the mantle of Stephen. In contrast with Galatians 1, a gentile mission is not in prospect.1 There are two parallel units. Verses 19b-25 summarize Saul’s successful work in Damascus, leading to the brief description of his successful escape from the resultant plot...

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Peter Launches a Mission Along the Coast (9:32–43)

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pp. 251-257

If the summary form of v. 31 is given its weight, 9:32—11:18 constitutes a unit.1 The pattern is similar to that of 13:1—15:29: missionary work in several communities includes the conversion of gentiles, resulting in a conference in Jerusalem. At the simplest level, the two acts of Peter in 9:32-43 bring him into proximity to Caesarea2...

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The Conversions of Peter and Cornelius (10:1–11:18)

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pp. 258-288

The Conversion of Cornelius is the longest story in Acts, rivaled only by Paul’s journey to Rome.1 Length is one criterion of importance. Others include the careful scenic structure, the use of repetition, and the dense supernatural apparatus of vision and epiphany. The first conversion of an identified gentile was in no sense due to individual whimsy...

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The Church Spreads to Antioch (11:19–30)

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pp. 289-291

Although not an integrated unit, Acts 11:19—12:25 constitutes a distinct section. Acts 12:25, which completes 11:30, establishes these bounds. Luke’s model was Mark 6, in which the account of the mission of the disciples (6:7-13, 30) is interrupted by the story of the Baptizer’s death (6:14-29)...

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Excursus: Syrian Antioch

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pp. 291-294

The most famous of foundations named “Antioch” by Seleucid rulers, Syrian Antioch (established c. 300 BCE) served as the capital of the Seleucid empire and was, after Rome absorbed the remains of that dominion, the third most important city in the early empire. Antioch, situated at the juncture of Syria and Asia Minor...

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Excursus: The Name “Christian”

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pp. 294-298

The advent of the adjective “Christian” (v. 26d)45 marks the followers of Jesus as a body recognized by outsiders as distinct from Judaism.46 “Christian” is a Greek word of Latin form and Semitic background and thus, like the inscription on the cross (John 19:19-20), encapsulates the cosmopolitan background of emergent Christianity47...

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Persecution by Herod and Peter’s Miraculous Escape (12:1–23)

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pp. 299-312

Chapter 12 consists of two linked stories (vv. 1-17; 18-23), a conventional note on growth (v. 24), and a brief report (v. 25).1 The last item completes 11:27-30 and encloses the narrative of chap. 12 within a frame. That framework exhibits two contrasting approaches to food shortages. The two stories share a principal character: “King Herod”...

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Excursus: The Source of 12:20–23

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pp. 312-315

Luke may have drawn this story from Josephus’s accounts of the death of Agrippa I (Ant. 19.343–50).119 The stories follow a similar outline,120 and the motive of self-deification as the “cause” of death is common to both, although Acts points the reader toward the conclusion that Herod dies as punishment for his persecution of the church...

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A Summary (12:24–25)

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pp. 316-317

24-25 The brief summary of v. 241 affirms that persecution cannot slow the progress of the mission.2 Verse 25 does not suggest that the demise of Herod made it possible for believers to appear in public. Its structural function is to mark the unit begun at 11:19...

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Paul and Barnabas in Cyprus (13:1–12)

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pp. 318-327

One plan of the structure of Acts places the major division after chap. 12.1 Content supports this orientation: Jerusalem and Peter are central in chaps. 1–12; Paul and the Diaspora in chaps. 13–28. Although chaps. 13–14 form a distinct unit (below), chaps. 13–19 relate the Pauline mission, and chap. 19 has echoes of chaps. 13–142...

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Paul Preaches in Antioch of Pisidia (13:13–52)

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pp. 328-332

The narrative leaps more than 375 kilometers (as the crow flies), to Pisidian Antioch. In Cyprus, Paul demonstrated his miraculous power; the power of his rhetoric will be on display in Pisidia. Within a space of about eight days, Paul preaches a long sermon (vv. 16-41) that wins many adherents from among the Jews and their friends...

