The Acts of the Apostles: Taming the Tongues of Fire

Date(s) - 10/11/2014
9:00 am - 1:45 pm

First Christian Church Tyler


The Acts of the Apostles: Taming the Tongues of Fire
Saturday, October 11, 9:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
First Christian Church, Tyler

The early assemblies gathered in Jesus’ name engaged in dramatic, Spirit-induced practices, as Acts’ story of the tongues of flame that descended on Pentecost suggests.  Yet, there is tension between this story of unruly and egalitarian spiritual practices, and the overarching narrative framework of Acts, which situates such events within an orderly account for the purpose of providing reassuring truths for Theophilus, the author’s elite patron.  This seminar draws attention to the means by which Acts struggles to tame the tongues of fire, through its orderly presentation.  It also unsettles that order by pointing to gaps, fissures, and alternate voices in the narrative that suggest the outlines of a more complex, democratizing, religious movement.

SM2Shelly Matthews
Professor of New Testament, Brite Divinity School

Shelly Matthews, Professor of New Testament, joined the faculty of the Brite Divinity School in the fall of 2011.  Her books include First Converts: Rich Pagan Women and the Rhetoric of Mission in Early Judaism and Christianity (Stanford University Press 2001) and Perfect Martyr: The Stoning of Stephen and the Construction of Christian Identity (Oxford University Press, 2010) which was hailed by the Journal of Religion as compulsory reading for those interested in Jewish-Christian relations.  The Acts of the Apostles: Taming the Tongues of Fire (Sheffield Phoenix Press 2013) is her most recent book.   She is an ordained elder in the United Methodist church (Dakotas area), and served parishes in North Dakota before beginning graduate school.