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Apophasis and Pseudonymity in Dionysius the Areopagite"No Longer I"$

Charles M. Stang

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199640423

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199640423.001.0001

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Pseudonymous Writing in the Late Antique Christian East

Pseudonymous Writing in the Late Antique Christian East

(p.41) 2 Pseudonymous Writing in the Late Antique Christian East
Apophasis and Pseudonymity in Dionysius the Areopagite

Charles M. Stang

Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

The first part of this chapter charts various modern accounts of pseudonymity in the ancient world, and highlights one labeled “religious” or “psychological,” which argues that pseudonymous writing served to collapse or “telescope” the past and the present, such that the present author and the past luminary could achieve a kind of contemporaneity. The second part of the chapter survey a number of scholars of the late antique Christian East in order to elicit a consensus view regarding this peculiar understanding of time. The rest of this second section is divided between two case studies that enrich and deepen our appreciation of this understanding of time and the significance of late antique devotion to earlier saints: the Life and Miracles of Thekla (and its source text, the second‐century Acts of Thekla), and John Chrysostom's commentaries and homilies on Paul.

Keywords:   D.S. Russell, contemporaneity, pseudonymity, St. Paul, John Chrysostom, Thekla, time

In the previous chapter, I charted the reception of the CD in the sixth and twentieth centuries, focusing on whether and how ancient and modern readers treated the authenticity of the CD, its alleged authorship, and the influence of Paul. This chapter attempts to situate the pseudonymous enterprise of the CD in its Sitz im leben: broadly late antique Eastern Christianity; specifically the peculiar notions of time and writing from this period and place that might inform the author's practice of pseudonymous writing. As we have seen, scholars have by and large assumed that the pseudonym was an elaborate ruse on the part of the unknown author to win a wider readership for his heterodox collection. None of these scholars, however, has thought to consider the pseudonymous character of the CD in light of scholarship on Jewish and Christian pseudepigrapha in this period. To survey that vast literature and situate the CD therein would be an enormous endeavor—indeed, too enormous for me to undertake here. However, I suggest that before we pass judgment on the pseudonym, we consider the various scholarly theories as to the aims and purposes of pseudonymous writing. In the first part of this chapter (I), therefore, I chart various modern accounts of pseudonymity in the ancient and late ancient worlds. I highlight one approach to pseudepigrapha, an approach labeled “religious” or “psychological,” which argues that a pseudonymous author had a special kinship with the ancient sage or seer under whose name he wrote, and that pseudonymous writing served to collapse or “telescope” the past and the present, such that the present author and the past luminary could achieve a kind of contemporaneity.

(p.42) This approach to pseudonymous writing echoes an observation made by scholars of the late antique Christian East. According to this view, there is a peculiar understanding of time at work in the Christian East in the fourth through sixth centuries such that the saints of the apostolic and sub‐apostolic ages are widely believed to exist in a “timeless communion” with the present age. I suggest that we would do well to read the CD against the backdrop of this peculiar understanding of time and the literature it has produced. In the second part of the chapter (II), I survey a number of scholars of the late antique Christian East in order to elicit a consensus view regarding this peculiar understanding of time. The rest of this second section is divided between two case studies that enrich and deepen our appreciation of this understanding of time and the significance of late antique devotion to earlier saints. The first case study concerns the fifth‐century Life and Miracles of Thekla and its source text, the second‐century Acts of Thekla. The second case study concerns John Chrysostom's sustained exegetical encounter with Paul in a series of commentaries and homilies. In both case studies, we see how this “timeless communion” between the past and the present manifests such that the saints of old haunt the present as “living dead.” We also see how late antique authors understood their own writing—be it miracle collections, commentaries or homilies—as devotional practices aiming to solicit a present discipleship to the saints and thereby to transform their own selves. Finally, we will see how the extraordinary attention these authors devote to Paul—and by extension, Paul's close disciples—rests on a conviction that Paul serves as an especially effective (and often erotic) intermediary between the late antique devotee, on the one hand, and God and Christ, on the other.

I. Theories of pseudonymity

In the previous chapter I demonstrated how few modern scholars have thought to read the CD in light of its pseudonym. Endre von Ivánka and Ronald Hathaway are exceptions to this trend, but their twin interpretations are hamstrung by the fact that they identify Christianity and Platonism as essence and accident (von Ivánka), or vice versa (Hathaway), in their quest to name the singular allegiance and agenda of the author. More promising leads include those offered (p.43) by Alexander Golitzin, Andrew Louth, Christian Schäfer, and especially Hans Urs von Balthasar. There is, however, another curious silence in the scholarship on the CD. Since the pioneering work of Koch and Stiglmayr in 1895, the CD has been known to be a late fifth‐ or early sixth‐century pseudonymous composition, and yet no one has thought either to situate the CD in the vast sea of ancient and late ancient pseudepigrapha—pagan, Jewish, or Christian—or to bring the prodigious modern scholarship on pseudepigrapha to bear on our understanding of the CD. The former would be an enormous endeavor, although the rewards would no doubt be equally enormous. The limits of space and, more importantly, my own knowledge preclude my pursuing this endeavor here, although I invite someone more competent than I to follow through on this lead. In the first part of this chapter, I will pursue the latter endeavor, that is, I will investigate how modern scholarship on ancient and late ancient pseudepigrapha might bear on our understanding of the CD.

I.A. The “problem” of pseudonymity

One scholar has nicely summed up the challenge or “problem” that pseudepigrapha poses: “pseudonymity is an established fact: there has grown up a practice of pseudonymity without a theory of it.”1 Modern scholarship on pseudepigrapha in the ancient and late ancient Mediterranean world has by and large been motivated by the desire to establish clear criteria for authenticity, such that the historian may sort the wheat from the chaff.2 The problem posed by pseudepigrapha is difficult even to name, as the category includes anonymous writings, misattributions of originally “autonymous” writings, and deliberately pseudonymous writings (often termed “forgeries” or “frauds”). The problem is even more acute in the case of much Jewish and Christian pseudepigrapha, since there is a widespread anxiety that the biblical canon is somehow compromised by the inclusion of pseudepigrapha.3 (p.44) Even cases of extra‐canonical pseudepigrapha can elicit anxiety, as scholars with their own theological commitments wrestle with how exactly to square their scholarly suspicion of the authenticity of a given text with whatever authority that text enjoys in their tradition. Accordingly, most of the scholarly interest in Christian pseudepigrapha is focused on the “deutero‐Pauline” epistles (although the attribution almost every book of the New Testament has been investigated) and the apostolic and sub‐apostolic literature of the first two centuries of Christianity. In what follows, I will be taking a rather broad view of ancient and late ancient pseudepigrapha, reviewing scholarship on pagan, Christian, and Jewish pseudepigrapha in these periods. Having said this, scholarship on Jewish apocalyptic pseudepigrapha provides, for our purposes, the most promising speculation regarding the aims and purposes of pseudonymous writing.

As for the possible motives for writing under a pseudonym, one scholar cites aims as diverse as financial gain, malice, respect for tradition, modesty or diffidence, and the desire to secure a greater credence or wider readership for a certain set of doctrines or claims.4 Another scholar entertains such possible motives as “the spur of emulation, the aspirations of an unrecognized artist, the artistic delight in deception for its own sake…[even] the sheer exhilaration and the spirit of mockery.”5 This same scholar asks us to consider whether “a large number of impostures in any age have been perpetrated without any serious purpose or hope of deceiving the reader.”6 Modern scholars of Dionysius have inclined toward one of these explanations: they consistently argue that the author of the CD wrote under the name of Dionysius the Areopagite in order to paint his suspect collection of letters with a sub‐apostolic veneer. On this construal, the motive for writing pseudonymously was twofold: to secure a wider readership for the CD and to safeguard his own person in an age of anxious orthodoxies.

(p.45) I.B. The three approaches

I.B.1. The “school” approach

Apart from these lists of motives, some twentieth‐century scholars have sought to develop more generous and subtle explanations for this widespread phenomenon in ancient and late ancient literary culture. David G. Meade groups these into three broad categories or approaches.7 The first approach explains pseudepigrapha by appeal to ancient “schools”: according to this theory, disciples of a certain luminary would write in the tradition of that luminary and attribute the literary product not to themselves but to their master. This theory has been marshaled to explain the explosion of writings attributed to Pythagoras during the Neo‐Pythagorean revival of the Hellenistic and Early Imperial periods, but has also been applied to the case of the prophets in the Hebrew Bible and John and Paul in the New Testament.8 On this construal, “deutero‐Isaiah” and “deutero‐Paul,” for example, are not presumptuous forgers but disciples who are authorized by their respective “schools” to write under the name of their master. The most significant problem that faces this theory is a dearth of evidence. While there is evidence that some philosophical schools encouraged this sort of pseudonymous writing, there is little to suggest that it spread to Jewish and Christian circles. Tertullian is often cited in support of this theory, specifically his statement in Adv. Marc. 6.5 that “it is allowable that that which disciples publish should be regarded as their masters' work.”9 Tertullian, however, is not here offering an account of pseudonymous writing in general, but is merely defending the authentic apostolic witness of the gospels of Mark and Luke, traditionally identified as disciples of Peter and Paul, respectively.10 Whatever strengths or weaknesses there are with this “school” theory—and it should be noted that enthusiasm for this theory has cooled considerably since its heyday in the 1970s—it is of little use for our appreciation of the pseudonymous CD, since there is not, apart the CD itself, a tradition of writings attributed to the (p.46) Areopagite and so no “school” of Dionysius can be said to have ever existed.

I.B.2. The “eclectic” approach

More promising is the second approach, what Meade calls the “eclectic.” This approach shuns those theories that purport to offer an overarching explanation of pseudonymous writing and so amounts to a kind of clearinghouse of different models. Meade associates Norbert Brox with this approach: Brox offers three compatible explanations for pseudonymity in early Christian literature.11 The first is a pervasive “love of antiquity” (überlegene Vergangenheit)—not, of course, an exclusively Christian passion, but one that gripped early Christian authors, Brox avers, such that they wrote under ancient names. Second is the “noble falsehood”: the notion that the end justifies the means, that writing under a false name is warranted if the result is the communication of the truth. Brox opines that this line of thinking led some early Christian writers to compose “counter‐forgeries” to combat heretical writings' claims to antiquity. Alexander Golitzin seems to be following Brox here when he argues, as we saw in Chapter One, that the author of the CD writes under the name of Paul's convert in order to “fight fire with fire,” that is, to meet the challenge of his opponents' supposedly ancient but certainly heterodox texts with an apostolic pedigree of his own.12 The third explanation, according to Brox, is the widespread conviction that the content of a text should trump the question of its authorship. He cites Apostolic Constitutions VI.16.1 in support of this conviction: “You ought not to pay attention to the name of the Apostle, but to the character of the contents and to unfalsified teaching.”13 Of course, the Apostolic Constitutions is an odd text to cite in support of this view, since it is also, strictly speaking, a fake: a fifth‐ or sixth‐century collection of canons masquerading as an apostolic document. Nevertheless, as we will see below in the case of the Life and Miracles of Thekla, late antique Christian authors seemed genuinely to believe, in (p.47) the words of Andrew Louth, that “the truth now is the truth affirmed at Nicaea, itself the truth of what had been believed and suffered for during the centuries when the Church had been persecuted.”14 Up against such an estimation of timeless truth, this thinking goes, authorship seemed less important.

