The Function of LXX Habakkuk 1:5 in the Book of Acts -- By: Robert W. Wall

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 10:2 (NA 2000)
Article: The Function of LXX Habakkuk 1:5 in the Book of Acts
Author: Robert W. Wall


The Function of LXX Habakkuk 1:5 in the Book of Acts

Robert W. Wall

Seattle Pacific University

This case study of Scripture’s intertextuality follows the route of LXX Hab 1:5 through the Acts of the Apostles, from Paul’s citation of it in climaxing his inaugural (and programmatic) sermon (Acts 13:41), to its intra-/intertextual echo in Acts 15:3. Its function in Acts 13:41 underscores the redemptive importance of Paul’s “report” of God’s “work” among the Gentiles: to dispute the prophet’s “report” (ἐκδιηγέομαι) is to reject God’s bid to save God’s people. When Paul’s travel “report” (ἐκδιηγέομαι, 15:3) of his Gentile mission is again disputed by Jewish believers in Antioch (15:1) and Jerusalem (15:5), their eternal life is threatened according to biblical prophecy.

Key words: intertextuality, intertextual echo, proof-from-prophecy, Jerusalem Council, Gentile mission

1. Definition Of Intertextuality

A technical definition of intertextuality is difficult to state with precision. In part this is because the term was only recently coined by poststructuralist literary critics (J. Kristeva, R. Barthes) as a catchword for a textual phenomenon recognized and practiced from antiquity: that the very existence and full meaning of every literary text are predicated by its relationship to other texts, whether spoken or written, earlier or later. At its essence, then, intertextuality refers to literature’s constant recourse to other literature, which merely confirms that “no text is an island,” composed in isolation from a body of other texts. This repetition of antecedent and subsequent texts, whether by citation or echo diction, not only marks out the intertext but amplifies and even revises an “original” meaning in order to reconstitute different texts as parts of one continuous written Text of shared images, stories, and meanings.

Even a cursory reading of Scripture reflects the routine use that biblical writers make of their sacred texts. Biblical texts need only mention a single familiar phrase or specific person to evoke the reader’s memory of other well-known biblical texts and stories in which that phrase is used or person mentioned. Sometimes these texts are actually cited but more often echoed by reference to common words or narrative elements (e.g., people, places, events). The anticipated result of finding these citations or hearing the echoes...

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