World Upside Down: Reading Acts in the Graeco-Roman Age
© 2009 by Oxford University Press, Inc. All rights reserved. This book engages constructively the cultural power of the theological vision of the Acts of the Apostles. According to Acts, the apocalypse of God in Jesus of Nazareth entails the formation of a new culture. On the one hand, this new culture is constituted in such a way as necessarily to disrupt basic patterns of pagan existence - to the extent that one can speak of the potential for cultural dissolution; on the other, the Christians resolutely reject accusations of governmental overthrow and sedition. How the Christians embody the possibility of cultural disintegration and claim legal innocence before the Roman authorities are two aspects of one complex dialectic that informs Luke's total project: to narrate the inextricable interconnection between God's revelation and a total pattern of life. The dialectic in Luke's writing exhibits the theological effort to redescribe cultural dismantling as the light and forgiveness of God: the deconstructive move of the apocalypse to the Gentiles has its reconstructive counterpart in the creation of a people who receive light in darkness, forgiveness of sins, and guidance in the way of peace. The theological vision of Acts confronts its modern interpreters with a number of pressing questions about claims to universal truth about God and the politics such claims produce. The book thus concludes with an extended reflection on the intersection between Acts' vision and current ways of thinking about religious truth, tolerance, and politics.
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