The literary shape and missional significance of Acts: an invitation to be an instrument for the kingdom of God

Loescher, Will (2017) The literary shape and missional significance of Acts: an invitation to be an instrument for the kingdom of God. Doctoral thesis, Anglia Ruskin University.

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A fresh reading of Acts shows how its structure and story reveal missional significance, inviting God’s people to be an instrument for the kingdom of God. This study investigates three related areas in: (1) constructing an appropriate literary method from within the vast field of literary criticism; (2) focusing on Acts as a whole literary work instead of narrower pericopes or the broader corpus of Luke-Acts; and (3) revealing theological significance from literary shape instead of imposing it on the narrative. The method is a focused narrative criticism joining structure elements (sections, sequence, and size) and story components (literary-spatial, literary-temporal, character, speech, and intertextual) to inform a narrative theology arising from the text. Three Graeco-Roman literary principles (from Horace and Aristotle) organise ancient and modern literary concepts. The study’s core central chapters investigate the literary shape of Acts’ Ending (21:15–28:31) as a finish and closure, Acts’ Beginning (1:1–8:3) as a start and opening, and Acts’ Middle (8:4–21:14) as a centre and climax. The resulting theological significance focuses on the culmination, foundation, and pivot of mission and the kingdom of God. The literary and theological findings include the structural proportionalism of Acts 1:1–8:3 (initial success) and Acts 21:15–28:31 (Paul’s restoration), a central scene at Lystra (14:8–20a), story advances and declines in the Gentile mission, a decline with Paul from 19:21, and the missional significance of a mission instrument (Jesus, Israel, twelve apostles, Peter, Philip, Stephen, Saul/Paul, church) target (Jews, Gentiles), message (God, Jesus, resurrection, salvation), source (Holy Spirit, “the Word of God/Lord”, “the name of Jesus”), method (verbal communication, supernatural activity), success, suffering, and expansion. This research contributes a focused method of narrative criticism and theology, integrates structure and story, gives an exploration of the whole Acts’ narrative, and demonstrates how Acts’ literary shape reveals the important missional significance of the church being an instrument for the expanding kingdom of God.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Keywords: narrative criticism, narrative theology, structure and story, ending, beginning, and middle
Faculty: Theses from Anglia Ruskin University
Depositing User: Melissa Campey
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2018 16:15
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2021 18:59

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