Miracles, Determination, and Loyalty: The Concept of Conversion in the Acts of John

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Since the 1933 publication of Arthur D. Nock’s Conversion, numerous scholars have proposed a number of ameliorations to Nock’s model of ancient conversion, the better to accommodate certain aspects of the ancient world. Such models need to be calibrated against how conversions are depicted in ancient narratives, in order to help us understand not only actual historical transitions from one religious or philosophical tradition to another, but also how ancient authors thought about such transitions. To that means, this paper uses three theoretical insights – present in the scholarships of Nock, Zeba A. Crook, and Ramsay MacMullen – to demonstrate that the implied author of the conversion narratives in the apocryphal Acts of John (19–57; 63–86) conceptualizes conversion to early Christianity as a deliberate decision, stimulated by miracles or miracle stories, and expressed in terms of loyalty to a divine patron.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCelebrating Arthur Darby Nock
Subtitle of host publicationChoice, Change, and Conversion
EditorsRobert Matthew Calhoun, James A. Kelhoffer, Clare K. Rothschild
Place of PublicationTübingen
PublisherMohr Siebeck
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-16-161001-1
ISBN (Print)978-3-16-161001-1, 978-3-16-161000-4
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2021
MoE publication typeA3 Part of a book or another research book

Publication series

NameWissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament
PublisherMohr Siebeck
ISSN (Print)0512-1604
ISSN (Electronic)2568-7476


  • Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles
  • Acts of John
  • ancient conversion
  • patronage
  • benefaction
  • Arthur D. Nock
  • Zeba A. Crook
  • Ramsay MacMullen
  • miracle stories


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