Guide The Double Message. Patterns of Gender in Luke-Acts

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Keener , and the accusations levelled against Paul and Silas threatened such allegiance. More important than the mechanisms of the accusations is the specific content of the charges raised against Paul and his compatriots. Accusation 1: Turning the world upside down.

The Acts of the Apostles 16 The Gospel Message in Antioch

Acts holds that after Paul's brief imprisonment in Philippi, which also resulted from charges that he was involved in anti-Roman sedition Ac , he was soon again accused of the same in Thessalonica Ac The accusation of turning the world on its head went directly against imperial claims upon neatly ordered geopolitical space, and its world conquest in the form of a singular and matching order imposed upon various peoples in different parts of the world.

Paul and Silas are accused of political anarchy, subversion or resistance of one form or another. This accusation forms part of an ambivalent context as far as the interaction between Paul and his associates, and the imperial -aligned functionaries or agents was concerned. Ac ; Then also Festus approved of Paul's appeal to Caesar Ac , and the Roman centurion of Paul's military escort decided against killing the prisoners when their ship is lost at sea, because he wanted to spare Paul's life Ac Also in the conversion stories, Roman functionaries and soldiers were included; the centurion Cornelius's conversion through Peter Ac and the conversion of the pro-consul Sergei Paulus Cyprus Ac and the prison guard in Acts 16 are probably among the best known.

In Acts 17, Paul and Silas' host, Jason, is held responsible for their actions, having to post a bond for them; although a lenient penalty in Roman courts, a bond to curtail troublemakers was not unusual. On the other hand, Acts also details tension and even conflict between imperial agents and Jesus followers, at least in a few respects. One, the arrest, imprisonment and punishment of the followers of Christ were conducted by the Empire's political and military functionaries 24 ; two, the imperial source provided authority and power to the Jewish vassal kings and other local authorities 25 ; and, three, their relationship with the Empire determined the standing of local elites and religious figures, often scripting them as clients of the Empire, which is the ultimate patron.

In the end, according to Acts, such military and political figures were like other Gentiles' instruments in God's hands, legitimating a Gentile mission without legitimating Gentile supremacy:. Tiede Acts affirms both God's faithfulness, even to a faithless people, and God's vengeance and vindication cf. Ac ; , carried out to a large extent in Acts by political and military characters: the missionary force of God's kingdom overruns the petty postures of the imperial forces cf.

Acts' depiction of the Empire's political and military officials suggests that the hostility Jesus followers experienced did not derive from imperial distrust or discontentment e. In short, neither was the church the enemy of Rome nor Rome the enemy of the church; and 'sensible Roman administrators' and 'sensible Christians' knew this Bryan But Bryan pushes it too far when he claims that NT authors viewed God as holding authorities, such as the Roman Empire, accountable to fulfil the purpose for which God gave them the power Bryan ; this is to privilege a secondary interpretative grid as authoritative framework for perceiving the socio-political dimensions of NT documents.

Bryan's conclusion is unlikely, requiring all NT texts to conform to the same norm and obscuring unique features inherent to each; it also fails to reckon with the push and pull of the Empire in the 1st century, the kind of ambivalence typical of hegemonic contexts. For those outside of Jewish circles, the proclamations and actions of Jesus followers may have conjured up notions that could be interpreted as having a political thrust. Already in Acts this becomes clear, and now again in Acts Not discounting the possibility that Acts used irony, the new movement's message of transformation is causing disruption.

Accusation 2: Acting against Caesar's decrees. Although a matter of interpretation, it appears as if the following two accusations of acting against Caesar's decrees and claiming another king, namely Jesus in Acts , filled out the primary accusation of behaving as world disturbers. The accusation was clearly political, but in this respect our categories become confusing for making good sense of the ancient world. The modern, conventional separation and even distinction between religion and politics breaks down in the 1st century since they 'intertwine to form a coherent pattern of life' Rowe , and conceals the basic similarity between politics and religion, past and present, as 'both are ways of systematically constructing power' Price Individual households, and at times individuals themselves, practiced their versions of piety, but worship was generally public, communal and political at civic and imperial levels.

