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Marguerat, The Acts of Paul and the Canonical Acts

Marguerat, The Acts of Paul and the Canonical Acts

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Published by: Valtair Miranda on Jul 03, 2014
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THE
 ACTS 
 OF 
 PAUL
 AND THE CANONICAL ACTS:  A PHENOMENON OF REREADING
Daniel 
 Marguerat University
 of Lausanne,
 Switzerland
 ABSTRACT
The
 model of literary intertextuality identified as "hypertextuality" by
Gerard
 Genette
 and designated "rereading" in this
 essay 
 explains the simul-
taneous
 closeness and distance observed in the relationship between the
 Acts
 of 
 Paul 
 and the canonical
 Acts
 of the Apostles. The
 Acts
 of 
 Paul 
 neither ignores nor rejects the canonical Acts; rather, it transforms the narrative in light of new theological interests and changed historical
 circumstances.
 The
author 
 of the
 Acts
 of 
 Paul 
 was motivated by a desire to complete the story of
Paul's
 life, but also sought to elevate the status of the apostle in keeping  with the developing hagiographie
 tradition.
 In the later part of the second
century,
 the enemies of Christianity were no longer Jewish, but rather
Roman
 authorities.
 Therefore, debates with
 Jews
 fade in the
 Acts
 o
 Paul,
 but conflict with
 Roman
 society is reflected in stories of 
 persecution
 at
 the
 hands of Roman officials. Finally, as the apostle became more closely associated  with the divine
 figure
 of Christ, other characters, in particular Thecla, moved into the role of ideal disciple.
"It
 is understandable that the relation of the API
 [Acts
 of Paul] 
 to Luke's
 Acts
 (and to the rest of the NT) has
 always
 been the subject of special inter-est." This statement by Schneemelcher (1992:232) announces the perplexity of all those who investigate the mysterious relation of the similarities and differences between the
 Acts
 of Paul 
 and the canonical Acts, at least in the
Pauline
 sections (Acts 9:13󰀭28). We can count among the similarities in the two documents: the missionary itinerancy of Paul, the shared geographical
field,
 the same title "Acts"
 (Πράξεις;
 del Cerro: 215󰀭16). Among the
 differ-
ences,
 we find in the
 Acts
 of Paul 
 a different constellation of characters, a different itinerary, different
 interlocutors,
 a more hagiographie treatment of
the
 figure
 of the apostle, and a different proclamation (Bauckham: 107󰀭11). This fascinating play of proximity and distance finds an equally enigmatic analogy within the canon of the New Testament, the relationship between
the
 synoptic tradition and the Gospel of 
 John.
Radical
 solutions have been proposed. In 1904, Carl Schmidt defended
the
 thesis of utilization: the author of the
 Acts
 of Paul 
 plunders and
 falsifies
the
 canonical data (215). On the other side, in 1988
 Willy 
 Rordorf denied all 󰀭169󰀭
 
170 SEMEIA
contact between the two documents, but the price paid is a manipulation of the calendar. Ignorance of Acts on the part of the author of 
 Acts of Paul
 is rendered plausible by dating the
 Acts of Paul
 late and dating the Lukan Acts early, thus separating them by twenty or thirty years. Between these two extremes, the position of Schneemelcher opens a middle way, namely, the editing of the
 Acts of Paul
 was done with the knowledge of the Acts of Luke but without depending literarily on it; the author knew of independent Pauline traditions (1974; 1992:212). The solution is clever, because it considers the undeniable relationship as well as the incontestable dissimilarity, but it leaves open both the question of the modalities (how did the author of 
 Acts of 
 Paul
 both know and ignore the Acts of Luke?) and the question of motivation (why edit a rival version of the life of Paul side by side with Acts?).
1
In my view, these different hypotheses are burdened by the same methodological error: the literary dependence between two passages is understood exclusively in terms of similitude. Either, identical elements can be found in the two texts and dependence is admitted, or there is no real proof that the
 Acts of Paul
 takes over of elements of the Lukan account and autonomy is declared. In both cases, it is postulated that a relationship of dependence can only be identified by the presence of similar narrative sequences or by language common to both texts.
2
 However, the linguistic approach to the notion of intertextuality encourages us to think of literary dependence in a much more flexible manner: the whole system of similarities and
 dif
ferences becomes the indicator of the second document's dependence on the source document. The thesis I defend here is that the rapport between the
 Acts of Paul
 and the Acts of Luke must be understood as a phenomenon of rereading and that this phenomenon necessarily implies both a relation and a distance between the
 Acts of Paul
 and the Lukan writing. My demonstration will have three steps. First, I will set out the literary approach of intertextuality. Then, I will apply these categories to the narrative sequences in the
 Acts of Paul
 that have been the subject of contention (i.e. those where the proximity between the two texts is strongest). Finally, I will attempt to explain the reasons for rereading the Acts of Luke at the end of the second century.
1 Schneemelcher stops short by considering the
 Acts of Paul
 as "intended in the first instance for the edifying and entertainment of the community" (1992:233). Such a degradation of 
 Acts of Paul
 in relation to the canonical version is not only anachronistic at the end of the second century—the mention by Tertullian dates the
 Acts of Paul
 toward the last decade of the second century, but it does not consider the rivalry created between the two parallel versions of the life of the apostle.
2
 See the work of Julian Hills (1994, and the essay in this volume) for a detailed discussion of the verbal similarities between the canonical Acts and the
 Acts of Paul.
 
