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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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An Out-of-Control Convert

An Out-of-Control Convert

Paul on the Way to Damascus (Acts 9)

(p.152) (p.153) 5 An Out-of-Control Convert
Unmanly Men

Brittany E. Wilson

Oxford University Press

Chapter 5 focuses on Paul’s conversion, or call, on the road to Damascus in Acts 9. Paul’s conversion not only inaugurates his identity as a member of “the Way,” but it provides our first in-depth glimpse of Paul and shapes his characterization throughout the remainder of Acts. During his roadside encounter with Jesus, Paul loses two key markers of manliness in the ancient world: self-control and, more specifically, sight. The chapter begins by recounting Paul’s blinding and the gendered ramifications of sight and blindness in the ancient world. The chapter then turns to Paul’s lack of control later in Acts, including his lack of control over his emotions and his body. It concludes by looking at Luke’s continued emphasis on Paul’s conversion, mainly via Paul’s two retellings of his conversion in Acts 22 and 26 and the blinding of Bar-Jesus in Acts 13. Paul’s emasculating encounter on the Damascus road reverses his status from one who persecutes Jesus to one who is persecuted on behalf of Jesus. Paul demonstrates that obedience to Jesus may lead to persecution (or being an object of “the gaze”) and that discipleship itself is characterized by dependency.

Keywords:   Acts 9, Paul, sight, blindness, the gaze, self-control, emotions, Bar-Jesus, conversion, discipleship, persecution

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