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Negotiating a New World View in Acts 1.8? A Note on the Expression ἕως ἐσχάτου τῆς γῆς*

  • Peter-Ben Smit (a1)
Abstract

This article argues that the expression ‘to the end of the earth’ in Acts 1.8, while not referring to one specific geographical location, as has often been argued in contemporary scholarship on Acts, is best understood as a way of (re)ordering the world geographically and, therefore, ideologically. Drawing on Greco-Roman geographical and literary conventions, the article suggests that the author of Acts invites the work's readers to look at the world in a new way, with Jerusalem and the gospel emanating from it as its centre – and the rest, including Rome, as its ideological (and therefore geographical) periphery. In this way, Acts proceeds to renegotiate the ‘world-view’ of its readers in an intercultural and subversive way.

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With thanks to Martine van der Herberg, BA, of the Protestant Theological University (Amsterdam) for a critical review of the paper and helpful suggestions, and to Dr Iveta Adams for copy-editing the text.

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1 E.g. the (as of yet unpublished) paper presented by Gosnell Yorke to the SNTS seminar on ‘The Mission and Expansion of Earliest Christianity’, which met in Szeged, Hungary (2014): ‘From Jerusalem to the Ends of the Earth: An Afro-missiological Take on Acts 1:8’.

2 Johnson L. T., The Acts of the Apostles (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2006) 27.

3 See Umurhan O. and Penner T., ‘Luke and Juvenal at the Crossroads: Space, Movement, and Morality in the Roman Empire’, Christian Origins and Greco-Roman Culture (ed. Porter S. E. and Pitts A.; Leiden: Brill, 2013) 165–93, 186.

4 See Yorke, ‘Jerusalem’. For a (published) theoretical underpinning of his Afrocentric approach, see Yorke G., ‘Biblical Hermeneutics: An Afro-Centric Perspective’, Religion and Theology 2 (1995) 145–58.

5 See van Unnik W. C., ‘Der Ausdruck ἕως ἐσχάτου τῆς γῆς (Apostelgeschichte 1:8) und sein alttestamentlicher Hintergrund’, Studia biblica et semitica: Theodoro Christiano Vriezen qui munere professoris theologiae per xxv annos functus est (Wageningen: Veenman, 1966) 335–49, which was republished in van Unnik W. C., Sparsa collecta, vol. i (Leiden: Brill, 1973) 386401 . Van Unnik receives the support of e.g. Omerzu H., ‘Das Schweigen des Lukas: Überlegungen zum offenen Ende der Apostelgeschichte’, Das Ende des Paulus: historische, theologische und literaturgeschichtliche Aspekte (ed. Horn F. W.; Berlin: de Gruyter, 2001) 127–56, at 132, who herself is content with establishing that the expression is generic in nature and probably Isaianic in background (Isa 8.9; 48.20; 49.6; 62.11; see further for the exact same expression 1 Macc 3.9 and Pss. Sol. 1.4). For a broader consideration of the Isaianic background, see the survey offered by Moore T. S., ‘“To the End of the Earth”: The Geographical and Ethnic Universalism of Acts 1:8 in the Light of Isaianic Influence on Luke’, JETS 40 (1997) 389–99.

6 As is rightly stressed by Johnson, Acts, 27, who goes on to list the following instances of the expression, referring to a number of different locations around the globe: Herodotus, Persian Wars 3.25, uses it to refer to Cambyses’ war against the Ethiopians; Strabo, Geography 1.1.6 also refers to Ethiopia as the end of the earth, while Dio Chrysostom, Oration 13.9 uses the term to mean ‘everywhere’, and the Septuagint employs the expression in a very general sense as well (see e.g. Deut 28.49; Ps 134.6–7; Isa 8.9; 14.21–2; 48.20; 49.6; 62.11; Jer 10.12; 16.19; 1 Macc 3.9).

