ABSTRACT

We have now seen something of the holy man’s relationship with his fellow men; but for some at least a good deal of their time must have been spent in actually reaching their eventual clients. For some holy men the nature of their vocation either meant or entailed a substantial amount of travel, and it has been and remains the task of modern scholars to recreate their likely modus operandi in the field.1 In some of the most conspicuous cases we have little more than inference to go on. The dramatic spread of Marcionism in the mid-second century implies relentless missionary activities on the part of Marcion or his most immediate followers, as far as Italy, Egypt, Arabia, Syria, Palestine, Cyprus and Persia. A useful clue as to the means of accomplishing much of this is offered by the orthodox Christian gibes against Marcion himself, as nautes or naukleros (‘sailor, sea-captain’): equipped with his own vessel a holy man could be assured of accomplishing a great deal more than on foot, as Jesus Christ himself would not have been slow to realise: not for nothing are the first disciples fishermen. If called from their nets, none the less they subsequently ensured that their master had the use of a boat. Faced with the prospect of getting Thomas to India, the author of the Acts of Thomas has Jesus Christ fraudu­ lently arranging for his apostle to be passed off as a slave who can be sold to a sea-going merchant about to sail for the sub-continent.2 Distance in the ancient world was most readily traversed by watertransport, given the nature of terrain and roads alike.