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This article examines early Christian theories about the identity and role of Mark as transmitter of Petrine tradition. Building upon recent work in classics, it argues that the identification of Mark as Peter's interpreter, the description of his composition as lacking order and his reported excellent memory would have led ancient readers of Papias to conclude that Mark was performing literate servile work. The positioning of Mark in this way strengthened claims about the accuracy of Mark's text.
Scholarly interpretations of the descent and description of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21–22 have tended to evaluate the city against biblical and extra-canonical descriptions of the Jerusalem Temple, apocalyptic accounts of heaven and ancient utopian literature in general. While some have noted the ways in which the New Jerusalem parallels the description of Babylon elsewhere in the Apocalypse, no one has yet considered the ways in which the New Jerusalem mimics, mirrors and adapts the excesses of elite Roman architecture and decor. The argument of this article is that when viewed against the backdrop of literary and archaeological evidence for upper-class living space, the luxury of the New Jerusalem is domesticated and functions to democratise access to wealth in the coming epoch. The ways in which Revelation's New Jerusalem rehearses the conventions of morally problematic displays of luxury can partially explain later patristic discomfort with literalist readings of this passage.
Martyrdom was a central component in the fashioning of both ancient Jewish and early Christian identities. Within Christian circles martyrdom is often presented as an exclusively Christian phenomenon that emerged in the context of persecution by the Romans. The presence of ‘suicidal’ martyrs in both Jewish and Christian traditions demonstrates both that martyrdom is not the exclusive property of the Christian tradition and also that prior to the third century CE it and suicide were not clearly distinguished from one another.
In early Christian literature the death of Judas is broadly understood as a fitting end to the life of the betrayer of Jesus. Papias’ description of Judas’ death can be illuminated by comparison with ancient biographical and medical literature, in which oedema and parasitic infections are a consequence of greed, and also apocalyptic texts, in which worms become an emblematic form of divine punishment after death. Viewed in this context the death of Judas serves a pedagogical function as a warning about the dangers of greed.
While the social and intellectual basis of voluntary martyrdom is fiercely debated, scholarship on Christian martyrdom has unanimously distinguished between “martyrdom” and “voluntary martyrdom” as separate phenomena, practices, and categories from the second century onward. Yet there is a startling dearth of evidence for the existence of the category of the “voluntary martyr” prior to the writings of Clement of Alexandria. This paper has two interrelated aims: to review the evidence for the category of the voluntary martyr in ancient martyrological discourse and to trace the emergence of the category of the voluntary martyr in modern scholarship on martyrdom. It will argue both that the category began to emerge only in the third century in the context of efforts to justify flight from persecution, and also that the assumption of Clement's taxonomy of approaches to martyrdom by scholars is rooted in modern constructions of the natural.
1 Thessalonians 4.16–17 has occasioned much scholarly speculation regarding Paul's conception of the resurrected body, the character of those caught up in Christ, the ultimate fate of those who are caught up in the air, and Pauline eschatology in general. The interpretation of the passage may be illuminated by comparison with rabbinic traditions in which the righteous escape judgment and destruction in Sheol by flying and being borne aloft by clouds, traditions that, given Paul's Jewish heritage, could well stand in the background of 1 Thess 4.16–17.
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