7 If Acts is dated (very) late, as proposed by R. E. Pervo, Dating Acts (Santa Rosa: Polebridge, 2006), then the persistent use of the term ‘Jerusalem’ in the narrative of Acts also seeks to keep alive a memory of a city that was, in the mid-second century, buried under both a new name and a new settlement, that of Aelia Capitolina, established after the Bar Kokhba revolt.

8 See already Alexander L., ‘“In Journeyings often”: Voyaging in the Acts of the Apostles and in Greek Romanceidem, Acts in its Ancient Literary Context (London: T&T Clark, 2007) 6996, at 73, noting that Acts 1.8 implies ‘a divine bird's-eye view of the world’.

9 See e.g. the contributions in Paschalis M. and Frangoulidis S. A., eds., Space in the Ancient Novel (Groningen: Barkhuis, 2002); de Jong I. J. F., ed., Space in Ancient Greek Literature: Studies in Ancient Greek Narrative (Leiden: Brill, 2012).

10 See e.g. Pesch R., Die Apostelgeschichte, vol. i (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1986) 70, referring to Rome as the new centre of Christianity; Keener C. S., Acts: An Exegetical Commentary, vol. i (Grand Rapids: Baker: 2012) 439; Nasrallah L. S., Christian Responses to Roman Art and Architecture: The Second-Century Church amid the Spaces of Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010) 107–8; see also Moore, ‘“End”’, 391.

11 See e.g. Scott J. M., ‘Luke's Geographical Horizon’, The Book of Acts in its Graeco-Roman Setting (ed. Gill D. W. J. and Gempf C.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994) 483544 .

12 A link rightly stressed throughout by Moore, ‘“End”’.

13 See, in general, e.g. the overview provided by Warf B. and Arias S., ed., The Spatial Turn: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (London: Routledge, 2008). See also Gregory D., Geographical Imaginations (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1994).

14 See e.g. Buchholz S. and Jahn M., ‘Space’, Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory (ed. Herman D., Jahn M. and Ryan M.-L.; New York: Routledge, 2005) 551–5; see also the literature referred to there.

15 See, with a focus on literature, e.g. Paschalis and Frangoulidis, Space; De Jong, Space.

16 See, for such maps, their production and role, e.g. Talbert R. J. A., ed., Ancient Perspectives: Maps and their Place in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and Rome (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012); and Talbert R. J. A. and Unger R. W., eds., Cartography in Antiquity and the Middle Ages: Fresh Perspectives, New Methods (Leiden: Brill, 2008). See also the detailed study of Clarke K., Between Geography and History: Hellenistic Constructions of the Roman World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999). A number of maps is reproduced in Harwood J., To the Ends of the Earth: 100 Maps that Changed the World (Cincinatti: Marshall, 2006) 20–7. For an exploration of the ‘end of the world’ in terms of Greco-Roman ethnography and geography, see Romm J. S., The Edges of the Earth in Ancient Thought: Geography, Exploration, and Fiction (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992).

17 See e.g., in Talbert, Perspectives, the contributions of Talbert (‘Urbs Roma to Orbis Romanus: Roman Mapping on the Grand Scale’ (pp. 163–92)) and B. Salway (‘Putting the World in Order: Mapping in Roman Texts’ (pp. 192–234)). For considerations of the political interests involved, see e.g. Nicolet C., Space, Geography, and Politics in the Early Roman Empire (Ann Harbor: University of Michigan, 1990); Whittaker C. R., Frontiers of the Roman Empire (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994); as well as Talbert R. and Brodersen K., eds., Space in the Roman World (Münster: LIT, 2003). See further also Dilke O. A. W., Greek and Roman Maps (London: Thames and Hudson, 1985).

18 Quoted in translation by Dilke, Maps, 54; text in Mynors R. A. B., XII Panegyrici Latini ix (iv) (Oxford: Clarendon, 1964). See, for the relevance of this text, also Alexander L., ‘Narrative Maps: Reflections on the Toponomy of Acts’, The Bible in Human Society (ed. Carroll R. M. D., Clines D. J. A. and Davies P. R.; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995) 1757 , esp. 18. For a similar sentiment as the one expressed by Eumenius, cf. the following formulation used by Propertius (Elegiae 4.3.37): e tabula pictos ediscere mundos.

