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«_ A Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of the School of Theology Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Fort Worth, Texas _ In Partial ...»

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life.20 The city is an example of the religious and philosophical plurality that pervaded the ancient world.

Barrett, drawing from kateivdwlon (Acts 17:16), states that Athens “was overrun with idols.”21 Furthermore, Bertil Gärtner’s complex analysis of the Areopagus speech seeks to demonstrate Paul’s use of Stoic and Jewish concepts as an apostolic approach to evangelize those gathered at Athens.22 Conzelmann indicates that Paul’s speech brings “the representatives of the universal Greek culture into play” and engages the audience as “typical Athenians.”23 This apostolic approach will be discussed below.

–  –  –

Testament was a world in which different cultures or ways of life were in contact with one another, leading to I. H. Marshall, The Acts of the Apostles, Tyndale New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980;

reprint, 1999), 281.

C. K. Barrett, “Paul’s Speech on the Areopagus,”

in New Testament Christianity for Africa and the World:

Essays in Honour of Harry Sawyer, eds. Mark Glasswell and E.

W. Fashole-Luke (London: SPCK, 1974), 71.

Bertil Gärtner, The Areopagus Speech and Natural Revelation, trans. C. H. King (Uppsala: C. W. K. Gleerup, 1955), 144-69.

Hans Conzelmann, A Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, trans. James Limburg, A. T. Kraabel, and D. H.

Juel, Hermeneia (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1987), 138assimilation between them as well as to sharp collision.”24 In the same manner, the contemporary church faces this collision of pluralities. The pluralities in postmodern times is comparable to the “encounter of the early church with the religious variety of the Greco-Roman world, including Greek philosophy.”25 Alasdair MacIntyre argues that the “contemporary vision of the world” is a “multiplicity of visions deriving from that irreducible plurality of values.”26 When considering the “global village” that has emerged during the postmodern era, one can recognize the veracity of MacIntyre’s statement. Charles Jencks proposes that the “meteroic” rise of the information age has increased the accessibility to various cultural beliefs.27 Following Jencks, Grenz declares that the information age has “brought I. Howard Marshall, “Culture and the New Testament,” in Gospel and Culture: The Papers of a Consultation on the Gospel and Culture, Convened by the Lausanne Committee’s Theology and Education Group, eds. John Stott and Robert T. Coote (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 1979), 27.

E. Luther Copeland, “Christian Theology and World Religions,” Review and Expositor 94 (1997): 423.

Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory, 2d ed. (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1984), 109.

Charles Jencks, What Is Postmodernism?, 3d ed.

(New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989), 44.

the world together in a manner never before possible,” so that “the global village imbues its citizens with a vivid awareness of the cultural diversity of our planet.”28 The postmodern religious pursuits reflect the heterogeneity and plurality of the generation. Richard Rorty indicates that today’s postmodern ethos is filled with “lots of picture galleries, book displays, movies, concerts, ethnographic museums, museums of science and technology” which represent the plurality of cultural options available for worship.29 With the demise of the Enlightenment ideal, “empiricism was rejected as the only way of knowing and replaced with myriad options. There became multiple paths to knowledge and understanding, none more important or real than another. As a result, spiritual ideas were acceptable, but no system of belief was allowed to be more ‘true’ than another.”30 As with Athens of the first-century, today’s Stanley Grenz, A Primer on Postmodernism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), 18.

Richard Rorty, Essays on Heidegger and Others:

Philosophical Papers, Volume 2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 132.

Todd Hahn and David Verhaagen, Reckless Hope:

Understanding and Reaching Baby Busters (Grand Rapids:

Baker, 1996), 38.

postmodern scene is filled with idols.31 One difference between the pre-modern and postmodern, however, is the vast landscape of the latter in terms of information access and dissemination. The philosophers of Athens were primarily the elite thinkers with specialized training and knowledge.

