Posted by: mattcolvin | November 13, 2011

Acts 26:24-32: Paul before Agrippa

Tuesday of the 21st week after Trinity: Acts 26:24-32

26:24 – Festus interrupts the conversation between Paul and Agrippa. It is curious that he accuses him of madness caused by “much learning”. This is not πολυμαθια, but πολλά γράμματα. To a Gentile, Paul appears to have a head stuffed with Jewish writings. It is doubtful whether Festus would have understood much of Paul’s talk about resurrection. Accordingly, Paul points to Agrippa, who “knows about these things.”

Agrippa’s remark in 28 has been interpreted various ways, mostly for want of knowledge of Greek idiom. It has also been punctuated as a question or a statement:

Ἐν ὀλίγῳ με πείθεις Χριστιανὸν ποιῆσαι

What is meant by Ἐν ὀλίγῳ? The KJV and NKJV take it to mean “nearly” or “almost”, as though Agrippa were admitting the power of Paul’s arguments. The other possibility is that it means “in a short time” or “briefly”, sc. by such a short speech. Indeed, John Chrysostom, no slouch at Greek, suggests in his Homily LII that Paul misunderstood Agrippa’s idiom. More likely is that Paul punned on Agrippa’s words when he replied “καὶ ἐν ὀλίγῳ καὶ ἐν μεγάλῳ…”

26:32 Then Agrippa said to Festus, “This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”

Just as Christ was tried by the Romans, so Paul ends up in Rome for his trial, despite the recognition of his innocence by Festus and Agrippa and Bernice.

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