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15 A Physical Description of Paul

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the Greek influence that can be perceived in early Christian reflections on the physical appearance of Paul. The artistic representations of Paul are less well known to most students of early Christianity than the literary evidence, chief of which is the curious literary portrait of Paul in the Acts of Paul and Thecla, which in some respects agrees with early Christian paintings. There, Onesiphorus sees Paul as "a man small of stature, with a bald head and crooked legs, in a good state of body, with eyebrows meeting and nose somewhat hooked, full of friendliness; for now he appeared like a man, and now he had the face of an angel". Three of Paul's features, his small stature, hooked nose, and meeting eyebrows, appear in Suetonius's description of Augustus.

Keywords: Acts of Paul and Thecla; early christian paintings; Paul's physical appearance



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