The word “mimesis” in Mimesis Criticism transliterates the Greek word μίμησις, “imitation”; this methodology attempts to assess if later texts used earlier texts as models. It is difficult for modern readers to appreciate how extensive imitation was in antiquity, especially among Greeks and Romans. For purposes of illustration one might refer to the Institutio oratoria of M. Fabius Quintilianus, a contemporary of the Gospel authors (all translations of the Institutio oratoria are those by H. E. Butler in Loeb Classical Library).

Selecting Models.

In book 10 the famous bilingual rhetorician describes how teachers should equip future orators with literary models to inform their compositions. The goal is to so saturate students in exemplary texts that they will be able to imitate them without having to consult them physically (10.1.5). “For in everything which we teach examples are more effective even than the rules which are taught in the schools, so long as the student has reached a stage when he can appreciate such examples without the assistance of a teacher, and can rely on his own powers to imitate them” (10.1.15). By frequently rereading the models one can adapt them with more subtlety than by rote memorization (10.1.19). “Nor must we study it [the model] merely in parts, but must read through the whole work from cover to cover and then read it afresh” (10.1.20).

Crucial to literary mimesis is the selection of the best models. Here Homer stands alone, the poet “par excellence.”

"I shall, I think, be right in following the principle laid down by Aratus in the line, “With Jove let us begin,” and in beginning with Homer. He is like his own conception of Ocean, which he describes as the source of every stream and river [in Il. 21.196]; for he has given us a model and an inspiration for very department of eloquence.…What can be equal to the prayers which Priam addresses to Achilles when he comes to beg for the body of his son? Again, does he not transcend the limits of human genius in his choice of words, his reflections, figures, and the arrangement of his whole work, with the result that it requires a powerful mind, I will not say to emulate [or rival], for that is impossible, but even to imitate his excellences? But he has in truth outdistanced all that have come after him in every department of eloquence. (10.1.46 and 50–51, LCL slightly modified)"

After delineating which authors were most worthy of imitation, Quintilian describes mimesis in detail.

"There can be no doubt that in art no small portion of our task lies in imitation, since, although invention came first and is all-important, it is expedient to imitate whatever has been invented with success. And it is a universal rule of life that we should wish to copy what we approve in others. It is for this reason that boys copy the shapes of letters that they may learn to write, and that musicians take the voices of their teachers, painters the works of their predecessors, and peasants the principles of agriculture which have been proved in practice, as models for their imitation. In fact, we may note that the elementary study of every branch of learning is directed by reference to some definite standard that is placed before the learner. (10.2.1–2)"

Imitation, however, is only a starting point for a successful composition. Authors also must seek to improve their models by means of “invention, power, and competence” (10.2.12). One way to accomplish this is by borrowing admirable traits from several models, what one might call eclectic emulation. “We shall do well to keep a number of different excellences before our eyes, so that different qualities from different authors may impose themselves on our minds, to be adopted for use in the place that becomes them best” (10.2.26).

Quintilian’s instructions on the training of orators apply mutatis mutandis to authors of histories and fictions from Herodotus to Lucian. When the first-century B.C.E. rhetorician Philodemus asked, “Who would claim that the writing of prose is not reliant on the Homeric poems?” the answer he expected was “no one” (On Poetry 5.30.36–31.2).

Accomplished authors cited apposite lines, embedded allusions, and twisted characterizations or plots confident that their cleverer readers would relish recognizing their transformations.

Criteria for Identifying Literary Connections.

It is one thing to acknowledge the importance of mimesis in ancient literary composition, but quite another to identify it. The shores of New Testament scholarship are strewn with the wreckage of failed attempts to prove literary connections, and for this reason many interpreters have abandoned the attempt. Mimesis Criticism, however, provides criteria for identifying such imitations with the goal of minimizing the subjectivity of previous efforts. I have proposed six criteria for identifying dependence of one text on a written antecedent, what I call an “antetext.”

