In Stone and Story

Early Christianity in the Roman World

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Chapter 13: Combat & Courts

Class Activities

Read the text of the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30–37) or of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) and “translate” its characters, themes, and storyline into a modern setting. How are the nuances of each character or theme best interpreted to combat a modern “ethic of detachment”? Are there themes which are untranslatable? What images would have especially poignant meanings for the first-century Jesus-followers?

Discussion Questions

  1. How do the ancient gladiatorial games compare with modern forms of violent entertainment? What is different? What is similar?
  2. What impressions does this chapter give regarding the ancient Roman court system? What are its similarities and differences to modern, Western judicial systems? Do you think Paul would change his perspective regarding courts if he were to see how the courts operate where you live?
  3. How do aspects of modern culture encourage an “ethic of detachment”? What are the ways people either subscribe to this ethic or fight against it?