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Political Correction

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Luke’s Tabitha (Acts 9:36-43), Virgil’s Dido, and Cleopatra

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In Acts 9:36-43, Tabitha’s name is both transliterated from Aramaic (Tabitha) and translated into Greek (Dorcas). Because both names mean “deer” and this episode follows Peter’s healing of Aeneas, Tabitha’s name can be read as an allusion to Virgil’s Dido, juxtaposing the expansion of the kingdom of God with that of Rome. Virgil’s Aeneid characterizes Dido as a deer and Aeneas as her hunter. Luke initiates the expansion of the kingdom of God by emphasizing its compassion for marginalized individuals (in contrast to Roman disregard). Whereas Rome leaves women dead in the wake of its progression, the agents of the kingdom of God bring women back to life.

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