Criswell Theological Review 5.1 (1990) 69-82.

          Copyright © 1990 by The Criswell CollegeCited with permission.    





               AND THE BOOK OF ACTS




                                          JOHN MCRAY

              Wheaton College Graduate School, Wheaton, IL 60187



The winds of biblical scholarship have blown toward the Book of

Acts from a largely theological direction for the past quarter of a

century,1 providing a corrective to the pervasive concern with ques-

tions of historicity fostered by the work of W. Ramsay almost a century

ago.2 However, the winds are changing again, and interest is once more

being kindled in questions relating to the trustworthiness of Acts. These

changing winds are blowing from such unlikely places as the University

of Tubingen itself, whose extremely critical views were held by Ram-

say prior to his sojourn in Asia Minor. For example, M. Hengel, a NT

scholar at Tubingen, "makes a bold departure from radical NT scholar-

ship in supporting the historical integrity of the Acts of the Apostles. . .

and demonstrates that Luke's account is historically reliable. . . ."3 Miti-

gating cases against the hyperskepticism of scholars like J. Knox,4 and

G. Leudemann,5 are now being made in various quarters bolstered by

new discoveries in archaeological and inscriptional material.6


            1 C. Talbert, ed., Perspectives on Luke-Acts (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1978);

I. H. Marshall, Luke: Historian and Theologian (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1970); L. E.

Keckand J. L. Martyn, Studies in Luke-Acts (Nashville: Abingdon, 1966).

            2 W. Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveller and Roman Citizen (London: Hodder &

Stoughton, 1908); idem, The Cities of St. Paul (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1907);

idem, The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament

(2d ed.; London/New York: Hodder & Stoughton, 1915).

            3 From the jacket of Hengel's Acts and the History of Earliest Christianity (Phila-

delphia: Fortress, 1979).

            4 J. Knox, Chapters in a Life of Paul (New York: Abingdon, 1950). (Rev. ed.;

Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1987).

            5 G. Leudemann, Paulus der Heidenapostell: Studien zur Chronologie (Gottingen:

Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1980). English trans. by F. S. Jones, Paul-Apostle to the

Gentiles: Studies in Chronology (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984).

            6 See works below by Finegan, McRay, and Herner.




            In this article only a modicum of current archaeological research

will be presented because an article of this length requires a high

degree of selectivity in order to include even the highlights of archae-

ology's ongoing contribution to the study of Acts. Older works on Acts,

such as those by Ramsay, Foakes-Jackson, and Lake,7 are now able to

be supplemented, and in places corrected, by contemporary research

on archaeology and classical history in the works of J. Finegan,8

C. Hemer,9 the author,10 and others.

            For convenience we may group significant discoveries relating to

Acts into the following categories: 1) chronology, 2) inscriptions and

coins, and 3) excavated sites.




            The unbridled skepticism of Knox and Leudemann concerning the

trustworthiness of Acts for constructing a reliable, if not detailed,

chronology of its events has been effectively neutralized by the careful

work of less radical scholars. Fragments11 of an inscription reproducing

a letter sent from Claudius, either to the people of Delphi or to the

successor of Gallio, have been found at Delphi mentioning Gallio

(Loukioj [ou] uioj Galliwn o f [iloj] mou  ka [i anqu] patoj [thj

Axaiaj] egrayen. . . ).12  C. Herner and J. Finegan demonstrate that

most recent studies13 on the Gallio inscription require the placing of

that proconsul's accession to office in Achaia in A.D. 51/52 (Acts 18:12).

Paul, having come to Corinth 18 months earlier than his appearance

before Gallio (18:11), could have arrived in the late fall of 49,14 or


            7 F. J. Foakes-Jackson and K. Lake, The Beginnings of Christianity (5 vols.; New

York: Macmillan, 1920-33; 5 vols.; repr., Grand Rapids: Baker, 1966).

            8 J. Finegan, The Archaeology of the New Testament: The Mediterranean World of

the Early Christian Apostles (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1981).

            9 The scholarly world has been recently blessed by the posthumous publication of

the exhaustive work of Professor Herner, The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic

History (WUNT; Tubingen: J. C. B. Mohr [Paul Siebeck], 1989). His work deals with

questions of the history, language, geography, and structure of Acts.

            10 J. McRay, Archaeology and the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1991).

            11 Four were known to A. Deissmann (see n. 12), but a total of nine are now

accepted by Herner (The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History, 252, n. 18).

See his analysis based on these additional fragments in "Observations on Pauline Chron-

ology," in D. A. Hagner and M. J. Harris, eds., Pauline Studies (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,

1980) 6-9.

            12 A. Deissmann, St. Paul: A Study in Social and Religious History (New York:

Hodder & Stoughton, 1912) appendix I.

