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The Babel paradox
h [electronic resource] /
by Michel Machado.
[Tampa, Fla] :
b University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 87 pages.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of South Florida, 2009.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
ABSTRACT: The purpose of the book of Acts is still not well understood. Various interpretations have been offered in order to make sense of the narrative and its author's intention. What is the point of Luke's second book in portraying the evangelization of the Roman Empire as a rabid confrontation between Jewish followers of Jesus and other Jewish people? This matter calls for an examination of the relationship between the mother religion and the Jesus movement as it expands into a universal religion. Luke portrays the Jesus movement as the focus of divine favor, in contradistinction to the Jewish nation which is presented as opposing the plan of God. Christians respond to persecution by declaring the opponents guilty of opposition to the very work of the Holy Spirit. This portrait of a troubled relationship has led to many confusing or misguided interpretations of the text.What are the implications of the apparent break of continuity between the Jesus movement and the Jewish people? Does the book of Acts give to Israel a place in the divine plan, or is this work an anti-Semitic polemic? This question is so complex that three schools of thought have arisen to attempt to reconcile the conflicting themes. These scholars recognize the friction between Christians and Jews, but debate the significance of the missing explicit repudiation of Israel. Two of these schools view God as continuing to work through the people of Israel, while the third proposes that God has repudiated Israel as the elect nation, replacing her with the Christian Church. This thesis proposes that there has been inadequate attention to the possibility that the narrative is imbedded with neglected Jewish themes, like Pentecost and the gift of Languages (Tongues).Several texts in the Hebrew Scriptures provide indications that Languages have specific implications to the Covenant with Israel, and her place in the plan of God. A deeper study of a first century understanding of these themes will produce substantial, new light on all of these questions.
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Advisor: James F. Strange, Ph.D.
Book of Acts
x Religious Studies
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
The Babel Paradox b y Michel Machado A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of Religious Studies College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: James F. Strange, Ph.D. Cass Fisher, Ph.D. Paul Schneider, Ph.D. Date of Approval September 16, 2009 Keywords: Book of Acts, Covenantal Dismissal, Languages, Judgment, Tongues Copyright 2009, Michel Machado
i Table of Contents A bstract ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................... ii The Babel Paradox ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 3 Theology ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 3 Culture ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 8 Academic Research ................................ ................................ ................................ 9 Survey of Research ................................ ................................ ............................... 11 The Forgotten Jewis h Context ................................ ................................ .............. 15 Pentecost as Babel ................................ ................................ ................................ 17 ................................ ................................ ................................ 23 Languag es in Acts ................................ ................................ ................................ 34 The Jerusalem Pentecost ................................ ................................ ....................... 37 Pentecost and Sinai ................................ ................................ ............................... 38 Fire ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................ 41 The Sound and Wind ................................ ................................ ............................ 43 The Temple ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 44 Peter ................................ ................................ ................................ ...................... 47 Caesarea ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 4 9 Ephesus ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 53 Languages in Ephesus ................................ ................................ ........................... 58 Negative Themes Associated with Pentecost ................................ ....................... 61 From Ephesus to Rome ................................ ................................ ......................... 66 Rome ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 69 ................................ ................................ ..................... 72 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 75 Works Cited ................................ ................................ ................................ ...................... 80
ii The Babel Paradox Michel Machado ABSTRACT The purpose of the book of Acts is still not well understood Various interpretations second book in portraying the evangelization of the Roman Empire as a rabid confrontation between Jewish followers of Jesus and other Jewish people? This matter calls for an examination of the relationship between the mother religion and the Jesus movement as it expands into a universal religion. Luke portrays the Jesus movement as the focus of divine favor in contradistinction to the Jewish nation wh ich is presented as opposing the plan of God. Christians respond to persecution by declaring the opponent s guilty of opposition to the very work of the Holy Spirit. This portrait of a troubled relationship has led to many confusing or misguided interpretations of the text What are the implications of the apparent break of continuity between the Jesus movem ent and the Jewish people? Does the book of Acts give to Israel a place in the divine plan, or is this wo rk an anti Semitic polemic? This question is so complex that three schools of though t have ar isen to attempt to reconcile the conflicting themes The se scholars recognize the friction between Christians and Jews but debate the significance of the missing explicit repudiation of Israel Two of these schools view God as continuing to work through the people of
iii Israel, while the third propose s that God has repudiated Israel as the elect nation, replacing her with the Christian Church This thesis proposes that there has been inadequate attention to the possibility that the narrative is imbedded with neglected Jewish themes like Pentecost and the gift o f L anguages (Tongues) Several texts in the Hebrew Scrip tures provide indications that L anguages have specific implications to the Covenant with Israel, and her place in the plan of God. A deeper study of a first century understanding of these themes wil l produce substantial new light on all of these questions
1 The Babel Paradox The significance of the relationship between Jewish themes and the Hellenization process of the Jesus faction as it changed character from a sect of Judaism to an independent predominantly gentile movement has remained an unresolved issue for scholars seeking to understand the purpose and structure of the New Testament book of Acts. In 1966 W. C. van Unnik foresaw that the process of the Hellenization of Christianity was inseparably linked to any st udy of the combined Luke Acts narrative (21). This process is most obvious in the book of Acts, and it entails a paradoxical, multi pronged narrative strategy. An inadequate awareness of this strategy can result in confusion a Christian movement, and yet fail to see that while it contains histories, it is not written as history as understood today ( Pervo Profit 8 ; Witherington 3 ; Fitzmyer Luke 15,1 72). Some of the acts of some apostles are inclu ded, and yet of other apostles are included, the attention of the reader as the book progresses shifts toward an apology for the key figure of Paul and his mission to the Gentiles. Ironically, a pervasive Jewish background is also undeniable and Jewish themes are used throughout However, those are often employed simply for the purpose of proving the concept of the election of the Gentiles. And yet an intriguing confi rmation of this phenomenon that we will call the Babel paradox appears in one of the most neglected Jewish themes in
2 Acts and in New Testament studies the Jerusalem Pentecost and its effusion of foreign languages ( Acts 2.1 38). In many places, t he auth or of the book of Acts appears to utilize the motif of the the covenantal rupture of the Jesus movement from Second Temple Judaism most likely by his focus ing on the blessings and curses in Deuteronomy Subsequent Pentecost like outpourings, such as the outpouring of the Spirit in Caesarea and at Ephesus, are linked with narratives of this discontinuity as characterized by an ever increasing confrontation with Jewish authorities and crowds. These rathe r negative narratives serve as the counterpoint of the Is a ianic vision of the ingathering of the exiles and of the, Gentiles (Pao 114, 242) These events in effect, three Pentecosts act as historical, geographical and symbolic transitions for a heav enly and necessary and providentially guided progression from a Jewish sect to a completely autonomous global Christianity; thus fulfilling the same Isianic vision of the ingathering of the Gentiles (636) In the ong oing scholarly debate concerning the question of continuity or discontinuity of the Jesus movement within Second Temple Judaism, this thesis aims to bring a unique contribution to the latter side of the debate. It proposes that this framework of discontin uity serves as a literary scheme that combines and juxtaposes the Deuteronomistic theme of curses and blessing s with the Isianic theme of the ingathering of the Gentiles. This framework not only provides a plausible structure and purpose for the book of A cts, but also elucidates significant blocks of material throughout the narrative which, until now, have remained conundrums that is, without satisfying a
3 coherent, contextual explanation within any existing or proposed structure or plan of the book of Ac ts. Significant events can all now be understood as taking their proper place s within a coherent narrative and a well established structure. These include: the election of Matthias as the twelfth apostle, the gift of L anguages in the three Pentecosts th e triadic call of Paul for the shift of gospel proclamation towards the Gentiles, and the enigmatic end of the book of Acts Furthermore, this thesis prefers to use the term L anguages a translation of glossais with the intention to steer clear of th e term T ongues has taken on something of an iconic stature in modern usage The Babel Paradox Why is the book of Acts still being misread today? What are the causes of the neglect of the Jewish hermeneutical clues for the book of Acts espe cially the covenantal and judicial significance of the languages of Pentecost? Several scholars have addressed this subject, including Charette, Johanson, Menoud, Robertson and Sweet; however their impact has been limited. This is a complex issue, and va rious factors contribute to this situation. All are not directly related to the book of Acts, nonetheless they are relevant to a near universal misapplication of the evidence. These factors can be divided into t heological and cultural issues. Theology Ch ristians traditionally read Acts mainly in an anachronistic manner and from their own denominational standpoint. Their interpreta tion sees the combined book narrative of Luke Acts as written by Christian for Christians, and stress es primarily a
4 s alvation history and the inclusion of the Gentiles into the fold of Christianity This one sided view overlooks the built in Jewish matrix and its own negative perspective while overemphasizing positively the significance of to the Ne w C ovenant commu nity. It fails to see that their positive integration within the community of faith had a negative converse effect T he book of Acts, f ollowing the Hebrew Scriptures frequent use of the incomprehensibility of foreign languages as tacit warnings of e xile for Israel, ultimately records the estrangement of the new Judeo Gentile religion from the national institu tions of Second Temple Judaism. It is curious that scholars have long been aware of a possible connection between the speaking in u nknown language (s) and divine judgment but have generally failed to exploit a Jewish perspective of this theme. Conzelmann, f or example, observes that storm and fire are associated with judgment, but he does not identify a linkage to the use of language s (13). Haenchen notes that Lake associates Isaiah 28 11 with languages, but only to emphasis the term heteros ( Foakes Jackson v. 5 115 ; Haenchen 168 note 4 ). Since consideration of the Jewish substratum of the text has not been included in the hermene utical foundations of prior interpretative effort, the relation o f judgment to languages has been lost. As a consequence, the book of Acts is only understood as a discourse fitting a modern understanding which construe s the Pentecost event only in terms of the traditional birth of what is called the Church. A good example is F.F. Bruce, who in his otherwise distinguished book ascribes the heading T he Birth of the Church to his discussion of Acts 1 1 5 42 ( 28 ). Thi s interpretation so dominates wester n Christian discourse that it completely obscures any other possible reading of what Pentecost and languages could signify for the author of the book of Acts or his original
5 readership A consequence of this hermeneutical choice is that in the nineteen th century some individual Christians and later entire denominations bega n to view the gift of L anguage s as foundational in nature and have constructed a series of doctri nes on this so called foundation that the writers of Scripture s may n ever have inten ded The proponent s of this view, omitting the Jewish stratum from the text of Acts itself compound the confus ion by turning uniquely to the first epistle to the Corinthians in order to make sense of t he gift of Language s The Christian paradigm of the book of Acts seemingly requires an understanding of the term glossa gift of T ongues and that view is then supported by viewing the book of First Corinthians from an anachronis tic perspective. This thesis will demonstra te that there are also several Jewish elemen ts of the context of F irst Corinthians which need to be considered Furthermore c ontrary to a modern common opinion, it can be shown that chapter s twelve to fourteen of F irst Corinthians d oes not commend the practice of speaking in a language or languages by his Corinthian converts He sees their practice as leading to confusion and is destructive to the unity and order in their assembly W hile he does not prohibit it s continued use the real gift was potentia lly operative in their assembly he provides corrective instructions to minimize the damage done to their community To accomplish this, Paul provides constructive counterpoint s : he emphasizes the primacy of prophecy and also points out the often missed definition and intent of languages a Jewish explanation o f the judicial nature of the gift of Language s to his Corinthian flock
6 The prevailing interpretation of Acts and First Corinthians from a specifically Christian view point leads to some significant theological consequences. The Pentecostal misinterpretation become widespread and the opinion resulting from it the supposed eligibility use, of s peaking in ongues has taken almost that of an iconic st ature Entire Christian denominations ha ve been established based on this i nterpretation : taking what was intended as a pastoral concession ary counsel to be a doctrinal prescription. The logic of this understanding leads believers in Pentecostal type churches to adopt the regular, existential practice of self ed ification through the gift of speaking in T ongues Believers as well as the general public are lured into believing that what could have been a misinformed practice of the Corinthian assembly then is today regarded as the only pr oof of an existential reality and therefore, being the normative use of the gift of Language s. The dominance of this outlook in c ertain quarters and its theological implications seem to be self evident Jack Hayford s book The Beauty of Spiritual Language offers a remarkable description of a Pentecostal understanding of the gift that encourages a reader to agree with his point of view T aking a broader viewpoint that is more in keeping with the historical situation and context of the passages relating to languages however, may lead to a more exact and divergent conclusion. Three other minor points have also been misunderstood as a consequ ence of this shift concerning the B irth of the C hurch The first is the neglect of the first post resurrection appearance in the gospel of John ( 20 19 23). Accordi ng to John, the apostles
7 and others received the Holy Spirit personally from the resurrected one The existence of t his tradition opens other alternative interpretation s to the L uke Acts day of Pentecost rather that being necessarily limited exclusively to the Birth of the Church The second is that much confusion exists conce rning John the Baptist expression b aptism of the Holy Spirit and with f ire ( Matt. 3:11, Mark 1: 2 8, cf. Zech. 12:10) It has become common in the Pentecostal and Charismatic doctrinal approach to employ this expression as a call for purification and t he renewing of believers. The phrase is definitively forgotten The judicial meaning and the intended recipients of the saying of John have largely disappeared in order to give place to the individualistic self edification and purifica t ion of the Pentecostal believer s E cclesiastical tradition has dis ass ociated the baptism of John from the baptism of Jesus. T h e Magisterial Reformation continued the Roman Catholic practice of infant baptism and consequently requirement of repentance preceding that rite This given to infants was of course devoid of this repentance feature and is more ap plicable to the promotion of ecclesiastical and national unity in a Christian State This di chotomy has not only thrown the episode of the Ephesians Pentecost into a morass of contradiction, shift ing interest mos t ly to ward a re but ignor es completely the Jewish context of this passage and minimizes its significance a s the third and final Pentecost event of the book of Acts (19.1 7)
8 Culture The book of Acts present s a fiercely antagonistic view towards S econd Temple Judaism but it was not intended to advocate violence against the Jews then no r against the Judaism o f today. It is through a n extraordinary concourse of circumstances that Acts became an unlikely predecessor to contemporary European anti Semitism Luke could not have imagined that the Pauline movement he documented would eventually be transform ed into an imperial religion, nor become a dominant force of western civilization The biblical issues and their historical context were, as this thesis contends, already forgotten soon after the close of the apostolic peri od T he records of this era (Act s speci fically, and the Christian Scriptures generally ) were then utterly misinterpreted and misapplied within a different context that came into being even before the time the Jesus movement in the West had metamorp hosed under the Byzantine Emperors (Tiede qtd. in Tyson Luke Acts 22 ). Acts touches on events that are painful facts of religious history. F ollowing the fall of the Temple t here were various groups including Pauline Christianity and the Matthean community, and the remnant of Pharisaic Judaism stru ggling to rebuild the Jewish identity and recapture their heritage (Overman, 51 ). The Mattheans disappear shortly thereafter, and t he two remaining factions were left to compete for legitimacy as the heir to Second Temple Judaism Each claim ed inheritance. Acts is a work of the late first century and serves the function of a Pauline letter of divorce (Jer 3.8, cf. Gal 4.21 31 Heb 8.1 13 ) As such, it is not presented in a pleasing academic manner, but wallows in the warp and woof of religiou s strife. Pauline Christians
9 separated from Second Temple Judaism and used covenantal themes of estrangement and rejection to justify their flight from the mother faith the acceptance of Gentiles into their ranks The divorce was not settle d peacefully, and its bitter effects are still felt in our culture today, even though it is no longer clearly recognized or well understood. The new Judaism came to be politically dominated by the n ew imperial, state Christianity that arose from the Paul ine Gentile communities The words and concepts that had served for the Pauline party as a certificate of divorce were transformed in the hand s of a church state into a warrant of persecution and ostra cism. Academic Research Modern scholarship, if it has not yet completely mapp ed the specific and gradual withdrawal of Christians from Seco nd Temple Judaism as found in Luke Acts, is nonetheless aware of a pervasive ambiguity concerning the consequences of the acceptance of Gentile s into the fold of the Pauli ne churches words and activities particular ly in Acts elicit uncertainty about the problem of Gentile acceptance and thus uncertaint y of the status of continuity of the Jesus movement within the Second Temple Judaism and its C ovenant. Among the numerous interpretative schemes offered to solve this problem, the subject of the Gentile Mission is a common element several scholars have used as their basis for a proposed structure. Their enquiry is directed at the tension between two recurrent them Jesus as S avior and that of the conflict and rejection of Jesus and his apostles by the t raditionalists seem to be intentionally coupled together in A cts The term traditionalist
10 ( s ) is use d to emphasis that we have the record of an intramural debate among Jewish co religionists it applies equally to adherent of Second Temple Juda i sm or Christian believers who sought to retain Jew i sh culture/religious practice In the second part of Acts, co vering the career of the apostle Paul, t he author links these two themes and portrays the traditionalists consistently as jealous and aggressively opposed to the successes experienced whenever the gospel is preached to the Gentiles (C hapter s 13 28) The a nimosity between the evangelists and the t raditionalists is depicted as growing throughout the careers of Peter and Paul, finally reaching the point where reconciliation becomes seem ingly impossible. This militant confrontation between those reaching out to the Gentiles and those seeking to keep the faith purely Jewish seems to be a major conflict within the narrative. T he author inform s the reader that this animosity even spill s over into the Christian camp where Christians of Jewish birth hold content ious, reticent sentimen t s toward s G entiles and their ethnicity These Judaic Christians resist acceptan ce of Gentile believers and they advocate a faith more in keeping with the Law and Jewish exclusivenes s ( Acts 6 1; 10 45 48; 11 2 3 17 18; 15 1 2, 5 7 ; 10; 20 29 30; cf. 21 20 26). Against this backdrop of hostility and distrust a t least three times the apostle Paul utters a stern declaratio 46 48 51 ; 18 6; 28 25 28). The author emphasizes these declarations by making them the default response to situations filled with confusion, antagonism, or hatre d between Paul and his audience The author depicts Paul as haranguing his opponents on these three occasions and even makes the third declaration the climatic conclusion of the book of Acts.
