Dr. Jeremy W. Barrier, The Acts of Paul and Thecla

November 16, 2009

I just received my complimentary copy of Jeremy W. Barrier, The Acts of Paul and Thecla, WUNT 2 reihe, 270.  Thanks Jeremy.  And congratulations

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-Anonymous Dissident

April 23, 2009

I’ve learned that Anonymous Dissident, who removed my links from the French and German articles on the Acts of Paul and Thecla, is 12 approximately 14 years old.  Wow, that’s pretty cool Wikipedia!  A 12 approximately 14 year old is able to eliminate a link to this site which is being published by people with PhDs.  Now I’m sure that Anonymous Dissident is very mature for the age of 12 approximately 14, but it does lower the status of Wikipedia considerably when scholars can’t even add a little insignificant link to your so-called encyclopedia.

The French article in question (you will have to find it yourself because I will not be linking to Wikipedia anymore), includes a external link to Le Champ du Midrash.  Anonymous Dissident has insufficient ability to discern between what is a scholarly site for the study of the Acts of Paul and a site that obviously not at the same level.  What Le Champ du Midrash presents a “texte du travail” for the Acts of Paul and Thecla is actually a translation excerpt of Ps. Basil of Seleucia’s Life of St. Thecla, a fifth century text (at least the part that I checked).  Well, it would be nice if Le Champ du Midrash would inform its readers of that little bit of trivia, instead of providing the French of what is supposed to be a second-century text.  Very shoddy indeed.

I read once that blogs are, “The uninformed writing to the ill-informed.”  The people in the Wikipedia hierarchy don’t seem to be able to tell what is credible and what is not.  Yet Wikipedia is given high priority in just about every google search ever done on any subject.

Wikipedia Follies, auf Deutsch

April 16, 2009

A user called “Anonymous Dissident” removed from “Thekla (Heilige)” the link to Prof. Annette Merz’s post, “Thekla und Timotheus beraten Paulus bei der Abfassung des Römerbriefs“, which is by far the most popular article on Acta Pauli to date.

I deeply question the merit of a so-called Encyclopedia, when a valid link to a scholarly site can be removed by some moron who does not know the first thing about the subject.

Wikipedia follies

April 8, 2009

I’ve added links to Acta Pauli to Wikipedia’s articles s.v.,  “Acts of Paul”, “Acts of Paul and Thecla”, “Epistle of the Corinthians to Paul”, and “Third Epistle to the Corinthians”.  Today in making edits, I’ve noticed that they can be reverted very quickly back to the original.  They took out my external links in a couple of cases.

Ok Wikipedia.  If your intention is to remove edits by scholars in the field then you have your wish.  I will no longer support your platform for my scholarly endeavors.

But bear in mind that your articles on the Acts of Paul and 3 Corinthians are inaccurate and could use some serious help from people like me.  For one thing, there should not be two articles for 3 Cor:  it is a single apocryphon, not two (I suggested this in my edit I made and it was gone with minutes).  There probably should be single treatment of Acts of Paul and the Acts of Paul and Thecla since the latter is originally part of the former.

Oral tradition units and the Acts of Paul

March 24, 2009

I am currently writing an article on the New Testament in the Acts of Paul. Therefore, I’ve been thinking about the nature of the traditions that are found in the AP.  Several scholars have assumed that the author AP knew and adapted the canonical Acts (e.g., R. Pervo [JHC 2 (1995) 3-32], R. Bauckham [“The Acts of Paul as a Sequel to Acts”] , later D. R. MacDonald [Legend and Apostle argued for oral tradition], D. Marguerat; see Semeia 80; 1994 SBL Seminar Papers). I am formulating a view that oral tradition is a better way of explaining the relation between Acts and the AP. But it is also necessary to take a stance on oral tradition in coming to grips with the nature of the composition of the AP generally. That is, if it is primarily an ancient novel, oral tradition would play a secondary role to literary considerations. Thus, J. Barrier is able to doubt the historical existence of Thecla (perhaps this point is unfair and Jeremy would care to correct it).
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Online Greek Texts of the Acts of Paul

March 20, 2009

Acta Pauli online Greek text (no apparatus) in unicode.  I was confused about this website because for some reason, the unicode Greek fonts did not appear correctly in Firefox.  This problem was solved by viewing the page in MS Internet explorer 7.

