Slides: Acts 18

Slide 1

Corinth (Acts18)

Near Athens

Capital of Achaia

Slide 2

Expulsion under Claudius (Acts 18:2)

Attested by Suetonius

- c. 41 or 49, prob 49

- Dio Cassius (3rd cent): couldn’t meet

- Maybe earlier, lesser restriction

Similar expulsion under Tiberius

40,000-50,000 Jews in Rome

- perhaps 5% of Rome

- Wouldn’t all leave

Slide 3

Aquila and Priscilla/Prisca

Paul uses formal Prisca and Silvanus

-       Lk uses informal Priscilla and Silas

4 of six NT ref’s mention her first:

-       Higher status (exceptions, but often husband slaveborn)

Roman names: common for Greek and Latin speaking Jews in Rome

-       Some: Aquila prob. freed member of gens Acillia in Rome (but from


Prisca maybe belonged to freeman gens Prisca

House churches standard

Slide 4

Economic base of A. and P.

Mobility: Pontus- Rome-Corinth-Ephesus-Rome: craftspeople and traders

-       Often migrants, lived by laws of host city; met together for business;

-       Foreigners of diff. groups met together and sometimes recognized as

-       A semiautonomous politeuma (some polit. Independence)

-       Patrons

Artisans- low urban occupation, but:

-       Independent

-       Provincials and Jews (not favorable status) but assimiliated


- wealthy lived near the Craneum

- significant class disparity

Slide 5

Some women artisans

-       More often: helped in selling

-       Husbands and wives sometimes formed business partnerships (sometimes with her money)

-       Partnership called societas

Slide 6

Why A. and P. and Paul in Corinth?

Prob. most significant Jewish community in Greece S. of Macedonia

Roman element prominent and dominant:

-       8 of 17 names in Latin (Crispus, Titius, Justus, Erastus; but Sosthenes is Greek)

Many Jews with Roman names, but not this percentage

1/3 named persons in Paul’s letters Roman

10x higher than expected among nonRomans

Slide 7

Manual labor: despised by philosophers, esp. elite

4 ways to earn wages:

-       fees;

-       patron;

-       begging (Cynics);

-       manual labor

. most despised: aristocratic ideology:

. exceptions like Stoics Cleanthes and Musonius Rufus (Stoic ideal of self-sufficiency)

Slide 8

Manual labor: praised in Jewish source

Shemaiah: “love labor” (ahav et-hamlakah, m. Ab. 1:10)

R. Gamaliel b. Judah ha-Nasi, “Study of Torah is good with the way of earth” (derek eretz), “for their labor causes sin to be forgotten” (m. Ab 2:2)

R. Eleazar ben Azariah: “If there is no Torah, there is no way of earth; if there is no way of earth, there is no Torah” (Ab 3:17)

Later rabbis warned against dependence on others

But: R. Nehunia ben Hakazah: If you take on the yoke of Torah, you’re freed from the yoke of Rome and from the way of earth (Ab. 3:5): later sources also mandate payment of teachers

Slide 9

Early Jewish sources despise some base crafts,

But some praiseworthy:

-       sandal makers,

-       bakers

-       carpenters

-       leatherworkers

-       scribes

Slide 10

Hard work of artisans

-       production mainly small scale, in homes and small shops

-       most businesses employed family members (inc. slaves) (largest businesses employed up to 100 slaves)

-       average 6-12 workers

Work day:

-       sunrise to sunset

-       many opportunities for conversation

-       some shops loud and dangerous (smiths and sculptors);

-       others, like leatherworkers and sandalmakers, quiet

-       Philliseus the shoemaker stitched while someone read aloud;

-       Some took naps

-       Sometimes people came in just to talk

Slide 11

Shops usually single rooms:

-       Did work there, stored supplies, displayed and sold wares

-       Family often slept upstairs or in mezzanine

Leatherworker had at least:

-       Table, stool, awls, knives, sharpening stones, and oil and blacking for treating leather (Hock)

Shops usually near agora (marketplace) (in Corinth near bema)


-       Economic bracket intermediate between minute upper class and massive lower classes

Slide 12

Learning Trades

Apprenticeship, usually within family or other families of same trade

Starting ages 10-13 (sometimes girls as well, in Egypt);

-       But could start at age 25 (one inscr.)

Rabbis: train sons in same trade

Saul prob. learned trade from father

Slide 13

Cloth workers:

-       Usually not citizens of Rome; nor of Tarsus, for which they raised protests in first cent. AD

Artisans despised by elite as “slavish”;

-       Cicero: no workshop benefits a free person;

-       Elite considered them incapable of virtue and uneducated

Slide 14

Tents important in Corinth

e.g., awnings for Isthmian games (April-May);

but also for theater, etc

linen industry big in Tarsus

-       Linen tabernacula used by merchants for market-stands and individuals as sunshades;

-       Tarsus’s tentmaking renowned through Med. (even appears translit.’d in Heb. In rabbis)

-       Cilician wool (goat’s hair) in Tarsus

-       Goat’s hair so prominent warm cloaks made called cilicium, imported to Italy from time of Aug.

-       Some: Paul’s father may have worked there (maybe for army)

Slide 15

But Paul prob. not weaver of tents from goat’s hair or linen

-       Required tools too large for travel

-       Paul very mobile, so prob. bag of tools: would make and repair tents and other leather products

In Corinth, those needing leatherworking:

-       Esp. civilians who traveled a lot (hence reaching travelers, merchants, etc.)

