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‘Neither Male nor Female’: The Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8.26–40*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 June 2014

Brittany E. Wilson*
Affiliation:
Duke University Divinity School, Duke Box 90968, Durham, NC 27708, United States. email: bwilson@div.duke.edu

Abstract

There is a widespread assumption in Acts' scholarship that the Ethiopian eunuch is an elite official who reflects Luke's larger interest in high-status individuals. Such an assumption, however, overlooks the inextricable connection between status, gender and ethnicity in the Greco-Roman world, and how the eunuch's repeated designation as ‘the eunuch’ would have affected his status in particular. This article thus problematises the depiction of the eunuch as an elite convert by contextualising the eunuch's identification as both a ‘eunuch’ (εὐνοῦχος) and an ‘Ethiopian’ (Αἰθίοψ). Overall, the eunuch is an ambiguous figure who embodies the boundary-crossing nature of the gospel itself.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

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Footnotes

*

I thank the following people who read various versions of this article and provided invaluable feedback: Beverly Roberts Gaventa, Ross Wagner, Jacqueline Lapsley, Meredith Riedel, Jason Sturdevant and Kavin Rowe. I also thank my research assistant Lynda Berg for her careful editorial work, as well as the participants of the Book of Acts session at the 2011 SBL in San Francisco, where I presented an earlier draft of this paper.

References

1 For a brief summary of masculinity studies in the field of New Testament, see Moore, S. D., ‘‘O Man, Who Art Thou … ?’ Masculinity Studies and New Testament Studies’, New Testament Masculinities (ed. Moore, S. D. and Anderson, J. C.; SemeiaSt 45; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2003) 122Google Scholar. For works that treat gender and masculinity in Acts, see esp. D'Angelo, M. R., ‘The ΑΝHΡ Question in Luke-Acts: Imperial Masculinity and the Deployment of Women in the Early Second Century’, A Feminist Companion to Luke (ed. Levine, A.-J. with Blickenstaff, M.; London: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002) 4469Google Scholar; Penner, T. and Stichele, C. V., ‘Gendering Violence: Patterns of Power and Constructs of Masculinity in the Acts of the Apostles’, A Feminist Companion to the Acts of the Apostles (ed. Levine, A.-J. with Blickenstaff, M.; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2004) 193209Google Scholar; Conway, C. M., Behold the Man: Jesus and Greco-Roman Masculinity (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008) 127–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

2 Of the references noted above, only D'Angelo mentions the Ethiopian eunuch and she does so in passing (‘ΑΝHΡ Question’, 46–7). For the few works that do attend to gender vis-à-vis the Ethiopian eunuch, see Spencer, F. S., ‘The Ethiopian Eunuch and His Bible: A Social-Science Analysis’, BTB 22 (1992) 155–65Google Scholar; Kartzow, M. B. and Moxnes, H., ‘Complex Identities: Ethnicity, Gender and Religion in the Story of the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:26–40)’, R&T 17 (2010) 184204Google Scholar. Burke, Sean D. has also written a number of recent pieces on the Ethiopian eunuch with respect to queer theory (‘Early Christian Drag: The Ethiopian Eunuch as a Queering Figure’, Reading Ideologies: Essays on the Bible and Interpretation in Honor of Mary Ann Tolbert (ed. Liew, T. B.; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2011) 288301Google Scholar; Queering Early Christian Discourse: The Ethiopian Eunuch’, Bible Trouble: Queer Reading at the Boundaries of Biblical Scholarship (ed. Hornsby, T. J. and Stone, K.; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2011) 175–89Google Scholar; Queering the Ethiopian Eunuch: Strategies of Ambiguity in Acts (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2013)Google Scholar). While the recent works of Kartzow and Moxnes and Burke discuss the eunuch with respect to gender and ethnicity and independently arrive at a number of similar conclusions, my article primarily provides an in-depth investigation of the primary source material and connects the eunuch's gender liminality to Luke's larger narrative and theological aims.

3 D'Angelo, for example, comments that the eunuch represents ‘a particularly elite example’ of a ‘right-thinking imperial outsider’ (‘ΑΝHΡ Question,’ 46–47).

4 On the eunuch's assumed ‘respectability’ among commentators, see e.g. Johnson, L. T., The Acts of the Apostles (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1992) 158Google Scholar; Fitzmyer, J. A., The Acts of the Apostles: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (AB 31; New York: Doubleday, 1998) 411–12Google Scholar; cf. Pervo, R. I., Acts: A Commentary (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2009) 222Google Scholar.