I.B.3. The “religious/psychological” approach

The third approach to ancient and late ancient pseudepigrapha is what Meade calls the “religious” or “psychological” approach. This approach has seen its fortunes fall, to some degree: once the most popular explanation, it is now very much on the defensive. The scholar who brought this approach to the English‐speaking scholarly community was D.S. Russell, although the background for his approach can be found among a handful of German scholars, including Friedrich Torm,15 Joseph Sint,16 and Wolfgang Speyer.17 All three “feature ecstatic or oracular identification as a primary vehicle of pseudonymity in religious writings.”18

Speyer is the latest and best representative of this trend. Amidst the cacophony of ancient and late ancient pseudepigrapha—pagan, Jewish, and Christian—Speyer discerns a “genuine, religious pseudepigraphy” (echte religiöse Pseudepigraphie), best represented by apocalyptic literature but not limited to any particular genre, period, or culture:

If the image of being grasped/seized leads further to an identification of the writer with the imagined, inspiring spirit, which can be a god, an angel, or a God‐beloved sage of antiquity, the “true religious pseudepigraphy” results. In this case, the human author is completely engulfed by the personal power that inspires him.19

(p.48) Like Speyer, Kurt Aland is keen to distinguish between genuine and ungenuine—or, in his words, authentic and inauthentic, valid and invalid—forms of pseudonymity.20 Aland argues that the pseudonymous Christian author of the first or second century did not “put himself into a trance while writing” nor did he “piously (or impiously) deceive himself or others.”21 Rather, the pseudonymous author is “possessed by the Spirit” such that “when he spoke with inspired utterance it was not he that was heard but the Lord or the Apostles or the Holy Spirit himself.”22 On this construal, the author is but a “tool” or a “mouthpiece” and so it would be inappropriate (or “irrelevant”) to name the tool or mouthpiece when the one who was really speaking through the author was none other than “the authentic witness, the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the apostles.”23 Thus pseudonymous writing was “not a skillful trick of the so‐called fakers, in order to guarantee the highest possible reputation and the widest possible circulation for their work, but the logical conclusion of the presupposition that the Spirit himself was the author.”24

For Aland, then, the Spirit, or Christ, or even one of the apostles speaks through the present author, and any writings are understandably attributed to the perceived source. There is a shift, however, at the end of the second century: the age of prophecy comes to an end and the “conviction that the Holy Spirit could choose the instrument himself through which he spoke to the Christian society” fades from the scene.25 This marks the end of “valid” Christian pseudepigrapha, for hereafter there is a sharp distinction made between the apostolic past and the present. The coincident rise of this “historical awareness” and the emergence of the individual author come at the cost, then, of “authentically pseudonymous” writing.26 Now that the Spirit, Christ, and the apostles have fallen silent, authors of the third and (p.49) subsequent centuries who write under these names are simply forgers. And so while Aland succeeds in offering a generous explanation of early Christian pseudepigrapha, he does so at the expense of all subsequent pseudonymous writing. Aland, therefore, would no doubt agree with modern scholars of the CD that the author wrote under a pseudonym not out of any “authentic” relationship with the Areopagite, but out of a desire to deceive his readers and pass his writings off as sub‐apostolic.

D.S. Russell's work on Jewish, especially apocalyptic, pseudepigrapha brought the “religious” or “psychological” approach to English‐speaking audiences.27 Russell does not deny that ancient Jewish authors might have had many quotidian, even mercenary, motivations to write under a pseudonym. But like Speyer and Aland, he is especially interested in recovering and appreciating a “genuine” art of pseudonymity. At the heart of his account is the notion that pseudonymous writing involves a sense of kinship between the present author and the ancient seer under whose name he writes. Moreover, on the basis of this kinship, the pseudonymous author came to regard the seer's past and his own present as “contemporaneous,” such that the pseudonymous writing became a way of “telescoping the past into the present.”28 Strict “contemporaneity” means that the two times are entirely porous, and someone can cross in both directions: not only does the seer collapse time to see and speak in place of the author, but the author collapses time to see and speak in place of the seer.

I.C. Criticisms and conclusion

The “religious” or “psychological” approach to pseudepigrapha—and especially Russell's version thereof—was widely influential in the two decades after its first publication. In his survey “Literary Forgeries (p.50) and Canonical Pseudepigrapha,” Bruce Metzger fully endorses Russell's view—almost verbatim—concluding that “the Hebrews…had what is to us a peculiar consciousness of time, so that centuries could be telescoped and generations spanned” and suggesting that pseudonymity “arose from a vivid sense of kinship which the apocalyptist shared with the one in whose name he wrote.”29 More recently, Michael E. Stone, while expressing some doubts as to Russell's arguments for “contemporaneity,” also admits that pseudonymity “cannot be explained as the result of adherence to a literary convention or as a convenient literary form,”30 and that

it [is] conceivable that, in some cases, behind the visionary experiences which are attributed to the seers lay actual ecstatic practice of the apocalyptic authors. Such experience would then be mediated in a pseudepigraphic form, which phenomenon may be compared with the pseudepigraphic form of the visions in the writings of early Jewish mysticism.31

In recent years, however, Russell's account has come under heavy fire, and speculation about ancient and late ancient pseudepigrapha has become much more sober, indeed safe. David Meade, for example, devotes considerable space to dismantling Russell and his predecessors and offers in their place a more modest explanation, namely that early Christian pseudepigrapha conformed to a Jewish pattern, whereby an author or subsequent reader would attribute his writings to an ancient authority “primarily…as a statement (or assertion) of authoritative tradition.”32 Pseudonymity, according to Meade, is not some mysterious, ecstatic identification with an ancient visionary made possible by a telescoping of time, but merely a strategy of buttressing the canon of authoritative tradition. Meade would have us abandon the quest for an overarching theory of pseudonymity in the ancient and late ancient worlds—especially the quest for an elusive “genuine” pseudepigraphal writing. He would also have us narrow the scope of our inquiry, cease surveying the whole of ancient and late ancient pseudepigrapha—pagan, Christian, and Jewish—and (p.51) instead focus on discrete literary and theological pseudonymous traditions.

Meade is certainly right that the quest for a single, overarching explanation of ancient and late ancient pseudepigrapha is fruitless: many are the motives, conventions and traditions that empty into the great sea of pseudepigrapha. The scholarly consensus seems to be that Russell's is not a particularly reliable explanation of Jewish apocalyptic pseudepigrapha. And yet I wonder whether Russell's account might help us think more widely and imaginatively about pseudonymous writing in the late antique Christian East, including the CD. Recent scholarship on this period has brought to the fore both a tradition of “telescoping time” and a strong sense of kinship between late antique Christian authors and the apostles—both of which features, I argue, are crucial for appreciating the CD and its author.

II. Time and writing in the late antique Christian East

II.A. A “timeless communion” of the past and present

Apart from his promising comments on the specific senses of the pseudonym, as discussed in Chapter One, Andrew Louth also invites us to interpret the pseudonymous enterprise of the CD against the backdrop of a peculiarly late antique understanding of temporality:

The tendency to telescope the past, so that the truth now is the truth affirmed at Nicaea, itself the truth of what had been believed and suffered for during the centuries when the Church had been persecuted, was something that awakened an echo in the whole Byzantine world in a far more precise way than it would today. And it is this conviction that underlies the pseudonymity adopted by our author.33

Dionysius himself confesses his commitment to the canon of timeless truth over against the vicissitudes of historical chronology and paternal propriety in his dispute with the pagan sophist Apollophanes.34 Lurking behind this private policy, Louth rightfully discerns a wider (p.52) cultural Weltanschaung, a late antique understanding of temporality that includes a “tendency to telescope the past.” Louth is not alone: although he cites the famous Byzantinist Norman Baynes in support of this claim, more recent scholars echo this same view in slightly different terms.35 In the introduction to his edited volume, The Byzantines, Guglielmo Cavallo describes Byzantine literature as having an “atemporal” quality.36 In the same volume, the preeminent contemporary historian of Byzantium, Cyril Mango, develops this point, claiming that, for the Byzantines,

[c]hronology was of no consequence: the apostles lived in timeless communion with the victims of the persecutions of the second to fourth centuries, the desert fathers, the bishops of the patristic age, and the heroes of the struggle against Iconoclasm in the eighth and ninth centuries.37

Claudia Rapp has characterized the seventh through tenth centuries of Byzantium as exhibiting a self‐conscious “antiquarianism,” a tendency to collect and edit the endless texts and traditions of early Christianity, the Hellenistic age, and classical antiquity.38 Most recently, Scott Fitzgerald Johnson has sought to push the origins of that antiquarian tendency further back into late antiquity (the fourth through sixth centuries), and to argue that there is in this period a particularly intense interest in and recovery of the apostolic and sub‐apostolic ages.39 Furthermore, Johnson refuses the traditional view that this antiquarianism is a sign of a stale and sterile culture and instead endeavors to show how creative and constructive this “intense, conscious reception and reworking” in fact was.40 Perhaps owing to the negative connotations of the term “antiquarianism,” (p.53) elsewhere Johnson diversifies his characterization, preferring to speak of the late antique “revival” of interest in the apostolic and sub‐apostolic ages, the “resurgence of devotion” that comes with this “awakening of historical interest.”41 Finally, Andrew Louth has opined that Eastern Christians of the fifth and sixth centuries, exhausted by the endless Christological controversies that followed in the wake of the Council of Chalcedon, were inclined to look back to the early church as a fresh resource for their present faith.42

