Genre of Acts and collected biography
Adams, Sean A.
This thesis argues that the best genre parallel for the Acts of the Apostles is collected biography. This conclusion is reached through an application of ancient and modern genre theory and a detailed comparison of Acts and collected biographies. Chapter 1 offers prolegomena to this study and further delineates the contours of the thesis. Chapter 2 provides an extensive history of research, not only to provide the context and rationale for the present work, but also to indicate some of the shortcomings of previous investigations and the need for this present study. Chapter 3 presents the methodological perspective for this exploration. Making use of ancient and modern genre theory, I propose that scholars need to understand genre as a dynamic and flexible system that is culturally influenced and highly adaptable. In Chapter 4 I trace the diachronic development of ancient biographies, describe different sub-divisions, and note the strong, enduring relationship between biography and history. In evaluating the development of biography as a whole, there appears to be a distinct preference by ancient biographers for collected biographies. Chapters 5 to 7 interpret Acts in light of its possible relationship with collected biographies. Chapter 5 provides a detailed comparison of the structural and content features of history, novels, collected biographies, and Acts. Overall, this chapter argues that the structural and content features of Acts are most strongly related to the genre of biography and, secondarily, to history. Chapters six and seven evaluate Acts as a modified collected biography, identifying notable similarities in content features, structure, and endings. Chapter 8 summarizes and concludes the thesis, along with a brief mention of avenues for future research. Related literary investigations, such as a list of literary topoi references in biographies, biographies referenced by Diogenes Laertius, and a full discussion of biography’s adaptability in the first century (modelled by Plutarch and Philo), are treated in appendices.