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Does the New Testament Imitate Homer?Four Cases from the Acts of the Apostles$
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Dennis R. MacDonald

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780300097702

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300097702.001.0001

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Peter's Escape from Herod

Peter's Escape from Herod

(p.137) 14 Peter's Escape from Herod
Does the New Testament Imitate Homer?

Dennis R. MacDonald

Yale University Press

This chapter focuses on the part of the Acts of the Apostles where “King Herod” locked Peter in a prison, where, in the middle of the night, an “angel of the Lord” told him to leave, opened the doors of the prison, and apparently shed sleep over the guards so that the apostle could leave undetected. Only in Acts is Julius Agrippa I called Herod. The prison escape is sandwiched between his execution of James, John's brother, and his death as divine punishment for hubris. Acts 12:1–23 thus forms a literary unit bracketed by two passages on Herod Agrippa, both of which Luke probably received from tradition. The intervening verses concerning Peter, however, find no external attestation; even so, scholars routinely attribute them to a Judean legend because of alleged “local coloration.” As can be seen in this chapter, it is more likely that Luke himself created the narrative, modeling it after Iliad 24.

Keywords:   angel of the Lord, King Herod, Peter, Julius Agrippa, prison escape

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