How Ancient Narrative Persuades: An Analysis of Acts and Four Comparable Texts

Clouston, Eric N (2017) How Ancient Narrative Persuades: An Analysis of Acts and Four Comparable Texts. PhD thesis, University of Surrey.

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Abstract

The Acts of the Apostles can fruitfully be studied as persuasive narrative. This thesis develops and uses a new method to investigate what we can learn from the way Acts has been constructed about the persuasive influence the text would have exerted on its early audiences. Acts is a narrative and purposes suggested for it often involve persuasion. The proposed method for addressing the persuasiveness of narrative is a development of both narrative criticism, which has traditionally neglected persuasion, and rhetorical criticism, which is based on persuasive techniques in speeches, whereas rather different techniques are employed in narrative. The method employs a taxonomy of techniques of persuasion relevant to narrative. Speeches, events and asides each contribute. A character’s influence depends on trust – whether they are accredited or discredited. Respect and empathy have different persuasive effects. Before considering Acts, the method is demonstrated by applying it to: Philo’s Embassy to Gaius, which is more overtly polemical than Acts; Josephus’s Jewish War, addressing a more hostile audience than Acts; the Letter of Aristeas, which is more of an encomium than Acts; and Joseph and Aseneth, with a more overt ‘journey of discovery’ than Acts. In Acts, accrediting and discrediting are provided in many ways, most forcefully through the Holy Spirit. Ananias and Sapphira provide a cautionary tale. The hearer accompanies Peter on his ‘journey of discovery’ about Gentiles. The approach of persuading by gentle steps suggests that some among the implied audience were unconvinced about mission to Gentiles and about Paul. Overall, the persuasiveness of Acts is not unsuitable for presentation to interested outsiders alongside believers. Persuasiveness is evident, especially in favour of the Jesus movement, Gentile mission and Paul. This research proposes a method and, by using it, shows how Acts can, itself, be considered an act of persuasion.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: 200 Religion > 220 Bible
200 Religion > 230 Christianity & Christian theology
School/Department: School of Education, Theology and Leadership
Depositing User: Kevin Sanders
Date Deposited: 02 Jun 2017 14:06
Last Modified: 02 Jun 2017 14:06
URI: http://research.stmarys.ac.uk/id/eprint/1517

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