The Lost Letters Of Pergamum

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The Roman Empire, in which the early Church rises in the wake of Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension, is complex cultural melting pot. Rife with hedonism, the honor/shame structure of the Roman Empire encourage the worship of the Emperor as God and the Empire as his Holy Empire. Against this narrative, the early Church was a counterculture to the ways of the empire and it is against this backdrop that Bruce Longenecker’s The Lost Letters of Pergamum takes place. The Lost Letters of Pergamum is a historical narrative following Antipas and encounters with Luke through an associate in a neighboring town. Antipas, named after his relative Herod Antipas, has come to great wealth and influence in the Roman empire. Antipas is introduced to…show more content…
In Roman society, the food would be served based on position in society, but in the Church, everyone was treated as an equal. Paul admonishes the church at Corinth for such practices in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:17-22). Paul bemoans the division that are present in the fellowship among believers and points to the counterculture equality that characterizes Christians. The Corinthians are following the conventions of their societal practices, yet in Christ there is a unity that overcomes the divisions of society. Upon first reading of this passage it seems that the Corinthians should have known better than to allow this practice to take place. However, with the cultural context this passage becomes less about intentional discrimination on the part of the Corinthians and more about the church finding its identity in the ways of Christ and not in the ways of the world. The cultural of the Roman Empire was a melting pot of the religious and cultural influences of the conquered societies that had been assimilated into the Empire. The various religions and cultural practice created a complex pantheon of “gods.” Ever larger temples and statues were erected to bring glory and honor to cities and give honor the Emperor. Additionally, cities would host gladiatorial games to bring honor to the Emperor. These events and building projects were facilitated by those who sought to bring greater glory and honor upon themselves with Roman society.
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