Corinthian Scholarship (March 2011)

I stumbled upon a good number of Corinthian papers, presentations, and publications this month that cover topics from Isthmia, Kenchreai, Aphrodite and prostitute, and Paul’s ascent in 2 Cor. 12.

First, Corinthian archaeology and history:

Anne Pippin Burnett has a piece in GRBS 51 (2011) on Pindar and prostitution at Corinth: “Servants of Peitho: Pindar fr.122 S

Mosaics from Kenchreai are featured in the new bookShip Iconography in Mosaics: An aid to understanding ancient ships and their construction (2011).

Local presentations by Corinthian archaeologists include Jayni Reinhard, who lectured last week at Arizona State University on “Benefactions, Baths, and Boys: The Roman Bath at Isthmia,”  and Joseph Rife, who will be speaking soon at Purdue on his recent work at Roman Kenchreai

This is old news but I noted in the 2010 report of the Chicago Excavations at Isthmia that the volume on the isthmus conference held at the American School at Athens in 2007 was submitted last summer to the American School of Classical Studies at Athens for review.  Description of the volume from the Chicago website:

“A volume of seventeen essays entitled “’The Bridge of the untiring sea’: The Isthmus of Corinth from the Bronze Age to Late Antiquity” edited by E. R. Gebhard and T. E. Gregory has been submitted to the American School of Classical Studies in Athens for publication as a volume in theIsthmia series or as a Hesperia supplement. Included in the collection is the editio princeps of an Isthmian victor list found in Corinth and the publication of five marble statues from the Roman shrine of Palaimon. While addressing a variety of topics, all papers explore the links between the city of Corinth, the Sanctuary of Isthmian Poseidon, and the area of the Isthmus.”

The Chicago Excavations site also notes on the same page that the conference on the archaeology of the Corinthia held two years ago in Loutraki is being published by the German Archaeological Institute in Athens. I heard in the fall this was on its way, but I don’t see news of it on the website of the DAI.  Anyone know?

New Testament studies for the month include:

  • M. David Litwa’s “Paul’s Mosaic Ascent: An Interpretation of 2 Corinthians 12.7-9,” in Journal of New Testament Studies 57.2 (2011).  Abstract: “This essay offers a reading of 2 Cor 12.7–9 in light of a rabbinic story of Moses’ ascent to heaven (b. Šabb. 88b-89a). After an exploration of Moses in 2 Corinthians the author argues that vv. 7–9, like vv. 2–4, constitute an ascent report (vv. 2–4). This ascent report, it is maintained, is structurally parallel to Moses’ heavenly ascent in b. Šabb. 88b-89a. Early traditions of Moses’ ascent to heaven and dominance over angels suggest that Paul knew a form of the Mosaic ascent, and parodied it to highlight his weakness and paradoxical authority in vv. 7–9.”
  • Dustin Ellington, “Imitating Paul’s Relationship to the Gospel: 1 Corinthians 8.1-11.1,” in Journal for the Study of the New Testament 33.3 (2011).  Abstract: “To overcome past shortcomings in the interpretation of Paul’s exhortation ‘Imitate me, as I imitate Christ’ (1 Cor. 11.1), we must study the roles of Paul’s ‘I’ and Christ in the context of 1 Cor. 8.1—11.1. Christ died for the weak (8.11), and Paul’s renunciation of his apostolic rights follows this pattern. Paul’s self-portrayal reaches its climax when he says that he does all things for the sake of the gospel, in order to be συγκòıνωνòςς αυτòυ (9.23). This article proposes that the expression συγκòıνωνòςς αυτòυ contains more shades of meaning than scholars have previously allowed. It summarizes Paul’s aim to be the gospel’s partner in the salvation of others and to participate in the gospel’s pattern and power. Paul’s call to imitation exhorts the Corinthian believers to share in his relationship to the gospel, working with it for the salvation of others and allowing its pattern and power to shape their life together.”
  • Wayne Coppins, “To Eat or not to Eat Meat?  Conversion, Bodily Practice, and the Relationship between Formal Worship and Everyday Life in the Anthropology of Religion in 1 Corinthians 8:7,” in Biblical Theology Bulletin 41.2 (2011).  Abstract: “This article aims to contribute to the topic of conversion in the New Testament by drawing upon insights from the anthropology of religion. Taking up Rebecca Sachs Norris’s focus on embodied culture, and Simon Coleman’s and Peter Collins’s extension of Bourdieu’s concept of habitus, I attempt to bring Paul’s argument in 1 Corinthians 8:7 into sharper focus by reflecting theoretically on the ingrained associations of bodily practice, and the relationship between ritual worship and everyday life. In doing so, I also aim to add complexity to our overall picture of “the Pauline model of conversion.”
  • Corinth gets extensive treatment in Callewaert The World of Saint Paul (Ignatius: 2011) and Stephen Westerholm (ed.), The Blackwell Companion to Paul (Wiley-Blackwell: 2011)


