"Does the New Testament Imitate Homer?" by Dennis R. MacDonald

Does the New Testament Imitate Homer? Four Cases from the Acts of the Apostles Dennis R. MacDonald

Publication date:
12 Dec 2003
224 pages: 234 x 256 x 19mm

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In this provocative challenge to prevailing views of New Testament sources, Dennis MacDonald argues that the origins of passages in the book of "Acts" are to be found not in early Christian legends but in the epics of Homer. MacDonald focuses on four passages in the book of "Acts", examines their potential parallels in the "Iliad" and concludes that the author of "Acts" composed them using famous scenes in Homer's work as a model. Tracing the influence of passages from the "Iliad" on subsequent ancient literature, MacDonald shows how the story generated a vibrant, mimetic literary tradition long before Luke composed the "Acts". Luke could have expected educated readers to recognize his transformation of these tales and to see that the Christian God and heroes were superior to Homeric gods and heroes. Building upon and extending the analytic methods of his earlier book, "The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark", MacDonald opens an original and promising appreciation not only of "Acts" but also of the composition of early Christian narrative in general.

Dennis R. MacDonald is John Wesley Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins, Claremont School of Theology, and director of the Institute of Antiquity and Christianity, Claremont Graduate University. He is also the author of The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark (ISBN 0 300 08012 3, [pound]25.00).

"In this original, carefully argued book MacDonald offers a radical thesis, locating the book of Acts squarely in the ancient Greek literary tradition." William Hansen, Indiana University