Conybeare and Howson, on the True and Faithful Representation of the Apostle (1852)

For Friday’s picture of Corinth, I offer another vision from 19th century New Testament scholars. This one comes from W.J. Conybeare and Howson’s The Life and Epistles of St. Paul (1852), a major work of biography in its day and a source for Coleman’s sketch of a “most hopeless city” posted two weeks ago.

Conybeare and Howson are different from many of their contemporaries in their interest in placing Paul the apostle into a real geographic and social setting. As they note, the letters of Paul reveal his inner world, the landscapes and environment his outer world.


As they comment in their preface (iv-vii),

“As we follow the Apostle in the different stages of his varied and adventurous career, we must strive continually to bring out in their true brightness the half effaced forms and colouring of the scene in which he acts; and while he “becomes all things to all men, that he might by all means save “some,” we must form to ourselves a living likeness of the things and of the men among which he moved, if we would rightly estimate his work…While thus trying to live in the life of a bygone age, and to call up the figure of the past from its tomb, duly robed in all its former raiment, every help is welcome which enables us to fill up the dim outline in any part of its reality. Especially we delight to look upon the only one of the manifold features of that past existence, which still is living. We remember with pleasure that the earth, the sea, and the sky still combine for us in the same landscapes which passed before the eyes of the wayfaring Apostle….We can still look upon the same trees and flowers which he saw clothing the mountains, giving colour to the plains, or reflected in the rivers; we may think of him among the palms of Syria, the cedars of Lebanon, the olives of Attica, the green Isthmian pines of Corinth, whose leaves wove those “fading garlands,” which he contrasts with the “incorruptible crown,” the prize for which he fought…”…”For the purposes of such a biography, nothing but true and faithful representations of the real scenes will be valuable; these are what is wanted, and not ideal representations, even though copied from the works of the greatest masters; for, as it has been well said, “nature and reality painted at the time,” and on the spot, a nobler cartoon of St. Paul’s preaching at Athens “than the immortal Rafaelle afterwards has done.”

To complete their sketch, Howson, who was responsible for the background part of the biography, draws widely not only from earlier German New Testament scholarship but a wide array of ancient and medieval authors (Pindar, Herodotus, Xenophon, Polybius, Cicero, Ovid, Horace, Strabo, Plutarch, Dio Chrysostom, Aelius Aristides, Pomponius Mela, Suetonius, Seneca, Pausanias, Zonaras, Chronicon Maius) and the early modern travelers who read and digested them. The author’s picture, which stems from Dodwell, Leake, Wheler, and Clarke, among others, makes this early discussion of Paul in Roman Corinth particularly compelling. The inclusion of engravings provides the reader with pictures to imagine Paul, which, in contrasting modern shepherds against the backdrop of ancient ruins and landscapes, creates a romantic contrast between past and present (on this, see Kaplan’s excellent study).


Howson’s sketch of Paul’s background, which draws from sources spaced two millennia apart, is itself necessarily composite. But a compelling composite nonetheless for an imaginative geography constructed from ancient texts and early modern travel literature alone (I do not see evidence that Howson visited Corinth himself).

You can read the full text (with footnotes) at the HathiTrust Digital Library. I include here a good long section from pp. 440-447:

“We must linger first for a time in Corinth, the great city, where he staid a longer time than at any other point on his previous journeys, and from which, or to which, the most important of his Epistles were written. And, according to the plan we have hitherto observed, we proceed to elucidate its geographical position, and the principal stages of its history.

The Isthmus is the most remarkable feature in the geography of Greece; and the peculiar relation which it established between the land and the water—and between the Morea and the Continent — had the utmost effect on the whole course of the history of Greece. When we were considering the topography and aspect of Athens, all the associations which surrounded us were Athenian. Here at the Isthmus, we are, as it were, at the centre of the activity of the Greek race in general. It has the closest connection with all their most important movements, both military and commercial….

Conspicuous, both in connection with the military defences of the Isthmus, and in the prominent features of its scenery, is the Acrocorinthus, or citadel of Corinth, which rises in form and abruptness like the rock of Dumbarton. But this comparison is quite inadequate to express the magnitude of the Corinthian citadel. It is elevated two thousand feet above the level of the sea; it throws a vast shadow across the plain at its base; the ascent is a journey involving some fatigue; and the space of ground on the summit is so extensive, that it contained a whole town*, which, under the Turkish dominion, had several mosques. Yet, notwithstanding its colossal dimensions, its sides are so precipitous, that a few soldiers are enough to guard it. The possession of this fortress has been the object of repeated struggles in the latest wars between the Turks and the Greeks, and again between the Turks and the Venetians. It was said to Philip, when he wished to acquire possession of the Morea, that the Acrocorinthus was one of the horns he must seize, in order to secure the heifer. Thus Corinth might well be called “the eye of Greece” in a military sense, as Athens has often been so called in another sense. If the rock of Minerva was the Acropolis of the Athenian people, the mountain of the Isthmus was truly named ” the Acropolis of the Greeks.”

It will readily be imagined that the view from the summit is magnificent and extensive. A sea is on either hand. Across that which lies on the east, a clear sight is obtained of the Acropolis of Athens, at a distance of forty-five miles. The mountains of Attica and Boeotia, and the islands of the Archipelago, close the prospect in this direction. Beyond the western sea, which flows in from the Adriatic, are the large masses of the mountains of northeastern Greece, with Parnassus towering above Delphi. Immediately beneath us is the narrow plain which separates the seas. The city itself is on a small table land of no great elevation, connected with the northern base of the Acrocorinthus. At the edge of the lower level are the harbours which made Corinth the emporium of the richest trade of the East and the West.

We are thus brought to that which is really the characteristic both of Corinthian geography and Corinthian history, its close relation to the commerce of the Mediterranean. Plutarch says, that there was a want of good harbours in Achaia; and Strabo speaks of the circumnavigation of the Morea as dangerous. Cape Malea was proverbially formidable, and held the same relation to the voyages of ancient days, which the Cape of Good Hope does to our own.

