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  1        San Diego County Library Inspirational Fiction 2424-2425
  2        Latin Fiction 2426-2442
  3        Greek Fiction 2443-2462
  4        Greek Fictional Letters  2463-2465
  5        The Novel in the Ancient World 2466-2470
  6        Tale of Sinuhe [Egypt: c. 2081 - 1640 B.C.E.]  2470-2470
  7        Further Fictions from the New Testament  2471-2473


from: "San Diego County Library Inspirational Fiction [11/15/2003] [one page folded pamphlet. Excerpts follow].


          If you are looking for interesting reading with a faith-based approach, you may enjoy the San Diego County Library's wide selection of inspirational and Christian fiction. The inspirational fiction field has grown tremendously over the past several years and now includes many different types of novels






          science fiction




          contemporary Christian family


          allegorical fiction

          Novels range from heart-warming stories of the lives of good, faithful people trying to live upright moral lives in their everyday worlds, to apocalyptic novels portraying great battles between good and evil on an immense scale. While traditional stories of sweet, good women or strong, secure men whose Christian faith runs deep having enduring popularity, some newer authors, while still avoiding strong language or graphic descriptions of sex, explore contemporary or controversial topics in a very realistic manner.

As always, library staff are here to help you find books you would enjoy, so don't hesitate to ask for further help, or suggest additional authors to us.

Author                                                     Genre [samples follow].

Benson, Angela                            Afro-American Christian life

Bergren, Lisa Tawn                      Adventure/Historical Romance

Blackstock, Terry                          Romance/Suspence [sic]/Contemporary Christian life

Buechner, Frederick                     Apocalyptic/Clergymen

Bunn, T. Davis                              Historical/Suspense/Allegory/Contemporary Christian                                                      life

Caldwell, Taylor                            Biblical fiction

Chaikin, L.L.                                  Historical/Romance

Douglas, Lloyd C.                         Biblical fiction

Evans, Richard Paul                     Christian family life

Gunn, Robin Jones                       Romance/Contemporary Christian life


Hall, Linda                                     Mystery

Hatcher, Robin Lee                       Historical/Romance

Holmes, Majorie                            Biblical fiction

Jenkins, Jerry B.                           Christian life/Fantasy/Apocalyptic

Oke, Janette                                 Historical/Romance

Palmer, Catherine                         Adventure/Historical/Romance

Pella, Judith                       Historical/Romance

Rivers, Francine                           Historical/Biblical fiction/Romance

Wangerin, Walter                          Fantasy/Biblical fiction/Allegory

Wise, Robert L.                             Mystery/Romance

Wubbels, Lance                            Romance/Historical

● ● ● ● ●


from: Latin Fiction, The Latin novel in context, Edited by Heinz Hofmann, Routledge, 1999.



"ROBERT H.F. CARVER is Lecturer in Renaissance Literature in the Department of English Studies at the University of Durham. He is currently completing a book on the reception of Apuleius during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance." [vii].


HEINZ HOFMANN was Professor of Latin at the University of Groningen (in the Netherlands) between 1982 and 1993 where he was a member of the Research Group on Apuleius and in 1986 inaugurated the meetings of the 'Groningen Colloquia on the Novel'. Since 1993 he has been Professor of Latin at the University of Tübingen (Germany). He is editor of the Groningen Colloquia on the Novel (vol. 1 ff., 1988 ff.)—since vol. 7, 1996, together with M. Zimmerman—and published, among numerous studies mainly on topics of late antiquity and Neo-Latin, also several articles on Apuleius." [vii-viii].


"GERLINDE HUBER-REBENICH is Professor of Latin literature of the Middle Ages and Neo-Latin at the Friedrich-Schiller-Universität of Jena. She has worked on the reception of ancient novella motives and Ovid's Metamorphoses and is author of Das Motiv der 'Witwe von Ephesus' in lateinischen Texten der Antike und des Mittelalters (Tübingen: Gunter Narr, 1990)." [viii].


"RICHARD STONEMAN is a Senior Editor at Routledge and an Honorary Fellow of the University of Exeter. He is the author of the Penguin translation of the Alexander Romance, and is preparing a commentary on the Greek and Latin recensions of the Alexander Romance for Mondadori." [ix].

"Introduction Heinz Hofmann


In comparison with the Greek novels the texts of the Latin novel which are known to us are rather limited: In Greek literature we have the tight corpus of the five extant 'ideal' love romances by Chariton, Xenophon of Ephesus, Achilles Tatius, Longus, and Heliodorus.1 Moreover we know of quite a few novels whose fragments are preserved on papyrus and which allow us to get at least a rough idea of their contents;2 this knowledge is supported by some mosaics dating from the second and third centuries AD and showing scenes from two lost Greek novels.3 Finally we have a number of texts both extant and in fragments which do not belong to the type of the 'ideal' love romance but which contain various adventure stories and comparable fictional narratives and are being subsumed under the genre of the novel where they form the group of the so-called 'fringe novels' (cf. Holzberg 1996a).


          In Latin literature we only know three novels proper: Petronius' Satyrica, Apuleius' Metamorphoses, and the Historia Apollonii regis Tyri. We also know of another text by Apuleius which presumably was a novel entitled Hermagoras and from which a few quotations are transmitted.4 But we do not have a single Latin papyrus with fragments from a Latin novel: this is mainly because, thanks to the favourable climatic and geological circumstances, the bulk of ancient papyri was preserved and found in Egypt which belonged to the Greek-speaking part of the Roman Empire so that with a few exceptions all papyri contain Greek texts. Even the papyri carbonized in the Villa dei papiri in Heruclaneum during the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in AD 79 are almost exclusively Greek, testifying the interest of the owner of the villa in Greek—mainly Epicurean—philosophy. As a consequence, there are no other authors and fragments of Latin novels known which may be compared with the extant complete texts and fragments of Greek novels. On the other hand, "there are some texts which belong to the group of 'fringe novels'—the Trojan narratives by Dictys and Dares and the Latin versions of the Alexander Romance—and there are quite a number of Lives of Saints and Apocryphal Acts of Apostles which may, as their Greek counterparts, be considered as hagiographic fiction mainly written for the purpose of entertainment and edification of a Christian audience.


Like Roman literature in general, the samples of Latin novel [novels] too are adaptations from Greek literature. Very early, in the second half of the third century BC, Roman authors returned to Greek literature, which they considered superior both formally and aesthetically to the literary forms of their native Italy, and tried to translate and adapt Greek genres to the Latin language....


It has become evident that, on the one hand, the various kinds of ancient fiction both Greek and Latin cover a wide range of topics and literary forms and that their authors drew their inspiration from different literary genres and motifs and opened new provinces of writing....

          First, the system of literary genres was developed by scholars working at the famous library in Alexandria in the third and second century BC....

          Second, the pedigree of the ancient novel is rooted in several other genres of Greek literature (cf. Perry 1967; Hägg 1983: 109ff.; Holzberg 1996a). It resembles closest Hellenistic historiography of the fourth and third century BC which developed many marvellous and fictitious traits....

          Third, in spite of the literary and aesthetic endeavours of the authors of the ancient novel and their considerable artistic and narrative skills, and in spite of the growing appreciation of the genre by modern scholars and critics, novels in antiquity had a low reputation among educated readers....


Marcrobius [fl. c. 400] renders the Greek term 'myth' (mythos) with the Latin word fabula ('story') for which he also uses the equivalents figmentum ('fiction'), genus figmenti ('kind of fiction' or 'fictional genre'), mendacium (Latin translation of Greek pseudos—literally 'lie'—which in literary contexts means 'fiction' as well). Then he discusses the term fabula whose etymology (from fari) according to him acknowledges the falsity of the stories it tells, and declares that those fabulae serve two purposes: 'either merely to gratify the ear or to encourage the reader to good works'.11....

          This classification of narratives according to their truth ultimately goes back to the difference between poetry and historiography as stated by Aristotle in Chapter 9 of his Poetics (1451 a 36 ff.)—an important passage for the concept of fictionality in antiquity.13 It is evident that both comedy and what Macrobius [fl. c. 400] with a reference to Petronius [died 66 C.E.] and Apuleius [c. 124 - after 170?] calls fabulae and what we are used to call novels, are narratives of the argumentum type, i.e., fictional narratives which nevertheless could have happened in this form, in contrast to the mythological narratives in epic poetry or in Greek tragedies where the divine machinery is in action and other incredible things happen. So the Latin novel did, after all, find a modest place in ancient discussions even if its evaluation was negative.14


The audience of the Latin novels is broadly speaking the same as that of the Greek novels, and this is true for all texts of Latin fiction, also for historiographic and hagiographic fiction. It certainly was a consumer literature but not a mass literature because, as J. Morgan rightly observed, 'MASS LITERACY NEVER EXISTED IN THE ANCIENT WORLD'.15 Literacy in antiquity was always limited to a small minority, and those capable of reading longer literary texts were only a small group within those who possessed a certain knowledge of reading and writing for official and administrative purposes.16 More important than reading literary texts was therefore listening to their authors and recitators: the performance of literature in the public through the authors themselves or specialized groups of performing artists who were organized in unions formed an integral part of cultural life in antiquity (Engels and Hofmann 1997a: 46ff.). In particular, the representatives of the so-called Second Sophistic, those wandering poets and declamators like Lucian of Samosata and Maximus of Tyre, Dio Chrysostomus and Aelius Aristides, Favorinus of Arles and Apuleius, who gave 'recitals' of their own texts in the theatres and odeons, the market-places and colonnades, the gymnasia and baths, the municipal buildings and imperial palaces, were the main mediators of literature and also of Latin and Greek fiction. We know, for instance, from Apuleius [c. 124 - after 170?], this 'ultimate word artist' (Fantham 1996: 252), that he recited speeches and poems of his own in both languages, Latin and Greek, in the theatre in Carthage and elsewhere in the Greek and Roman world, and not only speeches and poems, but also his philosophical works on Socrates and Plato and his novel The Golden Ass, whose single books not only fill a papyrus roll (volumen) of average length, but form also a convenient


discourse for a public lecture of about 60 to 90 minutes.17 Literary communication among Christians worked in similar ways. THERE MUST HAVE BEEN MANY CHRISTIANS WHO WERE NOT ABLE TO READ THE ADVENTURES OF PAULUS AND THECLA, PETRUS AND CLEMENS, MALCHUS AND HILARION, but must have enjoyed themselves tremendously when listening to someone who was reading, or almost performing, these texts to them.


Latin novels [that have survived], as has been stated above, are few, but Latin fiction in the broad sense as it is understood here abounds in texts....Saints and martyrs as the new heroes of the ancient world [pause] turning Christian [pause] found their way into Latin fiction by the third and fourth century: as they received their share of the adventures of the heroes and heroines in 'classical' fiction, they occupy a corresponding space in the later pages of ancient fiction and, consequently, also in this volume. This inclusion of CHRISTIAN FICTION in a volume on Latin fiction need no longer be defended nowadays after we have achieved the insight that both Christian and non-Christian texts are products of one and the same culture and derive ultimately from one and the same concept of art, literature and the life which is mirrored in them. [see: Article #4, 106 (van Manen)]

          The history of Latin fiction, however, did not stop in the sixth or seventh century when the European world began to change from antiquity into the Middle Ages....A rich medieval tradition includes also The History of Apollonius King of Tyre which is not only preserved in some hundred manuscripts written between the ninth and fifteenth centuries, but exists also in numerous translations and adaptations in both Latin and vernacular, prose and verse. The same is true of the Alexander Romance which circulated in dozens of recensions, translations and adaptations, satisfying the desire for adventures and the hunger for stories not only in Europe but also in the Arabic and Persian world. It therefore seemed appropriate to extend the assessment of the tradition of Latin fiction through the Middle Ages until the beginning of the Early modern period, when the humanists looked upon those texts with a new interest and inaugurated a new search for the ancient novel, hoping to find more of it in the libraries of medieval monasteries and cathedrals.


The history of Latin fiction, however, did not come to an end in the sixteenth century: since Latin was the main language of politics and diplomacy, commerce and scholarship, the works of Greek literature which have come to the Latin West since the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries were soon translated into Latin and spread both in manuscripts and since the second half of the fifteenth century, also in printed editions. Sometimes a translation into Latin or the vernacular even preceded the Greek edition and made a text earlier known that the printed edition of the Greek original. This was also the case with some Greek novels which aroused the curiosity of a wider lettered readership first in translation.... 


          These few remarks may show that between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries even the texts of the Greek novels circulated and were read in Latin and vernacular ["native language"] translations and thus formed part of the history of Latin fiction in the Early Modern periodjust as in Antiquity and Late Antiquity certain texts of Greek fiction, for instance the Alexander Romance, the Trojan narratives, the Apocryphal Acts of Apostles and the Lives of Saints, were translated into Latin and read or listened to by a Latin-speaking audience in the West. The history of Latin fiction however went on: the first examples of 'modern' fiction in Latin are translations from novellas of Boccaccio [1313 - 1375] by Petrarch [1304 - 1374], Leonardi Bruni [1369 - 1444] and Matteo Bandelli [Matteo Bandello 1485 - 1561],22 and up to the twentieth century, along with many other literary texts, novels too, originally written in the European vernacular languages, were translated into Latin in order to make those texts accessible to scholars and a general lettered reading public which was not so well-read in English or French but was still capable of reading Latin prose quite fluently or enjoyed the exotic pleasure of reading well-known novels in Latin (cf. Grant 1954; Ijsewijn 1998: 243ff.; Hofmann 1998). As a consequence we know Latin translations of, for instance, the Lazarillo de Tormes (1554),23 the Diana Enamorada (1564) of Gaspar Gil Polo,24 the Telémaque (1699/1717) of Fénelon in both prose and hexameter,25 the Bélisaire (1767) of Jean-François Marmontel26 or the Robinson der Jüngere (1779/80) by Joachim Heinrich Campe,27 and even a modern novel such as Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan!28


Finally, a considerable number of Neo-Latin novels by humanists and other Neo-Latin writers continued to be produced between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. Some of them became quite famous and had a strong influence on European literature mainly through later translations into vernacular ["native language"] (cf. Ijsewijn 1998: 253 ff.)....