11 Survey o f Research what was three declarations of turning away from a Jewish oriented ministry Two significant sources are used in this survey to understand this problem. Joseph Tyson has assembled and published eight critical and divergent perspectives in Luke Acts and the Jewish P eople His work center s on the problem of the Gentile mission and the relationship of Christians with Jews as possible clues to Also, this survey largely follow s Alan all major interpretation s of this problem and use s his classification of three m ain schools of thoughts : the rejection, the supplement, and th e complement theories (68 72). The rejection theory asserts that the Gentile Mission replaces the mission to Jews. Jack Sanders is the epitome of the rejectionist view s new tragic understanding of the work of Luke that views the Jews as victims, he takes the opposite view and concludes his essay the tragedy of the Gospel is the execution of the last Great Prophet, who journey through the page of the Gospe l toward hi s inescapable fate. e the villains, not the victims (qtd. in Tyson Luke Acts 75). A more nuanced perspective is offered by Michael Cook. His essay ptions of overtures to the Jews now appears a device by which Luke can assign responsibility for the underrepresentation Acts 22). This Jewish scholar uncovers a particularly imp ortant discrepancy in Acts Luke is faced
12 with a formidable challenge: the incomprehensible absence of a strong Jewish b ase for a movement that sees itself as a continuation of Israel The expositors of the second position see the Gentile mission as suppl ementing the Jewish mission. Brawley is probably its strongest proponent He opposes the theory views them as providing antecedents for Christianity only as a part (155). As Brawley sees it, there is no rejection of the Jews as a whole, on ly unbelief from some (76 77). In his view, Luke is conciliatory towards them (72). T he rejection in Acts does not concern the Pharisees; they are incomplete in their commitment to the faith (106). The Sadducees and the high priestly party are the real opponents to the Gospel (116). They temporarily sway the people to support the crucifixion, but the inhabitant s of Jerusalem repent after the death of Jesus, and they serve as representative of the Jewish openness to the gospel (156). Brawley concludes that G entile Christianity free, Luke ties it to Judaism (159). A more cautious David Tiede recognizes the literary probability that contendi ng attitudes attributed to God and the punishment of Israel is part and parcel of her heritage (qtd. in Tyson Luke Jewish or foreign to Jewish tradition in such an indictment. The prophetic heritage long b efore taught how s histo ry could be recited against her vengeance and vindication have their times of wrath and restoration, and the Messiah has or in order to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sin. Then the mission of repentant Israel or of faithful Israel is also to 33). The narrative of Acts and
13 especially its end can speak harshly to Israel but it i s still concerned with her and the era of repentance and restora tion has been only inaugurated (33 4). A tragic irony governs the relationship between Christianity and Judaism in the book of Acts according to Robert Tann ehill (qtd. in Tyson Luke Acts 96). Luke is unable to explain why Israel failed to embrace Jesus as her promised Messiah (88). The reader is left with the tension between an unfulfilled promise and an Israel that has rejected and still does no t accept Jesus and the apostles (101). The co mplement theory is epitomized by Jacob Jervell. He differs from both preceding positions because he sees the mission to the Gentiles as completing the mission to Israel. The Turn to the Gentiles is not a sign of a discarded Israel ; even the closing episo de in Rome indicate s only that Paul has finished the ministry with Jews (Acts 28) solely to the Gentiles. What kinds of Gentiles ? Exactly the same as Luke has de alt with throughout his work: the g od Acts 19). The new Christian constituency is either Jewish or familiar with Jewish tradition Some Jews failed to convert leaving the people of God divided, but many in Israel repented (T yson People situation to imply that only when the Jews have rejected the gospel is the way opened to Gentiles. It is more correct to say that only when Israel has accept ed the gospel can the way to G ospel had been preached to a part of Israel that accepted the new faith, then all other nations can be reached. This elegant solution Israel alongside and unrelated to the Christian church to which the church is not
14 obligated. That Israel is composed of the unrepentant that refuses to convert. The new faith at this point is a Jewish movement that is gradually opening to the Gentile world (68). What is striking in comparing these proposals is that their conclusio ns, although divergent, are not necessarily mutually exclusive Each, however, suffers from considerable weaknesses. The Rejection thesis lacks evi dence from Luke of a definitive C toward Israel. The Supplement thesis cannot escape nor explain away the cumulative weight of the rejection and harsh judgments towar ds Israel contained in Acts. The Complement thesis also opponents nor explain why the majority of Israel continues to refuse to convert to the new faith. With the exception of the contributio ns of Cook and Salmon the Tyson compilation offer s mostly interpretations which can not provide a decisive argument to accept their position ove r the other options proposed Each is p lausible when considered from a Christian anach ronistic perspective. Ho wever, n one of the se approaches address es fully the Jewish background in which Acts was written, including the ethnicity of its main characters as well as its audience (Salmon qtd. in Tyson Luke Acts 80 1). Each falls short failing to consider that the author may be addressing Jewish readers, as well as new believers. All appear to overlook the Jewish religious context of the first century in which these stories are meant to be understood.
15 The Forgotten Jewish Context Jewish readers of the first centu languages in his Pentecost account as an intentional inclusion aimed specifically at them. Luke expects the reader to understand the symbolism of Pentecost. He argues that t he events of Pentecost are heave nly mandated. T hrough the use of specific miracles he conveys that a divine intervention has occurred and that the God of Israel (the Holy Spirit), has spoke n to His people through the languages of the nations. It is curious that the sages of Israel ende d up taking a strong negative stance on the validity of this kind of divine intervention. The account of Rabbi Eliezer Ben in the second century from the Sanhedrin is instructive in this instance. A tree, a stream, and moving walls, all intervene miraculously in favor of Bat qo l an extra canonical heavenly voice or intervention in Talmudic tradition vouches for the rightness of his position. However, the other R abbis stand together and oppose Eliezer because of his disrespect of their consensus opinion. From their point of view, neither miraculous divine intervention nor T he past is pattern is valid (Goldin 297). The R abbis will not accept either one as evidence for legal verdicts, and 181 c d; (B. M. 59b; Yer. M. iii. 81a et seq. ) Although it is understandable that the religious leaders of exiled Israel sought legitimacy of their authority when defending their legal and didactic enterprise, yet other issues seems to be the underpinning s of these partly etiologi cal tales. The case of Rabbi Eliezer is probably emblematic of the definition of acceptable orthodoxy. Four concerns could fit the Rabbi Bat qol or reference to it, could not be valid Talmudic
16 sages give no weight of authority to heavily echoes or further extra canonical Torah revelations) Eliezer was not permitted to appeal to his own tradition in opposition to their consensus (Goldin 297) By implication, only the consensual interpretation of Scriptures could be retained. Finally, it is also significant that while Eliezer was typically held forth as an example of piety and knowledge, he was probably ostracized because he was portrayed as having accepted a h alakah or legal ordinance from a partisan of Jesus (Tosefta, Chullin 2 24; B Avodah Zarah 16b 17a). This accounts seems to single out R abbi Eliezer as a conservative figure who is not willing to accept a new rea lity. The new reality following the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem and the Temple necessitated rebuilding the foundation of the entire basis of the belief structure of the remnant and re establish the authority of the R abbis The uncanny banishment of Rabbi Eliezer seems to be the test case of supremacy of the rabbinic authority over any vestiges of pre 70 A.D. state of affairs within the community. This episode, however, has wider implications that bear upon issues raised by the Pentecost account and the Jesus movement. The orthodoxy of an important scholar of Judaism was compromised due to his acceptance of a heretical H alakah A direct appeal to Scriptures is possible only if in accord with the conse nsus view, and appeals to pre 70 A.D. traditions outside of the consensus opinion have no force. Finally a Bat q ol is no match to the concerted opinion of the Rabbis. Could the rabbinic tradition in these texts be meant in part to answer the claims of the Bat qol of Pentecost and the Christian interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures for their constituency and for themselves? It is perhaps significant that we have no direct, recorded response by the Tannahim the rabbinic al sages to the challenges raised by the events of Acts, and the presence of
17 Jewish Christianity. Accepting the parameter set by the Rabbis would immunize the Jewish community against the m essage of Paul and Pentecost. It is possible that a pre 7 0 A.D. Jewish reading of the Luke Pentecost needed to be offset and diffused by a strong integrative teaching from the Rabbi s and others on this subject This may be a hint that different approache s other than the Pharisees and later the consensus decision of the Rabbi s were present before the fall of the Temple Paul expected King Agrippa to know and to answer his question in the affirmative. This passage indicate s another frame of reference was active at the time, suggesting that an individual was expected to interact directly with Scriptures and produce a personal interpretation quite different from the Rabbi s day In Acts, the Bat qol of Pentecost looms large in the narrative to such an extent that the author highlights this 12). It is as if he would eli cit from the reader the desire to understand and explore the meaning of what is being presented. Pentecost a s Babel Luke describes Jewish believers from every nation hearing and understanding the wonders of the Name extolled in their own language This us age is clearly conveying the miraculous, but it is also su rprising from a different angle P erusing the H ebrew Scriptures; one finds no direct connection between Pentecost T here is a possible indirect connection t o Pentecost that could explain the miraculous appearance of these languages and th at is th e episode of Babel (Genesis 11.1
18 9). Commentaries on Acts routinely acknowledge Pen tecost as a reversal of Babel, but few go beyond a vague mention of the healing o f the division of the human race L anguages in the Hebrew Scriptures also have another meaning. The author appears to use an allusion connecting Pentecost to Babel in his narrative, but in an indirect manner and with a twist of his own. The author of Act s incorporates the theme of languages to Pentecost, but not as a complete correspondence between Babel and Pente cost, nor as an exact reversal. In the Babel episode God judges and confuses humans by creating languages. The people involved at Babel are di spersed by God. However, a t the Pentecost event, God instead uses the languages of the nations to open the way to understanding the message of Peter and to convince Jewish believers of the Diaspora to be united to the Jesus community. Why incorporate a reference to Babel if it is not a repetition or a reversal? Luke, who writes with intentionality and with reference to the Septuagint ( LXX ) presents the Deity as drawing Jewish followers away from the Temple celebration inviting them to the new form of acceptable piety and converting those same hearers to an alternative version of Judaism. While all the participants do not revert bac k to one pristine language as would be expected in a reversal of Babel they are en able d to overcome the limitation s in communication imposed by Babel. The stunned hearers understand the gospel message in their own language, repent and are aggregated in to the Jesus community. T his heavenly intervention is presented throughout the book of Acts as decisive, and serves as th e motor of the actions and decisions of those that follow this new W ay (Act 24.14) The point that must be emphasized is that the author uses the voice of the nations to signify that the God o f Israel speaks to His people.