Thus, a narrow and level isthmus, across which smaller vessels could be dragged from gulph to gulplh, was of inestimable value to the early traders of the Levant. And the two harbours, which received the ships of a more maturely developed trade, — Cenchre on the Eastern Sea, and Lechaeum on the Western, with a third and smaller port, called Schoenus”, where the isthmus was narrowest, — form an essential part of our idea of Corinth. Its common title in the poets is “the city of the two seas.”

…At a very early date, we find Corinth celebrated by the poets for its wealth.’- This wealth must inevitably have grown up, from its mercantile relations, even without reference to its two seas…Thus she became the common resort and the universal market of the Greeks.’ …If we add all these particulars together, we see ample reason why the wealth, luxury, and profligacy of Corinth were proverbial’- in the ancient world.

In passing from the fortunes of the earlier, or Greek Corinth, to its history under the Romans, the first scene that meets us is one of disaster and ruin. The destruction of this city by Mummius, about the same time that Carthage was destroyed by Scipio, was so complete, that, like its previous wealth, it passed into a proverb. Its works of skill and luxury were destroyed or carried away. Polybius the historian saw Roman soldiers playing at draughts on the pictures of famous artists; and the exhibition of vases and statues that decorated the triumph of the Capitol, introduced a new era in the habits of the Romans.” Meanwhile, the very place of the city from which these works were taken remained desolate for many years.’ The honour of presiding over the Isthmian games was given to Sicyon; and Corinth ceased even to be a resting-place of travellers between the East and the West. But a new Corinth rose from the ashes of the old. Julius Caesar, recognising the importance of the Isthmus as a military and mercantile position, sent thither a colony of Italians, who were chiefly freedmen.

This new establishment rapidly increased by the mere force of its position. Within a few years it grew, as Sincapore has grown in our days, from nothing to an enormous city. The Greek merchants, who had fled on the Roman conquest to Delos and the neighbouring coasts, returned to their former home. The Jews settled themselves in a place most convenient both for the business of commerce and for communication with Jerusalem. Thus, when St. Paul arrived at Corinth after his sojourn at Athens, he found himself in the midst of a numerous population of Greeks and Jews. They were probably far more numerous than the Romans, though the city had the constitution of a colony, and was the metropolis of a province.”

Hesperia in Zotero: a bibliographic resource

In June, the American School of Classical Studies at Athens announced that it was releasing bibliographic citation data for more than 1,500 articles published in its journal Hesperia via the bibliographic resource Zotero. As publications director, Andrew Reinhard, explained this decision:

“Researchers who use Zotero while writing articles and books that reference Hesperia articles can download citation data by visiting the ASCSA’s group page. You can choose to browse the collection of articles from 1932 to 2012 by volume year, or you can search with keywords across all articles.

When you find a citation you need, you can download that data to your own collection of research bibliography. Zotero will automatically format it in the style of your choice (e.g., Chicago Manual of Style). Citation data include article title/subtitle, author, abstract, volume/issue/page numbers, and publication date….”

The decision is part of a broader move by the publications office of the ASCSA to make the research of its journal and monographs as widely available as possible, and was followed by an announcement in July to provide open access to more than 1,500 articles published between 1932 and the present (minus a 3-year embargo). For some perspective on the vision of the publications office, check out “Archaeological Publication and Linked Data” or watch this 15 minute video interview with Andrew Reinhard about digital and print publications (start at the 9 minute mark for a discussion of Zotero and open access).

The two decisions—to adopt Zotero and provide open access to journal articles—will clearly benefit anyone interested in Corinth, most especially the broader public lacking access to the articles through JSTOR. As the ASCSA’s investigations in the Corinthia have been ongoing for over a century, there are literally hundreds of articles and monographs published by the Princeton office with text, photos, plans, and maps related to Corinth’s history and archaeology.

The Zotero group library currently allows one to search by article and volume title. When tags and abstracts are added (volunteers needed!), the library will be fully searchable. Currently the references in the library link to JSTOR, which require institutional access, but these should soon be updated to link directly to the PDF copies of the articles at the ASCSA website.

If you don’t use Zotero, now is the time to learn. Zotero is far superior to simply dumping bibliography into a Word document for numerous reasons. As the Zotero website puts it, “Zotero [zoh-TAIR-oh] is a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources. It lives right where you do your work—in the web browser itself.” Developed by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, Zotero “automatically senses content” while you browse and allows you to create a library of citations to books, articles, dissertations, websites through simply clicking the mouse. That content is then searchable via title, abstract, or the text of the documents in the library. For a brief overview on Zotero, watch this 3-minute video.

I used Zotero several years ago but abandoned it when I started browsing through Google Chrome (Zotero depended at the time on a Firefox plug-in).  Then Version 3 arrived last year as a stand-alone, and with connectors to browsers like Google Chrome. The new version also has the expanded capacity to build bibliographic libraries through groups, which one can restrict to a few collaborators or make publically visible.

I have slowly been building a Corinth library through Zotero and hope to release it in stages over the next few months. If you’d like to collaborate in building a Corinthia bibliography through Zotero, contact me.

SBL Chicago, Nov. 16-20

I had a chance to crash a session of the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Conference a few years ago on the tail end of a meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research. SBL is vast. As the conference website notes, it represents “the largest gathering of biblical scholars in the world. Each meeting showcases the latest in biblical research, fosters collegial contacts, advances research, and focuses on issues of the profession.”

In conjunction with the meeting of the American Academy of Religion, the SBL-AAR conference attracts 10,000 attendees, a body of scholars and learners more sizable than many American towns and small cities. The attendees number over three times the size of my typical conference, the Archaeological Institute of America, and the conference dwarfs the tiny group of scholars who gather for the meetings of the Byzantine Studies Association of North America.

One would expect that many who come to the annual meeting of the SBL would have a lot to say about Corinth and the New Testament letters of 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians. So much that it tires me to think about hyperlinking to the abstracts for all the papers below. Visit the conference program book (keyword: Corinth) if you’re interested in reading abstracts. I don’t expect that I got all of the papers, so if you have something to add, just send me the link and I’ll update the post.

