What Does the Spirit Have to Do with Foreigners?

Reading Acts 10:28–48 with Diodorus of Sicily and Tacitus

in Pneuma
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This article examines how Greco-Roman ethnoracial views inform our understanding of Peter and Cornelius’s encounter in Acts 10:28–48. By drawing from the Gentile perception of Jewish misanthropy mentioned by Diodorus of Sicily and Tacitus, we find that Peter was harboring a resistance to preach the gospel to the Caesareans. By rereading the narrative from this perspective, visions and Spirit baptism within Acts 10 become divine events that challenge the reluctance to preach the gospel and associate with foreigners.

What Does the Spirit Have to Do with Foreigners?

Reading Acts 10:28–48 with Diodorus of Sicily and Tacitus

in Pneuma

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References

1

I. Howard MarshallThe Acts of the Apostles (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans1983) 189–192; Mark Plunkett “Ethnocentricity and Salvation History in the Cornelius Episode: Acts 10:1–11:18” SBLSP 24 (1985): 465–479; F.F. Bruce The Book of the Acts (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans 1988) 210–211; Julius Scott “The Cornelius Incident in the Light of Its Jewish Setting” JETS 34 no. 4 (1991): 481–484; Robert Tannehill The Narrative Unity of Luke-Acts: The Acts of the Apostles (Minneapolis: Fortress 1994) 131; Joseph Fitzmyer The Acts of the Apostles (New Haven: Doubleday 1998) 461; Ben Witherington The Acts of the Apostles: A Social Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans 1998) 354; Chris Miller “Did Peter’s Vision Pertain to Men or the Menu?” BSac 159 (2002): 302–307; Vanthanh Nguyen “Dismantling Cultural Boundaries: Missiological Implications of Acts 10:1–11:18” Missiology 4 (2012): 459; Samuel Perez Millos Hechos (Barcelona: Clie 2013) 733.

3

James DunnBaptism in the Holy Spirit: A Re-examination of the New Testament on the Gift of the Spirit (Philadelphia: Westminster1939) 82; Max Turner The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts: In the New Testament and the Church Today (Grand Rapids: Baker 1997) 55; Power from on High: The Spirit in Israel’s Restoration and Witness in Luke-Acts (Eugene: Wipf & Stock 2015) 387.

4

Roger StronstadThe Charismatic Theology of St. Luke: Trajectories from the Old Testament to Luke-Acts (Grand Rapids: Baker2012) 77; See also William Atkinson who champions a modified pentecostal view of Spirit baptism in Baptism in the Spirit: Luke-Acts and the Dunn Debate (Eugene: Pickwick 2011); French Arrington “The Indwelling Baptism and Infilling with the Holy Spirit: A Differentiation of Terms” Pneuma 3 no. 2 (1981): 6; Tak-Ming Cheung “Understandings of Spirit Baptism” JPT 8 (1996): 124–128; Mark Lee “An Evangelical Dialogue on Luke Salvation and Spirit Baptism” Pneuma 26 (2004): 91–92.

5

Craig KeenerActs: An Exegetical Commentary 3:1–14:28 (Grand Rapids: Baker2013) 1727–1730.

7

Ivan HannafordRace: The History of an Idea in the West (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press1996) 6.

8

Richard Delgado and Jean StefancicCritical Race Theory (New York: New York University Press2012) 8.

9

Denise Eileen McCoskeyRace Antiquity and Its Legacy (New York: Oxford University Press2012) 2.

10

See Jonathan HallEthnic Identity in Greek Antiquity (New York: Cambridge University Press2000) 34–35; In Homer’s Iliad the term race is applied to young men (2.91; 3.32; 7.115; 11.724) birds (2.459) and flies (2.87 469).

12

John ElliottWhat is Social–Scientific Criticism? (Minneapolis: Fortress1993) 7–9; Bruce Malina Christian Origins and Cultural Anthropology (Eugene: Wipf & Stock 2010) 1–9; The Social World of Jesus and the Gospels (New York: Routledge 1996) 7.

13

ElliottWhat is Social–Scientific Criticism? 13; Malina Christian Origins 1–9; Malina Social World 7.

14

Arnold KrupatEthnocriticism (Berkeley: University of California Press1992) 3–5 37.

16

See Virgilio ElizondoGalilean Journey: The Mexican American Promise (Maryknoll: Orbis Books1983) 21; Justo Gonzalez Santa Biblia: The Bible through Spanish Eyes (Nashville: Abingdon 1996) 20–21; Nestor Medina “Transgressing Theological Shibboleths: Culture as Locus of Divine (Pneumatological) Activity” Pneuma 36 no. 3 (2014): 441; Mestizaje: (Re)Mapping Race Culture and faith in Latina/o Catholicism (Maryknoll: Orbis Books 2009) 1; Luis Rivera-Rodriguez “Reading in Spanish from the Diaspora through Hispanic Eyes” ThTo 54 (1998): 481; Rodolfo Estrada “Is a Contextualized Hermeneutic the Future of Pentecostal Readings?” Pneuma 37 no. 3 (2015): 341–355.

18

Marion SoardsThe Speeches in Acts (Louisville: Westminster1994) 1; Keener finds the speeches to be no more than summaries (Acts 1:261).

20

Ibid. 12–15; KeenerActs 1:262–267.

27

BruceActs210; Witherington Acts 353; Fitzmyer Acts 457.

34

WitheringtonActs353; Millos Hechos 773; Bruce Acts 210; Keener Acts 2:1792.

35

Hans Bayer“The Preaching of Peter in Acts,” in Witness to the Gospeled. I. Howard Marshall (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans1998) 268–269.

37

Max RadinThe Jews Among the Greeks and Romans (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America1915) 49; Adrian Sherwin-White Racial Prejudice in Imperial Rome (New York: Cambridge University Press 1970) 1–12; John Balsdon Romans and Aliens (London: Duckworth 1979) 30; Hannaford Race 20; Benjamin Isaac The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity (Princeton: Princeton University Press 2004) 1; Isaac Ziegler and Eliav-Feldon The Origins of Racism in the West 9; McCoskey Race 1.

38

RadinJews among the Greeks and Romans165.

39

Ibid.209.

40

BalsdonRomans and Aliens67.

41

Sherwin-WhiteRacial Prejudice86.

42

Ibid.87.

43

Ibid.96.

44

DiodorusBibliotheca historica 34.1.

46

DiodorusBibliotheca historica 34.1.

51

JosephusAnt.19.284–291.

57

SchäferJudeophobia31–33.

58

IsaacInvention306–307.

60

Seneca in AugustinusDe civitate Dei6.11.

66

StronstadCharismatic75.

67

Ibid.76.

69

FitzmyerActs467; See also Marshall Acts 194; Wall “Peter Son of Jonah” 79–90.

70

BruceActs216–218; Witherington Acts 354; See also Yeu Chuen Lim “Acts 10: A Gentile Model for Pentecost Experience” AJPS 1 (1998): 67–69; Stronstad Charismatic 76.

72

BockActs401; Marshall Acts 194–195; Lim “Acts 10: A Gentile Model” 72.

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