Exploring Greece, Israel, and Jordan– Part Thirty Seven

Exploring Greece, Israel, and Jordan– Part Thirty Seven August 5, 2018

The god Asclepius was the ancient god of healing, and people went to Corinth quite specifically to get healed of all kinds of maladies and diseases. The small museum at Corinth has been upgraded since my last visit, and the display of the plaster cast molds of body parts is more impressive now. Scholars are undecided whether these are votives, made to ask Asclepius to heal that body part, or thank offerings, after it was believed that healing had been granted. Notice how often it is genitalia that are featured. Sexually transmitted diseases were rampant, and there was no understanding of the problem or the potential cures.

But of course there were many other reasons people came to Corinth, a thriving double seaport town, and the capital city, so to speak, of the province of Achaia, having eclipsed Athens in growth and importance by the time Paul got here in the 50s.

As a Roman provincial city, run by Romans in Paul’s day, Roman citizens had various advantages, including legal advantages, which explains why Paul spent a good deal of time in places like Psidian Antioch, Philippi, and Corinth– all Roman colony cities. The Emperor was indeed worshipped in the imperial cult and here is a statue of the devout emperor himself– the headcovering places over the head when one made an offering or Roman style sacrifice…

One of the most important archaeological finds in Corinth is the Erastos inscription, found in situ below the ancient theater…. Here it is. It reads, Erastos/Erastus for the office of aedile, paved this place. Now the aedile was the city treasurer, the one who went around and collected rents in the shops. So when we hear in Rom. 16.23 ‘Erastus, the director of public works (like that lot in front of the theater) sends greetings’ and Paul is clearly writing from Corinth, there is good reason to believe that the man who laid that stone in his own honor, indicating the ‘liturgy’ or public work or service he provided to obtain the office, was the same person who became a high status convert to Christianity, perhaps through meeting Paul in one of those shops where Paul made tents, and had to pay rent.

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