19 Text and translation from Duff J. D., ed. Lucan: The Civil War (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1928) 66–7; there is an ironic twist to Lucan's use of the term ‘caput mundi’ here and in Bell. Civ. 2.655–656, as Myers Micah Y., ‘Lucan's Poetic Geographies: Center and Periphery in Civil War Epic,’ in: Asso Paolo (ed.) Brill's Companion to Lucan, 399415 , 413, rightly notes; such irony, however, is only able to function if it can mimic a ‘serious’ use of the same expression. For a broader consideration of Lucan's use of space, see also the 2014 doctoral dissertation of Zientek Laura, Lucan's Natural Questions: Landscape and Geography in the Bellum Civile (University of Washington, 2014).

20 On which, see, with particular attention to the cosmic and geographical dimensions of this representation, B. B. Rubin, ‘(Re)presenting Empire: The Roman Imperial Cult in Asia Minor, 31 bcad 68’ (PhD diss., University of Michigan, 2008) 77–8.

21 See e.g. the series Constructions of Space, vols. i–v (London: Bloomsbury, 2008–14), focusing on the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and the appertaining non-canonical literature (including Qum'ran), or Gartner-Brereton L., The Ontology of Space in Biblical Hebrew Narrative (New York: Routledge, 2014), as well as the considerations of Bar-Efrat S., Narrative Art in the Bible (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1989) 184–96. For a consideration of space in an apocryphal Jewish work, see Scott J. M., Geography in Early Judaism and Christianity: The Book of Jubilees (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002) 56, who also mentions the relevance of Acts 1.8 and the resulting Jerusalem-centred world-view.

22 See, for an overview, e.g. Alexander, ‘Journeyings’, 76–9 and also the insightful study concerning space and place in Jesus traditions by Moxnes H., Putting Jesus in his Place: A Radical Vision of Household and Kingdom (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2003). See further the overview offered in Umurhan and Penner, ‘Luke’, as well as the insightful considerations of various dimensions offered by Charlesworth J., ‘Background i: Jesus of History and the Topography of the Holy Land’, Handbook for the Study of the Historical Jesus (ed. Porter S. E. and Holmén T.; Leiden: Brill, 2011) 2213–42. For the second century, see also Nasrallah, Responses. An awareness of this is not always equally strong: for example, Jervell J., Die Apostelgeschichte (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1998) 116 does not pay attention to the political dimension of geography in his comments on Acts 1.8. Similarly, Zmijewski J., Die Apostelgeschichte (Regensburg: Pustet, 1994) 111, while recognising that the list of nations in Acts 2.9–11 has a political dimension, argues that Luke uses it in a religious and theological way, which, for Zmijewski, seems to be distinct from the political.

23 See, for a list of evidence for this, also Keener, Acts, 701.

24 Penner T. C. and Vander Stichele C., ‘Le territoire corinthien: point de vue et poétique dans les Actes des Apôtres’, Regards croisés sur la Bible: études sur le point de vue (RRENAB; Paris: Cerf, 2007) 83204, esp. 198: ‘La carte, alors, est territoire et, alors que nous pouvons en témoigner, nos cartes de l'ancien monde transforment le paysage, incluant (et peut-être surtout) notre propre point de vue dans le processus.’ See earlier also Penner T. C., In Praise of Christian Origins: Stephen and the Hellenists in Lukan Apologetic Historiography (New York: T&T Clark, 2004) 62–4.

25 On this, see Alexander, ‘Journeyings’, 79, following Bauckham R., ‘James and the Jerusalem Church’, The Book of Acts in its Palestinian Setting (ed. Bauckham R.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995) 415–80, esp. 417–27. A similar argument is set forth (and documented very well) by Gilbert G., ‘The List of Nations in Acts 2: Roman Propaganda and the Lukan Response’, JBL 121 (2002) 497529 , who does note the significance of Acts 1.8 in terms of providing an alternative map of the world, but does not expand on it. Jervell, Apostelgeschichte, 136, rightly notes that the list intends to express universality. Similarly Schmithals W., Die Apostelgeschichte des Lukas (Zürich: TVZ, 1982) 31.