5 E.g. Luke 1.35, 49, 52; 5.17; 21.26; 22.69; 24.49; Acts 8.10; 10.38; 19.11.

6 In assessing these respective representations, I circumscribe Luke's early hearers to Greek-speaking Jews and Gentiles living in the Roman Empire around the time of the second century ce. For a discussion of Luke's audience and the intersection of Acts (and Luke) with constructions of gender in the ancient world, see Wilson, B. E., Unmanly Men: Refigurations of Masculinity in Luke-Acts (Oxford University Press, forthcoming)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

7 All translations are my own unless otherwise indicated.

8 Commentators sometimes draw this conclusion because the word εὐνοῦχος can denote officials without any reference to their physical state. In the LXX, for example, εὐνοῦχος typically translates the Hebrew סריס (which does not always explicitly reference castration), and δυνάστης translates סריס in Jer 34.19 (41.19 LXX). The married official Potiphar is also called a εὐνοῦχος in Gen 39.1 (LXX). See e.g. Peter-Contesse, R., ‘Was Potiphar a Eunuch? (Genesis 37.36; 39.1)’, BT 47 (1996) 142–6Google Scholar. However, the term εὐνοῦχος also references physical eunuchs in the LXX, both explicitly (Ecclus 20.4; 30.20) and implicitly (4 Kgdms 8.6; 9.32; 20.18; Esther 1.10, 12, 15; 2.3, 14, 15, 4.4, 5; Isa 39.7 (Aq.; Sm.; Th.); Jer 29.2 (36.2 LXX); 41.16 (48.16 LXX)). Furthermore, the LXX calls Potiphar a σπάδων in Gen 37.36, and later Jewish interpreters understood Potiphar to be a physical eunuch (e.g. Philo, Ios. 37, 58–60; Leg. 3.236; Somn. 2.184; ’Ag. Ber. 86.3.) See Tadmor, H., ‘Was the Biblical sārîs a Eunuch?’, Solving Riddles and Untying Knots: Biblical, Epigraphic, and Semitic Studies in Honor of Jonas C. Greenfield (ed. Zevit, Z., Gitin, S., Sokoloff, M.; Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1995) 317–25Google Scholar; Everhart, J., ‘Hidden Eunuchs of the Hebrew Bible’, Society of Biblical Literature 2002 Seminar Papers (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2002) 137–55Google Scholar; Burke, Queering the Ethiopian Eunuch, 19–38.

9 Spencer, for example, makes this point (‘Ethiopian Eunuch’, 156). See also Dinkler, E., ‘Philippus und der ΑΝΗΡ ΑΙΘΙΟΨ (Apg 8,26–40)’, Jesus und Paulus: Festschrift für Werner Georg Kümmel zum 70. Geburtstag (ed. Ellis, E. E. and Grässer, E.; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1975) 8595Google Scholar, esp. 92.

10 Spencer, ‘Ethiopian Eunuch’, 156. See also Philostratus, Vit. Apoll. 1.33 and the discussion below.

11 Luke's reliance on Isaiah in particular, as well as his praise of those who cannot procreate, including the eunuch (Acts 8.26–40) and the barren (Luke 23.29), suggests that he has in view scriptural references such as Isa 56.3–5 and Wis 3.13–14. For more on these allusions, see the discussion below.

12 See Burke, Queering the Ethiopian Eunuch, 33–8 and the discussion below.

13 Furthermore, if Luke wanted to clarify that this Ethiopian character was strictly an official, he could have repeated the term δυνάστης throughout. Spencer, F. S., The Portrait of Philip in Acts: A Study of Roles and Relations (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1992) 166–7Google Scholar.

14 See e.g. Dio Chrysostom, Invid. 36; Diogenes Laertius 4.43; Philo, Spec. 1.325; Somn. 2.184; Josephus, AJ 4.290–1; Herodotus 8.105–6; Burke, Queering the Ethiopian Eunuch, 95–121, esp. 107–10.

15 See e.g. Chariton, Chaer. 5.9; Esther 1.1 (LXX), 10, 12, 15, 21 (S1); 2.3, 14, 15, 21; 4.4, 5; 6.2, 14; 7.9.

16 E.g. Esther 2.3, 14, 15; 4.4, 5; Heliodorus, Aeth. 8.6; 9.25; Josephus, AJ 15.226; Philostratus, Vit. Apoll. 1.33; Terence, Eun. 365–70, 575, 650–5.

17 E.g. Apuleius, Met. 8.26–30; Dio Chrysostom, 4 Regn. 35–6; Epictetus, Diatr. 2.20.19–20; Juvenal, Sat. 6.366–78 (LCL 91, 2004); Lucian, [Asin.] 35–8; Martial 3.81, 6.2; Petronius, Sat. 23–4; Philostratus, Vit. Apoll. 1.33, 36; Vit. Soph. 8.489; Ecclus 20.4; Terence, Eun. 665.

