SBL next Sunday morning I am scheduled to present a paper in the Book of Acts section on "Maccabean Characterization and Reverse Polemic in Acts." The rather long abstract I submitted in February can be read here, for anyone so inclined.
What follows is a slightly modified thesis paragraph from my current draft:
I will argue that Luke knows his story might appear to entail a rejection of Jewishness, like that of the Maccabean era, and he attempts to avert this misreading through a series of allusions to 1-2 Maccabees. First, he allows opponents of the Gentile mission to draw parallels between Jewish Christ-believers and the Jewish renegades of 1-2 Maccabees in order to set up Paul’s climactic rejection of this position in the latter chapters of Acts. Second, Luke reverses the Maccabean “script,” claiming that it is not Jewish Christ-believers but their Jewish critics who play the part of Antiochus and the renegades. This polemical contrast supports Luke’s argument that the Messianic claims of Jesus and the Gentile mission do not undermine the law or threaten the Jewish identity of Jesus’ Jewish followers. The contrast also indicates that the church in Luke’s own day had not moved as far toward a wholly non-observant Gentile Christianity as many suppose.If you happen to be in San Antonio at 9:00 a.m. on November 20th and can think of nothing better to do, why don't you find your way to session S20-113 in Convention Center 304B.