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The Ancient Novel and Early Christian and Jewish Narrative: Fictional Intersections

The Ancient Novel and Early Christian and Jewish Narrative: Fictional Intersections

Marília P. Futre Pinheiro
Judith Perkins
Richard Pervo
Volume: 16
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Barkhuis
Pages: 230
  • Book Info
    The Ancient Novel and Early Christian and Jewish Narrative: Fictional Intersections
    Book Description:

    This innovative collection explores the vital role played by fictional narratives in Christian and Jewish self-fashioning in the early Roman imperial period. Employing a diversity of approaches, including cultural studies, feminist, philological, and narratological, expert scholars from six countries offer twelve essays on Christian fictions or fictionalized texts and one essay on Aseneth. All the papers were originally presented at the Fourth International Conference on the Ancient Novel in Lisbon Portugal in 2008. The papers emphasize historical contextualization and comparative methodologies and will appeal to all those interested in early Christianity, the Ancient novel, Roman imperial history, feminist studies, and canonization processes.

    eISBN: 978-94-91431-52-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VIII)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. IX-X)
    Marília P. Futre Pinheiro
  4. Prologue
    (pp. XI-XII)
    Judith Perkins

    This volume offers a selection of the papers on Christian and Jewish narratives presented at the fourth International Conference on the Ancient Novel (ICAN IV), “Crossroads in the Ancient Novel: Spaces Frontiers, Intersections.” Since 1976, ICAN conferences have been held in July at approximately ten-year intervals. The first ICAN was convened by Bryan Reardon in Bangor, Wales, to commemorate the centenary of Erwin Rohde’s seminal study,Der Griechische Roman und seine Vorlâufer. James Tatum convened ICAN II in Hanover, New Hampshire, in 1989. ICAN 2000, coinciding with the millennium, was convened by Maaike Zimmerman in Groningen, the Netherlands. Mirilia Futre...

  5. Introduction
    (pp. XV-XX)
    Richard I. Pervo

    The explosion of interest in ancient Jewish and Christian narrative and in the ancient novel began in the last quarter of the twentieth century. “Explosion” is a preferable word, for movements abounded. To the extent that these areas were separate one can identify similar motive forces, all characteristic of their era(s) and all of permanent value. The most important of these forces was that called “postmodernism,” more a loose coalition than a monolithic enterprise, and fittingly so, since monolithic enterprises were among the leading targets of the postmodern impulses. Postmodernism was a reasonable development in a transitional era that saw...


    • Why Thekla Does Not See Paul: Visual Perception and the Displacement of Erōs in the Acts of Paul and Thekla
      (pp. 3-20)
      Jennifer Eyl

      The protagonists’ experience of “love at first sight” is a standard feature in the genre¹ of the Greek romantic novel.² The heroes and heroines’ later struggles — to remain faithful to one another despite a volley of misfortunes, apparent deaths, and unsolicited sexual advances — all develop from the moment when they are first stricken with erōs. Without such intense passion for one another, the characters’ resolve to remain chaste might weaken.³ Each of the romances identifies the eyes as the biological portals through which Erōs/erōs, desire for the other, enters the human body and takes possession of the soul. After they...

    • (Un)Happily Ever After: Literary and Religious Tensions in the Endings of the Apocryphal Acts of Paul and Thecla
      (pp. 21-34)
      Robin J. Greene

      Much discussion of the Greek novels in the past several decades has concentrated on how their endings reflect and support the contemporary social ideals represented within each narrative and realized at the conclusion of the novel. Despite a long journey and countless dangers, the story’s heroine successfully protects her virginity so that she may wed the young man of provincial high standing and produce citizen children. The maiden thus experiences, endures, and escapes the unpredictable environment beyond the walls of her childhood home and returns to fulfill her social destiny as the matron of a new household. Civic and domestic...

    • The Two Ephesian Matrons: Drusiana’s Story in the Acts of John as a Possible Christian Response to Milesian Narrative
      (pp. 35-48)
      Paola Francesca Moretti

      The first Ephesian matron is, of course, the best known. In Petronius’Satyricon(110,6-113,2),² Eumolpus relates a story from his own time concerning a matron living in Ephesus: an honest wife³ follows her dead husband into the tomb, willing to die; amiles, who is in the vicinity looking after a crucified man, succeeds in seducing her in the tomb and, when the crucified man is stolen from the cross, is saved by the woman, who lets her husband’s corpse be crucified.

      We read the story of the second Ephesian matron in the apocryphalActs of John(henceAJ), composed...

    • Virginity at Stake: Greek Novels, Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles, and the Dionysiaca of Nonnus Panopolitanu
      (pp. 49-64)
      Vincent Giraudet

      In Nonnus’Dionysiaca, Books 33-35 make up one piece of narrative which could be called “the novel of Morrheus and Chalcomede”. Hit by one of Eros’ arrows, the champion of the Indian army Morrheus falls in love with the Bacchant Chalcomede; whereas she tries to protect her virginity at any cost, she chooses to pretend to love him back in order to keep him away from the battlefield. They meet several times depending on the circumstances of the battle; but at the end, when he becomes too insistent, she manages to deter him for good, and the two characters are...

    • Wild Kingdom: Animal Episodes in the Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles
      (pp. 65-76)
      Janet Elizabeth Spittler

      The five major apocryphal acts of the apostles have more than once been described as having the dual purpose of entertaining and educating their audiences. When modern authors discuss these two purposes, they often give examples: the edification is often found in speeches or hymns; lists of the entertaining passages – the comic relief – invariably include animal-related episodes. In fact, the apocryphal acts are full of animals. Snakes, lions, leopards, bears, bulls, dogs, bedbugs, asses, wild asses, seals, a tuna fish and a partridge all appear in these narratives – some friendly, some vicious, some even with the capacity for human speech....