  • Accessibility pertains to the likelihood that the author of the later text had access to the putative model.
  • Analogy likewise pertains to the popularity of the target. It seeks to know if other authors imitated the same proposed mimetic model.
  • Density means that the more parallels one can posit between two texts, the stronger the case that they issue from a literary connection.
  • Order examines the relative sequencing of similarities in the two works. If parallels appear in the same order, the case strengthens for a genetic connection.
  • Distinction is anything unusual in both the targeted antetext and the proposed borrower that links the two into a special relationship. Often authors used significant names to flag the influence of the targeted text.
  • Interpretability assesses what, if anything, might be gained by viewing one text as a debtor to another. As often as not, ancient authors emulated their antecedents to rival them, whether in style, philosophical adequacy, persuasiveness, or religious perspective.

Mimesis Criticism Illustrated.

Although Mimesis Criticism is a relative newcomer to biblical scholarship, scholars long have noticed how later texts imitate earlier ones. Here I will give an example of Luke’s mimesis of two stories, one from Jewish Scriptures and one from the Odyssey.

Many scholars have noted striking similarities between Jesus’ raising a dead lad in Luke 7:11–17 and Elijah’s doing the same in 1 Kgs 17:9–24, a text that surely was available to the Evangelist (criterion 1; Luke actually cites this story in 4:25–26), and an analogous imitation appears in Mark’s narration of the raising of Jairus’s daughter in 5:35–43 (criterion 2). Furthermore, the similarities are dense, sequential, and distinctive (criterion 3, 4, and 5). Compare the following:

The most distinctive clue that Luke rewrote the story is the phrase “and he gave him to his mother [καὶ ἔδωκεν αὐτὸν τῇ μητρὶ αὐτοῦ],” which is identical in both tales. This phrase appears nowhere else in the Septuagint or the New Testament; it is a distinctive trait (criterion 5).

Luke’s narrative clearly improved his model (criterion 6, interpretability). In 1 Kings it was the widow who initiated the resuscitation by berating the prophet: “You came to my house to recall my sins and kill my son.” In Luke, Jesus himself initiated the resuscitation. Elijah accused God of injustice and a lack of compassion: “You have done wrong in killing her son.” Luke, however, does not blame God for the boy’s death and says that Jesus “had compassion” for the widow. Elijah could not raise the dead by his own powers but called on God to do so; Jesus himself raises the dead: “I say to you, arise!” According to 1 Kings only the widow responded to the resuscitation; in Luke “a large crowd” observed the event and acclaimed Jesus as a prophet. For Luke, Jesus was a prophet, but more than a prophet.

The second example of mimesis comes from the Book of Acts and the target for imitation comes not from the Bible but from Homer.

" 20:7 On the first day of the week, when we convened to break bread, Paul spoke to them, and because he intended to leave the next day, he prolonged his speech until midnight.8 There were plenty of lamps in the upper room where we were gathered.9 A certain young man named Eutychus was seated at the window and was carried off by a deep sleep, because of Paul’s speaking for so long. Carried off by sleep, he fell from the third story and was lifted up dead.10 Paul went down, lay upon him, embraced him, and said, “Don’t raise a ruckus! His soul is in him.” 11 He went back upstairs, broke bread, and once he had eaten and had spoken for a long time, until dawn, he left.12 Then they took the lad, alive, and were not a little relieved. (Acts 20:7–12)"

This peculiar story is Luke’s variation on the death of Elpenor in book 11 of the Odyssey. In order to return to his home in Ithaca, Odysseus had to consult with the soul of the blind seer Tiresias by conjuring it from the house of Hades. At dawn he summoned his men. Odysseus himself narrates what happened next.

There was a man, Elpenor, the youngest, not particularly

brave in battle or gifted in mind.

Apart from his companions in Circe’s sacred home

he sought fresh air and lay down to sleep, sodden with wine.

When he heard the din and roar of men on the move,

he jumped up at once. It escaped his mind

to climb back down on the long ladder,

and he fell down from the roof. His neck broke from

the spine, and his soul went down to the house of Hades. (10.552–560)

When Odysseus arrived at the edge of the world and called forth the souls of the dead, the first to meet him was that of Elpenor, who asked him to return to Circe’s island to care for his corpse. “Burn me in my armor, whatever I had, / and by the shore of the gray sea heap up a mound for me, / a memorial of an unlucky man” (11.74–76). Odysseus agreed and at the beginning of book 12 he describes the burial.

As soon as early Dawn appeared, rosy-fingered,

I sent comrades to the house of Circe

to bring the corpse, dead Elpenor.

