Wednesday, December 02, 2009

My version of Acts 6: Hebrews and Hellenists

Thought I'd post here too this comment I made in one of our online classes about Acts 6:
We all write little novels as we interpret these stories (it makes for good preaching). Shoving an experience into a string of words inevitably loses a lot of stuff, creates gaps that we all refill in when we retell the story in interpretation.

Here's my "little novel" of this incident in Acts 6. The Aramaic speaking Jews were the home team, the ones in power, ground zero. I'm not sure anyone meant to forget about the fact that there were Greek-speaking Jews who believed Jesus was the Messiah too. But it was easy to think less of them. They didn't speak the home language. They came from somewhere else. "Did we run out of bread again before we go to you all? Rats."

Peter sounds a little irritated when someone else points out they are being missed out. "I have more important things to do than wait on tables. Let's find someone to take care of this." But the names of the committee hardly reads like a by-partisan committee of deacons (a word that is not actually used of these guys--what we actually find them all doing is preaching). The names are all Diaspora, Hellenistic. So what they did was appoint some of them, them others, to take care of themselves.

But God uses it. Stephen stirs up a real ruckus and ends up getting stoned, and the Hellenists are scattered. It is, I would argue, the Hellenists who take the gospel to Judea and Samaria (the apostles do not actually seem the target of the persecution--when Peter is, he leaves town).

1 comment:

billy v said...

To me, it also explains why Paul could persecute the church (the Hellenistic Jewish Christians) in light of Gamaliel's advice to leave them alone (the Hebrew Christians).