The Role and Function of Repentance in Luke-Acts

The Role and Function of Repentance in Luke-Acts

The Role and Function of Repentance in Luke-Acts

The Role and Function of Repentance in Luke-Acts

Synopsis

This book explores the central function of the concept repentance" in the narrative structure and implied social world of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, and examines how repentance is presented as part of the divine plan. In Luke-Acts, everyone is eligible for membership in the community of God's people. Such inclusivity requires a radical change in thinking on the part of many in the emerging religious community of Luke-Acts. Repentance in Luke-Acts represents this fundamental change in thinking that enables diverse individuals to receive the salvation of God and to live together as a community of God's people. The book sets the literary and theological motifs of the New Testament narrative within the social realities of the Greco-Roman world, including varieties of Judaism. It elaborates ways the implied audience would have thought about changing one's mind, attitudes, and behavior as a step in the progress toward virtue. The book provides an excellent synthesis and analysis of the usage of "repent" and "repentance" in Classical, Hellenistic, Hellenistic Jewish, and early Christian literature. Paperback edition is available from the Society of Biblical Literature (www.sbl-site.org)"

Excerpt

The Problem

The fundamental problem with much of the research that claims to examine repentance within the New Testament is that most of it attempts to arrive at THE New Testament meaning of repentance. There is very little research that examines how specific New Testament authors utilize and incorporate the notion of repentance within their own individual writings. Many—if not most—New Testament scholars make the mistake of assuming that there is one comprehensive definition of repentance that governs how the notion of repentance is used and understood throughout the New Testament. However, treating repentance as a New Testament theme that can be examined longitudinally ignores the diversity among the various New Testament writings. Such a thematic approach seeks an overarching unity within the New Testament, while violating the individuality of the various Christian writers and communities present during the formative years of Christianity. The results of redaction criticism have clearly demonstrated that the New Testament canonizes a far-reaching diversity.

A. H. Dirksen, The New Testament Concept of Metanoia (Washington: The Catholic
University of America, 1932); H. Pohlmann, Die Metanoia als Zentralbegriff der
christlichen Frömmigkeit
(Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs, 1938); W. D. Chamberlain, The Meaning
of Repentance
(Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1943); C. E. Carlston, Metanoia and
Church Discipline in the New Testament
(Ph.D. Dissertation, Harvard University, 1958); R.
Wilkes, Repentance as a Condition for Salvation in the New Testament (Ph.D. Dissertation,
Dallas Theological Seminary, 1985).

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