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1 & 2 Corinthians
ZondervanCopyright © 2002 David Gill
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Chapter OneCorinth was a major city in the eastern Peloponnese of Greece. It lay near the narrow isthmus that joined the Peloponnese to the mainland. The city lay at the foot of a mountain, Akrocorinth (elevation 1883 feet), which also served as a location for some of the cults of the city.
The City of Corinth
The history of the city of Corinth can be traced back to the earliest periods of Greek history. In the archaic period (6th cent. B.C.) it was ruled by the Kypselid family. During the Peloponnesian War (late 5th cent. B.C.) Corinth fought against Athens. During the second century B.C. Corinth joined other Greek states to fight against the domination of Rome, and in 146 B.C. the city was captured and razed to the ground by the Roman general Mummius. As a result, the city was left derelict for over a hundred years until Julius Caesar decided to found a colony, with the full Latin title of Colonia Laus Iulia Corinthienses, in 44 B.C. As Caesar was assassinated in March of that year, it seems likely that Mark Antony, Caesar's co-consul, may have been responsible for implementing the legislation. Some of the Roman sources suggest that the colony was established with Italian freedmen, that is, former slaves, though they probably only formed a small part of the overall population. The geographer Strabo records some of the details of the colony at this time:
Now after Corinth had remained deserted for a long time, it was restored again, because of its favourable position, by the deified Caesar, who colonised it with people that belonged for the most part to the freedman class. And when these were removing the ruins and at the same time digging open the graves, they found numbers of terracotta reliefs, and also many bronze vessels. And since they admired the worksmanship they left no grave unransacked.
It is important to stress the lack of continuity between the Greek and Roman city. A number of buildings were demolished and the archaic temple in the heart of the town may have had its roof timbers removed. One of the famous descriptions of the ruined city occurs in a letter from Ser. Sulpicius to the Roman orator Cicero in 45 B.C. There are other references to individuals living among the ruins, but the key point is that Corinth no longer existed as a political entity.
Corinth was one of a number of city-states (Gk. polis) in the Greek world. Her territory, the Corinthia, bordered on that of a number of other city-states. To the east along the isthmus that joined the Peloponnese to the Greek mainland was Megara. Northwards, along the coast of the Corinthian Gulf, was Sikyon. Along the southern side of the Corinthia was the Argolid, with cities such as Argos and Epidauros (where there was a major sanctuary for the healing-god Asklepios). Within the Corinthia were two main harbors, Lechaeum and Cenchreae, giving access respectively to the Corinthian Gulf (and Italy) and the Saronic Gulf and the eastern Mediterranean. These were some of the major harbors of the Mediterranean, rivaling those of Ostia (the port of Rome), Alexandria in Egypt, and Caesarea (the major port that gave access to Judea).
* 1 Corinthians IMPORTANT FACTS:
AUTHOR: The apostle Paul and Sosthenes.
DATE: C. A.D. 55 (Paul writing from Ephesus).
To respond to information that there had been quarrels in the church.
To prepare for a visit from Timothy and Paul himself.
1. The impact of the Christian gospel on the life of the Christian.
2. The ordering of the local church.
* The City of Corinth IMPORTANT FACTS:
Population: Approximately 100,000 (80,000 colony, 20,000 territorium).
Religion: Patron deity Aphrodite; major sanctuary of Poseidon at nearby Isthmia; numerous other deities worshiped.
Seat of the Roman governor for the province of Achaia.
Excerpted from 1 & 2 Corinthians Copyright © 2002 by David Gill. Excerpted by permission.
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