“Fruit of his/their loins” in Acts 2.30 and Acts of Paul XIII, 5

January 30, 2009

Acts cites Psalm 131.11, but the LXX has κοιλία not the term ὀσφῦς.  Irenaeus comments on Psalm 131.11 that it must be the womb of woman, since Jesus was born not of a David’s loins from the belly of the virgin Mary (haer. 3.21.5; ANF 1[sic]):

And when He says, “Hear, O house of David,” He performed the part of one indicating that He whom God promised David that He would raise up from the fruit of his belly (ventris) an eternal King, is the same who was born of the Virgin, herself of the lineage of David. For on this account also, He promised that the King should be “of the fruit of his belly,” which was the appropriate [term to use with respect] to a virgin conceiving, and not “of the fruit of his loins,” nor “of the fruit of his reins,” which expression is appropriate to a generating man, and a woman conceiving by a man.

Irenaeus here discusses Psalm 131.11 without regard to Acts, since he contradicts Luke on this point.  If it is possible for Irenaeus to know the expression “fruit of the belly” and “fruit of loins” without reference to Acts, it is likewise possible for the author of the Acts of Paul, to use the term without knowing Acts, contra Julian Hills, Semeia 80 (1997) 152f. Furthermore, it is not excluded that a copy of the LXX available to both Luke and the author of the Acts of Paul had this variant reading. H. Seesemann writes (s.v. ὀσφῦς,TDNT 5.497):  “From Ac. 2:30 ὀσφύος came into the LXX Codex R saec VI.”  Is this possibly a genuine variant that Luke knew?  Perhaps someone out there in the blog world knows the answer to this question.

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Tertullian and the Acts of Thecla or Paul? Readership of the Ancient Christian Novel and the Invocation of Thecline and Pauline Authority

January 30, 2009

Tertullian is uncomfortable with an authoritative text, entitled the Acts of Paul, which records a tradition of Paul, where Paul authorizes a woman to teach, and as a result of her teaching authorization, she also has the right to baptize. This Pauline tradition is threatening to Tertullian because it threatens to undermine the necessity of a Bishop, who plays a significant role in the baptismal process. I am going to make the argument that Tertullian is concerned that the Cainite woman and others have found and are using a Pauline tradition that threatens to eliminate the need for the hierarchical episcopate of the early church, rendering the dominant orthodox model as useless. Read More (pdf) ….


The Date of the Acts of Paul

January 28, 2009

One of my great pet peeves with scholars who write about the Acts of Paul is their dating of the document.  Let’s start with the termini:

The terminus ante-quem is Tertullian (de Bapt.); the terminus post-quem is possibly the death of Thecla, recounted in III, 42, which recounts that she slept a beautiful sleep.  We don’t know what year this was, but supposing she lived to a ripe old age, ca. 120.  But the passage does not exist in Heidelberg Papyrus, and it cannot be sure that it was not added by the Seleucian cult of Thecla at the time the Acts of Paul and Thecla were detached and transmitted separately.  Thus, we are left with the death of Paul under Nero.  So the date of writing is between ca. AD 64 and 200.

Many recent scholars, with the notable exception of Rordorf (AD 150, EAC, 1.1122), assign a late second-century date to the Acts of Paul with little or no argumentation (Elliot, ANT, 357; Hills, Bauckham, and Marguerat in Semeia 80 [1997] pp. 146,161, 170 respectively).   A date is largely assumed without criteria.  I think that most scholars uncritically accept Schneemelcher’s dating, as his two vols. NTA have became a standard primer to the subject; he says (NTA 2nd ed, p. 235):
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Artemylla’s Dismissal (Acts of Paul IX, 21)

January 25, 2009

When Paul baptized Artemylla, he dismissed her to Jerome (IX, 21) ἀπέλυσεν πρὸς Ἰερώνυμον τὸν ἄνδρα αὐτης.  Now it is curious that Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church (3.469-70, n. 3 [ § 90]), explains where the etymology of the term “Mass” in the Western church:

Missa is equivalent to missio, dismissio, and meant originally the dismission of the congregation after the service by the customary formula: Ite, missa est (ecclesia). After the first part of the service the catechumens were thus dismissed by the deacon, after the second part the faithful. But with the fusion of the two parts in one, the formula of dismission was used only at the close, and then it came to signify also the service itself, more especially the eucharistic sacrifice. In the Greek church the corresponding formula of dismission was: ἀπολύεσθε ἐν εἰρήνῃ, i.e., ite in pace (Apost. Const. lib. viii. c. 15). Ambrosius is the first who uses missa, missam facere (Ep. 20), for the eucharistic sacrifice.

