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The Portrayal of Paul's Outer Appearance in the Acts of Paul and Thecla. Re-Considering the Correspondence between Body and Personality in Ancient Literature

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image of Religion and Theology

This essay claims that Paul's description in Acts Paul Thecl. 3, if read against the background of Graeco-Roman physiognomics, i.e., the belief in the coherence between outer appearance and inner qualities of a person, is not derogative as assumed in older research but agreeable. The positive interpretation of Paul's outer appearance is corroborated by an analysis of the reactions he evokes in followers (Onesiphorus, Thecla) as well as opponents (Theoclia, Thamyris). It is demonstrated that Paul's physiognomy corresponds to his apostolic identity.

Affiliations: 1: Evangelisch-Theologische Fakultät, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, 55099 Mainz, Germany; Department of New Testament and Early Christian Studies, University of South Africa, P.O. Box 392, 0003 UNISA, Republic of South Africa


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