Date of Award


Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Arts, Nursing & Theology

First Advisor

Dr Steven Thompson

Second Advisor

Dr Carolyn Rickett


220401 Christian Studies (incl. Biblical Studies and Church History)


Shortly after his resurrection Jesus appeared to his disciples and showed them his hands and his feet (Luke 24:39-40). This was not only evidence of his resurrection but a means of focussing on two human body parts essential to his mission. In relationship to this, the current thesis presupposes a selective representation of Christ on earth by the early church through human hands and feet. These then, are instruments of mission designated by him as they engage in activities of interpersonal communication. This enquiry examines how literal human hands and feet operate as media of nonverbal communication in two of the narratives of Acts.

The investigation has a threefold aim: (1) to evaluate the effectiveness of human hands and feet with their functions as media of nonverbal communication in the two narratives of Acts and to answer the question—was meaning transmitted; (2) to ascertain whether the nonverbal communication described in the two Acts narratives contributed effectively to the mission of the ascended Jesus through his followers on earth; and (3) to create a bridge between current scholarly comment on human hands and feet with their functions and the outcomes apparent from their use as media of nonverbal communication in the two narratives under scrutiny.

The investigation begins with the isolation and examination of the words for hands and feet in the Greek text of the two narratives as well as the words for their functions. This search then extends to include the entire book of Acts. Then the same words are explored in the Gospel of Luke. In order to discover possible Lucan sources the surviving Greek works of Second Temple Judaism as well as four authors from Greek literature are added. These include the classical dramatist Aeschylus and the Hellenistic poet Aratus who are quoted by iv Luke in Acts. Because of the prominence of healings, two medical authors, Hippocrates and Soranus, are also selected.

To ensure a credible reference from the field of relational communication the publications of Julia T. Wood are chosen as an authoritative source. The findings are: hands, feet and their functions in the two narratives of Acts communicate meaning; Jesus successfully communicated both mission and method to his disciples as they exercised their hands and feet to communicate as he did; Luke is most specific of all the authors explored in his detailed use of hands and feet as media of nonverbal communication particularly as it relates to the mission of Jesus. Some practical implications for the church of today are also included.


Used by permission: the author.

Staff and Students of Avondale College may access a print copy of this thesis from Avondale College Library (SC Theses 226.606 F37).

Staff and Students of Avondale College may access the published version of this thesis Telling Hands and Teaching Feet from Avondale College Library (226.606 F37).

Included in

Religion Commons