My daily exploration of the Bible, taking it one chapter at a time. If I do it everyday, it'll take 1189 days.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Acts 12


Herod killed James, and when he saw people liked this, he took Peter into prison. In the night, an angel came a led Peter out of prison through open doors. He thought it was a dream! The disciples nearly didn't believe it when Peter, who they were praying for, turned up. Peter's guards were executed.

Herod died for blasphemy, and Paul, Barnabas, and now Mark, went back to Jerusalem.

Key verse:
5. So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.

My thoughts:
Intercession. Isn't is an awesome thing? It is such an illogical thing that saying words would have an immense effect on reality, but in this case, I truly believe that Peter wouldn't've been freed that night without prayer. So yea... the moral of the story is to pray. Lots.


Anonymous Deane said...

See Acts 12.9:

"Peter went out and followed him; he did not realize that what was happening with the angel's help was real; he thought he was seeing a vision."

Here an early Christian is described as not being able to tell the difference between reality and a visionary experience. That's interesting when we come to interpret other incidents which are described as 'reality' in the New Testament (e.g. the Transfiguration, the Resurrection appeaances). Given the prevalence of visionary experiences described in the New Testament, it's interesting that one of these visionaries (Peter) says he can't tell the difference between waking life and vision.

11:31 am

Blogger Pete W said...

It's a bit interesting but not that interesting. Peter had just awoken here into what appeared to be a completely unnatural situation. I don't think it has much relevance for times when Peter or someone was fully awake and saw something in real life in full consciousness.

2:21 pm

Anonymous Deane said...

I quite agree that the confusion of visions/dreams with reality would not have occurred when somebody was wide awake. Rather, Acts 12.9 shows that--when a person was in a semi-conscious or visionary state, and dreamed about encounters with angels--they could well have considered those to be as real as everyday waking life.

A fascinating piece of evidence!

2:42 pm

Blogger Pete W said...

I'm not sure if I see your point... Most the time there's a pretty clear distinction between a dream and an actual experience. This one causes Peter some confusion because he just woke up.

2:31 pm

Anonymous Deane said...

The rest of the text certainly treats visions as being 'real' - but a case like Acts 12.9 brings that into question. If Peter can mistake what he thinks is reality for a vision, how can he say that he wasn't making the opposite mistake - that he was only having a vision of the whole thing and mistook it for reality? Once you have an instance where you admit to mistaking reality for a vision, you also confess that you are unable to distinguish reality from visions.

This is completely expected though. Nobody can tell their dreams apart from reality ... except in the modern West.

With first century texts such as Acts, we are dealing with people that can't and don't distinguish a vision from reality

“In the classical period, as in the ancient Near East, the distinction between dream and vision was vague; both were modes of potential divine communication. The language at times appears interchangeable, perhaps because people did not clearly distinguish between phenomena experienced in the sleeping (dream) or waking (vision) states”
- Gnuse, Dreams and Dream Reports, 102.

dreams and visions are “interchangeable in serving as authority for religious innovation”
- Ekira Bourguignon, “Dreams that Speak: Experience and Interpretation,” in Dreaming and the Self: New Perspectives on Subjectivity, Identity, and Emotion, ed., Jeannette Marie Mageo, 133-153 (New York: State University of New York Press, 2003), 136.

“[i]n early Christian discourse, there is no way of distinguishing clearly between dreams and visions”
- Stroumsa, “Dreams and Visions”, 189.

Although Perpetua refers to a "vision" she had, it is only at the end of her description when she said that she “awoke”, that it is clear it was a dream .

almost half of the recorded visions in a sample of saints lives, histories, authobiographies, letters and hospital records from the Middle ages occur in a dream state
- Jerome Kroll and Bernard Bachrach, “Visions and Psychopathology in the Middle Ages”, The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 170.1 (1982): 41-49, 46).

Anthropological studies of non-Western peoples likewise reveals that they “see dreams as an alternative social word, as much outside the person as a convivial party, even if what goes on there is often far from convivial. For them, dreams are the gate to a sphere inhabited, like our own, by powers and people with which and with whom they live and cope…”
- Jeannette Marie Mageo, “Theorizing Dreaming and the Self,” Dreaming and the Self: New Perspectives on Subjectivity, Identity, and Emotion, ed. Jeannette Marie Mageo, 3-22 (New York: State University of New York Press, 2003), 8.

“the majority of mankind learn to know God through dreams”
- Tertullian

Actually, "we" Westerners may be missing something here. Maybe dreams are the best source of knowledge?

3:51 pm

Blogger Pete W said...

Gosh... you really actually don't have enough to do, do ya?

I don't know what you wrote just above, but whatever you said, you win. I conceed. I agree. Even if you weren't aiming to 'beat' me.

7:26 pm


Post a Comment

<< Home