Ancient religion was thus intrinsically communal and public: performance-indexed piety' Fredriksen The role of the priestly elite of the Temple in Jerusalem illustrates the intersection of religion, politics and economics. Rome did not expect its conquered subjects to drop their religious affiliations, but to broaden them to accommodate the Roman gods and sense of religiosity or, at least, to tune local cults to show support for the Roman cause see Carter It was little surprise, then, that the priestly elite generally sided with the Romans when unrest broke out, since their loyalty ensured that they retained their power and privileges.

In ways similar to the Roman and Herodian elites, priestly elites obtained wealth through tithes and sacrifices made by people to the Temple.

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The priestly elite acted as the patrons of God and subjects of the Roman Empire. Accusation 3: Claiming another king. With the introduction of the princeps early in the Principate, the emperor was not only the supreme ruler but also the intermediary between the gods and the people, and the ultimate earthly benefactor.

Claiming another king constituted treason and a capital offense. Not only did Romans swear allegiance to the emperor but also pledged to report any possible treason. Although Acts never mentions the emperor cult directly cf. Rowe , this accusation may be an indirect reference to emperor worship. Moreover, if Paul and Silas did indeed preach about the new ruler's advent as suggested by the first Thessalonians letter, the current emperor's demise was implied. In fact, the charges of sedition against him and the very punishment suffered by Jesus Christ in the form of crucifixion would have rendered further credibility to the claims against his followers cf.

Keener His insistence on the lordship of Christ yet appealing to Caesar frames Paul's ambiguous relationship with the Empire. Here in Acts 17 in Thessalonica, Paul and Silas are accused of proclaiming a different 'king' Ac In the first chapter of Acts, Jesus is addressed likewise Ac , soon confirmed by his ascension 32 and the proclamation of the 'two men in white robes' Ac , and dramatically in Peter's Pentecost speech cf.

Ac ff. Paul's adversarial stance to the imperial forces in Acts 33 did not preclude Roman imperial protection, characterised by Paul's use of the available legal processes. No stranger to political trouble, the accusation that he initiated a riot in Ephesus led to his running away from the town Ac , whereas his involvement in creating a public disturbance in Philippi landed him in jail Ac Acts presents a Paul that is conversant with the legal system, and his court appearances saw him defending himself eloquently Ac Avoiding a trial by Jewish leaders which might have led to his summary execution Ac , Paul knew how to appeal to Caesar.

In short, the Acts account alludes to the ambivalence involved in the inevitable negotiating of the Empire in the 1st century. Engaging the Empire in Acts. The ambiguity of the imperial context, and to some extent of Acts' portrayal of Paul, all too often escape the attention of scholars, leading to reductionist portrayals based on simple binaries and neglecting rhetorical clues befitting a 1st-century world.

Luke certainly does not present Paul as a subversive figure; in fact, he is at pains to defend Paul against the charges brought against him as an anti-Roman agitator. Indeed, he portrays him as a Roman citizen who is very much aware of the benefits Rome has bestowed on him.

The Double Message: Patterns of Gender in Luke-Acts

Yet even if one discounts Luke's portrait of Paul as a tendentious piece of propaganda designed to rehabilitate his hero in Roman eyes, we are still confronted by a lack of explicit statements by Paul that could be construed as subversive. White The tenuous relationship between text and reality in general, doubts about the historical accuracy of Acts' depictions in particular, and the ever-present lurking danger of the intentional fallacy, means that such a claim does not adequately deal with the socio-historical, imperial context or the rhetorical force of the narrative as such.

Accounting for the Jesus followers-Empire relationship in Acts is neither resolved through appeal to some or other consensus nor is it my argument here. Rather, the Acts narrative is testimony to the pervasive presence of the Empire in Acts, couched in ambivalence; moreover, it is part of a broader narrative that presents the Empire and Jesus follower communities as countervailing missionary forces 35 cf.

Punt Acts' narrative is at no great pains to set the charges aside even though the rhetoric of the narrative suggests the innocence of Paul and compatriots. Rhetorically, imperial parlance is invoked and appropriated by Acts for the developing narrative of the Jesus followers. The often futile attempts to dissolve the tensions in Acts, frequently by enlisting statistics in support or denigration of the Empire, contribute to the need for a more constructive approach.

