Review of Elisabeth Esch-Wermeling, Thekla – Paulusschülerin wider Willen? Strategien der Leserlenkung in den Theklaakten, by Richard Pervo

May 16, 2009

Richard I. Pervo has sent me this link to his review of Elisabeth Esch-Wermeling.  Thekla—Paulusschülerin wider Willen? Strategien der Leserlenkung in den Theklaakten. Neutestamentliche Abhandlungen 53.  Münster: Aschendorff, 2008. Pp. 376. Hardcover.  €56.00. ISBN 3402114364.

Pervo writes:

The most complete text of the Acts of Paul is to be found in Willy Rordorf et al., “Actes de Paul,” in Écrits apocryphes chrétiens 1 (ed. F. Bovon and P. Geoltrain; Paris: Gallimard, 1997), 1115–77, supplemented by Rodolphe Kasser and Philippe Luisier, “Le Papyrus Bodmer XLI en Édition Princeps l’Épisode d’Èphèse des Acta Pauli en Copte et en Traduction,” Le Muséon 117 (2004): 281–384. This translation is a preview of Rordorf’s forthcoming edition.

Kasser-Luiser text is the editio princeps of the Coptic Bodmer Papyrus of the Ephesian Episode; Pierre Cherix will be providing a fresh look at Bodmer Papyrus XLI in his text for the CChrSA, which will contain with some differences from the Kasser-Luiser translation and text.  Pervo is correct to say that the translation of Rordorf in Écrits apocryphes chrétiens is a preview of the coming edition, because it is based upon the Greek text which Rordorf has not yet published.

As Esch-Wermeling demonstrates, chapters 3 and 4 have different theological, ethical, and ecclesiological orientations. They rely upon different literary models. With the brief and partial exception of Paul, they share one major character. That character, Thecla, is, to a large degree, two different persons who happen to share the same name.

This point alone will make the monograph of Esch-Wermeling worth reading.  I wonder to what degree it would be an elaboration of Anne Jensen‘s view that the Antiochean episode is the more historical unit.

If ecclesiology were the basis for dating Acts of Paul, they would be considered earlier than the canonical Acts, for church officers do not exist. The local house church appears to be an independent entity. One of its functions is to serve as a base for itinerant missionaries, including Titus, Paul, and, to at least a degree, Thecla.

I’ve used  the ecclesiological argument to say that the Act of Paul is earlier (100-125) than most scholars have previously admitted.  That date I think is earlier or at least contemporaneous with Pervo’s date for Acts.  Now I would be interested to know if Pervo now believes that Acts is later than Acts of Paul.  I argued the contrary at the Ottawa Workshop two years ago, and I hold an early date for Acts.  But I wonder now, Richard, if you would still insist that the Acts of Paul has the intention of supplanting Acts?

Thanks Richard for reviewing this book and signalling it to me for addition here.  I look forward to receiving a copy and working through Esch-Wermeling’s work.  Cheers.


Does the author of the Acts of Paul conflate Hermogenes, Hymenaeus, Alexander, Demas, Phygelus, and Philetus into two people? By Richard G. Fellows

May 12, 2009

Note:  Richard Fellows is a specialist in personal names in the New Testament.  He has a website devoted to Name changes and aliases in the New Testament.  He has published the following articles:  “Was Titus Timothy?” JSNT 81 (2001): 33-58; “Renaming in Paul’s churches: the case of Crispus-Sosthenes revisited” (pdf), Tyndale Bulletin 56 (2005) 111-130; and “Protective silences in Acts and Paul’s letters” (as guest blogger at Chris Tilling’s Christendom), March 2007. I’m now happy to post his thoughts on Demas and Hermogenes in the Acts of Paul.  PWD

Does the author of the Acts of Paul conflate Hermogenes, Hymenaeus, Alexander, Demas, Phygelus, and Philetus into two people? By Richard G. Fellows

Here the the most important texts:

2 Timothy

2 Tim 1:15 “You are aware that all who are in Asia have turned away from me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes.”

2 Tim 2:16-18 “Avoid profane chatter, for it will lead people into more and more impiety, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth by claiming that the resurrection has already taken place. They are upsetting the faith of some.”
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La folie de Wikipédia: Actes de Paul et Thècle (Une critique et une note)

May 4, 2009

This is the French version of the previous post.