18 Juvenal, Sat. 6.366–78 (LCL 91, 2004); Martial 3.81. Of the known procedures for castration, only one involved amputating the penis, with or without the testicles (castrati). Other procedures involved tying up the scrotum or crushing the testicles. Latin law distinguished between castrati and other types of eunuchs, including those who were eunuchs by birth or ‘nature’ (natura spadones). Kuefler, M., The Manly Eunuch: Masculinity, Gender Ambiguity, and Christian Ideology in Late Antiquity (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001) 33Google Scholar. See also Gardner, J. F., ‘Sexing a Roman: Imperfect Men in Roman Law’, When Men Were Men: Masculinity, Power and Identity in Classical Antiquity (ed. Foxhall, L. and Salmon, J.; London: Routledge, 1998) 136–52Google Scholar.

19 See e.g. Ammianus Marcellinus 18.4; Philostratus, Vit. Apoll. 6.42; Suetonius, Dom. 7; Martial 6.2. Castration was repeatedly prohibited in the Roman Empire from the time of Sulla (ca. 138–178 bce) onwards, and jurists' arguments for penalties against both forced and voluntary castration became increasingly authoritative until they had acquired the force of law by the fifth century. The degree to which such bans and legal opinions were enforced, however, is unclear. See Kuefler, Manly Eunuch, 32–3.

20 See Guyot, P., Eunuchen als Sklaven und Freigelassene in der griechisch-römischen Antike (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1980)Google Scholar. See also Hopkins, K., Conquerors and Slaves (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978) 172–96Google Scholar; Schlinkert, D., ‘Der Hofeunuch in der Spätantike: Ein gefährlicher Außenseiter?’, Hermes 122 (1994) 342–59Google Scholar; cf. Tougher, S., ‘In or Out? Origins of Court Eunuchs’, Eunuchs in Antiquity and Beyond (ed. Tougher, S.; Swansea: Classical Press of Wales, 2002) 143–59Google Scholar. On the perceived status of eunuchs as slaves, see also Burke, Queering the Ethiopian Eunuch, 113–15.

21 Apuleius, Met. 8.24–30; 9.8–10; Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Ant. rom. 2.19.1–5; Justinian, Digest 48.8.4–6; Juvenal, Sat. 6.511–16; Lucian, [Asin.] 35–8. See also Catullus 63; Lucian, Syr. d. 27 and passim; Lucretius 2.581–660; Ovid, Fast. 4.179–372; Met. 10.99–105; Beard, M., ‘The Roman and the Foreign: The Cult of the “Great Mother” in Imperial Rome’, Shamanism, History and the State (ed. Thomas, N. and Humphrey, C.; Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994) 164–90Google Scholar; Hales, S., ‘Looking for Eunuchs: The galli and Attis in Roman Art’, Eunuchs in Antiquity and Beyond (ed. Tougher, S.; Swansea: Classical Press of Wales, 2002) 87102Google Scholar; Roller, L. E., ‘The Ideology of the Eunuch Priest’, Gender and the Body in the Ancient Mediterranean (ed. Wyke, M.; Oxford: Blackwell, 1998) 118–35Google Scholar.

22 Philostratus says the following about Favorinus: ‘there were these three paradoxes in his life: though he was a Gaul he led the life of a Hellene; a eunuch, he had been tried for adultery; he had quarrelled with an emperor [Hadrian] and was still alive’ (Vit. soph. 8.489). See esp. Lucian, Demon. 12–13; Polemo, Physiogn. (Leiden) A20; Anon. Lat., Physiogn. 40; Gleason, M. W., Making Men: Sophists and Self-Presentation in Ancient Rome (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995Google Scholar) esp. 21–54. (Citations to physiognomical texts are from Swain, S., ed., Seeing the Face, Seeing the Soul: Polemon's Physiognomy from Classical Antiquity to Medieval Islam (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007).)Google Scholar

23 To trace the rise of eunuchs to political power in the Roman Empire, see Stevenson, W., ‘The Rise of Eunuchs in Greco-Roman Antiquity’, JHSex 5 (1995) 495511Google Scholar. See also Guyot, Eunuchen als Sklaven und Freigelassene, 130–80; Kuefler, Manly Eunuch, 61–9.

24 See esp. Dio Cassius 78.17; Ammianus Marcellinus 18.4; Claudius Mamertinus, Julian 19; Claudian, Against Eutropius, passim.

25 Around the year 214 ce, Sempronius Rufus became the first eunuch appointed to a high-ranking political position within the Roman Empire. See Dio Cassius 78.17; Stevenson, ‘Rise of Eunuchs’, esp. 506.