            13 See Herner, Book of Acts, 252, n. 18.

            14 Finegan, The Archaeology of the New Testament, 13.



taking a less restrictive view of the 18-month period, in the late fall

of 50.15

            This date coincides well with Suetonius' record of an expulsion of

the Jews from Rome under Claudius in A.D. 49,16 which occurred just

before Paul arrived in Corinth (Acts 18:2).17 Dio Cassius' comment that

Claudius “did not drive them out [i.e., because there were so many] . . .

but ordered them not to hold meetings"18 probably refers to the begin-

ning of his reign when he showed tolerance to the Jews.19

            The very recent discovery of a cemetery in Jericho, seven miles

long with more than 120 tombs, provides support for this analysis.20

One of the tombs contained an inscribed sarcophagus which belonged

toTheodotus, freedman of Queen Agrippina. . . ." He was freed by

the queen, the second wife of Claudius, between A.D. 50 and 54. This

manumission of a Jewish slave21 (Theodotus is Greek for Nathanael),

points to a favorable relation between the house of Claudius and the

Jews early in his reign. Later in his reign, another wife of Claudius,

Queen Protonice, converted to Christianity, made a pilgrimage to

Jerusalem, and returned to Rome with a report that the Jews had

wrongfully withheld from Christians the possession of Golgotha, the

cross, and the tomb of Christ. A little known passage in the Doctrine of

Addai then reads:  “And when Caesar heard it, he commanded all the

Jews to leave the country of Italy.”22 This is probably the expulsion

referred to above by Suetonius.


            15 Herner, The Book of Acts, 169,252-53; "Pauline Chronology," 6.

            16 Herner, The Book of Acts, 169.

            17 Orosius (Seven Books of History Against the Romans 7.6,15-16) dated it to the

ninth year of Claudius's reign, which Finegan places at A.D. 49 (Handbook of Biblical

Chronology [Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1964] 319. Suetonius Twelve 25;

idem, The Teaching of Addai 7b-lla. See G. Howard, trans., The Teaching of Addai

(Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1981) 33.

            18 Dio Cassius, History of Rome 60.6.6.

            19 Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 19.280-91. G. Howard, "The Beginnings of

Christianity in Rome: A Note on Suetonius, Life of Claudius XXV A," Restoration

Quarterly 24 (1981) 175-77.

            20 R. Hachlili and A. Killebrew, "The Saga of the Goliath Family-As Revealed in

Their Newly Discovered 2,000 Year Old Tomb," Biblical Archaeology Review 9/1

(1983) 52-53.

            21 Another Theodotus, who was a priest and synagogue president, whose name was

found on a pre- A.D. 70 inscription belonging to a synagogue in Jerusalem, is called "son of

Vettenus" and thus may have been a slave who had been freed by the prominent Roman

family of the Vetteni, taking their name as was the custom. A. Deissmann, Light from the

Ancient East (New York: George H. Doran, 1922) 439-41; Finegan, Light from the

Ancient Past, 306. Albright felt that this synagogue of Theodotus may be connected with

the "synagogue of freedmen" in Acts 6:9. W. F. Albright, The Archaeology of Palestine,

(Baltimore: Penguin, 1960) 172. I

            22 Howard, Doctrine of Addai, 33.



                                    Inscriptions and Coins


            One of our most important sources for the study of the ancient

world continues to be the ongoing decipherment of already discovered

inscriptions and the continual discovery of new ones. For example,

some 7,500 inscriptions have been found in the Greek Agora of Athens

alone.23 They testify to the huge number of inscribed altars, monu-

ments, and buildings that existed in this part of Athens' huge market

area. Excavations by the American School of Classical Studies in 1970

and 1981-82 unearthed about 25 hermai (statues) in the northwest part

of this western agora alone.

            This area had "assumed something of the aspect of a museum" in

the time of Acts,24 and Petronius, a Roman satirist in the court of Nero,

could say that it was easier to meet a god than a man in Athens.25 Paul

was thus impressed that he found among these "objects of your wor-

ship" an altar even "to the unknown god" (agnwstw qew), Acts 17:13).

Although this altar no longer exists, an altar "to the unknown god," was

purportedly located by Pope Innocent III in A.D. 1208 in Athens.26

Pausanias, who visited Athens between A.D. 143 and 159, saw such

altars. Describing his trip from the harbor to Athens he wrote, "The

Temple of Athene Skiras is also here, and one of Zeus further off, and

altars of the 'Unknown gods'. . . ."27 Similarly, at Olympia, he described

the altar of Olympian Zeus and wrote that "near it is an altar of the

Unknown gods. . . ."28 Apollonius of Tyana, who was born at the time

of the birth of Christ and died in A.D. 98, spoke of Athens as the place

"where altars are set up in honor even of unknown gods (agnwstwn

daimonwn bwmoi)."29

            Diogenes Laertes wrote of altars being erected "To the god whom

it may concern (tw proshkonti qew)."30 Oecumenius records an altar


            23 J. Camp, The Athenian Agora (London: Thames & Hudson, 1986) 17.

            24 T. L. Shear, Jr., "Athens: From City State to Provincial Town," Hesperia 50

(1981) 362.

