Do I Dare? Dissertation Topic

I’ve been procrastinating on this post for a while; afraid to make that first academic post that is entirely my own – not a brief comment on someone else’s. The main fear is looking stupid. Duh. The second fear is a little bizarre. It’s that my topic is so basic (though I haven’t seen it treated), and I write so slowly that someone will take it and run with it. An uber writer like Michael Bird could write it in his sleep during the next two weeks (if he’s not too busy being Bishop of Niagara.) No one would do that to me, right? Everyone is too busy, right? No one will actually read this, right? Right.

I have two other related fears: 1.) NT Wright has already said as much in his new commentary on Acts, which I haven’t seen. (He’ll need some footnotes and nuance in any case. I’ll be happy to provide that ;-). 2.) Jervell has already said all this in his commentary, which I won’t be able to read for at least a few more months until I self-teach enough German to bumble through it.

 There. It feels good to get that off my chest.

I’m convinced that Luke-Acts is written to a Hellenistic Judean audience. Or is that too obvious? Luke (whoever he may be, maybe a priest like Josephus) spends an awful lot of papyrus making the case that the restoration of Israel is taking place. Other scholars (see next post) have largely made this point before. The problem is this. I haven’t seen anyone carry this argument through the end of Acts. So I am asking two questions.

  1. What happens to Luke’s restoration eschatology in the second half of Acts?
  2. How do the emphases on opposition from certain Judeans (especially from Jerusalem and Asia) and Paul’s trial fit into this restoration framework?


I want to argue that Luke’s restoration eschatology carries through the second half of Acts and culminates with Paul’s trial defense in a special appeal to Hellenistic Judeans.

I’m in the middle of finalizing my topic now. So any comments, criticisms or declarations of heresy are begged for now, before I send myself to my own doom.


2 thoughts on “Do I Dare? Dissertation Topic

  1. Mike Bird says:

    1. As long as you only blog on general stuff about your thesis, you need not fear people stealing it. Although I would suggest blogging more about your thesis towards the end when your thought has matured and it is time to nail your colours to the mast.

    2. I have Wright’s Acts commentary (2 vols.) in my bag right now and read part of it on the train ride from Inverness to Aberdeen this morning. They are lay-level stuff, lots of personal illustrations, descriptiosn more than exegesis, he mentions restoration quite alot, but never really unpacks it much.

    3. One guy you should take notice of is Jacob Jervell whom (from memory) has written alot about restoration in Luke-Acts, one article in particular comes to mnid although I cannot remember the title. If you email me tomorrow when I’m back in Dingwall, I could send the name of it to you.

  2. benbyerly says:

    Thanks Mike,

    I really appreciate the advice.

    1. Sounds like sage advice.
    2. Is what I figured about Wrights commentary.
    3. Is why I said I need to get my German up to speed. In his 1972 collection of essays Luke and the People of God, Jervell touches on this theme a couple of times. I found one article in particular “Paul: The Teacher of Israel: The Apologetic Speeches of Paul in Acts” to the point. (I think the German original is from 1968.) Jervell’s Theology of the Acts of the Apostles (New Testament Theology; Cambridge 1996) certainly makes many related points.

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