“‘Teaching You in Public and from House to House’ (Acts 20:20):

Unpacking a Cultural Stereotype”



Jerome H. Neyrey, S.J.
University of Notre Dame


1. Introduction: Focus, Status Quaestionis, Model and Plan


This article builds on several past studies in which we have examined the cultural and social meaning of space. Endnote Here we focus on a phrase from Paul’s farewell address in Acts, I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable and teaching you in public (δημοσίᾳ) and from house to house (κατ’ οἴκουϛ)” (20:20). Endnote As we will see, two things are contained in this remark: 1) space, classified as “public” or “private” and 2) speech, socially sanctioned speech: who may speak what, when, where and to whom and for what purpose?             


When Acts 20:20 receives any critical attention, it is generally as part of a farewell address. Endnote Yet commentators on Acts give it minimal consideration, perhaps because the expression about “public and private” seems too obvious for comment. The study by Stanley K. Stowers does not directly treat Acts 20:20, but addressed the topic of where the historical Paul likely taught. Endnote He dismissed the old perception that Paul, like a Cynic preacher, spoke in public and in the manner of Cynics. Stowers shifts attention from public venues to “private” ones, such as houses and the “hall of Tyrannus”(19:9), and he argues that philosophers regularly used such for their discourse. He concludes:


The private home was a center of intellectual activity and the customary place for many types of speakers and teachers to do their work. Occasional lectures, declamations and readings of various sorts of philosophical, rhetorical and literary works often took place in homes. Such sessions might be continued for two or three days. The speaker might use his own house or be invited to speak or teach in another home. These were private affairs and audiences came by invitation. Endnote


He presumes that the classifications of “public” and “private” are self-evident and provides no nuance about what this classification of space means.             


Our article is offered as a friendly compliment to Stowers’ argument in the following ways. First, Stowers does not distinguish the two meanings of “private” which we will show are readily discovered in our extensive survey of the “public/private” classification: 1. “private” = associations of non-kinship related males (either in a house or elsewhere) and 2. “private” = males in houses with their families. Second, without telling us, Stowers has in view an elite’s house, for he seems to refer to what Vitruvius called the “common” parts of a house where non-kinship males gather as distinguished from the “private” parts reserved for kinship-related persons. This itself suggests another nuance to “public/private,” i.e., the parts of a residence open to outsiders vs. those reserved for family. But given his focus, Stowers ignored all materials dealing with the idea of gender-specific space: namely, that certain gatherings would become male space and so exclude females during this use. Four, Stowers was uninterested in the question of who has voice in what space. He focuses on teachers or philosophers as speaker, i.e., those with a recognized role and adequate social status, but ignores when and where Paul has voice. Five, he implies that space is controlled, possibly by means of invitation. But he does not consider the control exercised over other spaces where Paul speaks. This article will take up just such issues by bring into the conversation an anthropological model on space. Full attention, then, will be given to Acts 20:20.


We begin by asking what is being said in Paul’s claim that he spoke both in “public” and in “private.” What is meant by “public” and by “private”? Endnote Since this is a social/cultural question, the method for researching and interpreting this labeling of space must needs turn to the social sciences for appropriate materials and models. The argument of this article, then, consists of four parts. First, we will examine the model of “territoriality” developed by the social sciences, as the appropriate way for analyzing the classification of space as “public/private.” Second, we will report on an extensive investigation of the wide variety of expressions for “public/private” in Greek and Latin, which will then be interpreted in the light of the model of “territoriality.” Third, attention must be given to who has voice, that is, who is allowed to speak, where and when. This issue touches on matters of gender, role and status in a group or a city. Finally, these three blocks of data will then be brought to bear on the correct cultural interpretation of Acts 20:20.


2. Basic Model: Terrioriality.


The chief model for assessing space and place in terms of social science categories, “territoriality,” is defined as


. . .the attempt by an individual or group to affect, influence, or control people, phenomena, and relationships, by delimiting and asserting control over a geographic area. . .Territories require constant effort to establish and maintain. Endnote  


Like others, Sack emphasizes the attempt to control some place or some persons. Control presumes that the controlling group has in some way labeled or classified some space in relationship to itself. Sack notes that the controlling group tries to “affect, influence or control” places, and the objects of control might be “people, phenomena, relationships.”             


Sack’s notion of classification and control can be expanded by noting four types of territory. One might contrast public territories (“those areas where the individual has freedom of access, but not necessarily of action, by virtue of his claim to citizenship”) with private ones (“where regular participants have a relative freedom of behavior and a sense of intimacy and control over the area”). Endnote Moreover, one might identify interactional places (“any area where a social gathering may occur. . .surrounding any interaction there is an invisible boundary, a kind of social membrane”) and body territories (“the space encompasses by the human body and the anatomical space of the body”). Endnote These concepts express a socially fluid understanding of “territoriality,” as they imply that a space may be restricted temporarily for “interaction,” as in a conference between patron and client in an agora. Such nuances of the basic model will be welcome when we come to consider “house” as “private” in many senses.


Modern research into “territoriality” began with studies of animal behavior, especially that of birds. Endnote From the beginning, certain concepts emerged which remain integral parts of all models of territoriality. Birds, for example, could be observed performing some conspicuous behavior which was interpreted as communication of an exclusive claim to a certain area, and which resulted in efforts to control that territory. For example, a male bird becomes intolerant of other males as he confines himself to a certain area for the purposes of ensuring an adequate food supply and safe nesting space for his mate. Endnote Even as anthropologists later focused on human patterns of “territoriality,” the three foci of the model remain: (1) classification of place, (2) communication of this, and (3) control of the place so classified.             


Classification Systems. The classification system, the key to the model, refers to the ways in which humans invest space with meaning or label it for some purpose. For example, people declare this space “ours,” but that space “yours,” thus making “our” space sacred and set apart from other, profane spaces. Parents often classify their bedroom as “off limits” for their children, thus distinguishing adult from family space. Muslims and Israelis both claim Jerusalem’s temple mount as their own sacred space, and thus see the presence of the other there as profaning it.


Anthropologists surface many emic or native patterns of classification of territory, all of which contain binary opposites which set apart certain spaces as restricted and unrestricted, ours and yours, holy and profane, and the like. These labels are intended to have dramatic impact on how we and others think of and behave in regard to a certain space. A sample inventory of classifications would include: 1) public/private, 2) honorable/non-honorable, 3) sacred/profane, 4) clean/unclean, 5) fixed/fluid sacred space, 6) center/periphery and 7) civilization/nature. For us, only the first two pairs seem relevant and will be examined in detail in this study.               


