As I was preparing for an upcoming exegetical paper in my hermeneutics class, I noticed an interesting pattern in our assigned text of Acts 8:26–40.  The story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch follows precisely the same formula as the episode in Luke 24 in which Jesus chats with a couple disciples on the road to Emmaus:

1) Both narratives occur on a road leading out from Jerusalem (Emmaus/Wilderness Road);
2) Both involve a perplexed reader (two disciples/Ethiopian eunuch);
3) Both feature a enlightened authority who helps the reader reinterpret the Jewish scriptures to explain the Messiahship of Jesus (Jesus/Philip);
4) Both narratives feature an epiphany (disciples’ eyes are opened/eunuch desires to be baptized);
5) Each of the episodes culminates in a sacramental demonstration (eucharist/baptism);
6) Finally, if this weren’t enough, both passages end with the mysterious disappearance of the enlightened authority figure.

I think the key to both examples is the re-interpreting of Jewish scripture to account for ideas that aren’t necessarily in the text. When Jesus chides the disciples on the road for not knowing that it was “necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory” (Luke 24:26), he fails to mention that in fact no such prophecy or interpretation of Jewish scripture in which the expected Messiah was supposed to suffer existed at the time. This interpretation requires a reorientation of the Jewish hermeneutical lens.[1]

Unfortunately, this realization is a bit too broad to include in my short exegetical paper which will be strictly limited to the Acts 8 text. But I was wondering if anyone has read anything else about this literary cycle, or noticed its appearance elsewhere in Luke/Acts? I would love to read more about it.


[1] See Andy Johnson, “Our God Reigns: The Body of the Risen Lord in Luke 24,” Word & World 22/2 (2002) 136.

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