            25 Petronius, Satiricon 17.

            26 Published in PL 215, cols. 1559-61. "Palladis in sedem humiliavit gloriosissimae

genitricia veri Dei nunc assecuta notitiam quae dudum ignoto exstruxerat Deo aram."

The fuller text of the testimonium is easily accessible in J. Travlos and A. Frantz, "The

Church of St. Dionysios the Areopagite and the Palace of the Archbishop of Athens in the

16th Century," Hesperia 34 (1965) 194. I am grateful for this reference from J. Binder,

which she excerpted for me from materials in her forthcoming book on The Topography

of Athens: A Sourcebook.

            27 Description of Greece 1.2.4. (trans. by P. Levi; Penguin Classics) 1.12.

            28 Description of Greece 5.14.8. Levi, 2.239.

            29 Recorded by his biographer, Flavius Philostratus (A.D. c. 170-c. 245). Life of

Apollonius of Tyana 6.3. (trans. by F. C. Coynbeare, Loeb Classical Library) 2.13.

            30 Diogenes Laertes, 1.110.



dedicated to “the gods of Asia, Europe, and Libya, to the Unknown

and Strange God.”31 When W. Dorpfeld cleared the sacred precinct of

Demeter at Pergamum in 1909, he found an altar with a partially

defective text, which is restored by H. Hepding and A. Deissmann to

read:  qeoij agn[wstoij] Kapitw[n] dadouxo[j] “To unknown gods,

Capito, torchbearer.”32

            The tendency to view emperors as divine at the time of Acts is

shown in an inscription found in 1980 in Thessalonica. A temple of qeoj

Kaisar (divine Caesar) had been in Thessalonica since the time of

Augustus,33 and in this newly discovered inscription, the qeoi sebastoi

(august gods) are venerated as cruvvaol (fellow sanctuaries) of Serapis

and Isis.34

            The other section of the agora lay 250 feet to the east, partially

endowed by Julius Caesar and completed by Augustus in the last

decade of the 1st century B.C.35 The identification and date of this area

are confirmed by two inscriptions, one on the architrave of the gate of

Athena, which allowed entrance from the Greek agora,36 and the other

on the base of a statue of Lucius Caesar, Augustus' grandson.37 It is now

customarily referred to as  “the market of Caesar and Augustus.” It

would have been more likely in this area, rather than the more often

visited one to the west, that Paul would have found his audiences.

            Excavators of Amphipolis, a city on Paul's journey down the

Egnatian Way in Macedonia, have uncovered a gymnasium which was

still standing when Paul passed through the area.38 A lengthy inscrip-

tion (139 lines) of 21 B:C. contains an ephebic law (i.e., a law for youth),

which provides detailed instruction about athletic activities and equip-

ment in the gymnasium,39 as well as references to the city's road

system, factories, a theatre, and an agora.40 This confirms the impres-

sion of Amphipolis as a major city. It was, in fact, the capital city of the

first district of Macedonia.


            31 Comments on Acts 17:23, in Minge, Patrologia Grecae, 118.238.

            32 See Hepding's report in Athenische Mitteilungen 35 (1910), 454-57. And see

Deissmann's discussion in St. Paul: A Study in Social and Religious History (London:

Hodder and Stoughton, 1911) appendix 2,261-62.

            33 Inscriptiones Graecae: Inscriptiones Attica, 1935. 10.2.31. (Vols. 2 and 3 of this

larger series are now called IG II2). Hereafter referred to as IG II2.

            34 F. Papazoglou, "Macedonia Under the Romans," Macedonia: 4000 Years of

Greek History and Civilization (ed. M. B. Sakellariou; Athens: Ekdotike Athenon, 1983)

207, n. Ill.

            35 W, B. Dinsmoor, "The Temple of Ares at Athens," Hesperia 9 (1940) 50, n. 14.

J. H. Oliver, Hesperia 11(1942) 82.

            36 IG 1123175.

            37 IG 1123251.

            38 Archaeological Reports 30 (1983-84) 49.

            39 Archaeological Reports 31 (1984-85) 48.

            40 Archaeological Reports 32 (1985-86) 68.



            At Beroea, also visited by Paul along the Egnatian Way, another

important gymnasium inscription has been found, "The Gymnasiarchal

Law of Beroea," which was published in 1951,41 and has been re-

cently restudied.42 The age groups categorized in the gymnasium are:

1) Paidej, up to age 15; 2) efeboi, ages 15-17; and 3) Neoi or Nea-

niskoi, ages 18-22. This may provide some indication of the age of

Timothy, who is referred to as a neothj ("youth") in 1 Tim 4:12.

            Archaeology continues to make a contribution to a problem that

has centered around Thessalonica for many years. Critics of the NT

asserted that Luke was mistaken in his use of the term politarxai

(politarchs) for the officials before whom Paul was taken in this city.43

The British Museum houses along-known, fragmentary inscription

containing this term which was found in Thessalonica. The inscription

begins, "In the time of the Politarchs. . . ." Finegan writes that the

importance of the inscription is that "it is otherwise unknown in extant

Greek literature."44

            However, in 1000 C. Schuler published a list of 32 inscriptions

which contain this term,45 and 19 of them come from Thessalonica!

