Thursday, September 28, 2006

Galatians and Acts in film

Over on Bible Films Blog, Matt Page has an excellent post on the way that different films have treated the discrepancies between Acts and Galatians: Galatians vs Acts in Film. I showed the relevant clip from Peter and Paul to my Paul class last week (cf. Teaching Notes 1) and it was excellent for encouraging a bit of discussion about the issues. The film handles the discrepancies brilliantly, tending to take Paul's side, as it were, and aligning the "people from James" in Gal. 2.11-20 with Judas and Silas from Acts 15, so that one has an initial victory for Paul followed by a rethink by James. Barnabas (Herbert Lom) gets shouted at by Anthony Hopkins's Paul about John Mark on the back of Paul's having just shouted at Peter, deftly combining the Acts 15 and Gal. 2 reasons for the split between Barnabas and Paul. And just after Barnabas has left, Silas remains and asks to go with Paul for the next stage of the journey.

As often, films can stimulate the imagination when one is engaging in the historical task and one thing this one makes me wonder when I go back to Acts 15 is whether in fact the presence of Judas and Silas there witnesses to a much more complex outcome to the council than one might realize at first. Why do Judas and Silas need to be sent with the letter to Antioch when Paul and Barnabas, on the logic of the Acts narrative, could have taken it? Has Luke drawn together different strands in Acts 15, one in which Paul and Barnabas effectively get a green light from Peter and James, and one in which a letter is composed and sent with Judas and Silas? I would like to explore this option a little further in later posts.

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