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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WITNESSING TWO TWO ACTS APOSTLES
BY IN THE OF THE
Rome for two years, Luke places himself after those two years, and
presents himself as a contemporary of his actual readers, many of
whom certainly knew about Paul not only of his imprisonment but
of his martyrdom as well.
Nevertheless in Acts the spatial â€œUnsaidâ€ is much more rele-
vant than the temporal â€œUnsaidâ€.
2. The spatial â€œUnsaidâ€ in Acts
The Old Testament law of two witnesses is the formula that
guarantees the validity of the witnessing that Luke records in Acts.
This fact, however, does not exhaust the full significance in Acts
of the number â€œtwoâ€, i.e. of the fact that Luke narrates only two
twelfths of the apostolic testimony, only two sevenths of that of
their collaborators at Jerusalem and in Samaria, only two fifths of
that of the prophets and teachers of Syrian Antioch, and, again, on-
ly two sevenths of the testimony of Paulâ€™s companions listed in
Acts 20,4. In offering only a partial summary, and always less than
a full version, Luke seems to be acknowledging that it is im-
possible to narrate the expansion of the Gospel in every direction,
to 360 degrees, and that he was able to report only the trajectory of
the Gospel that extends from Jerusalem to Rome. Rome, however,
is not the â€œends of the earthâ€ spoken of in Acts 1,8, but rather one
among many destinations despite its utmost relevance 32. In other
words, Luke speaks by means of synecdoche, giving an idea of the
whole through a description of a part. It is this that demonstrates
the refined Lukan narrative style of the â€œUnsaidâ€.
No matter how one explains the fact that Luke refers in his
narrative to only two twelfths, two sevenths, two fifths and two
(WUNT 56; TÃ¼bingen 1991), who then ends his book writing: â€œEr [Luke] will
Augenzeuge sein fÃ¼r den, der mit seinen Augen zu sehen vermagâ€.
Cf. W.C. VAN UNNIK, â€œDer Ausdruck heos eschatou tes ges (Apostel-
geschichte 1,8) und sein alttestamentlicher Hintergrundâ€, Sparsa Collecta
(NTSup 29; Leiden 1973) 386-401, followed by TANNEHILL, The Narrative
Unity II, 17, who, at p. 18, adds: â€œActs 1,8 (...) envisions a goal that reaches
beyond the end of Acts. It is an outline of the mission, but only in part an out-
line of Actsâ€. Cf. also MARGUERAT, La premiÃ¨re histoire du christianisme, 75:
â€œ La place de cet Ã©noncÃ©, au seuil des Actes, lui confÃ¨re une valeur de
programme narratif, dÃ©bordant mÃªme Ac 28 (Rome nâ€™est pas encore lâ€™extrÃ©mitÃ©
de la terre)â€.