For related Corinthiaka for past SBL meetings:

[6:05 PM note: ** indicates additions after initial post]

November 16, Evening

  • David Briones, Sterling College, Hierarchy, Equality, or Mutuality?: Mapping out the Relational Contours of Second Corinthians (P16-301)
  • James C. Miller, The Contours of Collective Identity in 1 Corinthians (10 min); Terence Paige, Houghton College, Respondent (20 min) (P16-305)

November 17, Morning

  • **Timothy Brookins, Houston Baptist University, The Name ‘Erastus’ in Antiquity: A Literary, Papyrical, and Epigraphical Catalog (30 min.)
  • Duane Watson, Malone University, Second Corinthians 10–13 as the Best Evidence that Paul Received a Rhetorical Education (30 min). Fredrick Long, Asbury Theological Seminary, Respondent (10 min); Christopher Forbes, Macquarie University, Respondent (10 min)
  • Session: Polis and Ekklesia: Investigations of Urban Christianity. Theme: Roman Corinth (S17-123)
      • Jim Harrison, Wesley Institute, Presiding
      • Cavan Concannon, Duke University, Negotiating Multiple Modes of Religion and Identity in Roman Corinth (S17-123)
      • Kathy Ehrensperger, University of Wales, Negotiating Polis and Ekklesia: Challenge and Re-Assurance in 1 Cor 12.1-11 (S17-123)
      • Michael Peppard, Fordham University, Roman Controversiae About Inheritance Disputes and 1 Corinthians 6 (S17-123)
      • David K. Pettegrew, Messiah College, The Isthmus and the Consequences of Geography: New Directions in the Study of Commercial Corinth (S17-123)
      • Annette Weissenrieder, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, Bodies and Space: Sitting or Reclining in 1 Corinthians 14:30 (S17-123)
      • Dale Martin, Yale University, Respondent (S17-123)
  • Session: Second Corinthians: Pauline Theology in the Making (S17-128)
      • Volker Rabens, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Transformation through Contemplation: New Light from Philo on 2 Corinthians 3:18 (30 min)
      • C. Andrew Ballard, Fordham University, Tongue-Tied and Taunted – Renegotiating A Theology of Weakness and Leadership in 2 Corinthians 5:13 (30 min)
      • Benjamin J. Lappenga, Fuller Theological Seminary, “Foolish” Zeal and the Language of Divine Jealousy in 2 Corinthians 11:1-4 (30 min)
      • Moyer Hubbard, Talbot School of Theology, The Pneumatology of 2 Corinthians (30 min)
      • Thomas Schmeller, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, No Bridge over Troubled Water? The Gap between 2Cor 1-9 and 10-13 Revisited (30 min)

November 17, Afternoon

  • Judith Gundry, Yale University, “Having Your Cake and Eating It Too—Or Not: Paul’s Defense of the Apostles’ Eating Other People’s Food and Not Doing So Himself in 1Corinthians 9  (S17-217)
  • Thomas R. Blanton, IV, Luther College, Interpreting Paul’s Collection: From “Capitalist Criticism” to Capitalism’s Troubled Conscience? (S17-217)
  • Glenn E. Snyder, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Paul the Benjaminite: Tribal Affiliation in 1 Cor 15:8–10 (S17-235)
  • Arminta Fox, Drew University, Gender, Status, and Intersubjectivity in 2 Corinthians 10-13 (S17-235)
  • Session: Polis and Ekklesia: Investigations of Urban Christianity. Theme: Roman Corinth (S17-237)
      • Laurence Welborn, Fordham University, Presiding
      • Timothy E. Gregory, Ohio State University, Archaeology and Christianity in Roman Corinth and its Hinterland: Opportunities and Limitations (25 min)
      • Laura Nasrallah, Harvard University, What Matters: Material Culture and Commodity in the Study of the Corinthian Correspondence (25 min)
      • James C. Walters, Boston University, “Placing” Paul in Roman Corinth (25 min)
      • Bruce Winter, Macquarie University, Gaius Julius Spartiaticus’ influence on the polis and the ekklesia (25 min)
      • Michel Amandry, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Hadrian’s adventus to Corinth: The Numismatic Evidence (25 min)
      • Wayne Meeks, Yale University, Respondent (15 min
  • Session: Systematic Transformation and Interweaving of Scripture in 1 Corinthians (S17-242), 1:00-3:30 PM
      • Thomas L. Brodie, Dominican Biblical Institute, Presiding
      • Everard Johnston, University of the West Indies, Trinidad, Context for a Systematic Approach: The Systematic Modelling of the NT Canon on the Tanak/LXX; and Tradition as Literary Rather than Oral (15 min)
      • Discussion (25 min)
      • Douglas Estes, Dominican Biblical Institute, Changing Forms: On the Variation of Transformation in the Ancient World (15 min)
      • Yongbom Lee, Fuller Theological Seminry, Pasadena, Starting from the Beginning: Genesis and 1 Corinthians 1–4 (15 min)
      • Discussion (25 min)

