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Major Themes in the Book of Acts

The debate over the historical accuracy of the book of Acts is important, in no small measure because – as I have pointed out already – it provides us our one and only narrative of what was happening among the followers of Jesus in the years immediately after his death.  This is the key, formative period in the formation of Christianity.  How did it start as a religion?  Acts is our only surviving historical account.  But is it an accurate history? The first thing to stress is that Acts – like all histories – is highly restrictive in what it talks about.   It is not a comprehensive history and makes no pretense of being a comprehensive history.   The title “The Acts of the Apostles” was given it by later readers and scribes.   The author himself (whoever he was) does not give it a title.   And this particular title is not particularly apt, for one very important reason: most of the apostles do not figure in the account at all.   This is a narrative of some [...]

2020-04-17T13:17:11-04:00March 23rd, 2016|Acts of the Apostles, Public Forum|

The Gospel of John from a Thematic Perspective

In previous posts I’ve discussed how a literary-historical approach to John can yield interesting results. Other methods of analysis are available as well. Here I discuss another one that I have not yet explained, but should be understandable simply from the following extract from my textbook. I call this other method, simply, the “thematic” approach. Here is what I say about it, in relation to the Gospel of John. ********************************************* The Gospel of John from a Thematic Perspective Whereas the literary-historical approach to the Gospels focuses on the conventions of the biographical genre, and so determines how a book portrays its main character through the unfolding of the plot as he interacts with those around him, the thematic approach isolates prominent themes at key points of the narrative, and traces their presence throughout, more or less overlooking questions of plot and character interaction. If we were to examine John from a strictly thematic point of view, we might look at some of the salient motifs established at the outset of its narratives (since biographies set [...]

2020-04-03T17:17:19-04:00March 11th, 2014|Canonical Gospels|
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