Tag Archives: Physiognomy

Journal Review: The Character of the Lame Mane in ACTS 3-4


The Character Of The Lame Mane In Acts 3-4 by Michael C. Parsons

By: Prasha Maharjan

Physiognomy is the study of the relationship between physical and moral characteristics. This method basically assumes that as the character of the soul altered, the form of the body changed too, and vice versa. The disabilities and deformities in the lower body were associated with being weak-hearted, effeminate, and cowardly. Physiognomy was prevalent in the ancient days as proven by an extant treatise and the influence it had on the genres of ancient literature.  Writers portrayed their characters following this convention. This era, as the author terms it, was the period of “physiognomic consciousness,” that permeated the Greco-Roman world. An example he gives is of Homer’s characters that may have shaped the development of physiognomic canons.

The author Mikeal C. Parsons, explores the passages in the book of Acts to give us the cultural context as to why Luke was so keen in using specific zoological terms and bodily disorders in his stories. Given the above context and Luke’s account for the healing of the lame man, did Luke too conform to the physiognomic convention? Did the joyous expression of healing communicate to Luke’s audience that the lame man had simply become manlier?   Yes, but not the way the people then assumed. Thus, Parsons’ purpose in writing the article is to show that vipers, foxes, wolves, eunuchs, lame, etc., are physiognomic words that Luke used to attract his audience with that mindset but eventually only to undermine their “physiognomic consciousness.” Luke, in fact, emphasized the point that physical appearance was not directly connected to moral character and this assumption needed to be rejected in his “story of membership in the eschatological community of the Way.” Though, “Luke has reluctantly used physiognomy as a community ‘entrance test’ he subtly but forcefully opposes the conventions of physiognomy being applied in this way” (Parsons, 5). Continue reading Journal Review: The Character of the Lame Mane in ACTS 3-4

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