November 17, Evening

  • Ian Brown, University of Toronto, Thinking with schools: Evaluating the schoolishness of 1 Thessalonians, 1 Corinthians, and the Gospel of Thomas (20 min)
  • Erin Roberts, University of South Carolina, History Writing, Cognitive Plausibility, and 1 Corinthians 4:8 (20 min)
  • Ryan Olfert, University of Toronto, Putting Paul to the Test: Corinthians and Examination Practices in Greco-Roman Associations (20 min)
  • Jennifer Eyl, Barnard College, Paul and Ethnicity-Based Divinatory Expertise (20 min)
  • Session: Second Corinthians: Pauline Theology in the Making (S17-336), 4:00-6:30 PM, Theme: 2 Corinthians 6 in Context
      • Edith Humphrey, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Presiding
      • Matthew Forrest Lowe, McMaster Divinity Colleg, Reading along with Those Reconciled: Assessing the Immediate Impact of 2 Cor 5:16-21 on the Interpretation of 6:1-13(25 min)
      • Jose Joseph, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Paul’s Contextual Use of the Catalogue of Circumstances in 2 Cor 6:4-10 (25 min)
      • Cecilia Wassen, Uppsala Universitet, Purity and Temple in 2 Cor 6:14-18 and the Dead Sea Scrolls (25 min)
      • Cosmin Murariu, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Human Act and Perfecting Holiness: 2 Corinthians 7:1 in Its Context (25 min)
  • Session: Systematic Transformation and Interweaving of Scripture in 1 Corinthians (S17-338), 4:00-6:30. Theme: The Composition of 1 Corinthians 5.
      • Thomas L. Brodie, Dominican Biblical Institute, Presiding
      • Kathy Barrett Dawson, Duke University, The Incestuous Man of 1 Corinthians 5, Banishment Texts in the LXX, and Eating with Sinners (15 min)
      • Discussion (25 min)
      • Derek McNamara, Lubbock Christian University
        Rhetoric of a Deutoronomic Refrain in 1 Corinthians 5 (15 min)
      • Discussion (25 min)

November 18, Morning

  • Stephen P. Ahearne-Kroll, Methodist Theological School in Ohio
    The Corinthian Last Supper in Light of the Ritual Dimensions of Memory in Greece (S18-114)

November 18, Afternoon

  • Dominika Kurek-Chomycz, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
    Writing Through Many Tears: Crying Apostle and the Construction of Christic Masculinity in Second Corinthians (S18-223)
  • Anna C. Miller, Xavier University
    “His Speech is of No Account”: Speech, Civic Discourse and Disability in 1 Corinthians (S18-224a)
  • Dustin W. Ellington, Justo Mwale Theological University College
    Message and Example: Paul’s Perspective on Preaching in Word and Deed in 1 Corinthians (S18-226)
  • Sang Soo Hyun, Southern Methodist University
    Postcolonial Mimicry and the Corinthian Situation (S18-240)

November 18, Evening

  • Joshua Yoder, University of Notre Dame
    Speaking of Slavery: Reading 1 Corinthians 7:17-24 with Epictetus (S18-323)
  • Aaron Amit, Bar-Ilan University
    Confronting Schismata and Agudot: The Politics of Authority in I Corinthians and Rabbinic Literature (S18-323)
  • Linda L Belleville, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary
    Paul’s Christological Use of the Wilderness Rock Tradition in 1 Corinthians 10:4 (S18-336)
  • Robert von Thaden, Jr., Mercyhurst College
    Paul’s Blended Rhetoric: Apocalyptic Wisdom in 1 Corinthians (S18-344)
  • Emma Wasserman, Rutgers University
    Are Paul’s Daimonia Apocalyptic Powers? Gods and non-Gods in Corinthians 8–10 (S18-344)

November 19, Morning

  • Joseph A. Marchal, Ball State University
    Female Masculinity in Corinth?: Drag Kings, Laggings, and Imitations (S19-128)
  • Menghun Goh, Vanderbilt University
    A Christ-event Orientation of Belonging: A Semiotic Interpretation of 1 Corinthians 1–4 (S19-144)

November 19, Evening

  • Reta Halteman Finger, Messiah College
    Occupy Corinth! Role-playing a Socially Divided House Church Hearing Paul’s Letter (S19-301)
  • Fredrick J. Long, Asbury Theological Seminary
    Emphasis and Prominence Markers in Greek: A Proposal and Case Study within 2 Corinthians (S19-307)
  • Dietmar Neufeld, University of British Columbia, The Ridiculed Paul Ridiculing: Paul in Corinth (S19-333)
  • Barbette Stanley Spaeth, College of William and Mary
    The Reappropriation of Memory and the Temple of Apollo in Roman Corinth (S19-334)

November 20, Morning

  • Stephen P. Ahearne-Kroll, Methodist Theological School in Ohio
    Anamnesis in the Corinthian Last Supper in Light of Greek Ritual (S20-121)
  • Glenn E. Snyder, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
    Consuming Judgment (1 Cor 11:29) (S20-121)
  • Frederick S. Tappenden, University of Manchester
    Cosmology, Anthropology, and Embodied Cognition: A Critical Reassessment of Dualism and Monism in Paul’s Resurrection Ideals (S20-121)

“Ancient Ruins on the Shore”

Friday’s issue of Kathimerini includes a short travel piece one of the most beautiful sites in the Corinthia, the Heraion at Perachora. Here’s a snippet:

“The last thing you expect after driving through the popular coastal resort of Loutraki, just northwest of the Corinth Canal, is an area where you can achieve spiritual elation among ancient ruins and an unspoilt natural landscape that seems to be lifted directly from a fading 1950s postcard….

There are probably a few archaeology buffs who are frowning right now, displeased with the fact that the closely held secret of the Sanctuary of Hera in Perachora may come out and draw crowds to a little-known shrine of great beauty.”

Read the article here.

Augustus Neander, on the reason for Paul’s sojourn (1844)

Last week, I excerpted a text from Lyman Coleman’s historical atlas of the bible (1855) about the Paul’s visit to the “most hopeless city of Corinth.” I decided to trace Coleman’s ideas about Corinth and the consequences of geography.

Coleman notes that for his sections on Paul’s travels, he consulted H.B. Hackett’s A Commentary on the Original Text of the Acts of the Apostles (1852); James Smith’s The Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul (1848), and Conybeare and Howson’s The Life and Epistles of St. Paul (1852). A quick look at Smith’s work on the shipwreck of Paul revealed nothing relevant. Conybeare and Howson’s life returned some very rich text and images about Corinth that I will excerpt next week. Hackett’s commentary had very little discussion of Corinth but cited several early 19th century German scholars and included a nice quotation from an English translation (1844) of Augustus Neander’s Geschichte der pflanzung und leitung der christlichen kirche durch die apostel (1832).  As Hackett quotes Neander (p. 254):

“ ‘In consequence of its situation,’ says Neander, ‘Corinth furnished a very important central point for the extension of the gospel in a great part of the Roman empire; and hence Paul remained here, as in other similar cities, a longer time than was otherwise usual for him.’”

