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109 6 His Feet and Ankles Were Made Strong Signs of Character in the Man Lame from Birth One important purpose of the healing of the lame man in Acts 3–4 is to show that the physical disability of being lame,however much it was despised in antiquity, does not disqualify one from membership in the eschatological community of the Way. Whatever the historical value of the episode, as it now stands the story of the lame man joins the other examples from the Gospel of Luke (the bent woman and Zac- .The periodical literature, especially that focusing on the healing itself and not the accompanying speeches, is not nearly as dense as one might expect; see e.g., Paul Walaskay, “Acts 3:1–10,” Interpretation 42 (1988): 171–75; Danielle Ellul,“Actes 3:1–11,”Etudes théologiques et religieuses 64 (1989): 95–99. See also Gilberto Marconi,“History as a Hermeneutical Interpretation of the Difference between Acts 3:1–10 and 4:8–12,” in Luke and Acts, ed. Gerald O’Collins and Gilberto Marconi (New York: Paulist, 1992), 167–80, 252–57. Nevertheless, I should mention the work of Dennis Hamm; although he does not explore physiognomy in any way,he argues for the symbolic and paradigmatic value of the lame man’s story for Luke’s theology.In that sense,his work stands close to what I am attempting to do: M.Dennis Hamm, S. J.,“This Sign of Healing: Acts 3:1–10: A Study in Lucan Theology,”(Ph.D. dissertation, St. Louis University,1975); idem.,“Acts 3:12–26: Peter’s Speech and the Healing of the Man Born Lame,” Perspectives in Religious Studies 11 (1984): 199–217; idem., “Acts 3:1–10: The Healing of the Temple Beggar as Lucan Theology,” Biblica 67 (1986): 305–19. Parsons_LukeActs_JDE_djm.indd 109 9/15/06 1:27:34 PM 110 Body and Character in Luke and Acts chaeus) to undermine the assumption that physical appearance reflects moral character. Ankles, Feet, and Ancient Physiognomy Note the structure of Acts 3:1–4:31 and its placement in the narrative of Acts.This is a well-defined narrative segment: Narrative summaries on either side of our text (2:41–47 and 4:32–35) make the section “readily isolated from what precedes and what follows.” Furthermore this narrative segment is comprised of four scenes (3:1–10, 3:11–4:4, 4:5–22, 4:23–31) demarcated by temporal and spatial shifts. The temporal shift from day 1 to day 2, effected by a “nocturnal pause” between 4:4 and 5, links scenes 1–2 and 3–4 closely to each other.The theme of healing is found in every scene,either with specific reference to the lame man (3:2, 16; 4:9–10, 22) or to healing in general (4:30). The healing of a lame man also has parallels in the ministries of Jesus (Luke 5:17–26) and Paul (Acts 14:8–18). With this description of the literary contours of our narrative, we begin our physiognomic analysis.In many ways,the key text is Acts 3:7b, where the narrator, in recounting the healing, notes that “immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.” This verse was a favorite among those who advanced the thesis that Luke’s so-called medical vocabulary proved that the author was a physician.W. K.Hobart was probably not the first to comment on this verse, but he surely made more of it than most. About βάσις (“feet”) he commented that the word was employed to “show that the writer was acquainted with medical phraseology, and . On questions of historicity of this story,see Gerd Luedemann,whose skepticism toward miracles still dominates modern New Testament scholarship: “There is no historical nucleus to the tradition of the miracle story in vv. 1–10. Those who are lame from their childhood are (unfortunately) not made whole again”(Early Christianity according to the Tradition in Acts: A Commentary [Minneapolis: Fortress, 1989], 54). For a defense of the historicity of miracles in Acts generally, see Colin Hemer, The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1989), 439–43. On the question of miracles in Acts, see the balanced presentation by Charles Talbert in Reading Acts: A Literary and Theological Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles (New York: Crossroad, 1997), 251–53. . Robert W. Funk, The Poetics of Biblical Narrative (Sonoma, CA: Polebridge, 1988...


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