‘Rise, Kill and Eat!’ – A Missing Dionysiac Link in the Acts of the Apostles?

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    It has long been suspected that a via a number of running motifs, the author of Luke–Acts plays upon a perceived analogy between early Christianity and the Dionysian cult. Scholars have long suggested that the unconverted Paul was modelled on the persecuting King Pentheus in Euripides’ Bacchae, not only because of his general opposition to a new religious movement, but also because of specific wording and motifs in narratives such as the Damascus road vision. Acts’ ‘other’ apostle, Peter, however, is rarely read in such terms. One reason for this is that although aspects of his broader characterisation do fit, the vision in Acts 10:9-16 is routinely ignored, leaving the Pauline association the more dominant. Yet this vision could immediately suggest Dionysian overtones, not least through its alarming meal of live animals. After analysing its imagery from this perspective, I suggest that undergirding the two apostles’ initial opposition to the divine plan by this same mechanism would fit well with Luke’s other efforts to ‘parallelise’ the apostles and further illuminate his literary strategy.

    © 2022, The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press. The attached document (embargoed until 15/04/2024) is an author produced version of a paper published in JOURNAL OF THEOLOGICAL STUDIES uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)62-91
    Number of pages30
    JournalJournal of Theological Studies
    Issue number1
    Early online date15 Apr 2022
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2022

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