Seneca the Younger, Gallio’s Brother, Column at Corinth

February 12, 2015

Among the ruins visible today as one visits biblical Corinth, is a portion of a column bearing the name of Seneca.

Column fragment at Corinth bearing Seneca's name (Latin Ceneka). Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Column fragment at Corinth with Seneca’s name (Latin CENEKA). Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Seneca is of interest to students of Acts, because he is the brother of the Proconsul Gallio, before whom Paul stood trial at Corinth (Acts 18:12-17). Usually when Paul was brought before rulers for his gospel teaching he was promptly beaten and often imprisoned (2 Cor. 11:23-27). However here at Corinth Gallio could see that Paul was not a law-breaker, and threw the case out.

Wikipedia has this info on Seneca:

Lucius Annaeus Seneca (often known simply as Seneca /ˈsɛnɪkə/; c. 4 BC – AD 65) was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist, and in one work humorist, of the Silver Age of Latin literature.

He was a tutor and later advisor to emperor Nero. While he was forced to commit suicide for alleged complicity in the Pisonian conspiracy to assassinate Nero, he may have been innocent. His father was Seneca the Elder, his elder brother was Lucius Junius Gallio Annaeanus, called Gallio in the Bible, and his nephew was the poet Lucan.

The mention of Gallio in the text (Acts 18) is helpful in dating the events at that point in the ministry of Paul.

Gallio was the proconsul [Grk. anthupatos] of the Roman senatorial province of Achaia (Acts 18:12). Proconsuls generally served two-year terms, and such appointments offered potentially great financial rewards. Achaia’s administrative center was Corinth, a newly rebuilt city at the time and a busy commercial and transport center. The city had as many as 200,000 residents, and the province of Achaia may have had several million subjects. . .

An inscription at the Temple of Apollo in Delphi indicates that Gallio’s time in Corinth may be dated to AD 51–53. Thus, Paul’s appearance before Gallio probably occurred in the spring or summer of AD 51. (The Lexham Bible Dictionary).

In an article entitled “Paul, Dating, and Corinth: The Gallio Inscription and Pauline Chronology,” Gardner Gordon wrote:

Gallio’s younger brother, Seneca, was a philosopher, and apparently an inflammatory one. In AD 41, Emperor Claudius exiled this young thinker to the isle of Corsica. Usually, such disgrace tarnished the entire family. Whatever political ambitions Gallio may have had were effectively derailed by his brainy brother’s banishment. But in AD 49, Seneca was ushered back to Rome with a grand purpose: he was placed in the imperial court as the tutor to Claudius’ nephew and royal successor, a young, impetuous Roman named Nero. Undoubtedly, it was at this time that Seneca was instrumental in helping to secure a political post of proconsul for his older brother, Gallio.

That article may be read in its entirety by clicking here.

I have several posts on biblical Corinth, with photos and brief articles. Use search box at upper right.

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Corinthian Helmet

October 30, 2014

From an entry entitled, “Weapons” in the Harper’s Bible Dictionary we read:

As in the modern world, advancements in ancient technology were quickly adapted for use in instruments of war. One of the most important steps in the history of weapons was the development of carburized iron, a phenomenon that occurred in the eastern Mediterranean toward the end of the second millennium B.C., but earlier improvements in metallurgy (i.e., the production of copper and bronze) had been applied to arms production for nearly two thousand years before the Iron Age. Naturally, the shape, size, and overall durability of dagger and sword blades and spearheads and arrowheads were affected by such improvements in copper, bronze, and iron technology. Another important weapon that improved over time was the chariot, whose speed and maneuverability were increased by changes in design and construction materials, including metals. Other major steps in the development of ancient weaponry include the invention of the composite bow, piercing battle-ax, “Corinthian” helmet, and siege engines (pp. 1123-1124).

The Metropolitan Museum in NY has several such helmets on display.

Corinthian Style Helmet. Photo by Leon Mauldin. Metropolitan Museum, NY.

Corinthian Style Helmet. Photo by Leon Mauldin. Metropolitan Museum, NY.

This Grecian helmet, made of bronze and dating back to 7th-6th century BC, put me in mind of some biblical texts:

–Isaiah 59:17:  He put on righteousness like a breastplate, And a helmet of salvation on His head; And He put on garments of vengeance for clothing And wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle. (Reference here is to the Lord, YHWH).

–Ephesians 6:17: And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. The above Isaiah text provides background for this Ephesians passage. The New American Standard Bible uses all caps to indicate a quotation from the OT. The helmet is a vital part of the Christian’s armor listed in Eph. 6:10-17.

–1 Thessalonians 5:8: But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. A helmet protects the head. Here the hope of salvation possessed by Christians is said to be a helmet. Keep your helmet on. Keeping the hope of salvation constantly in the forefront of the mind serves to protect one against Satan’s devices.

I believe I’ll keep my helmet on!


Corinth, cont’d.