26 See the evidence in Bechard D. P., Paul outside the Walls: A Study of Luke's Socio-geographical Universalism (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 2000) 171353 , as well as the earlier contribution by Scott, ‘Horizon’. All of this certainly amounts to a world-view that resists the dominant one, partially by mimicking it and using hidden (or not so hidden) transcripts: see e.g. Horsley R. A., ed., Hidden Transcripts and the Arts of Resistance: Applying the Work of James C. Scott to Jesus and Paul (Atlanta: SBL, 2004).

27 This survey leaves aside various applications of the expression (which shows its openness to different interpretations) in the course of history, in particular by missionaries or by churches located at the periphery of, for instance, Europe, such as the ecclesia Anglicana – on which and the ‘ends of the earth’ in the work of Bede, see e.g. Foot S., Bede's Church (Jarrow: The Parish Church Council of St. Paul's Church, 2012) 10. Reference courtesy of Miriam Adan Jones, MA, VU University Amsterdam. Keener, Acts, 704, notes that Britannia was one of the more recent additions to the Roman Empire in Luke's day, having been added by Claudius in 43 ce, and thus certainly constituted the ‘end of the earth’ in the sense of a new frontier.

28 Even if e.g. Keener, following Van Unnik, ‘Ausdruck’, rightly notes that this reference is to the Roman general Pompeius, who, although a Roman general, was active in Spain prior to coming to Israel. See Keener, Acts, 705.

29 See e.g. Omerzu, ‘Schweigen’, 132 and the references there, including: Haenchen E., Die Apostelgeschichte (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1956) 150–2; Stählin G., Die Apostelgeschichte (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1962) 18; Conzelmann H., Die Apostelgeschichte (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1972) 27.

30 This has been proposed notably by Schwartz D. R., ‘The End of the ΓΗ: Beginning or End of the Christian Vision’, JBL 105 (1986) 669–76, who concludes his argument by stating: ‘We would suggest, therefore, not only that Acts 1:8 is used by Luke to depict a primitive conception of the extent of Christian potential, a narrow vision to be widened as the story progresses, but also that Luke may well have been justified in linking this opening position to Jesus.’ As Sleeman M., Geography and the Ascension Narrative in Acts (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 2009) 71 notes, the inclusion of Samaria in the list makes this suggestion somewhat implausible. Barrett C. K., A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, vol. i (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1994) 80 is also critical of this view.

31 See Ellis E. E., ‘The End of the Earth (Acts 1:8)’, Bulletin for Biblical Research 1 (1991) 123–32, based on Paul's desire to go to Spain and the frequent identification of the area around and beyond Gibraltar, in particular the port of Gades, as ‘the end of the earth’.

32 See Yorke, ‘Jerusalem’, as well as works such as the following, mentioned by Schwartz, ‘End’, 699: Cadbury H. J., The Book of Acts in History (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1955) 15 ; Dinkler E., ‘Philippus und der ΑΝΗΡ ΑΙΘΙΟΨ (Apg 8,26–40): Historische und geographische Bemerkungen zum Missionsablauf nach Lukas’, Jesus und Paulus: Festschrift für Werner Georg Kümmel zum 70. Geburtstag (ed. Ellis E. E. and Grässer E.; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1978) 8595 , at 85–6; Τ. Thornton C. G., ‘To the End of the Earth: Acts 1 8’, Expository Times 89 (1977) 374–5; Hengel M., Acts and the History of Earliest Christianity (London: SCM, 1979) 80 .

33 See Rengstorf K. H., ‘Die Zuwahl des Matthias (Apg l,15ff.)’, Studia Theologica 15 (1961) 35–7, 53–6. This view has not received much following.

