Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Religion & Culture / Religious Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Michel Desjardins

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


This thesis explores Classical irony in the Acts of the Apostles. Recent studies of irony in Luke-Acts do not focus much on the Classical concept, developing their argument rather on more recent understandings. Although building on this literature, this thesis is grounded in a Classical understanding of irony, applies this to Acts, and reflects on its significance for Luke-Acts as a whole. While contemporary writers often tend to understand irony as “incongruity between expectation and reality,” first century CE Greek speakers saw irony or eironeia as a person’s behaviour, specifically as “pretension” or posturing. This behaviour, always calculated, conveys a feeling or knowledge which does not match the conveyer’s “real” feeling or knowledge. Eironeia takes two broad forms. The first is transparent; this is pretension which one person wishes another to recognize as such, sometimes defined as “saying one thing and conveying another.” The second is opaque; this is pretension which one person does not wish another to recognize, but rather to assume is candid behaviour, and it aims to mislead. Acts rarely offers clear examples of eironeia. Opaque eironeia comes from the unreliable character Festus, who pretences respect and fairness to Paul, seeking to mislead him. Behaviour somewhat like opaque eironeia, and transparent eironeia, come fl'om the reliable character Paul, marking his preaching to Jews and to Gentiles. Behaviours somewhat like eironeia come from God, but should not be labelled as such. Eironeia and behaviours like it hint that Luke-Acts draws on New Comic theatre to help interpret its content. Taken together, the use of eironeia-like behaviours, of agnoia (“ignorance”), peripeteia (“reversal”), and other New Comic aspects, suggests that we must pay more attention to Luke’s knowledge of New Comedy.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season