Having felled logs at once, at the point where the land ran farthest into the sea

we burned him, grieving and shedding many tears. (12.8–12)

There can be no doubt that this famous story was available to Luke (criterion 1) or that it was a favorite target of imitation. Vergil, for example, has two imitations of Elpenor in the Aeneid (Palinurus and Misenus; criterion 2, analogous imitations). Similarities between this story and Luke’s Eutychus are remarkable.

The story of Eutychus is a happy alterative to Elpenor’s funeral in Od. 12.1–15. Elpenor was buried at dawn, Eutychus revived at dawn. Homer called the young soldier “unlucky,” the victim of an “evil doom of a daemon” (Od. 11.61, 76, and 80). The name Eutychus, however, means “lucky,” from εὐ, “good,” and τύχη, “fortune.” Surely it is no accident that the raising of Eutychus likewise takes place on the Troad, near where Elpenor spent nine years of his young life. Lucky from Troas is a Christian transform of unlucky Elpenor who fought at Troy. The parallels between Acts 20 and Od. 10–12 are too extensive, sequential, and distinctive to be accidental (criteria 3, 4, and 5).

At several points, this story demonstrates emulation (interpretability, criterion 6). Elpenor fell to his death because of a drunken stupor; Eutychus fell while listening to Paul preach. Odysseus was unaware of Elpenor’s plight; Paul knew of Eutychus’s death and had confidence that his soul had not left him. Elpenor died and his body was buried at dawn; Eutychus died, but at dawn the believers took him up alive. Eutychus truly was Lucky.

Objections to Mimesis Criticism.

Although many scholars are willing to acknowledge imitations of Jewish Scriptures in the Gospels and Acts, only a few have done so for imitations of classical Greek poetry, as in this comparison of Homer’s Elpenor and Luke’s Eutychus. For the most part, New Testament scholars have simply ignored the topic; those who have directly opposed imitations of Homer identify five perceived shortcomings:

  • (1) Mimesis Criticism when applied to classical Greek poetry slights the influence of Jewish Scriptures;
  • (2) it requires too much sophistication of the intended readers;
  • (3) it cannot explain why the Evangelists did not better notify the reader of this intertextual strategy or
  • (4) why they wanted to imitate Homer in the first place; and
  • (5) it ignores the failure of two thousand years of interpretation to recognize these points of connection. These are important objections, and each merits a serious response.

The first objection is this: the most apparent antetexts informing the authors of the Gospels and Acts come from Jewish Scriptures, not from Greek classics. This statement, of course, is correct, but it need not disallow imitations of Greek literature as well. Fragments survive of On the Jews by a Theodotus and On Jerusalem by Philo, dubbed Epicus, both of whom narrated biblical themes in dactylic hexameters (apud Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelica 917–20, 22–24, and 35–38). According to a medieval fragment, “Sosates, the Jewish Homer, flourished in Alexandria” between 142 and 51 B.C.E. (Shaye J.D. Cohen, “Sosates, the Jewish Homer,” HTR 74 [1981]: 191–96). M. Z. Kopidakis makes a compelling case that Josephus frequently imitated Homer when narrating Jewish history (Kopidakis, 1986).

The second objection faults Mimesis Criticism insofar as it “assumes a readership with an in-depth as well as extensive familiarity with the Homeric epics Ancient education was designed for the upper strata of the population,” which would exclude the likes of Mark and Luke (Sandnes, Challenge, 249). This objection fails in two respects. First, recent studies of Mark and Luke-Acts demonstrate their literary sophistication; they were no strangers to rhetorical education, and it is reasonable to assume the same for many of their readers. Second, access to Homer was not restricted to elites; even hoi polloi were conversant with narrative poetry.

Third, the Evangelists surely did advertise their debts to Greek poetry. For example, Mark’s Jesus performs miracles that far surpass anything in Q, such as exorcising an indomitable caveman, sending two thousand demon-infested swine into the sea, stilling the wind and sea, walking on water, multiplying bread and fish to feed thousands, and speaking with the dead. Nowhere in the lost Gospel will one find Jesus insisting that those who witness his miracles keep silent about them; nowhere will one find discoveries of his true identity as God’s Son; nowhere will one find feasts, criticisms of the disciples, murderous conspiracies, or Jesus predicting his death. All of this appears in the Homeric epics. Furthermore, Mark repeatedly used significant personal and place names to notify the reader of a classical Greek antetext. None of these significant names appears in the letters of Paul or Q.