34 See esp. Van Unnik, ‘Ausdruck’, which has been broadly accepted. See also the evidence presented by Keener, Acts, 704–8.

35 See e.g. the documentation collected by Keener, Acts, 702–3.

36 A full discussion of this list cannot be provided here, but it is of significance to note that even though the reference to ‘Romans’ means ‘Roman citizens’ rather than ‘people from Rome’, the association of geography and political realm is still upheld, even if only because Roman citizenship amounted to the (fictive) association of a person with the city of Rome (even if such a person was never to visit it in his lifetime).

37 See e.g. Barrett Acts, 78, who argues that Acts 1.8 both anticipates Acts 2 and ‘receives a measure of interpretation from that chapter’. Similarly Pesch, Apostelgeschichte, 106. To be sure, the imperial Roman background of such lists is of key importance; there might even be a twist to the list in the sense that Parthia, a territory that posed notoriously difficult challenges to Rome, is the first area to be mentioned here. See Gilbert G., ‘Luke-Acts and the Negotiation of Authority and Identity in the Greco-Roman World’, The Multivalence of Biblical Texts and Theological Meanings (ed. Helmer C. and Higbe C. T.; Atlanta: SBL, 2006) 83104 , at 102.

38 As is argued convincingly by e.g. Gilbert, ‘List’, who propounds the thesis ‘that the list of nations in Acts 2 echoes similar lists from this period that celebrated Rome's position as ruler over the inhabited world. Acts adopts this well-known rhetorical tool to advance its own theological claims regarding Jesus and the church. The list of nations stands as one part of a larger narrative strategy that responds to Rome's claim of universal authority and declares that the true empire belongs not to Caesar but to Jesus, who as Lord and Savior reigns over all people’ (499). See further Umurhan and Penner, ‘Luke’, for a further consideration of the political dimensions of space in Luke in its Greco-Roman context. See also Tiede D. L., ‘Acts 1:6–8 and the Theo-Political Claims of Christian Witness’, Word & World 1 (1981) 4151 , who makes an interesting suggestion as to the connection between forgiveness of sins and entry into the fellowship of the apostles (see Acts 2.38) by connecting it with the amnesty granted upon the accession of a new emperor to those wishing to submit themselves to him.

39 For considerations concerning the proclamation of the disciples and the establishment of the kingdom, see also the nuanced remarks of Barrett, Acts, 78; see further Zmijewski, Apostelgeschichte, 58–60.

40 As it is proposed – and convincingly so – by e.g. Thompson A., One Lord, One People: The Unity of the Church in Acts in its Literary Setting (London: T&T Clark, 2008) 6970 (with substantial documentation on the list of nations).

41 See e.g. Sleeman, Geography, 71, who warns, with Jervell (Apostelgeschichte, 116: ‘Man sollte nicht vorschnell an Heiden denken’; doing precisely this is exemplified by Keener, Acts, 697), against assuming that ‘end of the earth’ refers to Gentiles only or even primarily. This would be critical of the position taken by e.g. Best E., ‘The Revelation to Evangelize the Gentiles’, JTS 35 (1984) 130 , at 3: ‘We can also leave unresolved the question whether “the end of the earth” means Rome or, more probably, the furthest extent of the inhabited world. The reference is in any case to the Gentiles …’ The fact that Acts 13.47 quotes Isa 49.6 with the explicit reference to being a light for the Gentiles (in the context of clear mission to Gentiles) and Acts 1.8 does not (in the context of Jerusalem, with subsequent speeches being directed at Jews from over the entire world) might also give reason to think of the expression ‘end of the earth’ as being capable of referring to both – possibly with its meaning being extended in the course of the narrative of Acts. That is, it seems to refer first to diaspora Jews (Acts 1.8, no reference to being the light for the Gentiles), and subsequently, with an added reference to being a light for the Gentiles, it refers to the latter as well (see e.g. Bruce, Acts, 36). See Moore, ‘“End”’, 392. Burchard C., ‘Fußnoten zum neutestamentlichen Griechisch’, ZNW 61 (1970) 157–71, at 161, captures well how geography is expressive of ideology insofar as it concerns the orientation of the proclamation of the apostles: ‘Act 1,8b drückt … geographisch aus, was sachlich “vor Juden und Heiden” heißt.’ See also Zmijewski, Apostelgeschichte, 59.

