Baptismal exegesis in Arator's Historia Apostolica
The aim of this thesis is to examine the Historla Apostolica (AD 544) not as an example of 'biblical epic' nor as a literary paraphrase but as a commentary on The Acts of the Apostles, and in particular to signal Arator's concern to explain the text in terms of its baptismal significance. The opening chapter reviews previous approaches to the H.A. and is followed by a survey of Arator's interpretation and interpolation of baptismal material, showing both how those episodes In Acts which deal specifically with baptism are given extended exegetical attention, and how baptismal significance is frequently divined in passages which have no obvious baptismal connection. The central chapters examine in detail the episodes of the poem which are of most baptismal importance. Two deal with Arator's exegesis of explicitly baptismal situations: Simon Magus' failure to receive the Spirit is presented as being prefigured in the failure of the raven to return to the ark, a parallel also drawn by Augustine; the Ethiopian eunuch is presented in accordance with the Ethiopian’ exegesis first formulated by Orlgen. Four more chapters examine episodes which Arator deems of implicit baptismal significance: the ascension is interpreted In terms of the baptism and ascent' of the individual; the healing of the paralytic Is explained as the baptismal healing of the wounds of circumcision; Paul's speech at Antloch becomes an exposition of the typological significance of the crossing of the Red Sea; the name Aquila prompts a digression on the baptismal Implications of the rejuvenation of the eagle. The aim is not to discover indisputable sources for all of Arator's ideas, but rather to place the H.A. in its exegetical context, and to trace the development and popularity of baptismal symbolism in the first six centuries AD.