The plurality of Athens, while specialized, represented the plurality of the Greco-Roman culture.32 The age of the postmodern is the age of the computer and the “information super-highway.” The postmodern philosopher consists of anyone who has the temerity to “run a search” on the “net” and consider the information gleaned as both legitimate and valuable.33 The plurality of the postmodern is neither specialized nor representative. The “truth statements” or religious beliefs of the person in the “chat room” are as legitimate and valuable as the “truth statements” or religious beliefs of leading academic theorists in the field of philosophy.34 This status of plurality presents Rorty, Essays on Heidegger and Others, 132-33.

See especially, Bertil Gärtner, The Areopagus Speech and Natural Revelation, 46-50.





George P. Landow, Hypertext: The Convergance of

Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology (Baltimore, MD:

John Hopkins University Press, 1992), 74-75.

Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1991; reprint, 1999), 391-99.

opportunity and challenge for the evangelization of postmodern people. This subject will be discussed in the later section dealing with Paul’s speech in Athens, for Paul’s address provides a paradigm for the faithful and effective evangelization of pre-modern or postmodern pluralities.

–  –  –

apostolic approach in the face of pluralities: “We sometimes think that relativism and pluralism are peculiar to our time. We feel it politically correct to adopt them. Not so the early Christians. They lived in a world more relativist and far more pluralist than our own. And yet they would not make any compromise on this issue. What was needed was not more religion, but a new life -- and Jesus could provide it.”35 The apostolic church provides insight for the project of evangelization.

–  –  –

apostolic church struggled with pluralities from within as well as without.36 The issue in this section, however, Michael Green, Evangelism in the Early Church (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1970), xvii.

Martin Hengel, Between Jesus and Paul, trans. John Bowden (London: SCM Press, 1983), 4-11.

focuses upon the Christian identity for the apostolic community when facing the plurality of Judaic and Hellenistic cultures. The increasing differences between the Hebrews and Hellenists find resolution in Acts 6, but the diversity among Judaic and Hellenistic influences continues for the apostolic community.

For example, Cornelius’ conversion marks a distinctive collision of pluralities for the apostolic community in the evangelization of the world. Bolt suggests that the three-fold repetition of the event marks the significance of the content.37 Through the drama of a vision (Acts 10:9-16), Peter recognizes that the culturally specific dietary laws “no longer applied for Gentile or Jew in Christ.”38 As Bruce suggests, the gospel’s reach “has been steadily broadened,” but this story illustrates that the time had come for the barrier between Jews and Gentiles “to be crossed authoritatively by an apostle.”39 Peter G. Bolt, “Mission and Witness,” in Witness to the Gospel: The Theology of Acts, eds. I. Howard Marshall and David Peterson (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 203.

Craig Blomberg, “The Christian and the Law of Moses,” in Witness to the Gospel: The Theology of Acts, eds.

I. Howard Marshall and David Peterson (Grand Rapids:

Eerdmans, 1998), 404.

F. F. Bruce, The Book of the Acts, rev. ed., The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), 201.

God’s threefold command to eat the unclean animals of the heavenly vision (10:9-16) leads to stunning conclusions: Peter deduces that no person is unclean (v.

28), that God accepts people of every nation who fear [H]im and do right (vv. 34-35), and that therefore the gospel should be preached to Cornelius (vv. 36-43). God dramatically confirms Peter’s deductions by sending [H]is Spirit on the centurion and his companions before he finishes preaching (v. 44).40

–  –  –

Jewish cultural expressions of the Mosaic law, the Hellenistic cultural expressions in conflict with the Mosaic law, and the Christian response of the apostolic community.

This statement does not contradict the case of Cornelius as eujsebh;~ kai; fobouvmeno~ tou` qeou` (Acts 10:2).41 Although Cornelius sympathizes with the Jewish cultural expressions and

–  –  –

suggests that the qualifications of eujsebh;~ kai; fobouvmeno~ tou` qeou` represent the paradigm for all Gentile converts.42 Sheeley mistakenly views fobouvmeno~ tou` qeou` as a qualification Blomberg, “The Christian and the Law of Moses,” 404.

