Friday, August 1, 2014

Reading Luke's silences about Jewish-Christian law observance

Rover as "sober second thought"
In a previous post I suggested that our unexamined assumptions about the meaning of "salvation" make it more difficult for us to grasp what Luke says about the law. Here I want to consider another reason why the topic of the law in Luke-Acts is so complicated: Every attempt to comprehend what Luke says about the law must account for what he does not say as well as what he does say, and Luke's silences can be read in several different ways.

As I have tried to push for consistency, for an interpretation of Acts that makes sense of all the data, I have found myself offering readings of individual passages that, on sober second thought, seem unsustainable. After multiple attempts to walk away with a solution to the problem of Luke and the law, it dawned on me that  allowing two readings of Luke's silences to sit side-by-side without deciding finally between them is better than a tour de force that forces all the evidence to fit instead of admitting honestly where the difficulties are.

This does not mean that Luke is inconsistent, only that the sense he makes--or the sense that at this point I can make of him--lies somewhere else.

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