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Shaping the Past to Define the Present
Luke-Acts and Apologetic Historiography
HARDCOVER; Published: 3/28/2023
ISBN: 978-0-8028-4873-4
Price: $ 44.00
301 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 6 x 9
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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.

Table of Contents

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