The Life and Miracles of Thekla: A Literary Study

  Johnson, Scott Fitzgerald. 2006. The Life and Miracles of Thekla: A Literary Study. Hellenic Studies Series 13. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies.


[In this on-line version, the page-numbers of the printed version are indicated within braces (“{” and “}”). For example, “{69|70}” indicates where p. 69 of the printed version ends and p. 70 begins. These indications will be useful to readers who need to look up references made elsewhere to the printed version of this book.]

The extended epigraph printed on the previous pages comprises the pilgrim Egeria’s journal account of her journey to the shrine of Saint Thekla near Seleukeia (modern Silifke in southeastern Turkey). Her visit occurred in May of AD 384 on the way back to Constantinople from visiting Jerusalem and the Holy Land. Egeria’s journey was not unusual for her time and situation in life. A number of wealthy pilgrims from the West are known to have made such journeys from the fourth century onwards. [1] However, one unusual aspect of her account is this very visit to Thekla’s shrine in Seleukeia: she is the only pilgrim to have made such a journey and recorded it. The absence of any account besides Egeria’s is remarkable given that she describes such an impressive amount of activity at Thekla’s shrine.

What is this story and why is Egeria reading it at the shrine in Seleukeia? The “Acts” which Egeria names is probably the famous late second-century apocryphon called the Acts of Paul and Thekla (hereafter ATh), which details Thekla’s adventures with the apostle Paul and, in particular, her miraculous escape from two attempted martyrdoms. [3] At the beginning of that story, two hundred years earlier in its composition than Egeria’s visit, Thekla is described as a well born young woman from Iconium who is engaged to be married to a young man named Thamyris. One day, while sitting by the window, she hears the Apostle Paul’s voice wafting her way from the neighboring house. Paul is preaching “about abstinence and the resurrection.” Thekla is immediately struck with a desire to be near Paul and to “attend to his words.” On this basis she refuses to talk at all with her fiancé Thamyris, who subsequently figures out what has happened and drags Paul before the governor. The governor throws Paul into prison, where Thekla secretly goes and visits him at night, only to be discovered the next morning and accused of impropriety. This time both of them are dragged before the governor, with the result that Paul is expelled from the city and Thekla is condemned to be burnt on the pyre, to her furious mother’s delight. Once the fires are lit around her, however, God sends a miraculous torrent of rain which extinguishes the fire and allows Thekla to escape to Paul, who is mourning her death outside the city. From there they proceed to the city of Antioch (perhaps not the Syrian one) only to be accosted at the gates by a town councilor named Alexander. Alexander attempts to rape Thekla, and she tears his ceremonial cloak in the process. For this she is dragged again before a governor’s tribunal and she is condemned to be fed to wild beasts in the arena of Antioch. In the meantime, however, she is entrusted to a local dignitary, Queen Tryphaina, who admires her faith and asks her to pray for her dead daughter Falconilla. On the appointed day, Thekla is thrown to the wild beasts and in an act of desperation casts herself into a pool, baptizing herself in the process. Despite this apparent suicide, she miraculously survives unscathed. The governor ultimately releases her because Queen Tryphaina has fainted watching Thekla’s trials, and he and Alexander fear retribution from the emperor. Thekla leaves Antioch, having thus survived her second martyrdom, and she finds Paul in the city of Myra. {2|3} Paul approves her trials and sends her out to preach the Gospel. She then returns to her home city of Iconium and, finding her former fiancé dead, calls on her mother to believe in Christ. Without any further elaboration the story abruptly ends with the notice that Thekla spent the remainder of her life in Seleukeia.

