Almost all scholars look to Acts 6:1–8:3 as providing the bedrock of early Christian tradition. The incident between the Hebrews and the Hellenists are understood to reflect real historical and theological problems in the early Jerusalem community, demonstrating the Hellenist role as a historical bridge between Jesus and Paul.
Penner’s study challenges the fundamental assumptions of this approach. He emphasizes the rhetorical and moral dimensions of ancient historiographical theory, especially the centrality of narrative and plot, the use of vivid description, the application of comparison using various type-scenes, and the role of speeches in terms of characterization and the presentation of narrative style.
This resource is also available as part of the Church Origins Collection (10 vols).
Steeped in the writings of ancient Greek, Roman, Hellenistic, and Jewish historians, Penner employs his impressive skills of interpretation to produce a ground-breaking study of Stephen and the Hellenists in Acts. He shows that Luke, like other ancient historians, was less interested in historicity than in writing a persuasive narrative. Penner’s study will almost certainly encourage his peers to consider new approaches to the study of the Acts of the Apostles.
—Joseph B. Tyson, Southern Methodist University
Todd Penner is the Assistant Professor of Religion at Austin College and the co-editor with Caroline Vander Stichele of Contextualizing Acts: Lukan Narrative and Greco-Roman Discourse.