Uncovering ancient texts and rethinking early Christian identity with the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles
Shaping the Past to Define the Present comprises both new and revised essays by esteemed New Testament scholar Gregory E. Sterling on Jewish and early Christian historiography. A sequel to his seminal work, Historiography and Self-Definition, this volume expands on Sterling’s reading of Luke-Acts in the context of contemporary Jewish and Greek historiography. These systematically arranged essays comprise his new and revised contributions to the field of biblical studies, exploring:
the genre of apologetic historiography exemplified by Josephus and Eusebius
the context of Josephus’s work within a larger tradition of Eastern historiography
the initial composition and circulation of Luke and Acts
the relationship of Luke-Acts to the Septuagint
the interpretation of the Diaspora in Luke-Acts
the structure of salvation history as it is manifested in Luke-Acts
Socratic influences on Luke’s portrayal of Jesus’s death
the early Jerusalem Christian community as depicted in Acts compared with other Hellenized Eastern traditions such as Egyptian priests and Indian sages
the establishment of Christianity’s “socially respectability” as a guiding purpose in Luke-Acts
Engaging with current critical frameworks, Sterling offers readers a comprehensive analysis of early Christian self-definition through Judeo-Christian historiography.
Introduction Part One: The Historiographical Tradition 1. Interpretatio Christiana: Constructing Christian Identity from a Jewish Historiographical Tradition 2. “The Reliable History of Antiquity”: The Tradition of Writing History in the East 3. The First History: The Literary Relationship between Luke and Acts Part Two: The Connection to the Past (The Story of Israel in Luke-Acts) 4. Imitatio Septuaginta: The LXX as a Historiographical Model 5. “Opening the Scriptures”: The Legitimation of the Jewish Diaspora and the Early Christian Mission 6. “Do You Understand What You Are Reading?” The Understanding of the LXX in Luke-Acts Part Three: Looking to the Future (The Greco-Roman World in Luke-Acts) 7. Mors Philosophi: The Death of Jesus in Luke 8. “Athletes of Virtue”: The Major Summaries of the Jerusalem Community in Acts (2:41–47; 4:32–35; 5:12–16) 9. “Customs That Are Not Lawful”: The Social Apology of Luke-Acts Conclusions Bibliography
Gregory E. Sterling is the Rev. Henry L. Slack Dean and the Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament at Yale Divinity School. A specialist in Hellenistic Judaism and early Christianity, he is the author or coeditor of eight books and more than 100 articles in learned journals or scholarly collections. Sterling also serves on the editorial boards of multiple book series and preeminent journals within the field of Judaism and early Christianity. He is perhaps best known for his monograph Historiography and Self-Definition (Brill, 1992; Society of Biblical Literature, 2006).
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