Giancarlo Biguzzi, «Witnessing Two by Two in the Acts of the Apostles.», Vol. 92 (2011) 1-20
The program of Act 1,8 is carried through by the Twelve only in Jerusalem, Samaria and the Mediterranean coast, — but not «till the end of the earth». Their witness, however, is prolonged by the Seven of Jerusalem, the Five of Syrian Antioch, and the Seven companions of Paul of Act 20,4. Surprisingly, for everyone of the four groups of witnesses, the author narrates then the witnessing of only two of them. The narrative lacuna, apparently intentional since it recurs four times, allows Luke to involve the reader in reconstructing the spread of the gospel in all the directions for the remaining ten twelfths.
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12 GIANCARLO BIGUZZI
dental that Jerusalem and Rome are the two geographical poles of
the journey of the Gospel narrated in Acts.
5. The significance of the number two in the work of witnessing
Pairs of characters in every possible combination are numerous
both in the Lukan Gospel and in Acts. This phenomenon was first
noticed by H.J. Cadbury 20, and since then commentators have of-
fered various interpretations. According to C.H. Talbert and
A.C. Clark, Luke arranged his protagonists in pairs reflecting the
aesthetical sensibility of his period. In the literature of the Greek-
Roman world the technique of synkrisis, or comparison, is frequent
and is a genre used for instance by Plutarch in his Parallel Lives 21.
The encomia made use of synkrisis, praising the virtues of a cele-
brated personage by comparing or contrasting him with another
famous person, still living or from the past. R.C. Tannehill and
D. Marguerat, authors sensitive to the unity of literary works,
argue instead for a redactional-narrative explanation. Luke links
together the episodes, both within Acts and between the two
volumes of his double work, in many ways. For example, he brings
on to the scene the same character a second or third time, or pro-
tagonists who echo each other because of their similarity, such as
the two centurions of the Gospel (Luke 7,2.6; 23,47) and the two
H.J. CADBURY, The Making of Luke-Acts (London 1958) 233-235. Cf.
also A.C. CLARK, â€œThe Role of the Apostlesâ€, Witness to the Gospel. The
Theology of Acts (eds. H. MARSHALL â€“ D. PETERSON) (Cambridge â€“ Grand
Rapids, MI 1998) 185: â€œLuke has a fondness for pairsâ€. Cf. A.A. TRITES, The
New Testament Concept of Witness, (SNTS. MS; Cambridge 1997) 134, who
writes : â€œFrequently in Acts the witnesses and preachers of the Christian faith
are referred to in pairsâ€, and then lists the case of Peter and John, Barnabas and
Paul, Paul and Barnabas, Judas and Silas, Barnabas and Mark, Paul and Silas,
Silas and Timothy.
CLARK, â€œThe Role of the Apostlesâ€, 185: â€œThis concern for balance
extends to parallels between characters. The aesthetic and literary context is im-
portant in this connection. Above all, it is helpful to relate this phenomenon to
the ubiquity of a particular rhetorical technique in the ancient world, synkrisis
(comparison). Instruction in this technique form part of the progymnasmata, the
preliminary exercises in rhetorical education. The technique was widely used in
encomia and other forms of biography, though it was not confined to this
genre â€. Clark adds finally: â€œThe most famous use of this technique is, of
course, in Plutarchâ€™s Parallel livesâ€.