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More on Men & Women in Acts

February 16, 2012

Among the several helpful responses to my earlier posting in which I mentioned several places in Acts where the author refers to “men and women” as part of events of early Christianity, I’d like to mention in particular (and with gratitude) the essay by Allen Black, “‘Your sons and Your Daughters Will Prophesy . . .’:  Pairings of Men and Women in Luke-Acts,” in Scripture and Traditions:  Essays on Early Judaism and Christianity in Honor of Carl R. Holladay, ed. Patrick Gray & Gail R. O’Day (Leiden:  Brill, 2008), 193-206.

Black shows (persuasively in my view) that the author of Luke-Acts was likely prompted by passages in Isaiah (e.g., 43:6-7; 49:22; 60:4) where Israel is promised that her “sons and daughters” will be recipients of future divine blessings.  So, convinced that early Christianity is the fulfilment of these hopes, the author of Acts underscores the sexual duality of early Christian circles.  (Black’s footnotes also cite and engage the raft of modern scholarly publications on the matters involved.)

I’m convinced!

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  1. John Moles permalink

    Thanks, Larry. As I said, this topic attracts nutters. Draw your own conclusions. There is a relatively disciplined article in ‘Hermathena’ 2006, 65-104. I wouldn’t for a moment suggest that Luke’s intention was anything other than what you say, but I do think he sees here a ‘bridge’ for Dionysiacs, which is why (I think) he registers the conversion of ‘Dionysios’ at the end of 17.

  2. John Moles permalink

    Of course, I think that an important extra element is the sustained comparison in ‘Acts’ between Jesus and Dionysus. I’m perfectly aware that this comparison, in ‘Acts’, as elsewhere, attracts lunatics. Nevertheless, it is firmly inscribed within the text, and it’s very relevant that Dionysiac cult was highly ‘non-sexist’. The culmination of this comes in Acts 17, where ‘Damaris’ seems a fictional character, invented by Luke to underscore the general Jesus-Dionysus analogy, which is certainly strong in ch. 17.

    • Thanks, John. I appreciate your greater expertise in Classics, so perhaps you could briefly say what you think the author of Luke-Acts might have intended if he was making some “comparison” of Jesus and Dionysus. Given the antipathy in Luke-Acts toward all aspects of “pagan” worship and their gods, what was the “gain” involved? Or do you mean it was more of a contrast? Even Acts 17 seems to me to be intended to re-direct all “pagan” interests in the gods (which he describes as “ignorance”) to the one true God, whose purpose is now disclosed in Jesus (17:30-31).

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