THE CHRISTOLOGY OF ACTS
- Having surveyed every christological expression in Acts, it is clear that the Christology of Acts is very early and there is absolutely no reference to any form of atonement apart from 20:28. Is there any indication anywhere in the literature that this passage is an interpolation ? Ehrman discusses it but only to look at variants that appear later than the Alexandrian texts.
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- Dear Dennis,
An interesting observation to be sure, but if Acts 2 is intended to be the
key speech for Luke and his concerns here are two: the eschatological gift
of the Spirit and Jesus' resurrection as the sign of God vindication of him
as the heir to the Davidic promises of authority over the nations which
then Acts seems to develop throughout (including the accounts of Paul's
call)why exactly would one expect to find much (or any) atonement theology
It's interesting how little a role even the mention of Jesus being killed,
crucified, or dying plays in Acts, except as a prelude to his being
vindicated by the resurrection. I.e. Luke's point seems to be not to explain
the mechanics of Israel's forgiveness of sins, but rather to indicate that
it is Jesus (not e.g. Moses) through whom Israel's and the nations'
salvation comes. On the other hand, given their extended and intimate link,
is it possible even to speak of salvation/forgiveness of sins at any kind of
length within a Jewish narratival horizon without at some point dealing with
sacrifice? It seems reasonable that Luke's simple statements on these
matters are the tip of the iceberg.
So, personally, I'm not at all sure it is safe to assume that Luke is giving
me his entire Christology in Acts. I think if one could find some clear
negative evidence that would be much more telling but then given his
agenda why would he? And we all know the pitfalls inherent in arguing from
Nevertheless, it seems there are some hints: e.g. 13.38-39: Moses here seems
to be a synecdoche for the Levitical sacrificial system. If so, then one
would expect that something similar is implied by the reference to Jesus;
i.e. his name too functions as a synecdoche pointing to the equivalent
function. So too perhaps 15:11: what does it mean exactly to be saved by the
grace of the Lord Jesus? If one asked "Luke" to unpack this, how do you
think he would go about it? But again, even the reference to Isa 53 in
8:32-33 seems more to do with Jesus' vindication though it's possible a
slaughtered lamb might conjure up a sacrificial image for some (the only
place Luke mentions "lamb" in his gospel concerns Passover sacrifices).
> From: Dennis Goffin <dgoffin@...>
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> Date: Mon, 28 Jun 2010 11:54:21 +0100
> To: xtalk <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Subject: [XTalk] THE CHRISTOLOGY OF ACTS
> Having surveyed every christological expression in Acts, it is clear that the
> Christology of Acts is very early and there is absolutely no reference to any
> form of atonement apart from 20:28. Is there any indication anywhere in the
> literature that this passage is an interpolation ? Ehrman discusses it but
> only to look at variants that appear later than the Alexandrian texts.
> Dennis Goffin
> Chorleywood UK
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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- That Acts 20.28 appears to be an unusual element
in Acts is a very interesting and intriguing fact.
The primary metaphor is that of purchase here.
The author rehearses a speech claiming that
the community is "purchased". So we have a
financial metaphor. It is said to be acquired
presumably for a "price".
The speech then states the price
to be blood i.e. (presumably in this case)
a death. So the metaphor is now something more
than financial. The purchase cost the blood of
someone who was "his" (tou idiou). If one
person rescues several others, but dies in the process
then the successful rescue can be seen to have a
"cost", hence the earlier explicit mention of
purchase or acquisition and an implied price.
If this is correct then this passage is not too distant
from those that use ideas of ransom, present outside Luke
in Mark 10.45, and in Luke at 24.21. The ransom
metaphor suggests analogy with payment of money to
buy freedom, but here it seems to intersect with
the thought that a death is involved, as in a rescue
where the only rescuer (or one of the rescuers)
If the above analysis is correct then we do have
ideas of purchase, cost, ransom and rescue in the
passage which the author of Acts attributes to Paul,
but several other soteriological metaphors are notably
absent. We cannot go so far as to deem it highly probable
that the author rejects other ideas, but we can say that
some of them don't seem to appear here
- or elsewhere in Luke-Acts.
David Mealand, University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in
Scotland, with registration number SC005336.