|About the Book|
In this revised Yale dissertation supervised by W. A. Meeks, Bechard undertakes a fresh, in-depth examination of Pauls first missionary journey in Acts, with special attention to the Lystra episode. His primary methods are (1) literary-critical, after the fashion of C. H. Talbert, appreciating the architectonic patterns and structures shaping the two-volume Lukan narrative, and (2) sociogeographical, following the more recent and innovative work of B. Breytenbach, focusing on Lukes appropriation of peculiar religious, cultural, and topographical features associated with southern Asia Minor/Anatolia. Exegetically, Bechard is most frequently in dialogue and disagreement with the stalwart German heritage of Actaforschung, especially that of M. Dibelius and E. Haenchen.Turning first to literary matters, Bechard demonstrates that the account of Paul and Barnabass inaugural missionary expedition in Acts 13-14, far from being a loosely arranged, episodic chronicle, is in fact a carefully designed integrated narrative (pp. 124-25) systematically charting Pauls pioneering foray into Gentile territory among rulers (the proconsul at Cyprus), the people of Israel (the synagogue at Pisidian Anti-och), and pagans (in the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe), directly fulfilling Christs commission in 9:15. Further, far from being an incidental prelude to the heart of Pauls mission in Acts 16-21 after the watershed Jerusalem conference, the report of the first journey provides a programmatic introduction to Pauls Spirit-ordained work (το έργον, 13:2- 14:26) throughout Acts, an instructive précis of his [Lukes] narrative portrait of Pauls monumental witness to the nations (p. 165).The biggest part of the book features an extensive investigation of ancient ethnographic and geographic materials, from both Jewish and Greco-Roman sources, which comprised Lukes conceptual map of the world (imago mundi) in general and of Lycao-nia in particular. The purpose is not to assess the historical accuracy of Lukan geography by modern standards (à la W. M. Ramsay) but to trace the sociocultural contour of Lukes world as Luke conceived it. On the Jewish side, Bechard concentrates on the Table of Nations tradition in Gen 10 and various OT apocalyptic texts as the ideal configuration of the inhabited world from primordial times (Urzeit) to the climactic end of the age (Endzeit). This tradition persisted in Hellenistic-Jewish writings such as Jubilees, Josephuss Antiquities, and Luke-Acts. The Lukan adaptation is evident in (1) the sending of the seventy/seventy-two messengers in Luke 10, corresponding to the seventy/seventy-two nations of the world in Gen 10, as lambs into the midst of wolves (Luke 10:3- cf. 1 En. 89:14,18-20, 59, which depicts Israel as twelve sheep surrounded by alien peoples in the guise of seventy wolves)- (2) the catalogue of pilgrims from every nation under heaven in Acts 2:9-11, including representatives from each of the three main branches of Noahs family tree in Gen 10- and, most significantly, (3) the centripetal expansion of the early Christian mission from Israelites in Jerusalem to the descendants of Shem (the nation of Samaria, Acts 8:4-25), Ham (the Ethiopian eunuch, 8:26-39), and Japheth (the Greeks in Antioch, islanders in Cyprus, and settlers along the coastal and mountain regions of southeastern Anatolia in Acts 11-14, including the Lycaonians).