On page 100 of Phil Harland's "Associations, Synagogues, and Congregations" he writes about benefactors: "Failure to meet expectations, especially at critical times, could result in shame and, more concretely, angry mobs seeking revenge against wealthier inhabitants." Does this explain Acts 18?
Crispus was an archisynagogos and therefore a benefactor of the synagogue. If Crispus stopped funding the Jews and directed his funding to the church instead, this would have been very painful for the synagogue Jews, especially as this was a time of food shortage.
This redirection of Crispus's benefaction would explain the following:
1. the wave of conversions of many Corinthians following the conversion of Crispus
2. Paul's fear and the united attack on Paul
3. that Crispus was honoured with a new name: "Sosthenes" (meaning "saving strength")
4. that the Jews beat Sosthenes
5. that they beat him in front of the tribunal (to make an example of Sosthenes to show that they had jurisdiction to forbid Jews from funding the church)
6. that the Jewish Christian benefactors had to leave Achaia (Sosthenes, Crispus, Prisca, and Aquila).
7. that Luke does not say that Sosthenes was a believer (Luke did not want opponents of the church to know that they could appeal to the Gallio incident as a precedent to justify attacks on Christian benefactors).
I have presented this suggestion in more detail here:
What do you think?
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