Monday, January 7, 2008

Acts, Introduction (1:1,2)

As with anything else, there are positive and negative things about Postmodernism. There are even things that are positive and negative at the same time. Take textual meaning. Modernism depended on authorial intent. To discover what a text means, discover what the writer intended it to mean. Postmodernism values reader interpretation. Texts can be taken however the reader wishes, there is no one meaning.
 
Perhaps an example would help. J.K. Rowling recently declared that Dumbledore (one of the main characters in her books) is gay inspite of the fact that she didn’t explicitly write him that way. The modernist allows this intent to shade the story and is either upset or pleased, depending on their desires for the story. The postmodernist ignores it as irrelevant.

(The NonModernist, incidentally, thinks that if Rowling had wanted Dumbledore to be gay, she should have made him so explicitly and let the chips fall where they may. To only declare it after her books had successfully run their course speaks to a fear of offending readers before the money had come in.)
 
There is a huge downside to this lack of real meaning, however. It is difficult for the Bible, the book about the meaning of life, to communicate to a culture that doesn’t believe in meaning anymore.

All that to introduce the book of Acts. Acts has a clearly spelled out authorial intent. It is written in the style of other historical books of the day, and it has been researched and experienced by the writer. A sequel, it ties the events of the Gospels to the situations of Paul’s letters, thus unifying two thirds of the New Testament books. It needs to be carefully read and its true meaning needs to be understood. Try not to add to the text. Read what has been carefully, precisely written.

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