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Sosthenes (1 Cor. 1:1–2)

Role: Literate Worker

Gender: Male

Date: mid-first century CE

Place: Corinth; Ephesus(?)

Language:  Greek

Literary Genre: Letter

Title of Work: 1 Corinthians

Reference: 1 Cor. 1:1-2

Original Text:

Παῦλος κλητὸς ἀπόστολος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ καὶ Σωσθένης ὁ ἀδελφὸς  τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ τῇ οὔσῃ ἐν Κορίνθῳ … (NA28 1 Cor. 1:1-2)

English Translation:

Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,

To the church of God that is in Corinth… (NRSV 1 Cor 1:1-2)


Sosthenes is named at the beginning of 1 Corinthians as the co-author of the letter alongside Paul. Scholars have debated what Sosthenes’s function is in relation to the text—authorial contributor to the text, editor, messenger, or more. Sosthenes is a name less commonly-attested among enslaved persons than other New Testament literate workers, but does appear as the name of a formerly enslaved Roman (CIL 6 29681). If Sosthenes was an enslaved or formerly enslaved literate worker, further examination of 1 Corinthians might explore what his contribution(s) was to the composition, editing, dissemination, and interpretation of the letter among Corinthians.

Additionally, scholars debate the relationship between the Sosthenes named in 1 Cor 1:1 to the figures of Sosthenes and Crispus named in Acts 18:5–17. The latter Sosthenes (and Crispus) are characterized as a head (or heads) of a Corinthian synagogue, leading to the question of whether Paul’s co-author is a familiar figure to the Corinthian Christian community. If these are the same figure, then we might consider how enslaved or formerly enslaved Jews in the first century CE functioned as prominent religious leaders in diasporic communities.

Keywords: Christian; Literate Worker; New Testament; Paul 


Bonar, Chance E. The Author in Early Christian Literature. Cambridge Elements. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming.

Hubbard, Moyer V. “Urban Uprising in the Roman World: The Social Setting of Sosthenes.” NTS 51 (2005): 416–428.

Murphy-O’Connor, Jerome. “Co-Authorship in the Corinthian Correspondence.” Revue biblique 100 (1993): 562–579.

Myrou, Augustine. “Sosthenes: The Former Crispus(?).” Greek Orthodox Theological Review 44.1 (1999): 207–212.

How to Cite:

Bonar, Chance E.. “Sosthenes (1 Cor. 1:1)” Ancient Enslaved Christians. Accessed DAY MONTH YEAR. <URL>


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