Three of these date to the 1st century A.D. (#8, 9, and 10). One of the 32

is from Beroea and also dates to the 1st century A.D. The word politarch

appears on line 110 of this impressive stele in the city's museum.46

            Three more may be added to that list as follows: 1) I have seen one

in the Thessalonica Museum which was apparently discovered in Myg-

donian Apollonia, and published by K. Sismanides.47 2) J. H. Oliver

discusses an inscription that appeared on the base of a statue erected in

Beroea for the emperor Claudius, which refers to a board of five

politarchs in that city, all of whom are named on the inscription.48 It


            41 Makaronas, Makedonika (1951); xronika Arxaiologika 629-30, n. 71.

            42 J. M. R. Cormack, Ancient Macedonia 2.139-49; J. and L. Robert, Bulletin

Epigraphique 9 (1978) 430-31.

            43 Acts 17:6.

            44 Finegan, Archaeology of the New Testament, 108.

            45 C. Schuler, "The Macedonian Politarchs," Classical Philology 55 (January/

October, 1960) 00-100.

            46 It has been the subject of recent study by J. M. R. Cormack; "The Gymnasiarchal

Law of Beroea," Ancient Macedonia II: Papers Read at the Second International Sym-

posium Held in Thessaloniki, 19-24, August, 1973 (Thessaloniki: Institute for Balkan

Studies, 1977) 139-49. See also a response by J. Robert and L. Robert in Bulletin

Epigraphique 9 (1978) 431-32.

            47 Sismanides, however, has not accepted Apollonia as its source. Arxaiologikh

Efhmerij; (1983) 75-84. See also Archaeological Reports 32 (1985-86) 58.

            48 J. Oliver, "The Dedication to Claudius at Beroea," Zeitschrift fur Papyrologie

und Epigraphik 30 (1978) 150. A reply was made by J. Touratzoglou in ZPE 34 (1979)





was published originally in modern Greek by J. Touratzoglou.49 3) In

January, 1975, a reused marble plaque was discovered at Amphipolis in

Basilica A, containing the word "politarchs" in line 7. C. Koukouli-

Chrysanthaki of the Kavalla Museum dates the inscription to the 2nd

century B.C.50 It is interesting that scholarly discussion has now shifted

from whether politarchs existed at all to the question of when the

institution originated!51 It is now incontrovertible that politarchs existed

in Macedonia both before and during the time of the Apostle Paul.

The reference in Acts 16:12 to Philippi as "the leading city of the

district of Macedonia" is enigmatic in the Greek manuscripts. The

translation is equally enigmatic.52 Coins minted in Amphipolis from

168 to 146 B.C. carried the inscription MAKEDONWN PRWTHS (first of

Macedonia).53 Philippi was also a part of the first (prwth) of four

districts of Macedonia but was not its capital city. According to Pliny,

that honor belonged to Amphipolis,54 a city which Paul would visit

later.55 The conjectural text of Nestle-Aland's 26th ed., making "first"

(prwthj) a genitive and thus reading "a city of (the) first district of

Macedonia," is probably to be preferred at present.

            Paul undoubtedly travelled to Philippi on the Egnatian Way, which

according to Strabo,56 ran from Apollonia on the west coast of Mace-

donia (on the same latitude as Thessalonica) to Kypsela (modern Mar-

itza) on the east coast. The milestones marked it as a distance of 535

Roman miles (493 English miles). One of these milestones was recently

discovered in the vicinity of Thessalonica,57 and is now housed in the


            49 Ch. Koukouli-Chrysanthaki, Praktika B: Dieqnouj Sunedriou

Arxaiaj Makedoniaj (Thessaloniki, 1977) 486-93.

            50 Ch. Koukouli-Chrysanthaki, "Politarchs in a New Inscription from Amphipolis,"

Ancient Macedonian Studies in Honor of Charles F. Edson (ed. H. J. Dell; Thessaloniki:

Institute for Balkan Studies, 1981) 238-39.

            51 For a survey of that question see M. Hatzopoulos, "Les politarques de Philip-

popolis: Un element meconnu pour la datation d'une magistrature macedonienne," a

communication read at the Third International Congress of Thracology in Vienna (June,

1980). For bibliography previous to 1973 see F. Geschnitzer, RE Suppl. 13 (1973)

483-500. Also see B. Helly, "Politarques, Poliarches, et Politophylaques," Ancient Mace-

donia 2 (Thessaloniki,1977) 531-32.

            52 RSV, 2d ed., 1971. This is generally the way the verse is translated.

            53 See Lazarides' article on "Amphipolis" in Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical

Sites (ed. R. Stillwell; Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976) 52.

            54 Natural History 4.38. See also Papazoglou, 198; and Lazarides in Princeton

Encyclopedia of Classical Sites, 52.