Communication and Control. Communication of these classifications is relatively simple. All a prosperous city need do to communicate that it is honorable or civilized space is to build a wall around itself with a well-guarded gate (e.g., Josh 2:1-21). Endnote The same would apply to sections within cities Endnote where various occupations or ethnic groups were separated from each other and from the elites by interior walls and gates (e.g., Acts 19:23-25). Non-elites are thus kept away from the urban elites as well as from other non-elites with whom there might be rivalry or conflict. Similarly, the purpose of walls and gates for cities is replicated by doors of houses, palaces and temples, sometimes manned by guards (see John 18:15-17; Acts 28:16). A dramatic example of this principle of communication and control is the inscription from the balustrade of the Jerusalem temple prohibiting Gentile access to the court of the Israelites: “No foreigner is to enter within the forecourt and the balustrade around the sanctuary. Whoever is caught will have himself to blame for his subsequent death.” Endnote “Control” takes many forms, as we will see.


3. Native Classification Systems.            


We saw above that the classification of space tends to be expressed in terms of binary opposites, which is an endemic mode of thought in the ancient world. Endnote Although we noted above seven classifications of space, by far the most important for this study is “public/private,” which is also the one most commonly used in the Greco-Roman world. Endnote The classification of “public/ private” deserves careful examination because our survey of the material identifies many different linguistic expressions of it and meanings for it. Thus, this section of the argument contains three parts: 1. the dominant classification system “public/private,” 2. the relationship of this to male/female space, and 3. honorable/shameful space.             

"Public” and “Private” Spaces. The raw data are extensive in regard to the terms used and the periods of history in which the examples are found. The following nine antithetical classifications of “public/private,” although differing in terminology, all express the same distinction. 


1. κοινός/ἴδιος. Throughout his Rhetoric, Aristotle constantly makes reference to “public/ private”: “Both those who give advice in private (ἰδίᾳ) and those who speak in the assembly (κοιν) invariably either exhort or dissuade” (Rhet 1.3.3); similarly, “Men individually (ἰδίᾳ ἑκάστῳ) and in common (κοιν), nearly all have some aim”(Rhet 1.5.1). “Public” refers to politics, whereas “private” looks to social circles of male friends, not to households. Centuries later, Pseudo Dionysius wrote instructions for composing “public” and “private” funeral orations:


Two speeches have been devised that relate to burial. One is common (κοινός πρὸς πόλιν) to the whole city and people and is spoken over the war-dead. The other is private and individual(ιδίᾳ καθ ’ ἕκαστον), relating to events that frequently happen in peace, when people die at various ages. Endnote


“Public” means “common to the whole city,” in this case, a political event, whereas “private” relates either to kinship circles and/or to associations of friends. This linguistic expression of “public/private” is by far the most common one in antiquity. A sample of its ubiquity may be found in the citations in the following note. Endnote             


2. δημόσιος / ἴδιος. Of this contrast Plato says: “What a widespread corruption of the young in private families (ἰδίοις οἴκοις) as well as publicly in the State (δημοσίᾳ)” (Laws 10 890B); “private” now clearly refers to kinship or household, and “public”to politics. The following remark by Dionysius of Halicarnassus clearly illustrates this binary opposite: “They permitted their oldest men to beat with their canes such of the citizens as were disorderly in any public place whatever (ἐν τῳ δή τινι τν δημοσίων τόπῳ); but for what took place in the homes (κατ’ οἰκίαν) they took no thought or precaution” (Roman Antiquities 20.13.2). Endnote Again, politics vs. households.


3. ξυνός / ἴδιος. Plutarch well exemplifies this variation on the basic theme: “Now he who said, ‘The man who would be tranquil in his mind must not engage in many affairs, either private (ἰδίῃ) or public (ξυν),’ first of all makes our tranquillity very expensive if it is bought at the price of inactivity. . .” (Tranquillity 465C). Endnote Most likely “private” refers to male, non-political intercourse and “public” to civic affairs, not exclusively political.


4. ῥητόρες / ἰδίοι. A fourth variation of the classification is provided for us by the orator Aeschines: “First, they laid down laws to protect the morals of our children. . .then they legislated for the other age-groups in succession, including in their provision, not only private citizens (περὶ τν ἰδιωτν), but also the public men (περὶ τν ῥητόρων)”( Against Timarchus 7). “Private” means non-political, male associations, whereas “public” refers to politics.             


5. πρεσβεα / ἴδια. Josephus provides still another variation of this expression: “When any Athenians come to him [Hyrcanus] either on an embassy or on a private matter (ἢ κατα πρεσβείαν ἢ κατ’ ἰδίαν πρόφασιν). . .” ( Ant. 14.151). Embassies clearly are political/public, whereas “private” matters may engage royal patronage on a one-to-one basis.             


6. δημόσιος / κατοικίδιος. Dionysus provides us with several examples of the antithesis which most closely resembles that found in Acts 20:20: “secret political councils (πολιτευμάτων) were meeting in private houses (ἐν ἰδίαις οἰκίαις)” Dio Halicarnassus, Ant. Rom. 11.57.3 + 5.25.1). “Private,”while probably a household, is not “private” in the sense that it represents kinship matters, for houses had rooms where males hosted their friends; “public” here means politics.            


7. πόλις / οκος: When Thucydides indicates how the same person can belong to both the public and private world, he provides us with one more variation on this theme: “And you will find united in the same persons an interest at once in private (οἰκείων) and in public (πολιτικν) affairs” (History 2.40.2). “Public” clearly refers to the political world, but “private” may mean male, non-kinship associations as well as kinship-household matters. But we pause here to grasp the important social reality which lies behind this expression of “public/private.” Πόλις/οἰκία describe the two basic institutions of antiquity, namely, politics and kinship. Endnote In his Politics, Aristotle constantly juxtaposes πόλις and οἰκία, which in his argument correspond to one meaning of “public” and “private”: “The city-state is prior in nature to the household and to each of us individually” (Politics 1.1.11). Centuries later, Philo continued the same juxtaposition of institutions:


Organized communities are of two sorts, the greater which we call cities (πόλεων) and the smaller which we call households (οἰκίαι). Both of these have their governors; the government of the greater is assigned to men, under the name of statesmanship (πολιτεία), that of the lesser, known as household management (οἰκονομία), to women (Special Laws 3.171). Endnote


Thus “public” tends to describe the space as well as the roles and gender of males vis-à-vis politics.            