26 See e.g. Pliny, Nat. 7.39.129; Guyot, Eunuchen als Sklaven und Freigelassene, 121–9.

27 See Llewellyn-Jones, L., ‘Eunuchs and the Royal Harem in Achaemenid Persia (559–331 bc)’, Eunuchs in Antiquity and Beyond (ed. Tougher, S.; Swansea: Classical Press of Wales, 2002), 1949Google Scholar; Tougher, ‘In or Out?’, 143–59; Scholz, P. O., Eunuchs and Castrati: A Cultural History (trans. Broadwin, J. A. and Frisch, S. L.; Princeton: Markus Wiener, 2001)Google Scholar esp. 31–123.

28 The Greek novelist Chariton, for example, describes the eunuch Artaxates, who is the most trusted servant of the Persian King Artaxerxes, as ‘thinking like a eunuch, a slave, a barbarian. He did not know the spirit of a wellborn Greek …’ (Chaer. 6.4; translation from Reardon, B. P., ed., Collected Ancient Greek Novels (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989)Google Scholar) See also e.g. Dio Chrysostom, Regn. tyr. 5–6; Herodotus 8.105; Caesar, Bell. civ. 3.108, 112; Tacitus, Ann. 6.31.

29 See also Deus, 111; Ebr. 210–13; Ios. 37; 58–60; Leg. 3.236; Migr. 69.4; Spec. 3.40–2; Abusch, R., ‘Eunuchs and Gender Transformation: Philo's Exegesis of the Joseph Narrative’, Eunuchs in Antiquity and Beyond (ed. Tougher, S.; Swansea: Classical Press of Wales, 2002) 103–21Google Scholar.

30 See also m. Yebam. 8.1–2, 4–6.

31 Spencer, ‘Ethiopian Eunuch’, 159. See also D. Boyarin, who argues that Jewish authors were more concerned about gender hybridity (or the mixing of ‘God-given’ male and female categories) than their Greco-Roman counterparts (Are There Any Jews in “The History of Sexuality”?’, JHSex 5 (1995) 333–55Google Scholar, esp. 340–5).

32 Note, however, that the term εὐνοῦχος only appears in some recensions of the LXX's account of Ebedmelech (Jer 45.7–13; 46.15–18 (LXX)). Note also that eunuchs frequently serve foreign rulers or act as mediators between Israel and foreign peoples in scriptural texts. See Gen 37.36; 39.1; 40.2, 7; 4 Kgdms 8.6; 9.32; 20.18; Neh 1.11 (B S2); Esther 1.1 (LXX), 10, 12, 15, 21 (S1); 2.3, 14, 15, 21; 4.4, 5; 6.2, 14; 7.9; Isa 39.7 (Aq.; Sm.; Th.); Dan 1.3–21; Jdt 12.10–13.10; 14.11–19.

33 In addition to his story of the eunuch in Acts 8, Luke also blesses barren women, when Jesus says in Luke 23.29, ‘For behold, the days are coming when they will say, “Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never gave suck!”’

34 Later witnesses, presumably uncomfortable with Philip's silence and the eunuch's lack of a profession of faith, provide both Philip and the eunuch with additional lines at this juncture. See especially the Western text (D-Text), which provides Philip with more agency throughout the passage.

35 Early Christian authors themselves were familiar with such depictions since they often reflect the gendered rhetoric of their contemporaries concerning eunuchs. Even though the only two references to eunuchs in the New Testament are positive (Matt 19.12; Acts 8.26–40), the early Christian elite provided an ambivalent portrait of eunuchs, at times praising their so-called celibacy and at times impugning their unmanliness. For more on this phenomenon, see Kuefler, Manly Eunuch, esp. 245–82.

36 With respect to his ethnicity, the history of scholarship has typically focused on whether the eunuch is a Jew or a Gentile. For a recent survey of this literature, see Shauf, S., ‘Locating the Eunuch: Characterization and Narrative Context in Acts 8:26–40’, CBQ 71 (2009) 762–75Google Scholar. Studies that focus on the eunuch's Ethiopian identity include Martin, C. J., ‘A Chamberlain's Journey and the Challenge of Interpretation for Liberation’, Semeia 47 (1989) 105–35Google Scholar; Smith, A., ‘“Do You Understand What You Are Reading?” A Literary Critical Reading of the Ethiopian (Kushite) Episode (Acts 8:26–40)’, Journal of the Interdenominational Theological Center 22 (1994) 4870Google Scholar, esp. 63–70; reprinted as A Second Step in African Biblical Interpretation: A Generic Reading Analysis of Acts 8:26–40’, Reading from This Place: Social Location and Biblical Interpretation in the United States (ed. Segovia, F. F. and Tolbert, M. A.; 2 vols.; Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995)Google Scholar, i.213–28; Adamo, D. T., Africa and Africans in the New Testament (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2006) 8992Google Scholar. These studies rely largely on Snowden's, Frank M. influential, yet now dated, Blacks in Antiquity: Ethiopians in the Greco-Roman Experience (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1970)Google Scholar. For a more nuanced approach, see Byron, G. L., Symbolic Blackness and Ethnic Difference in Early Christian Literature (London: Routledge, 2002) 109–15Google Scholar.

