Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Different Views of Conversion

Luke provides us with interesting insight on the different views of conversion in this pericope wherein Paul is interrogated by King Agrippa and the Roman Procurator Festus in Acts 26:24-29.

And as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, "Paul, you are mad; your great learning is turning you mad." But Paul said, "I am not mad, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking the sober truth. For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak freely; for I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe." And Agrippa said to Paul, "In a short time you think to make me a Christian!" And Paul said, "Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am--except for these chains."

Abraham Malherbe has indicated that the wit, irony and sarcasm in this passage depend very much on our understanding the differing communities’ definitions of conversion. In Judaism, conversion was characterized by long training such as that provided by Jesus to his disciples over the course of his ministry. Therefore, we should consider that Agrippa is criticizing Paul for thinking to make converts too quickly.

copyrighted 2005


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