Plastered Skulls and Teraphim

By Joseph Manning

In the early 1950s archaeologists were digging up ancient Jericho. This is one of the oldest cities on earth dating straight back to the prehistoric Neolithic era. In strata dating to about 7,000 BCE, the archaeologists found human skulls. But these weren’t just any skulls:

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Louisiana Law of Property and Proto-Indo-European Culture

By Joseph Manning

“[The Proto-Indo-Europeans] occupied a part of the world — the steppes — where the sky is by far the most striking and magnificent part of the landscape, a fitting environment for people who believed that all their most important deities lived in the sky.” (Anthony 99)

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Paul’s Jurisdiction

By Joseph Manning

Saul, the church persecutor, and his conversion on the Damascus road is a memorable New Testament story.

He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”

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Dowries

By Joseph Manning

When I got married I wasn’t given a dowry.

A typical Roman divorce proceeding

A typical Roman divorce proceeding.

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Sour Grapes

The Fox and Grapes

By Joseph Manning

I’ve got a version of Aesop’s fable “Fox and Grapes” for you today that I’ve abridged slightly.  This version introduces a mouse who taunts the fox.  You may have already seen the Greek word for ‘fox’ in another post.

A fox seeing a cluster of ripe grapes on a trellis was desiring to eat them, but was unable to find a way to eat as they were at some height. A mouse seeing this laughed aloud saying: “You’ll munch on nothing.” The fox not wanting to give credit to the mouse said: “They are sour grapes.”

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Roman Citizenship and the Edict of Caracalla

By Joseph Manning

Throughout the history of Rome, citizenship was a desirable status to have.  Wars were fought over this issue.  Even as late as the early part of the first century it seems like it was an uncommon and privileged status in the provinces.

In 212 C.E. citizenship was extended to every free person in the entire empire.

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Update: Tiberius Gracchus, Jesus, and the Louisiana Law of Common Things

By Joseph Manning

I noted a similarity between Plutarch and the New Testament in an earlier post.  After some very brief research on JSTOR nothing came up immediately.  I did realize two things though.

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Ulpian: Roman Family Law

By Joseph Manning

I’ve mentioned the Roman pater familias briefly in another post.  This is a technical legal term of art that does not simply mean “father;” for example, to be a pater familias it was unnecessary to be a father in fact. Under Roman law a pater familias was endowed with patria potestas.  The patria potestas is the legal power of the father — it was a bundle of rights generally concerning property and the lives of those who were in potestate (under the power of the pater).

In a family consisting of a 80 year old man, his 60 year old son, his 40 year old grandson, his 20 year old great-grandson, and a newborn great-great-grandson, the only pater familias is the 80 year old; he owns all property and has power of life or death over all those under his power.

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Disease in Ancient Rome

By Joseph Manning

The other day I was having a conversation and Europe’s Black Death came up.  I don’t know much about the Black Death or Medieval history generally, but the opinion I heard went something like this:  “Ancient Rome was able to effect order, health, and quarantine to a degree that wasn’t possible after its fall.  It was the collapse of the Empire that in part allowed epidemics like the Black Plague to wreak havoc in the disorganized Europe that followed.”

This view of Roman disease-control is too idealized.

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John’s 2nd Letter – Sentence 1/10

By Joseph Manning

John’s second letter is the shortest book in the entire bible.  There are only ten full sentences. Here’s the first:

[1] Ο ΠΡΕΣΒΥΤΕΡΟΣ ἐκλεκτῇ κυρίᾳ καὶ τοῖς τέκνοις αὐτῆς, οὓς ἐγὼ ἀγαπῶ ἐν ἀληθείᾳ, καὶ οὐκ ἐγὼ μόνος ἀλλὰ καὶ πάντες οἱ ἐγνωκότες τὴν ἀλήθειαν, [2] διὰ τὴν ἀλήθειαν τὴν μένουσαν ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ μεθ᾽ ἡμῶν ἔσται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα: [3] ἔσται μεθ᾽ ἡμῶν χάρις ἔλεος εἰρήνη παρὰ θεοῦ πατρός, καὶ παρὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ πατρός, ἐν ἀληθείᾳ καὶ ἀγάπῃ.

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