37 On the belief that Ethiopia was the gateway to an entirely other ‘inhabited world’ populated by people known as Antipodes, see Romm, J. S., The Edges of the Earth in Ancient Thought: Geography, Exploration, and Fiction (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992Google Scholar) esp. 128–40, 149–56. On Ethiopia signifying a place that lay tantalisingly beyond Rome's grasp yet also within reach, see ibid., esp. 149–56. On Rome's border skirmishes and expeditions into Ethiopia, see Res gestae divi Aug. 26; Dio Cassius 54.5.4–6; Pliny, Nat. 6.35.181–2; 12.8.19; Seneca, Nat. 6.8.3–4; Strabo 17.1.54.

38 On the usage of the terms οἰκουμένη and orbis terrarum, see Nicolet, C., Space, Geography, and Politics in the Early Roman Empire (trans. Leclerc, H.; Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1991) 2956CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Romm, Edges of the Earth, 37–8; O. Michel, ‘οἰκουμένη’, TDNT v.157–9.

39 On this tendency, see Byron, Symbolic Blackness, esp. 29–51; Romm, Edges of the Earth, esp. 45–60.

40 See Diodorus Siculus 3.8.1–3; Pliny, Nat. 2.80.189–90; Strabo 15.1.24; Byron, Symbolic Blackness, esp. 39–41; Thompson, L. A., Romans and Blacks (London: Routledge, 1989) 104–9Google Scholar.

41 See Byron, Symbolic Blackness, esp. 1–13, 29–51; Thompson, Romans and Blacks, esp. 86–156.

42 Homer depicts the gods visiting the Ethiopians (Il. 1.423–4; 23.205–7; Od. 5.282–7). See also Diodorus Siculus 1.97.8–9; 3.2.1–10.6; Heliodorus, Aeth. 4.8, 12, 13; 8.1, 11; 9.1, 22–7; 10.1–41; Herodotus 3.17–25; Pausanias, Descr. 1.33.3–4; Philostratus, Vit. Apoll. 6.1–4; Pliny, Nat. 2.80.189; Pseudo-Callisthenes, Alexander Romance, 3.18–23; Byron, Symbolic Blackness, 32; Romm, Edges of the Earth, esp. 45–60; Thompson, Romans and Blacks, esp. 88–93.

43 See e.g. Diodorus Siculus 3.8.1–3; Philostratus, Vit. Apoll. 6.25; Pliny, Nat. 2.80.189–90; 5.8.43–6; 6.35.1–197; Strabo 17.2.1–3. See also Juvenal, Sat. 2.23; Petronius, Sat. 102; Plutarch, Mor. 12E; Byron, Symbolic Blackness, 32, 35–8; Thompson, Romans and Blacks, esp. 94–113.

44 Heliodorus, Aeth. 8.1–10.41; Pseudo-Callisthenes, Alexander Romance, 3.18–23.

45 In Pseudo-Callisthenes's Alexander Romance, the Candace writes the following to Alexander: ‘Do not think the worse of us for the colour of our skin. We are purer in soul than the whitest of your people’ (3.18). In Heliodorus's Ethiopian Story, the beautiful Greek protagonist is described as having ‘skin of gleaming white’ in contrast to her royal Ethiopian parents (esp. 4.8; 10.14–15; translation from Reardon, ed., Collected Ancient Greek Novels) Both novels are also set in the distant past around the sixth and fourth centuries bce. On the negative colour symbolism of dark skin among Greco-Roman authors, see Byron, Symbolic Blackness, 29–51; Thompson, Romans and Blacks, esp. 110–13.

46 See e.g. Diodorus Siculus 1.27.1–2; 2.21–3, 44–6; 3.52–5; 5.32.1–7; Hippocrates, Aer. 17–22; Herodotus 1.105; 2.35; 8.104–6; Strabo 3.4.18; 4.4.3, 6; 11.5.1–4, 11.8, 14.16; Lopez, D. C., Apostle to the Conquered: Reimagining Paul's Mission (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2008)Google Scholar esp. 103–8. See also Hall, E., Inventing the Barbarian: Greek Self-Definition through Tragedy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989)Google Scholar; Isaac, B., The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004)Google Scholar.

47 See Lopez, Apostle to the Conquered, 26–118, esp. 45–8; Ferris, I., Enemies of Rome: Barbarians through Roman Eyes (London: Sutton, 2000)Google Scholar esp. 55–60, 165–8.