8. publice / privatim. Turning to Roman sources, we find Latin terms which correspond to the Greek classifications we have just seen. The report by Aulus Gellius on the layers of meaning in the contrast “public” and “private” is worth our attention.


The governor of the province of Crete had come to Athens for the purpose of visiting the philosopher Taurus, and in company with this same governor was his father. Taurus was sitting before the door of his room. In came the governor of the province and with him his father. Taurus arose quietly, and after salutations had been exchanged, sat down again. Presently the single chair that was at hand was brought and placed near them, while others were being fetched. Taurus invited the governor's father to be seated; to which he replied: "Rather let this man take the seat, since he is a magistrate of the Roman people." "Without prejudicing the case," said Taurus, "do you meanwhile sit down, while we look into the matter and inquire whether it is more proper for you, who are the father, to sit, or your son, who is the magistrate." And when the father had seated himself, and another chair had been placed near by for his son also, Taurus discussed the question.


The substance of the discussion was this: In public places (publicis locis), functions and acts the rights of fathers, compared with the authority of sons who are magistrates, give way somewhat and are eclipsed; but when they are sitting together unofficially in the intimacy of home life (in domestica re), or walking about, or even reclining at a dinner party of intimate friends, then the official distinctions between a son who is a magistrate and a father who is a private citizen (privatum) are at an end, while those that are natural and inherent come into play.(Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights 2.2.1-10).


“Public” here refers to civic or political role, status and space; “private,” however, has many meanings, one of which suggests “citizen” vs. “magistrate.” As regards space, the magistrate appears of course in “public” space where he acts like a political official; likewise, he appears in “private” space, namely, his home/residence where he and his father dwell. The father, on the other hand, has no “public” space or role or status; his “private” space, moreover, might be threefold: 1. house/ residence (“in the intimacy of home life”), 2. dining rooms (“a dinner party of intimate friends”), and 3. outdoor walking space (“walking about”). What makes this so fruitful an example of “public/private” is the rich interplay of status and role (magistrate, citizen; father, son) and space (polis center, resident home, out-of-doors). Endnote             


9. communus / privatus. Vitruvius, who was concerned not only with architecture but with the social meaning of space, tells us at the beginning of book six that he shifts is attention from “public” to “private” buildings: “Since in the fifth book I dealt with the suitable provision of public (communium) buildings, in this book I will explain the calculations involved in private (privatorum) buildings” (On Architecture. Preface 7). Then using these terms, he declares certain parts of the same house “private” and others “public.”


We go on to consider how, in private (privatis) buildings, the rooms belonging to the family, and how those which are shared with visitors, should be planned. For into the private rooms no one can come uninvited, such as the bedrooms, dining-rooms, baths and other apartments which have similar purposes. The common rooms (communia) are those into which though uninvited, persons of the people can come by right, such as vestibules, courtyards, peristyles and other apartments of similar uses (On Architecture 6.5.1). Endnote


Even in a house, then, some parts are “private,” i.e., restricted to members of the household, and others are “public” or “common” spaces open to non-household persons as well. Endnote This general view can be supplemented with the remarks of Cornelius Nepos who, when contrasting Greek and Roman mores, introduces a gender issue into the way space even in a residence is classified as “common” or “private”:


What Roman would blush to take his wife to a dinner-party? What matron does not frequent the front rooms of her dwelling and show herself in public? But it is very different in Greece; for there a woman is not admitted to a dinner-party, unless relatives only are present, and she keeps to the more retired part of the house called "the women's apartment" (gynaeconitis), to which no man has access who is not near of kin (Cornelius Nepos, praef. 4-7).


We note that Greek women attend dinner parties in “private,” i.e., in the house, but only when kinship members are present; these dining rooms are “private,” not common.             


From the nine classifications for “public/private” we have examined, we draw the following conclusions: “Private” = Non-Political, but Non-Household. There is a middle space which is neither public/political nor private/household. Greeks and Romans used “public” and “private” to distinguish male participation in the “public” or political life of the city from the “private” social relations of an ordinary citizen. Demosthenes makes this distinction in one of his speeches:


There are two sorts of problems with which the laws of all nations are concerned. First, what are the principles under which we associate with one another, have dealings with one another, define the obligations of private life (περὶ τν ἰδίων), and, in general order our social relations? Secondly, what are the duties that every man among us owes to the commonwealth, if he chooses to take part in public life (τ κοιν) and professes any concern for the State? Now it is to the advantage of the common people that laws of the former category, laws of private intercourse (περὶ τν ἰδίων ), shall be distinguished by clemency and humanity. On the other hand it is to your common advantage that laws of the second class, the laws that govern our relations to the State (πρὸς το δημοσίον), shall be trenchant and peremptory, because, if they are so, politicians will not do so much harm to the commonalty (Against Timocrates 192-93).


Demosthenes, then, tells males that they may participate in public/political life (πρὸς το δημοσίον) or restrict themselves to private life (περὶ τν ἰδίων), which is not synonymous with life in the household. Males, then, associate with other males in both "public" and “private,” Different expectations characterize male/public and male/private behavior: laws governing public activity should be “trenchant and peremptory” vs. “clement and humane” in private intercourse.            


 “Private” = Household Space, Roles and Concerns. Male public figures of course had private household roles and duties. Among male duties in the private world of the household are: 1. control of his children, 2. procurement of dowries for daughters and wise marriages for them (Isaeus, On the Estate of Cleonymus 39-40), 3. proper use of patrimony (Aeschines, Against Timarchus 154), 4. funeral rites for parents (Isaeus, On the Estate of Menecles 36-37; see Matt 8:21-22), 5. concern for the virtue and reputation of wives and other females in the household (see Lysias, On the Murder of Eratosthenes 15-26), and 6. ruling over slaves and servants. Endnote According to 1 Tim 3:4-5, 12, only males who provide “private” governance of their own households are suitable for “public” leadership of the church.


We propose the following excellent example of this stereotype of male public and private space which clearly articulates the three social venues to which the ancients thought males belonged. Lysias argues for the honorable character of the accused by calling attention before his male peers how the defendant fulfilled the expected code of proper male behavior in each of the three spheres where males function (In Defense of Mantitheus 16.9-12). First he recounts the honorable behavior in regard to the "private" world of the household:


Although little property had been bequeathed to me, I bestowed two sisters in marriage, with a dowry of thirty minae apiece; to my brother I allowed such a portion as made him acknowledge that he had got a larger share of patrimony than I had; and towards all else my behaviour has been such that never to this day has a single person shown any grievance against me. So much for the tenor of my private life (τὰ ἴδια) (16.10-11).


