This blog, by Richard Fellows, discusses historical questions concerning Paul's letters, his co-workers, Acts, and chronology.

Friday, April 22, 2011

New evidence that Lucius/Luke wrote Acts

In Rom 16:21-23 Paul sends greetings to the Romans from 8 individuals, including Lucius (which is the full form of the name "Luke"). I have suggested before that they are listed in descending order of their prominence in the church, but I now think we can be more precise about what kind of prominence pertains here. Paul will have sent greetings from those who were known to many of the members of the church of Rome. The greeters were therefore those who, by traveling among the churches, had met believers who subsequently moved to Rome (Tertius may be an exception since he had developed a connection with the addressees simply by writing down the letter). Many (or all?) of those greeted in Rom 16:3-15 had moved to Rome as believers from elsewhere, and the recent death of Claudius in 54 may have allowed the return to Rome of those whom he had expelled. Prisca, Aquila, Andronicus, Junia, Epaenetus, and Rufus and his mother had all moved to Rome from elsewhere. There must have been many Christians with Paul in Corinth when he wrote Romans, but only those who had travelled among the churches would have been known to more than a few of the believers in Rome. Two points confirm that Rom 16:21-23 is not a list of those who happened to pass through Paul's room when he was dictating the letter, but is rather a list of those who had traveled.

Firstly, it is significant that no women are listed among the greeters. This is in contrast to Rom 15:1-15, which mentions 27 people, of which 10 are women. The absence of women in Rom 16:21-23 is explicable if only travelers are listed, since women did not travel (see here).

Secondly, many of those listed are known to have travelled. Timothy had travelled extensively with Paul. I have argued that Jason was from Thessalonika and was Aristarchus, who was Paul's travel companion (Acts 19:29; 20:4). Sosipater was Sopater, another traveller (Acts 20:4). Gaius was, I have argued, Stephanas, who had been to Ephesus on church business. Erastus was the Erastus who had travelled around the Aegean with Timothy (Acts 19:22).

This analysis shows that Lucius too must have travelled among the churches. Indeed, he is mentioned second only to Timothy, and his prominence in the list suggests that he had been a more prolific traveller than the others (Jason, Sosipater, Gaius, Erastus and Quartus). But how widely had he travelled? I suggest that a clue can be found in 2 Cor 8:18-19 where we read of a "brother" who
"is famous among all the churches for his proclaiming the good news; and not only that, but he has also been appointed by the churches to travel with us while we are administering this generous undertaking for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our goodwill"
This brother had been appointed to accompany Paul to Judea so he was almost certainly with Paul when Paul wrote Romans just before leaving for Judea. He was well known  in "all the churches" so he was presumably known to many who had moved to Rome. It is very likely, therefore, that he is one of those who sent greetings in Rom 16:21-23. He cannot have been Timothy, not least because Timothy was Titus. Therefore he was either Lucius or he was one of those mentioned after Lucius (Jason, Sosipater, etc.). Therefore Lucius was either the man who was famous among the churches, or he was even more prominent than him.

He must surely have been the author of Acts because:

1. It is unlikely that Acts would have failed to mention one who travelled among the churches so extensively.
2. The author of Acts would almost certainly have sent greetings to the church of Rome since he would have known many of them through his extensive travel, and he was with Paul in Corinth at the time that Romans was written since he planned to travel with Paul to Judea (Acts 20:2-5). Ro 16:21-23 contains a complete list of the prominent believers who were in Corinth at the time. See also my discussion here.
3. The name "Lucius" is the full form of the name "Luke", which the church fathers unanimously attach to Luke-Acts.

In Philemon 23-24 Paul sends greetings from Epaphras, Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke. Again there are no women among the greeters, which suggests that Paul is here sending greetings from those who knew Philemon from visiting his town. This is supported by the fact that Aristarchus frequently travelled on church business (Acts 19:29; 20:4; 27:2). Epaphras was also a church envoy if I am right to equate him with Ephaphroditus (see here). For what it is worth, the disputed letters also assume that Epaphras (Col 4:12), Mark (Col 4:10; 2 Tim 4:11), and Demas (2 Tim 4:10) were traveling co-workers of Paul.

I think we can be confident, therefore, that Luke was a traveling co-worker of Paul. This point tightens the argument for equating him with the Lucius of Rom 16:21 and the author of Acts.

For more on why the author of Acts = Luke = Lucius, see my earlier posts here, here and here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The prominence of women in the early church

I have argued before that the historical Paul treated men and women equally and that he has been misrepresented by copyists and by the disputed letters. See my posts here and here. But why, then, do Paul's letters mention far more men than women? I will argue here that it is largely because women were not able to travel independently of male relatives in the ancient world.

Paul's undisputed letters

Below are listed all the Christians mentioned in the undisputed letters of Paul. Women are given in red font. Prisca, Junia and the mother of Rufus had travelled, but had done so with their male relatives (Aquila, Andronicus and Rufus). Phoebe probably travelled with servants or male relatives since she was wealthy and was probably returning to Rome following the expulsion by Claudius. It can be seen that we know of no women who travelled independently of male members of their households. The role of church envoy was taken exclusively by men.

In Rom 16:21-23 Paul sends greetings from Tertius and 7 others. These 7 were probably people who, through travel, had come to know many of those who were currently in Rome. This explains why all 7 are men. Similarly, Philemon 23-24 is probably a list of those who had visited Philemon's town. In my next post I will discuss the implications for the identity of the author of Acts.