48 For physiognomical accounts of the relationship between Ethiopians' outer somatic traits and their inner morality, see Adamantius, Physiogn. B31; Anon. Lat., Physiogn. 79; Aristotle, [Physiogn.] 6 (812a); Polemo, Physiogn. (Leiden) B33; Parsons, M. C., Body and Character in Luke-Acts: The Subversion of Physiognomy in Early Christianity (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006; repr. Waco: Baylor University Press, 2011) 123–41Google Scholar. For representations of Ethiopians as prostitutes and other sexualised figures, see Byron, Symbolic Blackness, esp. 38; Clarke, J., ‘Hypersexual Black Men in Roman Baths: Ideal Somatotypes and Apotropaic Magic’, Sexuality in Ancient Art: Near East, Egypt, Greece, and Italy (ed. Kampen, N. B.; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996) 184–98Google Scholar; Thompson, Romans and Blacks, esp. 161.

49 See George, M. M., ‘Race, Racism, and Status: Images of Black Slaves in the Roman Empire’, Frogs Around the Pond: Syllecta Classica 14 (2003) 161–85Google Scholar.

50 Wyke, M., The Roman Mistress: Ancient and Modern Representations (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002) 195243Google Scholar, esp. 213–14. See also Hall, Inventing the Barbarian, 201–10.

51 See esp. Dio Cassius 51.10–15; Horace, Carm. 1.37; Epod. 9.10–16; Plutarch, Ant. passim; Comp. Demetr. Ant. 3; Propertius 3.11.29–56; 4.6.57–8; Virgil, Aen. 8.685–728; Wyke, Roman Mistress, 195–243.

52 On ‘Candace’ (Κανδάκη in Greek) as a dynastic title, see Bion of Soli, Aethiopica 1; Pliny, Nat. 6.35.186; Török, L., The Kingdom of Kush: Handbook of the Napatan-Meroitic Civilization (Leiden: Brill, 1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar esp. 213–14, 452, 455–6. (Cf. Dio Cassius 54.5.4–5; Pseudo-Callisthenes, Alexander Romance, 3.18–23; Strabo 17.1.54.) On the Candaces' political and military leadership, see the aforementioned citations and Török, Kingdom of Kush, 448–87.

53 On the role sight and blindness play in Greco-Roman constructions of gender, see B. E. Wilson, ‘The Blinding of Paul and the Power of God: Masculinity, Sight, and Self-Control in Acts 9’, JBL 133 (2014) 367–86.

54 Cf. Jer 13.23; Goldenberg, D. M., The Curse of Ham: Race and Slavery in Early Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003) 4651Google Scholar.

55 See also Josephus' gendered critique of the Jewish Hasmonean queen Salome Alexandra (e.g., AJ 13.417, 430–432).

56 See also Green, E. A., ‘The Queen of Sheba: A Queen of Egypt and Ethiopia?’, JBQ 29 (2001) 151–5Google Scholar; Ullendorff, E., ‘Candace (Acts VIII.27) and the Queen of Sheba’, NTS 2 (1955–6) 53–6Google Scholar.

57 See also Goldenberg, Curse of Ham, 26–9.

58 See Ps 71.8–9 (LXX); Ezek 5.5; 38.12; Goldenberg, Curse of Ham, 17–25; Scott, J. M., ‘Luke's Geographical Horizon’, The Book of Acts in Its Graeco-Roman Setting (ed. Gill, D. W. J. and Gempf, C.; vol. ii of The Book of Acts in Its First Century Setting; ed. Winter, B. W.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994) 483544Google Scholar, esp. 492–522. The Greek terms Αἰθίοψ and Αἰθιοπία typically translate the Hebrew כושׁ (and cognates) except in the Table of Nations where the transliteration Χοῦς occurs (Gen 10.6, 7, 8; 1 Chron 1.8, 9, 10).

59 See 2 Kings 19.9 (4 Kgdms 19.9 LXX); 2 Chron 12.3; 14.9–15 (14.8–14 LXX); 16.8; Job 28.19; Ps 68.30–1 (67.31–2 LXX); 71.9 (LXX); Isa 18.1–2, 7; 20.3–6; 37.9; 43.3; 45.14; Jer 46.9 (26.9 LXX); Ezek 30.1–9; 38.4–5; Dan 11.43; Nah 3.9; Hab 3.7; Zeph 2.12. See also Josephus, AJ 2.243–53; 8.239–53; 292–4; 10.15–17.

60 See also Isa 56.3–8; 66.18. Cf. Ps 73.14 (LXX); 87.4 (86.4 LXX); Amos 9.7.

61 See Goldenberg, Curse of Ham, 60–7.

62 Note that Luke briefly mentions other individuals who are from Africa or who have dark skin, including Simon of Cyrene (Luke 23.26), Simeon who was called Niger (Acts 13.1), and Lucius of Cyrene (Acts 13.1). See also Acts 2.10; 18.24–8; 19.1; 21.37–9. However, note that many early Christian interpreters continue their coevals' gendered rhetoric of Ethiopians. See Brakke, D., ‘Ethiopian Demons: Male Sexuality, the Black-skinned Other, and the Monastic Self’, JHSex 10 (2001) 501–35Google Scholar; Byron, Symbolic Blackness, esp. 41–129; Goldenberg, Curse of Ham, 41–200.