The texts include the Hamburg Papyrus, Acts of Paul and Thecla (Lipsius), the Martyrdom of Paul (Libsius) and 3 Corinthians (Papyrus Bodmer X).

The main website (http://patrologia.narod.ru/) contains other biblical studies and Patristic texts in Hebrew and Greek.

Rostalski, Die Sprache der griechischen Paulusakten

March 11, 2009

Friedrich Rostalski, Die Sprache der griechischen Paulusakten mit Beruecksichtigung ihrer lateinischen Uebersetzungen.  Myslowitz: Buchdruckereri Max Roelle, 1913.  (pdf 2.15 mb)

Thekla und Timotheus beraten Paulus bei der Abfassung des Römerbriefs

February 13, 2009


Ich möchte hier gern meine Lieblingshandschrift des NT präsentieren, auf die ich vor Jahren durch eine zufällige Google-Suche gestoßen bin und über die ich gern mehr erfahren würde. Die Miniatur verziert den Anfang des Römerbriefes.

Die damals offiziell im www verfügbare Information darüber lautete:

Psalter and New Testament Manuscript (olim Pantocrator 49):

St. Paul with St. Thecla and St. Timothy
Constantinople, ca 1084

frame and text h: 4 3/4″ (12cm)
frame w: 2 3/4″ (6.9cm)
Acc. no. 62.35

Dumbarton Oaks, Washington DC

Inzwischen gibt es mehr Information über die Handschrift unter http://museum.doaks.org/Obj27038?sid=298&x=36666# (besucht am 13.2.2009) aber über die obige Abbildung konnte ich bisher nichts in Erfahrung bringen.

Ein paar Bemerkungen dazu:

1. Paulus ist offensichtlich so abgebildet, dass es dem Porträt in den Acta Pauli et Theclae 3 [ΙΙΙ, 3] entspricht.

2. Thekla und Timotheus sehen Paulus beim Schreiben zu, was bedeutet, dass Thekla als weibliche Apostelnachfolgerin dem Lieblingsschüler Timotheus an die Seite gestellt wird. Eine Repräsentantin der apokryphen Tradition also Seite an Seite mit dem Hauptadressaten der späten kanonischen Paulustradition.

3. Obwohl die Acta Pauli nicht kanonisch geworden sind, haben sie über die Abbildung hier ihren Weg in den Kanon gefunden, gleiches passierte bekanntlich auch mit dem Text in einigen byzantinischen Handschriften zu 2 Tim 3,11 und 4,19. Für die Leserschaft der byzantinischen Minuskel könnte die Botschaft der Miniatur lauten: Was Paulus Timotheus anvertraut hat (in 1 / 2 Tim) und was er an Thekla weitergab, ist gleichwertige Tradition.

4. Auch wenn das nicht die historische Absicht ist, illustriert die Abbildung schön, dass die ntl. Autoren und sicher Paulus keine isolierten Schreibtischtäter waren, dass vielmehr ihre Schriften im Austausch mit Apostelkollegen/-innen entstanden. Das harmonische Apostelkollegium mit weiblicher Beteiligung am Anfang des Römerbriefs entspricht dabei sogar cum grano salis der historischen Abfassungssituation, Timotheus und eine Reihe anderer sind anwesend (Röm 16,21-23) und Phoebe wird als diakonos der Gemeinde von Kenchrea, d.h. als Abgesandte dieser Gemeinde, den Brief nach Rom bringen und – wie es der Rolle von Briefüberbringern zukam – den dortigen Gemeinden erklären, was Paulus damit meinte (Röm 16,1-2)! Was läge näher, als dass sie auch im Prozess der Abfassung schon einbezogen war. (Mehr darüber in: A. Merz, Phöbe, Diakon(in) der Gemeinde von Kenchreä – eine wichtige Mitstreiterin des Paulus neu entdeckt, in: A. M. von Hauff (ed.), Frauen gestalten Diakonie, Bd. 1, Von der biblischen Zeit bis zum Pietismus, Stuttgart: Kohlhammer 2007, 125-140).

Ich würde gerne mehr erfahren:

1. Über die Handschrift olim Pantocrator 49. Wer weiß mehr darüber?

2. Über die Abbildung – gibt es davon mehr Beispiele, wann ist diese Gruppierung von Personen zum ersten Mal belegt etc.? Woher wissen wir überhaupt so sicher, dass es Thekla und Timotheus sind, die bei Paulus stehen?

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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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 »