Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Miracles in Acts

The Acts of the Apostles, the companion volume to The Gospel of Luke, contains numerous miracle stories. Here is a sampling:
  • The disciples speak in foreign languages they did not know. (2:1-11)
  • Cloths touched by Paul provide healing when placed on suffers. (19:11-12)
  • When Peter's shadow falls on the sick and afflicted, they are healed. (5:12-16)
  • Paul is bitten by a viper but suffers no ill effects. (28:1-6)
  • An angel delivers Peter from prison. (12:6-11)
The legendary character of the Acts miracles seems obvious. And they appear less developed than the miracles of Jesus, almost like a brief news item.

Assignment to Self: Compare the miracle stories in Acts to those of Jesus in Luke's Gospel. How are they alike? How are they different? Are they a different genre altogether?

Whatever their nature and form, these stories are tremendously valuable for what they tell us about the beliefs and experiences of the early Christians. But they not factual! This does not means that we should discount or ignore them; they are the bedrock of our faith tradition. The stories tell us who we are (as do the Jesus miracle stories). They are to be treasured, studied, and reflected on. But let us not imagine them as historical.

No comments: