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Contested Spaces and Contested Meanings in the Acts of Thomas

In: Religion and Theology
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  • 1 Department of Religion Studies, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew Steet, Allentown, PA 18104wgruen@muhlenberg.edu
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Abstract

The agonistic character of the Apocryphal Acts literature has been well documented. The vast majority of these traditions revolve around the apostolic figure battling both demonic and human adversaries. The Acts of Thomas is no exception, showing the protagonist as Christian hero par-excellence, navigating both cosmological and theological adversaries, always emerging triumphant. Beyond the narration of these competitions themselves, however, the reader also witnesses Thomas navigating different places and spaces in his journeys. The dichotomies of deserted/inhabited, public/private, sacred/profane, domestic/communal are all encountered and their meanings adjudicated through the apostolic competitions. This paper will use spatiality theory to interrogate the use of these narrative topoi. In so doing, the role of space will not only be explored in these imagined places of the Acts of Thomas, but implications for the lived experience of the community will be investigated.

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