Understanding the Messiah: the rhetoric of perception in Luke-Acts
Mann, Joshua Lee
MetadataShow full item record
This thesis argues that the rhetoric of perception opens and closes the Gospel of Luke and its sequel, the Acts of the Apostles, and occurs throughout both narratives as a central plot device. The epistemological theme created by this involves how characters understand the major events of the narrative, especially what seems to be a central element: Jesus’ identity as the Messiah and the scriptural necessity of his suffering and resurrection. The suspense created by the rhetoric of perception allows the author to both communicate key tenets of his theology, as well as offer the audience a model for accomplishing the purpose of his writing, to ‘recognise the certainty’ of his story (Luke 1:1–4). In the Gospel of Luke, suspense is created by the juxtaposition of divine revelation to the disciples and the divine concealment that produces their misunderstanding. This conflict reaches its resolution in the Gospel’s final scenes, in which Jesus opens the mind of the disciples to understand the Scriptures, enabling them to understand what was earlier concealed, the scriptural necessity of the Messiah’s death and resurrection. In Acts, the conflict of misunderstanding is no longer primarily internal to the disciples but external: It is a characteristic of those who do not believe, those to whom the disciples-turned-apostles preach, and it must be overcome through the repentance and belief of the hearers. The resolution provided by the conclusion of Acts is much more negative than that of the Gospel: In the Empire’s capital city, far from that place of illumination where the disciples earlier came to understanding, the proclamation of the gospel is essentially rejected by a Jewish audience to whom is applied the description of Isaiah 6:9–10, rich in its epistemological metaphor.