As the eldest male in his family, he assumed responsibility for the honorable marriages of the family’s daughters; he acted as patron within the family by distribution of the father' s patrimony to his male siblings and to the family' s clients.             


The speaker turns to the world outside of the household, which, by contrast with the "private" or household world, he labels the "public" world:


. . .with regard to public matters (περὶ δε τν κοινν), I hold that the strongest proof I can give of my decorous conduct is the fact that all the younger set who are found to take their diversion in dice or drink or the like dissipations are, as you will observe, at feud with me, and are most prolific in lying tales about me. It is obvious, surely, that if we were at one in our desires they would not regard me with such feelings (16.11).


This is not the “public”-political world of the Assembly nor the “private” household world just seen. Rather, we are viewing here the non-household world where males (citizens?) entertain themselves in the company of other males via symposia, games, gambling and the like.        


Finally, he turns to the public-political world where the affairs of the city are in view, in this case, the city's army and its defense of its allies:


As regards campaigns in face of the enemy, observe how I discharged my duty to the State. First, when you made your alliance with the Boeotians, and we had to go to the relief of Hilartus, I had been enrolled by Orthobulus for service in the cavalry (16.12-13).


Mantitheus goes on to say how he volunteered for the more difficult military task of an infantryman, attesting to his courage and solidarity with that part of the army. And he claims that he has been a model “public,” i.e., political, person who has "discharged his duty to the State." By recounting his military exploits, he declares that he acted as an honorable male who has a visible public role in the affairs of the city. Thus, Mantitheus serves as an excellent emic informer on the triple spheres, spaces and roles which make up the male world which was both "public” and “private."             


Is “Public” : “Male” : : “Private” : “Female”? While the ancient world indeed considered males and females belonging to a totally gender-divided worlds, the precise labels “public”/ “private” we are examining describe male spaces and male roles. Endnote Yet let us look briefly at four classifications used by the ancients to distinguish male and female spaces. First, Xenophon’s “outdoor” vs. “indoor” expresses the most common classification in antiquity of male and female space: “And since both the indoor (τά τε ἔνδον) and the outdoor (τάξω) tasks demand labor and attention, God from the first adapted the woman’s nature, I think, to the indoor (ἐπὶ τὰνδον) and the man’s to the outdoor (ἐπὶ τὰξω) tasks and cares” (Oeconomicus 7.19-22). Endnote He then employs a second classification, “open air” vs. “covered” to explain what gender-specific roles and tasks are appropriate for these spaces:


Human beings live not in the open air (ἐν ὑπαίθρῳ), like beasts, but obviously need shelter ( στεγν). Those who mean to win store to fill the covered space, have need of someone to work at the open-air (ἐν τ ὑπαίθρῳ) occupations; since ploughing, sowing, planting and grazing are all such open-air (ὑπαίθρια) employments. . . again, as soon as this is stored in the covered place (ἐις το στεγνόν) , there is need of someone to keep it and to work at the things that must be done under cover (ἃ τν στεγνν ἔργα). Cover (στεγνν) is needed for the nursing of the infants; cover (στεγνν) is needed for the making of the corn into bread, and likewise for the manufacture of clothes from the wool (Oeconomicus 7:20-21).


Thus “outdoors” relates to male tasks (food production: farming, pasturing); “indoors” describes the “covered” or female tasks (food preparation; child rearing; clothing production). Endnote In addition the tools males and females use are gender and space-specific. Endnote             


This “exterior/interior” contrast was applied to the male and female sexual organs of the human body. According to Hierophilus and Galen the ancients classified male and female genitals as “public” and “private.” Endnote It was generally conceded that male and female sexual organs were similar, the difference residing in the fact that male genitals are outside the body, whereas female genitals are within. Galen writes: “All the parts, then, that men have, women have too, the difference between them lying in only one thing. . .namely, that in women the parts are within the body, whereas in men they are outside, in the region called the perineum” (Usefulness of the Parts of the Body 14.6). Endnote


 "Honorable"/"Non-Honorable" Places. This second classification of space does not have the hard linguistic data that “public/private” has, but it is nevertheless a key evaluation by people in the ancient world and has bearing on our interpretation of the space mentioned in Acts 20:20. For example, we indicated above that part of the total gender-division of ancient society was the separation of males in male space performing male roles and tasks from females in female space with corresponding female roles and tasks. When both genders live according to these expectations, both are honorable. But it would be shameful for a male to be excessively at home when other males are either in the agora or the fields. Endnote Thus the classification of “honorable/shameful” space includes notions of gender.             


Furthermore, it was axiomatic for ancient writers to tell their audiences the place of birth of the characters in their histories or lives. The principle is simple and clear: persons in antiquity were known in terms of geography, generation and gender. Endnote Honorable persons come from honorable places. For example, Nathanael prejudges Jesus’ honor by remarking that he does not come from an honorable place: “What good can come from Nazareth?”(John 1:46). In contrast, Paul claimed honor by birth in an honorable place: “Tarsus in Cilicia, a no low-status city” (Acts 21:39). One psalm explicitly states that honor comes simply from being born in an honorable place: “This one was born in Jerusalem!” (Ps 87:4-5). The honor rating of a place, then, constituted part of the stereotypical knowledge of the ancients. It was "inevitable" that a person from an honorable place would have its honorable characteristics. Places of origin, then, were classified as honorable or non-honorable.             


“Honorable/non-honorable” represent a scale of classification of spaces. Villages lack honor because they are crude; towns, while nobler than villages, lack the sophistication of major cities. In his study of ancient cities, Richard Rohrbaugh quotes Pausanias on what the ancients considered an honorable "city," which native description serves us well in illustrating the classification of space in terms of honor and non-honor: “. . . if indeed one can give the name of city to those who possess no public buildings, no gymnasium, no theatre, no marketplace, no water descending to a fountain, but live in bare shelters just like mountain huts on the edges of ravines” (10.4.1). Endnote An honorable city, then, has honorable public spaces where elites gather and speak. They enjoy a vibrant civic life and a sophisticated cultural ambiance. Honorable spaces are at the service of the honorable urban elite. Such buildings, monuments and temples might take up 35 to 50 per cent of the area of a walled city. Endnote Apart from death, the worst punishment that could be meted out to a Roman citizen was banishment from Rome to some obscure island or region. “Public,” then, should include “honorable” urban places and cities.


