The Pentecost story is so familiar that I picture it easily. But I’ve just come to realize that I’ve been wrong about a detail. I’m wondering if that detail matters.
Acts 2:1-21. The Pentecost story takes place on a feast day roughly ten days after Jesus ascended to heaven. As I’ve always pictured it, the disciples and other followers (maybe a hundred or so?) are assembled in a large room. They have just selected a new leader to replace the fallen Judas.
Suddenly a violent wind blows through the room, bringing with it flames of fire. The flames hover above the heads of all assembled. Each person is miraculously able to speak a language which was previously unknown. Overcome, they pour out onto the street, each speaking in this new language. A crowd gathers, amazed at the spectacle. Peter preaches eloquently, quoting the prophet Joel, and converts masses of people.
Boom! The church is born!
Only here’s what I noticed as I studied the text again. There’s no mention of the disciples leaving the room. Maybe I just assumed that happened. How else did the people from every nation hear them, and how did the crowd gather? But the text seems to suggest that the crowd gathers as if drawn to the great commotion coming from inside the room.
The KJV translates verse 6: Now when this was noised abroad the multitude came together. That phrase “noised abroad” may explain why I have an incorrect picture in my head. The NRSV translates verse 6: And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered. I looked up the Greek, but I am too rusty for it to do much good.
If there’s some fact you can supply, please do!
And help me think about what difference the detail might make. If the crowds came to the disciples, rather than the disciples dispersing into the crowd, does that change our hearing of the text?
Note: the discussion about this took place on Facebook, rather than in comments here. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!