Egeria’s detour to the shrine of Thekla in Seleukeia thus opens a new window on the importance of the ATh as a foundational text for Thekla’s cult in early Christianity. Without the entry in her pilgrimage account we would have very little idea, beyond Tertullian’s brief aspersions, that the ATh was so important before the fifth century. Furthermore, certain circumstantial details involving Thekla in the fourth century make more sense in this context. For instance, the writer Methodius has the personified Arete crown Thekla the {3|4} supreme virgin in his Symposium, written around 300. [8] Likewise, Gregory of Nazianzus retreated to Thekla’s shrine at Seleukeia following the death of his father in 374, just ten years earlier than Egeria’s visit. [9] And Gregory elsewhere points fleetingly to Thekla as a model for imitation by Christian women and lists her among the apostle martyrs. [10] Alongside Egeria’s pilgrimage account, Methodius’ and Gregory’s approving nods to Thekla bespeak a crucial role for the ATh—much more crucial, in fact, than allowed by Tertullian’s (and subsequently Jerome’s) dismissive appraisal of the text. [11] Surely one of the most dramatic witnesses to Thekla’s reputation in the fourth century is the secret, spiritual naming of Saint Macrina as “Thekla” in Gregory of Nyssa’s Life of Macrina (c. 380): Macrina’s mother is visited in a dream three times by a divine being who instructs her to name her child Thekla. As Gregory says, it was not meant to be his elder sister’s public name but rather a secret name that predicted the type of (ascetic) life that she would come to lead. [12]

After the fourth century, evidence of the importance of the ATh begins piling up in earnest. Stephen Davis has recently drawn attention to the significant material remains of her cult in Egypt—notably, pilgrim flasks (ampullae)—terracotta tokens which often depict Thekla in a posture of prayer (orans) and framed by two lions. [13] This image is, of course, a visual reference to the arena scene in Antioch, demonstrating a familiarity with the traditional legend {4|5} among this Egyptian concentration of Thekla devotees, perhaps women, who bought and carried the ampullae. [14] Similarly, pilgrimage to Thekla’s shrine in Seleukeia continued after Egeria, as evidenced by the fifth-century writer Theodoret of Cyrrhus, who says that two holy women of his own time, Marana and Cyra, made a pilgrimage there from Beroea (in Roman Syria). [15] Finally, in the late 470s the emperor Zeno, himself of Isaurian origins, is thought to have constructed at least one major church on the site. Evagrius Scholasticus, writing in the late sixth century, says that the emperor dedicated a “huge sanctuary (μέγιστον τέμενος) of outstanding beauty and magnificence” at Thekla’s shrine near Seleukeia, out of gratitude for a vision of the martyr and his subsequent victory over the usurper Basiliscus. [16] The excavations of the hilltop site suggests that this “huge sanctuary” may have included up to three churches, bringing the potential number of churches at the shrine to as many as five in the late fifth century. [17]

The LM’s singular vision of Thekla emerges most prominently at the very end of the Life. Thekla has come to Seleukeia, as in the ATh, and lives out the rest of her life there, “evangelizing, catechizing, baptizing, and enlisting many for Christ.” However, instead of dying at the end of her career, as the ATh reports, the Life says emphatically that she does not die:

After she had brought everyone to faith, especially through the miracles (διὰ τῶν θαυμάτων μάλιστα), did she die (ἐκοιμήθη)? Absolutely not! (οὐδαμῶς) Just as the most widespread and more sure tradition (ὁ πολὺς καὶ ἀληθέστερος λόγος) attests, she sunk down while alive (ἔδυ δὲ ζῶσα) and went under the earth (ὑπεισῆλθε τὴν γῆν)—the decision of God being that this earth would separate for her and be cleft from below (ὑπορραγῆναι), on the very spot where is fixed the divine and holy and liturgical table (ἱερά καὶ λειτουργικὴ τράπεζα), established in a circular peristyle, shining in silver. This is where she dispenses fountains of healings (πηγὰς ἰαμάτων) for every suffering and every sickness, her virginal grace pouring out healings (ἰάματα) there, as if from some rushing stream, upon those who ask and pray for them.

Life 28.5–14

Thekla’s death is rewritten into a “living” disappearance, after which she continues to work “the miracles” (τὰ θαύματα) which she worked beforehand “to bring everyone to faith.” This is the author’s vision for the LM: while Thekla’s apostolic career culminates in her arrival at Seleukeia, as in the ATh, her arrival and subsequent living disappearance into the ground of Seleukeia ushers in a new, boundless era during which “she dispenses fountains of healings” for the local inhabitants and the pilgrims at her shrine.

