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Decrees and Drachmas at Thessalonica: An Illegal Assembly in Jason's House (Acts 17.1–10a)


Those who have identified the specific charges of the judicial proceedings in Thessalonica according to Acts 17.6–9 have generally taken one of two routes. The traditional view is that Paul and Silas were accused of treason (maiestas). Just over three decades ago, however, E. A. Judge put forth an alternative hypothesis that the decrees of Caesar in Acts 17.7 referred to imperial laws against predicting the change of ruler. After challenging these two explanations, this essay puts forward a fresh proposal – that both the charges and the seizure of payment in this judicial episode relate to the imperial laws repressing Graeco-Roman voluntary associations.

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This article is a revised version of a paper presented at the Acts Seminar of the British NT Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland (September 2004). I am grateful to Dr Mikeal Parsons, Professor Graham Stanton, Mr Dmitry Bratkin, and Mr David Rudolph, who have made very helpful comments on earlier drafts of this essay.
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New Testament Studies
  • ISSN: 0028-6885
  • EISSN: 1469-8145
  • URL: /core/journals/new-testament-studies
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