4. “Territoriality” and Acts 20:20.            


We have now both a sophisticated appreciation of the classification “public/private,” as well as a suitable facility with the model of “territoriality” to begin our interpretation of Acts 20:20. But we must sharpen the questions we would ask of Acts 20:20. Some classification of space is expressed in the phrase “. . .in public and from house to house,” but what is meant here? 1. Does “public” refer to the political arena or to “out-of-doors” or to non-household space? 2. Does “house to house” mean household space, i.e., house churches and “indoor” space? Could it refer to non-civic, non-public space? All know that Acts 20:18-35 is Paul’s farewell address, which genre suggests that broad generalizations of Paul’s behavior are intended, including space. Endnote Hence, we read “in public and from house to house” as the broadest classification of space, that is, 1. political-civic space as well as 2. male “private” space such as the synagogue and 3. household - private space. The evidence for this comes from a survey of spaces and places where Paul appears in Acts. In what typical spaces does Luke locate Paul? We will look at 1. civic/political space, 2. “private” space, such as synagogues or riverside groves, 3. kinship houses, 4. aule, such as the hall of Tyrannus, and 5. the Jerusalem temple. In considering each venue, we will also examine how it is classified, how this classification is communicated and how it serves as a mechanism of control or access to this space.            


 “Public” as Political, Civic Space. Many times Luke narrates that Paul appeared in the agora or civic center of a significant city. Only in Athens did Paul daily speak in public (17:17). Because Paul is not restricted from this space, we infer that those present are said to acknowledge Paul’s role and status as a wise person with public voice. All other instances tell of Paul “brought to the magistrates” (16:20) in the marketplace. Sometimes, no space is mentioned, only that “they dragged them . . .before the city authorities” (17:6) or that “they brought Paul before the tribunal” (18:12), which we know means the political, public center of the city.             


Acts tells us, moreover, that Paul was a regular speaker in the presence of elites. For example, the proconsul Sergius Paulus “summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God” (13:7). This is political, public space, probably the place of the proconsul’s bema or throne. Hardly a tete-a-tete, we should imagine a space filled with Sergius’ retainers and maybe some other dignitaries. Far from restricting Paul, the proconsul gave him license to speak, thus acknowledging his role and status. Later, Felix, the Judean governor, kept Paul in confinement, yet we are told that “he sent for him often and conversed with him” (24:26) over the course of the next two years. To be sure, they did not converse in Paul’s confined space, but rather in Felix’s official space, which I imagine as political, public space where Felix held meetings and heard reports. Endnote Although Felix did not release Paul, he did not restrict his speech, thus giving some acknowledgment to Paul’s role and status. The next governor, Festus, brought Paul before King Agrippa and his queen, Bernice, to hear his side of the case. Again, the space envisioned here is the most important place in the political space of the governor’s fortress. It befits Roman governors, Judean kings and queens, and Paul. Here he has public voice and boldly states his case. Finally, Paul found refuge from shipwreck in the house of Publius, the chief man of the island” (28:7). Again, Paul is in elite space, which is both public-politic space (“chief man of the island) and private (non-kinship males together) where Paul was “entertained hospitably for three days” (28:8). Although Luke does not say that Paul spoke boldly here, he tells us that others classified Paul as god-favored and that he was given freedom of movement, despite being a prisoner. Paul, then, is at ease in the presence of certain political elite, where he enjoys voice. We interpret “public” in Acts 20:20, then, in the light of these examples.


“Private” Space but Not Household. Another example of classification and control of space is the synagogue which is frequently mentioned in Acts. We classify the synagogue as private, non-public space, where males gathered in association, generally out-of-doors. Endnote The synagogue, then, is neither political-civic nor household space, but nevertheless “private.” With perhaps one exception, the members of the synagogue classify Paul as a corruption and act to control his behavior: 


 Text in Acts

Place of Synagogue




no restriction of speaking mentioned


Antioch of Pisidia

restrictions on speech (13:45); expulsion (13:50)



attempted stoning (14:5), then flight (14:6)



restriction on speech and violence (17:5), accusation of treason before a magistrate (17:6-7)



restriction on speech, flight by Paul (17:13-14)



restriction of speech (18:6), yet open speaking for a year and a half (18:11); accusation before Gallio (18:16); violence (18:17), then flight (18:18)



restricted from synagogue, but free speech in “the hall of Tyrannus” (19:9)



In terms of classification, the various synagogues are “private” (vs. “public”/political space). Because of their informality, it is unclear who had “voice” in them, surely local synagogue rulers (13:15; 18:8, 17) and other males with enough learning to read the scrolls and to exhort the group. Paul belongs to this second class; he appears to be a messenger of significant news. But a second classification of synagogue seems also to be operative, “pure/polluted.” Speakers who speak a word in keeping with traditional understanding of Scripture and Judean practice are “pure” and have voice in the synagogue. But speakers who bring strange, novel, and even blasphemous words are “pollution” to the synagogue. The guardians of tradition, then, rise up to restrict this voice and to direct violence against it. They may also hail such speakers into the political court and chase them from the city. Here the model of “territoriality” shows its worth, for it allows us to grasp the classification of the local synagogue in gender terms as male space which is “private” but not in the sense that household is “private.” Moreover, it indicates how space when classified can be controlled; when Paul is perceived as “polluting” the synagogue by his speech, the synagogue rises up to control his speech, expel him from their midst and the like. At stake here is the social issue of who has public voice? What role and status of the speaker are acknowledged? Not all males have public voice; not all who begin to speak are allowed to continue.            


 House as “Private” and “Private”. “House,” while clearly “private,” might be classified as “private” in two senses: 1. “private” as space for unrelated males who assemble for symposia Endnote and the like and 2. “private” as household residence for kinship-related males and females. It seems that Luke makes just this sort of distinction when he narrates the reasons for Paul’s presence in “private” houses: 1. either hospitality or 2. invitation to speak. Certain narratives locate Paul in private houses under the rubric of hospitality. For example, when Paul lodged in “the house of Judas” (9:11, 17), he appears to be a guest of Judas, although no details are given about how Paul came to this place. While there, he prayed, but after Ananias correctly classified him as God’s elect, he found his voice in the synagogue (9:20-22). Similarly, under the rubric of hospitality Lydia invites Paul to lodge at her house (16:15), with implicit permission to continue speaking about God. At Caesarea, Paul “entered the house of Philip the deacon. . .and stayed with him” (21:8), which house became the locus of dire prophecies. We classify these houses as “private”/household space, which extends hospitality to those of the household of God. While Paul surely spoke in them, they do not appear as the formal venue of his bold public speaking. No control is exercised on his speech.


