Contesting the Ascetic Language of Eros
Textual Fluidity in the Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles
The Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles use a particularly charged erotic language in the service of an ascetic message. Scholars have long found commonalities between these early Christian “novels” and their Greco-Roman counterparts, but central to all the early Christian “romances” is asceticism and celibacy. What is striking—and the subject of this chapter—is that at the very moment when erotic language comes to the fore of the Apocryphal Acts, scribes appear to have modified these texts to remove or modify the erotic language. One important motif is that of “women becoming men”; this chapter suggests that this motif likewise came to be contested in the process of copying.
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