          But to deal with these texts more extensively and to assess both their debts to Latin fiction of Antiquity and their importance for the history of Latin and vernacular fiction since the sixteenth century would open a new province of Latin fiction in the Early Modern period—and require another book." [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12] [End of "Introduction"].



The Latin Alexander

Richard Stoneman


Hic (sc. quod occidit Callisthenen) est Alexandri crimen aeternum,

quod nulla virtus, nulla bellorum felicitas redimet.

(Seneca Naturales Quaestiones 6.23.2)


Alexander filius Dei [Alexander a son [see excursus, below] of God].

(Legend on late fourth century contorniate ["furrowed circumference"] medallions:

                     see A. Alföldi, Die Kontorniaten, 1943)


Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Volume VIII, c1972, pages 334–397 ("son", in Greek).

A Greek-English Lexicon, Oxford, 1996, pages 1846, 1847 ("son", in Greek).

A Patristic Greek Lexicon, Lampe, 1968, pages 1426–1428 ("son", in Greek).

Oxford Latin Dictionary, 1968, page 701 ("filius").

A Latin Dictionary, Lewis and Short, 1962, page 750 ("filius").

Harper's Bible Dictionary, 1973, pages 695–697 ("Son of God, the") page 697 ("son of man").

The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Volume 6, c1992, pages 128–137 ("Son of God"); pages 156–159 ("Sons of God"); pages 137–150 ("Son of Man").

End of Excursus


I Introduction

The career of Alexander the Great [356 - 323 B.C.E. (King 336 - 323 B.C.E.)] provides a unique exception to the general rule that Latin writers of history wrote (before the Christian period) only on Roman topics. There were plenty of topics from Greek and other non-Roman history which made it into the schools and provided subjects for rhetorical exercises like the Suasoriae and Controversiae of the Elder Seneca [c. 55 B.C.E. - 39 C.E.]; Alexander features with fair prominence among such themes, and provided a number of exempla for the rhetorician's guide to moral positioning composed by Valerius Maximus [fl. c. 20 C.E.]; but only he [Alexander] became the subject of a full-length history in Latin. And this occurred more than once.

          The first Latin Alexander historian was Quintus Curtius Rufus (hereafter Curtius) who composed a lengthy and important historical account of his career, probably in the first century AD. Though there are a number of manuscripts of this work, all of them lack the first two books, so that the work as we have it begins with Alexander's campaigns in southern Asia Minor. This led some Renaissance authors to 'supplement' the lost books so that in quite a few printed editions of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries Curtius' work is printed together with these Neo-Latin supplements. The loss of the opening means that we have lost the preface, which might have provided important clues to the identity and connections of the author, of whom we know nothing for certain....

          All these works present themselves as historical writings, and it may seem odd to consider them in a volume otherwise devoted to fictional writing. But (1) the original of Julius Valerius, the Greek Alexander Romance, is in many important respects a work of literary fiction and has generic similarities to other fictional writing (Stoneman 1994b); (2) Curtius is often counted among fictional writers, despite the importance of his work for historians, because of the pronounced moral slant of his work as well as the rhetorical and dramatic colour of much of his writing (Kroll 1924: 331–51; Currie 1990); and (3) the Liber de Morte is plainly fictional in some sense, though perhaps only in the sense that it is propaganda and untrue. All these works, moreover, are representatives of a continuing and developing preoccupation among Roman writers, poets and thinkers with the figure of Alexander and the nature of historical causation, which carries us from, at the one extreme, the characterization of Alexander as a great hero ruined and corrupted by fortune (see the quotation from Seneca at the head of this chapter) to, at the other extreme, his acceptance not only as a great and exemplary military leader but even a lynchpin figure for the last exponents of pagan religion in the Christian Empire—a son of God." [167, 168-169].

          "There was a considerable amount of translation activity from Greek into Latin at the beginning of the fourth century (Engels and Hofmann 1997: 29–52ff.). In part this reflects a loss of facility in Greek among the inhabitants of the western empire, but it is also related to the increasing domination of Latin writing by Christian authors such as Lactantius, Tertullian and Celsus. Latin was recognized as the language of rule and of the elite (Momigliano 1963: 127) and it was important to make valued texts available to a Latin readership. Scholars have spoken in terms of a 'pagan revival' during the fourth century following the conversion of the empire under Constantine, or of a rearguard action by a pagan resistance which has been identified


with the so-called 'Circle of Symmachus' in the late fourth century. (This 'Circle' is a fictitious literary construction by Macrobius: Cameron 1976.) The members of this group include Nicomachus Flavianus, the translator of Philostratus' Life of Apollonius of Tyana into Latin, and Vettius Agorius Praetextatus (whom Jerome described immediately after his death as 'abandoned and naked in filthy darkness': Ep. 23.3, Berschin 1988: 51). While the cohesion of this 'resistance' has been challenged of late (Cameron 1976; Matthews 1973), it remains true that some very prominent pagans were engaged in literary activity during the fourth century. Both pagans and Christians were equally busy with translation.10 So Julius' [Julius Valerius] work may be seen in a context of some kind of attempt to rescue parts of the classical heritage for transmission to a wider western audience, running in parallel to a Christian movement to spread Greek works among a Latin elite readership.

          Jerome (347–420) was an indefatigable translator from Hebrew and Greek into Latin. His Letters 57 and 106 are valuable documents of the principles of translation he followed. In Letter 106, he insists (3) that Latin is not too limited a language to convey the subtleties of Greek, and requires that a translator should preserve as far as possible the characteristics of the original in the translation. In this respect he argues for a more rigorous approach to translation than that of earlier Latin authors such as Livius Andronicus, whose main aim had been to convey the sense. Letter 57, de optimo genre interpretandi, is Jerome's fullest account of his theory of translation. In this letter he upholds as the ideal a Ciceronian model which conveys the original not word for but 'sense for sense' (5–6). There is less anxiety than in Ep. 106 about verbatim correspondence, and he allows that even St Mark sometimes expanded his Hebrew original when quoting Old Testament passages (7, 8), and that 'etymological' translation is often undesirable (11)." [175-176].



Hagiographic Fiction

as Entertainment

Gerlinde Huber-Rebenich

Translated by Richard Stoneman


Cor sapientium ubi tristitia est, et cor stultorum uhi laetitia.


(The heart of the wise is the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is the house of mirth.)

Ecclesiastes vii, 4


Admittenda tibi joca sunt post seria quaedam sed tamen et dignis ipsa gerenda modis.


(After serious matters, some jokes may be permitted, but these too are to be presented in a dignified manner.)

Hildebert of Lavardin, Libellus de quattuor

virtutibus vitae honestae1

No special argument is required to assert that Christians—at least the most rigorous of them—have an uncomfortable relationship with delectatio, with entertainment. Since the time of the earliest Fathers, this position has been ultimately grounded in the fact that no passage of the Bible indicates that Jesus ever laughed. For the strict Christian, laughter is a sign of foolishness and sin. The rejection of fun and laughter is enshrined in countless treatises, in monastic rules, and even in church law. It is connected with a prescriptive condemnation of amusement and entertainment in general, including light literature.

          Alongside the prescriptivists, however, there stand the realistic thinkers who share Aristotle's recognition that laughter is a key marker of human nature (De partibus animalium 673a), and thus that the need for entertainment is an anthropological constant. Accordingly there were found, even among the Christians, theoreticians who could offer justifications for enjoyment (in moderation, naturally).2....

          Like Ambrose, other Christian thinkers who wished to justify the entertainment value of literature must willy nilly have recourse to non-Christian sources. An educated Christian was very familiar, as a result of his school lessons, with the relevant material—above all with Cicero, De oratore (2.216ff.) and Quintilian Institutio oratoria (6.3.1–112), but also with Horace, Ars poetica (333f.) and his motto ridentem dicere verum (to tell the truth while laughing, Satires 1.1.24). He had learnt that humour and wit, practised in moderation, correspond to the ancient ethical ideal


of serious-merriment (spoudogeloion), that they facilitate the relaxation which helps to carry out renewed exertions, and that—in rhetoric—they make the addresses receptive and even eager for the content that is to be imparted....

          What expectations did the public in the first centuries after Christ hold, on the basis of its reading habits, of fiction? The favoured reading of the period included numerous novels of love and adventure, either of idealizing or of comic-realistic character, utopian travel accounts, romantic-fictional biographies as well as aretalogies [wondrous deeds] of prophets and philosophers. These offered the reader something to titillate and thrill: comedy, love stories, sex and crime, excitement, adventure, fantastic tales of the marvellous, exotica and—at least in the romance—in general a Happy Ending.

          In addition to the points of contact with pagan literature, it should not be forgotten that the yardstick for every form of Christian literature, the Holy Scripture, is itself a rich treasure trove of exciting and entertaining narrative motifs. If the Bible, in the first instance, announces the Word of God, yet nothing human is alien to it either: it contains erotic poetry (the Song of Songs), stories of adultery and triangular situations (Potiphar's wife; David and Bathsheba), 'biographies' of god-fearing heroes (the story of Joseph) and every kind of marvel, in the Old Testament and especially in the New. In the latter, it is Jesus himself, the leading figure of the new religion, who drives out demons, heals the sick, raises the dead to life, multiplies loaves, walks dry-footed over water and in multifarious ways makes a deep impression on his 'public'. The literary influence of this text simply cannot be overestimated.6

          In our topic, however, the reception of traditional material from pagan antiquity must hold the foreground. Since Richard Reitzenstein's Hellenistische Wunderzählungen (1906), the many kinds of influence of various literary genres on early Christian literature have been illuminated from many sides. In the following, special emphasis will be given to the question of the ways in which, in different kinds of Christian texts—from the Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles to the Dialogues of Gregory the Great—elements of entertainment literature are put to the service of Christian doctrine. In this connection, it is of particular interest to consider how far existing textual models are adopted, transformed or fashioned into new forms of expression.

I Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles

Christian antiquity produced a series of writings which have as their theme the missionary journeys and activities of the apostles. OF THESE, ONLY LUKE'S ACTS OF THE APOSTLES WAS ACCEPTED INTO THE NEW TESTAMENT CANON; the others are considered apocryphal.7 The oldest and most significant of them are the Acts of John, of Peter, of Paul, of Andrew and of Thomas. These originated towards the end of the second, and in the third century AD; with the exception of the Acts of Thomas they are only fragmentarily preserved. In the case of the rest we are mainly dealing with later reworkings, expansions and continuations of the above-named Acts [Acts of the Apostles], such as the Martyrium beati Petri Apostoli a Lino episcopo conscriptum (sixth century; Lipsius 1, 1891 (repr. 195: 1–22; Salonius 1926) or the Acta Andreae et Matthiae apud anthropophagos (sixth century; Blatt 1930).


          It is a feature common to all these writings that they are marked by particular religious positions. Those most prominently represented are ascetic-encratite elements, sometimes also esoteric perspectives grounded in Gnosis. However, the religious programme is, as a rule, not carried through consistently in the individual writings; on the contrary, we frequently find a hotch-potch of differing tendencies. In contrast to the Lukan Acts of the Apostles, which is heavily indebted to historical writing and defends a clearly articulated theological conception, in the Apocryphal Acts the entertainment aspect steps firmly into the foreground. It is exemplified in a strong inclination to miracles and fantastic tales, as well as in the representation of the perversions of the opponents and in a pseudo-biographical interest in the apostles, who are styled as heroes. Important points of reference include, naturally, the canonical biblical writings, the romances of love and adventure (Söder 1932, Pervo 1987, id. 1994), and occasionally also aretalogies of missions and lives of philosophers (Goulet 1981, Junod 1981).8" [187, 188, 189-190].

"IV The Saint's Lives of Jerome

As a Christian educative writer Jerome [c. 347 - 419 or 420]14 had already made his [fiction] debut with the miracle of the septies percussa (the woman struck seven times) (Epist. 1). It is the story of a miscarriage of justice, which a modern reader may regard as absurd, macabre and trivial in an extreme degree. But it corresponded to the late antique taste for sensational juridical literature [compare: role of Pilate, in the New Testament], which we find also in some of the martyr acts [compare: Jesus and crucifixion, in the New Testament]. A young man and a young woman, both Christians, are imprisoned on a trumped-up charge of adultery, tried and tortured. The man admits under torture whatever is expected of him; the woman defies the procedures, which are graphically described by Jerome. Both are condemned to death. The man is beheaded, the woman, although struck three times on the neck, is not killed. A second executioner strikes her down with four blows; she appears to be dead, but wakes up in the presence of the priests who are about to bury her. She is nursed back to health in secret. Meanwhile, the death sentence, regardless of this miracle, remains in force. Then Evagrius, the wealthy patron of Jerome, appears and obtains an amnesty from the emperor. The work was characterized by Jerome's biographer Cavallera (1922, 1:28) as a 'final examination piece', because of its resemblance in its choice of extravagant material (the scandalous theme of 'adultery', the 'trial scene', the oft-repeated failure to carry out the execution), in its declamatory style and in its learned citations from the school authors Terence and Virgil, to a rhetor's 'five-finger exercise'.