A different scenario obtains in other houses, which are “private” both as residences for kinship-related persons and as forums for non-kinship-related folk. It is not hospitality which characterizes them so much as a new venue for Paul to speak. For example, when Paul was chased from the synagogue in Corinth, he “left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus” (18:7). Thus the “house of Titius” replaces “synagogue” as the place where Paul has voice; it is less a residence for Paul than the forum for his speech. Similarly, the third-story room where Paul preached through the night (20:8-9) was probably some one’s residence in the insula (hence, “private” as household), but with non-kinship related people assembled there, it became “private” as place of assembly. Endnote Finally, at Rome Paul “was allowed to stay by himself” (28:16), which was his “private” household. But Acts also tells us that this is the space where Paul received Judeans and spoke with them (28:17, 23). His “private” household space became “private” space for males to assemble. And Paul, of course, enjoyed public voice there. In none of these “house” settings does Paul ever experience control of his speech and message; his role and status as an authorized exponent of God’s gospel is acknowledged in “house.” He enjoys public voice.  


Hall of Tyrannus: “Private” Space. When Paul was excluded from the Corinthian synagogue, he withdrew with his new disciples to the hall of Tyrannus. Scholars cannot decide if “Tyrannus” is the nickname for a tyrannical teacher, the landlord of the property, or Paul’s patron. As regards the size and shape of this “hall,” we can only guess whether the aule is an independent building or a room of a building; moreover, Luke does not say if there was any cost incurred to “argue daily in the hall of Tyrannus. . .for two years” (19:9). Nevertheless, it should be classified as “private” space where males assemble. Moreover, not all in the schole have voice: surely Paul, but probably no one else. Stowers argues that Paul’s role and status would have been that of a philosopher. Endnote Only moderate control was exercised over this space: only some people were invited to enter and listen.             


Jerusalem Temple: “Public” Space. The Jerusalem temple was the unique shrine of the political religion of Israel. Paul’s single appearance in it occurs on his return to Jerusalem in 21:17. Because Paul’s presence in Greco-Roman synagogues has been vigorously controlled by the Israelites, the elders at Jerusalem urge Paul and company to undergo public rites of purification, and thus provide Judeans with a classification of Paul different from that of the diaspora synagogues. The following chart indicates how “territoriality” when applied to Jerusalem’s Temple shows a high degree of classification and especially control. The Temple, so rigorously controlled in the case of Peter and Stephen, continues to be so with Paul.






A 3:2

“gate of the temple which is called ‘Beautiful’” -- unclean beggar is excluded from the holy temple

the very “temple system” communicates by means of gates, walls, restricted entrance ways, etc. that only the holy/whole may enter

strong control: see gates, walls, restricted entrance ways;

yet no restriction on voice

A 3:11

Solomon’s Portico – a large stoa on southern end of complex; a meeting place

place of assembly; a likely gathering place out of sun or rain; usual gender restrictions

no control, once one is past the perimeter scrutiny;

voice unrestricted

A 4:1

Solomon’s Portico

Priest, captain of the Temple and Sadducees confront and arrest them;

very strong control:

their voice about Jesus is deviance (4:17-18) and hence they are removed from Solomon’s Portico

A 21:26

“Paul took the men, and the next day he purified himself with them and went into the temple, to give notice when their days of purification would be fulfilled and the offering presented for every one of them”

by virtue of purification and offerings, Paul accepts (much of) the classification of the Temple as a place of prayer and even sacrifice (i.e., thanksgiving offerings)

strong control: the usual gates, walls, internal demarcations;

in the perception of some that Paul has violated these 21:27-30; having declared Paul a deviant, “they dragged him out of the temple and at once the gates were shut” 21:30


 In Acts 21, those who classify Paul as a pollutant of the Temple start a public process to label him as such. They charge him with total corruption of the Judean way of life: "Men of Israel, help! This is the man who is teaching men everywhere against the people and the law and this place; moreover he also brought Greeks into the temple, and he has defiled this holy place" (21:28). Whether in “private” synagogue or house, the speech of Paul corrupts because it is “against this place.” And Paul’s behavior in the “public” space of the Temple likewise corrupts because he has brought Greeks into the temple and “defiled this holy place.” Because certain people classify Paul as utterly unacceptable in sacred space, they act to control he access: “The people ran together; they seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and at once the gates were shut” (21:30). According to our model of “territoriality,” the three basic elements are clearly in view: 1. classification: the temple is for holy, observant Israelites only; 2. communication: accusations of deviance in 21:27-29; and 3. control: expulsion of Paul from temple and attempts to kill him (21:30-31). Thus while Paul has voice in “public” Greco-Roman space, he is denied it both in Israelite “public” (Temple) space and “private” (synagogue) space.


5. “Territoriality,” Honorable and “Public” Space and Acts.            


The classification of space as honorable/non-honorable can add much to our interpretation of Paul’s remark in Acts 20:20, “in public and from house to house.” We suggest that “public” space is also “honorable” space. Many “public” spaces that Paul refers to are political spaces, either the residences of proconsuls (13:7), the chief man of the island (28:7), and Roman procurators (24:1-26:32), which are in and of themselves “honorable” spaces because of the elites who occupy them. Thus honor accrues to Paul by his appearance in these venues and especially by the fact that he enjoys voice there. Second, Paul is frequently portrayed as speaking the agora, likewise a “public” and “honorable” space.


Although agora is generally translated as “market place,” this represents an incomplete interpretation of this space. Endnote The Greco-Roman agora should be understood as a central, public meeting place. Endnote It was the social and political center of a polis,, the place where the polis elites gathered to gossip, debate issues pertaining to the polis’ welfare, and to conduct courts of justice. Endnote As center of public life, the agora was adorned with statues and colonnades, surrounded by temples and other public buildings. Endnote In and around it were built the most impressive buildings of the city, which suggest the wealth, power and sophistication of the elite, by whom and for whom such facilities existed. Likewise, the Greco-Roman agora was “honorable” space, frequented by persons of honorable roles and status who signaled their honor by the quality of their dress and adornment, special seating arrangements, retinue of servants and clients accompanying them, and permission to speak. Honorable people are found in honorable space.


