2008-01-19

The literary genre of Acts. 8: clarification

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

by Neil Godfrey

Some have misread my notes from Pervo’s book as if I/Pervo claimed Acts is itself an ancient romance or a fictional historical novel. Pervo demonstrates that Acts shares many similarities with ancient novels. The theological and historical intent of Acts is expressed through many novelistic features. How much “historical fact” is to be found in Acts is a separate, although inevitably related, question.

Pervo writes in his preface:

[M]ost studies have concentrated upon the profit and ignored the delight. A major task of this book is to elucidate the entertaining nature of Acts. Since one customary means for rejecting popular literature has been to label it pure entertainment, I wish to make clear that there is no intent here to deny Luke’s serious theological program. . . .

Through comparison of Acts with ancient popular narratives I seek not only the identification of literary affinities but also clarification of the religious and social values of the milieu in which it emerged. . . .

In chapter 4 (p86) he writes:

Although clearly a theological book and a presentation of history, Acts also seeks to entertain.

Pervo also concludes with:

By reference to novels in general and historical novels in particular I have attempted to provide detailed evidence for the ancient novel’s relevance to the understanding of Acts.

My intent is that such comparison proceed alongside, as well as in competition with, investigations using historiographical models. . . . Reconsideration of the question of genre does not eliminate the possibility of sources.

Related Posts on Vridar

What Did Luke’s Eyewitnesses See? The Gospel of Luke begins with words that many have understood to be an assurance that its narrative is based on the firsthand eyewitness testimony of...
How Joseph was piously invented to be the “f... Image via Wikipedia This post continues from the previous one about John the Baptist's parents. It's a sharing of my reading of John Shelby Spong's ...
Where Did John the Baptist’s Parents Come Fr... Image via Wikipedia The names of the parents of both Jesus and John the Baptist were arguably created from the imaginations of the Gospel authors...
Another Flip Flop Argument: Ehrman again on early ... Once again we see evidence of the ad hoc nature of arguments built upon the assumption of the historicity of Jesus. Peter preaching: From Wikimedi...
The following two tabs change content below.

Neil Godfrey

Neil is the author of this post. To read more about Neil, see our About page.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.