During my research stint with The Creation Project I had the luxury of being contractually obliged to read in areas that I normally don’t have time to explore. One result is a deeper appreciation of the relationship between reading and living God’s story.
Every November professional theological societies hold their annual conferences where theologians from all over the world gather to present their research to the scrutiny of their peers. This year the conference was held in San Antonio and I was able to present two papers, one of which was a quick summary of my dissertation.
At the end of November I attended my first ever conference for the Evangelical Theological Society and then also for the Society of Biblical Literature. At ETS I presented a paper called “The Man-woman Shaped Hole in the Heart of Creation.”
In this series I’ve been trying to demonstrate that the book of Acts works like a story. It has a tension that finds resolution at the end. In other words, it has a climactic conclusion. In these next two posts, I want to show that nested in the story of Acts is another story. It’s the story of Paul’s journey to Rome via Jerusalem. This story has its own tension and resolution while at the same time bringing the story of Acts to its climactic resolution.
The first of Paul’s significant speeches is recorded by Luke in Acts 13 when Paul speaks in the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch. The speech is interesting because it contains a cryptic quote of Habakkuk that is often preached horribly out of context. That’s too bad because it plays an important role in setting up the second half of the book of Acts.
At the beginning of the book of Acts Jesus said to his disciples,
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
As we’ve worked our way through the first half of the book we’ve found that we have gone through each one of these elements. The Holy Spirit has come upon the disciples and they have been his witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the eart. Since we’re reading Acts as a story it might seem like the tension of the plot has been resolved. Why isn’t the story over? While it’s true that the Gospel has been preached to “the ends of the earth,” there’s still more to be explored about this idea of the gospel to the ends of the earth.
I can’t really recall when I’ve ever looked at a classic piece of artwork and felt like I understood all those things about the lines and the blah, blah, blah, that you can read in some of the art critics’ commentaries. But as I was selecting a piece of art for my next theology post (The Story of the Book of Acts) I noticed something really interesting about Rembrandt’s piece on the Stoning of St. Stephen pictured above.