The Book of Acts in Its Diaspora Setting

The Book of Acts in Its Diaspora Setting

The Book of Acts in Its Diaspora Setting

The Book of Acts in Its Diaspora Setting

Synopsis

This wide-ranging six-volume series presents the results of interdisciplinary research between new Testament, Jewish, and classical scholarship. Working to place the Book of Acts within its first century setting, well-known historians and biblical scholars from Australia, the United States, Canada, Russia, Germany, France, Israel, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, have collaborated here to provide a stimulating new study that replaces older studies on Acts, Including aspects of The Beginnings of Christianity.

Excerpt

This book is written by an ancient historian who, during the last ten years, has become more and more absorbed by New Testament studies through research into the book of Acts. When I was a student in the Department of Classics of St. Petersburg university (which was called then by another name which I do not like to remember), on one occasion our professor asked us, as first year undergraduates, what particular field each of us was interested in. I immediately and rather naively said ‘New Testament’ and got the answer ‘It is out of the question, at least on these premises’. The expression on my teacher’s face prompted me never to bring up this subject with him again. Later I realised that his response was out of concern for a young and inex-perienced person—he had spent ten years of his life in one of Stalin’s camp and ten years in exile. Such an experience teaches one to be especially careful. I therefore studied classical literature and for some time my hero became Herodotus. I was enchanted by his breath-taking ability to combine history with story-telling. The fascinating process of looking for the historical core of the stories captured me completely and, under the influence of these studies, my interests changed. I defected from philology to ancient history.

When I was looking for a subject for my doctoral dissertation I suddenly realised that, though I could not work in the field of New Testament, I could at least move nearer. I chose the subject of the cult of the Most High God—paganism was religio licita under the communists and this cult was usually viewed as a pagan one! In the course of investigating the sources and secondary literature, I came to the conclusion that this cult in the Bosporan Kingdom was a manifestation of Jewish influence, and that the most interesting parallels are provided by the book of Acts. This was the beginning of my intense interest in Acts.

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