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The Christians Who Became JewsActs of the Apostles and Ethnicity in the Roman City$
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Christopher Stroup

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780300247893

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300247893.001.0001

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Collecting Ethnē in Aphrodisias and Acts 2:5–13

Collecting Ethnē in Aphrodisias and Acts 2:5–13

(p.41) Two Collecting Ethnē in Aphrodisias and Acts 2:5–13
The Christians Who Became Jews

Christopher Stroup

Yale University Press

This chapter focuses on the production of Jewish identity and difference in Acts 2:5–13. Acts 2:5–13 strategically combines multiple ways of being Jewish in a single passage, thereby emphasizing that Luke understood Jewish identity to be flexible. From Luke's perspective, Jewish identity could be inherited, or it could be achieved through proper ancestral customs as a proselyte. Comparing this passage with civic identity produced by the sculptures of ethnē collected in the Sebasteion (imperial temple complex) at Aphrodisias in Caria, the chapter further suggests that Acts 2:5–13 and the Sebasteion both “collect” ethnē in ways that leveraged Roman imperial rhetoric, religious imagery, and ethnic lists to produce identity in ways that were rhetorically useful for their respective contexts. By juxtaposing Acts 2:5–13 and the Sebasteion, it highlights how Roman-styled population lists “fix” ethnic identities—producing identity and marking difference—in order to legitimate the identity of contested populations.

Keywords:   Jewish identity, Acts of the Apostles, civic identity, ethnē, Sebasteion, Aphrodisias, Roman imperial rhetoric, religious imagery, ethnic identities, contested populations

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