January 6, 2011

Acts 18:11 informs us that Paul remained in Corinth for a year and six months; in v. 18 we are informed that “Paul still remained a good while.” This was during Paul’s 2nd Missionary Journey. Paul was a tent maker, as were his fellow-workers, Aquila and Priscilla, that great husband-wife team (Acts 18:3). Our photo below features the ruins of some of the many shops that were in ancient Corinth.  It is not difficult to imagine these biblical characters working in one of these locations.

Shops at Corinth. Acrocorinth in background. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The Acrocorinth is in the background. We have referenced this in some of the previous posts.

Of course during Paul’s stay at Corinth here his purpose was that of preaching the Gospel (Acts 18:11).  But he worked at his trade to help with the necessary financial support. Incidentally, these structures shown in our photo were the west shops of the city.

When Paul left Corinth, Aquila and Priscilla traveled with him, accompanying him as far as Ephesus, while Paul journeyed on to Jerusalem. We learn in Acts 18:18 that in their departure from Corinth they used the port of Cenchrea, shown in our photo below.

Cenchrea, Corinth's seaport. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

We learn from Romans 16:1 that there was a congregation of Christians there, as Paul makes special mention and recommendation of Phoebe, “a servant of the church in Cenchrea.” It was at this time during Paul’s 3rd Missionary Journey that he wrote the Christians at Rome from Corinth.  As Phoebe was traveling there to Rome, Paul asked, “that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also” (Romans 16:2).

The landscape in our Cenchrea photo would be what Christians such as Phoebe would have seen, as well as Paul and his companions.


Temple of Apollo at Corinth

December 28, 2010

The church at Corinth, which received two of the New Testament letters, 1 & 2 Corinthians, was situated in a world of sin and degradation.  By “church,” I’m not referring to the place that they met, but rather the people who had turned from their lives of sin and had been washed, sanctified, and justified “in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:9-11).

A visual example of the idolatry so prevalent at Corinth can be seen in our photo, which shows the ruins of the temple of Apollo.

Temple of Apollo at Corinth. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Regarding this site BAS says,

The Temple of Apollo at Corinth was 700 years old by Paul’s time. On the hill directly overlooking the Roman city’s main forum, its sturdy Doric columns served as a dramatic reminder of Corinth’s ancient grandeur. But the temple was already in ruins; to Paul it would have served merely as a sermon illustration of the impotence of the Greeks’ “pagan” gods.

As noted above, the temple was in ruins in the days of Paul, but the centuries of pagan idolatrous influence was still very much there.

The Acrocorinth may be seen in the background.  It was there that the temple of Aphrodite was situated in ancient times.

The Apollo temple originally had 38 columns of the Doric order.  Today seven are standing.

Click on image for higher resolution.


The Diolkos At Corinth

December 23, 2010

In our previous post we referenced the canal that cuts through the Isthmus of Corinth connecting the Ionian Sea with the Aegean Sea.  In ancient times there was a paved road that stretched across the isthmus, called the diolkos, which enabled cargo and smaller ships to be hauled overland, thus avoiding the dangerous circumnavigation of the Peloponnese.

Our photo shows a portion of the western end of the diolkos. To the right and out of view, the canal runs parallel.

Diolkos at Corinth. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The BAS has this information re: this site in their collection, The Biblical World in Pictures commenting on their photo taken in the same area as mine above:

In Paul’s day a stone-paved sledway, called the Diolkos, was used to haul ships and their cargoes across the isthmus. At both ends of the road the pavement continued down beneath the waterline, allowing the shallow-draft ships to be floated onto and off of the sleds. The sleds were then pulled out of the water and across the isthmus by mule-power.

This view of the Diolkos is near the western end, looking beyond to the Gulf of Corinth (and the mountains along its northern coast sheltering the oracle shrine of Apollo at Delphi). At the right can be seen the western outlet of the modern canal. The stone pavement of the Diolkos clearly shows the ruts formed by sled runners over centuries of use. Corinth, of course, controlled the Diolkos traffic. Moreover, since ship crews and passengers using this route had to leave their vessels temporarily at Corinth anyway, they had less reason to make an additional port-call at Athens’ harbor on the Piraeus. Thus, many more travelers of the Roman era passed through Corinth than through Athens.

The diolkos was paved with hard limestone.

Click on image for higher resolution.

 


More on Corinth

December 18, 2010

Our last post featured a photo of the Erastus inscription. We referenced the biblical text of Romans 16:23.  Additionally, Erastus is mentioned in two other passages.  In Acts 19:22 we read, “And having sent into Macedonia two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while” (ESV).  Lastly in, 2 Tim. 4:20, Paul observes, “Erastus remained at Corinth, and I left Trophimus, who was ill, at Miletus” (ESV).

Here is a closer view of the inscription:

Closeup of Erastus Inscription at Corinth. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The narrowest point of the isthmus of Corinth is only 4 miles wide.  A canal was engineered and completed between 1882 and 1893.  Nero (A.D. 67) had the idea of building a canal at that exact route utilized by the modern engineers.  He planned to use 6,000 Jewish prisoners as his work force, but the idea was abandoned.

Canal at Corinth. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The canal separates the Peloponnesian peninsula from the Greek mainland.  It connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Aegean Sea.

Click on images for higher resolution.  More to come on Corinth.