“Paul’s Response to the Roman World” in Italy
September 29-October 8, 2014
Ten Days of Exploring a “Missing Piece” of Biblical Context
Be sure to read Doug’s Overview of the May 2014 Trip
When people consider biblical context, their first thoughts are normally concerning Israel – having the Holy Land experience. Others think of experiencing Paul’s Journeys as another important piece of biblical context. Almost always overlooked is the significant impact that the Roman World had on Paul’s writings. It’s been the missing piece – until now.
Truly, Paul was a man for all seasons. He could reason as a Jew within the Hebrew worldview of his day. Likewise, he could dialogue with Gentiles knowing well the issues resident within their Roman worldview. In our “Life and Land of Jesus” contextual trips to Israel, we develop the Jewish worldview and issues of the Gospel period. We now offer that same type of experience for the Roman world in an Italian journey – examining the heart of the Roman Empire. This was the contemporary sphere Paul was responding to in his Epistles.
Because Rome exported its culture uniformly throughout the Empire, what we find in the epicenter of the Roman world from Rome to Sorrento will enable us to better understand the issues Paul was dealing with in his writings. By examining the popular Roman authors and play rights of Paul’s day and their themes, we can understand the “media” that was shaping contemporary Roman culture. Knowing what Paul was confronting, there is much we can learn about how to deal with the media of our day.
In the West we are fast approaching a public educational system committed to paganism. We need to grasp how Paul dealt with the pagan paradigms of the first-century Roman world. We also need to recognize the historic connection between the values of American pluralism and ancient Roman polytheism. The average Roman may have accepted only a small portion of the offered Roman gods, but they were conditioned not to disown any of them. Thus, tolerance of gods beyond your personal belief system was common, and helped to reinforce multi-cultural immigration issues inherent to the Roman Empire. How did Rome choose to deal with all this cultural diversity? By espousing tolerance. Over time that message of tolerance mutated into violent intolerance of Christians. The parallels with our contemporary culture are striking!
For most of the 20th-Century, evangelical Christians have had the winds of contemporary culture at their back. Now those cultural winds are increasingly blowing antagonistically in our face. We need to retool our apologetic to face what is coming. Paul is our precedent! He faced those cultural winds head on and we need to examine anew his presentation and defense of the faith because it will soon be our own – facing a world increasingly and overtly anti-Christian.
There is still so much to learn about Paul’s pedagogy and methodology from reconstructing the Roman context of his day. That’s why we are excited about this new Roman world contextual immersion experience. During our time together, we will deliberately highlight three underlying contextual themes:
• First, we will overview the mosaic that constituted Roman society by examining the basic lifestyles of a variety of Romans of antiquity. Special attention will be given to the life of the Roman nobility and celebrities as well as to Roman slaves, poor Romans, Roman women, Roman soldiers and Jews in the Roman world of the diaspora. Studying each group in innovative ways, we will consider their unique challenges of becoming a follower of Jesus.
• Second, we will orient ourselves to the entertainment world of the time of Paul. We will highlight the best known authors, comedians and plays of that day – highlighting the “common culture” and showing Paul’s presentation of Jesus in light of the contemporary “media” being feed to all. Implications for our own “media” world will be plentiful.
• Third, we will confront a thoroughly pagan sexuality, a polytheistic and superstitious cultic tradition and a profoundly sensual culture – and examine the response of Paul in his letters with implications for today.
Click here to view an interactive map of the major sites we will be visiting.
Our Study Program:
Day One: Depart the USA for Italy. Overnight: In flight.
Day Two: Stepping Back into the Roman World. Theme: To be a Roman – how goods, services and transport held an Empire together. Rome was both an Empire and an idea. Today we will examine what held the identity of this vast Empire together. Arriving in time for a late afternoon rest, tonight we will have a special “Roman style” meal in our special inn near the Market of Appius (Acts 28:15). Sites include: Ostia and Mansio Foro Appio. Overnight: Mansio Foro Appio.
Day Three: Paul in the World that was Rome. Theme: To be Paul – how God used a man with a Hebrew heart, a Greek tongue and Roman mind. Departing our mansio, we will explore the New Testament record of Saul of Tarsus, stopping to visit the excavations at Minturno, a Roman town known to Paul and his companions. We will travel on to the legendary city of Cumae, where we will grapple with Roman cultic practices and ideology. Our day will end in Pozzuoli, the harbor city where Paul first stepped onto the Italian Peninsula (Acts 28:13). Overnight: Pozzuoli.
Day Four: Theme: Daily Life at the time of Paul. Paul used motifs in his Epistles that sprung from the daily images of Roman life. By examining an expansive site frozen in time from 79 CE, we will uncover these images and see them much more clearly. (Puteoli harbor area, Pompeii, Sorrento). Overnight: Sorrento.
Day Five: Emperors and Empire. This is a “decompression ” day offering three options: 1) To understand the political world of Rome and its impact on the New Testament story, some may elect to take a small vessel from Sorrento to the island of Capri where Emperor Tiberius ran the entire Empire for a time during the ministry of Jesus. You can elect to see the palace remains of Villa Jovis or explore and shop in one of Europe’s most exclusive and fun destinations! 2) Some may elect to explore the Amalfi Coast with its spectacular scenery and delightful shopping. 2) Others may elect to stay in Sorrento and soak in the ambiance of this stunning city on the Bay of Naples. Overnight: Sorrento.
