Historical Intertexture Analysis

Historical intertexture offers the opportunity to gain greater insight into given passages of scripture. As a part of the intertexture analysis family, historical intertexture focuses on events that have occurred, looking at their specifics such as time and place. (Robbins, 1996, p. 63) Taking a historical intertexture analysis of the relationship of Joel 2:28-32 and Acts 2:16-21, it becomes clear why Peter chose to recite the prophesy of Joel.

One of the major differences between the two passages occurs at the beginning of the in verse 17 when Peter begins with ‘In the last days’ rather than Joel’s beginning of ‘Then afterward’. (American Bible Society, 1989) By doing this, it appears Peter is bringing an eschatological element to the words of Joel. Now, the audience Peter was speaking to would have been familiar with the Joel prophecy and would have known his recitation of it was not exact. They would have keyed in on the difference, but it would not have seemed unusual for them since even rabbinic tradition considered Joel 2 to have eschatological implications. (Treier, 1997, p. 18) What would have been shocking to his audience was his insistence that the eschatological fulfillment was found in the man Jesus of Nazareth. (Treier, 1997, p.19) By using the Joel 2 prophecy, Peter sets the stage to drive his point home: that Jesus was the Messiah the Jewish community present on the Day of Pentecost was looking for.

Historical intertexture allows the reader to understand the connection between Joel 2 and Acts 2 by making it apparent Peter was making it plain that Jesus was the fulfillment to a prophecy spoken by Joel hundreds of years prior.

What other deep understanding can be found between these two passages using historical intertexture analysis?


American Bible Society. (1989). Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. New York: American Bible Society.

Robbins, V. K. (1996). Exploring the texture of texts: a guide to socio-rhetorical interpretation. Valley Forge, Pa: Trinity Press International.

Treier, D. J. (1997). The Fulfillment of Joel 2:28-32 : A Multiple-Lens Approach. Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 40(1), 13–26.


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