A few Corinthiaka that have come through Google updates over the last couple of weeks:

  • The Corinth Canal needs urgent work (from Athens News)
  • The “Diolkos for 1500 Years” video will be featured this week at the 12th International Meeting of Archaeological Films.  See this link for a summary.  The Hellenic Foundation for Culture notes that the film won awards at the 5th International Film Festival in Cyprus (2009) and the International Meeting of Archaeological Film of the Mediterranean Area, Athens (2010).
  • Matthew Malcolm at Cryptotheology has had a couple of interesting posts on 1 Corinthians recently, including drinking the Lord’s cup (1 Cor. 11:13-26) as subversive action, and an interesting interpretation of 1 Corinthians 15:6-8 as a reference to James, the brother of John.   The latter evoked quite a lot of feedback.
  • I have added a video and links page to the diolkos part of the site, a section on Corinthian saints with Codratus and Company, and maps of the Corinthia, including a 1 to 50k map.

Digital Isthmia

A couple of slick new digital resources caught my attention this week for the pan-Hellenic sanctuary site of Isthmia.

I just noticed the total makeover of the University of Chicago’s website for the Temple of Poseidon and the Rachi settlement.  The content is mainly the same as the old website but the new form of the website via wordpress has made the information easier to navigate.  There are annual reports, a list of major publications, maps of the site, and digital reconstructions of the temple that will be very useful for teaching purposes.  One wonders whether there will also be a blog component.

I also noticed that Julie Appley’s virtual reconstruction of the Roman Bath at Isthmia is available via Ohio State’s Advanced Computing Center For the Arts and Designs.  Hit the ‘play’ button and get a tour of the bath.  I remember Julie working on this about a decade ago when I was a young grad student at OSU.  She did this digital reconstruction of the Roman Bath as an M.A. thesis making use of the expertise of Timothy Gregory, Fikret Yegül, and Jayni Reinhard, among others.  At Julie’s website, she has made available the ingredients of the reconstruction, including 3D images and a floor plan of the bath.

With  OSU’s comprehensive website on the Roman Bath, these digital resources provide a lot of useful information on the American excavations at Isthmia over the last half century.

Maps of the Corinthia

Maps of the Corinthia are surprisingly rare via the internet, let alone maps of the ancient Corinthia. A google image search on “Korinthia” or “Corinthia” turns up two dozen very coarse road maps of the northeastern Peloponnese mainly produced or posted by tourist agencies.

I have added a new section of this website, Maps of the Corinthia, where I have posted some higher resolution maps of the Isthmus and Corinthia, the course of the diolkos, the Eastern Korinthia Survey, and a gazetteer of archaeological sites.  This area will grow as I continue the digital work and if you would like to donate anything to the cause, I’d be glad to post it there.  You are free to use these maps for the purposes of education and scholarly presentation, but not publication except by request.

I have produced the maps posted on that page, but have made use of some of the GIS data entered as part of the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey (1998-2002).  Richard Rothaus, especially, and his Archaeological Computing Laboratory at St. Cloud State University, conducted an enormous amount of work in the late 1990s in digitizing the Eastern Corinthia from 1:5,000 maps.  They did it all manually via digitizing tablets (tracing the physical map itself), not via the heads-up digitizing (tracing an image on the computer screen) we use today.

The Archaeological Computing Laboratory completed a ginormous labor of GIS: faults, streams, boundaries, settlements, topo lines, survey units, etc.. The elevation data alone is impressive: some 8,426 separate contour lines, and these are 2-meter contour lines, each requiring hundreds of clicks of the mouse.

To show you one example, the following image displays the Eastern Corinthia with a dark mass of lines, the aggregate of the 2 meter contours.  The red line follows one reconstruction (Salmon 1984) of the boundary of the classical Corinthia.

