The Spirit and the 'other': social identity, ethnicity and intergroup reconciliation in Luke-Acts
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This dissertation investigates the relationship between the Holy Spirit, ethnic identity and the ‘other’ in Luke-Acts. I argue that the Spirit is the central figure in the formation of a new social identity that affirms, yet chastens and transcends ethnic identity. The investigation is informed methodologically by social identity theory (discussed in chapter 2), a branch of social psychology that examines the effects of group membership upon human identity and intergroup relations. Chapters 3 and 4 investigate the relationship between privileged social identity, the influence of the Spirit and the allocation of group resources to the ‘other’ in Luke 1-4. I conclude that there is an identifiable relationship between the presence of the Spirit and the extension of in-group benefits to the ‘other’. Chapters 5 through 8 enquire into the role of the Spirit in Acts 1-15. In chapters 5 and 6 I identify the Pentecost narrative as the initial clue to the place of ethnic identity within the Jesus movement and the role of the early community in the formation of an allocentrically oriented social identity. In chapters 7 and 8 attention is directed to the role of the Spirit in both the orchestration of intergroup contact and the identification of those rightly related to God. Luke’s use of ‘ethnic language’ alerts us to the precision with which he approaches this topic. I conclude that Luke is convinced of an inseparable relationship between the Spirit and human identity that robustly affirms ethnicity nested within one’s identity as a member of the Jesus group. The existence of this Spirit-formed identity allows for profound expressions of interethnic reconciliation in Luke-Acts. This conclusion grants a broader role to the Spirit in Luke-Acts than the current scholarly consensus which suggests that Luke views the Spirit as the Old Testament/Second Temple ‘Spirit of prophecy’.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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