42 Johnson, Acts, 27.

43 See e.g. Alexander L., ‘Reading Luke-Acts from Back to Front’, The Unity of Luke-Acts (ed. Verheyden J.; Louvain: Peeters, 1999) 419–46, at 426–7, also noting that there are other locations in the narrative of Acts that may well be associated with the exotic and barbaric nature of the ‘end of the earth’, e.g. the ‘barbarians’ mentioned in 28.2 (Malta).

44 See e.g. the conclusions of Melbourne B. L., ‘Acts 1:8 Re-examined: Is Acts 8 its Fulfillment?’, JRT 57 (2001) 118 , at 18: ‘Luke, therefore, used Acts 1:8 as the theme and index of contents for his work. Moreover, he also demonstrated the fulfillment of the command of Acts 1:8 in the programmatic expansion of the Gospel. He has done so not just in one chapter of his work but in all of Acts.’ The place of Rome in this all is captured well by Schille G., Die Apostelgeschichte des Lukas (Berlin: Evangelischer Verlagsanstalt, 1994) 72 , noting that the mission to the Gentiles has as its goal not the literal end of the earth, but ‘die letzten Ausläufer der Welt … deren Hauptstadt Rom heißt’.

45 See e.g. Deut 33.17 ἕως ἐπ᾽ ἄκρου γῆς; Ps 2.8 τὰ πέρατα τῆς γῆς; 22.27 πάντα τὰ πέρατα τῆς γῆς; 47.11 ἐπὶ τὰ πέρατα τῆς γῆς; 59.14 τῶν περάτων τῆς γῆς; 65.6 ἡ ἐλπὶς πάντων τῶν περάτων τῆς γῆς; 67.8 πάντα τὰ πέρατα τῆς γῆς; 72.8: ἕως περάτων τῆς οἰκουμένης; 98.3 πάντα τὰ πέρατα τῆς γῆς; Isa 24.16 τῆς γῆς τέρατα; Dan 4.21 ἕως τῶν περάτων τῆς γῆς; Wis 6.1 δικασταὶ περάτων γῆς; 8.1 ἀπὸ πέρατος ἐπὶ πέρας; Matt 12.42 ἐκ τῶν περάτων τῆς γῆς (par. Luke 11.31).  For ἔσχατος, see: Deut 28.49 ἀπ᾽ ἐσχάτου τῆς γῆς; Ps 134.7 ἐξ ἐσχάτου τῆς γῆς; Isa 45.22 ἀπ᾽ ἐσχάτου τῆς γῆς; Isa 48.20 ἕως ἐσχάτου τῆς γῆς; Isa 62.11 ἕως ἐσχάτου τῆς γῆς; Jer 10.13 ἐξ ἐσχάτου τῆς γῆς; 16.19 ἀπ᾽ ἐσχάτου τῆς γῆς; 28.16 ἀπ᾽ ἐσχάτου τῆς γῆς; 1 Macc 3.9 ἕως ἐσχάτου γῆς. Less common is the expression used in  Jer 25.31, ἐπὶ μέρος τῆς γῆς, which recurs in Jer 32.33, ἐκ μέρους τῆς γῆς καὶ ἕως εἰς μέρος τῆς γῆς.