If we zoom in to the mountainous SE Corinthia, you can get a sense of the detail:

And the detail….

8,426 lines. Since my main project is the Isthmus, consider the problem I encounter with the following image, which shows the archaeological sites of the Corinthia against its high resolution topographic background.

Note where those topo lines stop.  I am currently working on adding at least the topo data (20 m contours) from the other side of the Isthmus.  But in the interest of time, I’ll be working from maps of larger scale, 1 to 50:000 rather than the 1:5000s.

Watch for updates and maps as I make progress on this.

St. Paul’s Corinth (A Music Video)

I think Matt Malcolm may be the first to put together a music video on Corinth of Paul’s day.  As he notes in this blog,

I’ve just put together a short video, touching on a few highlights of 1 Corinthians, as illuminated by ancient locations and literature. It even includes a slightly saucy section, so be warned!

The video includes some nice shots from Acrocorinth and of the excavated urban center, but also incorporates images of sites and artifacts from Isthmia, Athens, and Nemea to contextualize problems in 1 Corinthians.  Nice work.

My recommendation for a Part 2: some footage of the economic bases of some of those divisions from the broader landscape: images of the canal, diolkos, and isthmus;  the bustling harbors; and the rural fields.

St. Kodratos and Company

March 10 marks the feast day of a third century martyr named Kodratos, a Christian poorly known today but evidently important for the church communities of Late Antique and Byzantine Corinth.  This Kodratos (aka Codratus / Quadratus) is not to be confused with the famous Kodratos of Athens, the bishop and apologist of the second century.

The information available on the internet about Kodratos of Corinth  is remarkably slim.  The wikipedia article notes only that he “was a hermit and healer who was martyred at Corinth with his friends Cyprian, Dionysius, Anectus, Paul and Crescens.” This is not much more than we find in the Synaxarion as well as in today’s note from the website of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America: “these martyrs contested for piety’s sake in Corinth during the reign of the Emperor Valerian (253-260).”  I found a short summary of his life and martyrdom here and a slightly longer version here.  His life is also treated briefly in Engel’s Roman Corinth and Vasiliki Limberis’ “Ecclesiastical Ambiguities: Corinth in the Fourth and Fifth Centuries” (in Urban Religion in Roman Corinth), which summarizes the account in the Menologion.

A couple of years ago, I managed to convince friends, colleagues, and students from Messiah College’s spring Latin Lunch reading group to plow through a version of the life of Kodratos.  It’s a late version by the 14th century Byzantine intellectual Nikephoros Gregoras, a man impressive for his breadth of interest: a history of the Roman state of his own day, astronomical treatises, commentaries on Homer, among others.  A copy of Gregoras’ manuscript ended up in Bavaria, where it was translated into Latin by a  Jesuit named Reinold Dehnius. As a Latin text translated from the Greek, it was not easy reading.  Someday perhaps, I’ll post a complete translation, but for now, I only have time for this brief paraphrase.

Kodratos was born on the Isthmus famous for its pleasures and opulence and to noble family with Christian parents who practiced virtue.  He had chance to enjoy neither for long.  While still an infant, his mother died and then his father, and he was loosened from the bonds of nature.

Destitute of resources, his hope now lay in the Lord alone who raised the boy in a marvelous manner, nourishing him in the fields as He once did John the Baptist in the desert.  Taken care of in this way, he grew in grace and wisdom, and all sorts of miracles surrounded him daily.  Not unlike the Israelites in their flight from Egypt, God provided for him, accompanying him in clouds and light.  Of garments and clothing and the sorts of things which bring comfort to the body, he had no need, for he lived the life of a man of the country and mountains.

When he reached a mature age, he descended from his mountain, went down to the city, and began to converse with men, serving out divine oracles as food.  He smelled like the country, ever fruitful, like one blessed by the Lord.  The people hung on to every word of his mouth, not unlike the Israelites listening to Moses, the contemplative.  A small group of like-minded sojourners joined him in his way of life, at one moment heading out to the country, at another returning to the city.  His stays in the country grew longer, his time in the city shorter.  Prudently he fled the crowd and henceforth devoted his whole course of life to divine conversation.

