Confronting Oracular Contradiction in Acts 21:1-14

in Novum Testamentum
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In Acts 21:1-14, several Tyrian prophets order Paul to abandon his journey to Jerusalem, but Paul ignores them, travelling to Jerusalem anyway. Modern commentators have struggled to explain how Paul’s behavior was not impious. The present study attempts to resolve this tension by interpreting Paul’s behavior in light of Jewish and Hellenistic practices for evaluating oracles. The argument proceeds in three stages: an exegetical survey of Acts 21:1-14, a discussion of relevant Jewish and Hellenistic strategies for interpreting oracles, and a conclusion arguing that Luke’s depiction of Paul may be understood in light of these complex practices of oracle reception.

Novum Testamentum

An International Quarterly for New Testament and Related Studies

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References

4

Cf. Herodotus 1.182; Horace, Odes 3.4.64. See H.W. Parke, The Oracles of Apollo in Asia Minor (London: Croom Helm, 1985) 185-193.

5

Pomponius Mela 1.82. Trans. F.E. Romer, Pomponius Mela’s Description of the World (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1998) 57.

9

So, e.g., David Aune, Prophecy in Early Christianity and the Ancient Mediterranean World (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983) 264.

10

Barrett, Acts, 2.985; Jervell, Die Apostelgeschichte, 517.

12

Barrett, Acts, 2.990.

13

Hans Conzelmann, A Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987) 178.

15

Jervell, Die Apostelgeschichte, 518.

16

Kirsopp Lake and Henry J. Cadbury, The Beginnings of Christianity (5 Vols.; London: Macmillan, 1933) 4.266.

17

Ernst Haenchen, The Acts of the Apostles (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1971) 602-603. Cf. W.M.L De Wette and Franz Overbeck, Kurze Erklärung der Apostelgeschichte (4th ed.; Leipzig: Hirzel, 1870) 355-356.

20

Barrett, Acts, 2.990; Jervell, Die Apostelgeschichte, 518. Cf. 1:2, 4:25, 11:28.

21

E.g., Richard I. Pervo, Profit with Delight: The Literary Genre of the Acts of the Apostles (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1987) 3-4, 9-10.

24

Bovon, “Le Saint Esprit,” 342.

25

Bovon, “Le Saint Esprit,” 350.

26

Bovon, “Le Saint Esprit,” 351-58.

27

David Aune, Prophecy in Early Christianity and the Ancient Mediterranean World (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983) 264.

29

Aune, Prophecy, 51-52.

30

On Philip, see Kollmann Bernd, “Philippus der Evangelist und die Anfänge der Heidenmission,” Biblica 81 (2000) 551-565; Axel von Dobbeler, Der Evangelist Philippus in der Geschichte des Urchristentums: Eine Prosopographische Skizze (Tubingen: Francke, 2000) esp. 217-245; F. Scott Spencer, The Portrait of Philip in Acts: A Study of Roles and Relationships (JSNTSup 67; Sheffield: jsot, 1992).

33

Johnson, The Acts of the Apostles, 369. Cf. Plutarch, Pyth. orac. 22.

34

Sarah Iles Johnson, Ancient Greek Divination (Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell, 2008) 39-44. Cf. Diodorus Siculus 16.26.6.

36

Barrett, Acts, 2.995.

38

See discussion in Barrett, Acts, 2.995-996.

40

So, e.g., Pervo, Acts, 538.

42

Sterling, Mors philosophi, 394-395.

43

Sterling, Mors philosophi, 397.

46

Aune, Prophecy, 217-229.

53

A.D. Nock, “Religious Attitudes of the Ancient Greeks,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 85 (1942) 472.

60

See J. Gwyn Griffiths, “The Delphic E: A New Approach,” Hermes 83 (1955) 237-245; A. Trevor Hodge, “The Mystery of Apollo’s E at Delphi,” American Journal of Archaeology 85 (1981) 83-84.

71

Nock, “Religious Attitudes,” 474.

74

Jervell, Die Apostelgeschichte, 518.

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