The Book of Acts in Its Ancient Literary Setting

The Book of Acts in Its Ancient Literary Setting

The Book of Acts in Its Ancient Literary Setting

The Book of Acts in Its Ancient Literary Setting


The Book of Acts in Its Ancient Literary Setting includes fourteen chapters devoted to the literary framework that undergirds the Book of Acts. Topics include the text as historical monograph, ancient rhetoric and speeches, the Pauline corpus, biblical history, subsequent ecclesiastical histories, and modern literary method. All of these chapters arise out of a consultation by the project's scholars at Cambridge in March 1993.


This is the first volume in a proposed six part series which will look at the Book of Acts. The intention is to place it in its first-century setting as far as extant evidence permits. To do this a multifaceted approach is required because the Acts of the Apostles belongs in literary, regional, cultural, ideological and theological settings of the early Roman Empire. Hence the volumes will cover Acts in its various settings: its ancient literary setting (edd. A.D. Clarke and B.W. Winter), the Graeco-Roman world (edd. D. Gill and C. Gempf), Roman custodial practice in relation to Paul’s imprisonment (B. Rapske), Palestine (ed. R. Bauckham), Diaspora Judaism (I. Levinskaya) and finally its place in early Christian theology (edd. I.H. Marshall and D. Peterson).

Nineteenth-century studies in Acts were largely taken up with historical questions. The Tübingen School of F.C. Baur and his successors took a somewhat negative view. A more positive one was adopted by W.M. Ramsay who investigated especially the Roman world in which Paul worked and used it to throw light on his career as recorded in Acts and on his letter to the Galatians.

This phase of study was summed up in the first volume of a massive work entitled The Beginnings of Christianity in 1920. The five volumes which constituted Part I of an intended project were to be prolegomena to a history of the rise of early Christianity. In fact, only this preliminary study of Acts was to be completed, with the last

See especially W.M. Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveller and the Roman Citizen (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1895); A Historical Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1899).

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