            55 Acts 17:1.

            56 Geography 7.7.4.

            57 C. Romiopoulou, “Un Nouveau Milliaire de la Via Engatia," Bulletin de Cor-

respondance Hellenique 98 (1974) 813-16.



museum in that city. It is one of the most interesting I have seen,58 is

written in both Latin and Greek, and gives the distance as 260 Roman

miles (Thessalonica is midway between the two points mentioned by


            Inscriptions found at Ephesus and elsewhere in Asia Minor have

now illuminated the use of terms in Acts such as God-fearers59 (fobou-

menoi sebomenoi),60 town clerk (grammateuj),61 and Asiarchs (Asiar-

xai).62 In 1974, M. Rossner identified 74 Asiarchs or high priests of Asia

in Ephesus from inscriptions. The recent monumental publication of

the repertorium of inscriptions from Ephesus,63 containing no less than

3,500 previously known and new inscriptions, has brought the number


            58 The Latin distance is given as CC followed by an arrow pointing down, followed

by X. Romiopoulou comments on the arrow as follows: "L'emploi de la lettre [down

arrow] pour designer le chiffre 50 (le X de l'alphabet {chalcidique}), mais surtout la

forme des lettres du texte grec, autorisent a dater l'inscription de la seconde moitie du IIe

siecle avo J.-C." Bulletin de Correspondance Hellenique 98 (1974) 814. The distance in

Greek is clear-SC = 260.

            59 Acts 10:22; 13:16,26,43; 16:14; 17:4, 17; 18:7.

            60 See the material on the recent excavation of the Aphrodisias stele by C. Gempf in

Herner, Book of Acts, appendix 2, "The God-Fearers," 444-48. In general see: L. Feld-

man, "The Omnipresence of the God-Fearers," Biblical Archaeology Review 12/5 (1986)

58-63; T. Finn, "The God Fearers Reconsidered" CBQ 47 (1985) 81; R. MacLennan and

T. Kraabel, "The God-Fearers: A Literary and Theological Invention," BAR 12 (1986)

45-54; M. Mellink, "An Article on Inscription in the Synagogue at Aphrodisias Containing

the Word qessebeij," AJA 81 (1977) 281-321; R. Tannenbaum, "Jews and God-Fearers in

the Holy City of Aphrodite," BAR 12/5 (1986) 55-57. M. Wilcox, "The 'God Fearers' in

Acts-A Reconsideration," JSNT 13 (1981) 109; note also an editorial report in BAR 12/2

(1987) 52-53.

            61 Acts 19:35. On the importance of this office see A. H. M. Jones, The Greek City

from Alexander to Justinian (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967) 238-40; and D. Magie,

Roman Rule in Asia Minor to the End of the Third Century after Christ (Princeton, NJ:

Princeton University Press, 1950) 1.60, and esp. 2.848, n. 32. Several inscriptions found in

Ephesus refer to this office. One of them identifies Laberius Amoenus as o gramm[ateuj

tou d]hmou, "the clerk (or secretary) of the people." E. L. Hicks, The Collection of

Ancient Greek Inscriptions in the British Museum, 3.2 (Oxford, 1980) 482 (+ adden-

dum on 294). The inscription, which dates to the mid-2nd century A.D., is conveniently

available in G. H. R. Horsley, New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity (4 vols.;

Macquarie, Australia: The Ancient History Documentary Research Center, 1981-87)


            62 These high officials were among Paul's friends in Ephesus, Acts 19:31 (ontej autw

filoi). Asiarchs were the "foremost men of the province of Asia, chosen from the

wealthiest and the most aristocratic inhabitants of the province. See the discussion in my

book, Archaeology and the New Testament in the chapter on "Cities in Western Asia

Minor." See also L. Taylor, "The Asiarchs," in The Beginnings of Christianity (ed. F. J.

Foakes-Jackson and K. Lake; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1966) 4.256.

            63 This is Inschriften grieschischer Stiidte aus Kleinasien XI-XVII. Die Inschriften

von Ephesos 1- VIII. (Ed. H. Wankel; Bonn, 1979-84). Newly discovered inscriptions are

being published in Oesterreichische Jahreshefte. See Archaeological Studies 35 (1985)





of Asiarchs in Ephesus to 106, including both men and women.64

Asiarch inscriptions have been found in more than 40 cities throughout

Asia. Numerous inscriptions mentioning Asiarchs have been found in

Ephesus, some of them dating to within 50 years of the events de-

scribed in Acts.65 The fact that such men were friends of Paul may

suggest that the wealthy and educated people of Ephesus were not as

opposed to Paul as the superstitious crowd in the theatre, and that Paul's

ministry was not as exclusively oriented to the poor and uneducated as

is sometimes assumed, and probably also suggests that the policy of the

Roman Empire at this time was not hostile to Christianity.66

            Sometime in the late 1st century, probably in the reign of Domi-

tian, Pergamum, Smyrna, and Ephesus, which were seats of emperor

worship, became officially designated "temple wardens" (newkoroi),67

a term used by the clerk of the city of Ephesus in Acts 19:35. Whereas

in Acts the term may only have "referred to the Ephesians as wor-

shippers of Artemis,"68 it became in the 2nd century a title conferred

by Rome on cities in which there was "a temple founded for the

worship of the emperors."69 It appears in its full form newkoroj twn

Sebastwn ("temple warden of the Augusti") in numerous inscriptions

from this century and later. For example, an inscription found in

Ephesus dating to about 162-64 reads:


 [ed]ocen thj prwthj kai me[gisthj mhtr]opolewj thj Asiaj kai dij

nejk[orou twn Seba]ston kai filosebastou Efe[sinw polewj th bo]ulh

kai tw dhmw . . .