“Pious and one who fears God.” This description indicates that Cornelius was an “adherent to the synagogue but not a proselyte to the Jewish faith.” William Neil, The

Acts of the Apostles, New Century Bible Commentary (London:

Marshall, Morgan, and Scott, 1973; reprint, Grand Rapids:

Eerdmans, 1987), 137.

Jacob Jervell, “The Church of Jews and Godfearers,” in Luke-Acts and the Jewish People: Eight

Critical Perspectives, ed. J. B. Tyson (Minneapolis:

Augsburg, 1988), 11-20.

–  –  –

this work as a[ndre~ Kuvprioi kai; Kurhnai`oi, oi{tine~ ejlqovnte~ eij~ jAntiovceian ejlavloun kai; pro;~ tou;~ JEllhnista;~ eujaggelizovmenoi to;n kuvrion jIhsou`n (Acts 11:20).45 The persecution of Stephen46 leads to the dispersion of the apostolic community beyond Jerusalem, so that oiJ me;n oujn diasparenvnte~ dih`lqon eujaggelizovmenoi to;n lovgon Steven M. Sheeley, Narrative Asides in Luke-Acts, Journal for the Study of the New Testament, Supplement Series 72 (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1992), 126.

J. T. Sanders, The Jews in Luke-Acts (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1987), 256.

“Men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who coming into Antioch shared also with the Hellenists, preaching the good news of the Lord Jesus.” See chapter 5, “Obstacles for Personal Evangelism.” (Acts 8:4).47 This narrative (Acts 11), however, introduces an entirely new situation. Rather than the occasional evangelization of non-Jews, Luke reports that the a[ndre~ Kuvprioi kai; Kurhnai`oi begin a “momentous step forward.”48 Justin Taylor proposes that “c’est le premier pas qui marque le debut d’une eglise pagano-chretienne.”49 Indeed HeinzWerner Neudorfer suggests that the theology of the Hellenist-Jewish converts, which focuses on God’s plan of salvation in history, compelled them to evangelize nonJews.50 Justin Taylor suggests that this missionary enterprise is “independante de l’eglise de Jerusalem.”51 “Therefore those who were scattered went throughout proclaiming the good news of the word.” F. F. Bruce, The Book of Acts, 225.

Justin Taylor, Commentaire Historique (Act. 9,1vol. 5, Les Actes des Deux Apotres, Etudes Bibliques 23 (Paris: Librairie LeCoffre, 1994), 59. “This is the first step which marks the beginning of the pagan-Christian church.” By “pagano-chretienne,” this writer believes that Taylor is referring to the non-Jewish element rather than the outright influence of paganism into the Christian community.

Heinz-Werner Neudorfer, “The Speech of Stephen,” in Witness to the Gospel: The Theology of Acts, eds. I.

Howard Marshall and David Peterson (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 290.

Taylor, Commentaire Historique (Act. 9,1-18,22),

65. The mission of the men of Cyprus and Cyrene is “independent of the church of Jerusalem.” Furthermore, he suggests that “there is no reason to place them in relation Bauckham rejects this proposal and suggests that Jerusalem remains the center of the evangelistic enterprise.52 Accordingly, the presence of Barnabas in Antioch as the formal representative of the Jerusalem church augments Bauckman’s analysis (Acts 11:22).

Luke describes the proclamation as eujaggelizovmenoi to;n kuvrion jIhsou`n (Acts 11:20). Bruce notes that the use of kuvrion is significant.53 The evangelists provide a specific answer to the need of the Gentiles. Ramsay MacMullen indicates that the religious pursuits of the Gentiles possessed a lacuna of assurance for renatus in aeternum.54 Bruce notes that “many were trying to find in various mystery cults a divine lord who could guarantee salvation and immortality to his devotees; now the pagans of Antioch were assured that what they vainly sought in those quarters could be secured through the Son of God who had lately become man, suffered with the ‘Seven’ of Jerusalem or their adherents.” Richard Bauckham, “James and the Jerusalem Church,” in The Book of Acts in Its Palestinian Setting, ed.

Richard Bauckham, vol. 4, The Book of Acts in Its First Century Setting (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), 423-34.

F. F. Bruce, Book of Acts, 225.



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