Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Ancient authors presented the institution of Roman civitas in their works judiciously. Cicero in Against Verres uses Roman civitas as a means to condemn a corrupt Roman governor. Luke in the Acts of the Apostles utilizes Paul’s Roman citizenship to critique the Roman and Jewish responses to the gospel message. Both Cicero and Luke place Roman citizenship at culminating points in their narratives to achieve their rhetorical and theological goals. Luke and Cicero also make arguments for why Roman authorities should uphold Roman justice. For Cicero it is because the value of the Romans as free people is at stake. For Luke it is because the Romans are stewards of God’s justice. Both authors use Roman citizenship as the revealing factor which tests Roman authorities’ commitment to just rule. Because of the high social regard for Roman citizenship both authors place civitas at a climactic point within their narratives. In Acts, Paul’s Roman citizenship is the last thing Luke reveals about Paul’s moral character. Whereas in Against Verres, cases of injustice done towards Roman citizens are the last pieces of evidence Cicero provides to reveal Verres’ moral character. In Acts, Luke contrasts the Roman and Jewish responses to Paul’s civic status: identified through Luke’s use of chiasmus, or hysteron proteron. Roman officials in Philippi and Jerusalem respond positively to Paul’s civitas. They reassess their conceptions about Paul and treat him with proper respect after his citizen status is revealed. Jewish authorities, however, continue to reject Paul and his message even when confronted with his dignified civic identity. These responses reflect contrasting ways human authorities can respond to God’s message of salvation.


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