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Excursus: “God-Fearers” in Acts

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pp. 332-344

Acts has sparked a vigorous debate about the general existence of gentiles who frequented synagogues and found much that appealed in the religion of Israel but did not always become converts.12 Acts does speak of such people, with two different participles...

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Missionary Activity in Lycaonia (14:1–28)

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pp. 345-358

The narrator seems to be somewhat out of his element in this rugged territory, until, in vv. 11-18, he capitalizes on that “semi-barbarism” to produce one of the most memorable scenes of Acts. Otherwise, the geographically uninformed reader has no sense that the setting is unusual. Verses 1-5 report, in highly compressed form, the experience at Iconium...

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Excursus: Lucan “Natural Theology”

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pp. 359-363

By invoking, here and in 17:16-34,97 creation as proof for the existence of God, Luke takes up, as noted, a category of Greco-Roman philosophical theology.98 His views come from contemporary Christian thought and from the Hellenistic Jewish traditions through which these views were mediated...

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Resolution of a Controversy over Circumcision (15:1–35)

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pp. 364-376

Acts 15 is difficult. “The general problem of Acts xv is so complicated that it can only be stated—it cannot be solved—by a process of analysis into smaller ones.”1 The place of chap. 15 in the structure of Acts is difficult to determine. Historical knowledge exacerbates the question, since commentators know that...

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Excursus: The Apostolic Decree

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pp. 376-384

The title “Apostolic Decree” is appropriate for the commands transmitted in 15:28. This is one of those items found three times in Acts (15:20; 21:25), an indication of its importance.85 This list, which, with one possible exception, is unlike the “catalogues of vices” that speak of general categories...

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Toward a New Mission (15:36–16:10)

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pp. 385-392

The overlapping structure of Acts is manifest in the four short paragraphs (15:30-35, 36-41; 16:1-5, 6-10) through which the narrative turns toward Paul’s great missionary work. The first and last of these are oriented toward what lies before and ahead. The middle two are transitional...

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Excursus: “We” in Acts

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pp. 392-396

One of the most vexing problems for the analysis of Acts is the use of “we” in various parts of the narration: 16:10-17; 20:5-16; 21:1-18; 27:1—28:16.63 These passages raise questions of source, form, and narrative intent. One possibility is that the author utilized “we” to mark points at which he was present on the scene64...

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The Mission in Philippi (16:11–40)

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pp. 397-409

Each of the communities evangelized by Paul in chaps. 16–19 has distinct and memorable characteristics. Some of these are traditional: Philippi was a Roman colony, Athens was an intellectual and cultural center, and the Ephesian temple of Artemis was famous. Others are more particular: Philippi seems to have no established synagogue...

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Excursus: Prison Escapes in Acts83

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pp. 409-415

This is the third and climactic account of a miraculous event in a prison. Suitably for its environment, Acts 16:25-34 is also the most Greco-Roman in flavor.84 Although the primary focus of research on prison escapes and door miracles has been on their role in the propagation of new cults, the event (and its opposite, the blocking of a door) occurs widely...

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Paul Visits Thessalonica and Beroea (17:1–15)

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pp. 416-422

Chapter 17 treats the initial missions to Thessalonica and Beroea (vv. 1-15), followed by Paul’s famous sojourn in Athens. The first two stations return to the pattern used in chaps. 13–14.1 Paul preaches in the synagogue, in accordance with the formula “Jews first,”2 enjoying some success among Jews and prominent God-Fearers...

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Paul’s Areopagus Address (17:16–34)

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pp. 423-442

The narrator depicts Paul at loose ends in Athens, awaiting his assistants. That city was the very navel of what was even in Paul’s day viewed as the “golden age” of Greek culture and the location of unnumbered artistic marvels.1 The narrator begins by observing that Paul, like Jesus (Luke 21:5-6), is no gawking tourist...

