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Unmanly MenRefigurations of Masculinity in Luke-Acts$
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Brittany E. Wilson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199325009

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199325009.001.0001

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Propagating the Gospel

Propagating the Gospel

The Ethiopian Eunuch as an Impotent Power (acts 8)

(p.113) 4 Propagating the Gospel
Unmanly Men

Brittany E. Wilson

Oxford University Press

Chapter 4 examines the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8, a character who signifies the spread of the gospel to “the end of the earth” and who blurs gender, ethnic, and status boundaries in the process. This chapter explores how Luke presents the Ethiopian eunuch as a model “man,” despite his “unmanly” identity markers. It begins by surveying depictions of eunuchs and their intersection with depictions of Ethiopians in the ancient world. To many, the Ethiopian eunuch would have been the antithesis of “manliness,” but Luke portrays him as an ideal convert who eagerly pursues admittance to “the Way.” Luke also associates the eunuch with the Suffering Servant from Isaiah, the figure about whom the eunuch is reading and whom the disciple Philip identifies as Jesus. The eunuch thus closely coincides with Jesus and in many respects embodies Jesus’ own impotent power.

Keywords:   Acts 8, Ethiopian eunuch, Ethiopians, eunuchs, Suffering Servant, Isaiah, Jesus, gender, ethnicity, status, power

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