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Literary Patterns, Theological Themes and the Genre of Luke-Acts
Charles H. Talbert
This study seeks to make sense out of the presence of certain literary patterns uncovered both by past research and by Talbert’s own work on Luke-Acts. The method is that of architecture analysis as it is employed in classical scholarship. The argument of the chapters that follow correspond to the three major emphases of the method to be employed. The next three chapters (2–4) delineate certain key formal patterns of Luke-Acts. Throughout this section an attempt is made to show that the architectural patterns are located in the redaction work of the author. The next chapter (5) focuses on the relation of the architectural designs of Luke-Acts to the larger cultural context. Parallels to the Lukan patterns are sought in the literature and art of the Near East, classical culture, and early Christianity. This quest ultimately leads to the “principle of balance” that is so deep-seated in much of Mediterranean culture. The final three chapters (6–8) explore the functions of the formal patterns in Luke-Acts. A primary task is to determine, insofar as is possible, their relationship to the theological perspectives of the Lukan writings. This is done in chapters 6 and 7 with the aid of redaction criticism. Ultimately the question must be faced: Why would Luke organize his two-volume work around a balanced architectonic scheme? An answer to this question is provided in chapter 8 with the aid of genre criticism.
“Talbert has performed a needed service by inducing us to visualize what a writer like Luke had to have done when he sat down to write a highly stylized narrative composed out of a variety of sources and having both literary and intellectual (“theological”) objectives.”
—Norman R. Petersen,
Journal of Biblical Literature
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