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Title page for ETD etd-03232016-140915


Type of Document Dissertation
Author Carter, Arthur Francis, Jr.
URN etd-03232016-140915
Title Diaspora Poetics & (re)Constructions of Differentness:Conceiving Acts 6.1 – 8.40 as Diaspora
Degree PhD
Department Religion
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Daniel Patte, Ph.D. Committee Chair
Tracy Sharpley-Whiting, Ph.D. Committee Co-Chair
Annalisa Azzoni, Ph.D. Committee Member
Gary Phillips, Ph.D. Committee Member
Houston A. Baker, Jr., Ph.D. Committee Member
Joseph Rife, Ph.D. Committee Member
Susan Hylen, Ph.D. Committee Member
Keywords
  • Black Atlantic Studies
  • Diaspora Studies
  • Hellenistic Jewish Literature
  • Luke-Acts
  • Cultural Criticism
  • Empire Studies
  • African American literary criticism
  • Socio-rhetorical criticism
  • New Testament Studies
  • Contextual Biblical Criticism
  • Acts of the Apostles
  • Biblical Criticism
Date of Defense 2016-01-19
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
Diaspora is a term applied varyingly in the Humanities and Social Sciences to individuals, communities, spaces and historical events. Jewish history and experience were formative in popularizing and expanding the nomenclature of diaspora between the late nineteenth and twenty-first centuries. Transliterated from the Greek noun διασπορά (diaspora), the term’s modern development relied heavily on paradigmatic projections of sameness. In Diaspora Studies, diaspora generally functions as a heuristic that highlights the maintenance and evolution of relationships, identities and memory that are subsequent to boundary crossings. Iterations in Africana and Black Atlantic Studies exemplify the term’s use as theoretical concept or presumed, transnational identity. New Testament Studies, however, principally uses diaspora as a binary framework to (re)construct the Jewish milieu of early Roman-era Judaism and Christianity, receiving little consideration as analytical theory. Diaspora, thus, in the study of early Christian literature primarily denotes non-Palestinian geography. These three disparate trajectories intersect in these prolegomena to a diaspora-oriented reading of Acts 6.1 – 8.40.

Informed by Martinican Édouard Glissant’s Caribbean Discourses, this Black American engagement with Black Atlantic cultural criticism provides context for reevaluating the etymology and intellectual traditions of the diaspora-concept. Its resultant view approaches diaspora as a form of relatedness that privileges the multidimensionality of identity while negotiating particularity as relatedness-amidst-difference. Applying this (re)vision of diaspora to Black American discourse aids in the contextual construction of a poetics of diaspora that is characterized by figurative negotiations of i) ethno-cultural/geopolitical difference, ii) Empire, iii) intra-communal debate and iv) (re)narrations of the past. Modeled on Black American discourse, this diaspora poetics generates alternative readings of ancient texts across various imperial settings. When applied to Acts 6.1 – 8.40 and its ancient imperial context, diaspora poetics highlights Acts’ recurrent validation of geopolitical particularity and thematic focus on interactions between Palestinian and non-Palestinian Jews. Diaspora is integral in Luke’s negotiation of the diverse and tenuous world of early imperial Rome. Consequently, this (re)reading of diaspora calls for (re)interpreting Acts 6.1 – 8.40 amongst ancient Diaspora contexts by contextually (re)conceiving difference and (re)evaluating Black American poetics.

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