As we saw, Acts relates only two appearances of Paul in the agora. At Philippi, he is dragged before the magistrate (16:19-20). Public trials are invariably shaming, as the ancients inform us. Endnote Hence, Paul gains no honor from appearing in this honorable space. Endnote But in Athens, he spoke with whomever came to the agora (17:17). Athens, a no low-status city, accords him voice, and so Paul gains honor from speaking in Athens’ agora. But by far the more noble Athenian space was the Areopagus, a place of colonnades which housed philosophers such as Stoics and Epicureans. Males assembling here would be of the elite or retainer class, with philosophical education, and of respected roles and statuses to have public voice. Thus Paul, who speaks there, is accorded honor from discoursing with worthy people in an honorable location – at least in Luke’s eyes. “Public” space in Acts, then, refers to political and civic space; those who appear there and speak there are considered honorable. “Public,” then, includes “honorable.”


Paul in No Low-Status Cities. “Public” also refers to the cities in which Paul resides, as well as to civic and political spaces within them. But not all cities are honorable. Luke comments on the status of various cities: for example, "Tarsus, a no low-status city" (21:39) and Philippi, "the leading city of the district of Macedonia" (16:12). But what makes a city honorable? In general, certain cities were renown as major centers of learning and commerce, such as Antioch, Ephesus and Tarsus. Archeological data concerning them indicate that they had public buildings, gymnasia, theaters, marketplaces, etc., i.e., Pausanius’ criteria for noble cities. Although specific information may or may not have been available to general audience of Acts, Luke presumes some common lore or fame for various cities mentioned, Endnote such as the following material. 


In terms of the honor rating of cities, we must be aware of the intense "vanity and rivalry of cities in the matter of rank and titles." Endnote Cities in Asia Minor Endnote regularly made honor claims to titles such as "metropolis" (μητρόπολις), "First and Greatest" (πρώτη κα ί μεγιστή), "autonomous" (αὐτονόμη), "Warden of the (Imperial) Temple" (νεωκόρη), "Inviolable" (ἀσυλή), "Friend of Rome" (φίλη or συμμάχη Ρωμαίων), and the like. Endnote According to Dio Chrysostom, Nicea and Nicomedia "contended for primacy" (πρωτείων; Or. 38.24). Dio says, moreover, that Nicea was rightly flattered to be known as:


. . . noble and worthy of renown . . . both as to its power and grandeur, for it is inferior to no city of distinction anywhere, whether in nobility of lineage or in composition of population, comprising as it does, the most illustrious families, not small groups of sorry specimens who came together from this place and from that, but the leaders among both Greeks and Macedonians, and, what is most significant, having had as founders both heroes and gods (Or. 39.1).


Ephesus and Smyrna engaged in rivalry to be called "the First and Greatest Metropolis of Asia." Endnote Miletus was known as "First Settled City of Ionia, Metropolis of Many Great Cities in Pontus and Egypt and in Many Places of the Inhabited World." Endnote The titles mattered to the ancients, for they drew part of their personal honor from the honor of the renown city in which they lived. And they were highly jealous of sharing this honor with a neighboring city (see Dio Chrysostom, Or. 38.39). “Public” space, when referring to cities, then, might be “honorable.”             


Tarsus. Let us briefly examine three cities Paul visited with a view to their honor rating and the importance of this for Paul. Endnote Luke records that Tarsus, the place of Paul's birth, Endnote was a "no low-status city."Climaxing a glorious history, Tarsus became the capital of the Roman province of Cilicia. Cicero, when proconsul of the province, resided there (Att. 5.20.3; Fam. 2.17.1). Endnote Augustus exempted it from taxes and fostered its development as a center of philosophy and rhetoric (Dio Chrysostom, Or. 34.7 and 25). Dio Chrysostom Endnote spoke of its rank as a "metropolis" from the start and as "the greatest of all the cities of Cilicia" (33.17; 34.7). Endnote Strabo praised it as a premier center of learning, surpassing Athens and Alexandria (Geog. 14.5.13). Excavations there inform us that Tarsus enjoyed the typical theater, gymnasia, marketplaces, fountains, and the like. Endnote


 Antioch. Of Antioch Josephus said: ". . . a city which, for extent and opulence, unquestionably ranks third among the cities of the Roman world" (Wars 3.29). Endnote It was famous for its elegance ("Antioch the Great," Endnote "the Beautiful" Endnote ), size, Endnote wealth and importance. Coins from Antioch record "Antioch, metropolis, sacred, and inviolable, and autonomous, and sovereign, and capital of the East." Endnote With the Roman conquest, it maintained it importance as a major city, becoming the capital of Roman Syria. Endnote As befitted a major city, it was encircled with great walls Endnote and enjoyed the typical public buildings of a noble city, namely, a great colonnaded street, circus, theater, forum, agora, palace, baths, and the like. Endnote


Ephesus. Strabo called Ephesus the largest commercial center in Asia Minor west of the Taurus (Geog. 641). It enjoyed extensive public buildings: the great temple of Artemis (Acts 19:24, 27-28), Endnote a splendid theater (Acts 19:29), as well as several market places, a number of gymnasia, and many fountains. Endnote Since Augustus, it enjoyed the honor of being the capital of the Roman province of Asia, and was acclaimed as "First and Greatest Metropolis of Asia." Strabo’s encomium on Ephesus lauded the city for its famous temple, its environment and harbor, and finally its famous citizens. Endnote


What does this tell us about Paul’s claim in 20:20? First, Luke portrays Paul as traveling to and residing in provincial capitals, "no mean cities." Endnote Thus Paul is presented as a citizen of the world, at home in the important cities of the empire. Luke's positioning of Paul in the major cities of the empire constitutes a rhetorical strategy that would have his readers accept Paul as a sophisticated person, at home in all parts of the Hellenistic world and truly an honorable person. Honorable people come from and reside in honorable cities. Thus, we suggest, “public” as a Lukan classification includes “honorable” cities.


