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J.T. Kirby: Acts 3:1683 Acts 3:16: Textual Tradition and Semiosis John T. Kirby for D.S.C. and LJ.C. Acts 3 refers to the name ofJesus twice (w. 6, 16) in reference to the healing of a lame man. This has generated a good deal of critical speculation because, as the text of v. 16 stands, the name itself (t? d??µa) is credited with healing the man. Thus the syntax is perceived to be difficult; and some have seen here significant theological implications for the power of spoken utterance. In this essay I would like to discuss the textual tradition of the lemma, to defend the paradosis, and to show, by semiotic analysis of the situation created by the speaker, how textual confusion might have occurred. In antiquity, as is well known, names were "not just a designation but an expressed essentiality."1 We are able to acknowledge this on an academic level, but infact itis notalways easy to grasprightly thefull cultural importtiatnaming hadfor the ancients, particularly in numinous contexts. One aspect of this is in the magical realm: Experience ofpower and will is reflected in the name. The name is not abstract; it gives clear form and solid content to the will. Only when the gods have names do they acquire personality, history and myth. Only when men know the name of a god can they call upon him, have dealings with him, or bring him into play by magic. Men can have this magical power over the god only because in the case of the gods, too, the name is essentially linked with the one who bears it.2 1 H. Bietenhard sub uoce d??µa in G. Kittel and G. Friedrich, eds., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, trans. G.W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids 1967) vol. 5:243. Bietenhard is quoting G. van der Leeuw, Phänomenologie der Religion (Tübingen 1933) 129-41. 2 Bietenhard (above, note 1) 243. Cf. also note 1 1 in vol. 5 of FJ. Foakes-Jackson and K. Lake, eds., The Beginnings ofChristianity (London 1920) 121-40. 84Syllecta Classica 2 (1990) Thus too, in the magic papyri "knowledge of names gives power over their bearers ... the simple utterance of a name puts a spell on its owner and brings him under the power of the speaker."3 In such instances, the characteristic development is to take a divine name, or the name of a human figure prominent in the religious culture (as with John the Baptist), and to attach magic powers to it. But is this the pattern followed in Acts 3: 16? The Torah, of course, strictly forbids the use of the Divine Name (mrp) in magic or incantation (Exod. 20:7, Deut. 5:11). On the other hand, in the Hebrew scriptures God is regularly invoked in prayer by the Name (Gen. 4:26, 12:8, et passim). His name distinguishes him as the God of Israel (Exod. 3:15, 20:2), the one Deity with whom the children of Israel have to do. In tie New Testament, the phrase "(in) the name of Jesus" or "in my name" often takes on the same force that "(in) the name of YHWH" has in the Hebrew scriptures (John 1:12, 16:23-24, Phil. 2:9-11, Col. 3:17, 2 Thess. 1:12, etc.). The Philippians passage in particular exalts the name of Jesus to a position of unequivocal deity, especially in light of Isa. 45:2123 , which language Paul seems to echo consciously.4 Some commentators of Acts take the thaumaturgie bull by the horns and assert that the text of 3:16 accredits the very name with miraculous power;5 others, unable to reconcile Christianity (or Judaism) with the exercise of magical rites, try to emphasize (v. 16) that the name serves rather to awaken faith in tie cripple, who is awarded his perfect health as the outcome of his faith.6 (Alternately the faith is attributed to Peter and John, but the conclusion is the same.) Some rightly point out that the name of Jesus, employed by non-Christians in an attempt to cast out demons, has no power at all...


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