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Was Christ Born In Bethlehem by Sir William Mitchell Ramsay


Professor Blass in his welcome book, Philology of the Gospels, 1898, p.19, declares that the epithet kratistos in Luke's language, had no such force as we find in it, but was merely |the ordinary one in epistolary and oratorical style, when the person addressed was in a somewhat exalted position|. As examples, he quotes Paul's address to Felix and Festus, who were both Roman officials of equestrian rank! These are two of the many instances on which the proof rests that the title was peculiarly appropriated at that period to Romans of rank. The same scholar refers, further, to the examples quoted by Otto in his edition of the Epistle to Diognetus, p.79 ff. (53 ff.). I cannot consult this book, but Otto considers that Diognetus was the philosopher, the friend and teacher of Marcus Aurelius, and the emperor might well raise his teacher to equestrian rank, as Septimius Severus raised Antipater, the teacher of his sons, to the much higher dignity of the consulship; and, if Otto's identification be accepted, we may regard the epithet as a proof that Diognetus was honored by his imperial pupil Galen addresses kratiste Basse, also a Roman of rank. Longinus addresses Postumius Terentianus, Plutarch speaks of Fundanus, and Artemidorus of Cassius Maximus by the same epithet, in all cases undoubtedly employing it in the technical imperial sense. Epaphroditus, to whom Josephus dedicated his Jewish Antiquities and Life, is a more doubtful case; but the dedication implies that he was a man of influence in Rome, and though obviously a freedman (on account of his name), he probably had been honored with equestrian rank by his imperial patron. The Aphrodisius whom Galen addresses as kratiste and philtate in his Prognost. (Kuhn, vol.19), is also uncertain; Galen, however, lived amid high society in Rome.

I have always conceded that Greeks were not invariably accurate in using Latin titles and technical terms, such as optimus (translated kratistos); but the above examples show how often the technical and accurate sense is found in Greek. But Professor Blass has his mind so fixed on Greek literature, of which he is one of the first exponents in Europe, that he sometimes omits to notice Roman facts.

The usage in Theophrastus, of course, lies apart from our subject and belongs to an earlier period of society. Even Horace's optimus, used of Octavius and Quinctius, is pre-imperial, though both men were persons of rank in Rome, and therefore conform to our rule.


In the Acts of Paul and Thekla Paul was preaching in the house of Onesiphorus en meso tes ekklesias (or without the last two words): is the last word a later alteration of the originalaules? In the Armenian version Paul preached in the house of Onesiphorus in a great assembly, and Thekla sat at a window which was close to their roof.

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