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Paul in Corinth (18:1–23)

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pp. 443-445

The structure of 18:1-18, which treats the mission to Corinth, is relatively straightforward. The same cannot be said of the residue (vv. 19-28). After a flying visit to Ephesus, Paul sets out for Jerusalem by sea, then proceeds to Antioch, followed by an overland pastoral visit to previous foundations (v. 22) that will return him in due course to Ephesus (19:1)...

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Excursus: Acts 18 and Chronology

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pp. 445-457

This chapter contains two references that may be correlated with external events and thus provide opportunity for establishing a chronological base. In addition, there are relative, internal temporal markers. The first, μετὰ ταῦτα (lit. “after these things” [18:1]), is vague. “Every Sabbath” (v. 4) indicates a mission of at least some weeks...

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Apollos (18:24–28)

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pp. 458-461

Different plans and analyses of the following passages have been offered. The view of 19:1 as a major division is generally rejected. Schemes vary, but all shed light on the structure of Acts. Talbert (172) treats 18:24—20:1 as a unit, based on Ephesus; Polhill utilizes the same basis, but takes 18:23—21:16 as boundaries...

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Paul in Ephesus (19:1–12)

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pp. 462-473

“Paul’s Ephesian labors are a meteoric burst before the darkness of the eclipse of his journey to Rome.”1 The actual mission to Ephesus is an exiguous bit of sausage sandwiched between two large slices of bread. The introduction runs from 18:24 to 19:7 (twelve verses), and 19:21-40 is, effectively, a twenty-verse postscript...

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An Attempted Exorcism and Its Aftermath (19:13–22)

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pp. 474-483

The structure of the following unit is not as clear as first appears. Verses 13-17 report a failed exorcism, properly concluded with public awe and marked, in vv. 13 and 17, with a bracket: “the name of the Lord Jesus.”1 Verses 18-19 follow as a logical consequence: magic names can boomerang. Talbert’s view of vv. 13-19 as a parody of a miracle story...

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A Disturbance in Ephesus (19:23–40)

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pp. 484-502

The pendulum now swings to the opposite side of the religious spectrum, from the vulgarity of door-to-door exorcism and over-the-counter magic to the majesty and esteem of the city’s patron: Artemis.2 Two cults claiming universal outreach came into collision.3 Opposition does not arise from charges lodged by civic or cultic authorities...

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Paul’s Departure from Asia (20:1–38)

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pp. 503-507

Acts 20 begins the story of Paul’s fateful last journey to Jerusalem. The focus is on his pastoral role, both in direct ministry to the faithful (vv. 7-12)1 and as a leader of leaders (vv. 18-35). This is artistic. Paul had performed such functions earlier, but emphasis on them suits the plot at this point...

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Excursus: The Seven of Acts 20:418

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pp. 508-529

The list, which quite probably derives from a written source,19 includes three representatives from Macedonia (Sopater of Beroea and two from Thessalonica—Aristarchus and Secundus), two from “South Galatia” (Gaius and Timothy, of Derbe and Lystra,20 respectively), and two from Asia (Tychicus and Trophimus)...

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Excursus: The Farewell Scene

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pp. 529-531

Acts 20:36—21:17 contains several scenes of departure (20:36-38; 21:5-6; 10-18). François Bovon has shown that they follow a Greek literary pattern, which he traces from Homer onwards.256 Examples include the Socratic tradition,257 which influenced philosophical and martyrological portraits258...

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Paul Travels to Jerusalem (21:1–17)

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pp. 532-540

As the group approaches Jerusalem, warnings become increasingly vivid and dire. “The road to Jerusalem recalls Paul’s earlier visits to the capital, only this time the black clouds are massed on the horizon.”1 Paul remains staunch in his commitment, undeterred even by the threat of martyrdom...

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Paul Confers with James (21:18–26)

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pp. 541-544

The larger unit extends from 21:18 to 22:29, the conclusion of Paul’s speech. This is a continuous narrative comprising a number of scenes: 21:18-26; 21:27-36; 21:37—22:21; 22:22-29. The final quarter of Acts is well organized, without the gaps and leaps that are often perceptible in earlier sections...