19 There is a curious phenomenon in the Hebrew Scriptures. I will call it the Babel Paradox God uses a methodology that was applied earlier to separate people in order to bring them together in a new way. At Babel God chastised h umanity by creating the languages making sur e they will not understand each other The text tells us that this was done to deny men the ability to seek God or divinity in their own terms. God then immediately begins a new undertaking in Genesis chapter twelve establishing a particular nation as H is own in order to make a pathway to draw all nations to Himself His chosen people are to keep themselves separate and pure, but are meant to serve as a light to the Gentiles. God select a people to speak to knowing that t hey often will ignore His word s. H e uses the incomprehens ibility of the languages of the nation s both as a threat of judgment and as a means o f indicating that the judgment originates f r om Him. The nations themselves are pushed aside, but God maintain s them for use in correcting His chosen people. Chapter twenty eight of Deuteronomy is concerned the covenantal C urses and B lessings and prophecies a horrible punishment against an unfaithful Israel. One of these curses is found in verse forty nine: The LORD will bring a nation against you from far away, from the ends of the earth, like an eagle swooping down, a nation whose language you will not understand (All quotations are from the NIV otherwise quoted). It is fascinating to read that one of the punishment s promised to Israel was t o be subservient to an enemy from the end s of the world and that the incomprehensibility of the language of the oppressors was part of Israel punishment. The D eity specifically sets up a situation where His people inability to understand the language s of the Assyrians and the Babylonians serves as a message from God. It is Babel revisited but now the curse is prophesied by God and applied to His people in a con text of covenantal
20 rupture. T he prophetic tradition would take this curse an d apply it as a prophecy that the Assyrians and the Babylonians would come from the end s of the world to enslave the people and destroy the C ovenant of unfaithful Israel. The distin guishing mark of the s language. Isaiah mention s this heavenly intrusion twice, and Jeremiah once (Isa 28 11; 33 19; Jer 5 1 5 ). The following selection from the Septuagint is concerned with the last of these text s, Jeremiahs 5 15 This text functions like an epitome of the Babel Paradox. The Babylonian language incomprehensibility is a sign of the heavenly retribution (v. 15). Yet, several themes of Punishment and redemption are also elaborated: Therefore thus saith the Lord Almighty, Because ye have spoken this word, beh old, I have made my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them. 15 Behold, I will bring upon you a nation from far, O house of Israel, saith the Lord; a nation the sound of whose language one shall not understand. 16 They are a ll mighty men: 17 and they shall devour your harvest, and your bread; and shall devour your sons, and your daughters; and they shall devour your sheep, and your calves, and devour your vineyards, and your fig plantations, and your olive yards: and they sha ll utterly destroy your strong cities, wherein ye trusted, with the sword. 18 And it shall come to pass in those days, saith the Lord thy God, that I will not utterly destroy you. 19 And it shall come to pass, when ye shall say, Wherefore has the Lord our God done all these things to us? that thou shalt say to them, Because ye served strange gods in your land, so shall ye serve strangers in a land that is not yours. 20 Proclaim these things to the house of Jacob, and let them be heard in the house of Juda. 21 Hear ye now these things, O foolish and senseless people; who have eyes, and see not; and have ears, and hear not: 22 will ye not be afraid of me? saith the Lord; and will ye not fear before me, who have set the sand for a bound to the sea, as a perpet ual ordinance, and it shall not pass it: yea, it shall rage, but not prevail; and its waves shall roar, but not pass over it. (Jer 5.14 2 2 LXX ) For the Hebrew Scriptures, one of the prerogatives of God is the mastery of hum an languages with in His relati onship with humanity in general and particularly with the Covenant with His Israel. Israel will be exiled, and for the prophets, t he mark par
21 excellence of this heavenly intervention is that the punishment will be administered by the Babylonian oppressors and specifically through language, which will be incomprehensible to the Israelites ( Deut. 28 45 52; Isa 28 11; 33 18 19; Jer 5 10 17). The mention of willful refusal to see or hear on the part of the people will be addressed later in this work. Suffice it to s ay that its symbolism is strongly associated with a covenantal destruction and e xile for those addressed by the prophet. Yet, a not e of redemption appears in verse nineteen which highlight s the didactic intent of the Deity toward His people. God intends to use the ungodly to teach godliness to His own people and use idolatrous nations to cure the nation of Israel of her own idolatry (v. 19). The same paradox was incorporated by Luke in his use of the languages of the nations The a uthor of Acts does not explicitly allude to Babel and as ha s been noted, his account is neither a repetition nor an exact reversal of the Babel curse Luke simply introduces the subject of languages and presents a failure to understand among some of the hearer s They have had too much wine ( Acts 2 13 b ). This at least opens the Babel Paradox as an int erpretative option, but if this were the only mention of the unintelligibility of language as punishment this case could be inconclusive. It will be necessary to look for other indication s scattered throughout the work to establish the plau sibility of this view. The first indication that the Babel Paradox may be at w ork in Acts is seen in the two kinds of hearers and their reactions T he Diaspora Jews understood and co nsequently converted to the new faith through the preaching of Peter. The text mentions that there were others in the crowd, however, who did not underst an d what was
22 being said and declare They have had too much wine (Acts 2.13 b ). The presence of two different kinds of reaction to the miraculous events is portrayed. It represent s a reversal of the curse for those who are able to understand The repetition of incoherent babble for those who do not is also presented as a message This literary scheme permits Luke to apply the negative connotation of Babel to some of his Pentecost audience, while providing a new, more positive reason for those who accept it to move beyond the tenets of their Jewish piety. The speaking of languages is repeated in two oth er places in the book of Acts Caesarea and Ephesus An event happening one time could be ignored; however its repetition three times in the same book is a clue to its elevated significance. (Pervo Acts 469). On e ach occasion, a miracle is implied by L uke The Holy Spirit (God) move s human beings to speak in foreign languages. Why does the author make the God of Israel speak in such a manner to His people? Moreover, the setting of these accounts is importan t because these repetitions are placed at s ignificant and indispensable moments of transition for the Christian faith from a Jewish setting to the wider Gentile world. T he three Pentecosts and their languages seem to be set intentionally in a Jewish context, particularly at Jerusalem and at Caesare a, but also significant ly, as late as in the ministry of Paul at Ephesus. There are too many indications that point to an intentional use of languages in the book of Acts to continue to ignore the plausi bility of their significance from a co venantal view point. Finally since a doctrine of covenantal rupture betwee n God and Israel is found ready m ade in the Hebrew Scriptures, it can be adopted coherently as a hermeneutic al key to the composition of Acts.
23 ely to present the ministry of Paul (Brawley 57 ) It will be shown glossais arises from Isaiah 28 11. This provides a consistent link to a judicial perspective of the occurrence of languages at Pentecost and serves as a reas onable basis for understanding of the term in the book of Acts. text while also illum inating and their rejection by both the majority o f the leaders and people of Israel. Peter Such epochal significance ment of the theme of judgment as he describes the Chris Jewish nation as a whole. provides an extrinsic explanation of glossais which Luke in his de scription of the Day of Pentecost omits What significance he gives to the te rm is not e xplicitly defined in Acts and can only be approached through the writings of Paul in his letter to the Corinthians. protg would most likely have appl ied the term in the same sense as is used by the hero of his narrative Once the use o f glossais by Paul is understood it provides a reasonable f irst century context that predates the writing of Luke Acts one that w as probably available to Luke. of glossais is not directly connected to a study of Acts but his reference to the prophetic tradition of covenantal rupture is vital. Paul and Luke are the only New Testament writers who deal with the experience of languages, while Paul is the
24 only first century Christian who provides an exp osition of its mea ning The term does appear in Mark as well without any explanation of its function foretell ing the appearance of glossais at a future date (Mark 16:17) P aul assignment in First Corinthians 14.20 22 of a strong covenantal significa nce to the gift s hould not be missed Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. In the Law it is written: Through men of strange tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even the n they will not listen to me, says the Lord. Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers. He identifies the Corinthians pr actice of incomprehensible language or languages as e rroneous He criticizes their use of incomprehensible language as childish, and by implication selfish. The proper application of languages is not as a sign for believers, but rather a sign to unbelievers. While Paul in verses one to nineteen, acknowl edges a limited value of the langu age as practiced by some of them ; in verse s twenty to twenty two he provides instruct ion to th em on the purpose God has for them when the gift of Language is manifested among them (I Cor 14 1 22 ) Verse 21 is a direct quo tation of Isaiah 28.11 which Paul uses to explain the meaning of the gift of Language s to the naive Corinthians Paul cites Isaiah in order to lend authority to his major point. Furthermore, he points out to them that this design is already present in t he prophetic tradition. The stubborn impenitence of the people during ministry forced him to prophesy about a coming judgment. Paul seems to appropriate the same prophetic function as Isaiah did The nation that refused to hear His prophet woul d be dealt with by the Deity through a language they would not understand.
25 He leaves open the possibility that issal of the message of her Messiah will be a repeat of the same predicament. Three other passages have been proposed to explain th e significance of speaking in T ongues They are Acts 1 8 ; Romans 8 26 ; and First Corinthians 14 4. In the first, Luke transitions from the ministry of Christ to that of the apostles by saying : will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on y ou; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth ( Acts 1 8 ) This verse i to the end s of the world. It anticip ates the actions of the rest of the book in general, but does not mention nor specifically refer to languages. It can identif y one potential ly positive interpretation of their meaning, but is not at all instrumental in it s definition emphasis on the gift of Language s serves to identify divine approval in each instance it occurs but there are clearly more negative aspects to glossais as a warning to Israel, which Acts 1.8 does not address. The next commonly cited passage ; Romans 8 26 is particular ly unsuit able for giving an explanation to the gift of Language s read ing : In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express Thi s text speaks of a work of the Spirit to interce de before God in a way that is beyond human expression alleviating the predictable struggle of the follower who is facing the difficulties of the Christian experience. There is not a direct connection to ei ther human or spiritual languages. Paul in Romans favorably identifies the ability of the Spirit to intercede in situation s that the Christian believers cannot fully understand nor express.
26 This intercession cannot be equated with the Corinthian error th at Paul has attack ed repeatedly contra Gordon Fee respectfully ( 5 77, note 31 1). Th e con cept of spiritual intercession is not found nor within to the Corinthian practice The conte xt of the Romans passage is addressed to the believer who is struggling with physical or spiritual oppression, while the Corinthian situation addresses believers who are perhaps too self engrossed. First Corinthians 14 4 is also commonly used as a source t o explain the gift, but only if quoted partially The s in languages edifies himself (I Cor. 14 4a) This point. It is not an assertion that should be taken alone, b ut rather that it is the negative side of a contrast in which Paul juxtaposes the selfish, immature attitude of the Corinthians with a positive higher ideal The context of First Corinthians is a spirit of division and strife that requires on T he contra stive nature of First Corinthians fourteen is infrequently identified by c ommentators Many have lost sight of the general context of First Corinthians and have ignored the didactic, concessionary, but remedial intent of Paul in writing the letter He has learned that the assembly is filled with divisions, and desires to see them develop a different gift in place of incomprehensible languages t he po sitive s i de of his contrast : prophesi es edifies the assembly (I Cor. 14 4b) He continues to expand on this contrast in First Corinthians 14 as with every other spiritual gift, it is not gi ven to them for their benefi t alone. Paul shows in verse twenty two that this gift is directed primarily toward unbelievers by
27 appealing to the authority of the prophet Isaiah. The situation of Isaiah 28 11 is applied to show his nave charges that the properly understood and properly applied gift of human languages is meant to be a sign to unfaithful Israel Their selfish practice, the incomprehensible (s) of chapter fourtee n is abnormal in the functioning of their assembly especially when c ompared with the gift of prophecy. In First Corinthians thirteen Paul exhorts the assembly to strive for love above all. He then returns in chapter fourteen to the subject of languages, using a contrastive argumentation which consists of granting the va lue of his dear spiritual wayward position, and then showing its inadequacy when set beside a higher standard of love and unity Paul in verse 14 : 4a applies this techniqu e when he rebuffs the self edification that results from speaking in an in comprehensible tongue (the Corin practice), and continues in 4b to assert that prophecy would result in edification of the entire assembly. As thei desire is neither to quench their spirit nor belittle their worship practi ces, but he is calling them to a deeper worship experience. His repetition of this contrastive method, where the current practices of the assembly are consistently based on the minor term o f each comparison, allows him not to belittle the spiritual thirst tha t the assembly of Corinth covets but instead steer them to desire a greater spirituality and the pursuit of spiritual gifts that will strengthen the assembly must not be missed because it conditioned the interpretation of the subsequent verses of chapter fourteen A visual presentation of the main passage in this controversy will complete and clarify its meaning: First Corinthians 14 4a and b a He who speaks in a tongue edifies b but he who prophecies edifies himself, th e church.
28 V erse 4a is unable to carry the necessary exege tical weight to act as a sufficient explanation of, or justification for a corporate exercise of the gift of Language s. As noted above, it is not a complete thought and cannot be taken as a definit ion since it is qualified by verse 4b, but he who prophesies edifies the church. Verse 4a is not a command, only a lesser or negative part of a contrast established by Paul, which he develops further throughout the entirety of chapter fourteen. The se lf expression containe d in verse 4a can be understood, at best as promoting the well being of the individual, but since it is the minor term of the contrast, it is probably understood here bearing, for Paul, a negative connotation. Moreover it would be at loggerheads with Various authors attempt to shed light on the meaning of this passage and particularly to illustrate through the use of charts (Hovenden 1 45; Spence 93 4). This visual method has the advantage of permitting one to see at once the structure of the passage. Paul use of these contrast s clearly indicates the nature of his letter to the Corinthians. T he setting of this contrast is in a didac tic correction of Paul to his flock. Paul is not composing a doctrinal teaching as in others of his letters. The situation in Corinth is such that he must use his apostolic authority to intervene and correct the misguided understanding of the Corinthian assembly of the use of spiritual gifts and particularly the gift of Language s A lack of a wareness of this background and of the contrastive nature of the passage can lead one to fall into the error of taking fragments of thoughts as exegetical certaintie s. The chart that follows is a translation of (137). U nlike shorter selection it is more appropriate to this topic cover ing verse one to
29 nineteen of chapter fourteen Unlike Spence, it follows the flow of the text and s o is less open to accusation of ideological manipulation s. While some different assignments could be made in terms of which clause belongs on the right or the left side of the chart, those changes would not affect the overall conclusion that Paul favors t he subservience of individual edification to the edification of the entire body of the assembly. The left side shows the practice of the Corinthians; the right side express The prepositional qualifiers which denote the contrast are set i n bold type.
