In Stone and Story

Early Christianity in the Roman World

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Chapter 10: Prominence & Character

Class Activities

  • Have students source articles, reports, and/or campaign media that demonstrate the tactics of politicians in their attempt to be elected or reelected. How might these compare with political tactics used in the first century? What are the personal traits and attributes being celebrated or denigrated in both contexts? What similar social and political dynamics are operative for both contexts? How are different emphases demonstrated?
  • Have students create a short political endorsement for themselves (using someone else’s identity to laud them in some way), and another endorsement for an imagined political opponent (including defamatory sponsors) — keeping closely to the style of endorsements we see in Pompeii.
  • Divide the class into three groups of Corinthian Jesus-followers: (1) those who were most enamored with Apollos, (2) those who were most enamored with Cephas [Peter], and (3) those who were most enamored with Paul. Have members of each group write positive endorsements for their preferred person and defamatory endorsements for the other two — keeping closely to the style of endorsements we see in Pompeii.

  • Discussion Questions

    1. Chapter 10 of In Stone and Story discusses some of the rhetoric and customs surrounding political campaigns in the Roman world. How might they compare to political rhetoric and customs where you live — whether at the local, state, or national level?
    2. How were the characteristics of Jesus-followers supposed to differ from their wider culture, according to Paul (in relation to prominence and character)? How did Paul seek to illustrate those proposed differences?