Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Why do they keep trying to kill me? (Acts 23b)

1. Romans are always rescuing Paul from the fray. The Roman commander rescues Paul from the Sanhedrin, the division between Pharisees and Sadducees is so great.  Some zealous Jews take a vow that they will not eat or drink until Paul is dead.

And they died, that is, if they kept their vow.  We find out that Paul had a sister and nephew in the city. The nephew catches wind of the plot, tells Paul, tells the commander. Instead of sending Paul to the Sanhedrin, Paul is shipped up at night to the coast, to Caesarea.

Fun to think that Paul had a sister in Jerusalem.  Was she older?  Did Paul go to live with her when he was young?  Or did he make it possible for some of his family to move south from Tarsus when he was rising the ranks of the Pharisees?

2. Paul did nothing worthy of death or imprisonment.  So says Claudius Lysias, the Roman commander. On the hypothesis that Acts is an amicus brief for his appearance before Nero, this would be a not so subtle hint to Nero.  I don't think that's likely because of the dating of Acts. The comment corroborates the sense that even though Nero put Paul to death, he was innocent. He was not the troublemaker.

By the way, the letter of Claudius Lysias is an example of an ancient letter--X to Y, Greetings, Body of Letter. The KJV adds a "farewell," a good example of how tradition smoothed things out.

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