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Excursus: Luke and Torah Observance

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pp. 544-547

Neither here nor elsewhere does Acts explain why Jewish believers should be taught to observe Torah. Insofar as Acts is concerned the Law of Moses cannot make one right with God (13:38-39), is an intolerable burden (15:10), and, insofar as it deals with dietary laws and regulations for purity...

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Paul is Arrested (21:27–40)

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pp. 548-552

The purification procedure requires seven days, a window of opportunity for opponents. On the final day, just when it seemed that Paul was out of the woods, the (not “some”) Jews from Ephesus,1 life in which place2 offered the equivalent of a graduate seminar in fomenting riots, spotted Paul...

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Excursus: Paul the Prisoner

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pp. 552-554

Acts includes two types of confinement scenes. The first three (5:17-21a; 12:4; 16:24-39) are brief and unpleasant (explicitly so in chaps. 12 and 16). All of these terminate in a miraculous delivery. The final confinement extends over a fourth of the book, takes place in a number of locations...

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Excursus: Was Paul a Citizen of Tarsus? of Rome?

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pp. 554-557

The author does not intend the word πολίτης in 21:39 to be understood in the sense of “resident” but with its full meaning of “citizen,” as in “French citizen” rather than a legal resident of France.36 In Greco-Roman antiquity, citizenship was associated with cities...

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Paul Addresses the Crowd in the Temple (22:1–21)

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pp. 558-566

The speech opens with appropriate flattery and continues with a review of Paul’s credentials, some of which readers learn for the first time. Zeal he did not lack, exemplified in his hostility to the Jesus movement, which leads to the first of two reports by Paul of his change of view. In this account, the story takes on a different slant...

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Reactions to Paul’s Address (22:22–29)

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pp. 567-569

Reference to gentiles reignited the mob, moving the commandant to revert to his earlier plan. (One may conjure up the classic gloomy dungeon, with dripping walls and smoking lamps.) Just as the lash was about to fall upon this stripped (cf. Mark 15:20) and strung up prisoner...

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Paul before the Sanhedrin (22:30–23:11)

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pp. 570-576

Chapter 23 reports the transfer of Paul from Roman custody under the garrison commander in Jerusalem to custody under the Roman procurator in Caesarea. Lysias makes his third attempt to clarify the charges against Paul. This creates another situation from which he must rescue his prisoner (vv. 1-10)...

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A Plot against Paul (23:12–35)

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pp. 577-587

This thrilling story has every mark of a free authorial composition without the assistance of a source, although the essential facts, that Paul was taken into custody in Jerusalem and transferred to Caesarea, are presumably correct and may have been found in the Collection Source or, possibly, in a lost communication of Paul1...

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Excursus: Felix

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pp. 587-588

Neither the full name nor the exact dates and extent of Felix’s tenure as procurator of Judea are known.67 Whether his gentilicum was “Antonius” or “Claudius” is not material to Acts,68 but the date on which he left office is considered important for Pauline chronology...

Paul before Felix (24:1–23)

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pp. 589-591

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Excursus: The Trials of Paul

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pp. 592-601

A venerable school of research has assumed that the reports about Paul’s legal situation in Acts 21–28, with particular reference to chaps. 24–26, are historical in nature, derived from available records and the possible presence of the author. For support, these scholars turn to Roman law or analyses of it1...

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Paul before Felix and Festus (24:24–27)

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pp. 602-606

While waiting for the tribune to extricate himself from the press of duties and vindicate Paul, readers may pass the time by watching their hero help a governor and his wife wile away some of the dreary hours of life in the capital of a provincial backwater. Paul’s vigorous ethics had no appeal for the procurator...