At this point, when the emperor Decius had gained control of the state and Jason was proconsul, they spread their wicked dogma, and the Christians willingly undertook danger.  Here divine Kodratos excelled before all others, as did his friends and comrades in their way of life, training their bodies as athletes for the great contest.  Led in chains before Jason, he addressed the governor with strong words: ‘Whence, o wicked head, does your great wrath move against Christ and us, his servants?’  Threatened with torture, Kodratos promises he will endure sword, fire, flood, and any other device.  “Bring it on!” [as one colleague of mine put this line: adhibe nobis omnia!].  Tortured in nasty ways, he encourages his companions to die in Christ.  Dragged through the city, these athletes of Christ were at last taken out of the city and decapitated.  Their blood fell on a stone which sprung a fountain of water that survives even into our own time and which has been a cure for main illnesses and ailments. Pious men gathered their remains and built a church on the spot.


The latest Corinthiaka for this cold Monday morning:

  • (via Matt Malcolm’s blog) A conference on May 14 at Macquarie University on the theme of “Corinth – Paul, People and Politics,” sponsored by the Society for the Study of Early Christianity.  A seminar (May 12) in advance of the conference on the theme of “The Economy of Ancient Corinth.”
  • Bill Caraher visits Justinian, Victorinus, and the Isthmus in Verona
  • Anyone know the original context of this National Geographic image by Herbert Herget depicting (mostly naked) “Ancient Greeks haul(ing) a merchant ship over the Greek isthmus to Corinth”?  This is ca. 1944, a decade before Verdelis’ excavation of the road.
  • An article in the Huffington Post on the popular and profound meanings of 1 Corinthians 13 (note the author’s mistranslation of “philos”, note 1 Corinthians 13 and the Wedding Crashers)
  • In September, I posted a link to a relatively new documentary on the diolkos of Corinth in Greek.  Here is a version in English: Part 1 and Part 2.

How (not) to write history

This weekend Messiah College is hosting the annual National History Day competition for the south-central Pennsylvania region.  Hundreds of junior high and high school kids will descend on our campus and engage in  historical research through papers, films, posters, and performances.  It is enjoyable to see kids recognizing the value of learning the methods of history and investing energy and effort into their projects.

On this occasion of our region’s celebration of history day, I give you some excerpts from the 2nd century AD essay How to Write History (translation F.G. and H.W. Fowler’s 1905) by the orator Lucian of Samosata in Syria.  Unfortunately, Lucian can only think of bad Corinthian historians, so our two examples will be instances of how not to write history.

First, though, Lucian’s reason for writing, which calls to mind Diogenes the philosopher who lived in a large ceramic vessel in the Kraneion suburb of Corinth:

(2-3) “You cannot find a man but is writing history; every one you meet is a Thucydides, a Herodotus, a Xenophon. The old saying must be true, and war be the father of all things, seeing what a litter of historians it has now teemed forth at a birth.

Such sights and sounds, my Philo, brought into my head that old anecdote about Diogenes. A report that Philip was marching on the town had thrown all Corinth into a bustle; one was furbishing his arms, another wheeling stones, a third patching the wall, a fourth strengthening a battlement, every one making himself useful somehow or other. Diogenes having nothing to do–of course no one thought of giving him a job–was moved by the sight to gird up his philosopher’s cloak and begin rolling his tub-dwelling energetically up and down the Kraneion; an acquaintance asked, and got, the explanation: ‘I do not want to be thought the only idler in such a busy multitude; I am rolling my tub to be like the rest.’…”

And then, on to our bad historians in Corinth:

“(17) Perhaps I should balance him with a philosophic historian; this gentleman’s name I will conceal, and merely indicate his attitude, as revealed in a recent publication at Corinth. Much had been expected of him, but not enough; starting straight off with the first sentence of the preface, he subjects his readers to a dialectic catechism, his thesis being the highly philosophic one, that no one but a philosopher should write history. Very shortly there follows a second logical process, itself followed by a third; in fact the whole preface is one mass of dialectic figures. There is flattery, indeed, ad nauseam, eulogy vulgar to the point of farce; but never without the logical trimmings; always that dialectical catechism. I confess it strikes me as a vulgarity also, hardly worthy of a philosopher with so long and white a beard, when he gives it in his preface as our ruler’s special good fortune that philosophers should consent to record his actions; he had better have left us to reach that conclusion for ourselves–if at all….

