• Hospitality, not Honors: Portraits and Patronage in the Acts of John

    Author(s):
    Travis Proctor (see profile)
    Date:
    2022
    Group(s):
    Ancient Greece & Rome, Christian Apocryphal Literature, Late Antiquity, Second Century Christianity
    Subject(s):
    Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles, Idols and images, Bible. Apocrypha
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    Acts of John, Patronage, Ephesus, Apocryphal acts, Christian Apocryphal Literature, Patronage discourse, Iconography, Apocrypha
    Permanent URL:
    https://doi.org/10.17613/wxyc-gy25
    Abstract:
    In this article, I examine how the apocryphal Acts of John depicts wealthy Christian converts as part of the “Christianization” of Ephesus. I note how the Acts of John uses its portrayal of leading citizens not only to critique, but to preserve and adapt prevailing expectations surrounding Greco-Roman cultic patronage. My analysis comprises two parts. In the first part, I discuss the ways in which the Acts of John undermines prevalent Greco-Roman practices of benefaction. I note that the Acts of John criticizes monetary offerings as part of cultic “exchanges,” and thus indirectly condemns the patronage of religious institutions by wealthy benefactors. Relatedly, the Acts of John’s portrait scene, most often analyzed for its witness to early Christian aniconism, challenges Greco-Roman patronage norms by questioning the propriety of dedicatory portraits. In the second part, I track the ways in which the Acts of John preserves and adapts prevailing modes of ancient benefaction. Specifically, the Acts of John positions domestic hospitality as the primary means by which wealthy converts ought to support the Christian mission. Taken together, my two-part examination establishes that the Acts of John both challenges and redirects prevailing practices of Greco-Roman patronage as part of a broader articulation of proper Christian piety.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    7 months ago
    License:
    Attribution
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