The working of these wonders post-disappearance in Seleukeia is the subject of the second half of the work, the Miracles. The author narrates forty-six of these miracles, most of which happen around the city of Seleukeia. It is somewhat misleading, however, for the author to have announced at the end of the Life that these miracles are healings. Many of them are, to be sure, but the slim majority (26 miracles) contain no mention of sickness or healing at all. They are displays of Thekla’s miraculous power in other modes, such as vindicating innocent victims of crimes or defending local cities from the pillaging of ubiquitous Isaurian brigands. The implicit argument of the Miracles is that Thekla is firmly in control of the region which she has claimed by disappearing into the very earth of the place. In that sense the Miracles could easily be labeled {7|8} a “patriographical” work: it rewrites and updates what has become by the fifth century a foundational legend, not just for Thekla, but for the city of Seleukeia.

One must be careful at this point. The reason the healing miracles are so dominant in the scholarship is because they are, from a cultural or anthropological standpoint, some of the most interesting stories in the LM. In particular, they show close parallels with modes of non-Christian healing in the centuries prior to them. Asclepius’ typical method of curing the sick in the ancient world required them to sleep in the god’s temple at night (a practice called “incubation”). [24] At night in the temple if you were successful you would receive a dream from the god, in which he either cures your illness immediately or gives you a prescription to carry out when you wake up. The former (and more ancient) mode of healing appears in the Miracles and, in fact, it proves to be the mode used in the most important miracle of the entire collection: in Mir. 12 the author himself is healed by the martyr. She appears to him sleeping in the church of her shrine and she fights off a swarm of wasps which is attacking him. In the morning he wakes to find that his hand has been healed of a very serious inflammation. The story is clearly symbolic or analogical, not quite as visceral as some of the healings done by Asclepius, but in its general outlines it retains the shape of a traditional, Asclepian incubation story. Thekla directly interacts with the illness in a nighttime dream occurring in the shrine. This type of miracle is thus significant for those who study the patterns of cultural exchange between Greco-Roman beliefs and practices and those of early Christianity. [25]

The Miracles follows up and confirms this argument at every turn. First, in the preface to the Miracles, the author claims that the miracle collection is a dossier of proof, not that she is an authentic healer (which is obvious), but that her apostolic legend—which he has just presented to the reader in elaborate detail and literary Greek—is true, historical, and trustworthy (Mir. preface 16–18). Second, the first four miracles describe Thekla’s triumphs over local pagan deities: Sarpedon, Athena, Aphrodite, and Zeus all fall before her conquering might, and she claims their territory and temples for herself, establishing a real, physical control over the region. Finally, the miracles of vengeance and protection, which comprise the majority of the Miracles as a whole, sit very comfortably alongside the healing stories that I have noted are so compelling in their own right. The author does not make any theoretical distinction, for example, between the restitution to Aulerios’ children of their stolen inheritance (Mir. 35) and the healing of Pausikakos’ blindness (Mir. 23). Thus, the image of Thekla as the guardian and tutelary spirit of Seleukeia is the matrix within which the healing miracles should be read. In claiming the LM as a product of late antique Christian devotion, which is of course right and proper, it is nevertheless important to interpret the healing aspect of Thekla within the internal argument of the work as a unity. I offer below a close reading of the text which can explain how the details fit together with the overarching literary argument that I have just been describing.

What has been left out of previous studies on the LM is the role of the Life in the organization of the whole. The Life has been ignored, I suggest, because of its apparently innocuous form. What does a literary paraphrase in Attic Greek have to do with the cult of Thekla in fifth-century Seleukeia? {9|10} I argue in Chapter One that the literary paraphrase serves, in fact, a very defined purpose in the author’s depiction of the cult. Its purpose is to bring the apostolic past into the late antique present, reiterating and claiming her foundation myth (with a few very significant changes) for the enterprise of publishing her famous miracles more widely. By connecting the contemporary cult to her apostolic narrative, the author of the LM is wisely cashing in on the cultural capital that the ATh had accrued over three centuries. He is speaking directly to educated devotees like Egeria a century earlier, who know and approve of Thekla prior to reading the text: he is expanding their expectations of who Thekla was and what she has become. Any cultural capital he accrues to himself is dependent on those expectations.

