Thursday, April 30, 2009

Blomberg: An Axiom on Applying Acts

From Craig Blomberg's helpful textbook, From Pentecost to Patmos: An Introduction to Acts through Revelation (p. 10):
Unlike the epistles, [Acts] gives few formal commands. Even though four Gospels, with their emphasis on Jesus' ethical instruction, have more explicitly didactic material than Acts. Most of its contents simply present various vignettes involving the characters Luke chooses to highlight. Subsequent readers frequently find themselves asking,
  • "What is normative?"
  • "What is a positive example to emulate or a negative one to avoid?" Or,
  • "Are certain events included for other reasons--perhaps just because they happened and remained important for explaining developments in the fledgling church?"
One fundamental hermeneutical axiom in answer these questions is to distinguish [1] consistent patterns of behavior from multiple contexts within the books (and within the rest of the New Testament more generally) and [2] patterns that vary from one context to the next.

Luke, as narrator, can also give indirect clues by noting God's blessing as the result of some activity--a further way of indicating its exemplary nature.