Vernon K. Robbins

Sociorhetorical Interpretation

Emory Studies in Early Christianity

Rhetoric of Religious Antiquity


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Emory Department of Religion

Emory Graduate Division of Religion

Todd Penner
In Praise of Christian Origins: Stephen and the Hellenists in Lukan Apologetic Historiography

Penner's In Praise of Christian Origins draws on an extraordinarily wide range of reading in New Testament studies, classical rhetoric, ancient historiography, and Jewish-Hellenistic literature. Penner's grasp of all these fields is admirable and matched by few. Penner brings this rich array of scholarship to bear on a novel interpretation of Acts' narrative on the 'Hellenists" and Stephen. Setting this narrative in the context of a historiography guided by the aims of epideictic rhetoric, he has shifted focus away from traditional questions of historicity or theology to the construct of Christian self-identity. The book is controversial, provocative, and stimulating in the best sense. — Erich Gruen, Gladys Rehard Wood Professor of History and Classics, University of California, Berkeley

Steeped in the writings of ancient Greek, Roman, Hellenistic, and Jewish historians, Penner employs his impressive skills of interpretation to produce a ground-breaking study of Stephen and the Hellenists in Acts. He shows that Luke, like other ancient historians, was less interested in historicity than in writing a persuasive narrative. Penner's study will almost certainly encourage his peers to consider new approaches to the study of the Acts of the Apostles. — Joseph B. Tyson, Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas

Emory Studies in Early Christianity 10 available at, AddALL.

Cover design is an adaptation of Rick A. Robbins, Mixed Media 1981

Rick A. Robbins: Neo-Abstract Expressionism, Figurative Abstract and Color Field Artist

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