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Saul Who Also Is Called Paul

  • G. A. Harrer (a1)

From the time of Origen and of Rufinus and St. Jerome the question of the apparent change of the apostle's name from Saul to Paul has interested students of the New Testament. The problem is due to the fact that the author of the Acts in briefly giving an account of Paul's meeting with the Roman governor of Cyprus, Sergius Paullus, and with the false prophet Elymas, simply states: “Then Saul (who also is called Paul) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, etc.” Before this verse in Acts the apostle's name is invariably given as Saul, and after this verse he is always called Paul, except in two passages where there is reference to the very beginning of his career, his conversion. In his letters the name Paul, and never Saul, is used.

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1 Origen in the translation of Rufinus given in Migne, P. G. XIV, 836. St. Jerome, De Viris Illustribus V.

2 Acts XIII, 9.

3 Acts XXII, 7 and 13; XXVI, 14. Cf. Acts IX, 4 and 17.

4 Acts XXII, 25–29; XVI, 37. The author of Acts represents Paul as making the claim. Cf. Acts XXIII, 27.

5 By the Lex Iulia Municipalis, put in force by Julius Caesar as dictator in 45 B.C., citizens living in municipia, coloniae and praefecturae of Italy were to be listed in the census by the tria nomina, praenomen, nomen, and cognomen. See Bruns, C. G., Fontes Iuris Romani Antiqui, Tübingen, 1909 (7th ed.), no. 18, paragraphs 142–148. Cf. no. 10, of 112 B.C., paragraphs 14 and 17. This law shows clearly the form established long before the birth of Paul, and it continued long after. There are some exceptions, or apparent exceptions, known as late as the reign of Augustus. For example the famous historian Livy is known only as T. Livius. Of course by custom, and for convenience, in all forms of Roman literary works a man may be called by only one or two of his tria nomina.

6 Acts XXI, 37–XXII, 3; XXIII, 6. Philippians III, 1–6. Galatians I, 13–14.

7 Duff, A. M., Freedmen in the Early Roman Empire, Oxford, 1928, pp. 5055.

8 Marquardt-Mommsen, , Manuel des Antiquités Romanies XIV, I (La Vie Privée des Romains), Paris, 1892, p. 30 ff. Pauly-Wissowa, Supplement I (1903), s.v. civitas (by Kornemann), cols. 305 and 313. Cagnat, , Cours d'Épigraphie Latine, Paris, 1914, pp. 7780. An excellent illustration is given by H. Dessau, Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae I (1892), no. 1977, of a man C. Iulius Vepo who had been given citizenship by the emperor Augustus. The “C. Iulius” was taken from Augustus' personal name as the adopted son of Julius Caesar. Cicero gives an instance illustrating the taking of a Roman name and something of the legal procedure. In Epistulae ad Familiares XIII, 36, he tells that at his request P. Cornelius Dolabella had obtained citizenship from Caesar, when dictator, for a Greek of Sicily named Demetrius Megas. As then a Roman citizen Megas took for his praenomen and nomen P. Cornelius, from Dolabella, and retained Megas as his cognomen. These illustrations are of the time of Paul and his immediate ancestors.

9 Frank, Tenney, Race Mixture in the Roman Empire, a study in the American Historical Review XXI (1915/1916), pp. 689708. Frank, in an examination of some 13,900 inscriptions of the common people of the city of Rome, found 1,347 in which the names of a father and son both appeared. From these he showed that of all cognomina found the Greek diminished in one generation from 64% to 38%. The fathers were “very prone to give Latin names to their children.” See also A. M. Duff (p. 57), who has, however, misinterpreted Frank's calculations as referring only to freedmen. Caesar, Gallic War I, 47, gives an excellent example in a reference to a C. Valerius Procillus, son of C. Valerius Caburus who had been made a Roman citizen by C. Valerius Flaccus, Roman governor of Gaul. Cicero, Pro Archia X, 24, states that Pompey gave Roman citizenship to Theophanes of Mytilene, a writer of history. This man then took the name Cn. Pompeius Theophanes (Inscriptiones Graecae ad Res Romanas Pertinentes IV, 56); but his son was Pompeius Macer. See Prosopographia Imperii Romani vol. III, 67, 471. Another example, possibly from Paul's lifetime, comes in inscriptional form from Cyprus: the father is C. Ummidius Pantauchus, who may have received citizenship through a governor of Cyprus, C. Ummidius Quadratus. Pantauchus' son is named C. Ummidius Quadratus qui et Pantauchus. The inscription is in Greek. (I. G. R. III, 950; Prosopographia III (1st ed.), 468, 600.)