46 See e.g. Deut 13.8 ἀπ᾽ ἄκρου τῆς γῆς ἕως ἄκρου τῆς γῆς, meaning ‘anywhere’; similarly Deut 28.64 ἀπ᾽ ἄκρου τῆς γῆς ἕως ἄκρου τῆς γῆς, as well as Ps 45.9 τέρατα ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς; 60.3 ἀπὸ τῶν περάτων τῆς γῆς; Isa 5.26 ἀπ᾽ ἄκρου τῆς γῆς; 41.5 τὰ ἄκρα τῆς γῆς; 41.9 ἀπ᾽ ἄκρων τῆς γῆς; 42.10 ἀπ᾽ ἄκρου τῆς γῆς; 40.28 τὰ ἄκρα τῆς γῆς; 43.6 ἀπ᾽ ἄκρων τῆς γῆς; 52.10 πάντα τὰ ἄκρα τῆς γῆς; Micah 5.4 ἕως ἄκρων τῆς γῆς; Jdt 2.9 ἐπὶ τὰ ἄκρα πάσης τῆς γῆς; 11.21 ἀπ᾽ ἄκρου ἕως ἄκρου τῆς γῆς; Prov 17.24 ἐπ᾽ ἄκρα γῆς; 30.4 πάντων τῶν ἄκρων τῆς γῆς; Sir 44.21 ἕως ἄκρου τῆς γῆς; 1 Macc. 1.3 ἕως ἄκρων τῆς γῆς; 8.4 ἀπ᾽ ἄκρου τῆς γῆς; 14.10 ἕως ἄκρου γῆς; cf. also Isa 13.5 ἀπ᾽ ἄκρου θεμελίου τοῦ οὐρανοῦ.

47 Kind suggestion of Dr Martijn Smit, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University.

48 Barnett C., ‘Postcolonialism: Space, Textuality and Power’, Approaches to Human Geography (ed. Aitken S. and Valentine G.; London: Sage, 2006) 147–59, at 147. Such theorising has received fundamental impetus from the work of Edward Said, notably his Orientalism (London: Penguin, 1978).

49 See e.g. the title and contents of Blunt A. and Wills J., Dissident Geographies: An Introduction to Radical Ideas and Practice (Harlow: Pearson, 2000).

50 See e.g. the essays collected in Anderson J., ed., Page and Place: Ongoing Compositions of Plot (Leiden: Brill, 2014).

51 For an overview, see e.g. Sidaway J. D., ‘Postcolonial Geographies: an Exploratory Essay’, Progress in Human Geography 24 (2000) 591612 , as well as Jazeel T., ‘Postcolonialism’, The Wiley–Blackwell Companion to Cultural Geography (ed. Johnson N. C. and Schein R. H. and Winders J.; Chichester: Wiley–Blackwell, 2013) 1722 . See also Sharp J. P., Geographies of Postcolonialism (London: Sage, 2009); the contributions in Blunt A. and McEwan C., eds., Postcolonial Geographies (London: Continuum, 2002); and Berberich C., Campbell N. and Hudson R., eds., Land and Identity: Theory, Memory, and Practice (Leiden: Brill, 2012).

52 For this notion, see esp. Bhabha H., The Location of Culture (London: Routledge, 1994).

53 See e.g. the contributions in Segovia F. F. and Sugirtharajah R. S., eds., A Postcolonial Commentary on the New Testament Writings (London: T&T Clark, 2009); Segovia F. F. and Moore S. D., eds., Postcolonial Biblical Criticism: Interdisciplinary Intersections (London: Bloomsbury, 2007); Sugirtharajah R. S., ed., The Postcolonial Bible (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1998); Sugirtharajah R. S., ed., Exploring Postcolonial Biblical Criticism: History, Method, Practice (Oxford: Blackwell, 2012); Dube M. and Staley J., eds., John and Postcolonialism: Travel, Space, and Power (London: Bloomsbury, 2002); Punt J., Postcolonial Biblical Interpretations: Reframing Paul (Leiden: Brill, 2015), esp. 38–9 (geography).

54 See e.g. Bailey R. C., Liew T. B. and Segovia F. F., eds., They Were All Together in One Place? Toward Minority Biblical Criticism (Atlanta: SBL, 2009). The work continues earlier exploits of Segovia, who has worked to ‘decolonise’ the discipline of biblical studies as such, e.g. through his Decolonizing Biblical Studies: A View from the Margins (Maryknoll: Orbis, 2000).