Michael Stuart Williams has recently argued that the development of Christian biography in the fourth and fifth centuries reveals that late antique Christian writers and readers thought that their present could and should be the scene for the “re‐enactment” of the past world of scripture.43 Drawing on such Christian biographies as Eusebius' Life of Constantine, Athanasius' Life of Antony, and Gregory of Nyssa's funeral oration for his brother Basil (among others), Williams discovers that the “biblicizing” templates evident in all these vitae betray a widespread sense that there was “an implied continuity” between the scriptural past and the late antique present.44 Late antique Christians understood themselves and their leaders as “re‐enactments” of biblical characters, their lives as “re‐enactments” of scriptural events. This “forced a reconsideration of late‐antique life”: “It allowed the world of the later Roman empire to be re‐imagined as one in which even ordinary Christians had a part to play in the explication of the divine plan.”45 In this regard, Christian biography continued the tradition of typological scriptural interpretation, with one crucial difference: whereas typology tends to be understood as diachronic, with the type finding final fulfillment according to a unidirectional chronology, the continuity implied in these biblicizing Christian biographies suggests that scriptural re‐enactment operates in both directions.46 For example, when Gregory portrays his brother Basil as a new Moses, Basil does not finally fulfill the Moses type, but rather post‐figures or re‐enacts the life of Moses. And if “the effect was to assert an equivalence between the two historical situations,” (p.54) then “[n]ot only was Basil identified as a re‐enactment of Moses, but Moses himself became a kind of proto‐Basil”47: “[a]s a result, the apparently biblical world that these figures exemplified was, at the same time, the familiar contemporary world inhabited by their readers…[these vitae] gave them an opportunity to re‐imagine the world in which they already lived.”48 In this newly re‐imagined world, the scriptural past and the late antique spoke to each other and formed a sort of double helix of divine providence. The “irruption of Scripture into everyday life” that these biographies performed thereby established communication between the past and the present, and allowed late antique Christians to live their lives in both worlds simultaneously.49

These handful of scholars paint, in broad strokes admittedly, an understanding of time in the late antique Christian East against which, following Louth, I suggest that we read the pseudonymous enterprise of the CD. The consensus here is that the distance between the historical past and present can be collapsed or “telescoped,” such that the apostolic and sub‐apostolic ages and the present day can enjoy “contemporaneity.” This requires a “resurgence of devotion” to this privileged period, resulting in what may seem from without a sort of stale “antiquarianism,” but from within amounts to an intense effort to study the literary remains from that period, on the conviction that these texts and traditions contain within them the means to effect a life‐altering encounter with that past.

While each of the scholars mentioned above offers their own evidence for this peculiar understanding of temporality, we would do well to put flesh on the bones of this consensus view by looking closely at two case studies, chronologically and geographically proximate to the presumed provenance of the CD. These two studies will prove illustrative not only of this understanding of temporality, but also of the way in which different authors wrote their way across the centuries to achieve a present relationship with figures from the privileged past. The two studies focus on two different literary genres: hagiography and homiletics. The first study has to do with the cult of the saints: the fifth‐century Life and Miracles of Thekla sheds light not only on a “timeless communion” with the saints, but also on the ways in which late antique authors understood the apostle Paul, the (p.55) relationship of the apostle to his disciples, and how writing serves the author's own devotion to the saints. The second case study has to do with exegesis of the figure and writings of Paul: John Chrysostom's sustained exegetical encounter with Paul will also cast considerable light on the ways in which late antique authors figure Paul and cultivate the practice of writing (in this case, homilies) in order to collapse historical time and to establish an intimate, present discipleship to the apostle. In the conclusion, I will suggest that we consider pseudonymous writing—specifically the CD—as a third genre of writing that illustrates and deepens these same points.

II.B. First case study: the Life and Miracles of Thekla

II.B.1. The Acts of Paul and Thekla (ATh)

The fifth-century Life and Miracles of Thekla (LM) offers a helpful lens through which to view the late antique revival of interest in and devotion to the apostolic and sub‐apostolic ages. And yet to appreciate fully the import of this revival we must examine its source. The LM paraphrases and expands on the famous, late second‐century apocryphal story called the Acts of Paul and Thekla (ATh),50 which narrates how a young and well‐born virgin, Thekla, abandons her betrothed and all else in order to follow the wandering apostle Paul. Her daring choice twice brings her face to face with death, but in both cases she escapes and once again is able to pursue Paul. This apocryphal tale presents a striking portrait of Paul and the power he has over his disciples. From the start, Paul combines the sublime and the ridiculous: when he arrives in Iconium, he appears as “a man short in stature, with a bald head, bowed legs, in good condition, eyebrows that meet, a fairly large nose, and full of grace.”51 And yet this workaday fellow with moderate looks is somehow also otherworldly: “at times he seemed human, at other times he looked like an angel.”52

(p.56) But it is not with his looks that Paul wins his disciples. He is soon hosted at a local home, where he leads prayer and worship, and delivers his own version of the beatitudes.”53 His words waft into the neighboring alley, where they find their way into the ear of Thekla, sitting at the window of her house next door. His words of purity, chastity, self‐control, renunciation, and fear beguile this young woman who is soon to marry: “Yet when she saw many wives and virgins going in to see Paul, she also wanted to be found worthy to stand in Paul's presence to hear the word of Christ. For she had not yet seen what Paul looked like, but had only heard his word.”54 Her mother takes notice that “she has grown attached to a foreign man” and complains to her fiancé Thamyris that she is “bound to the window like a spider, seized by a new desire and fearful passion through his words.”55 Thamyris goes to her, “fearing that she had gone mad,” and asks, “What kind of mad passion has overwhelmed you?”56 Still entranced, Thekla does not register him or his words. He is convinced that “she is in love with the stranger” and so gathers a crowd to run Paul out of town.57

The governor takes notice and, after interviewing Paul, has him thrown in prison. The silencing of Paul prompts Thekla to act: she sneaks away, bribes the prison guards, and visits him in prison: “Sitting at his feet, she heard about the majestic character of God…And Thekla's faith increased as she was kissing Paul's bonds.”58 Her absence is soon noted, and soon enough Thamyris “found her, in a manner of speaking, bound together with Paul in affection.”59 As if the kissing and loving embrace were not enough, when the authorities remove Paul for judgment, Thekla is found “rolling around on the place where Paul had been teaching while sitting in the jail.”60 Paul is flogged and banished from the city, but Thekla is condemned, at the insistence of her mother, to burn at the stake.

We should pause at this moment in the narrative to appreciate how remarkable a portrait of Paul this is thus far. Paul plays Socrates to Thekla's Alcibiades: his words fix her in place and drive her mad. Paul is the great lover; that is to say that he, again like Socrates, triggers in others an uncontrollable erotic response. According to Johnson, “the character of Paul…could be read, perhaps,…as Eros himself.”61 (p.57) And just as Eros is, according to Socrates in the Symposium, an intermediary between humans and the divine,62 here Paul as Eros—who “at other times looked like an angel”63—infects others with his own love for the divine.

This, we must presume, is how it is supposed to happen, but Thekla seems fixed on Paul as the go‐between and less keen on Christ. At least this is the case at her first appointment with death. Facing the flames, Thekla can think of nothing but Paul, who is already on his way to the next city, Daphne:

But Thekla was like a lamb in the wilderness looking around to see its shepherd—so was she trying to catch a glimpse of Paul. Looking intently into the crowd she saw the Lord sitting there, in the appearance of Paul. And she said, “Since I am unable to endure my fate, Paul has come to watch over me.” And she continued to gaze upon him. But he departed into heaven.64

The fact that the Lord “in the appearance of Paul” comforts Thekla from the crowd points to an interesting slippage here between the apostle and Christ. Already Paul delivers teaching in the form of his own “beatitudes,” in imitation of Jesus' famous sermon.65 We might think that Paul is not doing enough to direct his young charge's attention away from his own beguiling words to Christ, whose apostle, after all, he is supposed to be. And yet Christ accommodates Thekla's desperate desire, even at the risk of her mistaking Paul for her true savior. When God opens the heavens and drenches the flames so that Thekla might escape death, she tells a child on her way, “I have been saved from the fire and am looking for Paul.”66 When she finds Paul, she hears him praying to the “Father of Christ, do not allow the fire to touch Thekla, but be present with her, as she is yours.”67 And yet, although she comes to learn from Paul that it was the “Father, maker of heaven and earth, Father of your beloved child Jesus Christ” who saved her, still she blesses the Father “because you have saved me from the fire, that I might see Paul.”68

Perhaps Paul senses that Thekla's love has found premature rest in his own person rather than in her true savior Christ. This at least would help explain his subsequent behavior in Antioch: when “ (p.58) a certain leader of the Syrians named Alexander…[is] inflamed with passion for [Thekla] and began entreating Paul with money and gifts,” Paul pretends not to know her and then deserts her, leaving her to fend for herself.69 Her strong rebuke of the powerful suitor again lands her in trouble: the local governor condemns her to death at the hands of wild beasts, including a tank of seals. Thekla sees in this an opportunity for finally receiving baptism. She throws herself into the tank, and this time looks not to Paul but to Christ: “In the name of Jesus Christ, on this final day I am baptized.”70 The seals are dispatched by a divine lightning bolt, and the other wild beasts are suitably and variably dispensed with. When the astonished governor calls her over to ask, “Who are you?”, she offers a short sermon, which begins, “I am a slave of the living God. As to what there is about me: I have believed in God's Son, in whom he is well pleased. That is why none of the beasts has touched me.”71 How sharp a contrast this is with her first near execution, where she was desperately looking for Paul to save her and Christ came in the likeness of Paul to comfort her. Thekla seems now to appreciate Paul as a liaison between her and her savior.

This is confirmed in their final meeting, but not without some suspense. We read that “Thekla began to long for Paul and was trying to find him, sending around for news of him everywhere.”72 Dressed as a man and surrounded by female servants, she finally finds him, and stands right beside him while he is preaching. When he notices her, he wonders whether she is still in the grip of temptation, that is, whether she is still in love with him rather than with her savior. She quickly assures him, “I have received my cleansing Paul, for the one who has worked with you for the spread of the gospel has worked with me for my own cleansing.”73 After their reunion, Paul consents to Thekla's own apostolic mission to her native Iconium, where openly she teaches “the word of God.”