10 M. Lambertz, Zur Doppelnamigkeit in Ägypten, Jahresbericht über das K. K. Elizabeth-Gymnasium in Wien XXVI (1911). Lambertz, M., Zur Ausbreitung des Supernomen oder Signum im römischen Reiche, in Glotta IV (1913), pp. 78143, and V (1914), pp. 99–170. This is by far the most important study of the use of ὁ καὶ and qui et. Doer, Bruno, Die römische Namengebung, Stuttgart, 1937, and especially pp. 179201. This is a useful study, but marred by the omission of any account of the names of Jewish Romans. Hélène Wuilleumier, Étude Historique sur l'Emploi et la Signification des Signa, in Mémoires à l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres XIII (1933), pp. 559696, while giving a splendidly analyzed listing of signa, has nothing to add for this study.

11 Acts XIII, 1; Συμεὼν καλούμενος Νίγερ. Acts XII, 12: Ἰωάννου τοῦ ἐπικαλουμένου Μάρκου. See on the same man Acts XII, 25 and XV, 37 for essentially the same expression. Acts I, 23: Ἰωσὴϕ τὸν καλούμενον Βαρσαββᾶν, ὁς ἐπεκλήθη Ἰοῦστος, Acts IV, 36: Ἰωσὴϕ δὲ ὁ ἑπικληθεὶς Βαρνάβας ἀπὀ τῶν ἀποστόλων. Col. IV, 11: Ἰησοῦς ὁ λεγόμενος ᾽Iοῦστος. It is rather interesting to note that Christ himself is said to have given a “surname,” Boanerges, to James and John (Mark III, 17), and of course, Cephas translated Peter, to Simon (John I, 42; Mark III, 16). The writer of Acts is particularly interested in recording the signa in the case of “John Mark” three separate times. It may be of some significance that, when a Roman (Latin) name is given with another, it always appears last. There are four individuals so designated. But it is not here my purpose to assert or to deny that they were Roman citizens. Lambertz, M., Glotta V (1914), p. 159, has shown from inscriptions that provincials in Syria and Asia Minor often took on a Latin name. He also proves that very often the cognomen and the signum have a similarity in sound, sometimes close, sometimes not. This custom may help as an indication that Saul and Paul are those two elements of the name, whatever the identity of each may be. But as the Greek form for Paul is Παῦλος, while for Saul it may have been Σαούλ (about which evidence will be presented), the point can not be emphasized. It can have no bearing at any rate on the problem of the time of the assumption of either name.

12 See the excellent, though brief, presentation of various views in Lake, K. and Cadbury, Henry J., The Beginnings of Christianity, vol. IV (1933), pp. 145146. There it is pointed out that “Augustine, using the meaning of the name, thinks that it is a reference to Paul's modesty, ‘I am the least of the apostles’ (Augustine, De Spirit, et litt. XII, Serm. cclxxix. 5, cccxv. 5).” But Ausgutine's view assumes that Paul adopted the name Paulus himself, and that he was so well acquainted with Latin that he chose for himself a Latin adjective as a name, instead of some Greek term. Very unlikely. (See Robertson, A. T., A Grammar of the Greek New Testament, New York, 1919 (3rd ed.), pp. 109 and 263.) Lake and Cadbury (loc. cit.) also point out that a German scholar in 1882 suggested that the name Paul came from a Hebrew root meaning “chosen.” This view has not won acceptance. That the name Paullus and the adjective paullus are one and the same word is doubtless true; but the word as a name in both Greek and Latin form had been known to the Roman world for centuries before Paul's time and was still in use in great senatorial families, as the name of the governor of Cyprus witnesses, and other illustrations are readily found of the use of the name in the Greek East. (See Prosopographia III, 1st ed., pp. 17–18, and I. G. R. IV, p. 626.) It seems certain then that it is the name Paullus with which we have to do. The varied spelling of the name is of no significance. In the Latin the name is spelled both Paullus (the correct form) and Paulus. In the Greek of the New Testament the form Παῦλος is used, and this form appears in inscriptions as well as Παῦλλος. (See the references immediately above.)

