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

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,


Part One is an introduction to the question of the ActPl and the Pauline legacy. Chapter One argues that scholars neglect the ActPl as a source for the study of the second-century Pauline legacy, though they generally accept that a polemical relationship exists between the ActPl and the Pastoral Epistles (PE). The neglect is attributed to the late date (ca. AD 180) often assigned to the ActPl, but it is also possible that the ActPl originated much earlier (first half of the second century). Chapter Two is a study of the Pauline itinerary of the ActPl with attention to its sources. In relating Paul’s missionary activities from Damascus to Rome, the ActPl tends to agree with the Pauline epistles and to diverge significantly from the Book of Acts. The author of the ActPl may not have known the Book of Acts but composed his imaginative account from certain Pauline epistles (esp. Galatians, 1 Corinthians, and 2 Timothy) and from traditions concerning Paul which are no longer extant.

Part Two examines the relationship between the PE and the ActPl. The conflict between the PE and the ActPl regarding the role of women in the church and regarding asceticism proves to be superficial (chs. 3-4). On the other hand, remarkable resemblances on diverse issues of the Christian life show that the relationship between the ActPl and the PE is amicable and that the author of the ActPl embodies in narrative form the principles and practices which the PE legislate (ch. 5). It is argued that 3 Cor is a source used in the ActPl and that the theologies of both 3 Cor and the ActPl fit well in the Great Church of the first-half of the second century (ch. 6). The ActPl and the PE, thus, reflect agreement rather than incompatibility. The conclusion of Part Two is that the author of the ActPl knew the PE and used them in a favorable light.

Part Three treats the Paulinism of the ActPl in three chapters (7-9). Chapter Seven studies the multifaceted image of Paul in the ActPl, discovering that the Pauline epistles often inspire this image. Chapter Eight covers Pauline texts, ideas, and theology which emerge in the ActPl, finding that the ActPl often provides a narrative interpretation of the Pauline epistles, reapplying their contents to a new situation in the second century. Chapter Nine assesses the Paulinism of the ActPl: What Pauline Corpus does the author possess, and what is for him the center of Paul? This center involves the hope of a physical resurrection for which the Christian embraces the ascetic lifestyle of the future age in the likeness of the heavenly angels, renounces luxuries, beauty, and riches, which will burn in the eschatological fire, and even desires to die unjustly at the hands of wicked men in perfect imitation of the Lord Jesus. Far from being unimportant for the study of the Pauline legacy, the ActPl offers a rare view of a second-century understanding of Paul and his epistles.

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

  1. […] paper largely draws from my 1996 doctoral dissertation with a few additional […]

  2. […] and thematic ties make it almost inescable that author of the beatitudes in the ActPl knows 1 Cor (see my dissertation, 171-173); in the case of Matt 5, knowledge of the gospel is likely, though it is conceivable that […]

  3. […] of Acts and said, “Here is a work worthy to take to heaven”–thus, implying that a study of the Acts of Paul would fail to make the grade.  He also mentioned that I wouldn’t get a job, which turned out […]

  4. […] showing that in my forthcoming paper on the NT in the Acts of Paul, buttressing arguments I made in my dissertation (ch. 2).  So I wouldn’t say that the appearance of Luke and Titus together would say […]

  5. […] Thecla, it is only approximately 300 years off the mark. Consider also, that numerous articles and my PhD dissertation are available at Acta Pauli in PDF format, and a link to Dr. Jeremy Barrier’s PhD […]

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