The Motif of Amazement in Luke-Acts
The characters in Luke-Acts respond with amazement to a variety of stimuli. The traditional form-critical interpretation is that their response of amazement is a response of numinous awe or wonder, containing elements of both surprise and fear. This dissertation begins by arguing that the Lucan response of amazement may often be part of a numinous experience, but the Lucan response of amazement in itself does not inherently imply a numinous sense of wonder or fear. When amazement is viewed as a literary motif that is distinct from the motif of wonder, the Lucan response of amazement more clearly emphasizes surprise.
This Lucan motif of amazement then functions on two levels. First, amazement serves the immediate narrative concerns of the text whether it occurs in a miracle story, theophany, or other well-defined narrative form. Second, amazement serves a particularly Lucan purpose in validating how God's plan for salvation unfolds. The constant staccato of surprise in Luke-Acts emphasizes that the twists and turns in the unfolding of God's plan of salvation, no matter how surprising they may be, are still legitimately directed by God. From the circumstances of Jesus' birth to the validation of the Gentile mission, God's plan of salvation continually surprises God's people. Paul's citation of Habakkuk 1:5 in Acts 13:41 during his inaugural sermon aptly summarizes the function of Lucan amazement: do not let surprise at the work of God become a hindrance in accepting what God is doing.
PHD in Theology
Bible, Luke, Acts, Criticism, interpretation, Surprise
Missions and World Christianity
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