So while I was innocently pottering around the museum casually investigating what Roman Corinth might of been like REALLY for citizens, I came across a strangely high number of Egyptian relics. Not unusual you might say, we all know the Roman’s were obsessed with the Egyptian empire. But then I saw this:
It was painted on the inside of a tomb. A closer look:
And some explanation provided by the museum:
So these two illustrations show a scene “of daily life along the banks of a river, probably the Nile?”. From the second century. So what does this mean?
This was a MASSIVE turning point for my research. I had already discovered disjointed theories about who made up the population at the new Roman Corinth. We know they were recruited from the across the Empire and were awarded citizenship for their submission to Rome’s request to leave their hometowns, either that or they were stolen as slaves. I had also concluded that the audience of St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians were made up of ‘gentiles’. Yet I couldn’t bring the ideas together especially with St Paul uses the Exodus theme in his letter to make his arguments and to explain Jesus and salvation.
So could this be the missing link? Were some of Corinth’s society made up of Egyptians? Were there more Jewish people in St Paul’s assembly? This I think can be seriously argued when you join the links here. If this is the case then it certainly answers why St Paul relied on the Exodus narrative so strongly in both of his letters, particularly in his second Epistle. St Paul contrasts salvation in Christ (En Christos) under the New Covenant, with the Exodus narrative in the Old Testament. St Paul’s allusion to the Exodus was obvious for today’s readers to see, but would this allusion have been obvious to his source readers? If we assume his readers were predominantly Gentile then we can say that this allusion would be so subtle that it may have been missed. So what then was the point of St Paul using the Exodus theme in his rhetoric in the first place? If in fact his readers had direct links to Egypt through their lineage or religion then they would have understood exactly what was entailed in St Paul’s allusion.
From the archaeological evidence at Corinth, in the museum for instance, visitors will be struck by the amount of Egyptian relics that were brought to Corinth from Egypt by the Romans after the military conquests.
This placard which has been severely damaged is found at the port of Cenchrae, the port which opened to Asia Minor. It describes how the temple to Isis was the built at one end meaning that for eastern visitors to Corinth they would be confronted with this Egyptian temple before any other. St Paul himself arrived at this port and would of seen this from far off.