Paul the Necromancer: Luke’s Use of the Hapax ‘gnwstes’ in Acts 26:3

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Isaac Soon


This exegetical paper analyses ‘gnwstes’‚ in Acts 26 as an unmarked verbal echo to the LXX that reinforces the illegitimacy of Paul’s imprisonment for the implied audience. The fact that γνώστης is both a hapax in the New Testament and a rare term in the LXX means that it is justifiable to explore the possibility of its intertextuality. It is also plausible that a knowledgeable listener informed by both Graeco-Roman culture as well as the language of the LXX could understand it as an unmarked echo, especially considering Luke expected a wide range of ‘cultural literacy and interpretive competency’ from his ideal audience. When one examines the vague references to the charges against Paul in Acts, especially those implying his communication with the dead (e.g. Acts 23:9), one can see that Luke shows Paul using γνώστης in order to simultaneously flatter and test Agrippa with regards to Jewish controversies and customs, all the while emphasising the unlawful reasons for his imprisonment.

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How to Cite
Soon, Isaac. “Paul the Necromancer: Luke’s Use of the Hapax ‘gnwstes’ in Acts 26:3”. Reformed Theological Review 74, no. 2 (June 25, 2015). Accessed October 2, 2023.
Author Biography

Isaac Soon, Hillsong International Leadership College

I have been a Theology/Songwriting Trainer at Hillsong College in Sydney, Australia since 2010. In October 2015 I will be attending the University of Oxford to read for an M.Phil. in Theology (New Testament). I studied studied Biblical Literature at Alphacrucis College ('10) and Wesley Institute ('13) Qualifications: Diploma of Ministry (HILC) Bachelor of Contemporary Ministry (Alphacrucis) Master of Theology (Wesley Institute)