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Photo Essay: Corinth

Daniel Schowalter, Carthage College

Oxford Biblical Studies | Photo Essay: Corinth
 The Setting of Early Christian Missions.  <i>New Oxford Annotated Bible</i>, 3rd Edition.
Fig. 1. The Setting of Early Christian Missions. New Oxford Annotated Bible, 3rd Edition.

Relative to its size and importance, the ancient city of Corinth has received more than its share of attention. No doubt this is due in part to the unique location of the city and its prominent role in trade and commerce between the eastern and western ends of the Roman Empire. Because of its history, Corinth also provides an unparalleled example of a Greek city destroyed by a Roman army and later rebuilt as a Roman colony. Within such an environment, scholars can find unlimited opportunities to study political, social, and religious identity in the Roman world.

Beyond these academic interests, however, the fascination with Corinth is primarily due to its significance in the development of early Christianity. The Apostle Paul wrote two letters to the believing community at Corinth, and the second, known as 2 Corinthians, is probably a composite document made up of several different pieces of correspondence. The letters from Paul reveal a complicated relationship between the Apostle and believers in Corinth. They also reveal a diverse community in which different individuals and groups are competing for influence and authority.

The book of Acts was written some decades after the death of Paul, and the author embellishes the story of Paul's relationship with the Corinthian churches. According to Acts, Paul spends eighteen months in Corinth, preaching to gentiles in the city and working as a tentmaker with Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:1–17).

All of this New Testament literary attention has made Corinth a favorite location for Christian pilgrims and the details of Paul's correspondence provide an endless mine for scholarly interpretation. This photo essay provides annotated illustrations of some of the key details of Roman Corinth, and offers a glimpse of the lives of real people in the ancient city.

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