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Narrating the Conversion of Corinth. Luke’s Approach to Community Conversions

In the days of the Apostle Paul, Corinth was a crossroad of migrating and traveling streams from East and West. Therefore, Paul had to pass by this converging point and leave his message. The narrative in Acts 18:1-18 is both vibrant and enigmatical at once. Luke not only describes Paul’s strategies for missioning but also depicts the complicated situation of funding a church with both Jewish and Gentile backgrounds. Throughout the story development, several opposite binomials take form, such as openness vs. traditionalism, transformation vs. establishment and wandering vs. settled life.

This paper offers a narrative analysis of the Lucan text in order to define its plot, the character rolls, the actant scheme as well as the evolution of time and the settings. Through this analysis, which belongs to the family of reader-response criticism, the process of religious conversion in the city of Corinth can be followed and monitored with the intention of moving into the interpretation of its components and to compare it with similar scenes in the Book of Acts.

A tent-maker agitates a city to the point that it was necessary to resort to the proconsul of the Roman province of Achaia to put an end to the conflict. And this is how Luke presents an “edifying story” – a Biblical mashal – about how the oppressing power is expected to behave with this expanding movement in the empire. New words, words of hope and change, are being heard by Corinth’s inhabitants and something must be done. In eighteen verses Luke commemorates unprecedented deeds that caused a historical and still active change.

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