The most obviously relevant feature of this portrait of Paul for our understanding of the CD is his role as a lover, as Eros embodied, longing for the divine beloved. Already this is a significant antecedent to Dionysius' naming Paul a “lover.”74 But there is more: the ATh also narrates how Paul becomes a sort of conduit for others to long after (p.59) the divine. On the one hand, the tale warns of the dangers of having such intermediaries: for much of the ATh, Thekla seems to have misplaced her love, longing not for Christ and God but for Paul. On the other hand, the text also suggests that Paul, at least by the end, has become an effective, erotic intermediary between a disciple and Christ, that despite the dangers along the way, Paul does eventually succeed in reorienting Thekla's fervent desire first from her fiancé, then from himself, and finally to Christ. This too, is relevant for our understanding of the CD. For if pseudonymous writing serves the author of the CD as an ecstatic devotional practice, a way of collapsing time so as to become a disciple of Paul in a “timeless communion,” then this would also be vulnerable to the criticism that it directs attention too much to the person of Paul and not enough to Christ. After all, modern scholars consistently fault Dionysius for shirking the role of Christ, and Dionysius dares to use Christological language to describe Paul. Even so, I would suggest that we read Dionysian devotion to Paul against this backdrop where Paul serves as an erotic intermediary to Christ. And Paul seems uniquely qualified to serve this role, seeing as, by his confession in Gal 2:20, “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”

II.B.2. The Life and Miracles of Thekla

Were this second-century apocryphal tale to have suffered neglect in subsequent centuries, we might think that it bears little on our understanding of the early sixth-century CD. And yet this tale, together with so many other apocrypha in late antiquity, was enjoying a “revival” of interest and a “resurgence of devotion”;75 all of them “being rewritten, extended, and embroidered with facility and vigor.”76 By tracing the reception of this apocryphal tale, we can see not only how this remarkable portrait of Paul and Thekla was reworked in subsequent centuries, but also how that reworking reveals the late antique conviction regarding the “telescoping of the past,” and the way in which late antique authors understood their own writing practices as aiming to achieve a “timeless communion” with the saints of the apostolic age.

(p.60) The Life and Miracles of Thekla is an anonymous Greek text that paraphrases and considerably expands on the narrative of ATh.77 It is ten times as long as ATh and is thought to have been completed by 470 CE, nearly three hundred years after its source and nearly coincident with the terminus post quem of the composition of the CD. The first half of the LM is a literary paraphrase of the ATh, rendered in a more sophisticated Greek than the original, smoothing over perceived infelicities of style and content. One of the most striking emendations that the LM makes concerns Thekla's death: whereas the ATh reports that Thekla died in Seleukia at the end of her preaching career, the LM insists that “she sunk down while alive (ἔδνυ δὲ ζῶσα) and went under the earth (ὑπεισῆλθε τὴν γῆν)…[and from her shrine] she dispenses fountains of healings for every suffering and every sickness, her virginal grace pouring out healings there, as if from some rushing stream, upon those who ask and pray for them.”78 This emendation lays the foundation for the second half of the LM, the narration of the miracles that Thekla worked—and, more to the point, continues to work—in and around the city of Seleukia.

Both halves of the LM, then, deepen our understanding of the “timeless communion” between the apostolic past and the late antique present. In his study, Johnson insists that the LM is a premier instance of the late antique revival of interest in the apostolic past. He is keen to explore the “modes of reception” that accompany this resurgence of devotion, modes of reception that have been woefully under-studied.79 Chief among these modes, in the case of the first half of the LM, is paraphrasis: the faithful refashioning of the source text for a contemporary audience. We will soon turn to the details of this refashioning, but it bears stating at the outset that while literary paraphrase often strikes critics as signaling an unfortunate “nostalgia for the past” or an “antiquarian tendency,” Johnson insists that paraphrase also conveys a “sense of recreating a past world,” or, in the words of the sociologist Edward Shils, “bringing the past into the present.”80 (p.61) If the apocryphal texts “summon the apostles into the world of the reader and contribute to the formation of imaginary worlds across multiple cultures, languages, and epochs,” so too must the creative refashioning of those texts for contemporary audiences.81

Only two changes to the narrative of ATh need concern us here. The first is the manner in which the LM reconfigures the relationship between Paul and Thekla. From the start, Thekla is portrayed not as one among many early protomartyrs, but as “the leader among the women,” in second place after Stephen as a champion for Christ.82 Johnson attributes this primacy to Thekla's close association with Paul, whose historical character was increasingly popular in the late fourth and fifth centuries.83 Not only does the LM foreground the close association between Paul and Thekla, but in those episodes of charged desire from the ATh, the LM consistently underscores the erotic quality of their relationship. In jail, for instance, Paul remarks that Thekla has been “inflamed” (ἀναϕλεχθῆναι) by the “small and indistinct spark (σπινθῆρος) of my words.”84

It is surprising, then, that whereas in the ATh Thekla's “incomparable desire for the apostle himself” seems to cause Paul some concern—hence the dramatic tension that is only resolved at the end of the ATh—here in the LM all such difficulties are smoothed over. Consider Thekla's first near execution on the pyre. According to the LM, Christ again appears to Thekla “in the likeness of Paul,” and adds that she “truly thought him to be Paul, and not Christ.”85 And yet the author of the LM seems both to recognize the problem raised by the ATh—namely, that Thekla misplaces her devotion on Paul rather than Christ—and to address it from the start by inserting the following short speech:

Behold, Paul watched over me and protects me, lest bending, lacking conviction, and shrinking at the fire I betray the beautiful and blessed confession. But rather, may it not be that I give up Christ evangelized to me by you yourself, Paul, nor the piety, and disgrace your teaching. Only stay a little while, teacher, and call Christ to my aid, so that by the (p.62) breeze of the Spirit he may scatter and sprinkle this fire and he may strengthen the weakness of my nature through its help.86

Here, in contrast to the ATh, Thekla seems to appreciate from the start that Paul is an intermediary between herself and Christ, and that Paul calls on Christ—and indeed also the Spirit—to aid her on the pyre. This emendation is echoed in Thekla's reunion with Paul outside the city, where she offers the following prayer of thanksgiving:

God, King and Blessed Creator of everything, and Father of your great and only begotten Child, I give you thanks…for having seen this Paul, my savior (σωτῆρα) and teacher (διδάσκαλον), who preached to me the might of your kingdom and the greatness of your authority, as well as the unchanging (ἀπαράλλακτον), equal‐in‐power (ἰσοδύναμον), equal‐in‐state (ἰσοστάσιον) nature of divinity (θεότητος) within the Trinity (ἐν Τριάδι), the mystery of your only begotten Child's incarnation (ἐνανθρωπήσεως)…87

Here, although she gives thanks to God for Paul, her “savior” (σωτῆρα), she seems to mean that Paul has saved her through teaching her about God, his “only begotten Child,” and his “incarnation.” Thus the anxiety that runs through the ATh is dispelled and Thekla's devotion to Paul rendered safe, for from the start her devotion is a devotion to God and Christ (and even the Spirit) through Paul. According to the LM, Thekla admits as much in their final meeting, before she begins her own apostolic career: “Teacher, the things that have accrued to me through you and your teaching (διὰ σοῦ καὶ τῆς σῆς διδασκαλίας) are manifold and greater than speech.”88 In fact, this is simply one of no less than sixteen instances in this speech in which Thekla repeats, as if a refrain, “I learnt through you” (ἔγνων διὰ σοῦ).89 At the end of Thekla's long confession of faith, Paul confirms that he has served as such an intermediary: “Christ chose you through me (δι᾽ ἐμοῦ).”90 Thus, in summary, while the LM stresses the erotic relationship between Paul and Thekla, it also eases the anxiety attendant to Thekla's erotic devotion to Paul by insisting that from the start Paul the lover successfully reorients her love from her earthly (p.63) fiancé to the divine bridegroom. What is lost in this emendation, of course, is the drama: in the ATh, the reader witnesses the slow and at times pained reorientation of Thekla's desire. What is gained is a template whereby Paul serves unambiguously as an effective, erotic intermediary between a yearning disciple and the divine beloved.

The second emendation in the LM that is relevant for our purposes concerns what exactly Thekla learned through Paul. Early in the LM, Paul delivers a speech worded in jarringly technical Trinitarian terminology; witness, for instance, the following phrase, hardly in an apostolic idiom: “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Trinity holy and venerable (ἡ ἁγία καὶ προσκυνητὴ Τρίας), divinity uncreated (ἄκτιστος) and consubstantial (ὁμοούσιος).”91 In fact, the entire speech is rife with post‐Nicene terminology, broadly Cappadocian in tone but most characteristic of Gregory of Nazianzus.92 In her long, concluding confession of faith, Thekla also speaks in this rarefied creedal tongue, affirming “the ineffable (ἄϕραστον), inaccessible (ἀποριστόν), unchangeable (ἀναλλοίωτον), incomprehensible (ἀκατάληπτον) nature of the power that is in the Trinity (Τριάδι)…the consubstantial (ὁμοούσιον) Trinity.”93 Johnson sees in this theological retrofitting the “limits” of the author's “nostalgia for apostolic times”: that is, even Paul can be improved upon.94 But why not instead consider this retrofitting against the backdrop of Andrew Louth's characterization of late antique temporality: “the tendency to telescope the past, so that the truth now is the truth affirmed at Nicaea, itself the truth of what had been believed and suffered for during the centuries when the Church had been persecuted”?95 If the author were merely trying to put in the mouth of Paul the orthodoxy of the day so as to rebut heretics, he presumably would have retrofitted fifth‐century theological creeds into the LM. As it stands, however, it is the architects of the fourth‐century conciliar consensus whose words are put on the lips of the apostle; controversial fifth‐century terminology—of which there was plenty—is conspicuously absent. The insertion of these technical theological speeches, then, is further evidence for the “atemporal” understanding of time operative (p.64) for the author and his late antique peers. For surely the fact that the apostle Paul could preach a “Trinity…[of] same substance” (Τριάς…ὁμοούσιος)—the flashpoint theological term of the fourth century—supports Cyril Mango's view that, for the Byzantines, “chronology was of no consequence: the apostles lived in timeless communion with…the bishops of the patristic age.”96

This second emendation in the LM, that is, the insertion of late antique theological reflection into the mouths of apostles, is relevant for our appreciation of the CD precisely because it too is rife not only with the peculiar nomenclature of late antique Christian theology, but also—notoriously so—with the terminology of late Neoplatonism. Both, but especially the latter, would seem to compromise the first‐century pseudonym: how is it that a disciple of Paul sounds so much like Proclus? This would seem to be a problem, unless, of course, the author of the CD—and perhaps its reader as well—had a different understanding of temporality in place such that truth is “atemporal,” and its expositors exist in a sort of “timeless communion.” We know that at least two of the early readers of the CD—John Philoponus and Joseph Hazzaya—did not have exactly this understanding of temporality in place, for their attempts to account for the seemingly anachronistic terminology testify to their discomfort with it. And certainly modern readers have fixed upon the terminological anachronisms precisely in order to depreciate the pseudonymous enterprise. But perhaps the silence of the preponderance of the early readers, both advocates and critics, points to the existence of a silent majority, who are, to our minds at least, remarkably at ease with a disciple of Paul who speaks like Proclus.