Still, why would one choose to attempt this audacious endeavor through a literary paraphrase, the most boring schoolroom exercise of all? As I show in Chapter Two, the literary paraphrase plays an important didactic role among educated Jews and Christians of the ancient world. True, it was a rhetorical exercise common to Roman schoolrooms, but Jewish and Christian biblical exegetes, in particular, adopted it as a standard mode of biblical interpretation and exposition: retelling the story is a way of explaining the story. Moreover, the paraphrase as a literary genre implies a certain given status of the text being paraphrased. Early Christian copyists and interpreters of biblical texts often manipulated important, especially canonical, texts for the very reason that they are important texts: the process of changing the text thus both reveals and confirms the authoritative status of the source text. But the ATh is not canonical and is even condemned by some authorities in the early church—surely it does not fall into this group? Indeed it does, since, as we have seen, late antique Christians devoted to Thekla took the ATh as a foundational text for her contemporary status: this appears true for Egeria as much as for the author of the LM. Therefore, the changes made to that foundational charter by the LM take on the role of exegesis, confirming its status and explaining its contemporary significance. To take up again the example cited above, by emphatically denying that Thekla dies at the end of the Life the author is reinterpreting the contemporary significance of the ATh: Thekla’s apostolic history should be (and is) claimed by the citizens of Seleukeia as their own apostolic imprimatur. In other words, on the basis of the LM Seleukeia is adopted into to the pantheon of apostolic landscapes. The city is not mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles or in Paul’s letters, but it has an apostolic role nonetheless. [27] The {10|11} paraphrase achieves, among other things, this status for the city and makes possible its expanded preeminence as the site of the Miracles.

If it is true that prior studies of the LM have tended to ignore these literary characteristics of the Life, it is fair to say also that the Miracles has consistently captured scholars’ imaginations. For instance, in his introduction to the text, Gilbert Dagron devotes most of his attention to the various groups of people (on the ground, as it were) whom the Miracles appears to describe more or less realistically. It is indicative of the attractiveness of the Miracles for this type of research that the longest and most comprehensive chapter in Dagron’s introduction is entitled “La société des miracles” (1978:109–139); by contrast, the chapter on “Langue, style, structure” is the shortest (152–162). To be fair, in its attention to detail Dagron’s interpretation of the work is more akin to my approach than not: the two studies are both attempting to take the LM seriously as an example of late antique writing. Still, I am much less confident than Dagron that the details of the LM can be easily mapped onto real people on the ground, not least because the miracle stories are so stylized and literary.

A reader might say in opposition that the paratactic structure is a naive way of writing down the actual miracles happening on site and that, conse- {11|12} quently, we do have an accurate record (within limits) of what the society of fifth-century Seleukeia looked like. In such an argument, it would matter less that Thekla’s character develops; more significant than Thekla herself are the named people, locals and pilgrims, in the individual miracle stories. This is certainly a possibility, but when the paratactic structure of the Miracles is examined in earnest there begin to emerge certain stylized similarities among both the locals and pilgrims. I highlight these similarities in my analysis of the Miracles in Chapter Three, and I propose a different model for reading the miracle collection as a whole. In my reading the goal is not to get beyond the author’s static characterization of Thekla but rather to see the individual stories as directly supporting that characterization, as well as reinforcing the author’s own opinions as they appear in the accounts.

Therefore, I would argue that parataxis as a literary mode is only naive on the surface. When considered as a literary form, it has a long history stretching back at least to Herodotus and it was taken up with vigor in the Hellenistic and Roman periods by writers in many different genres. In other words, paratactic writing has a distinguished pedigree extending throughout classical and late antique literature and has plenty of exponents in the LM’s own era. I examine this pedigree in detail in Chapter Four. A reader conscious of classical literary history would never readily dismiss this style as naive.

In addition, the author of the LM writes in complicated Greek that is miles away from the simplistic healing narratives one finds, for example, in the inscriptions at Asclepius’ healing shrine in Epidaurus. I also examine these texts in Chapter Four and suggest that the literary history of the paratactic {12|13} style provides a much more welcoming context for the Miracles than any healing literature from the ancient world. This, of course, reinforces my argument that the LM is not primarily about healing at all but about a specific image of the apostolic Thekla as the tutelary spirit of late antique Seleukeia.