63 The representation of the eunuch as a figure who lacks libido is consonant with the Lukan emphasis on sexual asceticism elsewhere in his two volumes. See e.g. Seim, T. K., ‘Children of the Resurrection: Perspectives on Angelic Asceticism in Luke-Acts’, Asceticism and the New Testament (ed. Vaage, L. E. and Wimbush, V. L.; New York: Routledge, 1999) 115–25Google Scholar. On the association of eunuchs with celibacy among later Christian authors, see Kuefler, Manly Eunuch, esp. 245–82. On the description of the Ethiopian eunuch's baptism as the ‘defeat of libido’, see Arator, De actibus Apostolorum 1.672–707.

64 On the eunuch as a representative convert, see Gaventa, B. R., From Darkness To Light: Aspects of Conversion in the New Testament (OBT 20; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986) 98107Google Scholar.

65 Many commentators situate the eunuch within the idealising tradition. See e.g. Pervo, Acts, 221–2; Gaventa, B. R., The Acts of the Apostles (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2003) 141–3Google Scholar; Smith, ‘“Do You Understand What You Are Reading?”’, esp. 63–70.

66 Luke, for example, does not depict the eunuch as being innocent, tall or militarily powerful. (Although see the note on the eunuch's chariot below.) Luke also does not set Philip's encounter with the eunuch in the distant past or suggest that the eunuch is faithful despite his dark skin. For a discussion of how the eunuch's wealth might have been heard, see below.

67 Even within the idealising tradition, eunuchs are still described in ambivalent terms. In Heliodorus' Ethiopian Story, for example, the eunuch Bagoas acts as an intermediary between the two Greek protagonists and the Persian satrap Oroondates (8.2–3, 12–17), but Bagoas speaks Greek poorly, appears to lack military prowess (since he is easily identified as a eunuch and not a soldier), and is counted among Oroondates's possessions (8.15, 17; 9.25; cf. 8.6; 10.22–3).

68 For variations of this phrase with respect to Ethiopia, see esp. Herodotus 3.25; Homer, Od. 1.22–3; Strabo 1.1.6; 17.2.1. In Luke 11.31, Luke describes the ‘queen of the South’ as coming from ‘the ends of the earth’ (ἐκ τῶν περάτων τῆς γῆς). In Acts 2.39, Luke also says that God's promise extends to all that are ‘far away’ (μακράν).

69 For surveys of what ‘the end of the earth’ in Acts 1.8 may signify in addition to Ethiopia, see B. L. Melbourne, ‘Acts 1:8 Re-examined: Is Acts 8 Its Fulfillment?’, JRT 57–8 (2001–5) 1–18; T. S. Moore, ‘“To the End of the Earth”: The Geographic and Ethnic Universalism of Acts 1:8 in Light of Isaianic Influence on Luke’, JETS 40 (1997) 389–99.

70 Luke also indicates that Ethiopia is ‘down south’ since Philip meets the Ethiopian eunuch on a road ‘towards the south’ (κατὰ μεσημβρίαν) that ‘goes down’ (καταβαίνουσαν) from Jerusalem to Gaza. Burke, however, is correct in noting the ambiguity of the phrase κατὰ μεσημβρίαν since it can also be translated as ‘at noon’ (e.g. ‘Queering Early Christian Discourse’, 183). See e.g. Deut 28.28–9; Isa 59.10; Acts 22.6; cf. Dan 8.4, 9.

71 For this usage of ἔρημος elsewhere in Acts, see 7.36, 38, 42, 44; 13.18; 21.38. Note also that Herodotus uses the word ἔρημος to denote the ‘empty space’ that characterises distant worlds (Herodotus 3.98; 4.17; 4.185; 5.9; Romm, Edges of the Earth, 35–6).

72 See also Pervo, Acts, 224.

73 Although the term Κανδάκη most likely functioned as a dynastic title, Luke appears to apply the term as a proper name in v. 27. Regardless, Κανδάκη often appears as either a title or a proper name in conjunction with a variety of Ethiopian queens. See Bion of Soli, Aethiopica 1; Pliny, Nat. 6.35.186; Dio Cassius 54.5.4–5; Pseudo-Callisthenes, Alexander Romance, 3.18–23; Strabo 17.1.54. For a comprehensive history of the ancient kingdom of Cush and the tradition of female succession, see Török, Kingdom of Kush, esp. 234–41, 255–62, 448–87.