          Jerome attained mastery with his lives of monks: those of Paul, of Hilarion and of Malchus. As early as the first of these, the Vita Pauli, which may serve in what follows as an example of his literary technique, Jerome established his fame as an author of the ascetic-monastic movement.


The Vita S. Pauli Primi Eremitae

Jerome begins with an account of the contemporary background of Paul's youth, the persecution of Christians under Decius and Valentinian. Two examples illustrate the tortures to which the faithful were subjected. The Vita15 begins, thus, in the same way as a Passio; that is, we are dealing with a Christian background text. Paul, an educated young Christian from a good family, withdraws, when the storm of persecution breaks out, via several intermediate stops into the lonely mountains of the Theban desert in Egypt, where he selects a cave as his dwelling. There he passes the rest of his life as a hermit—more than ninety years. One day the younger Anthony sets out to visit his colleague. On the way he meets a centaur, who shows him the way; he then receives dates from a satyr as nourishment, and finally finds the cave of Paul with the help of a she-wolf. Paul feels his end is nigh and asks the guest to bury him by employing certain ceremonies. Two lions help to dig the grave with their claws.

          The Vita drew contemporary as well as later readers under its spell. Jerome commanded all the techniques of ancient literary art and integrated stylistic elements and narrative forms of pagan, particularly Greek, origin into his works. With a sure touch he selected predominantly those elements which would serve to entertain his public: erotic and fantastic motifs, animal stories and quotations from familiar authors. Precisely this eclectic reception of a variety of models guaranteed his contemporaries a racy read.

          One example may suffice. One of the two martyr stories, which are told right at the beginning of the Vita, as it were to attract the reader's attention, is concerned with a young confessor in chains who is exposed to the seductive arts of a prostitute. The latter brings to bear all the means at her disposal to break down his chastity. He can only escape from her attempts to approach him by biting off his tongue and spitting in her face. The graphic description of the seduction is richly lascivious, and has the effect of creating a voyeuristic pleasure for the public.

The Vita Malchi monachi captivi

Jerome claims to have heard the story16 himself from Malchus during his stay in Antioch. He has his protagonist describe his fortunes in a first-person narrative. This procedure is happily employed to underline the credibility of the narrative, even in cases where the events described overstep the borderline of fantasy. It is familiar from Petronius and Apuleius, but also from the (anything but) True Stories of Lucian.          As a young man, Malchus enters a monastery, against the will of his parents who have arranged a marriage for him. Despite the objections of his abbot, he leaves it again to take up an inheritance. Malchus is at once punished for this abandonment of the spiritual life. On his journey he falls, with some other travellers, into the hands of Saracens, who drag him off into slavery and try to make him marry a fellow captive. The couple consider the possibility of escaping the compulsion by suicide, but then decide to enter on a marriage only in appearance: Malchus will preserve his monastic virginity, while the lady will remain faithful to her real husband. They escape, cross a


river on inflated skins, are hunted down by their master and a servant, and are able only in the nick of time to hide themselves in a cave. Salvation comes in the form of a lion, which tears their pursuers to pieces.

          In contrast to the lions which dig Antony's grave for him, this lion exhibits no anthropomorphic qualities. Apart from the creature's experiencing its normal need for food, and coming on its proper prey, at precisely the right moment, the scene has nothing in itself marvellous about it. Happy coincidences and improbable eventualities, which in fact have rational explanations, may also be found in New Comedy and in the romance. For example, Anthia in Xenophon of Ephesus (IV.6) is imprisoned in a ditch by two savage dogs, which however do no harm, because a sympathetic warder feeds them well.

          After surviving this danger, Malchus gives his 'wife' into the protection of nuns and himself returns to his monastery. By his constancy in time of need, Malchus has proved himself, and finally achieved the restoration of his original status.

          This Life contains many elements which are already familiar from the adventure romance: kidnapping, enslavement, plans of suicide, forced marriage, protection of chastity, rescue from extreme danger and happy ending. Admittedly, in such a short text, there is no long series of episodes. Instead, Jerome concentrates on a remarkable event, a surprising peripety ["sudden turn of events"]. This takes place, without the aid of miracles, in the sphere of the realistic or at least the probable. The Malchus-Vita shares these features with the genre of the novella, as also the handling of the frame, the telling by the protagonist of his own past (Berschin I: 142f.).

          With his employment of familiar narrative motifs, literary conventions and references to the classics, Jerome is addressing himself to an educated public, and thus at this period also an influential one. This is clear too from the way in which Jerome offers, in Paul and Hilarion, figures to identify with who are themselves educated, and from the fact that a certain level of education is essential for the full understanding of his texts. With the literary form of his monks' lives he directly addresses the taste of a readership familiar with pagan literature. That was important in winning them for the ascetic-monastic life—or at least for financing it.

          Two of Jerome's monks, Paul and above all Hilarion, were remarkable not only for their asceticism. Additional to this was their ability to perform miracles, which take the form of healings, raisings of the dead, the driving out of demons, the breaking of evil spells and power over wild animals. Such themes reappear regularly in the hagiographic literature of the following period also. An incalculable number of texts were composed in which memorable words and deeds of exemplary men and women were put into literary form, whether in individual lives or in collections."



          "If we end our consideration of hagiographic fiction with Gregory the Great, that is in keeping with the conception of this volume, which is essentially concerned with its relations to ancient literature. As may well be imagined, these are particularly emphatic in a period in which it is aiming to win a readership which still stands with both feet on the ground of classical culture. But even in the early period of Christian fiction, as we have seen, there are already influences from other sources. We may think of Hellenistic-Jewish literature and above all the Bible itself, which became the yardstick text for every Christian. In addition there are many narrative elements which occur repeatedly, wandering folkloristic motifs, which cannot easily be ascribed to a particular cultural milieu.

          With the advance of time and the growing distance from antiquity, the concrete links with its literature become weaker. Christian writers can refer in ever great degree to models from their own ranks, like Jerome or Sulpicius Severus. Even if pagan textual models can still easily be discerned in these examples, in the course of mediation they become ever more imprecise and diluted. Many means which are used to entertain the reader or listener, or to seize his emotions, are so universal that they cannot be attributed to a particular literary tradition.

          THE PHENOMENON OF CHRISTIAN FICTION CONTINUES IN EXISTENCE, OF COURSE, THROUGHOUT THE MIDDLE AGES. One may think of such humorous legends of saints as that of the drunken and companionable St Goar (MGH Merov.t.4, 411–23), who welcomes—even, unfortunately, the spies sent to him by the Bishop of Trier to keep an eye on his fasting practices. Brought before his head shepherd, Goar gets the chance to show himself a man of God when he persuades a newborn foundling to name his parents. The infant names the bishop...

          In the Middle Ages, too, points of contact with the classical tradition continue to be apparent. We have already spoken of the dramas of Hrotsvitha. Here, there is a connection with antiquity in that she expressly aims to drive the pagan comedies of Terence out of the public mind with her prose dramas. In the thirteenth century, priests recommend—sometimes by appeal to ancient theoreticians—the use of anecdotal examples to shake congregations out of their boredom. Thus the prefaces which Jacques de Vitry (Ed. Crane 1890, repr. 1967: XLII) gives in the prologue to his Sermones vulgares culminate in a quotation from Horace's Ars poetica (v.343): Omne tulit punctum qui miscuit utile dulci (Everyone votes for the man who mixes wholesome and sweet).

          If, in conclusion, we review once more the various procedures which were employed to entertain the public, we may determine that they belong to various levels and appeal to quite different needs in the reader or listener. It is one thing for an educated reader to be delighted by the recognition of classical reminiscences, and another to feel a voyeuristic pleasure in the description of spicy scenes of seduction. Both types of literary pleasure may frequently be found in one and the same text—we may think of the Vita Pauli of Jerome. They are as indissoluble in Christian fiction as they are in Petronius' Satyrica. And the reason they are not separable is that, of course, an educated reader also has 'lower instincts' and enjoys excitement and erotic stories.


          The emphasis on the entertainment aspect has sometimes been adjudged a decadent phenomenon, for example by Manfred Fuhrmann (1977:87):


As epic and tragedy, as instruments of interpretation of the world, degenerated into the escapist genres of comedy and romance, so the world-interpreting genres of early Christianity, the Gospels and Acts, degenerated through fantasy, the autonomisation of the artistic drive and purely literary mechanisms (e.g. variation and the desire to outdo the model) into 'apocryphal' writings, that is into surrogates for the world, into trivial entertaining pap...Christian fiction promised religious instruction and edification, and slipped in under this disguise the function of replacing the world, the aim of mere entertainment, which is achieved by unbridled fantasy.

This evaluation overlooks the fact that the 'aim of entertainment' of Christian literature is not an end in itself, but, as was indicated at the outset, in a sense a 'rhetorical chess move' which serves the achievement of higher ends.22 ALL THE TEXTS WE HAVE CONSIDERED WERE WRITTEN, ULTIMATELY, WITH PROPAGANDISTIC INTENTION. They do not simply offer a surrogate for the world, but they create it, by winning adherents for particular Christian forms of life. If the effect of the texts was not so direct that every reader of Jerome's Lives himself went into the desert, or every reader of Gregory's Dialogi equalled the saints in virtue, yet they contributed to the creation of a spiritual climate in which the form of life being praised represented the accepted norm. This process has quite concrete consequences [Yes! Like the world tyranny of Christianism ("Christianity")!].

          It is no accident that many of the writings in question are addressed to influential personalities. Jerome, for example, sent his first monk's life to the wealthy Paulus of Concordia. He could be certain that this educated man would appreciate properly the literary techniques which were employed in the Vita Pauli. Jerome certainly did not suppose that his aged addressee would convert to a hermit, but rather that he, as the owner of a large library, controlled the appropriate infrastructure to have the work reproduced and thus to disseminate it among his peers, the educated Christian upper class of the western half of the empire (Rebenich forthcoming). It was worth winning these as potential supporters: for even Christian projects need to be financed.

          An extreme example of the way in which an apocryphal text can influence the course of history is the Acts of Silvester,23 FICTIONAL ACCOUNT OF THE CONVERSION OF CONSTANTINE by Pope Silvester ["Sylvester I, St, Bp. of Rome from 314 to 335" (Ox. Dict. C.C.)] in Rome. This popular writing, which is transmitted in numerous versions, did more to form the image of the first Christian emperor in the Latin West than the historically reliable [not reliable] Life of Constantine of Eusebius of Caesarea [c. 260 - c. 339]. It stylized him as an adept of the Roman bishop Silvester, who is said out of respect for this holy man with his miraculous powers to have left Rome and installed the Pope there in a quasi-imperial position.


The Acts of Silvester have been shown to have laid the foundations for the 'Donation of Constantine', which ["'Donation of Constantine'"] attached itself to a quite concrete formulation in this text [explanation?].


namely the claims of the Popes to a certain sphere of influence, to wit the 'Patrimonium Petri', later to be known as the 'Ecclesiastical state'. Fiction and reality often lie closer together than seems at first sight to be the case." [198-201, 205, 207] [End of "Hagiographic Fiction as Entertainment"].


The Medieval Alexander

Richard Stoneman" [238]

"As we shall see in considering the Latin texts of the twelfth to fourteenth centuries, it was regularly the aim of the authors to blend information from the Romance tradition and from Orosius, Josephus and the chronographer Eusebius." [241].

"II Peter Comestor

The first important step in naturalizing Alexander within the Christian scheme of things was taken by the twelfth century Latin writer Peter Comestor, who was Dean of Troyes from 1147–64 and died about 1179 (see Smalley 1952; Daly 1957). Comestor's Historia Scholastica is a complete account of sacred history from the Creation to the end of the Book of Acts. It is essentially a retelling of the Biblical narrative as a consecutive history. Peter draws on a wide range of learning (much of it mediated through Jerome) to provide an account of the Biblical events in a fuller framework of secular history. His account of Alexander follows his summaries of the stories of Ezekiel, Daniel, Judith and Esther. The history of Esther is set in the reign of Artaxerxes, who, Comestor notes, also banished a number of the tribes of the Jews to a place near the Caspian Sea. A war of the Romans and Gauls is also noted, as is the death of Plato, and then with the accession of Darius there is the beginning of the story of Sanballat's secession from the Temple in Jerusalem, from Josephus. This story concluded, the story of Manlius Torquatus' execution of his son is noted; and then begins the story of Alexander...." [241].



The Rediscovery of the Latin Novels

Robert H.F. Carver" [253]

"III Epilogue

It is difficult not to romanticize the humanists of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. To book-hungry men such as Petrarch [1304 - 1374] and Boccaccio

[1313 - 1375], Poggio [1380 - 1459] [see 1989 ("Bracciolini, Poggio")] and Niccoli [c. 1364 - 1437] (to mention only the most famous), we owe the survival of a significant portion of Classical learning. But as we have seen, the notion of the 'Rediscovery of the Latin Novels' as a linear sequence of discrete and dramatic 'finds' is something of a chimera; 'recovery' and 'appropriation' are more accurate terms for the complex of processes by which little-read texts become widely known. And even that term 'Latin Novels'—the product of


—is problematic in the context of transmission and recovery...." [264].

● ● ● ● ●


from: Greek Fiction, The Greek Novel in Context, Edited by J.R. Morgan and Richard Stoneman, Routledge, 1994. [See: #1, 7, 57. (Greek Fiction)].