            "It was decreed by the council and people of the patriotic city of the

            Ephesians, first and greatest metropolis of Asia, temple-warden of the

            Augusti two times. . . .”70


Some cities, e.g., Pergamum, Smyrna, and Ephesus,71 built two such

temples and were designated as "twice temple wardens"; a few of the

more important ones even became "thrice temple wardens."72


            64 The most recent publication of a list of the Asiarchs is by M. Rosser, Studii

Clasice: Bucuresti, Soc. de Studii clasice din RSR 16 (1974) 101-42.

            65 See the texts and extensive comments in Horsley, New Documents, 4.46-55,

where the careers of four Asiarchs are traced on 49-50.

            66 F. F. Bruce, The Book of the Acts (NICNT; rev. ed.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,

1988) 376-77.

            67 Magie, Roman Rule 1.637; 2.1433, 1451.

            68 Ibid., 2.1433.

            69 Ibid., 2.1432.

            70 Horsley, 4.74. See also the inscriptions in J. T. Wood, Discoveries at Ephesus

(London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1877), "Inscriptions from the City and Suburbs," #12,

and #15.

            71 Magie, Roman Rule, 1.594, 615, and 619 respectively.

            72 Ibid, 1.637.



            The care of the temples, the handling of the sacred funds, and the

recording of public documents (often on the walls of the temples) were

entrusted to a board of men known as neopoiai (temple wardens) a

term used seemingly synonymously with newkoroj in the inscriptions.73

The former term appears frequently in inscriptions from Ephesus, both

in the form neopoij and newpoioj.74 It has been conjectured that De-

metrius the silversmith in Acts 19:24 may have been one of these

officials. One inscription 75 mentions a Demetrius who is a neopoioj, but

Ramsay rejected the identification of this man with the one mentioned

in Acts.76

            In an inscription from the time of Claudius or later,77 a man named

M. Antonius Hermeias is called a "silversmith," and "temple warden"

(argurokopou neopoiou).78 A number of inscriptions in the newly pub-

lished Inschriften van Ephesas series contain references to silversmiths

that are much closer in time to the Book of Acts than the papyrus

citations recorded in Greek lexicons.79 The Hermeias inscription, men-

tioned above, also mentions a "guild of silversmiths" (sunedrion twn

argurokopwn) in Ephesus, which was commissioned to care for a

gravesite. It has been reported that Miltner found the shops of the

silversmiths in his excavations in the agora, though I have not seen


            In the theatre of Ephesus, a crowd gathered to protest the mission-

ary work of Paul, prompted largely by the detrimental economic

impact his teaching was having on the livelihood of the silversmiths

mentioned above.81 They were making silver images of Artemis (the

Roman Diana), some of whose beautifully sculpted statues were found

in the town hall, as previously noted. A Greek and Latin inscription,


            73 See the inscriptions in Wood. Discoveries at Ephesus, "Inscriptions from the

Temple of Diana," #1 and #2. See also the extended discussion and references in Magie,

Roman Rule, 2.847 -48; and inscription #28 with discussion in Horsley. New Documents,


            74 Inschriften von Ephesos, 8.1, see index. As newpoihj, Horsley, New Documents, 4,

Inscriptions #1, 28; and newpoioj, Wood, Discoveries at Ephesus, "Inscriptions from the

Temple of Diana," #1 (cf. n. 5) and #2. Also, newpoihj;.IG II2, 1678b.

            75 Inschriften von Ephesos 5.1578.

            76 W. M. Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire before A.D. 170 (7th ed.;

London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1903) 112-45.

            77 Inschriften von Ephesos, 6, 2212.

            78 Horsley, New Documents, 4.7, #1.

            79 E.g., Moulton and Milligan's Vocabulary of the Greek Testament and Bauer-

Arndt-Gingrich-Danker, A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament. For other

examples see Horsley, New Documents, 4.7.

