Original Research

Salvation in Acts 16:16-40: A socio-historical exploration of the Graeco-Roman understanding

Jacob T. Igba, Risimati S. Hobyane, Henk G. Stoker
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 75, No 3 | a5161 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v75i3.5161 | © 2019 Jacob T. Igba | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 June 2018 | Published: 24 October 2019

About the author(s)

Jacob T. Igba, Reformational Theology and the Development of the SA Society, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Risimati S. Hobyane, Reformational Theology and the Development of the SA Society, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Henk G. Stoker, Reformational Theology and the Development of the SA Society, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


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Abstract

This article demonstrates the value of understanding the socio-historical background of a specific text in the task of interpretation and the search for meaning. This is done here by utilising the socio-historical method in the search for meaning and understanding of the concept of salvation in the narrative about the slave girl in Acts 16. Substantial integration of the understanding of words and concepts at the time of writing the text and the cultural and social background is relevant and leads to an in-depth understanding of the Biblical text and is therefore essential for thorough New Testament studies. Through the socio-historical method, the article explores the Graeco-Roman understanding of salvation as a necessary precursor to arrive at the meaning of salvation in Acts 16. Theos upsistos [Most High God] and the Lukan usage of πνεῦμα Πύθωνα [python spirit] are explored in the light of their Graeco-Roman allusion in relation to the girl who was a slave in the narrative of Acts 16. The article argues that Luke’s point in the narrative is to expose, engage, challenge and counter the long-held assumptions about what is the meaning of salvation and how to obtain it. The article contributes an exemplification of the use of the socio-historical method towards the broader and in-depth understanding and credible meaning-making of the Acts 16 text. The article challenges assumptions about the point of the text in the narrative of Acts 16 and opens up possibilities for further interpretation that could be found meaningful to modern-day interpreters of the text.

Keywords

Acts 16; Salvation; Socio-historical; Graeco-Roman; Theos upsistos; Python spirit

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