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A Physical Description of Paul

  • Abraham J. Malherbe (a1)

When Paul is placed in his Greek context, it is generally his thought, vocabulary, and literary style that receive attention. This is to a degree at least also true when attention is given to the early church's interpretation of his letters. Greek influence can also be perceived in early Christian reflections on the physical appearance of Paul. Less well known to most students of early Christianity than the literary evidence are the artistic representations of Paul, but the curious literary portrait of Paul in the Acts of Paul and Thecla, which in some respects agrees with early Christian paintings, is well known. There, Onesiphorus sees Paul as “a man small of stature, with a bald head and crooked legs, in a good state of body, with eyebrows meeting and nose somewhat hooked, full of friendliness; for now he appeared like a man, and now he had the face of an angel.”

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Harvard Theological Review
  • ISSN: 0017-8160
  • EISSN: 1475-4517
  • URL: /core/journals/harvard-theological-review
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