The Message of the Jerusalem Council in the Acts of the Apostles

A Linguistic Stylistic Analysis


By applying a stylistic analysis within a systemic-functional linguistic framework, this study argues that Luke's construal of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 and its co-thematic passages attempt to persuade Jewish believers of Luke's audience not to separate from multi-ethnic churches, a goal that is accomplished through subverting the value orientations of a prominent Noahic tradition within Second Temple Jewish literature that promotes strict Jewish isolation from Gentiles. As a result, this study breaks fresh methodological ground in the linguistic study on the New Testament and also advances critical scholarship on the book of Acts.

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Zachary K. Dawson, Ph.D. (2021), McMaster Divinity College, is an Adjunct Instructor at Regent University. He has published numerous articles and multiple edited volumes, including Pillars in the History of Biblical Interpretation, Volume 3: Further Essays on Prevailing Methods (Pickwick, 2021).
List of Figures and Tables
List of Abbreviations

1 The Relationship between Purpose and Parallelism in Acts: A Literature Review
 1 Introduction
 2 A History of Proposals on the Purpose and Parallelisms of Acts
 3 Conclusion

2 Linguistic Stylistics: Theory, Model, and Methodology
 1 Introduction
 2 Stylistics: Theory and Main Concepts
 3 Social Semiotic Stylistics
 4 Supplementary Principles for Stylistic Analysis
 5 A Model and Method for Linguistic Stylistic Analysis
 6 Conclusion

3 The Story of Cornelius and Peter: A Transitivity Analysis of Acts 10:1–11:18
 1 Introduction
 2 The First Account of Cornelius’s Vision (10:1–8)
 3 The First Account of Peter’s Vision (10:9–16)
 4 Peter Meets Cornelius’s Men (10:17–23a)
 5 Peter Meets Cornelius (10:23b–33)
 6 Peter’s Speech (10:34–43)
 7 The Holy Spirit’s Descent (10:44–48)
 8 Peter’s Report to the Jerusalem Church (11:1–18)
 9 Summary and Conclusion

4 Peter’s Vision and 1 Enoch’s Book of Dreams: An Intertextual Thematic Analysis of Acts 10:1–11:18
 1 Introduction
 2 Organizing Foregrounded Thematic Formations for Intertextual Analysis
 3 An Exploration of Intertextual Thematic Options
 4 The Book of Dreams in 1 Enoch and Its Value Orientations
 5 Peter’s Vision, the Book of Dreams, and Their Intertextual Relationship
 6 Conclusion

5 The Jerusalem Council and Paul’s Alleged Apostasy: A Transitivity Analysis of Acts 15:1–29 and 21:17–25
 1 Introduction
 2 Paul and Barnabas Commissioned to Go to Jerusalem (Acts 15:1–5)
 3 Peter’s Speech (15:6–11)
 4 James’s Speech (15:12–21)
 5 The Letter and the Decree (15:22–29)
 6 Paul’s Alleged Apostasy (Acts 21:17–25)
 7 Summary and Conclusion

6 An Intertextual Thematic Analysis of the Noahide Laws in Acts 15 and 21
 1 Introduction
 2 Organizing Foregrounded Features and Thematic Formations for Intertextual Analysis
 3 Jubilees, the Noahide Laws, and Interpreting Moses in Acts
 4 Conclusion

7 Interpreting Luke’s Theme as a Timely Message for His Audience
 1 A Summary of Previous Findings and Arguments
 2 Insights into Early Christian Conflict
 3 Luke’s Theology and His Social Context
 4 Conclusion
Appendix 1: The Transitivity Structure of Acts 10:1–11:18
Appendix 2: The Transitivity Structure of Acts 15:1–29
Appendix 3: The Transitivity Structure of Acts 21:17–25
Glossary of Key Methodological Terms
This work is written for a scholarly audience whose interests lie in the linguistic analysis of the New Testament as well as the critical study of the book of Acts.
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