In fact, it is through the narrative's tensions and strains Burrus that it steadily emerges that two prevailing forces are locked in an intense struggle. Acts shows how totalising claims of one empire Roman are opposed with those of another God's kingdom. Acts affirmed the value of truth and the importance of justice Ac , ambivalently, by using the Empire's claims and norms against it, and public transcripts in hegemonic situations against the powerful Scott ; cf. Gilbert At the same time, however, the imperial system is challenged by constant negative portrayal of Roman governors as well as client rulers, as was already the case with Herod in Luke 23 Burrus Paul's relationship with the Empire and the related powers in Acts is, to say the least, ambiguous.

On the other hand, in Acts, Paul at times becomes a revolutionary, falling foul of the law, taking Roman authorities to task and finding himself in political trouble cf. The general picture is ambiguous too. On the one hand, antagonists accused Paul of belonging to the group that turns the world upside down Ac The accusation of 'anarchy' Walsh comes as no shock, given their leader's politically steeped death, and since the Jesus follower communities existed at the sufferance of the Empire. On the other hand, Paul's virtue is attested repeatedly in Acts when local courts of law acquit him e.

Ac In the end, however, Paul and Acts' message built upon the resurrection which 'apocalyptically undoes the world', and posed a challenge to the status quo at different levels, causing discontent among the crowd Ac Such miracles do not merely transform chaos into order. First, they transform someone else's world into chaos' Walsh - and in Acts it is the Roman Empire in its different formats that is often at the receiving end. In the end, Acts portrays Paul's subversion of the Empire not as quid pro quo actions, matching the emperor and the Empire blow by blow.

Rather, Paul reconceptualised Christ's socio-political significance, using the terminology and frameworks of imperial power structures which the Empire may have wanted to retain for its needs. Paul's position remained ambiguous, using such privileges which Roman citizens could rightfully claim, while maintaining Christ's lordship.

Ironically, Vaage argues:. It may be - indeed, I do not doubt - that Paul himself meant to oppose contemporary Roman rule. But precisely because his language of opposition was derived from the discourse of the empire, the long-term legacy of such speech could hardly be anything other than a recurrence of the same. The push and pull of the Empire, the eventual rub-off of the Empire on those within its realm regardless of their support or opposition against matters imperial, cannot escape the omnipresent tentacles of its hegemony or the resultant ambivalence of life under the Empire.

The accusations levelled against Paul and Silas in Acts were all related to the Roman Empire, reflecting both Acts' perspective on the gospel message's impact on life as well as its political reception. Acts' framing of the accusations against Paul and Silas as anti-imperial actions given the missionary thrust of their work put the competing missions of the Romans and Jesus followers in Acts in clear relief.

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Vaage's remark that 'Christianity's eventual emergence as a religion of the empire is an outcome thoroughly consistent with much of earliest Christianity's constitutive discourse 45 and not so obviously a transformation or deviation from its original nature' underlines the ambivalence of NT texts like Acts regarding the Empire, and 1st-century relationships between Jesus communities and reigning discourses and structures of power.

The author declares that he has no financial or personal relationships which may have inappropriately influenced him in writing this article. Alexander, L. Alexander ed. Bauckham, R. Book of Acts in its first century setting , vol. Bryan, C. Burrus, V. Sugirtharajah eds. Carter, W.

TH 6322 - Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles

Abingdon essential guides , Abingdon, Nashville, TN. Cassidy, R. Cline, E. Conzelmann, H. Crossan, J. How Jesus's apostle opposed Rome's empire with God's kingdom. Dunn, J. Esler, P. Fredriksen, P. Potter ed. Blackwell companions to the ancient world , pp. Galinsky, K. Gilbert, G. Vander Stichele eds. Gill, D. Gradel, I. Oxford Classical Monographs, Clarendon, Oxford. Hollingshead, J. Keener, C. Malina, B. Neyrey ed. Models for interpretation , pp. Neagoe, A. Neyrey, J. Price, S.

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Witherington III. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, Saint Paul the Traveler and the Roman Citizen. Full text of the book by W. Liturgical Press, Reviewed by Mark D. Review: Thomas C.

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