Who is set free in this passage? Is it the girl (without name) who cannot hope for Paul’s compassion but finds herself at the wrong end of his annoyance?
The only other people that are in this particular way annoyed in Acts are the Sadducees in 4:2 who are annoyed with Peter’s teaching about Jesus!
Her bondage does not seem to be to the ‘spirit of divination’ called after the Pythian serpent who guarded the oracle at Delphi and is linked to the Greek god Apollo. Rather, her bondage is more to her slave owners.
It is not clear that Paul’s exorcism really frees her from this economic exploitation. It is not clear that she wanted to loose the Spirit. Or is it Paul and Silas who are set free from their imprisonment?
Verse 25 implies that whether in or out of prison Paul and Silas are always free to worship God. Maybe it is the jailor (also without name) who washes Paul’s wounds and is baptised who finds freedom when he becomes a believer in God.
The contrast between the celebration with the jailor and the accusation following the girl’s episode make me wonder; Why is Paul so annoyed? Is her witness not effective? Why did Luke tell her story? Why did it not have a happy end? Why do we not hear of her again? Is she just a contrast to the hospitable Lydia who does not prophecy? Why have women so little voice in Acts?
8 May 2016
This weekly blog on one of the lectionary readings is by Anne Claar Thomasson-Rosingh, Programme Leader for Lifelong Learning at Sarum College.