The combination of these significant names and epic-like stories not attested in earlier Christian writings should have been sufficient to notify the reader of Mark’s revision of Homer. In other words, I agree with Sandnes that “a fundamental step in reading literary contests involving transvaluation is to recognize the body of texts involved” (Sandnes, The Gospel, 49). But I adamantly disagree with his claim that Mark did not sufficiently advertise his hypertextuality.

Evidence of Homeric influence is even clearer in Luke-Acts, where one again finds mimetically significant names. For example, one of the two disciples who recognized the risen Jesus on the road to Emmaus was named Cleopas (“All-fame”), a likely pointer to Eurycleia (“Renowned-far-and-wide”), Odysseus’s old nurse who recognized him by his scar. Luke gave Lydia of Thyatira (in the provice of Lydia) her name to link her with Maenads, women from Lydia devoted to Dionysus and who accompanied him to Thebes in Euripides’ Bacchae. As we have seen, Eutychus (“Lucky”) of Troas, who died after falling from the second-story window, surely is a contrast to “unfortunate Elpenor,” who died after falling from Circe’s roof at the end of Od. 10 and was buried in book 12. The name of the Jewish chief priest in Acts 19, Scevas (“Lefty” in Latin), evokes ambidextrous Asteropaeus whom Achilles slew in book 21 of the Iliad.

A fourth objection to proposed examples of mimesis of Greek classics complains that the Evangelists would have had insufficient reason to imitate them. Determining authorial intention always is dicey, but I suspect that Mark and Luke were conscious of Vergil’s Homeric imitations in the Aeneid and wished to present Jesus as a hero superior to Aeneas and other Greco-Roman heroes. Mark and Luke not only imitated many of the same episodes that caught Vergil’s mimetic eye, they were uninteresed in many of the episodes that Vergil was.

A fifth and final objection is the charge that, if Mark and Luke intended their readers to compare their narratives with Homer, they failed miserably insofar as no one for two thousand years has suspected such a connection. Actually Christian and pagan readers of the Gospels at an early date fought over similarities between Jesus and characters in Greek mythological literature.

Not long after the composition of Luke’s two-volume work, Justin Martyr wrote a defense of the Christian movement in which he complained that “even though we say things similar to the Greeks, we are hated” (1 Apol. 24:1; ca. 156 C.E.). For example, when Christians say that Jesus “is the first offspring of God” and “that he was crucified, died, and after rising ascended into heaven,” Justin insists they are “introducing nothing new beyond the sons of Zeus so called by you” (21:1). He then lists various sons of Zeus by mortal women: Hermes, Asclepius, Dionysus, Heracles, the Dioscuri (Castor and Polydeuces), and Perseus. Justin is quick to point out, however, that unlike these sons of Zeus, the conception of Jesus involved no sexual union of a god and a mortal (25:2 and 33).

“And if we say that he [Jesus] made healthy the lame, the crippled, the blind from birth, and raised the dead, we seem to speak things similar to those things performed by Asclepius” (22:6). Jesus’ teachings and those of his followers are similar to those of Greek philosophers, especially Socrates and Plato (5, 8, 44, and 59–60); his sufferings resemble those of Heracles; and his ascension into heaven finds analogies in the ascensions of Asclepius, Bellerophon, Ariadne, and even mortals. “What about your dead emperors, whom you always esteem as being rescued from death and set forth someone who swears to have seen the cremated Caesar [Augustus] ascending from the pyre into the sky?” (21:3).

Justin was not alone in recognizing affinities between Jesus and the gods and heroes of pagan antiquity. A north African Christian named Tertullian compared Jesus’ ascension in Acts to the ascension of Romulus. After his resurrection, Jesus “spent forty days in Galilee, a region of Judaea [sic!], teaching them what they should teach. Then he appointed them to the duty of preaching throughout the world, and, with a cloud cast about him, he was caught up to heaven—far more truly than any Romulus of yours” (Tertullian, Apol. 21.23 [LCL]). Another author similarly argued that his pagan readers had no right to mock the ascension of Jesus insofar as Romans had made the same claim for Romulus (Arnobius, Nat. 6.1.41).