Festus Takes the Case (25:1–12)

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p. 607

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Excursus: Porcius Festus and the Date of His Accession

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pp. 608-613

Josephus is much less critical of the rule of Festus than of the tenures of his predecessor (Felix) and his successor (Albinus). The extremely terse comments in Bell. 2.271–72 credit him with successful counterinsurgency. Ant. 20.182–96 is more detailed. The “bandits” were sicarii...

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Agrippa and Bernice Arrive (25:13–22)

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pp. 614-615

In the course of time a royal couple, Agrippa (II) and Bernice, dropped by to pay their respects. Because their visit extended over several days, Festus had opportunity to lay before his guest the burden of this difficult case. The omniscient narrator reports a conversation between the procurator and the client king...

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Excursus: Agrippa II and Bernice

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pp. 615-618

M. Julius Agrippa (28–c. 93), the son of Agrippa I (and the brother of both Drusilla and Bernice), was the last king of the Herodian line.9 Had he succeeded his father, a plan Josephus says enjoyed the initial favor of Claudius (Josephus Ant. 19.360–62),10 history may have been quite different...

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The Prelude to Paul’s Defense (25:23–27)

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pp. 619-622

The most suitable setting for the proposed audition would have been a private interview, but the narrator has already utilized that opportunity (24:24-25). Paul’s final defense took place in a setting of considerable splendor, with all those able and eligible to attend a V.I.P. gala present, including a client king, his regal sister, a governor, and all the quality of Caesarea...

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Paul’s Defense (26:1–32)

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pp. 623-629

Acts 261 is the best-crafted oration in the book, with a skillful structure and a relative abundance of stylistic niceties.2 It would be difficult to find a commentator who believes that these achievements are accidental, for this is also the climactic oration, a defense speech that becomes a missionary appeal3...

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Excursus: Three Accounts of Paul’s Conversion/Call

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pp. 629-638

Paul’s transformation from opponent to advocate of the Jesus movement is one of the items that Acts reports three times.32 Research has followed the path laid out by Dibelius and Haenchen: from studies based upon the predication of various sources to literary analysis33...

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Paul’s Ocean Voyage (27:1–44)

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pp. 639-667

The keystone to the arch of issues through which all interpreters of Acts 271 must pass is its length.2 Why did the author devote sixty verses (c. 6 percent of the text) to the story of Paul’s transfer to Rome?3 This is central to the question of meaning, and all discussions of text, source, and form must address it or risk the charge of irrelevance...

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Paul on Malta (28:1–16)

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pp. 668-678

The medieval decision to mark a new chapter here was unfortunate.1 Verses 1-10 cover their sojourn on the island, while 11-16 narrate in brief itinerary style completion of the journey inaugurated in chap. 27, complementing 27:1-8. Both framing units report friendly officials and the ministrations of fellow believers (27:3; 28:14)...

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Paul the Prisoner in Rome (28:17–31)

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pp. 679-688

This material, with the possible exception of v. 30a, is generally recognized as Lucan composition.1 Verse 16 is the logical end of a narrative sequence. Structurally, it serves to bracket, with vv. 30-31, the final section of Acts.2 The intervening material consists of two paragraphs that have a modern ring...

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Excursus: The Ending of Acts

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pp. 688-690

If the volume of comment is the measure of an author’s impact, the close of Acts is a great success. Commentators since Chrysostom have been compelled to ask why Luke did not finish the story of Paul.83 “But of his affairs after the two years, what say we? (The writer) leaves the hearer athirst for more...

Appendixes

Appendix 1: The Conversion of Polemo

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pp. 691-692

Appendix 2: The “Sarapis Aretalogy” from Delos: The Foundation of a Cult

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pp. 692-693

Appendix 3: Political Activity by a Guild

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pp. 693-694

Appendix 4: Artemidorus Oneirocritica 2.23.

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pp. 694-695

Appendix 5: Endings

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pp. 695-696

Bibliography

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pp. 697-760

Indexes

1. Passages

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pp. 761-796

2. Greek Words

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p. 797

3. Subjects

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p. 797

4. Modern Authors

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pp. 797-810

Designer’s Notes

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pp. 811-812