I followed the path to an English edition of History of the Planting and Training of the Christian Church and found an interesting segment on Corinth (pp. 196-197):

“He travelled alone from Athens, and now visited a place most important for the propagation of the gospel, the city of Corinth, the metropolis of the province of Achaia. This city, within a century a half after its destruction by Julius Caesar, once more became the center of intercourse and traffic to the eastern and western parts of the Roman Empire, for which it was fitted by its natural advantages, namely, by its two noted ports, that of Kenchreai towards Lesser Asia, and that of Lechaion towards Italy. Being thus situated, Corinth became an important position for spreading the gospel in a great part of the Roman Empire, and hence Paul chose this city, as he had chosen others similarly situated, to be the place where he made a long sojourn.

But Christianity had here also at its first promulgation peculiar difficulties to combat and the same causes, which counteracted its reception at first, threatened at a later period, when it had found entrance, to corrupt its purity both in doctrine and practice. The two opposite mental tendencies, which at that time especially opposed the spread of Christianity were, on the one side, an intense devotedness to speculation…, which threatened to stifle altogether the religious nature of men,…and, on the other side, …the carnal mind, which would degrade the divine into an object of sensuous experience…

New Corinth was distinguished from the old city chiefly by becoming, in addition to its commercial celebrity, a seat of literature and philosophy so that a certain tincture of high mental culture pervaded the city…The spread and efficiency of Christianity was opposed by that gross corruption of morals, which then prevailed in all the great cities of the Roman Empire, but especially in Corinth was promoted by the worship of Aphrodite, to which a far-famed temple was here erected, and thus consecrated the indulgence of sensuality, favoured as it was by the incitements constantly presented in a place of immense wealth and commerce.”

The passage is interesting in showing the early development (1830s) in New Testament scholarship of the notion that geography was both the reason for St. Paul’s to Corinth and the causes of the problems of the community.  Strangely, Neander associates the carnal mind with the Jewish population in the city while simultaneously connecting it with a Greek cult of Aphrodite. Note that there is nothing here about the diolkos—that is a later development in thinking about geographic consequence.

Mycenaean necropolis discovered near Aigio

Not in the Corinthia but close.

An archaeological team associated with the University of Udine has announced their discovery of a Mycenaean necropolis near Aigio, a town on the coast of the Corinthian Gulf about 50 miles west of Ancient Corinth.

You can read about the discovery here: Archeologia, l’Università di Udine scopre una necropoli micenea di 3.500 anni fa

Thanks to Tom Henderson for sending the link.

Dissertation Corner: A Guide to “Corinth on the Isthmus”

I recently discovered by accident that my doctoral dissertation on the Late Antique Corinthia was available for free download through OhioLink. When I completed this study in 2006 at Ohio State University, there was concern among graduate students that our university’s decision to disseminate theses and dissertations to the public would jeopardize opportunities for later publication. I wasn’t sure whether would prove true but erred on the side of caution. I delayed publication for five years, imagining that my book would be completed by then.

What I could not have counted on then was how much the main ideas of that little study would change over the next six years as I read more broadly and encountered the complexities of my subject. My interests shifted earlier, the guiding concepts of the study broadened, and I made some surprising new discoveries about how the Isthmus functioned (and did not) to facilitate trade.

The dissertation was at its heart a study of the late Roman countryside, or, as I noted in the abstract, “the continuity, discontinuity, and transformation of Corinth on the Isthmus during Late Antiquity.” My premise was simple: the textual history of Corinth in late antiquity did not correspond to the archaeological evidence for commerce, economy, settlement, and monumental architecture found in the territory. I argued that the visible developments in the landscape between the 4th and 7th centuries AD discounted the 3rd-5th century literary view that Corinth was in decline.

In one sense, the study continued or supported the recent work of scholars like Timothy Gregory, Richard Rothaus, Bill Caraher, Guy Sanders, and P. Nick Kardulias who had highlighted the continuing vitality of the late antique Corinthia from fortification walls, late antique villas, urban center, religious traditions, and churches; my contribution was a study of the evidence for Late Roman settlement documented by the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey (1998-2002). In another sense, though, I was doing something a bit different in examining why the vibrant textual tradition for Corinth fragmented in the later Roman era. Why were text and material culture so out of sync? I highlighted how the Roman image of the city was itself a mirage that burst in late antiquity as the broader world changed.

I published some of the chapters of the dissertation along the way and eventually crafted a diachronic study about the changing place of Corinth and its Isthmus within the shifting networks of the Mediterranean world. The shift, I felt, was inevitable, as I could not really discuss the late antique changes in the Roman landscape without proper attention to what that landscape had been in the 1st-2nd centries. Along the way, the dissertation developed into something entirely new, a study of the long-term notion of connectivity and geographic consequence. I now believe that my use of broad temporal categories in the dissertation like “Early Roman” and “Late Roman” actually obscure the dynamic changes in the Roman landscape that occurred on the order of years, generations, or century. The visitor to this blog should hear a bit this year about my book project on the historical contingencies that shaped Corinth and its region from the 2nd c. BC to 7th c. AD.

If you have interest in the late antique Corinthia, the entire dissertation can be freely downloaded here (20 mb). I provide links below to the individual chapters as PDF documents and notes about how these have appeared or will appear in print. This will, I  hope, save the reader from working through outdated text. A brief outline of the dissertation (more detailed outline here):


1. Corinth and the End of the World. Introduction, historiography, approach, and directions. The scholarship overview is recent enough to be of some use and will complement the overview in Amelia Brown’s 2008 late antique dissertation on the urban center (summary here, PDF dissertation here). The main idea of this chapter and the dissertation was published in this book chapter.

