The Acts of the Apostles: Taming the Tongues of Fire (Phoenix Guides to the New Testament)

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9781909697157: The Acts of the Apostles: Taming the Tongues of Fire (Phoenix Guides to the New Testament)
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The book of Acts opens with the dramatic story of tongues of flame descending upon believers at Pentecost and the prophecy of an egalitarian dispensation of the Spirit being fulfilled. Yet, as the narrative unfolds, we become aware of a tension between the socially egalitarian promise of the Pentecost story and the author's underlying concern to provide reassurance for his elite patron Theophilus that Jesus followers do not disturb the existing social order. In this Guide, Acts is read as a struggle to tame the tongues of fire. Acts mutes the egalitarian promise of the Spirit through presenting an 'orderly account' (as its author calls it) of the Jesus movement that appeals to elite sensibilities. And, at the same time, the narrative contains contradictions, gaps and fissures that suggest the outlines of a more complex, and even subversive, religious movement. Chapter 1 takes up introductory issues in the study of Acts, bringing traditional and more innovative approaches to Acts into conversation. Chapter 2 steps through the book of Acts section by section, again highlighting today's newer approaches to familiar questions of Acts scholarship. Chapter 3 focuses on how Acts resists the charges levied against early followers of 'the Way' by presenting them as model subjects of empire. Chapter 4 shows how, by so doing, Acts creates an unfortunate by-product, namely rhetorical violence against non-believing Jews as fomenters of rebellion. Chapter 5 reverts to the opening of Acts, with a close reading of the Pentecost narrative. Set alongside depictions of Spirit phenomena in the Pauline epistles, a more disorderly account of spiritual experiences among early Jesus followers emerges.

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