top of page

Tertius (Rom. 16:22)


Role: Secretary


Gender: Male


Date: mid-first century CE


Place: Corinth; Rome


Language:  Greek


Literary Genre: Letter


Title of Work: Romans

Reference: Rom. 16:22


Original Text:

ἀσπάζομαι ὑμᾶς ἐγὼ Τέρτιος ὁ γράψας τὴν ἐπιστολὴν ἐν κυρίῳ. (Rom. 16:22)


English Translation:

I, Tertius, the writer of this letter, greet you in the Lord (Rom. 16:22)


Commentary: 

Tertius was the secretary who worked with Paul in order to produce the letter to the Romans. The majority of interpreters locate the place of composition in Corinth, as is suggested from subscriptions to some manuscripts. Paul writes as a guest of Gaius (Rom 16:23a) who may be the same convert mentioned in 1 Cor. 1:14. If this is the case, Tertius too might be from Corinth. The fact that he sends his greetings suggests that he has ties to the city of Rome as well. 


There has been considerable scholarly debate about Tertius’ role in the authorship of the letter with some seeing Tertius as a potential author (Roller) or collaborator (Moss). While it is generally agreed that Tertius was the amanuensis (secretary) for the letter the process of inscription is unknown. Tertius may have taken dictation in shorthand, longhand, or syllable-by-syllable. Syllable-by-syllable dictation was only rarely employed with workers whose literate skills were less developed and for shorter letters (Cicero, Att. 13.25.3). Given the length of Romans, this method seems unlikely. If dictation was taken in shorthand, a more agentive form of writing, then Tertius played a more active role in the composition of Romans (Moss).


Despite a tendency on the part of New Testament scholars to picture Tertius as a volunteer (Richards), tradition links him to the household of Phoebe. The fourteenth-century manuscript Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, grec 47, fol. 244 recto (GA 18) reads: “The letter to (the) Romans written through (dia) Tertius and sent through (dia) Phoebe from Corinth.” 


Tertius is a Latin number (Third) that was frequently used for enslaved persons (e.g. CIL 5.01832; CIL 11.2656; AE 1972, 714; EDR005253).[1] The use of Latin may suggest that he was a verna (a homeborn enslaved person). We should note that some Roman elites, particularly in Celtic circles, occasionally embraced numeral praenomina.[2] A seal ring found in the luxury villa at Oplontis, for example, was owned by the elite Lucius Crassius Tertius. Given that the Tertius of Romans was working in the eastern part of the Mediterranean and performing secretarial work for a lengthy text his identification as an enslaved or formerly enslaved person seems secure.


Keywords: Christian; Corinth; Dictation; Literate Worker;  New Testament; Paul; Rome; Secretary; Shorthand


Bibliography:


Moss, Candida R. “The Secretary: Enslaved Workers, Stenography, and the Production of Early Christian Literature.” JTS 74.1 (2023): 20–56.


Petersen, Hans. “The numeral praenomina of the Romans.” Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 93 (1962): 347–354.


Richards, E. Randolph. The Secretary in the Letters of Paul. WUNT II/42. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1991.

———Paul and First-Century Letter Writing. Secretaries, Composition and Collection. Westmont, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2004.


Roller, Otto. Das Formular der paulinischen Briefe: Ein Beitrag zur Lehre vom antiken Briefe. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1933. (14-23, 295-300) 


Solin, Heikki. Die stadtrömischen Sklavennamen: Ein Namenbuch I-III. Forschungen zur antiken Sklaverei, Beiheft 2 (Stuttgart: Steiner, 1996), 1.152-3


How to Cite:

Moss, Candida R. “Tertius (Rom. 16:22).” Ancient Enslaved Christians. Accessed DAY MONTH YEAR.MONTH YEAR. <URL>


Notes:


1. Heikki Solin, Die stadtrömischen Sklavennamen: Ein Namenbuch I-III. Forschungen zur antiken Sklaverei, Beiheft 2 (Stuttgart: Steiner, 1996), 1.152-3

2. Hans Petersen, “The numeral praenomina of the Romans,” Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 93 (1962): 347–354.



Comentários


bottom of page