In Stone and Story

Early Christianity in the Roman World

Materials available for professors by request only


Chapter 2: Fire in Bones

Class Activities

  1. Ask each member of the class to write a paragraph empathizing with or defending either (a) Gaius Julius Polybius or (b) Zmyrina and Asellina. Have a few students read out their paragraphs, and enable any further discussion about status and power.
  2. Divide the class into two groups, and have both groups read Romans 12. Give one group the task of looking at it from the perspective of an imagined first-century perspective and the other group the task of looking at it from a twenty-first-century perspective. What differences emerge from each reading of the text? What features of the text are especially important for each of the perspectives? What features of the text are most difficult for each of the perspectives?

Discussion Questions

  1. What was your reaction to the various stages in the story about Zmyrina? What adjectives would you use to characterize her and Asellina, based on their actions and their context?
  2. Discuss how status is measured in settings that you are familiar with today? Are there especially significant physical indicators that people flaunt in order to broadcast their status (or reach for a higher status)? How might the first-century world compare to and contrast with the twenty-first-century world?