His first table lists thirty-three episodes of adventure or danger in Acts: arrests, persecutions, plots, mobs and riots, trials, and a shipwreck. There are many arrests in Acts. Pervo points to the grand climax in Acts They gain the support of their jailer, a local worthy, and leave the entire colony in their debt, since Philippi has one fewer religious fraud [the demon-possessed slave girl who was being used by her owners] and no escaped prisoners for whom to account.
Most astonishing is that, amid all this good will, they also leave. There are, to be sure, some problems of law and logic: Since Luke is quite capable of writing sequential and logical narrative, I conclude that he did in Acts just what he wanted to do. Composition of appealing stories was not his lowest. Neither Luke nor Pervo can be accused of being dull.
Some in the society resist the new, barbarian god, but Dionysius vindicates his power, resulting in the death of king Penthus. Luke employs such powerful escapades in a historical novel. In the s, tens of thousands of Christians were murdered or disappeared in Latin America.
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Is it conceivable to think of the emotional effect those stories have on us as entertainment? Pervo does consider the feelings of persons who consistently tell and read such stories, and before we dismiss it, we might consider the society we live in. We regularly rent entertaining movies for our VCRs that include an incredible amount of violence. In the Greco-Roman age, mob violence and war were common. Contrast David L.
As in the invasion of Panama, actual death is glossed over, he thinks. Pervo explains this as the world view of the adolescent. There is little theology here, but lots of excitement.
Having briefly outlined his work and then narrated the arrest, Luke retards his plot at this juncture with the longest and most breathtaking speech in the book Critique of cult and temple passes without demurrer, but when Stephen turns to the law, the judges rise in fury. Stephen is simply hauled out and killed. But how magnificently he expires! Still transfigured, battered by rocks but unbowed, the erect Hellenist offers pious prayer for a good and noble death mors bona et nobilis.
That done, he carefully kneels amid the swirling stones, prays once more, this time for his enemies, then dies. There is a plot against Paul immediately after his baptism in Damascus, then again in Jerusalem Acts 9. Any definition of its genre needs to take these items into account. For Luke the Sanhedrin is a lynch mob with official sanction and permanent standing. The facts, naturally, are less tidy. This is vulgar propaganda.
As an apology for Paul and for the faith, and as a stirring and appealing narrative, the last third of Acts leaves little to be desired. Here Luke has lavished his attention and skill, but it is also here that he will receive some of his worst marks as a historian. He appears by a historical criterion to be doing his worst when at his best.
The criterion may be at fault. Finally, Pervo interprets the great shipwreck in chapter Luke writes 9 verses about the mission in Thessalonica, 17 about Corinth, 20 for Asia, and 60 for this sea voyage. Storm and shipwreck stories were a staple of ancient adventure writing. This summarizes the key second chapter in an important book. Before any critique, I stress its contribution. The writers of biographies, novels, and histories were rhetoricians, the chief subject in ancient education. Biographies, novels, and histories were read out loud, that is, they were oral, aural works, unlike modern works read silently.
We may have perceived this adventure as children in Sunday school, but our serious study in church, college, and seminary has helped us to forget. Homeyer, ed.
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Fink, , Pervo has nowhere seriously considered the form, content, or function of ancient historiography. He constantly contrasts novels with history, but in this book the latter is his own reconstruction. Below under C. David J. Lull Atlanta: Schqlars Press, , , at Paul, ed. Wayne A. Meeks New York: Norton, , Ancient history was not individualistic, but narrated social and political events, as does Luke-Acts. Luke-Acts is neither a biography nor a novel, but rather is ancient history. Lull Atlanta: Scholars Press, , I will support this thesis by comparing the content, form, and function of these volumes with a specific Hellenistic historical work, that by Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities.
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Dionysius was a Greek who arrived in Rome in 30 B. He did research for twenty-two years and began writing his history in 7 B. Geneva: Fondation Hardt, , At no time in Greco-Roman antiquity was history taught as a subject. A preliminary comparison of the two historians shows significant similarities. At the beginning of his narrative, Dionysius has a long section describing the origins of the six groups which later combined to found Rome Rom. When a rhetorician like Dionysius speaks of a people, a city, or a family, their origins must be narrated.
There are phrases that explain what Dionysius narrates by such stories of origins. One must narrate who the ancestors were, from where they immigrated, and when the city or people were founded. Further, these points could be treated either as a eulogy or as an invective. Second, there was a key epoch in history, the Roman monarchy, which he reckons as having lasted years, from to B.
The fall of the Roman monarchy occurred in the same century as the fall of the Davidic dynasty in Jerusalem. Both Acts 7 and 13 also belong here. Luke ; , 32, The birth narrative actually tells us little about them.
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Where does Luke tell us about these ancestors, perhaps not well known to some of his readers? At the conclusion of a book on Acts , Earl Richards draws the following conclusions: the narrative is so structured as to fit into the plan of Acts as a Jerusalem episode with an introduction, , to serve as a fitting context for the long disclosure, and to prepare for the persecution and dispersion out of Jerusalem.
But in his open acts also Potheinus was unbearable, since he said and did many things that were invidious and insulting to Caesar. But owing to the political situation, though Caesar was not ignorant of these things and did not like them, he was compelled to make use of such assistants. Caesar therefore resolved to make an expedition against them. He had under him, namely, a man who otherwise was a contemptible nobody, but belonged to the family of the Africani, and was called Scipio Sallustio.
For how could he have spared Cato alive, when he poured out against him after death so great a cup of wrath? Accordingly, he wrote a treatise in which he got together countless charges against Cato; and the work is entitled "Anti-Cato. These were still young, but had collected an army of amazing numbers and displayed a boldness which justified their claims to leadership, so that they beset Caesar with the greatest peril.
This was confessedly a tyranny, since the monarchy, besides the element of irresponsibility, now took on that of permanence.
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The earlier capture of both these cities, as well as their present restoration, chanced to fall at one and the same time. And all these things were in preparation. This the Romans use down to the present time, and are thought to be less in error than other peoples as regards the inequality between the lunar and solar years.
At any rate, Cicero the orator, we are told, when some one remarked that Lyra would rise on the morrow, said: "Yes, by decree," implying that men were compelled to accept even this dispensation. For the multitude this was a first cause of hatred, and for those who had long smothered their hate, a most specious pretext for it. But at this the people were confounded, and Caesar, disturbed in mind, said that his name was not King, but Caesar, and seeing that his words produced an universal silence, he passed on with no very cheerful or contented looks.
It was, namely, the festival of the Lupercalia , of which many write that it was anciently celebrated by shepherds, and has also some connection with the Arcadian Lycaea. Accordingly, after he had dashed into the forum and the crowd had made way for him, he carried a diadem, round which a wreath of laurel was tied, and held it out to Caesar.
Then there was applause, not loud, but slight and preconcerted. So two of the tribunes, Flavius and Maryllus, went up to them and pulled off the diadems, and after discovering those who had first hailed Caesar as king, led them off to prison. Some, however, say that this was not the vision which the woman had; but that there was attached to Caesar's house to give it adornment and distinction, by vote of the senate, a gable-ornament , as Livy says, and it was this which Calpurnia in her dreams saw torn down, and therefore, as she thought, wailed and wept.
For never before had he perceived in Calpurnia any womanish superstition, but now he saw that she was in great distress. And he had gone but a little way from his door when a slave belonging to some one else, eager to get at Caesar, but unable to do so for the press of numbers about him, forced his way into the house, gave himself into the hands of Calpurnia, and bade her keep him secure until Caesar came back, since he had important matters to report to him. This was the signal for the assault. Therefore Brutus also gave him one blow in the groin.