2. Corinth in a Landscape. The geological and topographical structure of the Isthmus and its importance for the ancient image of the city. Don’t bother reading: wait for the book which will update it, but there are some nice pictures of the landscape.

3. The Image of the City. A study of the fragmentation of the literary image of the city in late antiquity. I realize some of my conclusions in this chapter are either incorrect or have developed through more sensitive readings (e.g., this article on the diolkosof Corinth), but it still provides a useful critical review of the negative literary tradition about the late antique city. I am completely rewriting this chapter in my book.

4. A Busy Countryside. A study of the evidence for the “explosion” of Late Roman settlement in the Corinthia from the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey data. Perhaps the most important chapter in the dissertation but not worth reading today as it has appeared in polished form in this Hesperia article.

5. The Crossroads. The continuing importance in late antiquity of the ancient crossroads site known as Kromna. Besides supporting a thesis for the continuing dynamism of the territory, the chapter reinterprets the ancient identification of the site of Kromna. I’ve never had time to publish my observations on Kromna other than a short note in this article. I’m not sure I completely agree with my own conclusions re: Kromna, but I think they are moving in the right direction.

6. Inhabiting Time. An examination of excavated villas of the territory and their evident refurbishments over time that indicate a society capable of large material investments. A fun chapter to write, but I have no plans to publish it. New Testament scholars may have interest in the survey of Roman villas in the territory.

7. A Brief Conclusion about Future Directions

Appendix I. Defining (Roman) Sites in a Continuous Carpet. I’ve updated and published this in an article in the forthcoming work, The Bridge of the Untiring Sea.

In the course of this year, I hope to coerce a few other recent Corinthiaka dissertators to talk about their projects and their plans for publication. Dissertators may of course nominate themselves.

Recent Corinthian Archaeology News and Blogs

I repost below some stories, videos, and news related to the archaeology and history of the Corinth since spring. Some will be old news but may be of use for those who have missed the stories.

News and Announcements from the American School of Classical Studies at Athens

Blogosphere on Archaeology in the Corinthia

SBL International 2012 Abstracts

The International Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in Amsterdam this summer included about 20 papers related to Paul’s letters to the Corinthians and the early Christian community at Corinth. I have copied the titles below and trimmed the abstracts to their main ideas (You can find full abstracts at the SBL website). For Corinthiaka in the 2011 SBL international meeting in London, check out this post. Judging from the 2012 abstracts, it looks like most of the papers explored the social, cultural, and literary contexts of Paul’s letters rather than the context of Corinth in particular. The first paper is an obvious exception.

Fighting Beasts and Conquering Death: Reading Paul’s Beast Fight Before and After the Arrival of the Arena in Corinth
Program Unit: Graeco-Roman Society and the New Testament (EABS)
Philip Erwin, Graduate Theological Union

In this paper I interpret 1 Cor. 15:32 before and after the arrival of the arenas and amphitheater in Roman Corinth….

“‘No One Is Able to Tell’: 1 Corinthians 2:9 and the Apostolic Fathers
Program Unit: Apostolic Fathers and Related Early Christian Literature
Paul A. Hartog, Faith Baptist Seminary

The complexities and ambiguities of ascertaining the use of texts found in the “New Testament” (NT) within the “Apostolic Fathers” (AF) are well known. Most studies have explored the reception of the NT within a specific AF (i.e., the reception of the NT within 1 Clement, etc.). This paper will take a different approach by tracing the possible use of one NT text (1 Corinthians 2:9) within the various works among the AF, exploring the relevant materials in 1 Clement 34.8; 2 Clement 11.7; and Martyrdom of Polycarp 2.3….

Christ as a Critique of Culture–a Counter-cultural Reading of 1 Cor 7:17-35
Program Unit: Paul and Pauline Literature
Sin Pan Daniel Ho, University of Sheffield

Scholars generally interpret 1 Cor 7:17-35 as Paul’s negative stance against the social institutions of slavery and marriage and his advocate for manumission and celibacy. In this paper, I propose that Paul does not attack these two existing social institutions (slavery and marriage); Paul subverts the cultural values towards work and mixed marriage…

The adelphoi at the Ritual of the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:17-34): A Key Element in Paul’s Meal Theology in the Making?
Program Unit: Pauline Literature (EABS)
Ma. Marilou S. Ibita, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Adelphoi is Paul’s favorite relational term in the homologoumena particularly in 1 Corinthians (Banks, 1994; Aasgaard, 2004). In this paper, I propose that Paul’s use of the vocative adelphoi in 1 Cor 11:33 is one of the key elements to Paul’s meal theology in the making in the context of the problematic Lord’s Supper celebration at Corinth…

Paul’s understanding of the pneumatika as charisma, diakonia and energêma: A re-reading of 1 Cor 12:4-6 within the context of 1 Cor 12-14
Program Unit: Pauline Literature (EABS)
Soeng Yu Li, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Scholars have argued correctly that in 1 Cor 12:4-6 Paul stresses the common divine source of the various spiritual gifts in order to correct the Corinthian self-centered and status-seeking understanding of the spiritual gifts. Practically all the studies limit themselves to the gifts….we will argue that pneumatika needs to be understood in its literal meaning “spiritual things” (cf. Tibbs, Religious Experience of the Pneuma, 2007, 46-47). This reading highlights that vv.4-6 serve as Paul’s understanding of pneumatika within Christian worship.

The Two Tables of the Law and Paul’s Ethical Methodology in 1 Corinthians 6:12–20 and 10:23–11:1
Program Unit: Paul and Pauline Literature
Scott D. Mackie, Venice, CA

In two passages in 1 Corinthians, 6:12–20 and 10:23–11:1, Paul affords us a unique opportunity to observe the reasoning process whereby his ethical principles are ascertained and practically applied. Both texts begin with what appears to be a quotation of a community slogan, “all things are permitted for me,” which was seemingly proffered in defense of an antinomian, libertine lifestyle (6:12; 10:23)…

Freedom and Love in Contradiction? An Assessment of 1 Corinthians 8:9
Program Unit: Pauline Literature (EABS)
Cosmin-Constantin Murariu, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

In the scholarly debate, exousia in 8:9 is taken to denote the ‘right’ that some ‘knowledgeable’ Corinthian Christians had claimed to have towards idol food because of the fact that they had the knowledge that an idol was ‘nothing.’…The paper analyses Paul’s argumentation and rhetorical strategy in 8:1-13 from the perspective of the clarification of the elusive character of gnôsis and especially that of exousia in this pericope.

