The Death of a Tyrant Type-Scene in Acts 12:20-23: Negotiating Historical Parallels and Narrative Fulfillment in Luke-Acts Open Access

Thompson, Alexander Phillip (2014)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/4t64gn387?locale=en
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Abstract

ABSTRACT


This paper addresses the use of historical parallels in the interpretation of New Testament pericopes through the analysis of the death of tyrant type-scene's influence on the interpretation of Acts 12:20-23. Chapter 1 offers an analysis and critique of the use of the type-scene to interpret Acts 12 as it is defended in the work of O. Wesley Allen. This method mistakenly equates form and function, presumes the genre of Acts, and flattens the parallel texts to share a common view of history. Chapter 2 substantiates these critiques by reconsidering the examples of the type-scene in their unique literary settings. This analysis reveals that the multiple functions of the type-scene across genres can be categorized as moral exhortation, political critique, and comedic reversal. Chapter 3 uses these three lenses of interpretation (moral, political, and comedic) to interpret Acts 12:20-23 in its narrative context. All three functions are supported by both the literary context and the historical literary milieu. This suggests that the type-scene's use in Acts 12, rather than offering a single interpretation, generates a range of compelling interpretations that function simultaneously. This paper concludes with a few remarks about the implications this has for the use of parallels in the interpretation of the New Testament, especially the need to read parallel texts responsibly in their own unique narrative context.


Table of Contents

CONTENTS ABSTRACT.............................................................................................................. iv CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION.................................................................................. 1

Recent Research on Acts 12:20-23....................................................................... 3

Allen's Reading of Acts 12:20-23 as a Type-Scene................................................ 6

Three Criticisms of Allen's Work.............................................................................9

A Revised Methodology for Acts 12:20-23........................................................... 15

CHAPTER 2: The Death of the Tyrant in Ancient Literature.................................. 16

Introduction......................................................................................................... 16

The Death of Jehoram in 2 Chronicles 21:1-20.................................................... 17

The Death of Antiochus Epiphanes in 1 Maccabees 6:1-13................................ 19

The Death of Antiochus Epiphanes in 2 Maccabess 9:1-28................................ 22

The Death of Antiochus Epiphanes in Polybius's Universal History...................... 25

The Death of Pompeius and Antiochus Epiphanes

in Diodorus's Library of History .................................................................... 28 The Death of Alexander in Lucian's Alexander the False Prophet.......................... 31 Killing Tyrants in Greek Esther and Judith............................................................ 33 Josephus and the Defeat of Tyrants................................................................... 37

The Death of Aristobulus and Herod the Great in Jewish War .......................37

The Tradition of Dying Tyrants in Antiquities of the Jews...............................41

Conclusion: Charting the Range of the Type-Scene.............................................47

CHAPTER 3: The Death of the Tyrant in Acts 12:20-23........................................ 50

Multiple Functions of the Type Scene in Acts 12:20-23........................................ 50

Time and God's Role in History in Luke-Acts......................................................... 51

Acts 12:20-23 as Moral Exhortation......................................................................54

Acts 12:20-23 as Political Critique........................................................................ 57

Acts 12:20-23 as Comedic Reversal..................................................................... 63

Choosing the Best Reading of Acts 12:20-23........................................................73

CHAPTER 4: Conclusion.........................................................................................75

Appendix 1: Differentiating the Herodian Line in Luke-Acts.................................. 79

Appendix 2: Comparison and Contrast Between Herod in

Acts 12 and Jesus in Luke-Acts......................................................................... 80

Bibliography....................................................................................................... 82

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