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Euelpistus (Acts of Justin B 4.3)


Role: Literate Worker


Gender: Male


Date: mid-second century CE


Place: Rome


Language:  Latin


Literary Genre: Martyrdom Account; Court Transcript (Acta)


Title of Work: Acts of Justin and Companions (Recension B)

Reference:  Ac. Justin B 4.3


Original Text:

Ῥουστιχος  ἔπαρχος εἶπεν τω Eὐέλπιστῷ Συ δὲ τίς εἰ,  Eὐέλπιστε; Eὐέλπιστος δοῦλος Καίσαρος ἀπεκρίνατο Κἀγὼ Χριστιανός εἰμι ἐλευθερωθεις ὑπὸ Χριστοῦ, καὶ τῆς αὐτῆς μετέχω χάριτι Χριστοῦ (Ac. Justin B 4.3)


English Translation:

The prefect Rusticus said to Evelpistus: ‘And what are you, Evelpistus?’ Evelpistus, one of the emperor’s slaves, answered: ‘I too am a Christian.'[1]  I have been freed by Christ and I share in the same by the favor of Christ.’ (Ac. Justin B 4.3)


Text and Translation modified from Herbert Musurillo, Acts of the Christian Martyrs (Clarendon: Oxford, 1954)


Commentary: 


Euelpistus (sometimes known in English translation and commentary as Evelpistus) is one of a group of students of the Christian teacher and philosopher Justin of Rome (more commonly known as Justin Martyr). He appears in all three recensions of the Acts of Justin, but in the second is first described as an “imperial slave.” This identification and Euelpistus’s statement that he has been “freed” by Christ forms the basis for a tense conversation with Rusticus, the Roman prefect. Much as this conversation evokes the (debatedly) metaphorical Pauline language of freedom in Christ. To Rusticus and other hearers the conversation sounds quite literal (Moss). 


The inclusion of this detail in Recension B reflects, as Flexsenhar has shown, an increased interest in imperial slaves in the third century and beyond. The expansion of traditions about him in the Decian period (250 CE) is grounded in the character of Euelpistus’s name, which evoked “slavish” notions of fidelity. We might fruitfully compare here the Martyrdom of Paul, which includes Patroclus, an enslaved Christian in the imperial household. This is the first martyrdom account that includes the death of an enslaved person from the imperial household. 


That Euelpistus was a member of the “school” of Justin should lead us to conclude that Euelpistus was literate. 



Keywords: Christian; Justin Martyr; Imperial Household; Literate Worker; Martyrdom Account


Bibliography:


Flexsenhar III, Michael. Christians in Caesar’s Household. The Emperor’s Slaves in the Makings of Christianity. Inventing Christianity Vol. 1. University Park: Penn State Press, 2019.


Moss, Candida. Ancient Christian Martyrdom. Yale Anchor Reference Library. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012.


How to Cite:

Moss, Candida R. “Euelpistus (Acts of Justin B 4).” Ancient Enslaved Christians. Accessed DAY MONTH YEAR. <URL>


Notes:

1 A relevant alternative translation supplied by Musurillo is “I am Evepistus, an imperial slave”






 

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