Sherwin-White enters the next lecture about Paul’s various trips to cities, as recorded in Acts. The first anachronism Sherwin-White addresses is the question of how Paul could be beaten by authorities (Acts 16:22 & 2 Cor. 11:25) when Paul indicates it is unlawful to beat him as a Roman Citizen. (Acts 22:25).
Sherwin-White goes through a number of examples regarding various communities, their authorities and their jurisdiction to impose law. He notes it is possible authorities could exceed their powers and concludes, “the narrative agrees with the evidence of the earlier period that a Roman Citizen of any social class was protected against a casual beating (without trial), whereas the humiliores of the late empire had lost this protection.” Pg. 76 I had great difficulty following Sherwin-White’s analysis, nor how he came to this particular conclusion. I finally gave up.
Sherwin-White notes the charge in Philippi was in two forms: 1) causing a riot and 2) introduction of alien religion. However, Sherwin-White correctly indicate the official position of Rome was to prohibit certain religious practices, typically if such practices did not cause a disturbance, they were allowed to continue. With occasional crack-downs. This charge, Sherwin-White says, “…though it is unusual, it is not entirely unparalleled in Julio-Claudian usage.” (pg 82)
Sherwin-White states the procedure followed in Ephesus was that reminiscent of the first and Second Century. Acts does not show detailed knowledge of any other city, as compared to Ephesus. When discussing the other cities, Acts uses far less specifics, and general titles, rather than the correct term for Clerk of the City, etc. Although Acts is aware of the correct and fairly unusual title of Thessalonica’s city magistrates.
I found Sherwin-White quite dry at this point, in referring to these events. It did seem he generally wanted to favor Acts, rather than be critical. Where Acts was accurate, it was highlighted. Where Acts was not, it was excused.
The next Lecture dealt with Paul appearing before the proconsul Gallio. (Acts 18:12-17) Where the proconsul actually turns on the accusers and drives them out. Sherwin-White says, “It is not certain that the charge made against Paul at Corinth was intended to refer primarily to Hebraic Law, though Gallio found it convenient to take it that way….It is the way of Acts to summarize and at times to garble the charges variously brought against Paul.” Pg. 101
Sherwin-White responds to many claims by critics, including the lack of specific charges, and that we do not know a proconsul Gallio of Achaia. (It is unlikely such a minor official would be recorded within the histories we have.)
And finally, within this lecture, Sherwin-White addresses who Paul would see in his appeal to Rome. It is extremely unlikely he would have been taken to Nero himself, as Nero avoided all jurisdictional functions. He also addresses criticism regarding the two-year delay, concluding it was possible for such a delay to occur.
Curiously, Sherwin-White notes Seneca, one of Nero’s principal advisors, attempted to instill clemency in Nero, and states, “Perhaps Paul benefited from the clemency of Nero, and secured merely a casual release. But there is no necessity to construe Acts to mean that he was released at all.” (pg 119)
Sherwin-White gives us no information as to who Paul would have seen in Rome, or what would have happened to him.