Is scholarly scepticism about Gallio a modern legend?

The presence of Seneca’s brother, Gallio, in Corinth, during the period when Acts 18:12-17 refers to him, is attested by an inscription.  The French excavators in the late 19th century found vast numbers of fragments, and Emile Bourguet in 1905 published a group, which contained a letter of Claudius, mentioning Gallio as proconsul.

However, floating in the back of my mind is the idea that, prior to this publication becoming known, some scholars questioned whether Acts was in fact in error at this point, and whether Gallio was ever in Corinth.  I find this idea appears, without reference, in Anthony Thistleton, 1 Corinthians: A Shorter Exegetical and Pastoral Commentary (2011), p.25, where the caption reads:

Prior to 1905 there was some scepticism about this Gallio allusion in Acts, but in 1905 four fragments of a letter of the Emperor Claudius relating to Lucius Junius Gallio were discovered.  They were published in 1913.

The details of publication are not in fact accurate – Bourguet certainly printed them in 1905, and they were discovered earlier -, but it does confirm that the idea of a previous scepticism is not a figment of my own imagination.  The same author wrote a much longer commentary in 2000, which mentions Gallio on p.29-32; but does not mention the scepticism.

Is this true?  Or is it just an urban legend?

I have spent much of the last 24 hours searching older materials online for someone to express this scepticism, but I have drawn a complete blank.  Even F.C. Baur in his Paulus seems to accept that the apostle appeared before Gallio in Corinth.

I am no expert on NT criticism.  If any reader of this blog can identify a reference to some scholar questioning whether Gallio was there, I would be grateful to be told.  The comments are open!


5 thoughts on “Is scholarly scepticism about Gallio a modern legend?

  1. Thank you for these. For those unable to access the links, these are all concerned with chronology – when precisely Gallio held the office of proconsul – rather than whether he did so.

  2. You got me wondering whether this connection with Gallio (whom I never before knew to be Seneca’s brother!) might lie behind the supposed correspondence between St. Paul and Seneca. Searching Internet Archive turned up a couple things. One, is “St. Paul and Seneca” in Lightfoot’s Dissertations on the Apostolic Age: Reprinted from Editions of St. Paul’s Epistles (1892). Another, is Claude W. Barlow’s edition, Epistolae Senecae ad Paulum et Pauli ad Senecam (1938). The latter has no element of Gallio’s name in its “Index Verborum”, and neither discuss any scepticism as to whether Gallio was ever in Corinth. But both are interesting in their own rights, especially Barlow’s first chapter, “The Tradition of Seneca’s Adherence to Christianity”, which includes the statement (p. 7) that “especially from the ninth century until the Renaissance, the friendship of the philosopher Seneca and the Apostle Paul was accepted as a historical fact, doubted by no one”! He also notes that Paul appearing before Gallio (p. 2) “has been adapted for fiction by Anatole France as one of the episodes of his Sur le Pierre Blanche. It was also used by Rudyard Kipling in Gallio’s Song.”

    Another curious item turned up (I know not why) by my search there is “Seneca and the Discovery of America” in Edward Gaylord Bourne’s Essays in Historical Criticism (1901) about a misreading of a passage in Seneca’s Naturales quaestiones by Roger Bacon which contributed to Columbus undertaking his voyage!

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