    • Joseph and Aseneth in Greek literary history: The Case of the “First Novel”
      (pp. 79-106)
      Nina Braginskaya

      As of today, no real scholarly consensus has emerged as to the date and genre of ‘Joseph and Aseneth’ (JosAs).* Termini post quem /ante quem are the middle of the 2 B.C.E. and 4 - the beginning of 5 C.E.¹ Its genre is variously described by students as ‘romance’, ‘love story’,‘roman à clef’, ‘allegory’, or ‘novel’, ‘wisdom tale’ with the background in Egyptian astrology, merkavah mysticism, apologia for the Heliopolis temple, and many others. However, the majority of researchers acknowledge theJosAsto be a Jewish Hellenistic work and consequently place it in time after the translation of LXX...


    • Jesus Was No Sophist: Education in Early Christian Fiction
      (pp. 109-132)
      Judith Perkins

      In his study of the Second Sophistic, Thomas Schmitz proposes that the rigorous linguistic standards of this cultural movement reduced the participation of the “masses” in public discourse. According to Schmitz, the non-elite acquiesced to their loss of civic presence and influence because their lack of a ‘proper’ education naturalized and legitimated their exclusion. The elite proclaimed their superiority through theirpaideiaand their philanthropy, and the masses with little objection came to internalize and accept their inferiority, not unhappy to leave public decisions and responsibilities in the hands of their superiors.¹

      However, this process may not have been as...

    • Reading the Protevangelium Jacobi as an Ancient Novel
      (pp. 133-138)
      Oliver Ehlen

      At the end of the second century AD an unknown author or redactor wrote a very fascinating Greek text, which seems to be composed in a very straight and simple manner and tells us about Mary, Joseph and the birth of Christ. Fortunately the whole text is preserved on a papyrus from the third century; the gap between the original and the earliest copy is quite small. At the end of the text the narrator calls himself Jacobus in aSphragis. Therefore the text is usually known asProtevangelium Jacobi.But theProtevangelium Jacobideals not only with the birth...

    • Charicleia the Martyr: Heliodorus and Early Christian Narrative
      (pp. 139-152)
      Rosa M. Andújar

      Since the early twentieth century, scholars have noted that the Christian Apocryphal Acts bear a striking thematic and narrative resemblance to the ancient Greek novels.² The pervasive similarities and parallels between the two are not surprising given that not only do both feature the same geographic and cultural context – the late antique Hellenic world – but also that bothcorporareveal as well as examine the social concerns of the period for a particular audience: the novel for urban élites, and the Apocrypha for the emerging Christians.³ Both were often presumed to have had a predominantly female readership due to the...

    • Marriages Spoiled: The Deconstruction of Novel Discourse in Early Christian Novel Narratives
      (pp. 153-168)
      Martina Hirschberger

      The affinity of the Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles to Greek romantic novels has long been recognized.¹ Both genres share a number of themes and motives, but these are used to quite different ends. The romantic novels mirror the values of the Greek-speaking elites in the eastern part of the Roman Empire:² The heroes themselves, a young couple of noble descent and great beauty, incorporate these values and thus, after temporal loss of status and adventures in foreign lands, are able to regain their home and social position. The ideal of chastity aims at establishing or preserving a legitimate marriage....


    • We-Passages in Acts as Mission Narrative
      (pp. 171-188)
      Warren S. Smith

      One of the most persistent narrative puzzles in the New Testament concerns the inconsistencies of the narrative voice in the Book of Acts and the apparent introduction of the author or narrator as one of the participants in his own story starting in the 16thchapter. The Acts of the Apostles is an anonymous work (as are all four Gospels), linked in authorship to the Gospel of Luke by its prologue, which, like the Gospel, addresses a certain “Theophilus”. This brief personal allusion in the dedication of the Gospel includes a reassurance to Theophilus, that because of the author’s careful...

    • Viri mirantur facilius quam imitantur: Passio Perpetuae in the Literature of the Ancient Church (Tertullian, acta martyrum, and Augustine)
      (pp. 189-202)
      Petr Kitzler

      ThePassio Perpetuae et Felicitatis (Pass. Perp.), one of the most remarkable early Christian martyrological texts, has been enjoying a renewal of scholarly interest in the last decades, the result of which was the publication of editions and commentaries,¹ as well as the production of an array of studies, focusing on thePass. Perp.from philological, literary, theological, psychological, historical, feminist and many other points of view.² In this paper, therefore, I do not want to concentrate on thePass. Perp.itself again and analyze it; instead I would like here to draw attention to the code represented by the...

    • Telling What’s Beyond the Known: The Epistolary Novel and the Afterlife of the Apostle Paul in the Pastoral Epistles
      (pp. 203-214)
      Timo Glaser

      New Testament scholars have frequently noticed the familiar and yet strange setting of the so-called Pastoral Epistles (1 and 2 Timothy, Titus): It seems as if one knows the story already. At a closer glance, however, it becomes apparent that this is not so. Instead these letters give a different account of familiar stories.

      Take as an example the imprisonment of the apostle Paul in Rome. As his letter to the Romans indicates, Paul planned to go to Rome after his visit to Jerusalem. Critical analysis of the extant undisputed correspondence does not prove that Paul went to Rome.¹ The...

  10. Abstracts
    (pp. 215-220)
    Jennifer Eyl
  11. Contributors
    (pp. 221-224)
  12. Indices
    (pp. 225-230)