(29) Another entertaining person, who has never set foot outside Corinth, nor traveled as far as its harbor–not to mention seeing Syria or Armenia–, starts with words which impressed themselves on my memory:–‘Seeing is believing: I therefore write what I have seen, not what I have been told.’ His personal observation has been so close that he describes the Parthian ‘Dragons’ (they use this ensign as a numerical formula–a thousand men to the Dragon, I believe): they are huge live dragons, he says, breeding in Persian territory beyond Iberia; these are first fastened to great poles and hoisted up aloft, striking terror at a distance while the advance is going on; then, when the battle begins, they are released and set on the enemy; numbers of our men, it seems, were actually swallowed by them, and others strangled or crushed in their coils; of all this he was an eye-witness, taking his observations, however, from a safe perch up a tree. Thank goodness he did not come to close quarters with the brutes! we should have lost a very remarkable historian, and one who did doughty deeds in this war with his own right hand; for he had many adventures, and was wounded at Sura (in the course of a stroll from the Kraneion to Lerna, apparently). All this he used to read to a Corinthian audience, which was perfectly aware that he had never so much as seen a battle-picture. Why, he did not know one weapon or engine from another; the names of maneuvers and formations had no meaning for him; flank or front, line or column, it was all one.”

The moral of the story: if you want to write good history, avoid dialectic method and get out of Corinth.  The latter reminds me of the quip from the most recent Indiana Jones movie: ‘if you want to be a good archaeologist, you’ve got to get out of the library.’

Dissertating Corinth

The American School of Classical Studies’ website has a nice piece on Angela Ziskowski’s recently defended dissertation The Construction of Corinthian Identity in the Early Iron Age and Archaic Period. As Angela describes her work there:

My work on this topic focused on whether or not archaeological remains and literary testimonia from the city and region of Corinth could provide evidence for the construction of civic and cultural identity.  My study considered the topography and resources of the region, production practices, ceramic and epigraphic remains, iconography, as well as cultic institutions to allow the question of identity construction to be considered from many angles.  Through this synthetic approach, I tried to offer a fuller, more comprehensive understanding of how the early city of Corinth created its own civic identity and successfully differentiated itself from neighboring regions.

Angela joins a number of recently completed PhD dissertations in different fields (Classics, Classical Archaeology, and History) that have brought together archaeological, textual, epigraphical, and environmental evidence to speak to broad cultural issues.

The ASCSA website lists five other dissertations on Corinth completed in the last two years.  I was curious about the dissertations on the Corinthia (broadly defined) over the last decade and ran a search in Worldcat on doctoral dissertations with keywords Corinth*, Kenchreai, Nemea, Isthm*, and Lechaion. The search generated 454 hits!  Some of these hits are redundant probably because the dissertations are owned by several universities that have classified them differently.  A few relate to medical studies (isthm* is responsible here) and the Battles of Corinth (the American civil war, not that of 146 BC).  But the great majority of those dissertations–say, 75% or more–center on some aspect of 1 and 2 Corinthians.  I’ve said it before: it must be tiring for New Testament scholars to keep up with the scholarship.

So, as I often do, I compiled a list of archaeology and history dissertations completed since 2000.  No doubt incomplete and I’m sure I have left off some (your!) important study. But the list gives you a sense of some of the trends in the field.  Of the 21 dissertations in process, defended, or completed, some patterns:

1. Archaic-Hellenistic: Studies of the  Corinthia / NE Peloponnese of the period of the polis dominate but these studies cover the full range from the Early Iron Age to Hellenistic.

2. Late Antiquity: some 7 dissertations focus on the late Roman Corinthia or deal with it as part of the study of the Roman Corinthia, although that number could in part reflect my own knowledge of the dissertations.  Only 3 studies focus on the Earlier Roman period.  Most “Roman” studies go into Late Antiquity.

3. Materials: Ceramic studies are most common (n=4) but in general, we find variety: wall paintings, coinage, architecture, fountains, walls, baths

4. Landscape: countryside, territory, and cultural landscapes are the focal points of several studies and frame / complement many of the other studies.  Corinth in broader context.

5. Archaeology and history: more archaeological discussions here than historical but many of the studies consider the textual evidence, and most of the archaeological studies frame their studies within broader contexts (social, economic, cultural): “a contextual study,” “the culture of water,” “mortuary practices”, “language of reuse”, “production and distribution”