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Title: 'What if a spirit or an angel has spoken?' : narrative modelling of the treatment of dreams and visions in the Acts of the Apostles
Author: Dean, Rebecca
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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The reports of dreams and visions in the Book of Acts are widely accepted to portray moments of divine-human communication that demonstrate God's continuing involvement in the life of His church. However, within the narrative there are inconsistencies between repeated reports of visionary experience (e.g. Acts 9, 22, 26), cases of prophecy being ignored (e.g. Acts 21:10-14), mixed responses to dream-visions (e.g. Acts 2, 10, 11, 15, 22), and nuances that suggest more is going on in the text than what would be required simply to show God's hand at work. This thesis will analyse the dream-vision reports within the Acts of the Apostles, assessing the extent to which they reflect wider first century attitudes towards dreaming, and their function within the narrative itself. It will be argued that at both of these levels of enquiry, the reports of dreams and visions demonstrate an awareness of the challenges that these phenomena pose for individuals and communities. This is reflected not only in the struggle to appropriately interpret dreams and visions, but also in the recognition of the potential risks posed by these phenomena. Indeed, it will be suggested that the inherent ambiguity and uncertainty that surrounds dreams and visions is something that is heightened rather than diminished within the upside-down world of the Acts of the Apostles. It will be argued that one finds a movement from the idealised representation of dreams and visions in the account of the first Christian Pentecost, to its more complex practical outworking. Through engagement with this story the reader/hearer is offered a means of understanding how dreams and vision might be treated, mutatis mutandis, within the context of their own community.
Supervisor: Rowland, Christopher Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Acts of the Apostles ; Bible. New Testament ; Dreams and Visions