New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity. Vol 8. A Review of the Greek Inscriptions and Papyri Published 1984-1985

By Nystrom, David P. | Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, March 2000 | Go to article overview

New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity. Vol 8. A Review of the Greek Inscriptions and Papyri Published 1984-1985


Nystrom, David P., Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society


Bell & Howell Information and Learning: Foreign text omitted. ...

New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity. Vol. 8. A Review of the Greek Inscriptions and Papyri Published 1984-1985. Edited by S. R. Llewelyn. The Ancient History Documentary Research Centre, Macquarie University. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998, 198 pp., $35.00 paper.

The New Documents series ranks among the best of the resources available that illumine the NT and Christian origins, and the volume under review is a superb addition to the series. It is erudite, richly documented, and fully indexed. In addition to selections held over from the previous volume, the editor surveyed the inscriptions and papyri published in 1984-1985 and collected a number deemed particularly illustrative of social and cultural currents apposite to early Christianity. The texts appear with facing translations. The material is organized under five headings: "Slavery," "Taxation, "Public Courtesies and Conventions," "Judaica," and "Ecclesiastics."

Part one is entitled "Slavery. (1) "The Crucifixion of a Slave" discusses an epitaph that describes a crucifixion in second-century ac Caria under conditions that indicate Roman influence. (2) "A Curse Against a Fugitive Slave?" links a fifth- or sixth-century text to the circus factions of the fourth century and ties these curses to the role of the crowd during the trial of Jesus. (3) "The Government's Pursuit of Runaway Slaves" presents the reader with a number of texts and a learned discussion concerning the reasons and conditions under which slaves fled and were pursued and captured. At several points connections are made to Philemon, Onesimus, and Paul.

Part two, "Taxation," deftly handles the bewildering complexity of Roman provincial taxation and demonstrates familiarity with the rather arcane secondary literature. (4) "Tax Collection and the ... of the New Testament" contains a lengthy discussion of taxation in Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt, linking these conditions with taxation in Judea. (5) "Taxes on Donkeys: An Illustration of Indirect Taxation at Work in Roman Egypt" not only demonstrates the complex nature of Roman provincial taxation, but also points to the crushing economic conditions endured by Roman provincials. (6) "Flight from Personal Obligations to the State" chronicles attempts in Roman Egypt to escape the many forms of taxation imposed upon provincials. These selections serve as reminders that anchoresis was known long before Priscus of Panium and Salvian Presbyter.

Part three is titled "Public Courtesies and Conventions." (7) "Benefaction Ideology and Christian Responsibility for Widows" offers a lengthy treatment of the phenomenon of benefaction in the ancient world tied to the injunction concerning care for family members in 1 Tim 5:8. …

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