Notes on Contributors                                                                                                           vii

List of abbreviations                                                                                                               ix

INTRODUCTION [excerpts]                                                                                                 1

J.R. Morgan

Part I The beginnings of Greek fiction


1    THE EDUCATION OF CYRUS                                                                                    15

James Tatum

Part II The love romances


2    LOOKING AT CHARITON'S CALLIRHOE                                                                   31

Brigitte Egger



David Konstan


4    DAPHNIS AND CHLOE: LOVE'S OWN SWEET STORY                                           64

J.R. Morgan


5    ACHILLES TATIUS AND EGO-NARRATIVE                                                               80

B.P. Reardon


6    THE AITHIOPIKA OF HELIODOROS: NARRATIVE AS RIDDLE                              97

       J.R. Morgan

Part III The Greek context



Richard Stoneman


8    NEW PAGES OF GREEK FICTION                                                                          130

Gerald Sandy


9    THE EPISTOLARY NOVEL                                                                                       146

Patricia A. Rosenmeyer


10   DIO AND LUCIAN                                                                                                      166

Simon Swain


11   PHILOSTRATUS: WRITER OF FICTION [excerpts]                                               181

[see Addition 26, 1182-1248]

Ewen Bowie

Part IV Other traditions


12   EGYPTIAN FICTION IN DEMOTIC AND GREEK                                                     203

John Tait


13   THE JEWISH NOVELLAS [excerpts]                                                                       223

Lawrence M. Wills


14   EARLY CHRISTIAN FICTION [excerpts]                                                                 239

Richard I. Pervo


15   REPRESENTATION IN GREEK SAINTS' LIVES                                                      255

Judith Perkins

Part V Aftermath


16   BYZANTINE DEVELOPMENTS                                                                                275

Suzanne McAlister



" [v-vi].

"Ewen Bowie is a Fellow and Tutor at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He is the author of several important studies of the Greek novel and in particular of Philostratus." [vii].

"John Morgan is Lecturer in Classics at University College, Swansea. He has published extensively on the Greek novel, especially Heliodorus, and is the author of the translation of Heliodorus in The Collected Ancient Greek Novels edited by Bryan Reardon (California, 1989)." [vii].

"Richard I. Pervo is Professor of New Testament and Patristics at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, Illinois, and is the author of Profit with Delight: The Literary Genre of the Acts of the Apostles (Minneapolis, 1987)." [vii].

"Richard Stoneman is a Senior Editor at Routledge and the author of the Penguin translation of The Greek Alexander Romance (Harmondsworth, 1991)." [viii].

"Lawrence M. Wills is Professor at the Harvard Divinity School and author of The Jew in the Court of the Foreign King (Minneapolis, 1990)." [viii].


          "We might argue, for example, that fiction in general answers to a universal human need for narrative pleasure. Specific fictional forms are generated in response to changing tastes and needs, which are themselves reflections of changing social, economic and historical circumstances. The canonical romances must have been written in response to a demand not simply for fiction but for a particular type of fiction, which constitutes their social and political context.3 The very fact that their plots are so similar suggests that the authors of romances knew they had a winning formula, that is, one which met the needs of their readers. In this case, it is difficult not to see the centrality of the individual and concern with his or her emotions as a response to the conditions of the post-classical world, when the replacement of the city-state by vast, centralized kingdoms and empires deprived the individual of a whole nexus of functioning social relationships that had given his or her life a sense of place and purpose. The romantic love of one individual for another, within a framework of domestic rather than civic values, represented a new way to assert and justify selfhood. Perry and Reardon4 have argued that the Greek romance is a Hellenistic myth, and like most myths it contrived to function on several levels simultaneously. Thus, at one level, [1] the protagonists of novels are focuses for narcissistic identification which allow their readers to be for a while in imagination as they would like to be in life. At another, [2] the relentless accumulation of perilous adventures which they undergo is a sort of literary Disneyland offering a compensation in fantasy for the routine security of urbanized reality. But [3] at the same time they also enact a spiritual unease and sense of powerlessness by casting the protagonists as noble but passive victims of a contingent and malevolent universe, except that, unlike real life, the novels hold out the implication that everything is actually under control, guided by a shaping intelligence and ultimately meaningful. This use of romantic fantasy to redeem both the boredom of material security and the concomitant feeling of having no control over one's life is, of course, familiar to us from the popular cinema, another purveyor of powerful mythologies.

          But to see the creative impulse of Greek fiction as a response to specific social and political factors is only half an answer to a possibly misconceived question. These factors governed at most the shape of a particular form of fiction—the love romance. They do not explain the more general need for fiction or the existence of other types of fiction in classical antiquity. They do not even account for every aspect of the individuation of the putative mythic stereotype in the Greek novels. Literature also has its own dynamic. It feeds off itself and is its own explanation. Individual writers were no doubt happily unaware of larger, historical forces shaping their genre. They drew both their inspiration and the material to build their stories from other literature, including other novels. There is admittedly something slightly incestuous about the way successive novelists recycled the same themes, but this can hardly be unconscious and should be interpreted not as a failure of the imagination but as alignment to and emulation within a perceived tradition. It would, however, be a mistake to imagine that the novel was somehow sealed off from literature at large. Not only does the romance draw on other genres, like epic or historiography, for story patterns and modes of presentation, but its own repertoire of themes, situations and imagery could infiltrate works which were working to a


different agenda and answering to other needs, like the Alexander Romance, Philostratos' [Philostratus' (see Addition 26, 1182)] biography of Apollonios [Apollonius] of Tyana or Christian hagiography." [3-4].

          "The question of who read ancient fiction is clearly an important one. It was long assumed that the novel was an exclusively popular form, created in response to a downward spread of literacy in the Hellenistic period, and that its readership was thus distinct from that of more recognized literature. This view now seems untenable. Mass literacy never existed in the ancient world, and those capable of tackling a long continuous text were always a small minority of the population....

No doubt the audience for Greek fiction was not monolithic and was stratified to some degree by taste and social class. The Alexander Romance, for instance, was clearly a fluid texte vivant catering, perhaps orally, to less sophisticated tastes. But, with due allowance for a wide spectrum of function and pretension, we must conclude that the audience of fiction overlapped with that of other literature. The related question of whether and to what extent that audience included women is addressed by Brigitte Egger in her essay on Chariton in this volume." [4-5].

          "....Later novels, however, emancipate themselves from history and come into the orbit of the intellectual movement known as the Second Sophistic.7 This phenomenon centred on the professional display by rhetoricians or sophists, whose heyday in the second century coincides with the most prolific period of novel-writing....

Fiction, if not precisely novels, comes to us from the pens of the sophists Dio of Prousa, Lucian and Philostratos [Philostratus], and is discussed in the essays by Simon Swain and Ewen Bowie." [5-6].

          "The environment in which the novels developed was a multi-racial one. Greeks were not the only inhabitants of the eastern Roman Empire who produced fiction: of the novelists whose work survives, Heliodoros, Lucian and Iamblichos were Syrians, while Achilleus Tatius was a native of Alexandria. The possibility of oriental origins for Greek fiction has been widely canvassed, particularly in the case of Egypt.10 Some interaction almost certainly took place between Greek and Egyptian traditions, and the papyrus finds from Egypt include a proportion of texts in Greek with a clear local interest, evidenced by Egyptian names and themes of magic.11 The precise nature and extent of the influence of Egyptian story-telling on Greek fiction at large remains problematic, but John Tait's survey of the relevant demotic texts makes clear the points of contact and difference between the two traditions. That we can discern this local interest is, of course, due to the accidental preservation of papyrus in Egypt. A similar archive from Syria, for instance, might well have shown different but parallel influences. Likewise the Jewish novellas treated by Lawrence Wills constitute an independent tradition, which makes an interesting comparison in itself but also produced one clear hybrid with the Greek romance in Joseph and Asenath." [7].


"Part of the creative impulse of narrative fiction seems to have been diverted into Christian writings, where typical romance motifs occur in new systems of meaning. The influence of the Jewish tradition is also clearly discernible. The relevant texts are expounded by Richard Pervo (the Apocryphal Acts) and Judith Perkins (Saints' Lives). The relationship between fiction and religion is a highly significant and suggestive one. In a sense, they cater to the same need to reassure the individual of his personal worth and discover meaning in the tangled web of his daily experience. Classicists have sometimes tried to make connections between the novels and the mystery cults of the Roman empire, religious movements offering personal salvation to the initiated. Reinhold Merkelbach's Roman und Mysterium in der Antike is the most thorough exposition of this idea, but the general view is that he goes too far in tracing specific reference to initiatory rites in the plots of the novels and suggesting that they were coded texts whose true sense was available only to initiates. But we do not need to follow Merkelbach all the way to allow that novel and cult were operating in the same general market. Given this background, it is not surprising that Christianity, ultimately the most successful of the eastern mystery cults, also exploited the repertory of the romances, despite the very clear differences in its fundamental message. The barrier which academic disciplines have erected between the study of 'classical' and 'Christian' literature produced in the same culture is one that urgently needs to be broken down, and we hope that in a small way the inclusion of essays on Christian fiction in this volume will contribute to that end [see Article #4, 106, 427.-428.

(van Manen)]." [8].



From history to fiction

Richard Stoneman

The inclusion of the Alexander Romance in a volume concerned with Greek fiction may need a word of defence. The Romance is almost unique among the Greek novels in having a historical character as its protagonist: the only analogous cases are two fragmentary works, the Ninus Romance and the Sesonchosis Romance, and Xenophon's Education of Cyrus (itself something of a taxonomic problem). Because it concerns a historical character there may be a temptation to regard it as a kind of history (bad history, or perhaps an extreme version of 'tragic history') and to treat it differently from other Greek romances. This temptation might be enhanced by the attribution in some of the MSS of the B [approximation of a Greek letter]-recension (composed between 300 and 500 CE) to Callisthenes, Alexander's court historian: the attribution is impossible because Callisthenes died before Alexander, whereas the Romance describes Alexander's death. In fact the Romance shows more similarities with other narrative texts about individuals, including the novels, which need to be explored in order to characterize the work properly.


          The term 'romance' is a will-o'-the-wisp which is better ignored in discussion of this text. The Greek romances have been so called mainly because of a reluctance by critics to refer to them as novels, implying a nineteenth-century model of character development and psychological analysis. In fact the Greek romances have rather little in common with the medieval romances from which the term has been borrowed. French and German scholars are spared this problem by having only the single word roman/Roman for both novel and romance. The Greeks had no word corresponding to either term, and if a name were to be given to any of the romances it would probably be diegema, narrative.1 A narratologist might insist that it is unrealistic even to distinguish between fictional and historical narratives,2 but we do not need to go so far as this to reach an acceptable view of the Alexander Romance as a kind of historical novel. The Alexander Romance is a text which uses THE FREEDOM OF FICTION to explore more fully, through philosophical and psychological means, the quality of a particular historical epoch. Like War and Peace or Waverley it adds to history in order to explain history. It is an exploration of a career which like few others in history genuinely was epochal: the Greek world was quite different after Alexander's reign from what it had been before it.

          The Alexander Romance concerns the historical Alexander and gives an account, albeit a garbled one, of his campaigns in Greece and his conquest of the Persian Empire. But it also contains much material that does not appear in the surviving historians. Some of this may be broadly [sic] historical: the chronology of the foundation of Alexandria, the detail of Alexander's will which, while it was not written by Alexander, does preserve a propaganda document of the period soon after his death. Rhetorical elaboration has produced the long debate in Athens about how to respond to Alexander's demands, in which the participants include Demosthenes, Aeschines and Demades as well as figures from previous centuries like Lysias and Heraclitus. Much more is derived from folk-tale and other non-historical narrative genres. These elements include the long description of Alexander's conception, as a result of the Pharaoh and wizard Nectanebo cohabiting with Alexander's mother Olympias in the guise of the god Ammon, and the extensive adventures in India and Central Asia which follow the death of Darius and include the search for the land of the blessed and Alexander's interviews with the god Sesonchosis in which he seeks in vain to learn the hour of his death. Yet other historical elements are fictionalized, notably the elaborate and important encounter with the Brahmans.

          The date of composition of the Alexander Romance is quite uncertain, though we have a terminus ante quem in the translation into Latin by Julius Valerius, consul in 338 CE. Scholars differ as to the date at which the Romance took the form known to us in its earliest recension (A), some putting it as late as the third century CE. It is probable that the Romance had assumed something much like that form already in the third or second century BCE, when a good deal of nationalistic material was being composed in Egypt.3 The Romance is an amalgam of several different kinds of material: a poetic history of Hellenistic type,4 a series of letters between Alexander and Darius, a series of letters about marvels and a rhetorical set-piece in the Debate in Athens (only in recension A). The later recensions B and Y [approximations of two Greek letters] add increasing detail to the wonder-tales while reducing the material belonging to the Greek historical context." [117-119].



In this connection it is worth drawing attention to the parallelism between the Alexander Romance and a number of early Christian texts which used the generic mix of works like the Alexander Romance to present their own worldviews. A study by Reiser22 has detailed the many similarities between the Alexander Romance and Mark's Gospel, which range from syntactic features to aspects of narrative style including parataxis [difficult definition] and repetition, absence of complex narrative, VAGUENESS OF GEOGRAPHICAL AND CHRONOLOGICAL REFERENCE, ideal scenes and the miracles which accompany the deaths of Jesus and Alexander. Both texts ["Alexander Romance and Mark's Gospel"] thus exhibit the linguistic and stylistic features of popular literature in the service of a portrait of a unique figure. The question-and-answer session with the Brahmans is not entirely unlike the question-and-answer sessions of Jesus and his disciples in the Gospels, though the roles of teacher and taught are reversed. Both types of text are drawing on the same kind of tradition, catering for the same kind of appetite for wondrous tales with a meaning, or pithy sayings (chreiai).

