The Literary Construction of the Other in the Acts of the Apostles: Charismatics, the Jews, and Women

By Mitzi J. Smith

An analysis of the Acts of the Apostles showing how the text uses its characterisation of the Other to reinforce the self-identity of the earliest Christians.

ISBN: 9780227680223


The Literary Construction of the Other in the Acts of the Apostles explores the beginnings of the Christian Church, showing how early believers united and created a self-identity through delimiting the Other. Mitzi Smith shows how the creation and subjugation of the Other was crucial for the expansion of Christianity by the Apostles.

Mitzi Smith employs Jonathon Smith’s theory of otherness as a framework for analysing Luke’s literary and discursive construction of character in Acts. In order to define the Self we define the Other, using opposition as a form of definition and subjugation. Furthermore, Jonathon Smith argues that the project of otherness is more about proximity than alterity; the other that is most like us is the most threatening. Both Luke and many others have written accounts of Jesus’s deeds; Luke’s project of otherness was motivated by the need to promote his account as the most accurate. Projects of otherness are linguistic or discursive, evaluative, hierarchical, and essentially political and economic. Mitzi Smith provides a new way to understand Christian identity; allowing people to understand the Other in terms of themselves.

Additional information

Dimensions229 × 153 mm


Trade InformationJPOD

About the Author

Mitzi J. Smith is Associate Professor of New Testament and Early Christian Studies at Ashland theological Seminary at Detroit. She is a contributor to True to Our Native Land (2008).



1. The Construction of Charismatics as External Other
2. The Construction of the Jews as External Other
3. The Construction of Women as Internal Other and Peter
4. The Construction of Women as Internal Other and Paul



Endorsements and Reviews

Here Mitzi Smith provides a subtle and well-written analysis of how the various kinds of characters are portrayed in Acts and what that means for Luke’s theology of mission. She moves far beyond the usual literary summaries of Acts: both the nature of language and the nature of story-telling are treated with sensitivity and sophistication, and yet her book is readable for a non-scholarly audience. A must read for all those interested in the literary achievement of Luke and Acts and what it means for Luke’s theology.
Lawrence M. Wills, Episcopal Divinity School

Smith does achieve the desired effect to make readers conscious of ‘othering projects inherent in the text’ to ensure they are not duplicated ‘in actual practice or in public discourse’ …
Josh Scott, in Theological Book Review, Vol 24, No 2

The Literary Construction of the Other in the Acts of the Apostles raises awareness of how Acts, and by extension, other written and spoken narratives, may ‘other’ certain individuals and groups for the purpose of depicting contrasting characters as approved, capable, or ideal. This is an element of the literary endeavor that interpreters do well to keep in mind.
Julia Snyder, in The Expository Times, Vol 124, No 9

Along with sociological ‘othering’ theory, Smith draws secondarily upon linguistic transitivity analysis to categorize various ways that characters exert agency in the narrative.
F. Scott Spencer, in Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology, Vol 68, No 1

… the true contribution of this book can be found in its detailed exegesis of the relevant passages and the sustained attention it pays to the theme at hand, a subject that has often been treated only peripherally elsewhere. Smith has successfully demonstrated that such focused study can bear fruit for Acts research.
Rebecca Dean, Pembroke College, in Journal of Theological Studies, Vol 65, Issue 1