30 Contrast of First Corinthian 14 1 to 19 The practice of the Corinthians P repositional qualifier s (in bold) 1 Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy. 2a For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit, 3 but everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. 4a He who sp eaks in a tongue edifies himself, 4b but he who prophesies edifies the church. 5a I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, 5b but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interpr ets, so that the church may be edified. 6 Now brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? 7 Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? 8 Again if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? 9 So it is with you. Unless you sp eak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. 10 Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11 If then I do not grasp th e meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and he is a foreigner to me.
31 12a So it is with you, since you are eager to have spiritual gifts 12b try to excel in gifts that build up the church. 13 For this reason anyone who sp eaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret what he says. 14a For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, 14b but my mind is unfruitful. 15a So what shall I do, I will pray with my spirit, 15b but I will also pray with my mind; 15c I will si ng with my spirit, 15d but I will also sing with my mind. 16a If you are praising God with your spirit 16b how can one who finds himself among those who do not understand say does not know what you are saying? 17a You may be giving thanks well enough, 17b but the other man is not edified. 18a I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you, 19b but in the church I would rather speak intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a to ngue. 20 Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults T he unsuitability of First Corinthians 14 4a to explain the meaning of languages is strengthened by examining this chart. The contrastive nat ure of verse 4b is not an anomal y. translated as but by the NIV, acts as a contrastive linkage, appearing eight times in nineteen verses. Paul is conciliatory toward practices on the left side of each contrast, but points out, by the use of the quali fier the primacy of the edification of the other and the assembl y. For a clear study on this point, see Margaret M. Mitchell ( 279 281 ) At the conclusion of this contrastive discussion, Paul calls them to stop being childish in their practice and to understand as adults the gift of Language s. While in verse 21 Paul quotes Isaiah 28.11 he may have int en d ed them to consider the larger context of that chapter (Heil 192) It mentions judgment related to babes and the spiritually immature or prou d, led by drunken priests and prophets
32 Paul quote s the prophet Isaiah, after asking them to think like adults, expecting them to carefully consider the situation. Isaiah contemporari es were mocking the prophet as though t hey were children mimicking Isaiah with nonsensical strophes. The Corinthians were in a better disposition but were still being childish I n their new ly found spirituality they were forgetting that gifts were given for the common edification and not f or the benefit of the individual practicing the gift a p oint well addressed by in his Thiselton com mentary on First Corinthians ( 244 ). For Paul it appeared doubtful that the Spirit was speaking through them since the results are not in accord with the The fruit of this practice was neither a warning to unbelievers, nor edificati on of others instead yielding recipients who focus on themselves and non recipients who remain confused and ignorant. V erse twenty one s is read careless ly or without context the contrastive nature of chapter fourteen is easily missed, resulting in the mistaken belief that the gift of Language ppe Lockwood in the Concordia Commentary on F irst Corinthians unlo cks this judicial understanding ( 490 ) Of course, our contemporaries in the twenty first century are not in the same time continuum as the Corinthians, who could allusion since they very likely saw themselves as still a part of Judaism. The Jewish character of the Christian movement was still an integral part of its worship and life. A reference from a prophet had authority well beyond what it has in Christian churches At the same time, t hey c ould not help but be aware that, even if their faith was Jewish, they
33 were estranged from the s C ovenant would have explai ned their uneasy relation with the Jewish faith while addressing their erroneous attribution of the meaning of the gift. To the Corinthians not difficult since the synagogue of their ci ty had excluded their father in the faith, the apostle Paul. When these words were read in the assembly, they were understood according to their immediate historical context : In the Law it is written: Through men of strange tongue And through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people But even then they will not listen to me s ays the Lord. ( I Cor 14.20 21, NIV) As the assembly read these verses it was not necessary to elucidate who were the people intended by Paul. Logically it refers to the Jewish people for whom Isaiah prophesied exile and dissolution of their C ovenant, and includes at least the implication of culpability for the Jewish people of the first century A similar logical contextual antecedent in the letter refers also to th Do ( I Cor. 10.7 ) This second reference to is remarkable and provides for the Corinthians a powerful context. It strongly reinforces the judicial interpretation of Isaiah 28 11 W e must remember that it is at Corinth that Luke places his second g to and has Paul utter his declaration of innocence from the blood of the s y nagogue t raditionalists (Nielsen 87) It is r easonable to conclude that Paul with his experience of rejection and violent opposition to his message sees the sign of
34 Language s as having a specific application to his day at Corinth according to the mea ning that it has in the prophet Isaiah For instance, Fee in his examination of this passage concludes, Paul is using the word sign in a way that is quite in keeping with his Judaic background, where sign functions as an expression of that signifies to Israel either his disapproval or pleasure ( 682 ) were the people of the Jewish nation who for Luke, rejected the Gospel of Jesus Christ Languages i n Acts position on languages at Corinth is valuable before explanation that we have for the term. A quotation in the Gospel of Mark chapter sixteen only mention s languages an d is probably a late addition (16.17 ; France 345 ). Modern scholarship assigns three possible interpretation s of the languages of Pentecost; a miracle of speaking in foreign languages, a miracle of hearing and understanding, or a miracle of speaking in an ecstatic language, also understood through a mirac le of hearing. In selecting a mong these choices, the only guidance we have available to us is the teaching of Paul Most scholars agree that Acts chapter two context strongly supports the interpretation of languages as describ ing human languages. In verse four the author explicitly notes that the apostles began to speak in languages. In verse eight, those h of us hears them in his own native aut hor establishes a correspondence between speaking and hearing
3 5 but speaking appears to have been given a more prominent role Also, t he term glossa is is tied to the native language s dialectos of the Diaspora Jews that were present. There are those that a rgue that a miracle of hearing happen s in this instance; however, since the author plainly state s that the speaking of the apostles was a miracle of xenolalia it is unlikely that Luke intended for the reader to conclude that a different miracle occurred instead Professor Turner has clearly demonstrated that such position is untenable ( 226 228 ) This concept of a miracle of hearing is also required to justify the hypothes i s that the languages refer to ecstatic languages Its adherents assume that their definition and practice of glossais is similar to the situation Paul addresses in First Corinthians. In addition to overcoming the objections of Professor Turner, n o information is available to us about the nature of the language ( s ) used in the Corinthi an assembly (Garcia 184 7) Paul does define glossais as foreign languages for the Corinthian assembly, but does not speci fically define their activities and practice This render s this in terpretation extremely problematic The hypothesis of ecstatic lan guages really hinges on the interpretation of glossais in the two other instances where it is used in Acts Some scholars have understood them as representing a different kind of experience. Haenchen, particularly, claims that the next two instances of t he gift of Language s in the book of Acts (Acts 10 46 47 and 19 1 6) are concerned with ecstatic languages ( 54, 554 ) T his position raises issues within the text itself. Luke links the Jerusalem and Caesarea Pentecost s, with the Gentiles speaking langua ges through the authority and guidance of the apostle Peter (Acts 1 0.49 ) When, in verse forty seven, the Gentiles
36 of Cornelius household received the gift, the author has Peter order the new believers keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have Luke reiterates this statement two more times in his work and this repetition indicates the importance for Luke to connect the Pentecost of Caesarea as closely as possible with the one of Jerusalem (Acts 10 47; 11 15; 15 8). It would have been a substantially less convincing argument for the church of Jerusalem if the experience of the Holy Spirit by Gentiles was a significantly different one than the ir own experience at Pentecost. This would appear to indicate that the author of Acts does not envisage Caesarea as a different phenomenon, i.e. ecstatic utterances, but rather a repetition of the Jerusalem Pentecost. T his linkage makes it doubtful that interpreting languages as ecstatic is the best hermeneutical choice To postulate ecstatic utterances here would demand an equivalent ly strong reason that cannot be produced from the actual claim of the document. The same reason ing applies to the other o ccasion in Acts 19 1 6 in which the disciples of John the Baptist spoke in glossais Luke neither explicitly describes the nature of the phenomenon nor seems to directly tie it to prior events. Yet, since Luke writes a continuous narrative, it seems log ical that when speaking again about languages, he does not need to repeat the description of the phenomenon. With no other context provided, it is most likely that he is referring back to his previous portrayal of the phenomenon. His silence cannot be co nstrued as the introduction of ecstatic languages but should be understood as simple editorial economy in which an author relied on previous description of a similar event in the body of the text.
37 The Jerusalem Pentecost t Pentecost is amenable to a judicial interpretation. Luke divides the actors into three categories. The first group is made of the Galileans who followed Jesus and who are the recipient s of the gift of Language s. The second group comprises the pious Je ws of the Diaspora ; along with the proselytes who understand what is being said (Acts 2.5 11 ) The third group consist s of those who mock the recipients of languages. Peter addresses them along with othe Then Peter stood up wi th the eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem .. (Acts 2.14). The message is addressed both to the pious Jews well as the third group, most likely Judeans living in Jerusalem who are mocking th e apostles with They had too much wine T hose of the Diaspora understand the languages and by i mplication convert at the call of Peter for repentance and faith. Judeans and Jerusalemites those who do not understand mock the ones speaking ( the G alileans), probably do not convert, and therefore fall under the condemnation of the sign of Language s. The presence of a mocking audience would fit a judicial understanding of the miracle of Language s at the Day of Pentecost. In this light, the histrioni c elements of the initial appearance of glossais rather than being ancillary details of the narrative, become important pointers to the judicial understanding. These items situate the action in a specific context within Jewish culture in the Temple, in Jerusalem, on the day of Pentecost. T he languages of
38 other nations, along with the w ind, sound and fire all have antecedents in the Jewish literature as well as parallels in Christian literature. These features work together to strengthen the connecti on of languages with the notion of judgment. The failure of the third group to understand the implied judgment introduces the Babel P aradox to Acts. The fact that the message is not being understood serves as a message in itself Pentecost a nd Sinai It i s probably not coincidental that Jewish lectionaries contain a reading in Genesis 11 for the week of Pentecost ( Montague 134). This correspondence might be explained by a use of a common source antedating both the writing of Acts and the publishing of the lectionaries. Rabbinical traditions link the festival of Pentecost with the giving of the law at Sinai. Israel accepts the Law, b ut only after the seventy voice s of God (cf. Num 11.25 26) go to the n ations of the world which reject the Law ( Midrash Tanh uma 26.c; TB Pesahim 68 ; b; Mek. Yitro, Pes. R. K. 103b, 186a, 200a). This linkage is of interest, since it appears that the Nation of Israel saw the celebration of the feast of Pentecost a s the of the establishment of their C ovenant with God Luke may have chosen the feast as the setting of the Christian Pentecost event to indicate an exercise of the Babel Paradox, indicating a closure of the C ovenant to those who rejects his apostles, and it is a transition to those who do. Rabbinical tradi tion s link the giving of the Law with s eventy languages of the nations which only could have appeared as a consequence of the judgment at Babel The original meaning of Pentecost as given in the Law was simply as an agricultural festival. It is note wort hy that the time reference between the Exodus and the Giving
39 of the Law at Sinai fa lls near the time of Pentecost and it is natural to make this inference (Hovenden 77). Luke allude s directly to the dispersion of humanity after Babel and indirectly to the notion of judgment and confusion of the nations; yet the Rabbi s do share the same notion but ignor e the reversal of Deuteronomy twenty eight. Did the Rabbi s reemphasize, for the sake of their community the notion that the judgment of Babel was only appl icable to the nations ? It could be that they were unable to avoid the notion of languages, Babel and judgment for Israel however, because it was present in the sou rce known to their constituency Could it be that they found it necessary to create this tr adition as the springboard for their teachings as dictated by their new religious situation and as they w ere being confronted by Christianity? Both Christianity and Judaism celebrate this feast; its meaning is not directly connected to the tradition of the Hebrew people un like Passover or Purim which are both already charged with enough historical meaning. Could the events described in Acts, containing elements of language and judgment, have forced the Rabbi s to develop a teaching that explained the co nfusion of languages in a more positive light for their constituency? If this hypothesis w as true no one would expect the Rabbi s to specifically link an explanation of the sign of Language s to the historical events of Acts but to develop a Jewish logic for the festival to explain a notorious event in the Christian calendar that shares the same date. They would also minimize the impact of the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. by avoiding Pentecost as viewed through the prophetic Christian interpretati on
40 of fall and e xile but instead favor a post 70 A D Pharisaic interpretation of the Law y vocation and compliance to the will of God. Additionally, this can explain the various references in rabbinical literature about the vo ice of Sinai going to the nations of the world pertain probably to the substratum of lore prior to the first century. It seems that a reversal theme will be understandable, if the author knew these references. It must be noted also that the g iving of the Law is not without themes of fear and judgment as it is described in the Hebrew Scriptures, as well as in Christian text. These themes are linked to a sense of Deity ( Deut 4.11, 12; 5.22 26; Exo19.12 19; 20.18 21; Heb 2 .2, 10 2 8; 12.18 22). The Hebrew Scripture s is the only common authority that would be referred to by almost all Jewish groups including the new Christian community The Hebrew Scriptures set the ground rules and examples to which the teaching of various group s must accommodate If the teachers of the Law were obligated to provide an explanation for an event involving a sign on Language s that was disagreeable to them, they could only do so by using the existing references in the Hebrew Scriptures. This could ex plain why Jewish and Christian groups would use different texts and interpretations from the Hebrew Scriptures for the development of their linkage of Pentecost with Babel or Sinai and the giving of the Law As seen above in the case of Rabbi Eliezer, as they set, after the catastrophe, a consensual authority, they could shed light on any obscurity by overseeing a consensually unique interpr etation of their significance.
