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The Divine in Acts and in Ancient Historiography

The Divine in Acts and in Ancient Historiography

Scott Shauf
Copyright Date: 2015
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    The Divine in Acts and in Ancient Historiography
    Book Description:

    Scott Shauf compares the portrayal of the divine in Acts with portrayals of the divine in other ancient historiographical writings, the latter including Jewish and wider Greco-Roman historiographical traditions. The divine may be represented as a single deity (in Judaism) or many (in Greek and Roman traditions) and also includes representations of angels, God’s spirit, Jesus as a divine figure, or forces with divine status such as fate, chance, and providence. Shauf’s particular interest is in how the divine is represented as involved in history, through themes including the nature of divine retribution, the partiality or impartiality of the divine toward different sets of people, and the portrayal of divine control over seemingly purely natural and human events. Acts is shown to be engaging historiographical traditions of the author’s own day but also contributing unique historiographical perspectives. The way history is written in Acts and in the other writings is shown to be intimately tied to the understanding of the role of the divine in history.

    eISBN: 978-1-4514-9433-4
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    My goal in this book is to compare the portrayal of the divine in the Acts of the Apostles with the portrayal of the divine in other ancient historiographical works. The latter will be treated in two main groups, one group consisting of biblical and Jewish historiographical works, and the other consisting of (non-Jewish) Greco-Roman historiographical works. Special consideration will be given to Jewish works intentionally written to engage the Greco-Roman historiographical tradition. My goal in making these comparisons is not to argue that Acts should be seen as belonging to any one of these groups over against the others,...

  4. 2 The Divine in Greco-Roman Historiography
    (pp. 17-68)

    Among the Greco-Roman historians,¹ there is a wide range of perspectives on the role of the divine in history. While one can make important general distinctions between biblical and Jewish historiography on the one hand and (non-Jewish) Greco-Roman historiography on the other, such distinctions do not imply a uniform non-Jewish perspective. One cannot speak oftheGreco-Roman view on the role of the divine in historiography or the lack thereof. While it is true, as we will see, that Greco-Roman historians as a group are more focused on human and non-divine factors in historical events and explanations than biblical and...

  5. 3 The Divine in Biblical and Jewish Historiography
    (pp. 69-132)

    As the possibilities for how to study the divine in biblical and Jewish historiography are many, and as there are many more aspects of the divine in biblical and Jewish historiography than could possibly be attended to in the space we have, it is important to remember at this point the goal of our study: to understand how the portrayal of the divine in Acts fits in the spectrum of historiographical works in Luke’s time and place, so that we can understand both how Luke’s portrayal continues in the historiographical traditions of his day and how he is distinctive among...

  6. 4 The Divine in Hellenistic Jewish Historiography
    (pp. 133-180)

    Having examined the portrayal of the divine in the Greco-Roman and Jewish traditions of historiography, we now turn to an examination of historians who bridge the two traditions, usually referred to as Hellenistic Jewish historians. Unfortunately, of the figures usually classified as such, only the writings of Josephus and Philo survive sufficiently intact to enable a study of their portrayal of the divine with any depth. To be sure, there are provocative features and moments in the extant fragments of others.¹ Pseudo-Eupolemus, Artapanus, and Cleodemus Malchus fascinate with their combination of biblical tradition and pagan mythology. Eupolemus surprises us with...

  7. 5 The Divine in Acts
    (pp. 181-266)

    As discussed in the introductory chapter, the opening verse and pericope of Acts set the Acts narrative as a continuation of Luke’s Gospel. Hence, while our focus is on Acts, we must consider how this explicit connection affects the portrayal of the divine in Acts. The essential point is that Luke’s Gospel establishes a distinctively Jewish portrayal of the divine that will then be developed in Acts.

    Following the preface (Luke 1:1-4), Luke’s Gospel begins with the story of the annunciation of John the Baptist’s birth to Zechariah (1:5-23). This opening episode establishes a distinctively Jewish context for portraying the...

  8. 6 Historiography and the Divine
    (pp. 267-300)

    In this chapter I will build on the previous chapters to reflect on the relationship between the portrayal of the divine and the broader nature of historiography in the ancient world. It is my contention that the two are intimately related—that the way the divine is portrayed in history deeply shapes the overall presentation of history, and vice versa. In large measure I will be building on observations about the nature of ancient literature made in Erich Auerbach’s classicMimesis,¹ suggesting some details where Auerbach offered mostly generalities. First, however, some observations about the nature of historiography and the...

  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 301-318)
  10. Index of Authors
    (pp. 319-322)
  11. Index of Biblical and Ancient References
    (pp. 323-350)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 351-351)