Although Justin adduced such similarities between Christian teachings and Greco-Roman mythology to appeal for tolerance, he also viewed these same similarities as a liability insofar as someone could dismiss them merely as mythologies mimetic of pagan prototypes. He therefore went to great lengths to argue that “everybody says what we do because they imitate [ιονεμύομιμ] us” (1 Apol. 60:10).

His argument goes like this: Moses and the prophets, who lived long before the Greek poets, were inspired by “the prophetic Spirit” to predict things about the coming of the Messiah, so what Christians believe about Jesus actually is older than the Greek writings. Wicked demons then heard these predictions from Jewish writers and imitated them by creating myths about the gods. For example, the presumed prophecy of a birth of a child by a virgin in Isa 7:14 prompted the myth of Perseus’s birth to Danae. Psalm 19:5 lies behind the Heracles saga, and Isaiah’s predictions of a coming healer caused the demons to invent Asclepius (54:10).

"When they [the demons] heard through the prophets preaching about the coming of Christ…, they proposed many so-called sons of Zeus, supposing that they could cause people to think that the things pertaining to Christ were a catalogue of marvels similar to those uttered by the poets.…But even though they heard what was said by the prophets, they did not accurately understand them, but they imitated [ἐμιμήσαντο] in error the predictions about our Christ (54:2–4)."

In addition to the demons, Homer, Plato, and other Greek authors independently knew something of Jewish Scriptures (44 and 59–60). They sometimes thus espoused true teachings, especially concerning the immortality of the soul. Simply put, when the prophets and the poets disagreed, the poets erred; when they agreed the poets and their Muses had read their Moses. Christian depictions of Jesus thus resemble Greek depictions of the sons of Zeus not because the authors of the Gospels imitated classical Greek literature; au contraire, Greek writers imitated Jewish Scriptures.

Obviously Justin would not endorse Mimesis Criticism, but he provides invaluable evidence that early Christians recognized affinities between the Gospels and the writings of Greek poets and philosophers. Furthermore, his polemic suggests that he was aware that non-Christians attributed such affinities to Christian imitation; that is, one can imagine the likes of Porphyry standing Justin’s hypothesis on its head: Christians say “what we do because they imitate us.”

Not long after Justin a pagan intellectual named Celsus attacked depictions of Jesus in the Gospels and, among many other things, attributed Jesus’ birth by a virgin to imitations of Greek myths. In response, Origen acknowledged the similarities, as Justin had, but with a caveat.

"It is not out of place with respect to Greeks to refer as well to Greek stories, so that we seem not to be the only ones to refer to such an amazing story.…But these stories actually are myths that move people to invent such a notion about a man whom they consider as possessing wisdom and power greater than that of the masses and as having received the initial composition of his body from better and more divine seed, as though they suited those who were greater than merely human. (Cels. 1.37)"

There can be little doubt that Byzantine Christians heard in the Gospels echoes of Homer. The Homeric Centos, which survive in five significantly different versions, were written and rewritten from the fourth century until the twelfth, and possibly beyond. These poems are invaluable, for they provide dozens of examples of Byzantine intellectuals observing similarities between stories in Homer and the Gospels, similarities that often suggest what model the Evangelists originally had in mind. Of course, these poets likely would not have approved of Mimesis Critics attributing these similarities to Mark and Luke imitating Homer, but surely one cannot say that the Evangelists failed at alerting their readers about them.

Mimesis Criticism and Biblical Interpretation.

Mimesis Criticism offers New Testament scholars an important new tool with many applications. In the first place it expands the number of texts one should consider as potential models for the composition of the Gospels and Acts. My work suggests imitations not only of the Iliad and the Odyssey, but also several so-called Homeric Hymns, Euripides’ Bacchae and Madness of Heracles, and the Socratic dialogues of Plato and Xenophon. Contrast this with the list of citations and allusions to antetexts in the standard edition of the Greek New Testament (Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle), which contains about three thousand references to the Old Testament and three hundred from other Jewish sources. For all of pagan Greek literature, there exist five references, only two from poetry: one from Menander and one from Euripides. Homer, Hesiod, Aeschylus, and Sophocles are entirely absent, as are all Latin authors. This same silence obtains to virtually all introductions to the New Testament, many commentaries, and even books devoted to locating the New Testament in its ancient literary environment!

