New Testament Studies


The Ambiguous Oracle: Narrative Configuration in Acts

Alan Balea1

a1 University of Birmingham, Department of Theology, European Research Institute, Pritchatts Road, Brimingham B15 2TT, UK. email:


This paper outlines the way in which a plot-device, which for the sake of convenience we shall call the ‘ambiguous oracle’ in Acts 1.6–8, controls and influences the narrative, creating coherence and enabling interpretation. The paper begins by looking at the current interpretation of the verses, and argues that it is not sufficient to explain the narrative configuration at various points, before going on to suggest an alternative interpretation, in which the misinterpretation of the oracle by the Apostles leads to the fulfillment of the Divine will. This interpretation finds strong support in literature contemporary to Acts.

(Online publication September 05 2011)


  • ambiguous oracle;
  • Jewish mission;
  • Paul;
  • Acts;
  • narrative configuration