          The apocryphal Gospels and apocryphal Acts show a similar relation to our text. The latter may often be entitled 'Deeds' ('Acts') or 'Life and Deeds', like our text. The Acts of Thomas, for example, contain an expedition to India and miraculous encounters.

          Our examination of the different literary strands of the Alexander Romance has revealed rather little direct correspondence with the themes and motifs of the Greek novel as usually defined. Its affinities are rather, where it is not pretending to the condition of history, with folk-tales and travellers' tales—unsophisticated forms which address unsophisticated people and, characteristically, deal with the behaviour and standards of people of a like kind, people who are usually victims rather than protagonists of historical process. What is the great conqueror Alexander doing as a vehicle for the concerns of simple people? An answer may be discoverable in the paradox of Alexander's personality in the Romance.



The leitmotif of the wonder-tales in the Alexander Romance is Alexander's quest to explore the furthest reaches of earth and to learn from the gods the hour of his death...." [124-125].




Writer of fiction

Ewen Bowie

'You think that the Greeks will remember your words when you are dead. But those who are nobodies when they are alive, what can they be when they are not?'1 With this epigrammatic letter, addressed to a Chariton who is most probably the novelist, Philostratus seems to dismiss his literary activity as worthless, and the text has been used to support the thesis that the writing of romantic fiction was despised by respectable creators of high literature. Whether or not it can sustain this weight, we should hesitate before concluding that it is the fictionality of Chariton's writing that the sophist expects his readers to find unacceptable. After all, if a librarian were required to keep all Philostratus' works on the same shelf, and were permitted only the categories of 'non-fiction' and 'fiction', the decision would be hard to make. In what follows I attempt a brief explanation of the territory of the fictional in Philostratus' writing, bearing in mind that the most important landmark in contemporary fictional writing as a whole was undoubtedly the romantic novel...." [181].

          "....The Heroicus, then, lures the reader through a landscape where some of the illusions will be familiar from incursions into the romantic novel but many will not. But illusions they are: this can hardly be doubted. For the remaining and longest work the boundaries between fact and fiction are much more contentious.

          A Severan reader encountering The Stories of Apollonius of Tyana in a library or bookshop would have been prudent to suspend judgement about genre and factuality until much of the work had been read. Its scale alone must have puzzled. The title (if original) might suggest biography. But most biographies were in one book—more often the thirty or so modern pages of Lucian's Alexander or Diogenes Laertius' Plato than the seventy of the latter's Epicurus. The eight books of the work on Apollonius (344 Teubner pages) might rather recall the proto-novelistic Cyropaedia of Xenophon, a historical monograph like those of Thucydides or historians of Alexander,10 or the genre that has debts to all of these, the ideal novel (both Chariton's and Achilles' are in eight books).

          The narrative proper only begins (at 1.4) after a triad of oblique openings redolent of a sophistic prefatory discourse or prolalia. The first gives a brief sketch of the archaic sage Pythagoras. The second notes Apollonius' resemblance to Pythagoras and adumbrates a defence against the charge that his powers were those of a magos. The third sets out as the writer's goal an account accurate in chronology and characterization, based on oral and written sources, including letters of Apollonius. It is in this connection that Philostratus claims (1.3) to have used not only a work by Maximus of Aegeae on Apollonius' residence there as a young man, and a four-book work by Moeragenes, dismissed with such venom that it must have been the standard work Philostratus sought to supersede, but a hitherto unknown memoir drafted by one Damis of Nineveh, brought to his attention by Julia Domna. We later


read in more detail (1.18–19) how Apollonius resolved to travel to Mesopotamia and India to consort with magoi and Brahmans, and en route at Nineveh acquired Damis as a disciple. Damis joined him for the duration of his travels and compiled a notebook of tit-bits (ecphatnismata) which professed to include all that Apollonius had said, even casual remarks, and to combat any suspicion that he had invented this journal written in mediocre Greek ('for Damis had been educated among people who did not speak Greek') he reports an anonymous criticism of it and Damis' spirited defence.

          From this point the narrative is constructed around a series of exchanges of Apollonius with Damis and with others that display his formidable moral and intellectual strength...." [187-188].

          "Philostratus' handling of eros in the Apollonius, then, so different to that of the Heroicus, would check any reader's inclination to assimilate the work to a romantic novel. Instead it would reassert the work's status as a laudatory biography of an ascetic philosopher endowed with supernatural powers and claiming a special relationship with the divine. When the Apollonius was written, probably in the second decade of the third century, the only obvious pagan model for such a work would be biographies of Pythagoras, precisely the guru whom Philostratus delineates in his opening sentences and on whom his Apollonius most models himself. Similarities between the Apollonius and the later lives of Pythagoras by Porphyry and Iamblichus suggest that several details in the former are drawn from earlier Pythagorean biography. A Christian reader can of course see many similarities with the Gospels, but these are not so close as to require the supposition that Philostratus knew of and drew upon them.20

          A feature which the Apollonius shares with works on Pythagoras and on Jesus of Nazareth is that it concerns a figure in whose historicity many readers believed. By the time Philostratus wrote many local traditions were already well established, associating Apollonius with miracles in mainland Greece, Ionia, Cilicia and Syria.21 That of Apollonius' vision at Ephesus of Domitian's simultaneous murder in Rome was famous enough to be written up by Cassius Dio (67.18). Some readers might know the previous literary works to which Philostratus refers and from which he must draw much: that on Apollonius' youth by Maximus of Aegeae; Moeragenes' work in four books which seems already to have represented Apollonius as both a philosopher and a man with supernatural powers (magos); and a collection of letters of Apollonius to cities and individuals whose dominant theme seems to have been vituperative correction of the addressee's moral failure and degeneracy.22 All this establishes a presumption shared by writer and reader that there is a set of historical facts concerning Apollonius on which Philostratus may draw. He may select well or ill, he may elaborate without warrant, but he and his readers would agree that his story has a historical core. In this respect too it clearly both differs from the novels, whose attempts to integrate themselves with historical events are never more than an author's ploy, and resembles the Heroicus, where Homer's account of the Trojan war forms a historical core and the ghost of Protesilaus plays the role of Damis.


          The Apollonius emerges as a literary hybrid, something sui generis that resists reduction to other genres. But if the principal stock is would-be-historical biography and the novelistic features have been grafted on, what is the point of these grafts? I do not imagine that I can track down Philostratus' literary objectives. We can only speculate on possible attractions, and in doing so we must remember the general enthusiasm for experimenting with literary form that marks Greek literature of the period.23" [193-194].

[reference to: Apollonius of Tyana (see Addition 26, 1182-1248)] "The sober and sceptical reader who wants a good but credible story will welcome the apparently reliable source that Philostratus claims Damis to be; the more sophisticated connoisseur of literary technique will interpret the 'notebooks' of Damis as a covert admission of fictionality. My conclusion is close to that I offered for the Heroicus. It leaves Philostratus as a borrower from and even a contributor to the techniques of fiction, and perhaps suggests that he saw Chariton not as a member of a despised club but as a rival in his own." [196] [End of "Philostratus: Writer of Fiction"].



Lawrence M. Wills

In addition to the 'canon' of five Greek and two Latin novels, there are also a number of indigenous novelistic works produced throughout the Graeco-Roman period which flesh out our knowledge of the background of the genre. They have attracted a great deal of scholarly interest, both in their own right, and also because they sometimes predate the larger novels, thereby granting us insights into how the genre might have developed. Among these indigenous writings one finds a large number of Jewish novellas. Although they do not reflect the length of the Alexander Romance, nor the typically Greek love theme of the Ninus Romance, they span the earliest centuries of the explosion of novelistic development, and exhibit some of the important elements of the genre: entertaining plots, an increasing number of women characters, internalizing psychological focus, interest in domestic settings and values (such as the containment of sexuality) and the manipulation of emotion. Further, because we possess a large number of variant recensions of some of these novellas, which can often be placed in a chronological order, the typical development of novelistic themes and techniques can be studied in detail.


          Jewish novelistic literature can be divided into three groups:


1        National hero novellas, rousing adventure stories which champion the exploits of the ancient heroes of the Jews. The best preserved examples are by Artapanus, who wrote in Egypt in about 200 BCE. Sections of his works on Abraham, Joseph and Moses have been preserved, the last of which has been likened to the Ninus and Alexander romances.1 Artapanus glorifies his subjects from Biblical history in unexpected ways, as when he states that Moses was not only a teacher of Orpheus and benefactor of humanity, but also a general in the Egyptian army who initiated the animal cults in Egypt.


2        Novellas, which treat figures who were unimportant (and sometimes even unknown) to Jewish history, such as Esther, Daniel, Tobit or Judith, in the books by those names, or Aseneth, Joseph's wife, in Joseph and Aseneth. PRESENTING A SEMBLANCE OF HISTORICAL VERISIMILITUDE TO CREATE ATMOSPHERE, they nevertheless contain incorrect and patently unbelievable historical figures: 'Darius the Mede' in Daniel, 'Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Assyrians' in Judith, and Esther as the Queen of Persia. It is, to be sure, difficult to be certain how these texts were understood, but it is likely that they were read as fictions, and even in some cases as satires or farces.


3        Historical novellas, which treat historical figures from the recent past in a way that, however implausible to us, was probably received as factually true, such as Third Maccabees, and the Tobiad Romance and Royal Family of Adiabene contained in Josephus' Antiquities (12.4.1–11 §§ 154–236 and 20.2.1.–4.3 §§ 17–96 respectively).

          The number and variety of Jewish novelistic works provide a rich source of information on the broad spectrum of popular literature, but the subcategory that is the most interesting for a comparison with Greek and Roman novels are the five novellas proper of category (2). Whereas both the non-Jewish and Jewish indigenous works capture a sense of ethnic pride and competitiveness, such as we might expect among the once proud but now subjugated nationalities of the Hellenistic world, the Jewish novellas go further, reflecting in some ways a significant refinement of technique. The sense of a threat is increased, the point of conflict is sharpened and the scope of the action is limited and turned inward upon one or two protagonists who bear the burden of their extended family, and by extension, of Jews in general.

          Although the Jewish novellas share some traits with much older Biblical narratives (especially the Joseph story of Genesis 37–50), there is a significant break in the continuity between the two epochs. The production and editing of prose narrative is more or less continuous in Israel from about 1000 to 400 BCE, but at the end of that period there occurs a hiatus. From 400 to 200 BCE there is a 'Dark Age' of Hebrew prose narrative, where we find at best only fragments (preserved, in fact, only in later collections). When this Dark Age of prose narrative ends in the second century BCE, the new library productions are often in the form of novellas, which reflect the vastly different situation of Jewish social life. Alexander the Great's conquest of the ancient world, which at first made only superficial inroads into Jewish society at large, by the second century BCE had wrought significant changes


throughout the sizeable Diaspora population. A large entrepreneurial and administrative class arose, which had been trained in Jewish schools to be able to read and write. It is only natural that developments in literature would reflect these changes. The Jewish novellas may result from a process similar to that which produced Greek novels. Several scholars have suggested that the canonization of Greek culture and tradition in the fifth century, the establishment of a body of sacred tradition certified to be 'true', gave rise to an opposite impulse as well, the experimentation with that which is by common consent held to be 'false', that is fiction, and this process eventually led to the development of the novel: Herodotus' love of variant versions of stories, for example, or Xenophon's embellishment of the life of Cyrus in his Cyropaedia (Nagy 1990: 52–67; Reardon 1991: 59–69; Flory 1987: 49–79). Jews had also canonized their own tradition in the fifth century, and though there is a quiescence that follows, it is broken by the play of fiction. Stories based on Biblical and Persian narrative models, probably originally oral, are gathered, extended and refined, addressing the needs of a new class of at least partly literate, urban, entrepreneurial Jews. Although these novellas are not derived forms of the Greek or Roman novel, nor of the indigenous romances such as Ninus (since they predate both groups), they are nevertheless related by the common aesthetic developments of the late Hellenistic period...." [223-225].

          "We may begin with Daniel, since it has the clearest developmental history, and at one stage can be precisely dated. The Book of Daniel as it appears in the Hebrew Bible can be easily divided into the court narratives of Chapters 1–6, narrated in the third person, which portray the adventures of the wise courtier Daniel and his three friends in the courts of the great ancient Near Eastern monarchs, and the apocalyptic visions of Chapters 7–12, recounted in the first person. The two halves were probably not written by the same author. The second half, the apocalyptic visions, refer to events of the Maccabean Revolt of 167–164 BCE; the persecution of the pious Jews and the resulting sectarian consciousness is much in evidence. This is not the case, however, in the stories of Daniel 1–6. Here, the separate episodes depict threats and conflicts of life at court, but in each case end happily, usually with a repentant king. Thus Daniel 7–12 provides us with a firm dating for the visions, 167–164 BCE, while the narratives of Daniel 1–6 give every indication of having been composed before the Maccabean Revolt, in about the third or early second century BCE." [225-226].

