The Humiliation of Christ in the Social World of Roman Philippi, Part 2 -- By: Joseph H. Hellerman
BSac 160:640 (Oct 03) p. 421
The Humiliation of Christ in the Social World of Roman Philippi, Part 2
The first article in this two-part series1 investigated the social world of Philippi, where the social verticality so central to Roman sensibilities—and the corresponding quest for public honors that characterized the lives of elite males in the empire—left their marks in the inscriptions uncovered throughout the colony.2 This second article reflects on the importance of the social setting of the colony for understanding Paul’s rhetorical strategy in his portrayal of Christ’s humiliation in Philippians 2:6–11.
Paul in Philippi: Evidence from Acts
The New Testament reinforces the image of Philippi as a Roman settlement that had an exceptionally stratified social environment. The Roman orientation of Philippi finds expression, for example, in a charge brought against Paul by residents of the colony, as described in the Book of Acts. Throughout Luke’s narratives of the various missionary journeys, only in Philippi were Paul and his co-workers specifically charged with advocating behavior inimical to the Roman way of life (16:21). Only Philippi, moreover, is identified
BSac 160:640 (Oct 03) p. 422
as a κολωνία (“colony,” v. 12), in spite of the fact that Luke mentioned seven or eight other Roman colonies in the course of his narrative, which he did not designate as colonies.3 Luke was clearly sensitive to the “Romanness” of Philippi.
Only for Philippi, among the various locations where Paul ministered, did Luke mention the offices of οἱ στρατηγοί (16:20, 22, 35, 38; alternately described as οἱ ἄρχοντες in v. 19) and of οἱ ῥαβδοῦχοι (vv. 35, 38). Scholarly consensus identifies the στρατηγόι as the duumviri iure dicundo, the top civic officers in the colony.
Click here to subscribe