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Between Biography and Paradoxography: Unveiling the Genre of the Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles
University College Stockholm, Stockholm School of Theology, Department of Religious Studies and Theology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2203-7977
2021 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The extra-canonical Acts of the apostles John, Paul, Peter, Andrew, and Thomas have traditionally been understood as heretical offshoots from the canonical Acts of the Apostles, complementing the canonical material in order to promulgate an alternative version of early Christianity. This view not only overemphasizes the dogmatic difference between their authors and other early Christians, but also obstructs the crucial discussion about their genre.

This paper argues that in the context of Greco-Roman literature, the apocryphal acts exhibit considerable resemblances to two established ancient genres: biography and paradoxography. Greco-Roman biography included not only the historiographically oriented bioi of well-known rulers and politicians, but also – at least at an earlier stage of its development – fictional narratives about historical figures, such as Xenophon’s Anabasis and Cyropaedia. Ancient paradoxography is a surprisingly little known genre that flourished from early Hellenistic times well into the Byzantine era. It was aimed at collecting descriptions of wonders (θαῦματα), strange things (ἴδια), and phenomena that goes against our expectations (παράδοξα) – not from observations of nature but from previous literary works. With their claims to chronicle the famous apostles’ wondrous deeds throughout the known world, the apocryphal acts can be said to participate in both of these genres.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2021.
National Category
Religious Studies
Research subject
Biblical Studies, New testament
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ths:diva-1419OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ths-1419DiVA, id: diva2:1586059
Conference
EABS(European Association of Biblical Studies), Wuppertal,Germany, August 2–5
Available from: 2021-08-18 Created: 2021-08-18 Last updated: 2023-10-11Bibliographically approved

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Berglund, Carl Johan

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard-theologisches-seminar-adelshofen
  • sodertorns-hogskola-harvard
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Language
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