13 Lambertz, M. in Glotta IV (1913), pp. 133 and 140; cf. pp. 130 and 131.

14 Acts VII, 58 and 60, at the stoning of Stephen, is the earliest mention. The reason that the apostle's father gave him the name Saul is probably to be found in the fact that the king and the apostle were both of the tribe of Benjamin. (Acts XIII, 21; Romans XI, 1; Philippians III, 5; I Samuel IX, 1–2 and 21.) Leon, H. J., The Names of the Jews of Ancient Rome, in Transactions of the American Philological Association LIX (1928), pp. 205224, shows inter alia the use of Semitic signa at Rome by Jews.

15 In general see Lake and Cadbury, op. cit.; Meyer, Eduard, Ursprung und Anfänge des Christentums, Berlin, vol. III (1923), pp. 196197; Dessau, H., Der Name des Apostels Paulus, in Hermes XLV (1910), pp. 347368; Boudou, P. Andrien, J., S., Verbum Salutis VII — Actes des Apôtres, Paris, 1933, pp. 275276; Lake, K. and Lake, Silva, An Introduction to the New Testament, New York, 1937, pp. 8384; Ernst Renan, Saint Paul, Paris, 1869, p. 18.

16 Sir Ramsay, William M., St. Paul the Traveller, New York, 1896, pp. 8188; Adolf Deissmann, Paul, translated by Wilson, William E., Hadder and Stoughton, London, 1926 (2nd ed.), p. 91; Deissmann, Adolf, Bibelstudien, Marburg, 1895, pp. 181186; F. J. Foakes-Jackson, The Acts of the Apostles, in the Moffat New Testament Commentary, Richard R. Smith, New York, 1931; August Holland, Saint Paul, Paris, 1934, p. 85; Findlay, J. Alec, The Acts of the Apostles, A Commentary, London, 1934, p. 132; Spencer, F. A., Beyond Damascus, Fr. Muller, London, 1935, pp. 171174; C. T. Wood, The Life, Letters, and Religion of St. Paul, T. and T. Clark, Edinburgh, 1925, p. 50.

17 For Σαῦλος in the narrative passages, see Acts VII, 58 and 60 (VIII, 1); VIII, 3; IX, II, 22, 24, and 26; XI, 25 and 30; XIII, 1, 2, 7, and 9. For the “vocatives,” Σαούλ see Acts IX, 4 and 17; XXII, 7 and 13; XXVI, 14. The last reference describes the voice from Heaven as “in the Hebrew tongue.” The Septuagint (e.g. Kings I, 9 and passim) gives Σαούλ for the king, and this is used also of the king in Acts XIII, 21.

18 F. G. Kenyon, The Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri, Fasciculus II, The Gospels and the Acts, London, Emory Walker Limited, 1933; and the accompanying volume of Plates, 1934. For the form Σαούλ, indeclinable, see Acts VII, 58 (genitive case); IX, 24 (dative); XI, 30 (genitive); XIII, 7 (accusative). Kenyon gives all these as certain in his text. The Facsimiles are none too clear on XI, 30 and IX, 24, though in the latter the spelling with the three vowels Σαου is sure, and the λ may be. The scribe regularly writes an apostrophe after the last letter Σαούλ᾽, indicating his awareness of the fact that he is giving a non-Greek indeclinable name, exactly as he does, for example, in the case of the names Joseph, Abraham, and Jerusalem, (Acts VII, 13, 14, and 18; XIII, 26 and 27). This usage of the apostrophe for Hebrew names is found of course in other early manuscripts, though not in the case of the name Saul. It means that a regular Greek termination is not used, and does not mean that the scribe is omitting an ending. For the use of the apostrophe in other manuscripts see Hatch, W. H. P., The Principal Uncial Manuscripts of the New Testament, Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 1939; plates VI, XI, and XXI, from the third to fifth centuries.

19 Josephus, Antiquities VI, 9, 170 ff. In the Jewish War II, 556 and 558, he uses the same form for an individual of the time of Nero; but in II, 418 the form Σαῦλος appears for the same man, probably by error in copying, cf. Ant. XX, 214. In Jewish War II, 469 another individual is called Σάουλος. In V, 51 (Loeb text) Γαβὰθ Σαούλ is interpreted λόϕον Σαούλου. The accentuation of the various forms seems pretty well established, but Naber (Teubner, 1895), Jewish War II, 556 and 558, gives Σαοῦλος.