41 punishment a nd ex ile would have been evident because it is already present in the Hebrew Scripture s This tradition of reversal was already part and parcel of both well before the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 ( Tiede qtd. in Tyson L uke Acts 23). If Luke chose to incorporate this tradition into his description of the gift of the Holy S pirit at Pentecost, h e did not invent a new theme. He rather used existing imagery in order to explain the failure of Israel to recognize Jesus as the Messiah, and imply the consequences that follow that decision. It is now those in Israel who will not listen to the gospel who are warned of their impending rejection by the D eity. The newly emerging community believed they retain continuity with their sacred Jewish history (Jervell 42) They saw Christ as fulfilling the old C ovenant and establishing a new one. They declare that those who reject the message of Christ are clinging to a C ovenant which has become obsolete (cf. Heb 8.13) The motif of co venantal blessings and curses could have been seen as a perfect fit to show that it was not they who left their faith but their opponents who failed to perceive the historical movement of the D eity. Luke painted the Holy Spirit as the one who i nitiated P entecost and validated the ir decision to break with Judaism. Fire Fire is a feature of the Holy Spirit coming on the Day of Pentecost that is typically given too little attention In both Testaments, fire is often linked with the notion of judgment. T he destruction of Sodom and Gomorra h achieved an iconic
42 stature in the Hebrew thought (Genesis 19.1 29 ). The most significant New Testament text in this regard is the one attributed to John the Baptist about the giving of the Spirit which occurs in all f our Gospel s ( Matt 3.11, Mark 1.8, Luke 3.16; John 1.33 ). A curious phenomenon a ppears when these accounts are compared Mark and John mention only a baptism of water. Mathew and Luke mention both a baptism of water and a baptism of fire. The context of the forme r two does not inc lude Pharisees or unbelievers. In Matthew, John the Baptist speaks directly to the Pharisees and (Mat 3.7 11) In Luke, the term Pharisees is not directly men tioned but these are included by implication in the multitudes who come to hear J ohn preaching. Starting off his quotation with b rood of v the author clearly indicates some in the audience are In c ontra st with Matthew ount Luke expands the concept of winnowing the good grain into ethical teachings for the crowd, the tax collector s and the soldier s and into four verses as compared to the single verse contained in Mat t hew (Luke 3.10 14; cf. Mat 3.12) There are tho se in the audience who refuse to repent because they trust in their works and covenantal privileges to be enough to save them from judgment, but it is the fire of hell in which they will be baptized. prophecy, so including t he presence of fi re appearing with the baptism in the Spirit at Pentecost may be seen as an intentional fulfillment of the earlier prediction. Josephus of the fall of Jerusalem confirms that fire conceived as a judgment f rom God is a contemporary theme of the first century.
43 And this seams to me to have been the reason why God, out his hatred to these esteemed it sufficiently pure for him to inhabit th erein, but brought the Romans upon us, and threw a fire upon the city to purge it; and brought upon us, our wives, and children, slavery, as desirous to m ake us wise by our calamities ( J. A. 20.166 pp 535 36 ). And who is there that does not know what the writings of the ancient prophets contain in them, and particularly that oracles which is just now going to be fulfilled upon this miserable city for they foretold that this city should be then taken when somebody shall begin the slaughter of his own co untrymen? 110 and are both the city and the entire temple now full of the dead bodies of your countrymen? It is god therefore, it is God himself who is bringing on this fire, to purge that city and temple by means of the Romans, and is going to pluck up th is city wh ich is full of your pollution (J. W. 6.109 p 732). Josephus takes the S icarii crimes those of the Jewish Zealots as the cause of the destruction of Jerusalem and he understands that the heavenly retribution is implemented through a purifyin g fire. The prophecy of John of a judicial fire prefigures the destruction of the Temple institutions, Jerusalem and the c ovenanted people of God S een in this light, the covenantal feature of the episode is an attractive explanation of the phenomenon a nd reinforces the idea that Luke is using the Babel Paradox in describing this event. The fire is seen as simultaneously purifying the new congregation and also placing judgment upon Israel. The Sound a nd Wind The sound and wind of Pentecost are other fea ture s of the event that indicate a con nection with the Jewish culture Witherington notes also the various parallels with the Hebrew Scripture theophanies. In this context, the sound and the wind Conzelmann notes that p hysical parallels between Luke and descriptions of the giving of the Law at
44 Sinai ( 16 ; Witherington 131 ). description of an almost physical voice/sound corresponds so closely that the most reasonable conclusion is that either Luke copies Philo or shares the same source. This allows Luke to establish an indirect connection between Pentec ost and the giving of the Law (132). Fitz m yer assert that some Jews, particularly the group following the book of Jubilee linked the value of c ovenantal renewing to Pentecost (233) This interpretation would have predated the writing of Acts. He observes In the Lucan story of Pentecost there is not direct reference to th e Sinai tic C ovenant, but indirect allusions reveal that Luk e was aware of the association of Pentecost with the renewal of that C ovenant Fitzmyer extends his point by noting that Pentecost follows the pattern of Jewish festive assemblies and that the E leven with Peter act a s the judge s of Israel He bu ilds on Dupont s work concerning the verbal correspondence between Acts and Exodus chapter s nineteen and twenty Fitzmyer demonstr ation af firms Luke to integrate allusions to th e giving of the Law and its renewal within his account These el ements fit perfectly within the Babel Paradox parameters. In this schema they function as the physical instruments by wh ich the Deity baptizes the new faith community while confirming by repeated signs the coming judgment on the unbelieving among the Isr aelite nation. The Temple The mighty sound, the tongues of fire and the languages of all humanity serve to convey a sense of the supernatural presence of God while proclaim ing that a new e ra has begun. The Holy Spirit is now present among the disciples. All the logistic al
45 elements of the coming of the Spirit when viewed through the prism of Isaiah 28 11 support a context of judgment. Not only do these elements contribute to this interpretation, but the place where the author sets them also possesses gr eat they stayed continua lly at the T emple, praising God (Luke 24 53) Even if the book of Acts does not tell us the exact location of the house in which the apostles were seized by the Spirit, it is reasonable to assume that they remain ed where Luke put them in his first volume at or near the Temple compound. lodging and meeting space were both near the site of the Temple T he Temple physically and spir itually held an important place for not only i ts administrators the High Priest and the Herodians but also for the nation at large. There were already specialized niches within Jerusalem that were accommodating the divers e schools of Judaism each wit h established gathering spots within the T emple complex E ven the ascetic Essenes had access t o the Temple, and with p rie sts who were at least sympathetic to their viewpoint and performed sacrifice for them. er work in the narratives of Zechariah, Simeon and Anna. Luke never let the narrat ive slip too far away from the T emple grounds. The subsequent chapters of Acts will maintain the presence of the disciples in the Temple. The Temple authorities could not restrict access to the actual Temple grounds but had to tolerate different strands of Judaism. The text also includes clues to the timing of the Jerusalem Pentecost The three thousand devout Jews who make up part of the audience were most likely a ssembl ed at the gates awaiting entry to the Temple for the morning sacrifice. The
46 diversity among those in the crowd may tend to support this idea. T he discourse of Peter directed to a great number of listeners can only be understood as taking place in an area larg e enough to accommodate a large crowd of several thousand people. On a feast day, devout followers would be expected to spend a signifi cant portion of the day at the T emple. Were the event to have occurred later in the day, or well away from the T em ple area, it would have been extremely difficult to have assembled such a significant gathering. G. K. Beale has explored this understanding in The Descent of the Eschatological Temple in the Form of the Spirit at Pentecost (63 90). J. H. E. Hull in T he Holy Spirit in the Acts of the Apostles quotes F. H. Chase who proposed that Pentecost occurred in the Temple precinct ( Part 1, 56) Jeremiah and other prophets foretold that when the Lord renewed His Covenant, He would put His Spirit within His people (Jer 31.31 34). He would set His sanctuary in their midst forever, establishing an intimate relationship with them (cf. Heb 8.2 13) It is almost a necessity to have the new chosen community at or near the Temple on the day of Pentecost This is a posit ive side of the coming of the Deity ; however, there is another side that is less appealing. The Deity will also come, but in t h eophanies of judgment, which within a cultic context can only be fitted with the Temple or its equivalent ( 30 27 3 0; 66 15). Attributing this context of judgment helps to explain the subsequent opposition from the authorities of Jerusalem as well as the failure to persuade the majority of the Jewish people at home and abroad.
47 Peter The coming of the Spirit is not simply about imparting the gift of Language s, but also marks the emergence of Peter as a primary leader in the Christian movement. The portrayal of Peter throughout the synoptic Gospel s is uneven at best. He is often portrayed as impetuous, presumptuous and failing to recognize the major precepts that Jesus wants to convey. He is singled out for rebuke, and his denial of Jesus is recorded in all four accounts. However, a ll of the accounts also record hints of be uniquely given a level of authority among the other apostles, based on the words of Christ (Mat 16.17 19). He is the only apostle personally given the keys to the kingdom in a way that is distinct from the community at large (Mat 18.15 19; John 20.21 23). One of the first actions by the E leven in the book of Acts is the selection of Ma t thias as a replacement for Judas. Luke assigns Peter the task of initiating this effort. As Luke introduces the activity of the Holy Spirit to the Christian communit y, he portrays Peter as the spokesman for the entire apostolic band. While the other disciples were present, it is through Peter that the miracle of Language s is defended and the meaning of the event is interpreted for the crowd. From this point onward, he is either leading or present in just about every activity of the apostles until the emergency of Paul. Luke develops the persona of Peter in the first parts of Acts and identifies several aspects of Peter special authority (Acts 1 12) in order to de monstrate in particular their imposition of hands conferring the Holy Spirit (Acts 8.15 18, 19. 6) In each instance (Peter), serves as an
48 auth oritative figure: as the miracle worker among the crippled at the Temple, as the judge in the case of Ananias and Sap p hira, as the Spirit releaser, the instrument of the filling via the imposition of his hands, as an example of suffering for the f aith Before the day of Pentecost, the focus of the apostles is still on their personal (Acts 1 .6) Jesus answered their question by promising the following: and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (v.8). Here the author establishes the pattern for the career of Peter. He is the only apostle involved in each stage of the opening of the Christian community to new groups: appear to be the c areer of Peter, but that of Paul. He reinforces Petrine primacy as long as it is necessary to support the emergence of Paul, and his mission to the Gentiles. Throughout Acts, Peter provides the necessary influence to allow acceptance of first the Samari t an s and then the G entile believers into the new faith, but then his persona quickly fades from the narrative. He only reappears as required to reinforce the activities and decisions of Paul. His authority is established by Luke at Pentecost, to enable h im to act as the bridge that will be required to connect the all Jewish assembly in Jerusalem to the pagan world at large, beginning at a city that could symbolize the end of the world to the Jewish people, Caesarea
49 Caesarea The incident at Caesarea is arguably the most crucial event of the book of Acts. While Pentecost is unusual in its setting and development of events, it maintains continuity with the Temple and the life of the nation. Caesarea to the contrary, ushers in the unthinkable : G entile fo llowers. Without Pentecost, Caesarea is impossible. I t is Peter, with his authority as apostle, (Acts 1.21 22), witness and interpreter of Pentecost, (Acts 2.1 41), who is able to recognize the activity of the Holy Spirit, and the link between this event and that of Pentecost. The tenor of the context deliberately shows the events as the complete work of the Spirit. Peter is called to the house of a Gentile, through the agency o f a dream given to a g od fearer. He is admonished, through a vision, not t o be too hasty in judging others. Shortly thereafter, he witnesses Gentiles receiving the Hol y Spirit: While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the messages. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter we re astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy S pirit just as we have So He ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 10.44 48). The l anguages are given to the Gentiles, and this phenomenon compels Peter to call for their baptism/initiation into the community. Luke, as seen be fore, is very careful This approval is visible to th e six Jewish believers who accompany Peter exclusivist self understanding. In the prior expansion of the community at Pentecost the new
50 Dias pora Jews, and to a certain exte nt the Samaritans all share d the maj or traditions and rituals of the Twelve. With the Gentile believers, the only links they had were faith itself and the approval of the Holy Spirit. Luke portrays Peter as explaining that baptism cannot be refused from the new believers since they receive d the Holy Spirit (10 47). Without Peter, Cornelius would still be a devout God fearing man; however, he could not be a brother (Acts 10.2). Without Pentecost, Luke could not have Peter explain the significance of the sign to the s ix Jewish believers that were present with him. Gentiles must be baptized, because the Holy Spirit accepts them first Neither Peter nor the six can deny this fact Luke use s the Jerusalem Pentecost as the template for the later Pentecosts in his accou nt. Each of these events is initiated with an act of the Holy Spirit, and results in an immediate incorporation of a new group of believers into the Christian assembly. Each Pentecost event is marked by an appearance of the speaking in langu ages. The responsibility for the occas ion is ascribed to God, but this divine action will ultimately lead to a break with Secon d Temple Judaism (Acts 1.7 8). Upon returning to the Jerusalem assembly Peter is required to explain his action to the believer s of the circumcision (11.15). about the tenor of the event. As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God ? (Acts 11 15 17).