Most of all, Thekla shows a unique interest in seeing the publication of her own miraculous activities come to pass. While the author of the LM is directly encouraged by Thekla on a number of occasions, only in Mir. 31 does she appear before him while he is awake—he has a vision (ὄψις) instead of a dream (ὄναρ). In this critical scene she helps him physically to write down the miracles that she has just been working. What is more, this epiphany is claimed as a miracle in its own right: even when helping him to write the Miracles she is working a miracle. The sense conveyed by Mir. 31 is that her thaumaturgical activities directly intersect with his collection in a very tangible way. She takes from his hand the notebook (τέτρας) that he used for transcribing the miracles and recites back to him what he had written, all the while smiling and indicating “by her gaze” (βλέμματι) that she is pleased with it. The author thus lets us into his process of composition, and even there Thekla is present.

Juxtaposed with this vision, however, is the fact that Thekla’s miracles remain innumerable, despite the correspondence indicated in Mir. 31. As the author says towards the end of the LM:

The collection (συλλογή) exceeds my ability, and I will not reach the end of its writing (συγγραφή), nor is my life long enough to be sufficient for so great and so infinite a font of miracles (ἀπείρῳ πλήθει θαυμάτων).

Mir. 44.16–19

The collection represented by the Miracles is necessarily indefinite, as similarly claimed by the writer of the Gospel of John: {13|14}


The Gospel of John like the Miracles is only proportionally related to the whole of what was really accomplished by the divine protagonist. In this sense the LM is as much about the future as it is about the apostolic past or the late antique present: not only is the archive open to reception and interpretation, it is also always possible for other stories to be added to the archive. What is to come, after the dissemination of his work, is therefore at the center of the author’s literary conception. A reader of this study might even go so far as to say that the invocation of Thekla in the LM’s epilogue, to promulgate and to ensure the positive reception of the LM, is also being fulfilled by the present study: Thekla’s haunting presence is at work among those who continue to find her life and miracles worth reading. {14|}


[ back ] 1. The first of these whose account survives is the Bordeaux Pilgrim in 333. Egeria’s is the second earliest detailed account from the period. For Egeria, see Maraval 2002, Wilkinson 1999, and Sivan 1988a, 1988b; and for the Bordeaux Pilgrim, see Elsner 2000. On pilgrimage to healing shrines in Byzantium, see Maraval 1985 and Talbot 2002a, 2002b.

[ back ] 2. The term “apotactites” is taken directly from Egeria’s Latin (aputactites), which is itself a direct borrowing of the Greek word ἀποτακτικαί and thus means “hermits”; in this case it is clear that the hermits are female since they are equated with “virgins” and under the direction of a female superior, Marthana.

[ back ] 3. The precise date of the ATh’s composition is unresolved but must be between the composition of the Acts of Peter (c. 180), to which it alludes, and Tertullian’s condemnation of the text c. 200. See Hennecke and Schneemelcher 1992:2.214–216 for all the ancient attestations to the work.

[ back ] 4. Ramsay 1893:375–428.

[ back ] 5. Tertullian knew Greek, of course, and could have read the ATh in its original language: see Barnes 1971:67–69. Tertullian is known to have written (now lost) works in Greek on the baptism of heretics, on shows and games, and on the veiling of virgins. Barnes argues for a Greek-speaking audience in Carthage for these works.

[ back ] 6. On Baptism 17 (ed. Refoulé and Drouzy 2002:90–91): “Quodsi quae Acta Pauli quae perperam scripta sunt—exemplum Theclae!—ad licentiam mulierum docendi tinguendique defendunt, sciant in Asia presbyterum qui eam scripturam construxit quasi titulo Pauli de suo cumulans convictum atque confessum id se amore Pauli fecisse loco decessisse. Quam enim fidei proximum videtur ut is docendi et tinguendi daret feminae potestatem qui nec discere quidem constanter mulieri permisit? ‘Taceant,’ inquit, ‘et domi viros suos consultant!’” (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:35). Tertullian is primarily correcting here a misreading of the ATh: Thekla does indeed baptize herself in an act of desperation, but this does not give Christian women the license to do it as a matter of course. However, Tertullian goes further and casts aspersions on the origins of this work. In his opinion, the priest in Asia Minor who authored it went too far and has rightly yielded his seat (loco decessisse). Note also that the authenticity of this passage has been doubted on the basis of textual problems in the manuscript record (MacKay 1986; see also Davis 2000).