MARGUERAT: THE
 ACTS 
 OF 
 PAUL
 AND THE CANONICAL ACTS 171 I. REREADING AND INTERTEXTUALITY
The aporia from which Scheneemelcher's position came has been noted in a brilliant contribution by Richard Bauckham, "The
 Acts of Paul
 as a Sequel to Acts." The
 why
 and
 how
 left unresolved by Schneemelcher are elucidated in the following manner: the author of 
 Acts of 
 Paul
 narrates the last period of the life of the apostle between his first visit to Rome (Acts 28) and his arrival for martyrdom; his account exploits the data of the Pastoral Epistles, the Corinthian correspondence, and
 1
 Clem.
 5.5-7,
 which he employs according to the rules of a narrative exegesis (Bauckham: 112). It is necessary to see that Bauckham's whole construction is founded on a historical postulate, the narrative difference between
 Acts of Paul
 and Acts goes back to a difference in the stories, the one
 (Acts of Paul)
 being the sequel to the other. But this postulate is orchestrated—this is what precisely interests me—by a hermeneutic thesis that touches intertextuality. According to Bauckham, the account of
 Acts of Paul
 concretizes narrative creativity, coming directly from the line of the "rewritten Bible" in the extracanonical Jewish literature
 (Biblical Antiquities
 of Pseudo-Philo,
 Joseph
 and Aseneth,
 Artapanus,
 4 Baruch,
 etc.).
3
 From a heuristic point of view, the perspective opened here advances the debate greatly; to speak of a narrative rewriting of a first text (the Pauline correspondence according to Bauckham) is to propose a new kind of relationship between the source-text and the second-text, one which breaks with classic literary criticism centered on the study of verbal identities. Let us continue with Bauckham. From his equation,
 Acts of Paul-
Acts-Pastoral Epistles, I set the third item aside for the moment, to concentrate on the relationship between the
 Acts of Paul
 and Acts. The motivation Bauckham attributes to the author of 
 Acts of Paul,
 the fruit of his historical postulate, is not convincing. Four reasons lead one to the conclusion that the
 Acts of Paul
 does not aim to fill a lack of information concerning the end of the apostle's life: a) In the text of 
 Acts of 
 Paul
 that has come down to us there is no evidence supporting the idea of a sequel to a "first volume" of a biography of Paul, which would be the Book of Acts. b) Even if the text of the
 Acts of Paul
 presents great gaps and its beginning is lost, the manuscript tradition,
4
 and the example of the other apoc-
3 Bauckham's key example (132-34,145) is the
 // 
narrativization
,,
 in the Hamburg Papyrus (PH2) and the Bodmer Coptic Papyrus (PG) of the fight with the lion attested in 2 Titus 4:7.
4
 A Coptic fragment from Manchester
 (11
 lines edited by Crum) evokes an event in Damascus, that C. Schmidt postulates to the account of Paul's conversion which would be at the beginning of the
 Acts of Paul
 (1936:117-27); W. Schneemelcher followed him (1992:214). The discovery of the Bodmer Coptic Papyrus confirms Schmidt's thesis, since the two fragments share a sermon of the apostle and his entry into the assembly of the Damascan brothers. One difficulty is the sending of Paul to Jerusalem according to the Manchester fragment, to Jericho according to PG. It

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