Fortunately, a growing number of classicists and New Testament scholars are proposing mimetic connections between the epics and the Gospels, although most of them presume that the Evangelists drew from the epics only indirectly through influence on Greek culture generally (e.g. Bruce Louden) or from Homeric tropes, not from imitations of specific episodes (e.g., Edward P. Dixon). What distinguishes my methodology, what I call Mimesis Criticism, is the reading of narratives in Mark and Luke-Acts as direct, extensive, advertised, and hermeneutically freighted imitations of the epics that invite a comparison of Jesus to the gods and heroes of Greek religion.

Mimesis Criticism also revolutionizes how one understands the role of the Evangelists. Unlike some Form Critics who view Mark and Luke less as authors and more as credulous editors of preexisting traditions and sources, Mimesis Critics view them as creative authors who often invent narratives without the benefit of antecedents other than biblical or classical antetexts. Accordingly, Mark and Luke appear no longer to be unsophisticated transcribers of early Christian folklore but clever mythmakers, who portray Jesus and the apostles as fictional alternatives to the heroes not only of the Bible but also of classical Greek literature.

[ See also GRECO-ROMAN CONTEXT; INNER-BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION; and INTERTEXTUALITY.]

Bibliography

  • Gilmour, Michael J. “Hints of Homer in Luke 16:19–31.” Did 10 (1999): 23–33. This brief article identifies several details in Luke's story of the rich man in hades that suggest literary dependence on Odysseus's visit to the netherworld in Od. 11.
  • Kaiser, Erich. “Odyssee-Szenen als Topoi.” Museum Helveticum 21 (1964): 109–36 and 197–224. In these two essays a classicist demonstrates how episodes in the Odyssey, especially those concerning Polyphemus and Circe, became popular targets for imitation in ancient literary education and composition.
  • Kopidakis, M. Z. “Ιώσηϕος ομηρίζων.” Hell 37 (1986): 3–25. In this important but seldom cited essay, the author identifies more than a dozen instances in which Josephus embellishes this works with clever imitations of the Homeric epics.
  • Louden, Bruce. Homer’s Odyssey and the Near East. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Although this book focuses on possible connections between the Odyssey and narratives in the Jewish Bible and other Near Eastern texts, it also devotes attention to the Gospels. Perhaps its most important contribution lies in its discussion of methodology and the dynamic interactions between archaic Greek civilizations and the East.
  • Lowe, N. J. The Classical Plot and the Invention of Western Narrative. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2000. This is a general and beautifully written discussion of the influence of classical plots in Western literature, occasionally including religious texts.
  • MacDonald, Dennis Ronald. Christianizing Homer: “The Odyssey,” Plato, and “The Acts of Andrew.” New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. This is one of the earliest attempts at linking Christian literature, in this case the apocryphal Acts of Andrew, and Homeric epic. It argues for an extensive and theologically significant use of mimesis to portray the apostle and his God as superior to Greek heroes and deities.
  • MacDonald, Dennis Ronald. Does the New Testament Imitate Homer? Four Cases from the Acts of the Apostles. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2003. This book takes a few examples of mimesis from the Acts of the Apostles and shows how Luke's imitations fit comfortably in a tradition of imitations of the same episodes from the Iliad.
  • MacDonald, Dennis Ronald. “The Ending of Luke and the Ending of the Odyssey.” In For a Later Generation: The Transformation of Tradition in Israel, Early Judaism and Early Christianity. Edited by Randal A. Argall, Beverly A. Bow, and Rodney A. Werline, pp. 161–68. Harrisburg, Penn.: Trinity Press International, 2000. This short article suggests that Jesus’ recognition by his wounds in the last chapter of the Gospel of Luke imitates Laertes’ recognition of Odysseus in the last book of the Odyssey.