Certainly the author of the LM adheres to such an understanding of temporality, and this is nowhere clearer than in the second half of the LM, the collection of miracles wrought by Thekla in and around her native Seleukia. Recall that the LM emended Thekla's end from the ATh: she did not die but “sunk down while alive (ἔδυ δὲ ζῶσα) and went under the earth…[and from her shrine] she dispenses fountains of healings for every suffering and every sickness, her virginal grace pouring out healings there, as if from some rushing stream, upon those who ask and pray for them.”97 Cyril Mango remarks that in the LM Thekla appears as one of the “living dead,” (p.65) those saints “who were living in the Lord” in some sort of psychic limbo.98 Nicholas Constas has recently charted the diverse psychologies with which Byzantine thinkers sought to underwrite—or, in some cases, challenge—the cult of the saints as constituting the “living dead.”99 Those who endorsed this view of the saints, such as the author of the LM, seem to have in place a psychology wherein the human person—or at the very least the saint—has what Jan Bremmer calls a “free soul” that survives after the death of the “body soul,” and wanders the orders of being—celestial, earthly, or demonic—working good or ill.100 With Thekla wandering Seleukia as “living dead,” working her miracles now as then, we enter what Johnson calls a “new, boundless era”—boundless because the apostolic past appears in the late antique present and promises to do so on into the future: “there is no sense that Thekla will ever stop working miracles, nor is there a sense that there will ever come a time when someone who has been healed or helped by her will not be able to tell of it.”101 Indeed, the author's favorite verb to describe Thekla's miraculous activities is “haunts” (ἐπιϕοιτάω).102

The author himself is haunted, and by his own solicitation. At the end of the Life, Thekla acknowledges to Paul that it is “because of you [Paul]” that she has attained the level of apostle.103 In the epilogue to the Miracles, the author appropriates this acknowledgment, now directed to Thekla herself: “For, as you [Thekla] know, I was confident of the supremacy of that gift of teaching which came because of you (διὰ σέ), and that it is also because of you (διὰ σέ) that applause and acclamation has come to me, as well as having a reputation among the orators, who are as many as they are amazing.”104 Not only does Thekla continue to work miracles in the present, but the author understands his own practice of writing the LM and the reception of (p.66) the work as conditioned on Thekla's approval. And the saint acknowledges this literary devotion. On a number of occasions she encourages the author in his efforts, but in Miracle 31, she appears to him in a waking vision (ὄψις), just at the moment when he is trying to write down a miracle.105 She takes the notebook from his hand and recites back to him what he has written, indicating with a smile and a glance that she is pleased. The visitation from the saint and her intervention in his writing prompt in the author both fear and a renewed desire to write, and he commits himself to the task in which he had been lagging. With her encouragement and the promise of such awesome visitations, the very practice of writing her life and miracles becomes part of the author's devotion to the living saint. And while, according to Johnson, the textus receptus (the ATh) offers the author a site or locus for playful, but devotional, rewriting, the stakes in this play are very high indeed: nothing less than the “refashioning [of] contemporary identity.”106 In other words, we can plausibly understand the practice of writing the LM as a devotional exercise for our author that aims to refashion his own self by becoming a contemporary disciple of a living saint.

This interpretation of writing as a devotional practice finds corroboration in recent scholarship on authorship in the late antique Christian East. Derek Krueger argues that the hagiography and hymnography produced in the eastern Mediterranean between the (p.67) fourth and seventh centuries—broadly the provenance of the CD—reveal the emergence of a new understanding of the practice of writing, what he calls “a highly ritualized technology of the religious self.”107 This “technology” of writing “is not so much a proprietary claim over literary output as a performative act, a bodily practice” the aim of which is nothing less than the salvation of the writer.108 Thus “writing itself [was] figured as an extension of the authors' virtuous ascetic practice” and “exemplified emerging Christian practices of asceticism, devotion, pilgrimage, prayer, oblation, liturgy, and sacrifice.”109 Krueger thereby recasts writing as a form of devotion itself, whose aim—as is the case with any askēsis—is a “reconstituted self.”110

Unfortunately, Krueger's discussion of the LM is overshadowed by his (not entirely unwarranted) contempt for the author, who often goes to great pains to showcase his literary acumen and shamelessly jockeys with his contemporaries for bookish acclaim. Surprisingly, Krueger does not comment on Miracle 31, although it is the clearest instance of the braiding of writing and devotion in the entire LM. He seems more interested in how the author secures his authority, that is, how he fashions, through his devotional writing to the saint, an identity as an important writer in his time.111 Thus Krueger is unimpressed with the “reconstituted self” that emerges from this particular practice of writing. For our purposes, it is less important to establish the relative value of this instance of writing as an askēsis reconstituting the self than it is to see that the LM fits into a broader trajectory within the late antique Christian East.

(p.68) Given that the ATh and LM have served here as a pair of case studies meant to illumine our subsequent reading of the CD, we would do well to consider the transmission and influence of these texts and traditions on the presumed provenance of the CD. How pervasive were these themes and how widely and thickly dispersed were these texts and traditions? As regards this latest theme, the understanding of writing as a devotional practice aiming to deliver a reconstituted self, Krueger has provided such broad and deep evidence—in fact encompassing early sixth-century Syria both in time and in place—that its establishment is secure apart from the transmission and influence of a single text or tradition. So too with the understanding of time: the ATh and LM are merely instances of what several scholars have noted as a pervasive quality of late antique understanding of temporality. Nevertheless, it is interesting to consider whether such texts as the second‐century ATh or the fifth‐century LM could possibly have found their way into the hands of the author of the CD. By the fourth and fifth centuries, the cult of St. Thekla was widespread in the Mediterranean world, from Gaul to Palestine.112 The famous fourth‐century pilgrim, Egeria, visited the shrine of St. Thekla near Seleukia in May 384 on her way back from a tour of the Holy Land. She tells us that at the shrine she “read the whole Acts of the holy Thekla,” thereby witnessing to the fact that the cult, at least at its center, considered the ATh an edifying read worthy of safeguarding.113 The critical edition of the CD does not mention any citation or allusion to the ATh of the LM. Nor does Alexander Golitzin discern any trace of either text in the CD, although his gaze is more securely focused on the “Fathers” and their adversaries than on early Christian apocryphal literature or its late antique retellings.114 Although he does not mention the ATh in particular, François Bovon has shown that the Apocryphal Acts were the object of abundant interest well into the Middle Byzantine period, especially as a hagiographic, liturgical, and homiletic resource.115 In support of this broad claim, Johnson, in an appendix to his study of the LM, considers two other late antique refashionings of the ATh. The first, a Panegyric to (p.69) Thekla in Greek, is falsely attributed to John Chrysostom, but the manuscript evidence suggests that it was written in the fifth or sixth century. The second is a sixth‐century sermon by Severus of Antioch, preserved only in Syriac.116 Recall that Severus of Antioch provides us the terminus ante quem for the CD, for he is the first to cite the corpus in the early sixth century. Both texts have a connection to Antioch—the latter more securely than the former. Given that the CD is generally thought to hail from early sixth‐century Syria, and thus that “Dionysius should be considered as one who simply inherited and further elaborated an already local tradition,”117 it seems likely that the author of the CD was familiar with the cult of Thekla and entirely likely that he was familiar with the traditions regarding her life as recorded in the ATh. It is less likely, but still entirely possible, that the author was familiar with the LM: if indeed it was completed by 470, it could easily have found its way into the hands of our mysterious Syrian author. There is to date no study of the transmission of the LM, so the question of its influence on the CD must remain conjecture.118 This caution, however, need not dampen our conclusions: for our purposes, it is less important to demonstrate the direct influence of either of these texts on the CD than it is to paint in broad strokes a relevant backdrop to the composition of the CD.

In summary, then, what is most important in this backdrop is: (1) an understanding of time whereby the apostolic past and the late antique present exist in a sort of “timeless communion” such that (2) the saints of the apostolic age were understood to be “living dead,” working miracles in the present and on into the future, a “boundless era” of blessing; (3) that theological truth is ceded a sort of timelessness, such that a first‐century apostle can and should speak in a fourth‐ or fifth‐century idiom; (4) that writing serves as a devotional practice or askēsis whereby the late antique devotee solicits a present discipleship to a saint and thereby refashions or reconstitutes his or her self; (5) that the relationship forged between disciple and saint is, following the model of Paul and Thekla, an intensely erotic one; (6) that this eroticism, personified in the figure of Paul, serves as a conduit whereby the love of a disciple is redirected—sometimes awkwardly (ATh), sometimes gracefully (LM)—from its earthly to its divine beloved.

(p.70) II.C. Second case study: John Chrysostom and Paul

George of Alexandria, the seventh‐century biographer of John Chrysostom, records a miraculous meeting between the apostle and his Antiochene admirer.119 As the story goes, Chrysostom had a portrait of Paul on the wall of his room in Constantinople and he would speak with the portrait as if it were alive, often putting exegetical questions to the apostle.120 One night, his secretary Proclus peeked through the door while Chrysostom was hard at work on a homily on one of Paul's letters. He saw a man standing over Chrysostom's shoulder, whispering in his right ear as he wrote. Chrysostom was unaware of the visitor and only later did his secretary realize that the man whom he saw was the same man from the portrait, namely Paul: “the man I saw speaking with you looked just like this man. Indeed, I think it is he!”121 This legend went on to produce a rich iconographical tradition in Byzantium, perhaps the most stunning of which is an illustrated medieval manuscript where the bodies of Chrysostom, who is seated, and Paul, who is standing over him, form a single letter, kappa, which begins a new sentence.122 This legend and the images it has inspired encapsulate the significance of this second case study, John Chrysostom's writings on Paul. For according to the legend, Chrysostom was able, through his devotional reading and writing, to summon Paul into the present, such that their authorial voices and even their bodies became so intertwined that it was difficult to differentiate them.