Pour Anonymous Dissident (qui a enlevé mon lien vers Acta Pauli de l’article ci-après critiqué)

Compte tenu de la correspondance que j’ai pu avoir avec Anonymous Dissident, un éditeur de Wikipedia, j’ai décidé de commencer à critiquer les articles liés aux Actes de Paul chez Wikipedia. Commençons avec le français. S’il vous plaît, gardez à l’esprit que je fais l’évaluation de l’article tel qu’il est examiné aujourd’hui, mais qu’il peut changer à tout moment.

Titre: Actes de Paul et Thècle – Je ne vois rien d’inexact avec le titre de l’article. Passons donc à la ligne 1.

Première partie: Origine du texte

Ligne 1: Les Actes de Paul et de Thècle sont une histoire apocryphe “de l’influence de Paul sur une jeune vierge nommée Thècle et la vie romancée de celle-ci.” Les Actes de Paul et de Thècle ne sont pas une “vie” romancée de Thècle, parce qu’ils ne racontent que ses deux expériences de martyre à Iconium et à Antioche ; il y a un court résumé de comment elle s’est rendue à Séleucie (IV, 18), a  illuminé de nombreuses personnes, et  s’est endormie dans un beau sommeil. Par contre, le texte du 5e siècle Ps. Basile est intitulé, “Vie et Miracles de Thècle”.  Une partie de ce texte est présentée chez “Le Champ du Midrash” comme s’il s’agissait du texte du deuxième siècle (voir le lien externe). Le bon titre en grec, cependant, est ΠΡΑΞΕΙΣ, “Actes” (Voir texte chez Dagron, titre).

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Wikipedia Follies: Actes de Paul et Thècle (A critique with a grade)

May 3, 2009

[Cet article est aussi disponible en français]

For Anonymous Dissident (who removed my link to Acta Pauli from the article herein critiqued)

In view of the extended correspondence that I’ve been able to have with Anonymous Dissident, a Wikipedia editor, I’ve decided to begin to critique the Acts of Paul related articles in Wikipedia.  Let’s start with the French.  Please bear in mind that I am evaluating the French article as it looked today but that it can change at any time.

Title: Acts of Paul and Thecla (Actes de Paul et Thècle) — I suppose there is nothing wrong with the title of the article.  Shall we move to line 1?

Part One: Origine du texte

Line 1:  The Acts of Paul is an apocryphal story “of the influence of Paul on young virgin named Thecla and the novelized life of the girl” (de l’influence de Paul sur une jeune vierge nommée Thècle et la vie romancée de celle-ci.)  The Acts of Paul and Thecla is not a novelized “life” of Thecla, because it only recounts her two martyrdom experiences in Iconium and Antioch, with a short summary of how she went down to Seleucia (IV, 18), illumined many and slept a beautiful sleep.  However, the 5th century text of Ps. Basil is entitled, “Life and Miracles of Thecla”.  A part of this text is presented at “Le Champ du Midrash” as though it were the second century text (see the external link).  The proper title in Greek, however, is ΠΡΑΞΕΙΣ, “Acts” (See text in Dagron, title).
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Wikipedia Follies: Response to Anonymous Dissident

May 2, 2009

Anonymous Dissident wrote a very kind and pertinent reply to my complaint that he had taken down the links to Acta Pauli that I put in articles in the French and German Wikipedia on Acts of Paul and Thecla (etc).  I reproduce his reply, which shows that he is a thoughtful young man with a great future:

Anonymous Dissident Says:
May 1, 2009 at 9:55 pm

The action I took in removing links to this site was not the result of the ill-discretion of a twelve year old (who is now approximately two years older than posited by this entry — while you may possess PhDs, you’ve neglected to review your sources and their dates of publishing properly here), but rather one prescribed by Wikipedia policy. See [this link] for more, with particular attention to the recommendation for blogs in the “links to be avoided” section. Posts like this one, which does not concern anything remotely educational or pertinent to an encyclopedia, lead me to believe that this blog does not meet the criterion thereat explicated.

My Wikipedia related-posts are a signal to scholars and others interested in the Acts of Paul that Wikipedia will be unhelpful if they want reliable information on Acts of Paul related subjects–I could spend the time to critique its articles line by line, but the rapidly changing content of that platform creates a significant challenge.  Why provide a critique against something that could soon be gone?
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