          "While Daniel is the clearest of the novellas in terms of its process of development, the others still reveal some growth and evolution. Esther, for instance, a court narrative like Daniel 1–6, Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon, may have evolved from a somewhat simpler version of the story, which depicted Mordecai and Esther with somewhat different emphases (Clines 1984; Fox 1991a: 254–73 and 1991b; Wills 1990: 153–91). In the present version in the Hebrew Bible, the figure of the courtier Mordecai has been upstaged by his cousin and adopted daughter, Esther. The focus on the female protagonist is significant for a consideration of the development of the novella. The setting for the drama has shifted, in comparison with the court narratives, from the king's male-dominated court to the full run of the palace, and, not


least, into the harem. The 'harem intrigue' element has a background in Persian literature,4 but as it moves into its new context in Jewish novellas, the queen is no longer simply a foil for the protagonist, she is the protagonist.

          The structure of Esther is more complex than at first appears, and for all its bombastic revenge theme, it is also a literary gem...." [223].

          "The Book of Tobit tells the intertwined stories of Tobit and his kinswoman Sarah, who are each suffering, apparently at the hands of an unjust God. He, though a pious man who has buried the bodies of dead Jews, has been 'rewarded' by God with blindness, and now begs God to deliver him by taking his life. She, in a far away city, also prays to God for release by death, because she has been betrothed seven times, only to see each husband killed by the evil demon Asmodaeus before the wedding can be consummated. It is only a temporary illusion that God has forsaken them, however, as the angel Raphael is sent to restore both of them to happiness at the same time. Posing as a kinsman, Raphael guides Tobit's son Tobias to Sarah's house, where the young man and woman are betrothed. Raphael gives Tobias incense which wards off Asmodaeus, allowing their marriage to be consummated. They then return to Tobit with an ointment Raphael has given them to cure Tobit's blindness.

          Whereas the books of Daniel and Esther both derive from developments of the court narrative, Tobit evidences a totally different background. With slight modifications, one can detect the plot structure of the common folk-tale 'The Grateful Dead Man', in which a traveller comes upon the corpse of a man killed by robbers and buries him. Later on in his travels he is befriended by a stranger—the spirit of the dead man—who guides him to the site of a woman whose bridal chamber is cursed. The stranger aids him in marrying the woman and ridding her of the demon. The parallels to Tobit are obvious, but the main actions of the folktale's protagonist (burying and marrying) are split between Tobit and his son, and the spirit of the dead man is now found in the figure of Raphael. Many other folk-tale motifs are found in this novella as well, for example, magical ointments from animal parts and the binding of the demon. Still, although this novella is clearly much closer to traditional oral narrative in its structure and motifs than are the other novellas, it is not simply an oral folk-tale committed to writing. The first two-and-a-half chapters, written in the first person, may have been altered or expanded; there is a section of proverbs (Chapter 4) woven into the narrative; and the ending (Chapters 13 and 14) may have been extended as well. The length of the whole certainly comports with the other novellas, as does its emphasis on the extended family and its use of irony and humour. Thus, although it may have arisen from oral traditions, it has been adapted somewhat to its new function as a written novella." [231-232].

          "The Book of Judith is one of the longer of the Jewish novellas, yet it is famous for only one scene, Judith's decapitation of the enemy general Holofernes. The rest of the work provides the background for this climatic moment. Nebuchadnezzar, here incorrectly called 'king of the Assyrians', has sent his general Holofernes on a punitive expedition against all of the countries to his west....


          The name Judith means 'Jewess', and her steadfast courage creates in the work a minor morality play: in the face of an overwhelming threat to the Jewish people, faith in God will triumph. Most would agree that Judith's actions are motivated by the extreme threat, but there has been a consistent reaction in the Christian West since about 1600 against Judith, based on her deceit and her violent methods, presumably actions unbecoming a lady. A new age will probably cast off such judgements, and see the story not just as a pious story of the deliverance of Israel, but also as an entertainment about cleverness and the reversal of sexual roles (Jacobus 1986; Stone 1992; Levine 1992)." [232, 233].

          "Thus it becomes clear why the two most noteworthy characteristics of the Greek novel, love and travel, are lacking in Jewish novellas. The motive forces experienced by the audience are quite different: not conjugal love, threatened by separation, but the extended family ties of Judaism, threatened by evil, especially evil which is directed against the corporate body of Jews. Granting, then, that this is the difference, what is the similarity? If love and travel constituted the essential elements of the Greek novel, the similarities would of course be insignificant. But love and travel are not the constitutive elements of the Greek novel, as important as they often (but not always) are to its very fabric. The constitutive element is the exploration and manipulation of emotion, an element shared in grand proportions by the Jewish novellas. All of the ancient novelistic literature partakes of this, and yet each subcategory will find different vehicles for it. It is the particular attraction of the Jewish novellas that they constitute, relatively speaking, such a large body of novelistic literature, and that they can be more precisely dated and located in a social and historical context than can many of the others. We can also find in their pages a marvellously intimate portrait of the values and wish-fulfilments of wealthier Jews in the Graeco-Roman period." [235-236] [End of "The Jewish Novellas"].



Richard I. Pervo




Narrative 'fiction' (by which I mean composition rather than concoction), treating Christian subjects and serving religious ends, begins with the formation of stories about Jesus into a coherent narrative plot, continues with the composition of works featuring apostles and issues in stories about holy men and women, a genre that has arguably never died.1



Extant models included Jewish and other ('pagan' is an undesirable bin into which to lump all but two or three ancient religions and movements; 'secular' is a category that can only with qualification be applied to antiquity) tales about suffering righteous heroes, lives of great teachers, leaders and sages, and various early representatives of the ancient novel. Scholarly discussions about the possible roles of these antecedents assume roughly the same shape in disputes about the origins of Christian literature as they take in debates about the genesis of the Greek novel. For some critics these questions are fundamental; others regard them as of minimal relevance.

Gospels and Acts

The anonymous author of what is now called 'The Gospel of Mark' apparently produced the first work conforming to the description given above. Its hero, Jesus of Nazareth, embarks upon a career of teaching and wonder-working that excites the authorities to plan his death. When Jesus goes to Jerusalem at the time of a religious festival, tension rises, but his enemies are frustrated until one of his intimates sells him out. Following his trial and execution, women disciples who visit the tomb hear that Jesus has been raised.

          The narrator shapes the plot in an ironic fashion: the religio-political establishment wishes Jesus executed for acts of beneficence. They succeed in putting him to death, unaware that by this very act they are conforming to God's plan of redemption. Mark begins and ends abruptly. Matthew and Luke give the story a biographical orientation with stories of Jesus' birth and childhood, then extended it to provide appearances of the risen Christ.

          If the canonical gospels have dramatic plots and exciting content of a popular variety, they contain relatively little adventure or melodrama, apart from the Passion story. The third of the evangelists, traditionally called 'Luke', wrote a sequel, now called Acts, focusing upon the travels, deeds and speeches of Christian leaders, especially Paul, the central figure. Acts gives larger scope to adventure than to instruction and has affinities with ancient fiction. Paul covers much of the territory over which the leading figures of Greek novels wander, and his life, too, is marked by intrigue, captivity and narrow escapes from death, including deliverance from shipwreck.

          The marcan shape, itself inspired by Jewish stories of the fate of the suffering righteous, predominates in Acts, which give it a new and enduring vitality. A literary examination of the composition of Gospels and Acts reflects a growing tendency toward the production of coherent, extended narrative. This is quite evident in the work of Luke, whose Gospel constitutes a substantial literary 'improvement' over that of Mark, and whose second volume reflects yet further advances: in place of pithy sayings, distinct anecdotes and brief miracle stories there are set speeches conforming to rhetorical patterns and a wealth of narrative incident.


          From the historical perspective the composition of full-scale narrative gospels appears, apart from combinations and abbreviations of the extant works to have soon subsided. The 'Gospels' of the second and later centuries begin where Mark, so to speak, left off. They are essentially discourses of the glorified, risen Christ. The Gospel of John, with its lengthy addresses (cf. John 13–17), begins to point in this direction. Narrative flourished in the composition of various acts." [239-241].


The problem of the category

If the theological term 'canonical' should not be used as a literary or historical category, the adjective 'apocryphal' creates even greater distortions. 'Apocryphal' literally means 'hidden' and thus implies secret books surreptitiously produced by subversive sects. In common parlance 'apocryphal' simply means 'untrue'. The very phrase 'Apocryphal Acts' (hereafter ApocActs) thus suggests a group of works that have failed to pass their exams.

          As a widely-held notion would have it: once upon a time there were any number of Gospels and Acts engaged in competition for biblical status, with the role of Paris taken by Christian bishops, who, after suitable scrutiny of the entrants, awarded prizes. This popular belief, that Christian apocrypha simply imitated their canonical antecedents with the goal of inclusion within the Bible, is incorrect. Moreover, having received this disparaging label, the Christian apocrypha found themselves relegated to a collection with all of the typical resultant phenomena: the group becomes an object of distinct and isolated study, with its own handbooks, journals, monographs and clientele. The inclusion of the present chapter within this volume is witness to the contemporary effort to shatter inappropriate barriers and bridge traditional chasms.

          If some of the Christian apocrypha do offer alternative pictures to those found in the writings later judged canonical, most of them appear rather to ignore these texts. Nor did they lead a generally shadowy existence. These writings remained a vital source of spiritual nature and provided artists with so many subjects that they constitute required reading for historians of art. Their concluding sections found a home in the liturgical celebration of the various apostles. Other witnesses to their popularity are the editors who could not or would not repress them but rather adapted their contents to meet changing theological and cultural standards, and those who provided for their translation and adaptation into a number of ancient and medieval languages and cultures." [241-242].


"General observations

There are five major ApocActs dating from the period c. 150–250 CE: those of Paul (APl), Peter (APtr), John (AJn), Andrew (AA) and Thomas (AThom). None survives in original form; all but the AThom are incomplete. The last was apparently written in Syriac; all of the others derive from Greek originals. The reconstruction of critical editions and the translation of these into modern languages is an arduous and uncertain task.

          It is erroneous to evaluate these works as a corpus, although they were assembled into a body by Manicheans in the fourth century. As in the case of the Greek romances, treatment of the ApocActs as a unit tends to isolate them from other writings and give undue weight to their similarities. The ApocActs are a disparate group, in structure, style and levels of literary accomplishment, as well as in viewpoint.

          A superficial survey of these works yields a first impression of monotonous sameness. Credulity seems to rule. The modern reader soon has enough of dreadful demons exposed and banished, speaking animals, raised corpses and long speeches, not to mention temples and marriages left in ruins. To this catalogue Christian readers would add varieties of theological aberration. If Catholic scholars often took offence at the omnipresence of heresy, Protestants possibly more tolerant of such were not likely to swallow the large doses of asceticism and wonder. Talking dogs and balking wives long relegated the ApocActs to the lower shelves of the academic supermarket. Shifts in academic orientation, including changed approaches to early Christianity, interest in social history, interdisciplinary research and feminist studies, have brought renewed interest.

          The literary charges against the ApoActs—naive plotting, limited variations upon a small repertory of episodic themes and lack of sophistication—are more or less the same as those traditionally lodged against the Greek romantic novels. These accusations are often overblown, but they do reflect the 'popular' character of the works in question. These writings reflect the interests and beliefs not jut of marginal groups but of the more ordinary early Christian believers. Chief among these interests is power, including, of course, the power to remove such misfortunes as hunger, disease and even death with a simple command, as well as the power of women to manage their own lives, and the capacity to resist oppressive officials. Other prominent concerns are the quest for identity, a longing for community and the wish for excitement. If all of these benefits come instantly and often, that means no more than that the ApocActs appeal, so to speak, to the same markets and desires pursued by present-day commercial advertising. The new life proffered by the messengers of this new god comes as quickly and with as far-reaching effects as a certain shampoo, which will not only immediately and permanently banish dandruff but also transform its user into an attractive sexual object. Modern criticism, moreover, projects an excess of positivism upon early readers, who were very probably quite capable of apprehending the symbolic quality of many of the stories they heard and read.


          In their surface structures the ApocActs exhibit some features in common. Most of the action revolves about an apostle, upon whom the narrator's camera usually remains fixed. A common approach to launching the story (the openings are often lost) seems to have been an account of the 'apostolic lottery', in which the Twelve, after the manner of senior Roman senators, cast lots to determine their portions of the world mission.

          The featured apostle thereupon sets forth—or should set forth—to his designated territory. In the course of their travels to and about these regions, the apostles establish and confirm various communities, do much that is beneficent and remarkable and come into frequent conflicts with authorities. A major source of the last is conversion of women occupying highly-placed beds, whose partners simply cannot reconcile themselves to the perpetual chastity conversion entails and vent their frustrations against missionary, wife or both. These nefarious designs are without avail until the final scene, when martyrdom brings the work to a resounding close. There can be no doubt that these endings are no less happy than they are glorious. This typical plot, like the typical plots of Greek romances, met its readers' expectations. It also left room for much variation.

          The question of the genre of the ApocActs and their relation to the romantic novels has long been a subject of discussion. As with the Greek novel, much of the debate has focused upon antecedents. Here also the material comprises a relatively small number of works that imitate one another. One of the major goals of research upon ApocActs has been the construction of the widest possible barrier between these works and the canonical book of Acts. This dam is both high and deep, but it leaks like a sieve. Some of these leaks come from the possession of common ancestors. Since the Christian Gospel story underlies all of the Acts, the possibility of a single prototype is removed before play can begin. The ApocActs happily plunder a number of sources and forms: Jewish and Christian writings, Greek epic, historiography, paradoxography, philosophical biographies of the more popular sort and utopian, historical and romantic novels. Resemblances to the last are quite apparent in the accounts of threatened chastity and its preservation.

