The apostle Paul compared the work of the apostles to that of gladiators in the arena. In writing to the Corinthians he says,
For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. (1 Corinthians 4:9 ESV)
As the last event of the day, the gladiator’s who were condemned to death were brought into the arena as a spectacle for the excited crowd. The word spectacle translates the Greek theatron, easy enough for everyone to understand the reference.
Leon Morris (Tyndale New Testament Commentary) calls attention to James Moffatt’s translation of this text.
The imagery is derived from the arena, as Moffatt’s rendering brings out, ‘God means us apostles to come in at the very end, like doomed gladiators in the arena!’
The photo below shows gladiators in the Roman hippodrome at the RACE (Roman Army and Chariot Experience) show at Jerash, Jordan.
Gladiators in the Roman hippodrome at Jerash, Jordan. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
Here is a close up of one of the gladiators.
Gladiator in the RACE show, Jerash, Jordan. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
Both photos are available in a larger size suitable for use in teaching. Just click on the images.
David Padfield has several photos of gladiators here.
Discovery News reports here on a new study about the “headless” gladiators found in a cemetery at York, England, a few years ago.
Britain’s enigmatic “headless Romans” lost their heads far away from home, according to a multi-isotopic analysis of the 1,800-year-old skeletal remains.
Unearthed between 2004 and 2005 in a cemetery in York, England, the remains belong to 80 individuals, almost all males, who died violently at ages ranging between 19 and 45.
At least 46 of them had been carefully decapitated, with their heads placed by or between their legs or pelvis.
Believed by some to be gladiators, losing their heads after their last fight, the heavily built men were buried in one of the most prestigious cemeteries of York during the 2nd and 3rd century A.D.
A new scientific “multi-isotopic analysis of the skeletal remains” has shown that many of the men were from other parts of Britain and the Roman Empire. It is a fascinating technical study.
Gladiator at Ephesus. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
The Science Channel web site has a nice video in which Dr. Karl Großschmidt, Medical University of Vienna, discusses the discovery at Ephesus of skeletons belonging to 70 gladiators. Click here to view the video and a second one discussing the weapons used by the gladiators. Großschmidt thinks that most of the men died in combat before the age of 35.
HT: David Padfield
In a post to follow I will discuss Paul’s use of the gladiator in one of his epistles.
A report today says that Pompeii’s house of gladiators collapsed Saturday morning. Check CNN.