Saint Paul’s Trial Narrative in Acts: Imperium Rōmānum vs. Vasileía tou Theoú

55 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2020

See all articles by Thomas Simmons

Thomas Simmons

University of South Dakota Knudson School of Law

Date Written: October 4, 2020

Abstract

Saul of Tarsus (also known as Paul) encountered the resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus. Paul not only became a follower of “the Way,” he went from an aggressive persecutor of early Christians to one of its most intellectual and influential apostles. Towards the end of his life, he went on trial. Saint Paul’s trial in first century Judea before Felix and Festus receive a detailed fleshing-out in the Acts of the Apostles. A quasi-prosecutor even briefly appears. But Paul’s subsequent legal proceedings in Rome and his execution there are excluded from the narrative. Meanwhile, Acts portrays Christianity as a “safe place” in the Roman Empire by affixing fault on the Jews for all forms of unrest surrounding the early church. This essay contextualizes the legal proceedings described in Acts and explores “the Second Act” of Paul’s proceedings in Rome, its omission from the New Testament, and the hints about Paul’s ultimate fate in the Pseudo-Pauline epistles.

Keywords: Trials, Christianity, Roman Empire, Pauline

JEL Classification: K49, Z12

Suggested Citation

Simmons, Thomas, Saint Paul’s Trial Narrative in Acts: Imperium Rōmānum vs. Vasileía tou Theoú (October 4, 2020). South Dakota Law Review, Vol. 65, No. 2, 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3704911

Thomas Simmons (Contact Author)

University of South Dakota Knudson School of Law ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.usd.edu/faculty-and-staff/Tom-E-Simmons

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