            80 P. MacKendrick. The Greek Stones Speak (New York: St. Martin, 1962) 422.

            81 Acts 19:23-41.



found in the theatre,82 tells how a Roman official provided a silver

image of Artemis and other statues which would be displayed in the

theatre when civic meetings were held there, as was customary.83

Incidentally, an inscription at Ephesus touches on another trade in

Ephesus, mentioned by Paul who wrote to Timothy about an “Alex-

ander the coppersmith," who opposed him while he taught in that

city.84 Timothy was probably in Ephesus when he received the letter.85

The inscription refers to the "(work place) of Diogenes the copper-

smith" (Diogenou[j] xarkwmatadoj).86


                                    Sites in Asia Minor and Greece


            Due to limitations of space I will only mention briefly some matters

of interest about several sites and refer the reader for a discussion of

each to my forthcoming book (see n. 10 above). At Antioch of Pisidia

(Acts 13:14) extensive surveys and probes have clarified the existing

structures and produced maps and diagrams of the entire area (1983

and 1984).87 The full circuit of the city walls, 15 to 18 feet thick, has

been traced. Domestic as well as religious and civic structures have

been found.

            No excavations have been done at Iconium, Lystra, or Derbe,

although two inscriptions have generated debate over the location of

Derbe. M. Ballance, who found the inscription near the town of Devri

Sehri, places Derbe there.88 Derbe is mentioned at the beginning of line

nine as follows: n, [Klaudio]derbhtwn h boulh kai o [d]hmoj e]i

Kornhlio- (italics mine). The other inscription, which also mentions

Derbe, was found by B. Van Eldern in a village nearby (Suduraya)

where he locates the city.89 It reads: o qeofilestatoj Mixail e[piskopoj



            82 Inschriften von Ephesos, 1.27.

            83 Anatolian Studies 15 (1005) 58-59.

            84 2 Tim 4:14.

            85 Cf. I Tim 1:3.

            86 Inschriften von Ephesos 2.554. The form xark- is equivalent to xalk- (see

Horsely, New Documents 4.10). In Acts he is called more briefly xalkeuj.

            87 See the two reports by S. Mitchell in Anatolian Studies 33 (1983) 7-9; 34 (1984)


            88 Anatolian Studies 7 (1957) 147-51. The stone is now in the new Museum for

Classical Antiquities at Konya.

            89 He reported on it at the 1963 Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature

in New York, in a paper entitled "Further Confirmation of the New Site for Derbe.”

Idem, "Some Archaeological Observations on Paul's First Missionary Journey," 158, n. 2.

            90 Both inscriptions are published in Van Eldem's article, "Some Archaeological

Observations," 157-58.




            Ephesus, a city of about 200,000 people, was called "a most illus-

trious city" (lamprotatoj Efesiwn polewj) in an inscription found in

the city,91 and Strabo called it "the greatest emporium in Asia, I mean

Asia in the special sense of that term [ie., Asia Minor]."92 The extensive

ruins of Ephesus are well known, including the upper forum, the lower

forum, the theatre mentioned in Acts 19:29, the town hall, the odeion,

the beautiful paved streets, temple remains, and other civic structures.

            The extent to which the imperial cult was established in Ephesus is

strikingly revealed in life-size marble busts of Tiberius and his wife

Livia found in situ in insula VII of the excavations of private houses in

Ephesus (the Hanghauser excavations). The imperial family seems to

have been worshipped even "in a private context as guarantors of

peace and prosperity."93 Excavations in this sector of Ephesus have

uncovered extensive remains of two huge insulae (ie., city blocks),

constructed in the 1st century A.D., on the northern slopes of Mount

Koressos (Bulbudag). They were built on a three-terraced hillside and

had water piped into apartments on every level, unlike those of Rome

and Ostia. In the eastern section, shops similar to those built in Pompeii

and Herculaneum were built into the first-floor level, selling among

other things, warm beverages. The owners lived in apartments behind

the shops. Upper levels consisted mostly of middle class apartments

and a large two-storied mansion. The western half of the area consisted

of five large luxury apartments. Thus, we have an example in Ephesus

of the rich, the poor, and the middle class, living in close proximity in

these insulae.94

            A lecture hall, or auditorium,95 mentioned in a 1st-century-A.D.

inscription,96 has been tentatively identified by the Turkish archae-

ologist E. Akurgal in the area adjacent to the east side of the Celsus

library. It may be the lecture hall (or school, sxolh) of Tyrannus

where Paul "reasoned daily."97 Hemer thought the two Greek words

audeitwrion and sxolh were virtually synonymous.98 The "auditorium"


            91 See Horsley, New Documents, 4.74, for text and bibliography.

            92 Geography 12.8.15; 14.1.24. See his description of Ephesus in 14.1.20-24.

            93 Archaeological Reports 31 (1984-85) 83.

            94 For a fuller description of these insulae, see McKay, ibid., 212-17. See also the

chapter in my book on "Institutions."

            95 audeitwrion from the Latin auditorium.

            96 E. Akurgal, Ancient Civilizations and Ruins of Turkey (Istanbul: Public Affairs

Department of Mobil Oil Co., 1970) 161. The inscription is in J. Keil, Ephesos: Einfuhrer

durch die Ruinenstatte und ihre Geschichte (Vienna: Osterreichisches Archaologisches

Institut, 1964) 109.

