This title examines the role of the 'audience' in interpreting Luke's narrative in "Acts" with reference to ancient rhetorical, Jewish, Pagan and other early Christian writings. The audience, and its varying levels of participation, is a vital element for the communication of a story. The stories of Jesus Christ as told in the gospels, and of the early Church as found in "Acts", rely on the audience members and their participation as do all others. In fact, without audience participation, the narrative fails. Audience-oriented criticism, while named only recently, is an ancient phenomenon as old as story telling itself. Kathy Maxwell explores ancient rhetoricians' comments about 'the audience', as well as the kinds of audience participation they expected and the tools used to encourage such participation. Such tools were employed in ancient pagan, Jewish, and Christian literature - the concern being to engage the audience. Maxwell's conclusions impact not only the way biblical scholars view the rhetorical abilities of the Evangelists, but also the way in which modern readers 'hear' the biblical narrative.
The modern audience also bears the responsibility of hearing between the lines, of creating the story with the ancient author. Formerly "The Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement", a book series that explores the many aspects of New Testament study including historical perspectives, social-scientific and literary theory, and theological, cultural and contextual approaches. "The Early Christianity in Context" series, a part of JSNTS, examines the birth and development of early Christianity up to the end of the third century CE. The series places Christianity in its social, cultural, political and economic context. "European Seminar on Christian Origins" and "Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus Supplement" are also part of JSNTS.
Kathy Maxwell is Lecturer in Biblical Studies and Director of Academic Programs at the South Texas School of Christian Studies, Corpus Christi, Texas, USA.