Thank you Monica. Great job in your synopsis of a very packed full chapter. A lot of information to try and summarize in few paragraphs.
A reading of chapter 11, Voyage to Rome, Crossing and Shipwreck, provides a wealth of historical detail surrounding St. Paul’s voyage to Rome. St. Paul appealed to Caesar, a right he enjoyed as a Roman citizen, not against Rome, but rather to defend himself against the Jews’ stubborn insistence that he (Paul) was guilty and needed to be punished.
This chapter begins with prisoner Saint Paul being brought to Rome by ship to defend himself. Since it was late September and the autumn storms were fast approaching, they had pulled into a port called “Fair Heavens.” The weather was always a concern, they held a council meeting on whether to stay in the port or try to sail onward.
Saint Paul who had traveled extensively and had been shipwrecked numerous times, recommended that they stay in port; otherwise, there would be injury to lives and damage to the ship. However, the Captain decided to move forward with their journey.
Since their destination was only a few hours away, they proceeded with their journey. A storm pursued which resulted in the crew throwing both cargo and rigging overboard. Everyone on the ship, 266 people, felt they were all going to die. Everyone was exhausted since many days had passed since they had left the port.
At that point, Saint Paul rose and addressed everyone on the ship stating, “I now bid you take heart; for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night there stood by me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ Exactly as Saint Paul stated is what occurred.
They landed on the island of Malta, where Saint Paul healed many of their infirmities. This chapter ends with Saint Paul being brought to Rome and presenting his cause before many. Following his explanation to the people of Rome, some became believers and some did not. Saint Paul was permitted to stay in Rome for two years, in lodging that he rented, and he was permitted to proclaim Christ’s teachings to all of the many who came to him.
These passages relate important events in the history of Christianity and the spread of the Word of God. The historical details are rich in excitement and seem to provide wonderful material for a film depicting the importance of the early Christian period. I would recommend this chapter as beneficial reading and very important information for the young adult and, certainly, anyone interested in, or perusing higher studies on the life and times of St. Paul.
Paul entered Athens in 50 AD and spent a few weeks bring the message of Christ to the people. As a child Paul studied the classics and was extremely familiar with the Greek language and culture. Therefore, it must have been difficult to enter the pagan land with all its statues and art which were dedicated to various ‘gods’. In spite of this, Paul traveled through the city and taught about the resurrection of Jesus.
The irony in the chapter is that Paul was approached by the stoics because they had heard he was preaching about “strange gods’. Preaching about ‘other gods’ than the gods of the Greeks is what led to the condemnation of Protagoras, Socrates and others. Paul was led up the 16 steps of the Aeropagus to face a tribunal because of his preaching.
He addressed them as had many other philosophers – “Men of Athens”. However, Paul was quite ingenious in his defense. He appealed to their sense of “religion” by noting that on his journey through the city he noticed that they had an altar dedicated to an “unknown god”. It was this opportunity that he seized to continue his preaching about God. The Athenians, for all their intellect, could not grasp what Paul was teaching and ultimately rejected him. All was not lost, however, as the Church took root upon the conversion of Dionysius, Demaris and others with them.
Paul only spent a short time in Athens before moving on to Corinth, Ephesus, Caesarea Maritima, Jerusalem and Antioch. Each place he preached in the Synagogues.
I recommend this chapter, especially the first half, because it offers a contrast of the pagan world of Athens to the various Church’s that Paul was establishing throughout his missionary journey. The key point that Callewaert makes is that the Athenians, for all their wisdom, become fools for rejecting God and embracing Nero
In The World of St Paul Chapter Three “A Rabbinical Education” Calleawaert provides a vivid description of Saul’s Bar Mitzvah and his journey to Jerusalem where he received his rabbinical formation.
At thirteen Saul became a “Son of the Law” and was declared worthy to wear the phylacteries two small leather boxes containing scripture passages. One fastened to his head and the other his left arm which symbolized his total adherence to the law. Saul continued to work as a tent maker and study the law. At age fourteen due to his maturity and intelligence he was sent to study in Jerusalem. He joined a caravan south into the land of his ancestors.
Here Callewaert describes a wonderful description of Old Testament history describing various landmarks and the events that occurred there. He discussed how perilous the journey could be due to thieves and robbers. One stretch of the journey was dubbed “The Bloody Path”.
Upon entering Jerusalem there is description of the temple and the religious practices it. Noteworthy was the Wall of Gentiles that threatened death to any Gentile who pass through it to the sacred area of the temple. No doubt this would influence Paul for the future.
After he made his paschal sacrifice Saul entered a Rabbinical school. There were two schools belonging to the sect of Phariessees: Shammai and Hillel. Shammai offered a broader interpretation of the law. Hillel offered a strict adherence to the law. Saul chose Hillel and study under Gamaliel who was a teacher held in high regard even by the Roman emperor Tiberius. Saul also had close association with Greek scholars and the Sophia Greek Wisdom. When his studies were complete, he return to Tauris and worked as a Tent Maker with his father.
I recommend this chapter. Callewaert is a wonderful writer who provides detailed historical context for Saul’s journey to Jerusalem and his young adulthood. This chapter is a good resource for Bachelor or Master level biblical scholars.
Ben Witherington, a Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky and a pastor in the United Methodist Church offers a history of Dispensationalism.
This is an old video from Lutheran Satire but fun in light of First Thessalonians 4