-       Of 17 Corinthians known by name in NT, 9 were on travels, prob. for commercial reasons

Prob. people of some means and status (ones most Judean Christians couldn’t reach)

Slide 16

Leatherworking (Ronald Hock)

-       2 tasks in leatherworking: cutting and sewing

-       would learn “how to cut the leather pieces so that their placement would take advantage of the natural strengths of the leather and thus best withstand strains and pulling”

-       also how to sew them together with basing stitch, seam stitch, or felling stitch (last two if seams needed to be waterproof)

-       after completing apprenticeship, might get his own tools

Slide 17

Religious milieu of marketplace

public statues in Corinth’s marketplace:

-       Poseidon, Apollo, Aphrodite, Hermes, and Zeus

Most sanctuaries in agora:

-       Ephesian Artemis: images of Dionysus; Athena in middle

-       Above agora, temple to Aug’s sister Octavia

Slide 18

Talking at Work

Working all day long, hence conversations:

-       E.g. stories about Socrates and others discussing politics and philosophy in cobbler’s shop

Culture of talk and gossip:

-       Leaning out windows to talk with neighbors,

-       In streets, customers or shopkeepers next door, drinking in taverns

-       Doing business lunches with coworkers at restaurant

Cynics engaged in intellectual discourse in such locations

Missionary preaching at work?

-       For long hours, see Acts 20:34; 28-30; 1 Thess 2:9; 1 Cor 4:12; 2 Cor 12:14

Slide 19

Trade groups, families: as guilds

Might control a whole street or section of a city

Thus Glass Street, Incense Street, Perfume Street; Jeweler’s Plaza; Cobbler’s Marketplace; Fishmongers Forum; etc.

“Where do you live?” Among barbers (inscr’s, gravestones, etc)

“everything emporium’s” (general store) did exist

-       But usually you knew which sections of town to go to to get particular merchandise

Friendly cooperation, common supplies- not cutthroat competition

Slide 20

Trade guilds

Mainly social bodies

-       Met once a month or so

-       Somewhat nicer meal and wine than usual

-       Or for birth of founder or patron or patron deity

-       Provided burial for all members

MacMullen: All assemblages (Butchers, Youths, etc)

“opened their meetings with a prayer to the deity they had inevitably chosen at the moment of their incorporation”

-       E.g. Silvanus for woodcutters

-       Bacchus for restaurant owners, etc.

Thus A. and P. excluded from leatherworkers guild

Happy to have another Jew stay with them

Slide 21

Living conditions

Tenements in Italy:

-       Wealthier on bottom

-       Less wealthy higher

-       Poorest in tiny rooms on top

-       Or small lofts above workshops

Slumlords with hit squads to take out troublesome tenets

Egypt: sometimes 20 people crowded into one room home;

-       Childhood mortality close to 50%; babies abandoned; people sometimes rented or owned quarter of a room

Slide 22

Synagogue in Corinth (Acts 18:4)

Inscription “Synagogue of the Hebrews” (but uncertain date)

Found near the agora

2d cent.: Trypho there

Slide 23

Acts 18:5

Silas and Timothy came, bringing word of Thess. Believers (1 Thess 3:6ff; then Paul wrote 1 Thess.)

Also gift from Philippi (2 Cor 11:8f; Phil 4:15)

Slide 24


Titius Justus

-       May= Gaius (Rom 16:23- familiar praenomen, rather than official narr. title Titius Justus)

-       Roman nomen and cognomen: probably Roman citizen

-       (perhaps from a Roman family settled in New Corinth under Julius Caesar)


-       average tricinium was 36 sq. meters- held 9

-       first class seating in triclinium

-       average atrium: with normal furniture, about 30-40 people

Named Corinthians plus families (in Acts and Paul):

-       about 50

-       surely multiple house- churches

-       except perhaps in Gaius’s “whole church” (Rom 16:23)

House: family- type atmosphere, but divisions

Slide 25

Acts 18:8:

-       Crispus: as leader of synagogue, probably well-to-do; often used their own means for upkeep of synagogue

Acts 18:9-10:

-       Biblical visions and dreams: esp. of God or angels

-       Pagan and often early Jewish, of deceased persons

-       “Don’t be afraid”: common in statements of assurance (Gen 50:21); including oracles

Acts 18:1:

-       18 months- hence Cor’s already have some of Paul’s teaching

-       breezy summers= currents of air met there

-       Isthmian games in April- May 31

Slide 26


Achaia: proconsul 27 BC-AD, then AD 44 onwards

Praetors- governors- consuls (fast track)

Gallio (Seneca’s brother)

-       Born in Cordova, but adopted by wealthy rhetorician

-       Changed name (orig. Marcus Annaus Novatus)

Known for his charm and with

Apparently sent in April of 51

-       Took up office July 1, AD 51

-       Paul prob. arrived late 49, early 50

-       Before July 52 Gallio became ill and didn’t finish term of office

Accuracy of Acts (A.N. Sherwin- White)

-       Official list of proconsuls in specific periods not available before archaeologists

-       Food shortage in AD 51: much unrest in Corinth at this time

Slide 27

Which bema?

E. end of Cor’s forum, overlooking lower terrace of Corinth’s forum (like Roman rostra)- in front of colonnaded shops nearly 500 ft long- largest tribunal in empire (1 Cor 6); built under Aug.

But some: it was used only for ceremonial and a few official matters; prob. a tribunal in admin. Building

Lawcourts: known to be loud, angry shouting on both sides

Last modified: Tuesday, April 16, 2019, 10:48 AM