This legend is no mere hagiographical embellishment, but has abundant warrant from Chrysostom's own writings on Paul. His writings are by far and away the most sustained and comprehensive interpretation of the life and letters of the apostle in the early church (p.71) or the patristic era. The contributions of eastern exegetes such as Origen and Theodore of Mopsuestia—even if their writings had been better preserved—would pale in comparison to Chrysostom's output. Likewise with the western exegetes: the commentaries of Ambrosiaster, Pelagius, Jerome, and Augustine are dwarfed by his achievement. The bulk of Chrysostom's writings on Paul are exegetical homilies that cover all fourteen of the canonical epistles (including also Hebrews) and the Acts of the Apostles. But his love for Paul spilled over into everything that Chrysostom wrote, and so the apostle appears in contexts as diverse as ascetical writings, catechetical orations, and panegyrics to local martyrs. It should go without saying that Chrysostom's Paul was not the Paul of modern biblical scholarship. Not only did Chrysostom treat all the canonical epistles as genuinely Pauline, he also considered Hebrews and the Acts of the Apostles as faithful witnesses to the life and thought of his beloved apostle.123 Furthermore, he was comfortable weaving into his composite portrait of Paul earlier exegetical, homilectical, and hagiographical traditions—including the Acts of Paul and Thekla.124

In her recent book, The Heavenly Trumpet, Margaret M. Mitchell has sought to use Chrysostom's rich portraits of Paul as a way to open modern scholarship to what Karlfried Froehlich calls the “colorful palette of normative images of Paul” that is recorded in the history of exegesis.125 In this regard, she sees herself as participating in a larger trend in Pauline scholarship that has, since the mid‐twentieth century, been attempting to break the monopoly of the western—that is to say, Augustinian and Lutheran—reading of Paul. One wing of this larger movement has sought to situate Paul and his peculiar concerns in the context of first‐century Judaism and thereby to distance him from the very different concerns of fifth‐century Roman North Africa or sixteenth‐century Catholic Germany. Another wing of this same movement has appealed instead to the various “legacies” of Paul in the early church.126 While earlier adherents to both wings of this movement held out hope that their inquiry would yield the authentic Paul by which other portraits might be judged, other, more recent scholars, including Mitchell, find this criterion “utterly elusive and (p.72) ultimately useless” and seek instead to highlight the many and different portraits of Paul that emerge not only from the canonical corpus, but also from the history of exegesis.127 Furthermore, Mitchell aims to expand our standard scholarly understanding of what constitutes exegesis in the early church. On her construal, biblical exegesis must include not only traditional scriptural commentaries, but also other genres of literature that work closely with biblical material, including, in this case, homilies.

Throughout his homilies, Chrysostom gives voice to a phenomenon that should be familiar to us by now, namely how Paul makes himself known—indeed present—to contemporaries, first and foremost through reading. In the initial Argumentum to a series of homilies on Romans, Chrysostom exclaims: “Continually when I hear the letters of the blessed Paul read…I rejoice in the pleasure of that spiritual trumpet, and I am roused to attention and warmed with desire because I recognize the voice I love, and seem to imagine him all but present [μονονουχὶ παρόντα αὐτὸν δοκῶ ϕαντάζεσθαι] and conversing with me [διαλεγόμενον ὁρᾶν].”128 Leaving aside for the moment the fact that Paul rouses desire in Chrysostom, we should note that elsewhere Chrysostom holds out to his audience the same promise of contemporaneity with Paul and the other apostles through the practice of reading: “Therefore, if you wish you may have both Paul, Peter, and John, and the whole chorus of the prophets conversing with you continually. For take the books of these blessed ones, and continually read their writings and they will be able to make you like [Prisca] the tent‐maker's wife.”129 According to Acts, Prisca and her husband Aquila, both tentmakers, hosted Paul for two years in Corinth. Chrysostom's conviction that Paul can and will make himself present to the devoted reader derives in part from his understanding of how letters are simultaneously witnesses to authorial presence and absence: “The inexperienced reader when taking up a letter will consider it to be papyrus and ink; but the experienced reader will both hear a voice, and converse with the one who is absent”;130 “Thus Paul knew his presence was everywhere a great (p.73) thing, and always, though absent, he makes himself present.”131 This understanding of epistolary presence and absence and the practice of reading that it endorses is what Mitchell calls a “reading of resuscitation.”132

If in private the devotional reader can collapse historical time so as to enjoy a present relationship with Paul or any of the apostles, so writing and preaching can render that same “timeless communion” available to a wider audience, a public. Mitchell argues convincingly that Chrysostom's homilies need to be understood in the context of ekphrasis, defined by an ancient rhetorical theorist as “a descriptive discourse which visibly brings the object being manifested before one's eyes,” or by modern a theorist as “a painting in words.”133 Although ekphrasis was primarily a literary technique that sought to render visible an absent work of art, often sculpture, it could also be used to call to mind for an audience a particular individual. According to Mitchell, “[a]n ἔκϕρασις of a person, or of an artistic rendering of a person, sought primarily to convey a subject's very soul and character by a recreation of his or her physical appearance.”134 The technique of ekphrasis therefore served Chrysostom's ends very well, as he sought in his homilies to recreate for his audience the very presence of Paul he felt in private reading:

If the goal of an ekphrasis is to provoke in an audience the first‐hand emotional experience of something from which they are absent—a work of art, a person, or some other artifact—then one can see why it is the perfect vehicle for Chrysostom's task of biographical exegesis, for he seeks in his homilies to effect a vivid, living encounter of his congregation with the person of the apostle, who springs to life for him in the reading of his letters. John wishes to recreate for others his own profound experience of Pauline presence in the act of reading and interpretation.135

Chrysostom sought quite literally to summon Paul before his audience—hence Mitchell's apt characterization of his homilectics as an “inherently necromantic art.”136 Of course Paul was not really dead at (p.74) all: Chrysostom goes so far as to say that Paul's decayed limbs in Rome are in fact more alive now than they were when he was on earth.137 Paul may be absent, but by reading, writing, and preaching we may summon his presence. Echoing the consensus examined above regarding the peculiar understanding of time in the late antique Christian East, Mitchell characterizes Chrysostom's efforts to summon the presence of Paul as a form of “time‐travel”: “not his own trek back in time but Paul's movement forward…creates [Chrysostom's] encounter with the Paul he knows.”138 Chrysostom, like the anonymous author of the LM, asks that Paul travel forward in time so that he and his audience might bask in his presence. Might the pseudonymous author of the CD, however, be traveling back in time for precisely the same end? For if there is a widespread conviction that historical time can be collapsed so that past and present might enjoy “contemporaneity,” then presumably one could traverse that distance in either direction.

Beyond the desire to share with his audience the presence of Paul he enjoys in private, Chrysostom has a very specific aim in mind for his necromantic preaching. As Mitchell puts it, “the orator‐exegete always has a contemporary end in view,” namely imitatio Pauli. Chrysostom understands Paul as the “archetypal image” of virtue, embodying all the monastic virtues he so esteems. The mandate to imitate Paul comes from the apostle himself, who in several places exhorts his readers to “be imitators of me” (μιμηταί μου γίνεσθε) (1 Cor 4:16; 11:1; cf. Gal 4:12). Paul, however, understands that he only serves as a means to an end—in Mitchell's words a “mimetic intermediary”—for his exhortation to “become imitators of me” is coupled with the reminder, “just as I am of Christ!” (1 Cor 11:1). For Chrysostom, Paul's mimesis of Christ is grounded in his confession in Gal 2:20 that “it is no longer I, but Christ who lives in me.” This confession has a fascinating parallel in Chrysostom's own teacher Libanius, the pagan rhetor, who says that through paideia learned men could in fact “install Demosthenes in their souls.”139 If Paul was, for Chrysostom, “the imitator of Christ” (ὁ τοῦ Χριστοῦ μιμητής), then imitatio Pauli was none other than imitatio Christi.140

(p.75) Why was such an intermediary necessary? Why not imitate Christ directly? Mitchell opines that “Paul as mimetic intermediary becomes increasingly important in the fourth century as Christology soars higher and higher, and the imitation of Christ seems beyond the ken of ordinary human beings, whereas imitation of Paul stands more within reach.”141 While this is an interesting hypothesis, the second century knew no such vertiginous Christology, and yet the ATh vividly portrays Paul as an intermediary between Thekla and Christ. The notion that Paul can and should serve us as an intermediary to Christ seems not to be correlated to Christological trends. Chrysostom at least does not view imitatio Pauli as especially indirect or in any way a detour from proper imitatio Christi. On the contrary, given the witness of Gal 2:20 and other such remarkable Pauline confessions, Chrysostom seems to think that what we are imitating when we are imitating Paul is in fact Christ himself. In other words, the fact that Christ broke into the “I” of Paul guarantees the chain of imitatio Christi, guarantees that what we are imitating in Paul is in fact Christ. As Mitchell argues,

Without the Christ‐infusion which Paul claimed to have continually experienced (2 Cor 13:3: “…Christ is speaking in me”), the Pauline portraits would themselves have been of no interest. Thus the portraits of Paul in John's eyes are portraits of Christ, portraits of what a human being who has Christ speaking in him looks like. As Chrysostom himself put it: “For where Paul was, there also was Christ.”142

Thus Chrysostom's devotion to Paul does not seem to “compromise” or in any sense “displace” his devotion to Christ.143 Chrysostom could compare Paul to angels and heavenly bodies, not because Paul transcended the human condition but because in Paul lived Christ.144

Nowhere is this clearer than with respect to the matter of the two voices—Christ's and Paul's. Chrysostom insists that “it is not Paul who spoke, but Christ, who moved Paul's soul. So when you hear him shout and say: ‘Behold, I, Paul, tell you’ (Gal 5:2), consider that only the shout is Paul's; the thought and the teaching are Christ's, who is (p.76) speaking to Paul from within his heart.”145 He goes even further, daring to say that “through Paul's mouth Christ spoke great and inexpressible things, and even greater things than he spoke through his own mouth.”146 Despite his own regimen of imitatio Pauli, however, Chrysostom never claims to have had Paul and thereby Christ speak through his own mouth. But subsequent readers have, including a near contemporary, Isidore of Pelusium, who remarks that “if the divine Paul had taken up the Attic tongue to interpret himself, he would not have done it differently than this renowned [John] has done.”147 Centuries later a Greek manuscript copyist offered a clearer formulation, adding to the page the following observation:

The mouth of Christ brought forth the mouth of Paul and the mouth of Paul the mouth of Chrysostom.148

Chrysostom explains to his audience that he is often diverted from his own ends by Paul, who “takes possession” of him, either in private or in public:

But why am I troubled? Summoning great force I must flee, lest again Paul, taking possession [κατέχειν] of me, might lead me away from the text I have set forth to preach on. For you well know how repeatedly at other times, meeting me as I was going about my sermon, he took possession of me and I became diverted right in the middle of my sermon, and he so seized me that I was persuaded by him to wreck the sermon.149

In a pair of homilies on Ephesians he confesses that “we cannot bear to resist” (ἀντιπεσεῖν οὐχ ὑπομένομεν) such a possession, that he could no better stop speaking about Paul than a drunk could stop drinking.150 He invites his audience into his own possession: “What is happening to me? I wish to be silent, but I am not able.”151 Once, when in his homily on Genesis he takes a rather long detour to interpret 2 Cor 11:21 f., he apologizes and explains that “my tongue (p.77) was swept away as though by a raging stream of water.”152 Chrysostom suggests that the chain that once bound Paul in prison the apostle now uses to bind us: “Paul's chain has become very long, and held us very tightly fast. For it is indeed long, and more beautiful than any gold cord. This chain pulls those who are bound with it to heaven, as though it were a crane. Just like a secured gold cord, Paul's chain pulls them up to heaven itself.”153 Despite the confusion and the consequent loss of control over his own voice, then, Chrysostom nevertheless views these episodes as anagogical, as Paul enabling his ascent to heaven. Reflecting on Chrysostom's descriptions of these episodes, Mitchell describes a situation that can be fruitfully applied to pseudonymous writing: “In Chrysostom's interpretation of Paul the identities, personalities, and voices of the two men, like their faces in the miniature portrait, become conformed to one another. Thus in Chrysostom's discourse on Paul we have a complex interweaving of the two persons, the two selves, of Paul and Chrysostom.”154 Just as Paul confesses to an interweaving of two selves—himself and Christ—so Chrysostom confesses to a similar interweaving of selves—himself and Paul and, by extension, Christ.

