Religious, Ethnic, and Civic Identity
This chapter situates Acts of the Apostles historically and examines previous scholarship on Jewish identity and Acts. It argues that Lukan ethnic reasoning—as mediated by the cultural context of Greek cities under Roman rule—sought to create an alternate construal of Jewish and Christian identity. This alternate identity integrated Christian non-Jews into the civic hierarchy. The chapter then surveys the scholarship on Jews and Judaism in Acts and looks at recent developments in interpretation that have emphasized the author's rhetoric rather than “attitude.” It also discusses four texts that highlight the value of ethnic reasoning and, scholar of ancient Christianity, Denise Kimber Buell's discussion of four uses of religious rhetoric in ethnic reasoning. Ultimately, Acts leverages the connection between gods, people, and places in its depiction of Jewish identity. It employs ethnic rhetoric in order to present all Christians as Jews and to privilege Christians as an ideal embodiment of Jewishness for the Roman-era polis.
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