[ back ] 7. Dagron posits a library at fourth-century Seleukeia where Egeria consulted the text. This is possible but it lacks any literary or archaeological evidence (cf. Dagron 1978:33).

[ back ] 8. Symposium 283–284, ed. Bonwetsch 1917:131; trans. Musurillo 1958:151. On the Symposium, see Brown 1988:183–188, Cameron 1991:177–178, and now Clark 2004:172–173.

[ back ] 9. On His Own Life 548–549 (PG 37.1067).

[ back ] 10. Oration 4.69, Against Julian (PG 35.589). On Thekla’s reputation in the fourth century, see Davis 2001:4–5. However, there are many more references to Thekla in the works of the Cappadocian Fathers than Davis cites. A more complete list can be found at Maraval 1971:146n2, though the latter was published before Dagron 1974 and still mistakenly names Basil of Seleukeia as the author of the Life and Miracles of Thekla (see below).

[ back ] 11. Jerome De Viris Illustribus (On Imminent Men) 7 (cf. Epistle 107.12). Origen also knew the ATh, though he (like Tertullian and Jerome) only refers to its generic name, the Acts of Paul (Πράξεις Παύλου; Acta Pauli), a larger text about Paul of which the ATh takes up the middle third. Unlike Tertullian and Jerome, however, Origen makes no mention of Thekla specifically: see Davis 2001:85–86. I have left to the side Athanasius of Alexandria’s (potential) use of the ATh because, while Stephen Davis has done a fine job of analyzing the treatise On Virginity (2001:87–103), the Athanasian authorship of that work is not conclusive: see the review in Johnson 2004a. Nevertheless, the conclusion of his analysis—that Thekla was “already actively embraced by [the On Virginity’s] audience” (89)—confirms the argument of this Introduction thus far. Likewise the pseudonymous treatise On Virginity which is included among the works of Basil of Caesarea (Amand and Moons 1953).

[ back ] 12. Gregory of Nyssa Life of Macrina 2.21–34, ed. Maraval 1971:144–149.

[ back ] 13. Davis 2001:113–126, 195–200 with Figures 7–12. Some of these flasks are very elaborate, including several of the different beasts mentioned in the ATh narrative of her martyrdom at Antioch (lions, bulls, and a bear).

[ back ] 14. Davis proposes in addition that the very popular cult of Saint Menas in Egypt appropriated part of the ATh for its own foundational legend (2001:135). This combination of Thekla and Menas in Egypt is exemplified by many of the pilgrim flasks which portray Thekla on one side and Menas on the other (Davis 2001:117–120 with Figures 7–12). Menas is said himself to have been martyred (by a governor) in Asia Minor, which provides a parallel narrative for the transmission of Thekla’s legend to Egypt (Davis 2001:121–122).

[ back ] 15. On the Syrian Monks 29.

[ back ] 16. Evagrius Scholasticus 3.8, trans. Michael Whitby 2000:142. Evagrius also says that Zeno adorned the sanctuary with “very many imperial dedications [marble? mosaics? inscriptions?], which are preserved even in our time,” suggesting that the shrine had not fallen into disrepair in the late sixth century, a hundred years after Zeno’s dedication. After Evagrius I have been able to find no references in Byzantium to contemporary devotion at the cult site. However, as in Egypt, Thekla’s cult traveled widely, and there is a Byzantine convent dedicated to Mar Takla at Maalula, fifty kilometers northeast of Damascus. Likewise, there was a shrine to Saint Tecla in Rome from around the seventh century, founded perhaps by duothelete Byzantine exiles in the wake of the Arab conquest of Syria (Cooper 1995). Interestingly, Thekla’s name is found today in the Roman Catholic prayers for the dying (Commendatio animae): see Hennig 1964.

[ back ] 17. For the archaeology of the hilltop site, called Hagia Thekla in some sources (modern Meriamlik), see now Hill 1996:209–234 with Figures 42–45 and Plates 98–99. Earlier studies of the site include Herzfeld and Guyer 1930:1–89, Hild et al. 1984:228–241 with Figures 19–22, and Hild and Hellenkemper 1990:441–443 with Plates 383–390.

