Hearing between the lines: the audience as fellow-worker in Luke-Acts and its literary milieu.
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Maxwell, Kathy Reiko.
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The audience, and its varying levels of participation, is a vital element for the communication of a story. The stories of Jesus Christ as told in the gospels, and of the early Church as found in Acts, rely on the audience members and their participation as do all others. In fact, without audience participation, the narrative fails. Audience-oriented criticism, while named only recently, is an ancient phenomenon as old as story telling itself. This dissertation explores ancient rhetoricians' comments about the audience, as well as the kinds of audience participation expected and the tools used to encourage such participation. In the course of this project, it becomes clear that these tools were used in ancient pagan, Jewish, and Christian literature. Ancient rhetors and authors were quite concerned with engaging the audience—an engaged audience at the very least paid attention and in many cases helped the author create the story, making the audience more inclined toward moral formation. Modern rhetoricians, such as Meir Sternberg and Wolfgang Iser, deal with this phenomenon under the category of literary gap theory. Long before the modern novel and post-Enlightenment story-telling strategies, however, ancient speakers and writers left holes or gaps in their narratives, encouraging the audience to become "fellow-workers" (Mor. 48:14) with the speaker. Identifying ancient roots for such modern theories helps guard against anachronistic methodological missteps, while simultaneously preventing the same theories from being dismissed out of hand. The conclusions reached by this project impact not only the way biblical scholars view the rhetorical abilities of the Evangelists, but also the way in which modern readers "hear" the biblical narrative. The responsibility of audience participation did not end with the ancient audience. The modern audience also bears the responsibility of hearing between the lines, of creating the story with the ancient author. In our particular context as the people of God reading the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, we are all the more likely to be persuaded by the argument we help complete, astonished by the pictures we help draw, and formed by the story we help create.