  • MacDonald, Dennis Ronald. The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2000. This book probably is the best known and most controversial contribution to Mimesis Criticism. It argues for massive imitations of the Odyssey in the first half of Mark, especially events around the Sea of Galilee, and imitations of Hector’s death in Il. 22 for Jesus’ crucifixion.
  • MacDonald, Dennis Ronald. “Imitations of Greek Epic in the Gospels.” In The Historical Jesus in Context. Edited by Amy-Jill Levine, Dale C. Allison, and John Dominic Crossan, pp. 372–84. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006. This article is a brief introduction to the topic that compares the deaths of Hector and Jesus according to the Gospel of Mark.
  • MacDonald, Dennis Ronald. “My Turn: A Critique of Critics of ‘Mimesis Criticism.’ ” IACOP 53. Claremont: The Institute for Antiquity and Christianity, 2009. In this paper the author answers several critics of Mimesis Criticism, including Sandnes.
  • MacDonald, Dennis Ronald. “Paul’s Farewell to the Ephesian Elders and Hector’s Farewell to Andromache: A Strategic Imitation of Homer’s Iliad.” In Contextualizing Acts: Lukan Narrative and Greco-Roman Discourse. Edited by Todd Penner and Caroline Vander Stichele, pp. 189–203. Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2003. This paper argues for Luke’s imitation of Il. 6 in Acts 20.
  • MacDonald, Dennis Ronald. “Renowned Far and Wide: The Women Who Anointed Odysseus and Jesus.” In A Feminist Companion to Mark. Edited by Amy-Jill Levine, pp. 128–35. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001. This brief article argues that Mark imitated Eurycleia’s anointing of Odysseus when composing Jesus’ anointing by an unnamed woman in Bethany.
  • MacDonald, Dennis Ronald. “Secrecy and Recognitions in the Odyssey and Mark: Where Wrede Went Wrong.” In Ancient Fiction and Early Christian Narrative. Edited by Ronald F. Hock, J. Bradley Chance, and Judith Perkins, pp. 139–53. Atlanta, GA: Scholars, 1998. According to his article, Mark’s model for the so-called Messianic Secret was Homer’s use of Odysseus’s disguise as a beggar when he returned to Ithaca.
  • MacDonald, Dennis Ronald. “The Shipwrecks of Odysseus and Paul.” NTS 45 (1999): 88–107. This detailed article argues for an extensive and strategic imitation of Odysseus’s shipwreck in Od. 5 and Acts 27.
  • MacDonald, Dennis Ronald. “The Synoptic Problem and Literary Mimesis: The Case of the Frothing Demoniac.” In New Studies in the Synoptic Problem. Edited by Paul Foster, et al., pp. 509–21. BETL 239. Leuven, Netherlands: Peeters, 2010. This article argues that Mark imitated Euripides’ Madness of Heracles and that the retelling of the story in Matthew and Luke suggests that these Evangelists failed to see the imitation. Mimesis Criticism in this case supports Markan priority among the Synoptics and Luke’s knowledge of Q, Mark, and Matthew.
  • Sandnes, Karl Olav. The Challenge of Homer: School, Pagan Poets, and Early Christianity. LNTS 400. London: T&T Clark, 2009. In this book, Sandnes gives a valuable overview of how early Christians viewed pagan education: from categorical rejection to accommodation. Unfortunately, it ignores many examples of early Christian mimesis such as appear in Clement of Alexandria, Christian apocrypha, and the Byzantine homilies.
  • Sandnes, Karl Olav. The Gospel “According to Homer and Virgil”: Cento and Canon. NovTSup 138. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2011. This is a valuable and insightful discussion of the Homeric and Vergilian centos. Here he objects to the uses of the centos by Mimesis Critics.
  • Sandnes, Karl Olav. “Imitatio Homeri? An Appraisal of Dennis R. MacDonald’s ‘Mimesis Criticism.’ ” JBL 124 (2005): 715–32. In this article, Sandnes lays out directly most of his objections to Mimesis Criticism. For a response, see MacDonald, “My Turn.”
  • Schäfer, J. “Zur Funktion der Dionysosmysterien in der Apostelgeschichte: Eine intertextuelle Betrachtung der Berufungs- und Befreiungseräzhlungen in der Apostelgeschichte und der Bakchen des Euripides.” TZ 66 (2010): 199–222. This is a useful and daring new look at scenes in Acts about prison escapes as imitations of the Bacchae. Unfortunately, he does not pursue the influence of Euripides elsewhere in Luke-Acts.
  • Schembra, Rocco. Homerocentones. CCSG 62. Turnhout: Brepols, 2007. This is the authoritative edition of the rewritings of the Gospels by using Homeric verses.

Dennis R. MacDonald