Thinking About Acts 9

Thinking About Acts 9 March 21, 2010

I’ve been thinking about Acts 9 as I prepare to guest teach a class at General Theological Seminary in New York City on that topic (I’ll also be touching on the relationship and contrasts between Lukan and Johannine Christology). The story of Paul’s Damascus Road experience provides a great opportunity to discuss whether Paul’s “change of direction” should be thought of in terms of “calling” or “conversion,” to compare Acts with the epistles (as well as with itself), and to discuss the whole notion of “the parting of the ways” between Christianity and Judaism.

Christianity as a term is introduced in Acts. But given that there were other terms which distinguished groups within Judaism, this doesn’t necessarily indicate a departure from Judaism. Indeed, in Acts Paul still self-identifies as a Pharisee, and the Christians who are near enough to do so participate in the worship of the Jerusalem Temple. And the term this author prefers for what we today might call “Christianity” is “the Way.”

Since Acts doesn’t depict a “parting of the ways” between “Jews” and “Christians,” but does hint at different viewpoints within the early Christian movement which the author often refers to as “the Way,” I hope at some point to manage to write something about Acts entitled “The Partings Of The Way.”


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