1 Cor 14:21 – Paul’s reflection on ??wssa in 1 Cor 14
Program Unit: Paul and Pauline Literature
Peter Nagel, University of Pretoria

Paul’s reflection on ‘speaking in tongues’ has been widely discussed and debated, both in the public and academic domain. Adequate attention has not been given to the explicit citation in 1 Cor 14:21, representing content from Isaiah 28:11-13a, in addressing this particular issue…

Integrating Cognitive and Social Approaches: 2 Cor 3:18 as a Test-Case
Program Unit: Mind, Society, and Tradition
Emmanuel Nathan, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

In my paper I intend to look at one passage, 2 Cor 3:18, which has benefitted from recent cognitive and social approaches…What has not so far been done is to examine whether integrating these three independent theories might offer a new perspective, in this case on Paul’s theology (for want of a better term). I will argue that such integration, done carefully, leads to an intriguing discovery: that the image of a suffering God was cast in the image of a suffering apostle rather than the reverse.

Betwixt and Between Old and New: The Glorified Moses at Sinai and Corinth
Program Unit: Canonical Approaches to the Bible (EABS)
Emmanuel Nathan, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Exod 34:29-34 recounts the curious episode of Moses having descended from the mountain with the second tablets of the Law unaware that his face was shining on account of having seen the divine glory. Other than these six verses, Moses’ veil does not recur in the rest of Exodus or, indeed, the Hebrew Bible. However, in the New Testament, Paul has his own account of Moses’ veil in 2 Cor 3:7-18. This paper will use three anthropological frameworks with which to look at the glorified Moses in Exodus and then Paul’s portrayal of this same Moses in 2 Corinthians….

The Earliest Piece of Evidence of Christian Accounting? The significance of the phrase eis logon doseos kai lempseos (Phil 4:15).
Program Unit: Early Christianity and the Ancient Economy
Julien Ogereau, Macquarie University

Judging by the various ways in which the phrase eis logon doseos kai lempseos (Phil 4:15) is usually translated in modern versions of the Bible as well as in commentaries, it would appear that no strong scholarly consensus has been reached yet as to its exact meaning. This paper endeavours to examine the significance of this expression and its implications for an understanding of the early church’s earliest forms of financial administration….

Contextual Biblical Studies: Assessing Approaches and Methods.
Program Unit: Contextual Interpretation of the Bible (Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and New Testament)
Daniel Patte, Vanderbilt University

This paper/essay proposes an analysis of existing contextual biblical interpretations, especially those of the Global Bible Commentary, those of published volumes of the “Text@Context” (Fortress Press), and those of the forthcoming volume on 1 Corinthians. The goal of this analysis is twofold. A) To recognize and appreciate the diversity of approaches in contextual biblical interpretation. B) To examine how this diversity can be methodologically and theoretically justified and explained….

Who are ‘we’ in 1 Cor 8:6: An Investigation of the First-Person Plural in Light of the Lordship of Jesus Christ
Program Unit: Paul and Pauline Literature
Andrey Romanov, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

When Paul recites in 1Cor 8:6 the functions of God the Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ, he uses twice the emphatic hemeis. In this paper I suggest to understand the meaning of ‘we’ through the lens of the lordship of Jesus Christ…I suggest that the ‘we’ in 1Cor 8:6 designates not the members of the Christian communities as such but only those of them who recognize the determinative role of Jesus Christ as the only true Lord and behave according to this recognition.

An examination of metarepresentation as an essential feature of written and oral communication
Program Unit: Hellenistic Greek Language and Linguistics
Margaret Sim, SIL International

This paper deals with a speaker’s use of the words or thoughts of others in communication. This principle which is widespread but frequently unrecognised underlies our use of metaphor and irony as well as being prominent in creating humour…Recognising the part representation plays, we will deal with the following issues in this paper: Speech boundaries, representation marked by the article “to”, representation not morphologically marked, echoing speech with a distancing attitude, ironic utterance. Examples of these will be draw from Mark, Matthew and the Corinthian correspondence

Paul’s Educational Imagery in His Conflict with the Corinthians
Program Unit: Graeco-Roman Society and the New Testament (EABS)
Adam White, Macquarie University

Centuries of scholarly discussion have sought to identify the cause of the divisions found in 1 Cor. 1.10. In the wake of this discussion, the present paper seeks to investigate some of the imagery used by Paul in 1 Corinthians 1-4, suggesting that it has been shaped by an encounter with the values of Graeco-Roman paideia….

“Imitate Me”: Interpreting imitation in 1 Corinthians in relation to Ignatius of Antioch
Program Unit: Biblical Interpretation in Early Christianity
Drake Williams, Tyndale Theological Seminary (Amsterdam)

Several times within 1 Corinthians Paul encourages the Corinthians to imitate him. These are found at critical junctures in the epistle in 1 Cor 4:16 and 11:1. The meaning of these sections is in question from the perspective of scholars on Corinthians…Pauline ideas, specifically those from 1 Corinthians, are known to have influenced Ignatius of Antioch’s writing, and thus Ignatius’ ideas about imitation could well reflect the meaning that Paul intended. Ignatius’ view of imitation would contradict the opinions of some scholars who see Paul’s injunction for imitation as a claim for power.

