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Memory, narrative and identity in Early Christianity: from acts of the Apostles to the Apocryphal acts

Grant number: 13/14813-3
Support type:Regular Research Grants
Duration: October 01, 2013 - June 30, 2016
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Theology
Principal Investigator:Paulo Augusto de Souza Nogueira
Grantee:Paulo Augusto de Souza Nogueira
Home Institution: Escola de Comunicação, Educação e Humanidades. Universidade Metodista de São Paulo (UMESP). Instituto Metodista de Ensino Superior (IMS). São Bernardo do Campo , SP, Brazil

Abstract

Early Christianity originated from first century CE Judaism, out of which it inherited its characteristic of being a prophetical religious movement that fascinated both diaspora Jews and gentiles alike. Its expansion was swift, and by the beginning of the second century CE we already have Christian communities having diverse configurations documented all through the Mediterranean world. In face of this swift growth and of the plural configuration of those communities, anonymous authors starting in the first all through the third century CE redacted accounts of the origins of Christianity: its founding experiences, its leaders, their preaching and the founding of the first communities. These writings organize diverse sources that are often contradictory in nature through the usage of narrative schema from the Old Testament, and specially from the usage of narrative models of the Hellenistic literature. The most important of those are the models offered by Hellenistic adventure novels and also the aretalogical accounts of holy men and their activities. In these schema, the memories of the origins are constructed around an idealized past, but also around the identity communities project upon themselves. The Apostolic Acts, the Apocryphal Apostolic Acts and the Acts of the Martyrs present the actions and public presence primitive Christianity projected for society through idealized fictional narratives, likewise for the internal values that governed them. Our project's main goal is to analyze the construction of subjects and of identity, and also the idealizations and values articulated in the fictional narratives produced between the first and third centuries CE about the origins of Christianity. (AU)