Reflection on Churches of the Roman Empire

You are a respected servant of Publius of Malta (see Acts 28:7-10). One winter your house entertains a group of shipwrecked passengers bound for Rome. One of them, Paul of Tarsus, shares with you what he calls "the good news of God." You accept his teaching and become a disciple of Jesus. In fact, he so respects your faith that on his departure he appoints you as a supervisor of the Maltese believers.

Some time later, Publius sends you to Rome on business. When in the great city you make contact with the believers there and discover a wealth of apostolic traditions that Paul had not shared with you and that your church, being somewhat cut off and provincial compared to the churches in some other imperial towns, was unaware of. You cannot wait to get back to your brothers and sisters on Malta and share it all with them!

Alas, your business delays you. One day you realize that it might be months before you can return personally. You may not even be able to make it back before winter closes the sea lanes. However, a boat is departing for Malta in several days. You decide that you will have time to write a letter to your church and have it delivered by means of a trusted brother.

Write a letter to your church in Malta. Adopt the literary conventions of the time. Respect the likely social shape of your church and its society. Address the likely pastoral needs and ecclesial problems of the community you oversee. Write like someone in the apostolic tradition, but do not simply copy Paul, for God has made you, not him, this church's leader! Draw on the relevant secondary sources of our course: Johnson, resources on ancient Malta that you are on your own to find, and either Fisk or Hopkins and Howard-Brook. You might also find Koester or Bauckham helpful, and perhaps even Monroe.

Please keep your paper three pages; parchments ain't cheap! Follow the directions in my handout for writing papers insofar as they apply. Remember, I want to see proper style, clear writing, a thorough answer to the question, and explicit citations of course materials.

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