Diaconal ministry in the light of reception and re-interpretation of Acts 6: Did John Calvin create social-caritative ministry of diaconia?

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The classical paradigm before the 1990 s unanimously considered the early apostolic and biblical age as a special time for the diaconal ministry. According to this view, in the early church, the deacons had a prominent position in their local churches and took the major responsibility in the social-caritative actions. Recent biblical studies have argued that the traditional outline is not historically true, or at least we need some new evidence to argue for the biblical origin of the social-caritative diaconal ministry.
In this article, the analysis of the reception aims to clarify the historical steps of this process: how has Acts 6:1 – 6 been understood and interpreted during the different historical periods? As a summary of the analysis, the following steps or stages can be noticed. The first stage was the identification of the seven men as deacons (diakonoi) by Irenaeus and others. The second stage of the development was the identification of deacons as caritative functionaries in Trullo and more actively in the texts of Martin Luther. The third stage of development was the establishment of the permanent caritative ministry of deacons by John Calvin. The whole reception process is cumulative and, thus, it is not possible to understand the stages without a conception of the previous steps. During the process, the understanding of Acts 6 changed in a remarkable way and showed how deeply the interpretation was affected to each historical context.
TidskriftDiaconia. The Journal for the Study of Christian Social Practice
Sidor (från-till)82-102
Antal sidor21
StatusPublicerad - 2010
MoE-publikationstypA1 Tidskriftsartikel-refererad

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