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Title: Character description and socio-political apologetic in the Acts of the Apostles
Author: Mackenzie, Robert Kenneth
ISNI:       0000 0001 3615 5037
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1984
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Acts has been the subject of exhaustive enquiry from historical, source, redactional, literary, and other angles. The aim of this thesis is to read Acts as would someone with an education typical of that time. The clearer it is that such rhetorical grounding was sufficient basis for an intelligible interpretation, the more likely that Acts was extroverted enough to be addressed to a general readership. Since it was the practice to interpret history in terms of individuals not general movements, as is exemplified in theoretical statements of Cicero and Seneca and in the practice of Thucydidas, Sallust, Livy and Tacitus, the school exercise of character description forms the basis of analysis and interpretation, as illustrated from 14.8-19. By use of the theory of Theon and suitable practical examples in Homer, Sailust, Dosephus, etc., the typical form of the character sketch is outlined, as are common topics in it as used in Acts, thus identifying the examples in Acts. With reference to such as Seneca, Tacitus, Vergil and Polybius, it is shown how this exercise was used in historiography to introduce minor, and offer obituaries of major, characters, and so it emerges that in Acts these sketches introduce the Church, and that Paul, receiving valedictory description, is the dominant figure. Reference to historiographers also identifies the use of descriptions as digressions which yet advance the inquiry, 18.24-28 proving to be such a typifying digression. Adding Theon's exercise of comparison, and again with reference to Plutarch, Xenophon, Catullus, etc., 4.32-5.11 and 8.4-40 (Lucian affording a significant comparison) are shown to be like digressions. 21.37-9 and 22.25-8 are also comparisons, but 9.32-10.48 is a climactic grouping of characters. Menander's On Ecideictic provides the theoretical basis for the interpretation of character sketches in travel rhetoric, and Lucan a practical instance. Situations of arrival and departure occur at 15.6-16 and 20.36-21.16. For 21.39-26.39, the theory of Cicero's De Inuantione and the Rhetorica ad Herannium on dicanic oratory form the basis for discussion of the defence speech and its effect on characterisations within it. The themes which emerge are reviewed under the following heads: opposition and advance; resurrection; piety; a dialectical relationship with the Dews; connection with the higher echelons of society; lack of secretiveness; invitation to something with a certain mystique; innocence and justice. Brief remarks on what Acts may have to say to the contemporary West conclude the exploration of what it said in its own time.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Philosophy