clausal relationships

Answer the two questions thoroughly. No formatting, no title page. Excellent grammar and sentencing. At least 275 words two paragraphs per answer. Answer each question separately do not blend.

1. DQ1WK6: Based on chapters 8 and 13 in the Mounce textbook, discuss how to properly identify the clausal relationships (phrasing according to Mounce) in Acts 17:22-31. Why did you conclude what you did?

2. DQ2WK6: What steps should be taken when preparing a teaching or sermon from the book of Acts?

Textbook
1. Introducing New Testament Interpretation
Read chapters 2-4.

2. Greek for the Rest of Us William D. Mounce (ebook)
Read chapters 9-15.

 

 

Answer the two questions thoroughly. No formatting, no title page. Excellent grammar and sentencing. At least 275 words two paragraphs  per answer. Answer each question separately do not blend.

 

  1. DQ1WK6: Based on chapters 8 and 13 in the Mounce textbook, discuss how to properly identify the clausal relationships (phrasing according to Mounce) in Acts 17:22-31. Why did you conclude what you did?

 

 

 

  1. DQ2WK6: What steps should be taken when preparing a teaching or sermon from the book of Acts?

 

 

Textbook

  1. Introducing New Testament Interpretation

Read chapters 2-4.

 

  1. Greek for the Rest of Us William D. Mounce (ebook)

Read chapters 9-15.

 

Exegeting Acts

Introduction

In many ways, the hermeneutical task presented in the Acts is the same as that presented in the Pentateuch. Most Christians today pick and choose what laws from the Pentateuch are still binding or obligatory, what is called normative, and which ones are only telling the reader how things happened back then, what is called descriptive. It tends to be the same way with the book of Acts.

 

The reason this is the case in Acts, as opposed to either the gospels or the epistles is simple: expectation. For most readers of the Bible, the gospels, while a narrative, present a unique situation in history that no modern person could hope to experience. In this way, the gospels are often read in the same way as the Old Testament. Christ has come to be crucified and a person was either there or not there. Today, there are no more apostles proper, and so no one expects the experiences of people who were physically there to be repeatable. On the other side of the spectrum, the epistles are almost all didactic non narratives. And as such, they are on the whole almost always perceived to be normative for Christians today. It is easy to tell when the author of the epistles is intending to teach the church how to think or how to live. But, the Acts fall in the uneasy middle ground. They too are narratives about the early church: They describe what the early church looked like. But unlike the apostles, there still is a church. So how the interpreter decides what about the Acts is merely describing the early church and what about it is normative, showing the church how it should act today, is the main task of the interpreter of the book. Just like in the law texts of the Old Testament, there are not sections of the Acts that are marked normative or descriptive, but there are sections that could be either which occur side by side. Are Christians today supposed to sell their belongings and live in a Christian commune? Or should Christians expect to be struck down for lying? Or maybe a tougher one: Are some Christians still supposed to be speaking in tongues in the same way it is described in Acts?

 

Introduction to Normativity

Since it is very difficult to describe what a normative narrative would even look like, the conclusion to this problem is well-stated by Fee and Stuart (2003), “Unless Scripture explicitly tells us we must do something, what is only narrated or described does not function in a normative way − unless it can be demonstrated on other grounds that the author intended it to function in this way” (pp. 118-119). This statement has a couple of things in it that must be clarified and unpacked.

 

First, the main issue is one of authorial intent. Did the author intend the narrative to be read in a normative way, as a rulebook for later generations? It is hard to know how a story could function in such a way, but even if it were able, the book of Acts itself gives no indication that it should be read in that way. In fact, the purpose statement of Luke-Acts in Luke 1:3 is to provide an orderly account of the history of the Christian movement. Secondly, the form of the book itself points to a descriptive narrative. The thesis statement of Acts (Acts 1:8) has as its last goal the ends of the world, which is exactly what Paul concludes as recorded in the last chapter of Acts, according to Second Temple geography. So Luke does not end the book of Acts open-ended, as though the story is not complete, but gives a completed account of the founding of the church of the Christ, one that was not meant to be relived, but one that should be built upon.

 

Secondly, it is not safe to assume that Scripture approves of everything it records. The classic example of the abuses of trying to make narrative normative is found in Gideon’s fleece (Judges 6). Many people cite it as though they are simply following in Gideon’s footsteps and If it is good enough for Gideon, it is good enough for me. The problem is that in the story of Gideon, the fleece episode was actually meant to expose Gideon’s lack of trust in God. He should not have needed the added comfort of the fleece evidence but should have trusted God’s word initially.

 

Normativity in Narrative

If one of the major steps to interpreting Acts correctly is authorial intent, what did Luke intend? It has already been said that it was intended to be an orderly account. But to go further, and to include some of the major themes of Acts, it can be said that Acts is a theological history of the Spirit-empowered spreading of the gospel from its Jewish base to the rest of the Gentile world, from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria, and to the end of the earth. On the other side of this question is what Luke did not intend to write:

 

  • A biography of the apostles

 

  • A handbook on Church organization or polity

 

  • A systematization of theological doctrine

 

If normative principles are derived from reading the book of Acts as any of these three, the reading is illegitimate because the interpreter is going outside the bounds of authorial intent and reading into the text something the text was never trying to convey. With all of this said, the most basic principle regarding how the text of Acts applies to Christians is the important difference between a narrative being normative and a narrative having illustrative and patterning value. The difference is in authority. If a text is explicit in how it tells the believer to live, then its authority primary. However, if the principle for the believer is implicit, an implication from the text but not directly commanded in the text explicitly, then the interpreter must understand such a principle to be secondary. Within narratives, if the author’s intention is not to convey a normative Christian practice, binding for all Christians, then any exemplar behavior or illustrations based on imitations must be secondary and interpreted in light of the explicit commands and exhortations of Scriptures whose primary purpose was to convey said normativity. Therefore, in areas of experience and practice found in the book of Acts, biblical precedents may be considered repeatable patterns even though not normative (Fee & Stuart, 2003). There are many helpful practices found in the early church whereby modern Christians can and should gain helpful principles for their ministry today. However, these are not obligatory commands to be followed by all Christians but helpful illustrations of the way the church looked in the 1st century, illustrations that can be manifested in several different ways by honoring the principles of the early church.

 

Conclusion

As important as it is to understand the specific ways to apply passages from the book of Acts, it is also important to realize that applying specific instances of a narrative is not the only way for a narrative to be important in the life of the church. The book of Acts, as all of the narrative in the Scripture, does provide a written foundation for how the Spirit of God acted in the very beginnings of the spreading of the Gospel. And, as such, without point-by-point application and illustration, it provides believers with a sense of hope and a surety that all followers of Christ are now sharing in that same story.

 

References

Fee, G. D., & Stuart, D. (2003). How to read the Bible for all its worth (3rd ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

 

 

 

 
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