Superstition, atheism and reasonable faith in Acts 26 : a Graeco-Roman perspective on Paul's defence before Festus and Agrippa

Germiquet, Edouard Ariste (2001) Superstition, atheism and reasonable faith in Acts 26 : a Graeco-Roman perspective on Paul's defence before Festus and Agrippa. PhD thesis, Rhodes University.

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Abstract

This thesis investigates Luke's presentation of Paul's final and climactic defence of the gospel which takes place before Festus and King Agrippa II (Ac.26). It indicates how Luke has made use of the philosophical doctrine of the mean in order to present Christianity as a reasonable and rational faith. This investigation explores how Luke creates a literary framework within which to promote Paul as reasonable and rational through the application of the topos that true piety is the mean between the two extremes of superstition and atheism. The thesis is therefore structured around three dominant sections in which the major themes of superstition, atheism and rational faith are treated independently. Each section consists of an analysis of Luke's choice of words and his description of the behavioural patterns of each representative group so that a consistent picture progressively emerges in support of the basic framework. At all stages of the investigation, reference is made to contemporary moral philosophers, Hellenistic Judaism and the early Christian apologists so that the language, literary settings and stereotypes used by Luke can be clearly defined. This not only clarifies the text of Acts 26 but contributes to an overall appreciation of Luke‟s literary technique. In each of the three major sections: superstition, atheism and rational faith, reference is made to the historical perspectives of Luke's time. Such historical perspectives are particularly valuable for the appreciation of words such as δεηζηδαηκovίας (Ac.25:19), ζεoκάτoς (Ac.5:39), δηαζπ άφ (Ac.23:10), ζφ θρoζύ vες ((Ac.26:25), κκαηvόκεvoς θηι.(Ac.26:11, 24,25) and παρρεζηαδόκεvoς (Ac.26:26) which cannot be fully appreciated when considered in isolation from their historical context. This historical context is likewise important in the understanding of Festus and Agrippa's response to Paul's proclamation of the resurrection. At all points in the development of the thesis, the relevance and centrality which the resurrection has for Luke is kept in mind. This not only acts as a backdrop in understanding Luke's depiction of the superstitious and the atheist but is crucial in grasping Luke's presentation of Christianity as a rational faith. The thesis is brought to a close by a discussion on Luke's intended audience and the significance of his dedication to Theophilus.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Atheism, Supersition, Saint Paul, Apostle
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities
ID Code:2338
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:11 Jan 2012 13:36
Last Modified:07 Dec 2012 06:02
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