Day Six: Playboys, Pagans and Philosophers. Theme: Today we will touch Paul’s life by examining artifacts taken from homes at his time, as well as visiting villas of people who were his contemporaries! At impressive sites we will discuss the popular philosophers of the time and become familiar with some of the more attractive pagan rites of his contemporary culture. Sites include: Oplontis (Villa Poppea), Boscoreale Museum, Ercolano. Overnight: Frascati.
Day Seven: A Spectacular Civilization. Theme: Rome was held together as much by spectacle and entertainment as by anything else. After a panorama of Rome by bus, we will visit the Forum Romana and the Colosseum in search of the spectacles familiar to all Romans. Sites include: Foro Romana, Colosseo. Overnight: Rome.
Day Eight: Paul’s Visits in Rome. Theme: Paul came to Rome the first time under guard and house arrest. During this two year period he wrote the so-called “Prison Epistles.” Today we visit the Rome most never see. In the morning we will experience the setting where Paul was likely writing from. Later, we will follow Paul’s second visit from his arrival to his beheading and burial. Sites include: Pantheon, St. Paul alla Regola and Jewish Ghetto, Three Fountains Abbey, St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, Catacombs. Special dinner in Trastevere. Overnight: Rome.
Day Nine: From Empire to World Faith. Theme: the Gospel did not stop with Paul, but was transmitted through the centuries to the ordinary people by means of the arts. One cannot spend time in Rome and miss a visit to the incredible Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel. So today we will shift our focus away from Paul’s life and break some new ground in our understanding of Bible art. (Vatican and St. Peter’s Church.) Overnight: Rome.
Day Ten: Depart for US, arrive later same day. **Those who desire to leave after the study of Paul will go to the airport. Others who wish to take optional extensions to see more of the wonders of Italy will begin their segment today!
Program Dates. We are scheduling two “Paul’s Response to a Roman World” trips for 2014. The first trip will be in the May 5-14 time frame and the second in the September 29-October 8 time frame. We will continue offering our “Life and Land of Jesus” trip to Israel in late February 2015.
Program Costs. The all inclusive trip (airfare, all breakfasts and most dinners, all transfers, tips, gratuities, etc.) is $4295 (double occupancy from an East Coast gateway). A Single Room Supplement is available for $395. The “Land Only” price is $3095 per person, double occupancy, for those who can get to Rome on their own, e.g. frequent flyer points. The only exceptions would be for lunches and a few dinners on your own. As you probably know, Italy is more expensive than Israel because of the Euro and forecasting the Euro/Dollar relationship more than a year in advance is a guess. The same is true for airline fares due to aviation gas prices. Thus the $4295 may have to be adjusted depending on the Euro/Dollar exchange rate and any airline fuel surcharge adjustments. All things considered, when it comes to European pricing we feel it is an extraordinary value for the price.
Extensions. All costs for extended travel in Italy would be borne by the travelers. These trips would be self-guided. Hotel, rail and rental car reservations for you if enough travelers elect the same extension, e.g., Florence and Venice.
Team Teaching. Since Italian law requires a licensed Italian guide to be with all groups, the teaching team will be Dr. Randall Smith, Doug Greenwold and various Italian guides.
Some of the distinctive aspects of our PBT/CTSP study trip include:
An integrated, thematic, contextual focus.
It is a true learning experience, not a tourist trip.
Three and four star hotels (I’m too old for the dormitory approach!)
Visiting Italy in the “shoulder” seasons of early May often and late September offers ideal conditions in the Mediterranean without crowds.
An ideal trip to Southern Italy is 15% visiting the sites and 85% learning about the sites together with the motifs and themes that “connect the dots” of the sites. We teach with an integrated focus on the historical, cultural, and literary context in such a way that deals not only with the facts, but with their purpose, meaning and implications. l.
Other Items of Interest
The all-inclusive cost of the 2014 Study Program is $4295 per person (double occupancy). A “Land Only” option is available for $3095 (you provide your own air transportation). Each “Land Only” participant is responsible for getting themselves to and from Rome from your departure city. Our Travel Coordinator is available to assist you in making your travel arrangements so that your arrival in Italy is coordinated with the others flying in from the States.
There is a single supplement of $395 for those who desire a (it’s small) single room. We will do our best to match you up with a roommate, but cannot guarantee that we will always be able to make that work.
Registration opens on March 1, 2014 and fees received after July 15, 2014 will be subject to a $100 late fee.
You will be offered the opportunity to buy trip insurance, the price of which will depend on the age of each person/couple. For your information, most people decide to buy it as it provides coverage 1) if you need to cancel for family or personal medical reasons, 2) your flights get delayed or cancelled and you need to rebook at a much higher price, 3) if you need medical attention while in Israel, and 4) if you need to fly back home early for medical reasons. You will be contacted after the receipt of your deposit to explain that program to you. The underwriter of the insurance provides the best coverage is you purchase travel insurance within two weeks of receipt of your payment.
Full payment of the cost of the trip (including any extra hotel days desired either before or after the trip) will need to be paid by the July 15, 2014 full payment deadline. Credit cards can be used subject to adding the VISA/MC processing fee.
This trip will be limited to 35 people, the capacity of our bus (we want it to be personal). Reservations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.
While the trip price covers just about everything, it does not include the costs for lunches.
Where possible we encourage people to come to Italy with someone (others) you can share the trip with, e.g., a friend, another couple, others from your small group or church.