[ back ] 18. On the closing date of the LM, see Dagron 1978:17–19, where the limiting factors are the mention of Porphyrios, bishop of Seleukeia from c. 468, and the absence of any mention of Zeno’s embellishment of the site c. 476. Dagron convincingly posits multiple redactions of the Miracles half (the Life having been written previously): 1) a first version with its conclusion at the awkward Mir. 44, completed after 444 but before 448; 2) a second version which included Mir. 12 as an addition, written between 448 and 468; and 3) a final version that attaches to the false conclusion of Mir. 44 two further miracles and an epilogue, written (as just mentioned) between 468 and Zeno’s building project c. 476. As Dagron notes, this redaction-history aligns neatly with the careers of four bishops of Seleukeia between 430 and 470—Dexianos, John, Basil, Porphyrios (1978:19).

[ back ] 19. Dagron 1974, 1978:13–15.

[ back ] 20. Throughout this study I use simply “author” or “writer” to stand in for the author’s name. I consider “Pseudo-Basil” unacceptable because it perpetuates a positive association between the LM and the bishop which, for the sake of reading the LM correctly, ought to be discontinued.

[ back ] 21. This was the subject of an unpublished paper presented at the Byzantine Studies Conference in 2002 (Johnson 2002a). The argument of that paper appears again, in a more nuanced form, in Chapter One below (esp. pp. 23–26, 38–40).

[ back ] 22. The author of the LM cannot be expected to know Tertullian’s On Baptism, since there is no indication that he read Latin or knows of any Latin authors. However, he was doubtless familiar with Gregory of Nazianzus’ approval of Thekla in the late fourth century and even at one point seems to quote from one of Gregory’s Trinitarian sermons during the Life (see pp. 32–35 below).

[ back ] 23. Cox Miller 1994:117.

[ back ] 24. For a brief account of ancient incubation see Edelstein and Edelstein 1998:2.145–158.

[ back ] 25. The practice of Christian incubation has continued into modern times at pilgrimage centers such as Lourdes and Santiago: see Gessler 1946.

[ back ] 26. The numerous Byzantine miracle collections beginning in the late sixth century are often solely devoted to healing miracles, such as that of Artemios (Crisafulli and Nesbitt 1997) and that of Cosmas and Damian (Deubner 1980 [1907]; Csepregi 2002). The Byzantine collections thus appear distinct from the LM in their literary aims and their lack of dependence on classical models. These collections deserve a study in their own right, but I am doubtful as to whether the LM ought to be read as part of their tradition. For an overview of the Byzantine collections, see Festugière 1971, Maraval 1985:17–18, Efthymiadis 1999, and Talbot 2002b, all of whom include the Miracles of Thekla. See also Appendix 3 below.

[ back ] 27. The irony is that it is Seleukeia and not Iconium which has a pilgrimage shrine to Thekla, since Iconium has a prominent role in the New Testament (Acts 13:51–14:6; 16:2; 1 Timothy 3:11). The trend in late antiquity, however, seems to be that the traditional site of the apostle-martyr’s death is more venerated than his or her birthplace (e.g. Paul in Rome, even though Tarsus held a claim on him; cf. Mir. 26.40–46). It is convenient, of course, when the site of martyrdom (like Rome) already plays a role in the New Testament: this is the very status the Life achieves for Seleukeia.

[ back ] 28. For a more complete definition of parataxis/paratactic, see pp. 114–116 below.

[ back ] 29. Of course, narrative saint’s Lives from late antiquity also exhibit a paratactic structure: the sixth-century Life of Theodore of Sykeon (Festugière 1970) or that of Nicholas of Sion (Ševčenko and Ševčenko 1984) could be cited as evidence of this style. Nevertheless, the Miracles of Thekla does not follow Thekla’s life chronologically, as in these later Lives, but presents a static picture based on the narrative paraphrase presented in the Life. For this reason, and because the later Lives are so clearly modeled on Gospel narrative, I would only group all of these texts together if their unique literary uses of the paratactic style could remain autonomous.

[ back ] 30. This argument concerning the author’s role in the Miracles is similar to one put forward recently by Derek Krueger (2004:79–92). I distinguish my analysis of the Miracles from Krueger’s in Chapters Three and Four below (esp. pp. 164–165 and 218–220).

[ back ] 31. See Dagron 1978 “index grec,” s.v. “ἐπιφοιτῶ.”

[ back ] 32. Trans. NRSV.