Eutychus In Acts And In The Church: The Narrative Significance Of Acts 20:6-12 -- By: Julie A. Glavic

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 24:2 (NA 2014)
Article: Eutychus In Acts And In The Church: The Narrative Significance Of Acts 20:6-12
Author: Julie A. Glavic

Eutychus In Acts And In The Church:
The Narrative Significance Of Acts 20:6-12

Julie A. Glavic

Seattle Pacific University

Eutychus’s unlucky evening in Acts 20:6-12 is frequently overlooked by preachers and commentators alike, deemed to be either too comical, awkward, or separable for serious study. This essay argues that, rather than being separable, the passage plays a significant role in furthering the Lukan argument for Pauline authority running throughout the second half of the book of Acts. Narrative analysis reveals that Acts 20:6-12 defends Paul’s Jewishness, his connection to Jewish and Christian authorities, his legitimacy as teacher, and his establishment of Gentile Christian communities like the one in Troas. A canonical approach offers a glimpse at how this passage might be relevant to Christian communities today.

Key Words: Eutychus, Acts 20, narrative criticism, canonical approach, authority, Paul, Pauline authority, resurrection


The story of Paul’s visit to Troas and the healing of the deceased boy Eutychus, Acts 20:6-12, significantly furthers the Lukan1 apology for Pauline authority, playing a key role in the narrative world of Acts. It has not often been asked how the text fits into the Lukan narrative or why it is important in this literary setting. An examination of these questions will be presented below. After considering the way Acts 20:6-12 has been generally received by both biblical scholars and practicing Christians, this article will observe, first, Luke’s portrait of Paul’s authority in Acts and, second, the way Acts 20:6-12 fits into this portrait. The Eutychus story is an important piece of Luke’s defense of Paul. By highlighting Paul’s Jewishness, his connection to the story of Jesus, his authority to teach, and his role among the Christians, the text emphasizes to Christians Paul’s legitimacy as one of their apostolic figures.

Reception History: “Entirely Separable”?

Throughout history, this text has not received much attention among either practicing Christians or the academy. The academic community implicitly treats the text as expendable, viewing it as either merely humorous or literarily dismissible and disconnected from the broader narrative. Compared to other passages about claimed miracles and events in th...

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