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How the Gospels Became HistoryJesus and Mediterranean Myths$
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M. D Litwa

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780300242638

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300242638.001.0001

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(p.187) Chapter Fourteen Ascent
How the Gospels Became History

M. David Litwa

Yale University Press

This chapter compares the cloud-borne ascent of Jesus in Luke with the similar ascent and deification of Romulus. Two strategies of increasing the realism of ascent stories were available to ancient writers: one could, like Cicero, argue for the historicality of bodily ascent because it occurred in a cultured era when history was faithfully recorded. Alternatively, one could rationalize the ascent by saying that only the soul or mind was translated. In either strategy, certain theological commitments—especially that the gods can bend reality—were factors shaping what ancients could and did believe.

Keywords:   Ascent (to heaven), Philo of Alexandria, Plutarch, Romulus, Moses, Cicero, Luke, gospel of, Clouds, Structures of plausibility

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