Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Testimonies

Was reading ACTS and got to thinking about the testimonies included there.

Okay, so the entire book of John says the book is a testimony written for us.
And the other gospels presumably are testimonies, although Luke's is a second-hand collection of testimonies.
The Book of the ACTS is half second-hand and then when Luke starts using the word "we" in the middle of the narrative, then it becomes a testimony.

But reading ACTS I got drawn to two testimonies: the one given by St Paul and the one given by St Peter. Paul's testimony is the Road to Damascus testimony. He repeats this at least two other times. Acts 9:2 Acts 22:6 Acts 26:12 (He mentions it casually somewhere else in one of the epistles but doesn't go into the story.)
Peter's testimony is the Conversion of the Centurion. He repeats that twice. Acts 10:1 Acts 11:7 (This particular testimony isn't about Peter's salvation but it's about his testimony that the Holy Spirit wants Gentiles saved. So it's an important testimony in the life of the Church.)

Okay, I'm a writer. I am totally into editing. So a part of me goes, "Why, oh why, does Luke have to include these testimonies in their entirety twice?" Paul changes them just a teeny bit but pretty much we're reading the same thing over and over again. And the Holy Spirit is supposed to be a good writer. So why doesn't he just edit the thing down and say, "He have his testimony again."

Maybe he wants us to see it again. I mean, Luke was writing the book of Acts probably to convince the church that Jesus wanted them to go to the gentiles. After all, the apostles were quite happy to stay in Jerusalem and not convert anyone else. If they hadn't been persecuted, and if Paul hadn't been rejected by the Jews, the whole bunch of apostles --with the exception of Phillip-- who had a real love of gentiles and samaritans-- had no real inclination to save anyone who wasn't Jewish.

I totally believe there is power in a testimony. It's pretty accepted in the healing movement that those who are miraculously healed who don't continue speaking testifying about their healing often lose their healing. In addition people afflicted with an illness often get healed when they hear other folks giving testimonies. It kinda builds their faith.

There are some subtle changes of course. Partly where Paul adds the "It is hard for you to kick against the pricks" in a later rendition of his testimony where it is only implied earlier. Also in a later testimony he says something about God saying, "I will show you all the great things you will suffer for me and you will preach to the gentiles" and that wasn't quite in the original. Gotta think.
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