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Speaking Asses In The Acts Of Thomas: An Intertextual And Cognitive Perspective

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the function of speaking and otherwise intelligent or pious animals in a range of Christian texts, with special attention to asses, and discusses their connection to the Balaam narrative. It surveys the major Apocryphal Acts for speaking animals. The chapter also discusses two speaking asses in the Acts of Thomas. It makes a detour to Jesus' entry to Jerusalem. The chapter deals with the ass in Pseudo- Lucian's and Apuleius' narratives. It investigates the motif of asses carrying (images of) gods. The chapter addresses some cognitive psychological aspects of speaking animals. Various motifs of both episodes involving asses in the Acts of Thomas can be seen as references to Jesus' entry to Jerusalem. The basic idea behind the Ass Novel, Numbers 22, and the Acts of Thomas is similar: all three writings feature an ass which has some human abilities as a result of supernatural intervention.

Keywords: Acts of Thomas; Apocryphal Acts; Apuleius; Ass Novel; Balaam; Jerusalem; Jesus; Pseudo- Lucian; speaking asses



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