Fortress Press

The Divine in Acts and in Ancient Historiography

The Divine in Acts and in Ancient Historiography

Scott Shauf (Author)


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Scott Shauf compares the portrayal of the divine in Acts with portrayals of the divine in other ancient historiographical writings, the latter including Jewish and wider Greco-Roman historiographical traditions. The divine may be represented as a single deity (in Judaism) or many (in Greek and Roman traditions) and also includes representations of angels, God’s spirit, Jesus as a divine figure, or forces with divine status such as fate, chance, and providence. Shauf’s particular interest is in how the divine is represented as involved in history, through themes including the nature of divine retribution, the partiality or impartiality of the divine toward different sets of people, and the portrayal of divine control over seemingly purely natural and human events. Acts is shown to be engaging historiographical traditions of the author’s own day but also contributing unique historiographical perspectives. The way history is written in Acts and in the other writings is shown to be intimately tied to the understanding of the role of the divine in history.
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781451484779
  • eBook ISBN 9781451494334
  • Pages 224
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Publication Date March 1, 2015


"How 'the divine’—whether understood as a single deity, multiple deities, transcendent spirit, or some impersonal providential force—functions within Greek and Roman, along with Biblical and Jewish, historiography is a question of long-standing scholarly interest, especially for the interpretation of the Acts of the Apostles. In this comprehensive, methodical, nuanced investigation, Scott Shauf compiles the relevant texts, examines them critically, and synthesizes his findings in masterly fashion. It will be a 'must-read' for students of Luke–Acts, for scholars who deal with ancient historiography in its multiple forms, and for all who struggle to understand the relationship between history and theology."
Carl R. Holladay
Emory University, Candler School of Theology

“Students, pastors, and scholars will benefit greatly from Scott Shauf’s fine study of divine involvement in history in Acts, in the context of ancient historiography. This book is both well-researched and engaging. Dr. Shauf’s comparisons of Acts with other Greco-Roman and Jewish historians highlight a wide range of fascinating similarities and differences in thinking about divine involvement in history. He can thus paint a nuanced and well-drawn portrait of divine involvement in history in Acts in the context of these ancient sources. Dr. Shauf highlights key themes and provides excellent discussions of significant passages, both in Acts and in his whole array of texts, showing a fine grasp of primary sources. To read him is to be engaged and educated—bravo!”
Steve Walton
St. Mary’s University,

“This work is an impressive overview of Greco-Roman, biblical, and Jewish literature about the representation of the divine. Scott Shauf successfully shows both the immersion of Lukan representation of the divine in ancient (especially Jewish) historiography and the uniqueness of his perception. Human and divine interaction appears here as a singular phenomenon. This well-documented study is illuminating for Lukan research.”
Daniel Marguerat
University of Lausanne, Switzerland