It is not unreasonable, then, to suggest that this reference is evidence that the Eucharistic service ended already in the second century with an official dismissal from the leader.


Response to the SBL 1994 Seminar Papers of Richard I. Pervo and Julian V. Hills

January 24, 2009

In Semeia 80 (1997) 147, Julian Hills writes:

Responses were invited from Richard J. Bauckham (1994), who had recently written on the Acts of Paul as a sequel to Acts (1993), and from Rordorf (1994). These responses have not been published, but were duplicated and distributed among those attending the November 19 meeting.

As the translator of that essay, I am pleased to publish that essay here on Acta Pauli:

Response to the SBL 1994 Seminar Papers of Richard I. Pervo and Julian V. Hills,

by Willy Rordorf

To begin with, I would like to thank my friend Dennis R. MacDonald for having sent me the two seminar papers in advance of the meeting at Chicago. I will use this opportunity by responding with a few brief comments. The American whom I have at hand, Peter W. Dunn, kindly produced the English translation of this text. By the way, he has just handed in, at the University of Cambridge, his doctoral thesis entitled, “The Acts of Paul and the Pauline Legacy.”

I am thrilled to realize the growing interest of some American researchers in the Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles, but especially in the Acts of Paul. I am convinced that we here on the “old continent” can only profit from the fresh contribution which comes from these Americans, even though we cannot always agree with all of their hypotheses.

Concerning the papers of Pervo and Hills, I will limit myself here to a few general considerations which nevertheless seem important to me.

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The Acts of Paul and the Pauline Legacy (Cambridge, 1996)

January 21, 2009

The Acts of Paul and the Pauline Legacy in the Second Century (pdf; 1.3 mb)

At long last I offer my PhD dissertation on the world wide web.  Perhaps an explanation is necessary as to why I failed to publish it before now.  I began writing a commentary on the Acts of Paul and I hoped to exploit the written material in the dissertation.  But I have since learned that the writing of an extended argument about the Acts of Paul is very different than writing a commentary, and I find now that there will be minimal overlap in the two publications.

I am offering it as a web publication in the hopes of encouraging others to make their work available on the internet free of charge.  The internet in my view is perfectly suited for this sort of academic publication.  My work in Africa, where bibliographic material is not readily available encourages me to publish on the internet as well.  I retain the copyright and all rights are reserved.  The security features in the pdf will prevent users from using copy and paste feature, but it is possible to print the document.

My thanks to Prof. Willy Rordorf my Doktorvater; and to the late Dr. Caroline Bammel, the Rev. Dr. Lionel Wickham, and Prof. Morna Hooker, my supervisors in Cambridge; and to the late Dr. Ernst Bammel, Dr. Stuart G. Hall, and Prof. William Horbury, my examiners.

For a summary, Read the rest of this entry »


Dennis MacDonald vs. Dennis MacDonald

January 17, 2009

Question:  Is the Patroclus’ story in Acts of Paul XIV dependent on the story of Eutychus in Acts 20:7-12?

In 1983 Dennis R. MacDonalid wrote in his stimulating monograph on the Acts of Paul, The Legend and the Apostle:  The Battle for Paul in Story and Canon (p. 25-26):

It is possible, of course, that the author knew of the story from Acts and substituted Patroclus’ name for Eutychus, but it is also possible that both he and the author of Acts knew of the story from oral tradition.  Only our Western prejudice for written dependence would make us think the author picked this story out of a book and not out of the tale-rich air.

I met MacDonald for the first time in 1992, when he presented a paper in French (bravo!) to Willy Rordorf’s undergraduate seminar on the Acts of Paul at University of Neuchatel.  The title of the paper was, “Les Actes de Paul et les Actes des Apotres canoniques:  Le cas d’Eutyche et Patrocle”.  Another English version of this paper later appeared in the Journal of Higher Criticism 1 (1994) 4-24, entitled “Luke’s Eutychus and Homer’s Elpenor:  Acts 20:7-12 and Odyssey 10-12“.   In it he writes:

Pursuing a suggestion of Wilhelm Schneemelcher, Willy Rordorf argued that the author of The Acts of Paul did not know of the tale from the canonical Acts but from oral tradition.  Unfortunately, Rordorf does not make his argument from an analysis of the stories themselves but from cumulative observations concerning the relationship between Acts and The Acts of Paul. The two stories do bear remarkable similarities—too many and too closely verbal to have derived from oral tradition.

Now it is curious that MacDonald seems to have amnesia about his own position of eleven years earlier.  In Legend, his view of oral tradition is germane to his whole argument (that the Pastoral Epistles battle the oral traditions later told in the Acts of Paul).