51 This text is instructive because it repeats in clear terms that the experience at Caesarea as understood by Peter is identical to Pentecost. It is extremely difficult to assert, as some authors attempt to do, that these two events are different Witherington is hesitant in stressing this point namely, that P entecost would be concerned with the languages of the nations and Caesarea with ecstatic languages (156) Luke does not indicate any difference between the two episodes; the passages should normally be read as intentional ly paralleled The two phrases As I began to do not suggest that Peter really meant les, experienced a different kind of Spiritual language s than we did its force most evident to the Jewish believers primarily because they have experienced this rea is to deny His actions in their own lives. The assembly is convinced in spite of their preference This acceptance did not sit easily with the Jewish converts, and when the issue of G entile conversions comes up again, the argument has to be repeated. T his point recurs a third t ime at the Jerusalem conference when Peter says : After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might h ear from my lips the message of the Gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us (Acts 15 7 8) The re iteration cation of the importance of Caesarea and the question arises as to whom the sign is directed. The
52 ones amazed are the Jewish believers that were with Peter. The ones concerned and criticizing these acts are the circumcised believers in Jerusalem, and th ey are silenced by the compelling testimony of Peter (Acts 11.2, 18). T hey can only accept the fact that the Gentiles are fully recognized as brothers and sisters by the sovereign act of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10 45). In these three instances, Luke portray s Jewish Christians as displaying increasing levels of negativity: from amazement, to criticism, and finally, to contention. The ones cont ending in the council were converts from the sect of the Pharisees who believed but still felt that circumcised and ord ered to keep t ( Sanders 140 2). Their concern is ultimately overridden, and Gentiles are freed from the Law. The problem is that the Jewish Christians were continuing to follow the strict rule s of the Law of Moses and of course the G entiles are not Luke has set the problem and the solution at the same time. The Holy Spirit has spoken, Peter the apostle has testified and the pastoral decision had been made. Ge ntiles will not be circum cised, t raditionalists will not accept that and Jewish Christians will stand in an ambiguous position, facing the decision of the D eity. This state of aff airs explains the problems that would surface not only in the book of Acts (Acts 21 20 25) but als o in the Pauline letters ( cf. Gal 2 1 14). Luke adeptly develop s th is narrative with the help of the judicial sign of Language s in order to answer this thorny issue Luke sees Caesarea and the acceptance of Gentiles as the fulcrum of apostolic history. The assembly has opened the door to the G entile community, making the
53 office of the Apostle to the Gentiles possible. At Caesarea, the disciples of Jesus stop being seen as one of the sects of Judaism and become a divinely ordained congregation that is set against all the other branches of Judaism as a whole. The Babel Paradox provides the hinge upon which the door to the Gentiles is opened, while those who would hold onto Jewish nature of the faith must adapt or depart. In this instance it is not a gr oup of people who are excluded or rejected, but a culture. Ephesus The third instance in the book of Acts of the miracles of Language s continues to fit the pattern established by Luke although the principle actor is now Paul, rather than Peter At Jerus alem and Caesarea the Jewish context of the Pentecost events is obvious, and so their integrative function into the plot of Luke Acts is fairly straightforwa rd. The Jewish context of the Ephesian Pentecost, however, is more subtle however, and has led t o significant confusion about the meaning of the passage. It is most commonly seen as a less significant passage, concerning an issue of proper baptism. To understand why Luke presents this event as so significant as to warrant the intervention of the Ho ly Spirit requires a study of the relationship and the perceived dissimilarity between the baptism of John and Christian baptism. Paul, during his second visit to Ephesus, encounters some disciples (Acts 19.1 7). The text suggests that quickly Paul senses a serious deficiency in the nature of their belief. This leads him to question their status and to ascertain that they are truly Christian disciples. Luke gives what is most likely a compressed record of the essential s of the message of Paul and yet wh ich was almost certainly a rather
54 extended theological exposition. Luke portrays Paul as puzzled about their status, and for Chance, the only certainty in this episode is that they become Christians after the Reception of the Holy Spirit ( Chance 343 ). Pa ul is portrayed as filling up their ignorance of other relevant theological matters that were outside the teaching s of John as if they were first time converts (Dunn 256). With this new information, it is probable that they repented. It is only after this that they could commit themselves to Christ and receive the Holy Spirit. F.F. Bruce argues that, since Luke uses the term without qualification, that it must be inte rpreted that these are Christian disciples (Bruce, 385). Witherington has shown that this argument in itself is by no means conclusive ( Witherington, 570). Bruce does not take into account the larger context in which Luke informs his reader that the disc Christian profession. T his deficiency is not trivial at all, and militates against calling them Christians Paul presupposes of Christians the possession of the Holy Spirit; consequently he does not see these men as Christians. Paul leading them to conversion, baptism, and the reception of the Spirit They are called disciples, but their beliefs and their persona do not reflect a Christian disposition. Paul discover ed that the y d id not possess the Holy Spirit or even know of His existence. For that matter, their beliefs d id not reflect any real knowledge of the repentance, and they should have und erst ood it prior to receiving his baptism At this
55 repentance and faith illuminates the text about the prerequisites he considered necessa ry before it was to be administered : 18). The question of baptism, as a physical or religious event, is not as important as repentance and its result, a changed life. John refused to baptize the Pharisees because they showed no sense o f repentance or evidence of a changed life ; they did not possess the Spirit. id not stop at baptism, but was incomplete unless it point ed beyond not to to the coming one who w as to baptize with the Spirit an d with fire. Chance notes that it is surprising that t message ( Chance 343). They had a better temperament than the Pharisees, but we re essentially in the same situation in relationship with repentance due to their lack of the Spirit. They describe d themselves as being nto (n ote that Luke does not say that John baptized them) This construction is extremely suspicious on two grounds. The first is that an actual follo wer of John would probably question (Pervo Acts 469). The second is that someone being baptized into the baptism m ight imply that the candidate would be placed in a relationship with the bearer of that name (Pervo Acts 469). This last observation could imply that in the case of these disciples, they were neither true disciples of John nor of Jesus, b ut rather were victims of grave doctrinal deviations The emphasis of their faith could have be en the p erson of John rather on the coming of the Savior which John anticipated (Longenecker 493). Based on their ambiguous and confused answers, it is
56 unlikely that the Ephesian disciples were truly followers of Christ ( l ack of the Holy Spirit), or of the Baptiz er s message ( l ack of knowledge of the Holy Spirit or of baptism for repentance). Many Christian s have traditionally given the Ephesian Pentecost their own meaning by using an interpretative paradigm that either fails to define clearly the relationship be tween John dissociate s them altogether. Consequently, a theory of two distinct baptismal rites is imposed on the references i n this passage. In this situation, the baptism of John is viewed primarily as an act of preparation, and is therefore considered incomplete for the baptism instituted by Christ, a symbol of the right disposition for the coming kingdom (NCE, 58). I n this view, t he Christian rite is final signifying conversion to Christ, and aggregation into the Church This perspective over time, led to more emphasis on aggregation than to conversion, ultimately justifying to the conception of a rite that fitted the needs of an all inclusive institutional church, recruiting its me mbership predominantly by birth (Mikoski, 142 144). Th e perceived distinction baptism and has tended to o bscure the potential of a covenantal dismissal nature in the giving of Language s in the epi sode of the Ephesians Pentecost (Acts 19 1 7). This hermeneutic al choice is highly anachronistic, and cannot fully account of John and Jesus. Luke recognizes John as the precursor of the work of the apostles and sees a difference of degree though not in nature between the baptism of John and Christian b aptism. John as well as Jesus is seen working in the same continuum of prophetic activities ( Luke 7 29; John 3 22;
57 4 2). John is portrayed as yielding to the ascend a ncy of Jesus ( Luke 3 15 18; 7 18 23), and Jesus extols the greatness of John as the last prophet of the old economy ( Luke 7 24 35). Both baptisms are precond itioned on repentance and belief ( Luke 3 8; Acts 2 37 38; 3 19; 17 30; and especially 26 20). I baptism is given to repenting adult converts as a preparation for the one to come, while Christian b aptism is performed upon adults in response to the finished work of the Christ that John anticipated. We have at least one example, in the Gospel of John, of the manner this continuum worked in actual practice Andrew, one of two disciples of the B aptizer, switche d his allegiance to Jesus, recognizin work. Andrew wa d Peter to join them ( John 1 35, 42). Many of t he apostles, like Andrew and Peter, were probably disciples of John before becoming sciple s and traveled a similar path Our text implies that Peter wa s alert to the potential that the Messiah w ould appear soon, and was active in the messianic circle of the Baptizer ( John 1 29 35, 40, 41; 4 1 2; Acts 1 21 22). This movement of a core o f disciples from John to Jesus a people prepared for the Lord 15 17, NRSV). The preceding information shows that our exposition is directed by two major paradigms. remain unclear if one does not apply these two crucial interpretative approaches to the Ephesian Pentecost. Jesus. Second, that there is equivalence of the baptism of John with that of Jesus
58 ( Acts 1 21 22 ; John 1 40 41). The application of that rite presupposes for John and for Jesus the same meaning about the changed nature of the baptized (Andrew, the only example a vailable to us be g an as a disciple of John which implies his conversion and baptism, and upon transferring this allegiance to Jesus; he did not require re baptism ). T he Gospel of Luke presents John and Jesus working at the same time toward calling Isra el to repentance. For that matter, the only time the performance of a baptism is recorded in the Gospel of Luke or other Synoptics it is not Mark 16.16 and Matthew 28.19b contain the word baptism as instructions, not only as a future occurrence. Luke does not differentiate between a Christian and a Johanine baptism. However, i n Acts, Luke distinguishes between the Ephesian followers and Apollos, who was correctly baptized and needed only clarification on the development of t he faith. Luke uses the lack of the Spirit motif to highlight the two essential elements repentance and belief in Jesus. Languages in Ephesus What is especially intriguing about the Ephesian Pentecost is that for the third time the g ift of Language s is given without Luke providing an explanation of its purpose or significance. The shortness of the text does not permit one to simply discard the languages theme as an incidental narrative element or to treat it as a kind of dramatic pr op used to enhance the storyline of Acts. Luke compresses the text to seven verses, and, by includ ing languages, means that they are a significant and necessary part of the overall development of the narrative. The reader, because of the
59 terseness of the narrative, is faced with the challenge of discovering the meaning of languages in the case of the Ephesian disciples and must refer to the previous episode s of languages in the book of Ac ts to understand their meaning. At Jerusalem and Caesarea, the purp ose for the giving of the gift of the Spirit is apparent: to speak to Israel and also to integrate a new group of believers. Is there something specific in this third situation or the condition of these men that merits this particular expression and meani ng? appears to be the focus on repentance and conversion. It looks like Luke uses the conversion of these now Christian disciples to remind his audience of the key message of John the Baptizer, namely, repentance. The al Luke chooses to loop back chapter three of his prior work, Jewish roots of Christianity. H mission and b in the background of his twin work ( Luke 1.5 24; 3.2 18; 7.18 33; 9.7 9; 11.1; 16.16; 20.4 6; Acts 1.5, 21 22; 10.37; 11.16; 13.24 25; 18.25 ) With this overwhelming number of refer ence s about the life and mission of John, the author appears to suggest Furthermore, b efore the Ephesians episode Paul is presented like Peter was ( Acts 1.5, 21 22; 10.37; 11.16 ) repentance Luke portrays him as hav ing integrated this teaching within his own ( Acts 13.24 25 )
60 Ephesian encounter, having demonstrated his ability and authority to diagnose the Messiah The identity of the Ephesian disciples can be inferred to be Jewish by virtue of their religious profession. E ven i f they do not k now much about they were identified with Israel and thus their situation was only applicable to the Jewish nation ( Luke 7.18 35 ) I f that were not the case Luke would have needed to note their G entile status. Luke further emphasizes the J ewish context by telling us that immediately afterwards, Paul enters the synagogue and teaches there for three months. Once the Jewish context of Acts 19.1 7 is recognized it opens the Babel Paradox as a possible interpretation of this event. For the P a radox to be operative, a movement of the D eity, a Jewish context, and a dichotomy of motives are needed The Ephesian disciples were included, but who or what is rejected ? This setting of this event in Ephesus, a leading city of the Diaspora, is significa nt for this occurrence of languages also bear s judgment, namely, the baptism of fire ( Luke 3.8 9 ) Note that the gift of Language s is portrayed as being given to twelve Jews. It is only now that Luke mentions their number, whi ch has always carried special significance to Israel. These twelve may stand for Israel in the Diaspora. Luke treats Ephesus, the main city of Asia, as the last hope of Israel to embrace the message of Paul. This message is now being proclaimed to the D iaspora Jews among whom Paul has been working, since he was the bearer of the Gospel to the Jews first, not solely the apostle to the Gentiles. Like the disciples, Israel of the Diaspora is called with the message of John to repent, to believe, and to esc ape the wrath of the Eschaton
61 plans, the end time Luke use is consistent with the Pauline purpose of languages as a sign and a warning to unbelievers. After initially welcoming Paul into their synagogue, the Jewish o pposition forc ed him to leave with his followers and to move to the lecture hall of Tyrannus ( Acts19.9 ) Here Paul expand ed Asia, both Jews and Gree ks, heard the word of the Lord ( Acts 19.10 NRSV ) Unfortunately, the t raditionalists of the Diaspora as represented by those of Ephesus refused to embrace the message of Paul, and John (Shallis 55). From this point on, Luke does not portray Paul as preaching in another Jewish synagogue. The sign of Language s, with its negative message of covenantal dismissal is discharged for the third time and provides the final warning to the entire nation t he Jewish people of Eretz Israel, of the Judaic Christia ns, and finally of the Diaspora (Jervell, 49) T he Pauline mission in Ephesus and Asia comes to an end, and Paul prepares to go to Jerusalem, setting his eyes on the city of Rome ( Acts 19.22 ) Negative Themes Associated w ith Pentecost In each of his three Pentecost accounts, Luke has used languages to m ake the point that Israel of the Second Temple was not in accord with the Eschaton. Luke intimates that God is writing new chapters in History through the person of Jesus and the apostles and that Israel as a nation is tragically missing the invitation o ffered by John the Baptizer to enter in the kingdom of God, or more exactly to become the kingdom of God
62 This failure of Israel requires an explanation. Languages are used to indicat e the displeasure of the Deity towards Israel, while justifying the Chri stian missionary enterprise The plot of Acts requires that there is an open opportunity for not just individual s, but also national repentanc e, while the threat of a retribution and exile remain s imminent urp ose of integration and separati on. They are used by Luke to legitimate the addition of all, Jew or non Jew, into the community L anguages function primarily as a sign of separation through Deuteronomy curse of Language s (28.49 ff) I n spite of thei r importance to the subplot of every scene in which they we re introduced, languages lack the my thical and spiritual efficiency (they indicate only a future impending judgment) to provide a definitive account of rupture between the Deity and Israel. Some o ther device needed to be use d Luke, in order to exploit their judicial implication must also provide a list of violations or infractions that are to be adjudicated and thus the implication /legitimating of u sing the curse of Deuteronomy. N egativ e elements of impenitent behavior and willful indifference are employ ed by the author to pursue a systematic deval uation of th os e who oppo se the messenger s of Jesus Gospel describes various stories, sayings, and parables. T he gist of these is rem arkably related to the incomprehensibility and covenantal dismissal aspects of languages. It is not coincidental that even a cursory reading of the Gospel reveals that these themes take second place only after the persona and mission of Jesus. There are approximately twenty four a pparently negative passages The following list presents those in their chronological order in the Gospel of Luke.