          The ApocActs are novels not because they share, on balance, sufficient motifs with Chariton and Heliodorus, but because they are novels: the products of an extended narrative designed by an author who has welded various sources and forms into a unified whole.



Their service to a particular group and creed may set them apart, but this could be a somewhat deceiving conclusion. It is easier for a modern reader to envision the social group addressed by the APl than it is to put oneself in the place of an Aphrodisian reading Callirhoe. Nonetheless, it is rather unlikely that many read the ApocActs for private edification and entertainment without regard for the belief systems they promote.

          The ApocActs do belong on the shelves where ancient novels are stored, even if at the bottom, rather nearer to the Alexander Romance, The Life of Aesop, and Xenophon of Ephesus than to Achilles Tatius, but there is among them much that an admirer of Philostratus' work on Apollonius, or, for that matter, The Education of Cyrus, would recognize if not quite fully appreciate." [242-244].

"(3) The Acts of Paul. The early North African lay theologian, Tertullian [c. 160 - c. 225], had some issues with the APl, to which he assigns authorship, and provenance: a second-century presbyter in Asia Minor, who, he claims, lost his position because of this publication (On Baptism, 17). Two sections of this work have had an independent existence: the martyrdom, as usual, and the famous Acts of Paul and Thecla, retained because of their use in her cult. The addition of modern papyrus discoveries to these texts has made about two-thirds of the ancient Acts available. Not all agreed with Tertullian. The APl appears in some lists of biblical texts and long remained an honoured source for church historians. This relative success stems from both interesting content and relatively non-controversial theology.

          Only hints and fragments of the opening survive. When his mission brings him to Iconium, Paul's preaching sweeps away a young woman named Thecla, who accepts his message and rejects her fiancé. He, in turn, allies with her mother to have the apostle run out of town and Thecla burned at the stake. Rescued by heaven-sent rain, she joins Paul en route to Pisidian Antioch. There her beauty captivates one Alexander, with the predictable results: rejection of him and condemnation of her. The vicious seals assigned to devour her demur, but their pool provides water for a self-administered baptism. Finally convinced by these demonstrations, Paul makes Thecla a missionary. Although these well-known chapters do form a part of the original APl, Thecla, rather than the apostle, is their central figure. Paul is a foil against which Thecla's radiance gleams. For earthly protection and support she must turn to women rather than to her mentor.

          Paul proceeds to his mission of building churches and ruining marriages. At Ephesus the conversion of an official's wife eventuated in condemnation to the beasts. The lion selected for this task was, however, himself a product of the pauline mission and demurred. Whereas the canonical Acts bring Paul to Rome as a prisoner but leave him alive and all but free, the APl recount his arrival as a free person and his death at the behest of Nero.

          These Acts play variations upon the theme of opposition arising from a message of renunciation. Their spiritual world breathes some of the atmosphere known as Montanism [the philosophical end place, of Tertullian]. Constant revision and partition make a literary assessment of the original text difficult, but the APl appear to have been a unified composition rather than an amalgamation [see Article #3, 46, 216. (amalgam)] of diverse traditions." [247-248].



The composition of new Acts continued for centuries, alongside the revision of the older works discussed above, merging with and influencing the writing of lives of post-New Testament saints. Liturgical practice, especially monastic devotion, required texts that could be heard on a single occasion and thus gave strong impetus to the preservation of those portions recounting apostolic martyrdoms.

          These texts considerably expand both the repertory and horizon of the ancient novel. The floruit of the Graeco-Roman novels coincides with that of the ApocActs (c. 100–250 CE), a fact that is scarcely accidental, for these works respond to similar and evolving tastes and needs. In the case of the Christian texts the social and ideological issues, while varied, are quite clear. This does not constitute a reason for disqualifying them from membership in the academy of ancient fiction, as it were; it may provide those searching for the social and intellectual worlds of the Greek romance with some very useful contingent data. Since the surviving Greek novels tend to represent the more cultivated products of the genre, the ApocActs give indications of the style and contents of more genuinely 'popular' novels. Moreover, these Christian texts provide indirect evidence for the appeal of romantic novels, with some of which they evidently shared potential readers.

          Generalizations are both useful and dangerous. Christian fiction, like 'pagan' novels, exhibits substantial fluidity. This was a genre wide enough to hold different viewpoints and a variety of literary and intellectual accomplishment. The present task is both to relate these Christian texts to their wider literary and cultural environments, including Graeco-Roman novels, and to emphasize the particularity and uniqueness of each work. Research on fiction in antiquity, then, is following the same general course, regardless of the body of material under investigation." [251-252] [End of "Early Christian Fiction"].

_____ _____ _____


from: Greek Fictional Letters, A Selection with Introduction, Translation and Commentary by, C.D.N. Costa, Oxford, 2001.


The letter was an extremely popular literary form in the Graeco-Roman world. That is true both of real letters (genuine communications between writer and recipient) and of fictional or imaginary letters, the type which this book is concerned with....

They ["fictional or imaginary letters"] are generally very hard to date with any approach to accuracy, but most of those we are concerned with were perhaps written between c. 100 BC and c. AD 250 (Aristaenetus seems to be somewhat later). This period, especially the Imperial age, was the time of the dominance of the sophists and rhetors, the professional teachers and practitioners of rhetoric, who were profoundly influential in the political and educational life especially of the cities of the Greek East. They not only attracted pupils as famous and respected teachers, but they often acted as trusted emissaries and secretaries to rulers and other powerful men....

          So far as we can establish a likely span of dates for our fictional letters, we may note too that though this was not a period of creative giants in Greek literature, we find two other genres now establishing themselves: biography (Plutarch—though apparently a lone figure in his particular field of moral biography) and the novel (five complete surviving examples by Chariton, Xenophon of Ephesus, Achilles Tatius, Longus, and Heliodorus). The novels too are notoriously hard to date,4 but there is general agreement that the genre peaked around the second century AD, and we can make important comparisons between the fictional letters and the novels...

          The second century was also the period which has been called the Second Sophistic, when the dominant aim of writers was to emulate what they regarded as the golden age of Greek style—the Attic which had been written four or five hundred years before....

there can be no doubt that the fictious [also: fictitious] letter was popular both as a rhetorical exercise and as a literary form, and the large corpus of surviving examples illustrates the wide range of motives and seriousness to be found in them, from the intense philosophical spirit professed by Chion to the frivolities of Alciphron. If we try now to classify these letters we can distinguish three groups:

          1. There are letters which form part of fictional and historical narratives. We have already seen that the surviving Greek novels are full of letters, and to those already quoted can be added the letter from Cyrus to Cyaxares in Xenophon, Cyropaedia 4. 5. 27, formally a historical work, but one which could more accurately be described as a vast novel. There is also the letter Nicias wrote from Sicily in Thucydides (7. 10–15), which has been the subject of much scholarly argument: did Nicias write it as it stands, or is it a Thucydidean construct to add documentary realism and interest to the narrative? At any rate the letter became famous and was often quoted up to Byzantine times. Another well-known example is the letter of Lysias to Felix in Acts 23: 26–30, where there is the same uncertainty whether the


author Luke reproduced an existing letter of Lysias or invented one to fit his character and the situation. In these two examples, if Thucydides and Luke did compose the letters themselves, it is important not to see this as a piece of deception but rather as a technique of verisimilitude and characterization—a shot at ethopoiia to illuminate their narratives.

          2. The second group of letters, in contrast with the first, consists of independent compositions which do not form part of a narrative, and are somewhat loosely called 'comic' or 'imaginary'....

          3. Thirdly there is a large group of letters which are attributed to famous philosophers and other historical characters. Nobody nowadays seriously maintains that any of these collections are genuine, since Richard Bentley in 1697–9 proved that the so-called letters of Pharlaris and others are spurious.5 There are of course genuine surviving letters of this class. Best known are the three letters of Epicurus to his disciples, though we should no doubt include in this group THE LETTERS OF ST PAUL IN THE NEW TESTAMENT.6 [see footnote, 2464] The extant letters of Plato are the subject of much dispute, but most of them are probably spurious; while Aristotle, in spite of his fame in antiquity as a letter-writer, certainly did not write those that survive under his name. Generally speaking the authors of the letters allegedly by Diogenes, Socrates, Anacharsis, Hippocrates, and so on, have a didactic aim and offer more or less obliquely a moralizing or philosophical lesson, while at the same time trying to convey what was traditionally known of the character and personality of the supposed author. 'Anacharsis' caustically offers some home truths to the Athenians; 'Crates' shows Diogenes reacting nonchalantly to captivity; 'Socrates' counsels Xenophon about his plan to help Cyrus, and so on.

          Our selection is of letters from the second and third of these classes, and we turn now to a brief consideration of each of the authors represented, using the rather loose labels 'comic' and 'philosophical'.


          PHILOSTRATUS (c. AD 170–240s): it is difficult to disentangle the four Philostrati known to us, but our letter-writer is generally agreed to be Flavius Philostratus, who was born at Athens and taught by the celebrated orators Damianus of Ephesus and Antipater of Hierapolis. He went to Rome during the principate of Septimius Severus and was associated with the philosophical circle patronized by the emperor's wife Julia Domna (see his Letter 73 below). He also wrote the Life of Apollonius of Tyana [see Addition 26, 1182-1248] and Lives of the Sophists, a mine of information for us about the sophists and their activities up to and including his own contemporaries....



          ANACHARSIS: the historical Anacharsis was a Scythian prince of sixth century BC, who visited Greece in his travels and acquired such a reputation for wisdom that he was counted among the Seven Sages. There is disagreement in our sources about his attitude to the Greeks, but the prevailing view was that he had a low opinion of all except the Spartans. In the spurious letters ascribed to him he is portrayed as a spokesman for Cynic ideals against corrupt Greek culture, and they thus have strong links with the letters attributed to Crates and Diogenes. OF THE TEN 'ANACHARSIS' LETTERS 1–9 ARE WRITTEN PREDOMINANTLY IN KOINE RATHER THAN ATTIC, and are probably to be dated to the third century BC; 10 seems to be by a different author and may be a bit earlier.8 These letters also have some interesting later associations. Cicero translated no. 5 (Tusc. 5.90); on them Montesquieu based his Lettres persanes (1721), in which two Persian travellers give a satirical picture of Parisian culture under Louis XIV; and Montesquieu in turn influenced Goldsmith's Citizen of the World (1762), an imagined Chinese view of English society....

          EURIPIDES: a group of five letters attributed to Euripides, all but one addressed to or concerned with his visit to Archelaus of Macedonia. THEY ARE VERY HARD TO DATE, BUT THE LANGUAGE, WHICH IS KOINE RATHER THAN ATTICIST, SEEMS TO PUT THEM PERHAPS AROUND AD 100.12....

The Greek fictional letter has a lot to answer for, and much of that is fascinating and distinguished." ["xi", xii, xiii, xiv, xv, xvi, xvii, xviii, xx] [End of "Introduction"].


"6. One should note here the importance of letters in the early spread of Christianity and the establishment of its communities in distant cities." ["xxi"].

_____ _____ _____


from: The Novel in The Ancient World, Edited by Gareth Schmeling, E.J. Brill, 1996.


Richard Pervo


Among the problems confronting those who would sketch a profile of the ancient Christian novel are the definition of "ancient novel" and the properties that might make it "Christian." ....' ["685"].

'Jewish Fiction

The remains of this material have much to offer students of Greek fiction, expanding the contents of a rather slender corpus, showing a nexus between "Greek" and "Oriental" traditions, and illustrating the literary process of hellenization. In style and content they are, by and large, "popular." Jewish fiction thus helps to illuminate two of the classic issues surrounding ancient novels: where did they come from, and who read them? Since they can be placed within a chronological frame, these works also permit observations about literary development within an identifiable history and tradition.

          Lawrence M. Wills offers a typology of ancient Jewish fiction.12 One deals with "national heroes," such as Moses or Joseph. A second type includes novellas or short novels centered about figures who do not figure prominently in the traditional Israelite history, including Esther and Daniel. Although replete with historical errors, these works have a patina of historical color. Thirdly are more historical works, centered upon individuals of the relatively recent past. The items in this last category lie on the tenuous boundary between "bad" or novelistic history and HISTORICAL FICTION and will not be discussed here.13' [687].

          [footnotes] "11Examples include parts of Daniel (Susanna, Bel and the Snake), Judith, Tobit, and Aseneth. All save the last are in the Christian Bible but not the Hebrew Scriptures, indicating not only preservation but also official use. Modern discoveries (such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, unpublished elements of which include fragments of Hebrew narrative reminiscent of both Esther and Susanna) reveal that Jews once possessed these or kindred texts, but largely abandoned them or incorporated elements of them into a large corpus of haggadic (legendary) material.

          12Wills (1994) and (1995).

          13This hypothetical type appears to underlie some of the sources used by Josephus in his Jewish Antiquities. Examples are romantic accounts of the powerful Tobiad clan (Ant. 12. 154–236) and the royal family of Adiabene (Ant. 20. 17–96)." [687].


          "In sum, the history of Jewish fiction from ca. 200 B.C.E. to ca. 200 C.E. reveals, inter alia, the impact of Greek fiction, with which it seeks, so to speak, to keep up to date. Similar competitive or reciprocal elements may be noted in the development of early Christian narrative fiction. Researchers on the Greek novel will take note of the prominence of women in this material,16 as well as the increasing use of erotic themes, baroque plots, and exotic settings. For students of early Christian literature this and kindred17 literature established the literary pattern of the vindication of the suffering righteous person used to shape the Passion narrative of the canonical Gospels." [688-689].

