Spec(tac)ular Sights



My article “Spec(tac)ular Sights: Mirroring in/of Acts” was recently published in Engaging Early Christian History: Reading Acts in the Second Century (Acumen Publishing, 2013).



Among the synoptic writers, Luke exhibits the most sustained interest in developing his gospel through the language of optics: not only does Jesus’ mission center on bringing sight to the blind, but his very presence invites observation, forcing others to respond to him through their visual examinations. Does this literary feature extend into Luke’s companion volume? This essay explores this issue by reading Acts alongside a wider collection of traditions that highlight the power of vision and employ the mirror in discussions of exemplarity and self-improvement.  In this text, Luke returns once more to optics in order to explore the theological and social dimensions of the early Christian movement.  Specifically, he constructs Jesus’ disciples as witnesses to divine power, agents of God whose keen eyesight reveals their authority, and imitators of Christ whose capacity to see the resurrected Jesus shapes and validates their character.  These observations lead to an investigation of the reception of Acts in an effort to show how second-century audiences might have appreciated its stories as ‘mirrors’ through which to forge their own sense of identity.