Handspåleggelsens funksjon ved kristen initiasjon i Apostlenes gjerninger
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In this thesis the function of the laying on of hands in some baptismal texts in the Acts of the Apostles (8,4-25; 19,1-7 and 9,10-19) is examined. The challenging question is whether the laying on of hands in these texts is to be understood as a part of a normal rite of initiation in an early Christian setting, or whether it has a special function not related to baptism. In the first section the Old Testament and Jewish background to laying on of hands in the New Testament is investigated. The second section gives an introduction to modern Luke-Acts research, especially related to the theme of Salvation History, and a discussion of recent literature on the laying on of hands. Some of the major theological themes of Luke-Acts, which are considered to be important for the understanding of the function of the laying on of hands, are also explored. These are: the role of the Holy Spirit, the understanding of the term ‘people of God’, the nature of the early Christian mission, and the importance of prayer. A detailed examination of the laying on of hands texts is carried out in the third main section. Our conclusion is that the laying on of hands in these texts has a twofold function. It is an act of acceptance and solidarity which often follows the inclusion of groups of ‘outsiders’ into the new people of God. But it is also a fixed component in an early rite of baptism and initiation. The emphasis on the manifestations of the Spirit in relation to this act, does not, however, seem to represent ordinary events, but has to do with the special perspective of Salvation History where new groups of people are demonstrated to belong to the messianic people of God.
Doctoral dissertation - Lund University, 1987