55 For example, Staley J. L., ‘Postcolonial Reflections on Reading Luke-Acts from Cabo San Lucas and Other Places’, Literary Encounters with the Reign of God (ed. Ringe S. and Kim P.; London: T&T Clark, 2004) 324–40 does mention Acts 1.8, but does not analyse it; also the broader study of Muñoz-Larrondo R., A Postcolonial Reading of the Acts of the Apostles (Atlanta: SBL, 2011) 132–3 hardly addresses the expression in depth; Yorke, ‘Jerusalem’ does address the expression from a post-colonial angle, but, as has been pointed out, in an unconvincing manner.

56 In many ways, the present reading agrees with the (seemingly often overlooked) contribution of Moore, ‘“End”’, who concludes his essay by stating: ‘“To the end of the earth” signifies Luke's universalistic perspective regarding the expansion of the gospel by means of the apostolic mission. It is not limited to only one aspect of the expansion (geography) but rather carries ethnic significance as well. Geographically the phrase denotes the end of the world in a general sense. In its ethnic significance heōs eschatou tēs gēs denotes the movement of the gospel into the Gentile world, without however implying a final turning from the Jewish people. Luke has not “written the Jews off.” The determinative factors in deciding the geographical and ethnic significance of the phrase for Luke are (1) its Isaianic background and (2) its place in the flow of the Lucan narrative, coming after the conceptually parallel statement in Luke 24:47.’ (p. 399).

57 See e.g. Witherington B., The Acts of the Apostles: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998) 111 .

58 See e.g. Schmithals, Apostelgeschichte, 22: ‘Lukas … läßt erkennen, daß und wie er die Zwölf Apostel als den maßgeblichen Ursprung und Jerusalem dementsprechend als den bleibenden Ursprungsort der christlichen Tradition vorstellen will, von denen die christliche Gemeinde zu allen Zeiten und an allen Orten herkommt und von denen … auch der Weltmissionar Paulus … sein aus diesem Grunde authentisches Evangelium schöpft – weit entfernt davon, selbst ein “direkter” Zeuge Jesus Christi zu sein …’ Different (and implausibly so) is Keener, Acts, 439, 701 (having Paul move ‘from heritage to mission’); the fact that Paul keeps returning to Jerusalem is a major indication that, even if Jerusalem was destroyed already when Acts was published, Luke intended to present Jerusalem as a place of continuing (ideological) importance.

59 See e.g. Sterling G. E., ‘Opening the Scriptures: The Legitimation of the Jewish Diaspora and the Early Christian Mission’, Jesus and the Heritage of Israel (ed. Moessner D. P.; Harrisburg: Trinity, 1998) 199225 . See also Lieber A., ‘Between Motherland and Fatherland: Diaspora, Pilgrimage, and the Spiritualization of Sacrifice in Philo of Alexandria’, Heavenly Tables: Interpretation, Identity and Tradition in Ancient Judaism (ed. LiDonnici L. and Lieber A.; Leiden: Brill, 2007) 193210 .

60 See e.g. Witherington Acts, 110–11; also Alexander, ‘Reading’. Jervell, Apostelgeschichte, 116 likewise mentions this in relation to ‘ends of the earth’ in Acts 1.8, as does Keener, Acts, 708, rightly noting that the generic (and therefore ‘open’) meaning of ‘end of the earth’ agrees well with the open-ended nature of Acts as a whole.

61 See e.g. the contributions in Poorthuis M. and Safrai C., eds., The Centrality of Jerusalem (Kampen: Kok, 1996).

* With thanks to Martine van der Herberg, BA, of the Protestant Theological University (Amsterdam) for a critical review of the paper and helpful suggestions, and to Dr Iveta Adams for copy-editing the text.

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New Testament Studies
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  • EISSN: 1469-8145
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