This leads to a final, important point: for Chrysostom, this mimetic chain or serial possession—Chrysostom imitating Paul imitating Christ—relies on the logic of love. In his homily on 2 Cor 11:1, Chrysostom confesses that “I love [ϕιλῶ] all the saints, but especially the blessed Paul.”155 Elsewhere he says that he suffers from a “love charm” (ϕίλτρον), cast over him by the apostle.156 His spellbound love for Paul, however, guarantees that mimesis will work: “for what belongs to those who are loved, they who love them know above all others.”157 The same, of course, applies to Paul, whose own mimesis of Christ depends on the fact that Paul was, in Chrysostom's words, “the red‐hot lover of Christ” (ὁ διάπυρος ἐραστὴς τοῦ Χριστοῦ).158 This is no isolated indiscretion: Chrysostom's writings are peppered with references to Paul the lover: “the mind burning with desire for (p.78) God”; “a God‐loving soul”; “a soul on fire”; “the foster‐father of love”; “Nothing was…more loving [ϕιλοστοργότερον] than [his] holy soul.”159 Those who would insist on the false dichotomy between erōs and agapē, therefore, can no longer lay blame for Dionysius' having called Paul a lover (ἐραστής) on his loosely veiled pagan loyalties. For it is to Chrysostom—who seems to think that such an erotic love, properly oriented, was entirely compatible with his campaign to bring asceticism to the laity—that credit (or debit) is due. Attribution aside, the most important point for our purposes is that Chrysostom's “hermeneutics of love lead even to a hermeneutics of conformity,” that the mimetic chain or serial possession depends on Chrysostom's burning love for Paul, which candle in turn depends on the torch of Paul's love for Christ.


I suggest that we read the CD in light of the evidence I have presented here, in the form of two case studies. The LM corroborates the consensus view regarding the peculiar understanding of time in the late antique Christian East, whereby the saints of the apostolic and sub‐apostolic periods literally “haunt” the late antique present as “living dead.” Thekla haunts the fifth century, visiting her hagiographer by night and initiating him into a private cult, centered on his own practice of writing, which is soon made public with the anonymous publication of her life and miracles. The author collapses the distance between the apostolic past and the late antique present by having Thekla speak in the timeless truth of conciliar orthodoxy. The life of Thekla, in both redactions, teaches the author and his readership that we have desperate need of intermediaries or liaisons to reorient our wayward selves to Christ and God. Thekla serves as the intermediary for the author, just as Paul served as that intermediary for Thekla. The life of Thekla, in both redactions, also teaches us that (p.79) the primary work of this liaison is to return our erōs from its wayward to its homeward end. The intermediary achieves this transfer by turning our erōs first to him or herself, and only thereafter to its proper target, Christ and God. The return to God is therefore an erotic return, but the two redactions differ as to whether this return is pained (ATh) or pacific (LM).

We find a similar pattern in Chrysostom's homilies on Paul. Through his private writing and public preaching, Chrysostom summons the apostle Paul into the present. According to Chrysostom, the apostle takes possession of him, controls his mouth and his pen such that their voices, their persons, merge. Chrysostom summons Paul precisely so that he and his audience may imitate him and, through him, Christ. Paul is, for Chrysostom, the mimetic intermediary between himself and Christ. And just as he was for Thekla, Paul serves as an effective intermediary because he realigns our erōs. Chrysostom can love Paul because the burning coal of his love will be added to the bonfire that is Paul's burning love for Christ and God. Chrysostom can also love Paul because Christ lives in Paul (Gal 2:20), such that what Chrysostom loves is not so much Paul himself as it is Christ in Paul.

Where might the author of the CD fit here? On the one hand, he is, like the anonymous author of the LM, focusing his attention on a disciple of Paul, Dionysius the Areopagite, rather than Paul himself. On the other hand, insofar as he is taking on the identity of this disciple, he is positioning himself much as Chrysostom does, that is, as a direct disciple of Paul. Like the author of the LM and Chrysostom, the author of the CD seems to have need of an intermediary between himself and Christ, and by writing under the name of Dionysius the Areopagite, he invites Paul to become that intermediary. The most obvious difference between the author of the LM and Chrysostom, on the one hand, and the author of the CD, on the other, is that the first two summon Paul into the present to serve as an intermediary, that is, they fully expect Paul to travel forward in time; whereas the author of the CD transports himself into the past, that is, he asks the apostles and their disciples to receive him into their communion. But this very difference points to the way in which pseudonymous writing should be understood against the backdrop of this shared understanding of time, for if the present and the past are porous and can be collapsed, then both directions of time travel are warranted. The widespread conviction that time was porous or (p.80) could be collapsed led to different practices of writing meant to bridge that divide: witness hagiography and homiletics. I argue that the pseudonymous enterprise of the CD is another writing practice meant to bridge this same divide, to collapse the centuries so that the late antique writer could achieve contemporaneity with the apostolic past, not by summoning it forward in time, but by traveling back in time, and assuming the identity of one of disciples.

If the author of the CD is traveling back in time and assuming the identity of a disciple of Paul, then we would expect that the life, letters, and legacy of Paul would influence the major themes of the CD. In the second part of this investigation, Chapters Three through Five, I argue precisely this: that Paul animates the entire CD. In the next chapter, Chapter Three, I begin to make this case by charting the influence of Paul on the Dionysian hierarchies, as laid out in the two treatises, the Celestial Hierarchy and the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy.


(1) Brockington, “The Problem of Pseudonymity,” 16.

(2) For helpful background on ancient and late ancient pseudepigrapha, see Gudeman, “Literary Frauds among the Greeks”; Putnam, Authors and their Public in Ancient Times; Lehmann, Pseudo‐Antike Literatur des Mittelalters; Gill and Wiseman, eds., Lies and Fiction in the Ancient World.

(3) See Meade, Pseudonymity and Canon, 1–4. For examples of recent scholarship motivated by this anxiety, see Baum, Pseudepigraphie und literarische Fälschung im frühen Christentum; Janssen, Unter Falschem Namen; Wilder, Pseudonymity, New Testament, and Deception. For a recent, comparative treatment of the problem of authorship and canon, see Wyrick, The Ascension of Authorship.

(4) Metzger, “Literary Forgeries and Canonical Pseudepigrapha,” 3–24.

(5) Von Fritz, ed. Pseudepigrapha I, 5.

(6) Ibid., 14.

(7) Meade, Pseudonymity and Canon, 4–12. I have changed Meade's ordering so as to present the religious/psychological approach last.

(8) Ibid., 9–10.

(9) Cited in Ibid., 10.

(10) See Guthrie, “Tertullian and Pseudonymity,” 341–2.

(11) Brox, Falsche Verfesserangaben; See also idem., Pseudepigraphie in der heidnischen und jüdisch‐christlichen Antike.

(12) Golitzin, “Dionysius Areopagita: A Christian Mysticism?” 177–9.

(13) Brox, Falsche Verfesserangaben, 26–36; cited in Meade, Pseudonymity and Canon, 12.

(14) Louth, Denys the Areopagite, 10.

(15) Torm, Die Psychologie der Pseudonymität im Hinblick auf die Literatur des Urchristentums.

(16) Sint, Pseudonymität im Alterum, ihre Formen unde ihre Gründe.

(17) Speyer, Die Literarische Fälschung im Heidnischen und Christlichen Altertum; see also Meyer, “Religiöse Pseudepigraphie als ethisch‐psychologisches Problem.”

(18) Meade, Pseudonymity and Canon, 7.

(19) W. Speyer, “Fälschung, Pseudepigraphische freie Erfindung und ‘echte religiöse Pseudepigraphie’,” in Kurt von Fritz, ed., Pseudepigrapha I, 359; quoted in Meade, Pseudonymity and Canon, 8: “Führt die Vorstellung der Ergriffenheit weiter zu einer Identifikation von Schriftsteller und vorgestelltem inspirierenden Geist, der ein Gott, ein Engel, ein gottgeliebter Weiser der Vorzeit sein kann, so entsteht die ‘echte religiöse Pseudepigraphie’. In diesem Fall versinkt der menschlichen Verfasser ganz in der ihn inspirierenden personalem Macht.”

(20) Aland, “The Problem of Anonymity and Pseudonymity in Christian Literature of the First Two Centuries.”

(21) Ibid., 44.

(22) Ibid.

(23) Ibid.

(24) Ibid., 45.

(25) Ibid., 47.

(26) Ibid., 48.

(27) Russell, The Method and Message of Jewish Apocalyptic.

(28) Ibid., 136. In support of this view Russell cites the work of Thorleif Boman, who argues that the Hebrew verbal system lends itself to this sort of “peculiar time‐consciousness” (Boman, Hebrew Thought Compared with Greek, 148–9). Russell wisely distances himself from Boman, although some more recent scholars feel that the refutations of Boman's dubious linguistic arguments should extend to Russell's views as well: see Barr, Biblical Words for Time, 96, 130–1. Russell seems also to owe much of his view to Brockington, who said that the “timelessness of Hebrew thought [was such that] centuries could be telescoped and generations spanned” (Brockington, “The Problem of Pseudonymity,” 20).

(29) Metzger, “Literary Forgeries and Canonical Pseudepigrapha,” 20–1.

(30) Stone, Jewish Writings of the Second Temple Period, 428.

(31) Ibid., 431.

(32) Meade, Pseudonymity and Canon, 216.

(33) Louth, Denys the Areopagite, 10.

(34) Ep. 7.1 1077C–1080A; CD II 165–6.

(35) In this regard, Baynes considered the Byzantine era the heir of the Hellenistic age, “that age [that] acquired the habit of looking backwards to a past which in retrospect became only the more wonderful” (Baynes, “The Hellenistic civilization and East Rome,” 2). And while Baynes so often endeavors to challenge his contemporaries' low esteem for Byzantium, here he too finds reason for fault: “The Byzantine, like the folk of Alexandria, is overweighted by his literary inheritance. Blessed is the country which is not haunted by the splendors of its own past” (Louth, Denys the Areopagite, 11).

