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The Ascetic Subculture of the Acts of Thomas and His Wonderworking Skin
University College Stockholm, Stockholm School of Theology, Department of Religious Studies and Theology. Åbo Akademi.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2203-7977
2024 (English)In: Vigiliae christianae (Print), ISSN 0042-6032, E-ISSN 1570-0720, Vol. 78, no 1, p. 8-31Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In a fourth- or fifth-century narrative known as the Acts of Thomas and his Wonderworking Skin, Jesus sells the apostle Thomas as a slave to the governor of India. When the governor’s wife converts to Christianity, dumps all her earthly riches outside her front door, and turns celibate, the governor has the apostle tortured and his skin flayed off, but Thomas survives, and uses his peeled-off skin to raise the dead. This paper uses Kathryn Tanner’s concept of culture to compare the ideals advocated by this story – servitude to Christ, voluntary poverty, sexual abstinence, readiness to suffer, and zeal for evangelization – to ideals expressed in first-century Christian literature. The subculture expressed by the narrative is found to consist entirely of ideals also expressed in the New Testament, which are updated, recontextualized, and radicalized in order to reach an audience of fourth- or fifth-century Christians.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2024. Vol. 78, no 1, p. 8-31
Keywords [en]
apocryphal acts; celibacy; encratism; mission; poverty; slavery
National Category
Religious Studies
Research subject
Biblical Studies, New testament
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ths:diva-1944DOI: 10.1163/15700720-bja10073OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ths-1944DiVA, id: diva2:1784299
Available from: 2023-07-26 Created: 2023-07-26 Last updated: 2024-01-26Bibliographically approved

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Berglund, Carl Johan

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