Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Rostra (Bema) where St Paul was judged, Ancient Corinth

St Paul is also known as the Apostle of the Nations because of his missionary journeys throughout the Mediterranean (46-58 AD) in order to teach the world about Christ. One of the cities he visited, writing two Epistles to the faithful in that city, which were incorporated in the Canon of the New Testament, is of course Corinth. Corinth was a Roman Imperial Colony and capital city of the province of Achaea (Peloponnese and Central Greece), experiencing a period of great prosperity during the Roman epoch. When he was in Corinth, St Paul worked with the local Jewish tentmakers Aquila and Priscila. During his stay he preached the Gospel to the Jews of the city, being confronted, however, with strong opposition from several members of the city’s large Jewish community. Saint Paul, thus, resolved to devote his full attention to the conversion of the Gentiles, a decision which proved highly successful. As he left for Ephesus, he had left behind him an established and well organised Church in Corinth. Additionally he kept in contact with that Church, producing his two Epistles to the Corinthians.

In Ancient Corinth we find the rostra (bema). During Paul’s stay in the city, he was brought for judgement before the proconsul Galli on the accusation of conducting illegal teachings. Gallio, however, refused to judge what he considered to be a mere religious dispute among the Jews. According to tradition, the site of Paul’s trial was the bema, a large elevated rostrum standing prominently in the centre of the Roman forum of ancient Corinth and from the city’s officials addressed the public. Probably because of the monument’s connection to St Paul, the bema was transformed into a Christian church during the Byzantine era. Today, the monument constitutes the historical seat of the Metropolis of Corinth and is the location where a Great Vesper is celebrated on the feast of St Paul (29th June). 

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