63 Luke 2 .34 35 Simeon prediction that many will fall in Israel Luke 4.14 30 Luke 7.2 9 30 Pharisees rejected the kin gdom of God baptism. Luke 8.4 15 The parable of the Sower. Luke 9.21 22 Rejection by the authorities of Israel. Luke 9.44 45 The theme of concealment of understanding Luke 10.8 16 Day of Judgment for those refusing the Gospel like Chorazin. Luke 10.20 24 The divine motive of e nlightenment for the disciples. Luke 11.29 32 The sign of Jonah to Ninev eh and the queen of the South. Luke 11.37 53 Woes upon the Pharisees. Luke 12.10 The blas phemy against the Hol y Spirit. Luke 13.6 9 The parable of the fig tree. Luke 13.22 29 The narrow door and the weeping and gnashing of teeth. Luke 13. 3 4 35 The lament over Jerusalem Luke 14.15 24 The parable of the supper. Luke 16.14 15 Pharisees being an ab omination in the sight of God. Luke 18.34 The disciples blinded b y God. Luke 19.27 The slayi ng of the enemies of the king. Luke 19.41 44 The destruction of Jerusalem and its blindnes s. Luke 20.9 1 7 The parable of the vineyard. Luke 20.17 18 The stone of stumbling o f Isaiah 8 .14. Luke 20.45 47 A greater conde mnation for the scribes. Luke 23.27 31 Lamen t of Jesus on Jerusalem women. Luke 24.13 35 The concealment of the E mmaus disciples understanding. These texts constitute the underpinning of a covenantal reading of A cts. The theme of judgment is quantitatively the most important. The opponents of Jesus High Priests, Priests, Kings, Pharisee, Sadducees, Scribes and all who reject the witness of Jesus or are party to the crucifixion of the Messiah will be judged r uthlessly and will not reach the kingdom of Heaven preached by John the Baptizer preoccupation with judgment of the authorities of Israel and at least portions of the people. These languages to such an extent that it significantly strengthens their legitimacy and plausibility as indicating an overarching theme in the structure of Acts. The use of
64 languages provide s a warning of coming judgment, while the adjudica t ion themes provide the rationalization for the verdict itself The cumulative strength of these passages creates a sense of the alienation of Israel from Jesus and his followers, one that is consistent wi th the judicial element of languages At the same time it builds up a background in which languages find their Among many of the judgment passages, Luke has inserted an additional concept, occultation the intentional obscuring or conceal ment of a message Luke sees God as exercising His prerogative to either illuminate or blind humanity, including the people of Israel. The blinding may be the result of the cumulative rejections of the subject, or s imply the sovereign act of the D eity. The passage that most clearly illustrates the occultation concept is the parable of the Sower. Jesus, in explaining it, informs the disciples that they are given the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven but those from the outside are barred from understanding and even knowing it s existence (Luke 8.4 15). Lu ke, in this occasion, has Jesus take for Himself the willful occultation of the message of life that leads ultimately to the salvation of those enlighten ed message. This occultation is incongruent with and clashes forcefully against the Jesus persona, whose avowed mission consists principally of giving sight to the blind, both literally and spiritually (Luke 4.18; 7.21 22; 14 .13; 14.21; 18.35). This would be an intractable contradiction if one does not consider the attitude of Jesus in this passage
65 in light of the Babel Paradox Luke gives enough other texts of blindness being cured that it appears to identify this parable as a turning point in the Gospel initiating a state of blindness on Israel concerning Jesus and His mission. Luke from the Its positive side is seen in the enlightenment provided to the disciples and His followers while on the negative side there i s the blinding and perdition of the masses that reject Hi m. Luke, in his Gospel not only refers to the prophetic tradition of occultation in the Hebrew Scripture s he also builds a parallel case right at the beginning of his Gospel as portrayed in th e young ship with his parents. Mary and Joseph are aware of the miraculous conception of Jesus and of the prophec ies given concerning their child; although they still do not understand H is mission (Luke 2.50 51; Laurentin 168). This theme will be expanded when Luke portrays Jesus hiding the real nature of His mission from even the Twelve, who experience occurrences of both occultation and enlightenment (Luke 9.44; 10.20; 18.34; 24.13 35). Acts constantly builds upon this Gospel insight an d these two themes are presen t from the beginning of the work all the way to the recorded conclusion s of the public ministr ies of the apostles of Jesus. Peter is seen as firing many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with th em, Save yourselves from this corrupt generation On the occasion after the resurrection that th e presented to Israel, Luke indicates that all Jews of Eretz Israel and the Diaspora are summoned urgently to b elieve that Jesus was crucified for the sins of the nation as well as for the whole world, and that He is the
66 The message of the Eschaton had not been acted upon by the traditionalist camp; its opposition grew progressivel y fiercer against the new faith ultimately reaching the point of physically persecuting the apostles Steph s the pretext for what could be seen as a vexing recapitulation of the past violations of Israel C oven ant with her God, which l ed to the Exile followed by the ferocious a ccusation that this generation wa s repeating the idolatry and blasphemy of their ancestors (Act 7.51 53). twofold He also indicting the covenante d nation through allusions to the Exile in Babylonia. Throughout the book of Acts (with few exceptions like at Berea and the first phase of the Ephesian ministry), Luke portrays the message of Jesus as being cast off in a similar spirit of abhorrence by t he t raditionalists of Eretz Israel ( Jerusalem), and soon the Diaspora (Ephesus), thus leaving the hope of reconciliation applicable only to the individual person who happens to accept the message (Raisanen, 101) From Ephesus t o Rome In the second part of Acts, as Paul is portrayed evangelizing the Diaspora, Luke interweaves references of repentance and judgment within the narrative. He has utilized languages to reiterate John the Baptizer call for repentance and faith, as well as to remind the reader t hat the kingdom of at hand and that judgment is coming upon those who do not repent. Unhappily, as the evangelization of the Diaspora progresses traditionalists from the synagogues of almost every city of the Diasp ora are portrayed displaying the same antagonism as
67 those of Eretz Israel The stories of violent rejection and de adly opposition are used by Luke to build a powerful indictment of the traditionalist position, as well as pr oviding the justification for their consequence the Turn ing to the Gentiles (Acts 13.51, 18.6; 28.28). as presented by Luke, of a Turn t o ward the Gentiles are a vexing and hotly debated point among scholars. Declaring more than once that he would go to the Gentiles, why would he continue to give priority to evangelizing the Jews? Diverging opinions attempt to explain this contradiction. Gospel of the covenantal meaning of langu ages. They typically misread the repetition of the turning to the Gentiles as vignettes of little importance or as having a local and temporal significance. Luke continued insistence on turning to the Gentiles is not a matter of a The importance of this theme is highlighted by its triadic structure and its positioni ng within the narrative. Luke develops the conflict of traditionalists and Christian s along the line of a seemingly unavoidable confrontation through this scheme. Luke presents Paul desire to reach his nation, but that he is unable to overcome their obstinate refusal. The quasi national refusal of Israel to accept the proffered Kingdom of God triggers the Turn to the Gentiles. Luke details this turning as the consequ ence of the opposition against Paul at both Antioch of Pisidia and later Corinth (Acts 13.46 51; 18:6 7). According to Luke, the initial proclamation of freedom in Christ in Antioch was received led with jealousy; and
68 He admoni shed the scoffers in the crowd with s said does not s to his traditio nalist opponents emphas ized that this offer was still open to them but now includes Gentiles as well (Acts 13.51, 18.6; 28.28). Luke uses this animosity against Paul and Barnabas to weave three threads together. First, o be ing to the Gentiles would not happen without the traditionalists rejecting t he message of God. Secondly, as a consequence of the ir rejection of God, they will not inherit the promise of faith i n Christ, and no r will they have any part in the k ingdom. Thirdly, Luke has the a postles confirm their mandate by quoting Isaiah thus establishing f or themselves the role of the new divine ly accredited mes sengers to the Gentiles, which the people of Israel had failed to fulfill (Isa 42.6 7). At Corin th, this same disastrous process was repeated. Paul wa s opposed by traditionalists and Luke reports He shook the dust from his clothes and said to them, your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles. this is not exactly reflective of an open, conciliatory offer of salvation. In this te to shake 5 This passage is linked thematically (the com mission ing of the Twelve and the Seventy are twin passages) with Jesus conde mnation of the unrepentant cities and
69 people of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum (Luke 10.5 16). It is significant that at Corinth Luke has Pau l depart in this fashion not only from the people, but also from the synagogue, as if to show that the messag e can no longer be contained only by the local synagogue This shaking of dust implies the death and re moval from (Nielsen 87) Rome At Rome, which for Luke uses symboli cally as the end s of the world th e situation worsens (Dupont 19). Luke describes a much more pacific meeting than his description of the Antioch ian and Corinth ian altercations. Somewhat surprisingly, a fter a more diplomatic and cautious answer from the Roman Jews and their muffled re sponse to the Gospel Paul, aggressively, and for the third time, repeats his intention to turn to the Gentiles. Luke intentionally places completion of his end of his twin work, and makes Paul pronounce a statement that is seemingly out of Gospel Paul act ions are completely contrary to his mandate to open the eyes of his hearers (Acts 26.15 18). lies it to what is otherwise a p eaceful meeting. This is reminiscent of Jesus interpretation of the parable of the Sower Paul an intractable hermeneutic quandary but one which the Babel Paradox can help to explain Luke uses the i dentical passage that Jesus cites but he selects a longer quotation from Isaiah six This longer excerpt includes which Luke
70 audience (Acts 28.26). Paul is portrayed delivering a scathing denunciation and hamm er ing his audience, and by extension, the nation with a divine judgment of in order to recall the sins of Israel ite ancestors and to implicate the descendants of this people with the same sins and the same cond emnation as their fore fathers (Tyson Image177 8). The Lucan Paul that quotes Isaiah 6.9 10 is the same one known for his strong teaching of covenantal dissolution through language in First Corinthians (I Cor 14.21; Isa. 28.11). H is prophetic speech is th e climax of the twin work, and draws together the themes of judgment and occultation, the covenantal dismissal of languages and is acting here as a prophet foretelling that the turn from the Traditionalists to the Gentiles is de finitive (covenantal dismissal), and that the Kingdom of God will be principally composed of Gentiles without the majority of the people of Second Temple Israel (Pervo Acts 485; Litwak 184 5). It is after the Jews of Rom that Luke makes the apostles of the G entiles utter the startling conclusion of the twin work (Stagg 265; Bovon 188). Luke divides this prophetic episode into two distinct focuses. T he full prophecy speaks of the judgment and desolation of the land of Israel and the exile of her people. Although Luke only quotes a portion of this passage the reference arch es back to the legacy of the Hebrew Scripture and in particular the distressing messa ge of Isaiah for his people (Acts 28.27 27; Isa 6.9 10, 11 13; Bovon 494). is more positive, he contrasts I anticipates that
71 beyond Israel, the Gentile s (Litwak 181 2). and has been used as a justification for the persecution of later European Jews, the force of his words is not directed at those who are already blind, as much as those who have refused to declare a position. Those who have been blinded by God cannot be held responsible for their failure to see ( cf. Rom 11.25 31). The thrust of his argument is that there are sti ll many traditionalists who are not yet completely blind; they must be moved from their complacency ( cf. Rom 11.14 15), their belief that they energy is directed at convert ing as many of his own people (Rom 9.2 5) as he possibly can ; permitting them to believe that they can avoid making a decision is not a kindness to them. In the decision between their tradition and their God, there is not a middle position. ation is aimed at the traditionalist position, and the cultural phenomenon that is Judaism, not the individual Jewish adherent, whom he is seeking to convert Evans has emphasized this point against Sanders (208) It is a discernable pattern in many of t especially apparent in Ephesus as was noted earlier. Unfortunately, this is a difference that can only be seen from the wider context of the writings of Luke and Paul; this distinction canno t be spotted in the text of the individual passages. The message was easily misrepresented, and its erroneous ap plication difficult to combat.