'Christian Narrative Fiction


Were space and tradition to permit, this chapter should include Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, which can be understood as fictional biographies roughly analogous to the Alexander-Romance, the Life of Aesop, or Philostratus's novel about Apollonius of Tyana [see Addition 26, 1182-1248]. THE ACTIVITY OF SHAPING VARIOUS INDEPENDENT STORIES ABOUT JESUS INTO A COHERENT NARRATIVE PLOT REQUIRED COMPOSITIONAL STRATEGIES VERY MUCH LIKE THOSE OF FICTION.

          The anonymous author of the work called The Gospel of Mark apparently initiated a process that long continued. Mark begins with Jesus's baptism and ends with the discovery of the empty tomb. Luke and Matthew expanded this work in both directions, as well as in the middle, adding more teachings and including birth and resurrection stories. Later gnostics fastened upon the last, producing "gospels" that have little narrative material and much celestial vision, often presented in the framework of a dialogue with the disciples. Infancy gospels continued to be written, as well as accounts attributed to figures of the Passion story, such as Pilate and Nicodemus.18 Without the former ["Infancy gospels"] both Western art and the paraphernalia of Christmas decoration would suffer major lacks; the latter ["figures of the Passion story, such as Pilate and Nicodemus"] are little more than shadows in the sad story of an apologetic enterprise that issued in Christian anti-Semitism. There is relatively little in this material that evokes comparison with romantic novels. In the case of the various Acts the situation is different.' [689].


When the third of the canonical evangelists, traditionally called "Luke," prepared a sequel, known as "Acts,"19 he set in motion a vital and enduring tradition. In contrast with the Gospel of Luke, Acts devotes more space to adventure than to instruction in recounting the work of early leaders, especially Paul, whose missionary career spans much of the territory over which the heroes of the romantic novels wander, and whose life is replete with intrigue, captivity, and a number of close brushes with death, including his famous escape from a wrecked ship. Affinities with ancient adventure-fiction are numerous and often noted.20 [footnote "20 The most thorough,


but not the only, study of the affinities between Acts and ancient novels is Pervo (1987)"] Behind this endeavor stand narrative accounts of the suffering righteous, given Christian form in the Gospel of Mark. Literary investigation of the various gospels and acts reveals increasing facility in the composition of extended narrative and the creation of formal orations. The work of Luke displays both of these tendencies. While the Gospel [of Luke] is an advance over Mark in literary quality and contains a number of addresses, Acts replaces aphorism, anecdote, and concise miracle report with showpiece speeches that display some attention to rhetorical expectations and a rich mix of narrative episodes. The sincerest form of flattery soon began to manifest itself. Subsequent centuries saw a host of imitators, whose work flourished in conjunction with the production of hagiography. A primary focus of this essay is the major Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles (ApocActs)." [690].

'The Major Apocryphal Acts

In the period from Antoninus Pius through Trajan Decius (ca. 150–250) there appeared five major ApocActs, relating the ministries of Andrew (AA), John (AJn), Paul (APl), Peter (APtr), and Thomas (AThom). Only the last of these is complete; none survives in its original condition. The AThom is also unique in that it was probably composed in Syriac. It is erroneous to view these works as a planned corpus; they became so under Manichean auspices in the fourth century. In fact, they utilized and, to a degree, competed with one another and other texts. Determination of intertextual relationships—who used whom—is an exasperating task, not least because of the difficulty in producing manageable critical editions from lacunose texts displaying numerous later adaptations. Most researchers would place Apl at the beginning of the sequence and AThom at its end. APtr, AJn, and AA fall in between, possibly in that order.

          Those who peruse this collection are likely to come away with impressions reminiscent of casual reports about romantic novels. A traditional stereotype is that the ApocActs are monotonously similar: wrecked temples, ruined marriages, routed demons, raised corpses, incredible wonders, intelligent animals, and insipid sermons, not to mention social deviance and a rather simple theology that is no less heretical for all that. In fact, the ApocActs display substantial differences in ideology, style, and structure....

          If one were to use these works to create a broad index of the desires and values of those social groups standing at some distance below the elite aristocracy, they suggest that a leading concern is power to combat misfortune, whether in the form of illness, domestic oppression or official abuse. Longing for identity within a cohesive community is another factor, and it would be erroneous to overlook the palpable wish for experience that extends the drab horizons of daily existence. Similar concerns explain at least part of the appeal of romantic fiction. Many of the areas in which power is sought are those also addressed in the magical papyri, which illuminate this world from a more individualistic perspective. Not without reason are apostles called "sorcerers."22 Just as love occurs at first sight and romantic heroes radiate a divine beauty of considerable potency,23 so do the charismatic endowments


of apostles and their followers work to their frequent apparent disadvantage while their exorcisms and cures operate instantly. In this regard the works manifest a popular fantasy still visible in commercial advertisements. Since it is almost unquestionably true that readers of romantic novels were well aware that "life isn't like that," it is likely that the readers and hearers of ApocActs were equally well informed. The critically sophisticated have long bewailed the credulity of the masses. This perspective may be unfair. In the case of ApocActs there is ample room to suspect that readers were capable of grasping the symbolic character of the narratives before them. "Fundamentalism" is not restricted to those of limited education; not all of the less educated are bound to literal understandings. By often assuming that these texts were to be taken quite concretely, critics of recent times have done both texts and audiences a disservice.' [692-693].


The various Jewish and Christian texts considerably enlarge the horizons and boundaries of the ancient novel, helping to bridge gaps across cultures and substantially illuminating what was actually "popular." Chronologically, they provide marks for the evolution of Greek fiction, since Jewish and Christian novels appear to keep pace with changing trends and demands. This is most apparent in the ApocActs, which flourished during the heyday of the romantic novel.

          Those seeking to locate social and cultural bases for the less learned "pre-Sophistic" novels may learn something by comparison with Christian texts, which derive from groups with relatively well-known ideologies and social organizations.

          Surveys always mislead in so far as they emphasize continuity and similarity. It is my hope that this survey has identified some generalities without neglect of diversity. There is a great deal of variation in form, style, object, and viewpoint within early Christian fiction. This essay invites investigators of romantic novels to be more comprehensive. At the same time it is clear that the primary task in the study of ancient fiction at the present time is the careful examination of individual works in all of their particularity and uniqueness.' [709] [End of "The Ancient Novel Becomes Christian"].


"20.    Maps. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .801

          Jean Alvares, Assistant Professor of Classics

          Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster

          A. The World of the Ancient Novels

          B. Chariton—Chaireas and Callirhoe

          C. Xenophon of Ephesus—An Ephesian Tale

          D. Achilles Tatius—Leucippe and Clitophon

          E. Heliodorus—An Ethiopian Tale

          F. Petronius—The Satyricon

          G. Apollonius King of Tyre

          H. Homer—The Odyssey

          I. Apollonius of Rhodes—Voyage of the Argo

          J. Virgil—The Aeneid

          K. Paul's Journey to Rome

          L. Travelers to the Holy Land" [x].

[Map] "Paul's Journey to Rome

After being arrested in Jerusalem, Paul is taken overland to Caesarea. From there he sails to Sidon and to Myra, and then barely makes port at the Fair Havens, near Lasea in Crete. Despite Paul's warnings, his company tries to make for the harbor of Phoenix in Crete, but they are blown by a storm to Malta, where they are shipwrecked. They then sail to Syracuse, Rhegium and Puteoli. They travel overland to Rome. Paul's supporters come to meet him at the Appii Forum and the Three Taverns." ["813"].

_____ _____ _____

from: Article #1, page 6:


44.     "In the 'Tale of Sinuhe' (see 3) the protagonist despairs of returning to Egypt from his exile in Palestine." ["3...The 'Tale of Sinuhe' is one of the supreme masterpieces of Egyptian literature. Five manuscripts are known from the Middle Kingdom" (c. 2081 - 1640 B.C.E.).]. [compare: Biblical "Exodus"].

● ● ● ● ●



"THE TWELVE: FURTHER FICTIONS FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT ["Autumn 1997"] [I thank, for this reference].

by Frank R. Zindler



The silence regarding the earthly career of the god-man Jesus is amplified—if amplification of silence were possible—by the silence which surrounds all his companions and most of the places in which he is supposed to have worked his wonders. While it is indisputable that Augustus Caesar and Pontius Pilate existed at the same time Jesus is supposed to have lived, and while Jerusalem most certainly existed (and was called by that name), THERE IS NO SECULAR RECORD TO BE FOUND OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES, St. Mary, St. Joseph, St. Paul, St. Stephen, or the vast majority of the characters that people the gospels and the rest of the writings preserved in the New Testament. Nor is there to be found any mention in the Old Testament or in the writings of Jewish or pagan geographers and historians of such important Christian places as Nazareth, Bethany, Bethphage, AEnon, Magdala, or Capernaum.1 The fact that New Testament accounts even of historical figures are often confused or impossible2 makes the argument from silence even more forceful, simply because the novelistic character of the writing becomes more obvious, and one does not expect to find much historical documentation for the characters populating the average novel. The supposition that Jesus and his companions were real must confront the embarrassing fact that the characters in most historical novels can be documented in far greater percentages than can the characters in the New Testament.


The silence of extrabiblical sources concerning New Testament geography and characters has a curious counterpart in the silence of the gospels concerning most of the places that we know did exist in the areas alleged to have been venues of Jesuine activity. Thus, the major city of Sepphoris—a mere five miles from what is now called Nazareth—is wholly unknown in the New Testament, even though people living in its shadow could reasonably be expected to interact with it at least occasionally. Neither Jesus nor his followers betrays any awareness of this great pagan city in their midst. Apart from Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Tiberias, and the Sea of Galilee, there is little evidence that the New Testament authors knew or cared anything about the geography3 or real-life circumstances of the stage on which their actors play out their parts. If the New Testament is a work of fiction, and if its characters are the creations of religiopolitical necessity, this all makes sense. If Jesus and his associates were real, however, these compoundings of silence are quite impossible to explain credibly.



AMONG THE MANY IMAGINARY CHARACTERS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, PERHAPS THE MOST BLATANTLY OBVIOUS FICTIONS ARE THE TWELVE DISCIPLES. Of course, if Jesus was a sun-god (and who else is born on the winter solstice and worshiped on Sunday?), he would have needed twelve zodiacal[?] accomplices, one for every month of the year, or one for every sign of the zodiac through which the sun's chariot journeys. It is not surprising that most of the disciples are mere names—not always the same names from gospel to gospel—and only a few have any definable character. Moreover, it appears that some evangelists had trouble coming up with enough names for all twelve—although the authors of the gospels of Mark and Luke were able (as we shall see), by combining three separate stories about disciples or apostles, to come up with thirteen names!

Even though both Matthew and Luke are known to have copied the narrative framework of Mark's gospel, it is interesting to note that their lists of disciples (or apostles) do not match Mark's exactly. The simple Thaddaeus of Mark is Lebbaeus in Matthew. Attempts at harmonizing this discrepancy resulted in later manuscripts of Matthew listing Lebbaeus-Thaddaeus—a change that was transported back to later manuscripts of Mark as well. I believe that harmonizing needs such as this arise most commonly when legend or fiction is involved. This opinion is reinforced by the fact that both Lebbaeus and Thaddaeus are missing in Luke, who instead has a mysterious Judas the brother of James. And of course Lebbaeus, Thaddaeus, Judas the brother of James, and James all four are missing in the gospel of John! To make up the defect, John gives Jesus a disciple named Nathanael, a guy unknown in the other gospels. (In fact, even the apocryphal gospels are devoid of Nathanaels until the sixth century CE)

Amazing to say, the gospel of John makes no mention of any disciple named John—even though a John helps make up the count of twelve or thirteen in the other three official gospels. But then, John's gospel has no Bartholomew either—nor Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, nor Simon the Canaanite. Nor has he any Simon Zelotes, Levi the son of Alphaeus, nor any Levi or Matthew the publican (tax gatherer). It is a bit startling to discover that the gospels that do have a Levi and a Matthew appear to have one too many disciples—thirteen.4 As already noted, this is due to the fact that Mark's gospel, the oldest one and the one from which Luke copied, combines three different stories: two dealing with the calling of disciples and one dealing with the appointing of apostles. It appears that already by the time of Mark's authors there was considerable confusion of disciples and apostles.

We may recall that the disciples were supposed to have been Jesus' students, the men (or women also, in the Gospel of Thomas and in some other gospels) who lived with Jesus and learned the master's secrets. Apostles, on the other hand, were individuals—allegedly appointed by the living or resurrected Jesus—who had to assume the role of missionaries for the new cult [laughing! This is history? (Yes! Historical Fiction!)].



The confusion of disciples and apostles that we find in the gospels can tell us something of the political necessities behind the various gospels and the stages of their writing. Although the New Testament doesn't tell us very much about history directly, it does tell us quite a bit indirectly about the circumstances in which its parts were written and the men who wrote it. What do the stories of apostles and disciples tell us about THE INVENTORS OF THOSE FICTIONAL CHARACTERS? ...." [1-3 of 17].

"Formerly a professor of biology and geology, Frank R. Zindler is now a science writer. He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the New York Academy of Science, The Society of Biblical Literature, and the American Schools of Oriental Research. He is the Editor of American Atheist."

[17 of 17] [End of essay]. [See: Article #8, 200-203; 2381, 2406; 2506; etc.].