74 Plutarch also associates eunuchs with vast wealth when he claims that it was the general practice to have eunuchs for ‘treasurers’ (γαζοϕύλακας) around the time of Alexander the Great (Demetr. 25.5). On the association of chariots with wealth, see e.g. Gen 41.42–3; 46.29; Dio Chrysostom, 1 Serv. lib. 20; Josephus, AJ 2.90. In addition to signifying wealth, however, the eunuch's chariot may also allude to Ethiopia's association with military might since the term ἅρμα (‘chariot’) can reference a war chariot (e.g. Exod 14.23, 26, 28; 15.19; 2 Chron 12.3; 14.8 (LXX); Jer 26.9 (LXX); Josephus, AJ 2.324; Rev 9.9; 1 Clem. 51.5). Indeed, one of the Candaces participated in the above-mentioned border skirmishes with Rome (e.g. Dio Cassius 54.5.4–6; Strabo 17.1.54). Thus while the eunuch himself is not depicted as being militarily powerful, aspects of his characterisation allude to Ethiopia's (so-called past) military might. Cf. Smith, ‘“Do You Understand What You Are Reading?”’, esp. 65–70.

75 See Kenney, E. J., ‘Books and Readers in the Roman World’, Cambridge History of Classical Literature, vol. ii.Latin Literature (ed. Kenney, E. J.; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 332CrossRefGoogle Scholar, esp. 15–22. The eunuch's ability to read and speak well may also point to a privileged, luxurious lifestyle.

76 On Luke's critique of wealth and luxury, see esp. Luke 6.24; 7.24–35; 12.13–21; 16.19–31; 18.18–30; 21.1–4; Acts 4.32–5.11; 8.18–24.

77 On the association of μαλακός and its cognates with softness, luxury and effeminacy, see esp. Aristotle, [Physiogn.] 3 (808a); Athenaeus, Deipn. 12.536C, 543B; Chariton, Chaer. 1.4; Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Ant. rom. 7.2.4; Epictetus, Diatr. 3.6.9; 4.1.25; Josephus, AJ 5.246; 10.194; BJ 7.338; Philo, Abr. 133–6; Plutarch, Mor. 136B; 748E–771E; Edwards, C., The Politics of Immorality in Ancient Rome (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993)CrossRefGoogle Scholar esp. 63–97; Martin, D. B., ‘Arsenokoitês and Malakos: Meanings and Consequences’, Sex and the Single Savior: Gender and Sexuality in Biblical Interpretation (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2006) 3750Google Scholar, esp. 43–7.

78 See Martin, ‘Arsenokoitês and Malakos’, 37–50.

79 E.g., Johnson, Acts of the Apostles, 158. See discussion above.

80 See A. Oepke, ‘ἀνήρ, ἀνδρίζομαι’, TDNT i.360–3.

81 For the former use of ἀνήρ, see e.g. Luke 11.32; Acts 1.11; 2.14, 22; 10.1; 13.16; 17.22. For the latter, see e.g. Luke 13.11; 15.8; 19.2; Acts 3.2; 5.1; 10.1; 13.7; 16.14; 18.24.

82 Jerome, for example, tries to resolve this ambiguity by emphasising the eunuch's designation as a ‘man’ (vir) (Epist. 53.5). He elsewhere identifies the Ethiopian eunuch as: ‘that eunuch (spado) of Queen Candace in the Acts of the Apostles, who on account of the vigour of his faith obtained the name of man (qui ob robur fidei viri nomen obtinuit)’ (Jov. 1.12). Cited in Kuefler, Manly Eunuch, 271, 388. See also Burke, who comments on the juxtaposition of the eunuch's descriptors (e.g. ‘Queering Early Christian Discourse’, 183–4).

83 Even though men have a more prominent role in Acts, Luke still demonstrates the inclusion of both men and women among followers of ‘the Way’ (e.g. Acts 1.14; 2.17–18; 5.1–11, 14; 8.3, 12; 9.2, 32–43; 17.4, 12, 34; 21.5). He also depicts the gospel being proclaimed to Jews and Gentiles (e.g. Acts 9.15; 18.6; 26.17–18) and people of varying social strata (e.g. Acts 4.13; 9.15; 13.7; 14.8–10; 16.14–15; 17.12; 25.23–26.32).

84 Spencer, ‘Ethiopian Eunuch’, 158.

85 For a chiastic analysis of Acts 8.26–40 in which the Isaiah citation functions as the fulcrum of the chiasm, see Spencer, Portrait of Philip in Acts, 131–5. For allusions to the Lukan Jesus as the Isaianic Suffering Servant, see Luke 22.37; 23.9 (cf. Acts 8.32). For the Lukan Jesus' identification as God's ‘servant’ (παῖς), see Acts 3.13, 26; 4.27, 30.

86 For a discussion of Jesus' transgression of ancient gender norms in particular, see Wilson, Unmanly Men (forthcoming).

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