72 Luke s Surprising Ending The ending appears incomplete and l eaves the reader dangling. The incongruity at the c condemnation raises the question: What does this mean? An invaluable insight is ian incident (Acts chapter 13). Although declaration of the gospel has met with real success, Paul utters his first emphasize Jewish acceptance. The movement of the narrative has been from an e by some Jew s and god fearers to a final rejection resolution of these enigmatic issues because they are cumulative element s of a rejection process ending in Rome that depicts t raditio nalists as completely s message (142, 148). It is only now that the story line from the beginning of the Luc an Gospel to the end of Acts uncovers its real nature. Paradoxically, it is here that the function of the three P entecost languages is revealed. From the Gospel of Luke, the reader is alread y familiar with the topics of j udgment, occultation, and the opening to the Gentiles (2.32; 4.25 27). All these themes are repeated in Acts and resonate extremely well with Acts as a sign to Eretz Israel, the half convinced Jerusalem Christians, and the Diaspora Luk e must cap the twin work on a largely negative note, with the ominous last occurrence of t urning to the Gentiles in order to keep the mea ning of covenantal dismissal. It is necessary to do so because, in this new framework, l anguage s still retain the significance of judgment of the Israel ite people through an
73 incompreh ensible foreign language, found in the Hebrew Scriptures While to mode rn readers the ending is incomplete, the firs t century reader will recognize that Luke has completed his argument. In a polemic work, it is common to sum up the threads of your argument in your conclusion (Denova, 225) The closing verses of the work cont ain a number of elements that serve this purpose for Luke. Paul has arrived in Rome; the hero of the work has achieved a lifelong goal. He enters under house arrest however, rather than triumphantly. Those who would be assigned the role of the prosecuti on admit that they have no real case against him, but express concern that the views he represents spoken against everywhere (cf. Acts 28.22). Paul presents a comprehensive some, but failing to move th e majority. He applies the Isaiah quote to their response, accusing them of blindness. The promises of God offered to all are rejected by them, but remain open to the Gentile world. Under house arrest, Paul is nevertheless free to continue to pursue his ministry among them, unhindered. Symbolically, Luke has shown Paul travel to the ends of the world in a Jewish context, at great personal cost seeking to bring his nation to repentance before God. Rome is also the symbolic heart of the Gentile world, an d the apostolic work to them continues. Paul himself had been blind to the claims of Jesus before loosing his sight on the Damascus road; he both recognizes and empathizes with the affliction he diagnoses in his co religionists. Luke justify the Pauline decision to leave the traditions of his people and his declaration of freedom from the Mosaic Law. He has frequently portrayed traditionalists among Jews as annoyed by and
74 unreceptive to the Christian message using the concept s of judgment a nd occultation usal to embrace the new faith. To their defense it must be said that Luke propounds what would have been a stream of outrageous beliefs. Luke is attempting to build a case that appears to be almost oxym oronic, that Gentiles and Samaritan authentic Judaism, which the nation has rejected. Luke goes even further in believing that Gentiles can participate in the fellowship of Israel without the prerequisites of circumcision a nd obedience to dietary regulation. These beliefs are extremely difficult to accept from the standpoint of a traditional Judaism that sees herself as the sole recipient of God Laws. The theme of languages was used to validate the sep aration between Ch ristians and t raditionalists, while simultaneously providing an evidence of the divine approval upon the followers of the new faith. The traditionalist position cannot be accommodated in this new system, the choice is either to accept the Bat qol abandon ing tradition, or to cling to the Law of Moses and completely reject the (Raisanen, 101) Luke has addres s e d his combined work to Theophilus, (Denova, 226). Acting as the author/prophet he address ed the Jewish members of his audience through Paul by using covenantal themes containing warning s of judgment and exile. Luke has used l anguag es as a device to show the way and assist Theophilus in choosing a side in this parting of the way s the divorce of Pauline Chr istians from Judaism Luke surprising ending is in fact a real conclusion, with his threefold t urning to the Gentiles; the divorce certificate has been issued. Luke has not been
75 writing a history of the apostle Paul or the birth of the church after all but an apologetic for the Christian faith. The message of the Babel Paradox has been delivered and the choice left to Theophilus is clear. Luke does not tell the reader what to choose; the way is still open to accept the movement of God and the message of Jesus but the consequences had been clearly spelled out as well. The ultimate conclusion is up to the reader. Conclusion The foundational premise of this thesis is that the Old Testament contains a theme of languages wit h in it, which is linked to conce pts of warning and judgment. covenantal violations by the nation of Israel. This is not a new discovery; these verses have been used by both sides in denominational disputes to justify their positions on the meaning and purpose of languages. What is not commonly recognized however is the paradoxical ends these themes have been applied to, and that these recurrent elements work together in a coherent fashion. In proposing the application of our Babel Paradox, we have anticipated that four elemen ts will be present in a passage; an undeniable act of God, a Jewish audience or context, judgment or punishment a nd paradoxical results or goals. Luke/Acts has presented a number of int erpretive challenges to modern intentionally incorporated the elements of the Babel Paradox within his narration, and his first century audience would have recognized them, and understood their
76 meaning. This has yielded reasonable explanations for problematic passages which other interpretive schemes were unable to resolve. Proponents of the rejection, ork to be reconciled, and as was noted earlier, are not either entirely contradictory nor decisive. We believe that this thesis fits most comfortably as a n extension of the Complement position, synthesizing t he rejection and supplement theories The best interpretation of Luke/Acts is that the Jewish faith has been supplanted by the ministry of her Messiah, and the ethnic Jew and the Greek are both welcome to follow Him. The break between the religious systems is total, but the possibility remains that n ot all adherents of the traditionalist view have been blinded and the way open for them to join the new believers. It will never be possible to go back and determine conclusively all the purposes that Luke hoped to accomplish in writing his work. The stre ngth of this thesis is that it provides a stronger and more complete accounting of the central issues involved than alternate approaches. Additionally, its ability to explain or connect seeming ly unrelated issues within the work increases our confidence i n the final conclusions. The Babel Paradox provides an explanation for the existing linkage between Pentecost, Babel and Sinai in both Christian and Jewish traditions. The story counter argument to Babel Paradox as presented by Luke at Pentecost. The use of languages is found to be used consistently in Acts, and is found to be congruent with both existing Old Testament themes and the writings of Paul. The position and nature
77 of the Ephe sian Pentecost is clarified. The enigmatic conclusion to the book is explained. The conclusions of t his thesis affect several fields of Biblical studies I t expands our understanding of the H ebrew Scriptures of Israel and h er God as seen through the prop hetic point of view, especially the neglected t heme of God speaking death and e xile to His people through an incomprehensible languag e. This principle is an integral part of the prophetic corpus. It is well atteste d, and we can even chart its evolution i n three distinct phases with in the Hebrew Scriptures which lead up to judgment of humanity (the Tower of Babel) I n the second phase it is altered becoming a judicial elemen t of a religious contract between Israel and h er God (one of the covenantal curse in Deuteronomy) F inally it metamorphose s into prophe cies elucidating the e xile of both the kingdoms of Israel and Judah for the prophetic institution of Israel. The foremo st benefit for New Testament Studies of this thesis is that it provides a synthesis of the competing theories for the purpose of the book of Acts. The placement and significance of conflicting and apparently contradictory narrative elements are explained and given a solid hermeneutical framework. What were considered disjoint texts such as the choosing of Mathias, the Samaritan episode and the enigmatic end of Acts combine to form a coherent narrative of covenantal dismissal. By u ncovering of the Jewish context of New Testament texts, (Acts Chapters 2 10, 19, 28; I Cor 14), common anachronistic misinterpretations can be corrected
78 other scholars that Luke Acts is thoroughly Jewish. Thi s situates the se texts in th e i r cultural and religious milieu and potentially bears on our understanding of the dating of Luke Acts. This conclusion absolutely undercuts any interpretation that holds the author of Acts to be anti Semitic, or that the work can be used to justify Christian anti Semitism. By contributing a strong theoretical input into the debate concerning the question of discontinuity of Judaism and Christianity this conclusion also addresses the the s es of an adversarial Luke towards the J ewish people especially from the point of view of Jack T. Sanders and Michael Cook. toward the traditionalist s in either the Jewish or Christian communities. Individuals of either viewpoint are not to be persecuted but to be enlightened. New Testament Studies also benefit from the application of the Babel Paradox to the mentions of incomprehensible languages in Acts They c ease to be a minor element, a prop of the plot, but become the motor of the primary argument i n the book. This adaptation is presented as a divine ly decreed necessity allow ing the inclusion of Gentiles into the fellowship of Israel. It shows Luke, still retaining the prophetic connotation of incomprehensibility as a sign of judgment and exile, e xpand ing its meaning and transforming it into a multifaceted phenomenon. Luke can provide a rationale for the fall of Israel and its exile and at the same time explain the scarcity of Jewish believers in the rank of a faith supposed to be a continuation o f the people of God Above all, the hope of the author is that this thesis will help readers to elucidate various misunderstandings concerning the nature and structure of the book
79 of Acts, as well as the function of the first century gift of Language s. T h e Babel Paradox was understood as a warning of the covenantal demise of the Second Temple Israel the judgment foretold to this Israel has already occurred and so the warnings of her demise are obsolete It is to be hoped that this will lead to improved clarity in the teaching of themes of Acts, and prove helpful to individuals studying the book.
80 W ork s Cited Beale, Gregory K. "The D escent of the E schatological T emple I n the F orm of the S pirit at Pentecost. P art 1, The C learest E vidence." Tyndale Bulletin 56.1 (2005): 73 102. --. "The D escent of the E schatological T emple I n the F orm of the S pirit at Pentecost. P art 2, Corroborating E vidence." Tyndale Bulletin 56.2 (2005): 63 90. Bovon, Franc ois. Luke the Theologian: Fifty Five Years of Research (1950 2005) Waco TX: Baylor UP, 2006. Brawley, Robert L. Luke Acts and the Jews: Conflict, Apology, and Conciliation Society of Biblical Literature monograph series, no. 33. Atlanta, GA : Scholars Press, 1987. Bruce, F. F.. The Book of the Acts Rev. ed Grand Rapids, MI : Eerdmans, 1988. The New International Commentary on the New Testament Gen. ed. Gordon D. Fee, 16 vols 1988 Catholic University of America. New Catholic Encyclopedia Detroit: Thomson/Gale, 2003.
81 Chance, J. Bradley. Acts Smyth & Helwys Bible commentary. Macon, Ga: Smyth & Helwys Pub, 2007. Charette, Blaine "Tongues as of F ire': J udgment as a F unction of G lossolalia in Luke's T hought." Journal of Pentecostal Theology 13.2 (2005) : 173 186. Conzelmann, Hans, et al Acts of the Apostles: A Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1987. Cook in Luke Acts and t he Jewish People ed. Joseph B. Tyson Minneapolis : Augsburg, 1988 102 23. Denova Rebecca I. The Things Accomplished Among Us: Prophetic Tradition in the Structural Pattern of Luke Acts Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997 Vol. 141 of Journal for the S tudy of the Old Testament Supplement Series exec.ed. Stanley E. Porter, 1997 Dupont, Jacques. The Salvation of the Gentiles Studies in the Acts of the Apostles New York : Paulist Pr, 1979. Dunn, James D. G. The Acts of the Apostles 1 st US ed. Valley Forge, P A : Trinity Press International, 1996. Narrative C ommentaries gen. ed. Ivor H. Jones, 1996 Evans Craig A., and James A. Sanders. Luke and Scripture: The Function of Sacred Tradition in Luke Acts Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1 993.
82 Esler Philip Francis. Community and Gospel in Luke Acts: The Social and Political Motivations of Lucan Theology Cambridge [Cambridgeshire]: Cambridge UP, 1987. Fee, Gordon D. God's Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul Pea body, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994. Fitzmyer Joseph A. The Acts of the Apostles New York: Doubleday, 1998. Foakes Jackson, F. J., and Kirsopp Lake. The Beginnings of Christianity: The Acts of the Apostles Grand Rapids: Baker, 1965. La I glesia N aciente: L ibros S agrados y D on de L enguas Madrid: Encuentro, 2009 Vol. xvi of Studia Semitica Novi Testamenti 2009 Goldin Judah "On the A ccount of the B anning of R Eliezer b en Hyrqanus : an A nalysis and P roposal." Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society (1985): 85 97. Haenchen, Ernst. The Acts of the Apostles; A Commentary Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1971. Hayford, Jack W. The Beauty of Spiritual Language: A Journe y Toward the Heart of God Dallas: Word Pub, 1992.
83 Hovenden, Gerald. Speaking in T ongues: the New Testament E vidence in C ontext London: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002. Hull, John, H. The Holy Spirit in the Acts of the Apostles Cleveland: World Pub. 1967. Jerv e l Luke Acts and the Jewish People Tyson, Ed. Augsburg Publishing house: Mineapolis, 1988. Johanson, Bruce C. "Tongues, a sign for unbelievers: a structural and exegetical study of I Corinth ians 14:20 25." New Testament Studies 25.2 (1979): 180 203. Josephus, Flavius, and William Whiston. The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publ ishers, 1987. Structure et T II 4 th ed. Paris: J. Gabalda, 1964. Etudes B ibliques 1964 Litwak, Kenneth Duncan. Echoes of Scripture in Luke Acts: Telling the History of God's People Intertextually London: T&T Clark International, 2005. Vol. 282 of Journal for the S tudy of the New Testament ed. Mark Goodcare, 2005 Longenecker Richard. Acts Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1995 The C ommentary gen. ed. Frank Gaebelin 1995 Lockwood, Gregory J. 1 Corinthians Sai nt Louis, MO: Concordia Pub. House, 2000 Concordia C ommentary 2000
84 Mikoski, Gordon S. Baptism and Christian Identity: Teaching in the Triune Name Grand Rapids, MI : Eerdmans, 2009. Mitchell, Margaret Mary. Paul and the Rhetoric of Reconciliation: An Ex egetical Investigation of the Language and Composition of 1 Corinthians Westminster : John Knox Press, 1993. Montague George T. The Holy Spirit: Growth of a Biblical Tradition New York: Paulist Press, 1976. n Writings with Particular Reference to Luke Acts: Scandinavian Perspectives ed. Petri Luomanen, Helsinki: Finnish Exegetical Society, 1991 Overman, J. Andrew the Matthean Commun ity Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990. O'Reilly, Leo. Word and Sign in the Acts of the Apostles: A Study in Lucan Theology 1987. Pao David W. Acts and the Isaianic New Exodus Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker A cademic, 2002. Pervo, Richard I., and Harold W. Attridge. Acts: A Commentary Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2009.
85 Powell, Mark Allan. What Are They Saying About Acts? New York: Paulist Press, 1991. ion Historical Problem in Luke Acts In Luke Acts and the Jewish People ed. Joseph B. Tyson Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1988 76 82. Reasoner, Mark. "The Theme of Acts: Institutional History or Divine Necessity in History? Journal of Biblical Literature 1 18.4 (1999): 635 659. Robertson, O Palmer "Tongues: sign of covenantal curse and blessing." Westminster Theological Journal 38.1 (1975): 43 53. Salmon, Marilyn. "Insider or outsider? Luke's relationship with Judaism." In Luke Acts and the Jewish P eopl e ed. Joseph B. Tyson Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1988 76 82. Sanders, Jack T. The Jews in Luke Acts Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1987. Septuagint Bible Online English Translation of the Greek Septuagint Bible The Translation of the Greek Old Testament Scriptures, Including the Apocrypha. Compiled from the Translation by Sir Lancelot C. L. Brenton 185.1 Presented by The Common Man's Prospective. Copyright 1999 2008 Ernest C. Marsh Shallis, Ralph. .C.B.P., 1982.
86 Spence, O. Talmadge. Charismatism, Awakening or Apostasy ? Greenville, S.C.: Bob Jones University Press, 1978. Stagg, Frank. The Book of Acts; The Early Struggle for an Unhindered Gospel Nashville: Broadman Press, 1955. Sweet J P M. "Sign for Unbelievers: Paul's Attitude to glossolalia." New Testament Studies 13.3 (1967): 240 253. Tannehi l l, Robert Luke Acts and the Jewish People ed. Joseph B. Tyson. : Augsburg Publishing House: Minneapolis, 1988. Tiede Luke Acts and the Jewish People ed Joseph B Tyson. : Augsburg Publishing House: Minneapolis, 1988. Thiselton, Anthony C. The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans, 2000. Turner, Max. The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts: In the New Testament Church and Today Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1998. Tyson, Joseph B. Images of Judaism in Luke Acts Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press, 1992 140,172 n 23
87 --. Luke Acts and the Jewish People: Eight Critical Perspectives Minneapolis: Augsburg Pub. House, 1988. Witherington, Ben. The Acts of the Apostles: A Socio Rhetorical Commentary Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans Pub, 1998.