            97 Acts 19:9.

            98 C. J. Herner, "Audeitorion," Tyndale Bulletin 24 (1973) 128.



is referred to in recent publication,99 although little, if any, of the actual

structure has yet been found. What have been found are portions of a

Hellenistic circular platform which was destroyed when the audi-

torium was constructed.100

            Excavations continue at Corinth. Previous work has uncovered

a well-known inscription containing the name Erastus, which the ex-

cavation report identified with the Erastus referred to in Romans

16:23 (Acts 19:22; 2 Tim 4:20).101 Although his praenomen and nomen

are missing, the text reads: ERASTVS -PRO -AEDILIT[at]E S -P-

STRA VIT. In full it would read: Erastus pro aedilitate sua pecunia

stragit, “[. . .] Erastus in return for his aedileship laid [the pavement] at

his own expense."102

            Previous excavations have also uncovered the tribunal (bema or

rostrum) where Paul stood before Gallio (Acts 18:12). The structure was

discovered in 1935,103 and identified by O. Broneer, the excavator, in

1937.104 It is described in detail and carefully analyzed in the later ex-

cavation reports:105 Seven parts of an inscription found in areas around

the bema establish its identity. Kent's reconstruction of the text is as


-O[MNIA -S -P] -F -C -[EX] TEST[AMENTO], “He revetted the

Bema and paid personally the expense of making all its marble."106

According to Wiseman, the bema inscription may be dated to the reign

of either Augustus or Claudius.107 Kent places the bema's construction

between A.D. 25 and 50 on the basis of the letter forms of the inscription.

            In the 1985 excavations east of the theatre, C. Williams found

buildings close to the theatre with two or more stories, whose upper

floors were residential apartments but whose lower floors had ovens in

them and windows for street selling, similar to the arrangement in


            99 Anatolian Studies 36 (1986) 193.

            100 Akurgal, Ancient Civilizations, 161.

            101 J. Kent, Corinth: The Inscriptions 1926-1950 (Princeton: American School of

Classical Studies in Athens, 1966), 8.3.99, #232 and plate 21.

            102 See the recent discussion of Erastus as both aedile and oikonomos at Corinth by

D. Gill, "Erastus.the Aedile," Tyndale Bulletin 40 (1989) 293-302. C. Hemer notes that toe

cognomen Erastus was not uncommon among prominent people in Ephesus. C. J.

Herner, The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History (ed. C. -H. Gempf;

Tiibingen: J. C. B. Mohr [Paul Siebeck], 1989) 235.

            103 Morgan, AJA 40 (1936) 471-74.

            104 Broneer, "Studies in the Topography of Corinth at the Time of St. Paul,"

Arxaiologikh Efhmerij (1937) 125-28.

            105 Scranton, Corinth, 1.3.91-92.

            106 Kent, Corinth, 8.3, #322,8.3.128-29.

            107 See Wiseman, "Corinth and Rome I," Aufstieg und Niedergang der romischen

Welt 2.7.1,516, n. 308.




Ephesus. Large quantities of animal bones were found here. He thinks

these functioned as combination taverns/butcher shops.108

            A final note might be added about the author's work at Caesarea

Maritima on the coast of Israel since 1972 as a part of the joint

expedition to Caesarea Maritima, headed by Professor' R. J. Bull of

Drew University. Considerable space is given in Acts to events tran-

spiring in this city (chaps. 10-11, 21-26), and our excavations there

have uncovered parts of the ancient city's northern walls and gate, as

well as warehouses constructed in the time of Herod the Great and

later renovated. The street system can be recreated rather well, and the

harbor is being explored by underwater teams headed by the Uni-

versity of Haifa. The theatre was excavated by an Italian expedition

years ago. Two inscriptions containing the Greek text of Rom 13:3 in

the form of medallions were found in our excavations of a Byzantine

building and date to the time of some of our earliest manuscripts of the

Greek NT. In addition to the pertinent chapter in the author's forth-

coming book, information about the excavations can be found in

various publications by the expedition.109 The best available book on

the site is the beautifully done volume for the Smithsonian Institute



            108 C. Williams, "Corinth, 1985: East of the Theater," Hesperia 55 (1986) 146.

            109 The official publication is being done by Edwin Mellen Press in 14 vols, under

the general title of The Joint Expedition to Caesarea Maritima: Excavation Reports and

is being ed. by R. J. Bull (director), E. Krentz, and O. Storvick (field supervisors). See also

R. J. Bull, "Caesarea Maritima: The Search for Herod's City," Biblical Archaeology

Review 8 (1982) 24-40; R. Bull, "Caesarea," IDB: Supplement 120; R. Bull, The Joint

Expedition to Caesarea Maritima: Preliminary Reports in Microfiche (Madison, NJ:

Drew University Institute for Archaeological Research, 1982); The Greek and Latin

Inscriptions of Caesarea Maritima: The Joint Expedition to Caesarea Maritima-Excava-

tion Reports (ed. R. Bull). R. Bull, "Caesarea Maritima"; A. Frova, Scavi di Caesarea


            110 K. G. Holum, R. L. Hohlfelder, R. J. Bull, and A. Raban, King Herod's Dream:

Caesarea on the Sea, (New York: Norton, 1988).




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