Here, gathered for the first time, is a collection of Loveday Alexander's critically acclaimed essays on the "Acts of the Apostles". In this collection of essays, Alexander addresses the central question 'What kind of book is "Acts"?' She approaches the text of "Acts" with a finely-tuned sense of the complexities of the conventional codes that governed reading and writing in the classical world, and argues that the differences between New Testament texts and contemporary writings in the Graeco-Roman world can be as revealing as the similarities. The collection begins with Alexander's classic analysis of the literary codes governing the preface to Luke's two-volume work, in which she challenges the dominant consensus that the language and structure of the preface evoke the generic conventions of Greek historiography. That insight opens up the possibility of reading "Acts" alongside other ancient literary genres: the lives of the Greek philosophers, the Greek novels of Chariton and Xenophon of Ephesus, Roman itineraries, Greek and Jewish apologetic, and Latin epic.
The process, like the narrative of "Acts" itself, becomes a rich and evocative voyage of exploration, shedding light both on the varied social worlds of the author and his first readers, and on the complex communication problems underlying the creation of early Christian discourse.
Alexander is a gifted writer. Her prose is lively and lucid and sprinkled with good humor. Readers of this collection will reap many rewards.--Sanford Lakoff