This excerpt is from Loveday Alexander’s review of Ancient Fiction: The Matrix of Early Christian and Jewish Narrative:

Part 3, “Early Christian Narrative,” opens with Judith Perkins’s rich and nuanced study of “Resurrection and Social Perspectives in the Apocryphal Acts of Peter and Acts of John” (217–37). These two Acts, Perkins argues, exemplify two poles of the second-century debate about the status of the body in Christian belief, a debate that also had marked social implications. Christians who maintained a “spiritual” view of resurrection, minimizing traditions of physical resurrection, were also “less resistant to the traditional social hierarchies based on the dichotomy of mind-soul and body” (219). Conversely, “those second-century Christians advocating for a resurrection of the fleshly body were refusing Greco-Roman culture’s inscription of the body and those associated with it as base and sordid” (218).

Dennis Ronald MacDonald covers more familiar ground in “The Breasts of Hecuba and Those of the Daughters of Jerusalem: Luke’s Transvaluation of a Famous Iliadic Scene” (239–54), arguing that Luke 23:27–31 exhibits conscious imitatio of one of the most famous scenes in the Iliad, Hecuba’s maternal appeal to Hector not to take on the conflict that will lead to his certain death and the destruction of the city at Iliad 22.25–89.

J. R. C. Cousland goes to Greek tragedy for his intertext in “The Choral Crowds in the Tragedy according to St. Matthew” (255–73), while Rubén Dupertius finds a conscious evocation of the Guardians of Plato’s Republic in the “utopian” summaries of Acts in “The Summaries of Acts 2, 4, and 5 and Plato’s Republic” (275–95). Finally, Andy Reimer revisits Glen Bowersock’s Fiction as History (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1994), to look at the literary transformations of the empty tomb motif from Chariton to Shakespeare in “A Biography of a Motif: The Empty Tomb in the Gospels, the Greek Novels, and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet” (297–316).

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