Date of Award
Dissertation - Restricted
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
In his apologetic speech in chapter 26 of the Acts of the Apostles Paul suddenly asks: "How/why is it Judged unbelievable with you that God raises the dead?" (26,8). While many commentators and a few exegetes have suggested ideas about the meaning and significance of this text, no one has offered a major article or book which studies this intriguing verse in a thorough way. Therefore, we have undertaken the task of a detailed analysis of this text in order to make an original contribution to the scientific study of the Acts
in the areas of both content and method.
Certainly New Testament exegesis has been experiencing refinement and clarification methodologically during this century with the result that numerous methods have been applied to the Acts. Within this context we make the assessment that an exegetical approach which is as inductive as possible is needed in contemporary exegesis. Methodologically, then, this study of Acts 26,8 offers what is termed a "literary analysis" of this text. The basic movement of literary analysis is to discover the literary character of texts and on this basis to arrive at the meaning of texts. In this way the meaning of the texts arises from the intrinsic nature of the texts themselves. In outline, the ways in which to discover the literary character of texts are the following: lay out sentences according to their grammatical character; discover groups of words which are repeated exactly or nearly exactly ("patterns"); discover material which corresponds to other material on the bases or some shared contents and/or of the same syntactical character ("contentual correspondences"); on the bases or patterns and contentual correspondences, discover the mode/s of interplay of texts, and thereby, the interrelationships of expressions and meanings.
The process of the literary analysis or Acts 26,8 takes the following form. Chapter two explores how and why Acts 26,8 is interrelated with the material of the speech in Acts 26,2-23. From what is discovered, implications are drawn regarding the process of the literary analysis which should be undertaken in order to interpret Acts 26,8. On the basis of these implications, then, chapter three formulates the interpretation of Acts 26,8. The data for this interpretation consists in the study of patterns and contentual correspondences within the Lucan corpus which arise from the material in Acts 26,6-8. The understanding of the literary character of this data provides the constitutive evidence for the interpretation of Acts 26,8. The problem of the ambiguity of "that God raises the dead" (Acts 26,8b) is resolved, since this clause is shown to refer to both the future resurrection of the dead ((GREEK) study) and the resurrection of Jesus ((GREEK) study). Then, inquiry into the relationship be between Jesus' resurrection and the future resurrection or the dead offers confirmatory evidence for this interpretation of
Act s 26,8b.
Next, from a developmental perspective, chapter four uncovers the significance of Acts 26,8 through its interrelationships with a number of texts in the Acts: 23,6; 24,15.21; 25,19; and 26,23. These five texts and Acts 26,8 constitute a "resurrection sequence" which exhibits a developmental character. In Acts 26,8 Luke brings together two basic affirmations of the previous four resurrection texts and poses them as an ambiguous, "two-edged" rhetorical question addressed to the Gentile audience at hand. Then, in Acts 26,23 Luke draws together and clarifies what he has been doing in the resurrection sequence.
Moving to the historical plane, the final chapter explores possible origins of material within Acts 26,6-8 from the perspectives of the Septuagint and of New Testament traditions. Luke's association of (GREEK) and/or (GREEK) with God's raising the dead in Acts 2,26; 13,32-33; 23,6; 24,15; 26,6-8 (28,20) is found to be due to a large extent to his own creative originality. Lastly, reflections about the Sitz im Leben of the Acts are offered.