Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 February 2009
This paper explores the boundaries between fact and fiction in ancient literature. The historians effectively created the concept of ‘fiction’ in Greek literature by defining what could be incontrovertibly established as ‘fact’ by accepted rationalistic criteria. Anything beyond these limits (tales involving distant places, or the distant past, or divine intervention) was widely perceived as belonging to the realm of ‘fiction’. To readers from this background, Acts would fall uncomfortably on the boundary: much of the narrative would sound like fiction, but there is a disturbing undercurrent which suggests that it might after all be intended as fact.
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A similar complaint is made in Jos. C.Ap. 1.12–14: but note how Thackeray's translation of pseudomenon here equivocates between ‘lying’ (‘mendacity’) and ‘mistaken’.
11 Tὸ коμιδή μνθῶδεζ: How to write history §10, Loeb tr.
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13 There are of course other important factors, especially the role of rhetoric: cf. previous note.
14 ’Αποϕαντιкὸν ἐγкεкλιμένον: Hermogenes Prog. 2/18.
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39 Paul apparently feared bandits (2 Cor 11.26), but there are none in Acts.
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42 Alexander, Preface, chs. 4–5.
44 Contrast Philostratus' use of his Damis source, which Bowie sees as consciously novelistic Bowie, ‘Philostratus’, 195.
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