Those mentioned in non-traveling contexts and those who traveled with family members of the other sex: ~28 men, 14 women
Phoebe (Rom 16:1-2); Prisca and Aquila (Rom 16:3-4); Andronicus and Junia (Rom 16:7); Epaenetus, Mary, Ampliatus, Urbanus, Stachys, Apelles, Aristobulus, Herodion, Narcissus, TryphaenaTryphosaPersis, Rufus, his mother, Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, Philologus, Julia, Nereus, his sister, Olympas (Rom 16:1-15); Tertius (Rom 16:22); Crispus-Sosthenes (1 Cor 1:1,14); Gaius (1 Cor 1:14); Chloe (1 Cor 1:12); James (1 Cor 15:7); EuodiaSyntyche, and Clement (Phil 4:2-3); Philemon, Apphia, and Archippus (Philemon 1-2); Cephas and the Lord's brothers (1 Cor 9:5-6).

Other travelers: ~23 men
Paul; Titus (Gal 2:1); Apollos (1 Cor 1:12); Barnabas (1 Cor 9:5-6; Gal 2:1); Silvanus (2 Cor 1:19); Stephanas, Fortunatus, Achaicus (1 Cor 16:17); 2 anonymous brothers (2 Cor 8:18-23); An anonymous brother (2 Cor 12:18); Epaphroditus (Phil 2:25-30);  Onesimus (Philemon 10); Timothy, Lucius, Jason, Sosipater, Gaius, Erastus, Quartus (Rom 16:21-23); Epaphras, Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke (Philemon 23-24)

The same picture emerges when we repeat the exercise for Acts and the disputed Pauline letters: women did not travel (except Priscilla with her husband).


Those mentioned in non-traveling contexts and those who traveled with family members of the other sex
Theophilus (Acts 1:1); 
Certain women including Mary, mother of Jesus (Acts 1:14); 
Jesus' brothers (Acts 1:14); 
Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1); 
Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, Nicolaus (Acts 6:5); 
Simon (Acts 8:9); 
Ananias (Acts 9:10); Aeneas (Acts 10:32); 
Tabitha (Acts 10:36); 
Cornelius (Acts 10:1); 
Simon (Acts 10:6); 
Mary (Acts 12:12); 
Rhoda (Acts 12:13); 
James (Acts 12:17); 
Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius, Manaen, Paul (Acts 13:1); 
Bar-Jesus (Acts 13:6); 
Timothy's mother (Acts 16:1); 
Lydia (Acts 16:14); Jailer (Acts 16:23); Jason (Acts 17:5); Dionysius and Damaris (Acts 17:34); Priscilla and Aquila (Acts 18:2); Titius-Justus (Acts 18:7); Crispus-Sosthenes (Acts 18:8, 17); Eutychus (Acts 20:9); 
Four daughters of Philip (Acts 21:9); 
Mnason (Acts 21:16).

Other travelers
Peter, John, James, Andrew, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas of James (Acts 1:13); Joseph Barsabbas, Matthias (Acts 1:23); Agabus (Acts 11:27); John-Mark (Acts 12:12); Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:13); Judas-Barsabbas, Silas-Silvanus (Acts 15:22); Silas (Acts 15:40); Timothy (Acts 16:1); Apollos (Acts 18:24); Erastus (Acts 19:22); Gaius (Acts 19:29); Sopater, Secundus, Gaius, Tychicus, Trophimus(Acts 20:4).

Disputed letters attributed to Paul

Those mentioned in non-traveling contexts and those who traveled with family members of the other sex: 14 men, 5 women
Nympha (Col 4:15); Archippus (Col 4:17); Hymenaeus and Alexander (1 Tim 1:20); LoisEunice (2 Tim 1:5); Phygelus and Hermogenes (2 Tim 1:15); Hymenaeus and Philetus (2 Tim 2:17); Carpus (2 Tim 4:13); Onesiphorus (2 Tim 4:19); Prisca and Aquila (2 Tim 4:19); Trophimus (2 Tim 4:20); Eubulus, Pudens, Linus (2 Tim 4:21); Claudia (2 Tim 4:21).

Other travelers: 14 men
Tychicus (Eph 6:21; Col 4:7); Mark (Col 4:10); Aristarchus, Jesus called Justus (Col 4:11); Ephaphras (Col 4:12); Luke and Demas (Col 4:14); Demas and Crescens and Titus and Mark and Tychicus (2 Tim 4:9-12); Erastus (2 Tim 4:20); Artemas, Tychicus, Zenas and Apollos (Tit 2:12-13); Onesiphorus household (2 Tim 1:16).

Women and travel in the ancient world
It is difficult to find examples of women travelers in the ancient world. Travel was physically demanding and dangerous for women. This is illustrated by a boast of Ramses III in an inscription at Medinet Habu, "I caused the woman of Egypt to walk freely wheresoever she would unmolested by others upon the road." (Thanks to Jack Kilmon for pointing this out to me). There was more equality between the sexes in Egypt than in any other part of the ancient world, and safe travel from women was clearly not the norm, even there.

The history of the expansion of the church is inevitably the history of those who could travel. This goes a long way to explaining why we have far more men than women in Paul's letters and Acts. We have seen that, when those with exclusively traveling roles are excluded, about a third of those mentioned by Paul are women. This is a higher ratio than we find in other sources. Only 22% of Diaspora Jews known to us were female (Tal Ilan, Lexicon of Jewish Names in Late Antiquity Part III The Western Diaspora 330 BCE-650 CE, p61.). In the 6 volumes of the Lexicon of Greek Personal Names only 11% of persons are female.