20 Clement, To the Corinthians I, cap. IV, 13.

21 In two inscriptions found in Christian churches of Gerasa, very late it is true, but possibly not under literary influence, the spelling Σαώλας has been lately found, probably representing Saul. See Kraeling, Carl H., Gerasa, City of the Decapolis, New Haven, 1938, p. 479, no. 304, and p. 487, no. 335, dated in 526 and in 511. See also Jones, A. H. M., Inscriptions from Jerash, Journal of Roman Studies XVIII (1928), p. 168, no. 35. In the two inscriptions the name appears in the same case, the genitive, Σαώλα, of which the nominative is probably Σαώλας. Tertullian, around 200 A.D., uses in Latin, for the name of the king, Saul, but definitely puts it in the third declension. See Adversus Marcionem II, 23 and 24; V, 1. Cyprian, about 50 years later, in Epistulae XIII, II, 2, gives a nominative Saul. The Old Testament (Vulgate) appears to use both the indeclined form and the third declensional form, as readily appears from a reading of I Kings IX. It may then be possible that Tertullian established for Latin the third declensional form of Saul. But in the Old Latin version of the Acts (Palimpsest Floriacensis) the second declensional form clearly appears, Saulus and Saule, for the apostle. See Old Latin Biblical Texts: No. V, ed. by E. S. Buchanan, Oxford, 1907, p. 114, text of Acts VII, 58–60 and IX, 4. Jerome then is evidently following the Old Latin in this, and he uses the second declensional form also in De Viris Illustribus V, for the apostle; but in Chronicon, adapted from Eusebius, he has the nominative Saul, for the king. See Helm's, Rudolf edition, Die Chronik des Hieronymus, Leipsig, 1913, p. 65. And in his Letters Jerome seems to use both the indeclined and the third declensional form for the name of the king, while keeping the second declensional form for the apostle. See Epistulae XXIX, 3, 2 and 7; 6, 2; LIII, 8, 5; CXXI, 6, 16; also In Hieremiam VI, 34. Augustine shows the same differentiation. See Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum, vol. LVIII (1923), pp. 281 and 315, ed. Al. Goldbacher. This differentiation in the Latin may be an added proof of the contention that the Greek spelling Σαῦλος comes by analogy from Παῦλος.

22 See for example Dean, L. R., A Study of the Cognomina of Soldiers in the Roman Legions, Princeton, 1916. Dean lists some 1,333 different cognomina and some 5,700 persons, all Roman citizens. Incidentally the name Saul does not appear among them.

23 Lambertz, op. cit. (1914), pp. 113, 114, 165 and passim.

24 As a cognomen the form is known for centuries. As a praenomen it was given in Augustus' time to Paullus Fabius Maximus, whose family, related to the Aemilian Paullus family, evidently wanted to keep the great name, and so made a praenomen from a cognomen. The same may be said of Paullus Aemilius Lepidus. Both these men were consuls, and were proconsuls of the province of Asia — hence known to some extent in the Greek East. See Prosopographia I (1st ed.), 32, 250 and II, 48, 38.

25 See note 16, above, for the references.

26 See note 15, above, for the studies of Dessau and Meyer.

27 Pauly-Wissowa, , Real Encyclopädie II. A. (1923), col. 1716, s.v. Sergius Paullus.

28 Dessau, op. cit., p. 349. Lake and Cadbury, p. 145.

29 Ruge in Pauly-Wissowa IV (1932), col. 2413 ff., s.v. Tarsos.

30 Dessau, p. 366/7. See also above, note 11.

31 F. G. Kenyon, op. cit., p. 45. To Tertullian also he is known, undoubtedly from the passage in Acts, in his De Idololatria, cap. IX. This passage is an early and additional support for the form of the proconsul's name.

32 C. I. L. VI, 31545. See also the admirable presentation by Kirsopp Lake in F. J. Foakes-Jackson and Kirsopp Lake, The Beginnings of Christianity, Part I, The Acts of the Apostles, Vol. V, Additional Notes to the Commentary, London, 1933, pp. 455–459. With their statement on the uncertainty of the reference to the governor Paullus in a Greek inscription of Cyprus, I would agree. But I would rather strongly insist on the identification of Sergius Paullus of Cyprus with L. Sergius Paullus of the Latin inscription from Rome. This man by his position was probably an ex-praetor, and he certainly was serving as curator at Rome in the rule of Claudius. This fits perfectly with the known chronology of the governor of Cyprus. I would add that the Roman Senate of the period consisted of only some 600 men. (Moore, O'Brien in Pauly-Wissowa Supplementband VI (1935), cols. 760761.) In no one generation are we at all likely to find two senators of the same name and of approximately the same position. Moreover, the name Sergius Paullus is very rare. The case for identity is then very strong.