(36) Cavallo, The Byzantines, 8–9.

(37) Mango, “Saints,” in Cavallo, The Byzantines, 256.

(38) Rapp, “Byzantine Hagiographers as Antiquarians, Seventh to Tenth Centuries,” 31.

(39) Johnson, “Apocrypha and the Literary Past in Late Antiquity,” 49; see also Johnson, The Life and Miracles of Thekla, 104–9.

(40) Johnson, “Apocrypha and the Literary Past in Late Antiquity,” 49.

(41) Johnson, “Reviving the Memory of the Apostles,” 1.

(42) Louth, “The Reception of Dionysius up to St. Maximus the Confessor,” in Coakley and Stang, eds., Re‐thinking Dionysius the Areopagite, 37.

(43) Williams, Authorised Lives in Early Christian Biography.

(44) Ibid., 227.

(45) Ibid., 26.

(46) Ibid., 15.

(47) Williams, Authorised Lives in Early Christian Biography, 225, 19–20.

(48) Ibid., 232, 233.

(49) Ibid., 225.

(50) The ATh is in fact only a portion of the much longer Acts of Paul, although it circulated independently. See Hennecke and Schneemelcher, eds., New Testament Apocrypha, 213–70. The English translation used here is Ehrman, in Lost Scriptures, 113–21, but I cite the ATh by chapter.

(51) ATh 3.

(52) ATh 3.

(53) ATh 5–6.

(54) ATh 7.

(55) ATh 8.

(56) ATh 10.

(57) ATh 13–15.

(58) ATh 18.

(59) ATh 19.

(60) ATh 20.

(61) Johnson, The Life and Miracles of Thekla, 201.

(62) Symposium 202E.

(63) ATh 3.

(64) ATh 21.

(65) Matt 5:3–10; Luke 6:22.

(66) ATh 23, my emphasis.

(67) ATh 24.

(68) ATh 24, my emphasis.

(69) ATh 26.

(70) ATh 34.

(71) ATh 37.

(72) ATh 40.

(73) ATh 40.

(74) DN 4.13 712A; CD I 159.6.

(75) Johnson, “Reviving the Memory of the Apostles,” 1.

(76) Johnson, The Life and Miracles of Thekla, 104.

(77) Dagron, Vie et miracles de sainte Thècle [Greek text and French translation]. In what follows, I cite the Life and the Miracles by chapter and line number from Dagron's edition. Unless otherwise noted, translations are from Johnson, The Life and Miracles of Thekla.

(78) Life 28.7–14; cited in Johnson, The Life and Miracles of Thekla, 7.

(79) Johnson, “Apocrypha and the Literary Past in Late Antiquity,” 48.

(80) Johnson, “Late Antique Narrative Fiction,” 194. See Shils, Tradition, 77. See also Johnson, The Life and Miracles of Thekla, 17, 22.

(81) Johnson, “Apocrypha and the Literary Past in Late Antiquity,” 65.

(82) Life 1.17; cited in Johnson, The Life and Miracles of Thekla, 21.

(83) Johnson, The Life and Miracles of Thekla, 22.

(84) Life 9.14–15; cited in Johnson, “Late Antique Narrative Fiction,” 197.

(85) Ibid., 12.41–2; cited in Johnson, The Life and Miracles of Thekla, 40.

(86) Life 12.43–51; cited in Johnson, The Life and Miracles of Thekla, 41.

(87) Ibid., 13.27–37; cited in Johnson, The Life and Miracles of Thekla, 43.

(88) Ibid., 26.1–2; cited in Johnson, “Late Antique Narrative Fiction,” 198.

(89) Ibid., 26.8; cited in Johnson, The Life and Miracles of Thekla, 62.

(90) Ibid. 26.64–5; cited in Johnson, The Life and Miracles of Thekla, 62.

(91) Ibid., 7.45–7; cited in Johnson, The Life and Miracles of Thekla, 33 (translation my own).

(92) See Johnson, The Life and Miracles of Thekla, 32–5, 222–3.

(93) Life 26.8–12, cited in Johnson, The Life and Miracles of Thekla, 62.

(94) Johnson, The Life and Miracles of Thekla, 34–5.

(95) Louth, Denys the Areopagite, 10.

(96) Mango, “Saints,” 256.

(97) Life 28.7–14; cited in Johnson, The Life and Miracles of Thekla, 7.

(98) Cyril Mango, “Saints,” 263.

(99) Constas, “ ‘To Sleep, Perchance to Dream’: The Middle State of Souls in Patristic and Byzantine Literature”; idem, “An Apology for the Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity: Eustratius the Presbyter of Constantinople, On the State of Souls after Death (CPG 7522).”

(100) Constas, “ ‘To Sleep, Perchance to Dream,’ ” 120–1. See also Bremmer, The Early Greek Concept of the Soul.

(101) Johnson, “Late Antique Narrative Fiction,” 195.

(102) Johnson, The Life and Miracles of Thekla, 13, 121–3, 147, 150.

(103) Johnson, “Late Antique Narrative Fiction,” 196.

(104) Miracles Epilogue, lines 38–41; cited in Johnson, “Late Antique Narrative Fiction,” 196.

(105) It is worth quoting Johnson's translation of this remarkable miracle in full: “At the very moment when I was writing about this miracle [Miracle 30]—it is not good to keep silent any longer about what the martyr granted me—the following happened to me. I had been neglectful in collecting and committing these events to writing, I confess, and lazily did I grasp a writing tablet and a stylus, as if I had given up on my inquiry and collection of miracles. It was when I was in this state and in the process of yawning that the martyr appeared to my sight seated at my side, in the place where it was my habit to consult my books, and she took from my hand the notebook, on which I was transcribing this latest story from the writing tablet. And she seemed to me to read and to be pleased and to smile and to indicate to me by her gaze that she was pleased with what I was in the process of writing, and that it is necessary for me to complete this work and not to leave it unfinished—up to the point that I am able to learn from each person what he knows and what is possible [to discover] with accuracy. So, after this vision I was consumed with fear and filled with desire once again to pick up my writing tablet and stylus and to do as much as she will command” (Johnson, The Life and Miracles of Thekla, 118–19).

(106) Johnson, The Life and Miracles of Thekla, 76.

(107) Krueger, Writing and Holiness, 2. Krueger's debt to Michel Foucault—especially late Foucault—is evidenced especially in his discussion of writing as a “technology of the self.”

(108) Krueger, Writing and Holiness, 8, 3.

(109) Ibid., 10, 9.

(110) Ibid., 11.

(111) Hence Krueger's interest in Miracle 41: “After I had been judged worthy of admission into the priestly synod and catalogue of preachers and priests, [St. Thekla] remained present with me most of the time. And she appeared at night always handing to me some book or sheet of paper, which always was and appeared to be a sign to me of complete approval. If, on the other hand, while I was preparing to say something, I did not see anything, the result proved to be clearly the opposite” (Krueger, Writing and Holiness, 80).

(112) See Davis, The Cult of Saint Thekla. Unfortunately for our purposes, Davis focuses on Asia Minor and Egypt, and does not cover the cult of Thekla in Syria in any great detail.

(113) Cited in Johnson, The Life and Miracles of Thekla, xxiii–xiv, 1–3.

(114) Golitzin, Et introibo ad altare dei.

(115) Bovon, “Byzantine Witnesses for the Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles.”

(116) Johnson, The Life and Miracles of Thekla, Appendix 2, 231–8.

(117) Golitzin, Et introibo ad altare dei, 352.

(118) See Dagron, “L’Auteur des ‘Actes’ et des ‘Miracles’ de Sointe Thècle.”

(119) Vita Joh. Chrys. 27, in Halkin, Douze récits byzantins sur saint Jean Chrysostome, 142–8; cited in Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 35–6.

(120) “John was in possession of a relief of the same apostle in a portrait. Sometimes he would have to stop for [a] while because of a little bodily weakness (for he went without sleep to a degree that confounded nature). And when he was going through Paul's epistles, he used to fix his gaze on Paul's portrait and was as intent on him as if he were there alive, pronouncing blessings on Paul's power of reasoning. John would attune his whole mind to Paul, imagining that he was conversing with him via this vision” (Halkin, Douze récits, 142); cited in Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 35n7.

(121) Halkin, Douze récits, 147; cited in Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 36.

(122) British Library Add. Ms. 36636, f. 179r; Plate 6 in Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 507.

(123) Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 2.

(124) Ibid., 88, 99.

(125) Cited ibid., xx.

(126) See Wiles, The Divine Apostle, and Babcock, ed., Paul and the Legacies of Paul.

(127) Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 20.

(128) hom. in Rom. Arg. 1 [60.391]; cited in Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 132.

(129) hom. in Rom. 30.4 [60.665–6]; cited in Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 46.

(130) hom. in 1 Cor. 7.2 [61.56]; cited in Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 48–9.

(131) hom. in Col. 1.1 [62.300]; cited in Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 49.

(132) Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 1, 65.

(133) Ibid., 101.

(134) Ibid., 102–3.

(135) Ibid., 132 (my emphasis).

(136) Ibid., xix.

(137) hom. in Rom. 32.4 [60.680]; cited in Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 30.

(138) Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 393.

(139) Ibid., 43.

(140) compunct. 1.9 [47.407], cited in Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 84.

(141) Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 51.

(142) Ibid., 396.

(144) Ibid., 399.

(145) Jud. 2.1 [48.858]; cited in Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 77.

(146) hom. in Rom. 32.3 [60.679]; cited in Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 125.

(147) Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 31.

(148) Ibid., 33.

(149) hom. in Is. 45:7 3 [56.146]; cited in Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 69.

(150) hom. in Eph. 9.1 [62.69]; cited in Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 69; hom. in Eph. 8.8 [62.66], cited in Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 69n3, 184.

(151) hom. in Eph. 8.8 [62.66]; cited in Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 184n267.

(152) hom. in Gen. 11.7 [953.97–8]; cited in Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 69n2.

(153) hom. in Eph. 8.8 [62.66] cited in Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 184n266.

(154) Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 42.

(155) hom. in 2 Cor. 11:1 1 [51.301]; cited in Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 38.

(156) Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 38.

(157) hom. in Rom. Arg. 1 [60.391]; cited in Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 39.

(158) compunct. 1.7 [47.404]; see also ὁ θερμὸς ἐραστὴς τοῦ Χριστοῦ (hom. in Gen. 34.5 [53.319]); both cited in Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 87.

(159) hom. in Ac. 55.3 [60.384], cited in Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 40; hom. in Gen. 11.5 [53.96], cited in Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 82; hom. in Gen. 34.6 [53.320], cited in Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 82; laud. Paul. 3.10 [SC 300.180], cited in Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 87; comm. in Gal. 4.2 [61.659], cited in Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet, 82.