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« Keep Your Greek | Main | Wise Words from Bonhoeffer for the Blogosphere (and Beyond) »


Dr. Cohick,

Thank you for this very interesting article. I am hoping that you might offer a clarification on something.

You wrote, "As he was a Roman citizen, it is clear that his mother was a Roman citizen – we can only guess as to whether his father was as well."

Yet earlier you stated that "If the father, a Roman citizen, married a foreigner, for example a Jew or Egyptian, the marriage was illicit and the child was not a Roman citizen unless the father chose to legally adopt the child."

Does this not suggest the possibility that Paul could have received his citizenship by being legally adopted by his father?

And if this is a possibility, does this not make it unclear as to the status of Paul's mother?

Regardless of what is probably the case, if there is the possibility that Paul received his citizenship by being legally adopted by his father, then one cannot say with absolute certainty that Paul's mother possessed Roman citizenship.

Hopefully you could clarify what appears to me to be two contradictory statements in your article.

Warmly yours,

To answer Chuck's question simply use the article where Dr. Cohick writes, "In a licit marriage, the father’s status was given to his children. In all other marriages, such as between those who were foreigners or between those who were born free but not citizens, the child took the mother’s social status."
Because Paul's mother was a Roman citizen he would have taken HER social status because his father was Jew. Not only that, it seems to me that Paul's father could NOT have been both a Pharisee and a Roman citizen - that sect surely would not have stood for such a thing. They only used Roman arguments when trying to find a way to kill Jesus (he was committing treason by claiming to be a king). But it seems they were anti-Roman for all other purposes. So, because Paul's father was a Pharisee he could train and study to be one too under the likes of the great Gamiliel and probably only brought up his Roman status in times when it would give him an opportunity to share about Jesus - as with the guards, whom he undoubtedly showed great grace and mercy towards.

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