33 The inscriptional evidence is excellent. Lake (see above, note 32) has paid little attention to it, and seems not to know of Groag's studies in Pauly-Wissowa II, A (1923), cols. 1715–1721, nos. 34, 35, and 52. See also for inscriptions the study by Cheesman, G. L., The Family of the Caristanii at Antioch in Pisidia, Journal of Roman Studies III (1913), pp. 253266. Also Sir Ramsay, William, The Bearing of Recent Discoveries on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament, ed. 4, London, 1920, p. 150 ff.; p. 285 ff. I agree with Lake in not accepting all Ramsay's interpretations and especially his idea that the whole Paullus family became Christians.

First there is known at Antioch Sergia Paulla, daughter of Lucius, and wife of C. Caristanius Fronto, governor of Lycia and Pamphylia under Titus and then Domitian, that is, about 81 A.D. This woman on the basis of her name, her father's name, her rank, the time, was in all probability daughter of Sergius Paullus of Cyprus. Then in another inscription of Antioch we are given by Ramsay (The Bearing etc. p. 151) the name of a senator, L. Sergius L. f. Paullus filius etc. The inscription, not dated but of lettering “of about 60–100 A.D.” is doubtless of the son, or grandson of the governor of Cyprus. Again the same inscription which gives information about Paulla gives the name C. Caristanius Paulinus, her son, whose name indicates the union of the Sergian and Caristanian families. See Prosopographia II (2nd ed.), 1936, pp. 100–101 on all these persons.

34 Acts XIII, 12–14. On Antioch and Paul's route see Bérard, Jean, Itinéraires de Saint Paul in Asie Mineure, in Revue Archéologique V (1935), pp. 6070.

35 See note 33. Groag also, like Dessau, wants to associate this situation with the assumption of the name Paul by the apostle, but with no other proof.

36 Strabo, Geography XIV, 6. A reading of this passage with the account in Acts XIII, 4 ff. and the map of Cyprus shows the evidence. Foakes-Jackson and Lake, op. cit., p. 224, state: “Probably one reason for going to Antioch was its large Jewish colony.” This may well have been a factor, as Acts XIII tells of a Jewish synagogue there. Lake's reference, however, to Josephus apparently has to do with Antioch in Syria.

37 Sir Ramsay, William M., The Church in the Roman Empire, Putnam's, New York, 1893, pp. 5966.

38 The place of his illness was not necessarily Antioch at all. The letter which contains the passage is addressed to the Galatians, city not specified. δι᾽ ἀσθένειαν … in all probability means “owing to infirmity of the flesh,” and not “in a time of illness.” See Rendall, Frederic on the passage in the Expositors Greek Testament, ed. by Nicoll, W. R., New York, vol. III (1903), p. 178. See also Wood, C. T, The Life, Letters and Religion of St. Paul, Edinburgh, 1925, p 51. If the reference in Galatians IV, 13 should be applied to another later trip, then Ramsay's entire explanation would not belong here and would be pointless. On the chronological question involved, see A. D. Nock, St. Paul, New York, 1938, pp. 119 and 161.

39 Acts XIII, 13; XV, 36–39. The passages state that Paul, long after the event, was so angry at Mark's desertion that he and Barnabas quarreled, and after that were no longer associated in the missionary work. Emphasis on the importance of the work at Antioch seems also to be given by Luke in placing the locale of Paul's first long sermon in that city, and in assigning to that episode also the apostles' expressed intention, “we turn to the Gentiles.” See Acts XIII, 14–48.

40 Cf. note 37.

41 Behind these suggestions lies obviously an assumption of the essential historicity of the episodes on this topic given in the Acts about Paul. In this position this study differs little, when at all, from the works cited on either side of the main question here at issue. If, however, the use of the name Saul up to the episode in Cyprus and the use of the name Paul thereafter should prove to be only a device of narrative on the part of the author of Acts, one might readily conclude that the meeting with the governor Paullus made a great impression on the writer, with nothing known of its impression on Paul. If one advance to a denial or serious question of the historicity of the narrative in Acts on Paul's name, it could appear that we know one thing alone in this matter, namely that the apostle calls himself Paul in his Letters. The evidence of this paper as to how and why a Jewish Roman could very properly have a Roman, Latin cognomen and a Jewish signum would still stand. I am indebted to Prof. A. D. Nock, of Harvard, for the suggestion of caution set forth in this note.

42 Roman citizens' names are regularly declinable. See above, and note 22.

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