Luke’s statement in Acts of "kick against the goads" was plagiarized from a Greek Myth

According to the author of Acts, the dead-but-resurrected Jesus said this to Paul on the road to Damascus:  “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.  It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”

Compare this to a statement by the Greek writer Euripides (who died in 406 BC) in his book, The Baccahae “I would control my rage and sacrifice to him if I were you, rather than kick against the goads.”


by Asher Norman, orthodox Jewish author in his book, Twenty-Six Reasons Why Jews Don’t Believe in Jesus“:

Paul seems to have borrowed the phrase “kick against the goads” from Euripides.  Significantly, the context of the stories in Acts and the Bacchae is essentially the same.  Each story contains an exchange between a persecuted man/god and his persecutor.  In Paul’s story the man/god Jesus rebuked Paul and in the Bacchae the man/god Dionysus rebuked Pentheus, the king of Thebes.  It therefore appears likely that Luke plagiarized Euripide’s story attributing Dionysus phrase “kick against the goads” to the dead Jesus.  This profoundly undermines the credibility of Paul’s alleged “epiphany” experience, which was the primary source of Paul’s claim to be an “apostle” of Jesus.

8 thoughts on “Luke’s statement in Acts of "kick against the goads" was plagiarized from a Greek Myth

  1. Gary, you know that the statement above is not included in modern English Bibles, right? There are a significant amount of textual variants and strong evidence to show that wording is not original.


  2. If the author of Acts were quoting Paul as saying “why do you kick against the goads” I wouldn't question this passage's authenticity since Paul was an educated, Greek-speaking man. The fact that he would use this term, originally found in a Greek myth, might be odd, but not inconceivable. However, the author of Acts is not quoting Paul having made this statement but the resurrected Jesus, Creator of Heaven and Earth, Ruler of the Universe!

    Are we really to believe that the All-Mighty Savior of the world is going to appear to Paul and quote ancient Greek mythology??


  3. The majority of papri, majuscule, and minuscule manuscripts support the Bible reading that does not include the “goads” comment. The earliest known evidence of this “goads” comment is seen in a majuscule manuscript called, “E.” It is an 8th century manuscript written in Greek and Latin (see Bruce Metzger and Bart Ehrman's book, “The Text of the New Testament,” p. 47). The text type of “E” appears to be a Byzantine text type is less valuable and less reliable than the Alexandrian and Western text types (see pp. 276-280 for Metzger and Ehrman's disussion on text types).

    Like you, I don't think the All-Mighty Savior of the world would appear and quote Greek mythology. Maybe he did, but based on the evidence of ancient Greek manuscripts that does not appear to be the case here.


  4. Very interesting information, Christopher. I will have to look into that. Maybe Bart Ehrman has something on it on his blog. If so, I will copy and paste a link.

    Thanks for the info.


  5. The concluding synopsis is totally unfounded. It is utterly absurd to say, “This profoundly undermines the credibility of Paul’s alleged “epiphany” experience, which was the primary source of Paul’s claim to be an “apostle” of Jesus.” Profoundly undermines the credibility…. really? What a stretch of persuasion that is. Do you not know how Jesus taught at all. Have you no knowledge of what you undertake to even start to understand? Jesus used everyday common things to make his points. A tree and it branches, a sower and his seed, walking to carry someone’s load a second mile. If “kicking against the goads” is a well known story, then use it to make your point. Don’t we all do that? Come on man, you’re going to have to do a whole lot better than that to have any credibility of your own.


    1. If you can demonstrate that “kicking against the goads”, a phase used by a Greek author writing 400 years before Jesus, was a common expression used by the average Galilean in the first century, then you have a point. Can you do that?


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