Re-examining the Last Supper Sayings from a 21st-Century Perspective
Program Unit: Study of the Historical Jesus (EABS)
Mary J. Marshall, Murdoch University

The study draws partly on Colin Humphreys’ recent work, The Mystery of the Last Supper, which provides valuable insights in that the Synoptic accounts of the Last Supper as a Passover meal are shown to be credible, while the Johannine tradition that Jesus died while the Passover lambs were being slain, is also upheld. The main thrust of the paper is an exploration of the Last Supper sayings concerning the bread, cup, and kingdom…

How to Find Meaning in a Ritual? Paul, Rituals, and the Making of “Pauline Theology”
Program Unit: Pauline Literature (EABS)
Peter-Ben Smit, VU University Amsterdam

The “rediscovery” of ritual in early Christian studies, often by sociologically and anthropologically informed scholarship, has rightly foregrounded the importance of rituals, such as baptism, (Eucharistic) meal fellowship, circumcision, etc. Simultaneously, there is an ongoing debate as to the meaning of early Christian rituals, also for contemporary theological discussions. In the context of these two discourses, a recurring issue is how a “theology” or a “meaning” can be found in or deduced from a ritual….As a test-case, the framework and methodology that will be developed in the paper will be applied to the meal traditions occuring in 1 Cor. 11:17-34….

The Meaning of Nekrosis in 2 Cor 4:10
Program Unit: Paul and Pauline Literature
Jose Joseph Kollemkunnel, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

In 2 Cor 4:10 Paul uses nekrosis to refer to the death of Jesus instead of the more common Greek word thanatos. Scholarly opinion is divided on the precise meaning of the term nekrosis….This paper examines the use of the terminology and analyses the immediate context of 2 Cor 4:10 where Paul uses the word nekrosis.

Paul In Bonds: Humiliation, Abandonment And The Portrait Of An Apostle Who Does Not Cry
Program Unit: Biblical Masculinities
Kyriaki Meletsi, Universty of Athens

In both the undisputed letters and in one of the Pastorals there are references of the sufferings and experiences of persecutions Paul has been through. In 2 Cor., 11.23-33, Paul describes the harshness and counts the frequency of the fustigations, canings and the incarcerations he suffered for being a minister of Christ. In 2. Tim. 1.8; 12, 2.9-10, 3.10-11, 4.6-8; 16 we learn about a new imprisonment and the abandonment by some of his former co-associates…The paradox he introduces, is that of a man who does not try to throw his social disgrace in oblivion, but on the contrary boasts about his passions…

Christly Possession and Weakened Bodies: A Reconsideration of the Function of Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh (2 Cor. 12:7-10)
Program Unit: Healthcare and Disability in the Ancient World
Candida R. Moss, University of Notre Dame

This paper examines the function of the thorn in Paul’s flesh (2 Cor. 12:710) in light of ancient theories of possession and medical anthropology. It argues that Paul uses the ancient view of punctured and porous bodies as vulnerable to possession, disease, and invasion to undergird his theory of bodily perfection in Christ. This theory, in turn, is used to support Paul’s claims to authority and to trump those of his opponents.

Tears on My Papyrus: Paul as a Self-Made Man
Program Unit: Biblical Masculinities
Karin Neutel, University of Groningen

It has become a truism in recent scholarship that ancient men were not born, but made. Being a man was no mean feat, and required constant vigilance and upkeep. Self-control should be seen as an important part of this vigilance and showing strong emotions as a man was consequently a risky venture. How are we to understand Paul’s references to his tears (2 Cor 2,4; Phil 3,18) in the context of the precarious nature of ancient masculinity?…

A Face that Mirrors Proclamation: On the Significance of 2 Cor 3:18 for its Broader Literary Context (2 Cor 3:1-4:15)
Program Unit: Paul and Pauline Literature
Laura Tack, University of Leuven

Presenting an adequate exegesis of 2 Cor 3:18 is a puzzling task. It has to account for many interacting variables, such as the particular understanding of transformation, the exact meaning of hemeis pantes, and the significance of the unveiled face. Moreover, a clear understanding of 2 Cor 2:14-4:6 cannot do without a lucid treatment of 2 Cor 3:18 that is central to the argumentation of this text unit. This paper maintains that anakekalymmeno prosopo ten doxan kyriou katoptrizomenoi has to be understood as the unveiled face that reflects the glory of the Lord….

Lyman Coleman, on the most hopeless city of Corinth (1855)

One of the projects I’m working on this year is a study of how ancient and modern writers have interpreted the historical fortunes of Corinth through the lens of its eastern landscape, the Isthmus. How did a land bridge become so consequential for writing the history of the city?

It’s a topic I’ve commented on before (e.g., see the various posts in the Corinth in the mind category), and I even wondered in a post on Oscar Bronner’s wicked city when some of the popular myths about Corinth originated in the modern era.

I’ve had a little time recently to dig into some travel literature, historical geography, and New Testament commentaries of the 17th-19th centuries, and I’ve found some gems.

For this week’s picture of Corinth, I’ll post this mid-19th century description of the city in Lyman Coleman’s An Historical Text Book and Atlas of Biblical Geography, Philadelphia 1855: Lippincott, Grambo & Co.

Published about the middle of the 19th century, and related to another work on Historical Geography of the Bible, Lyman describes the apostle Paul’s decision to move from Athens to Corinth in this way (pp. 231-232):

“It is a singular and instructive fact, that the ministry of the apostle appears to have been attended with little profit at this seat of Grecian refinement and learning; nor does he appear ever again to have visited Athens. The rich, voluptuous, and mercantile population of Corinth offered him far more encouragement than the orators, sages, and philosophers of her proud rival…

…This metropolis, rivaling Athens in wealth and commerce, in luxury and licentiousness, and scarcely inferior in the fine arts, was situated on the isthmus of the Peloponnesus, fifty miles west of Athens, guarded and defended by a lofty acropolis, which rises two thousand feet above the platform of the city. The region is now unhealthy, and only a few miserable hovels still occupy the site of this far-famed city of Corinth…

But even in that corrupt city, the most hopeless, it would seem, that could have been selected, the Lord had ‘much people,’ and many of the Corinthians, both Jews and Greeks, believed and were baptized.”

In the weeks to come, I’ll be posting some of these old historical interpretations that have continued to shape modern interpretations of Corinth.