6.“Voice” and Territorial Control 


Thus far we have examined classification of space, especially “public/private.” To be complete, we now take into account the control exercised in virtue of this classification. The precise question is: who may speak to whom, when, and in what context? Who has voice? In Acts 20:20-21, Paul states that his activity in “public and from house to house” was speech: “I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying to Jews and Greeks of repentance to God.” The US constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech to everyone was most definitely not the case in antiquity. Endnote Plutarch implies this in his remark: "Nature has given us two ears and one tongue, because we ought to do less talking than listening" (Listening to Lectures 39B). Not everyone had voice in the agora, the synagogue or the house where the Messianic assembly gathered. First of all, in the ancient gender-divided world, males in “private” space outside the household have varying degrees of voice, depending on age, honor and social role and status; but females do not, a distinction all the more true of the “public”/political world. Endnote Thus space is controlled in terms of who has voice. Who, then, “did the talking”?            


Factors such as age, status, and the classification of space as public/private serve as indicators of who has voice and may speak. Age, for example, served as a chief factor in determining who had voice. Young males generally do not enjoy voice, as Lysias indicates: “Some people are annoyed at me merely for attempting at too early an age to speak before the people” (Defense of Mantitheus 16.20). It was thought arrogant and unseemly for youths to address elders. Endnote Luke could have had this cultural criterion in mind when he stated that Jesus was “about thirty years of age” (3:23) when he went to the Jordan. Some scholars read this, not as calendar age, but as a claim that Jesus was sufficiently mature to be considered an elder. Endnote Second, social status factored into who had voice. Elite citizens had “public” voice, but not male peasants. In general, then, elders enjoyed public voice, not youths; males of certain status had voice, but not ordinary males. Endnote             


Certain threads of the “territoriality” model can be woven together to clarify who has voice. Both “public” space and “private” space accord voice to someone with sufficient honor. Worthiness, excellence, and standing of a potential speaker are recognized by those in such spaces and so he is accorded voice. When the venue is classified as “public”/political and is therefore intrinsically honorable and when the would-be speaker is of a certain honorable status and role, then no control is exercised over him; he has voice. But when the speaker is classified as lacking honor or even corrupting the assembly, then control is exercised over him; he loses voice. He is then unsuited for that space. In terms of Acts, Luke tells the story this way:


1. “Public”/political space: in the residence of proconsul (13:7), governors (25-26), chief man of the island (28:7-8) Paul enjoys voice: no control of space. Evidently his role and status are honored.


2. “Private”/non-house space: in the hall of Tyrannus (19:9) and places where Christians assembled, Paul has voice; his role and status are respected. No control of space. But in synagogues, Paul is eventually denied voice and expelled from the place; his role and status are rejected: now control enters (see figure on p. 18).


3. “Private”/households: although few households are mentioned as Paul’s residence, he enjoys respect and honor; Paul may speak, space is not controlled. It is unclear in Acts who else enjoys “voice.”


Luke does not presume that Paul has voice everywhere; after all, Acts narrates how Paul lost voice in city after city and had to flee.            


 Several patterns emerge in Acts which relate directly to the control or non-control of Paul’s speaking. In certain “public” spaces, elites summon Paul to speak (13:7; 24:24) or invite him to address them (17:18-20). Paul thus is acknowledged as having sufficient elite standing to have voice there. But in “private” synagogues, Paul is sometimes invited “to give a word of exhortation” (13:15), but more frequently he simply stands up, speaks, exhorts and argues with the audience (14:1; 17:2; 19:8). Although initially granted voice in this setting by virtue of his status, Paul loses his voice as control is exercised over synagogal space. He is silenced and expelled. In general, Paul has voice in many “public” venues as well as in “private” households; but he lacks voice in the “private” space of the synagogue.


Summary and Conclusions.  


What have we learned? 1. Interpretative Model. If one wants to examine “space” in Acts so as to understand as fully as possible what is communicated both in 20:20 and in the narrative of which it is a summary, then the anthropological model of “territoriality” proves to be a reliable and productive tool. It does what no amount of linguistic sifting or archeological recovery can provide, namely, it provides patterns of the social perception of space: 1. classification, 2. communication, and 3. control of space. 2. Classification of Space. Although we identified seven classification patterns at the beginning of this study, two proved most useful, 1. “public/private” and 2. “honorable/non-honorable.” 3. Public/private. The examination of nine ways of expressing “public” vs. “private” in the Greco-Roman world provide a solid data base for interpreting how Luke and other New Testament authors might be using these terms. And the key to properly interpreting these data requires awareness of the two chief ancient institutions (polis, household) and social patterns of interaction. 4. Nuanced Understanding of “Public/Private.” We can now distinguish three spaces for males: 1. “public”/political, 2. “private” (non-household association), and 3. “private” (household). These are gender-shaped classifications. 5. “Public” and Polis. When in Acts 20:20 Paul says that he spoke in “public and from house-to-house,” the whole narrative of Acts indicates that “public” refers to the residences of governors and kings and city centers, and that “house-to-house” refers primarily to household space used for assembly (although synagogue is not far removed as another “private” space). Paul may receive hospitality in the “private” households of Judas, Lydia and Philip, but they are “private” household spaces. Paul, however, “declares, teaches, testifies” in other “private” locations, possibly even “houses” now classified as suitable for non-kinship members. 6. Paul, an Elite in “Public” Space. It is part of the Lukan rhetorical strategy to tell the reader that Paul resides and speaks in the most noble cities of the Greek East, sometimes in the most honorable parts of the cities. Hence, “honor and non-honor,” another native classification of space, confirms Luke’s presentation of Paul, a citizen of “no low-status city” and even a citizen of Rome (22:25-27). 7. Voice or No Voice. We noted that when in “public,” Paul enjoys voice and no control is exercised over him to silence him; on the other hand, he is both silenced and controlled in the “private” synagogue. While Paul’s voice in the “private” assemblies of believers is significant for Luke’s portrayal of his role and status, his voice before governors, proconsuls and kings is also a significant datum in Luke’s apology for the Gospel of Jesus. Not everyone had voice in “public” or in “private.” Endnote


Abstract: Scholarship with difficulty interprets “teach in public and from house to house” because it lacks scientific understanding of “space.” The anthropological model of “territoriality” can guide our reading according to: 1) classification of space, 2) communication of this, and 3) control based upon it. Acts primarily classifies space as public/private, male/female, and honorable/mean. In terms of public/private, Paul appears in three distinct “spaces”: 1) public-civic (agora, governor’s residences), 2) private-non-kinship (synagogue, Tyrannus’ aule), and 3) private-household space. As regards control, Paul has voice in public-political forums and in private-household contexts, but not in private-non-kinship synagogues. Thus “Terrioriality” serves as an index of Paul’s social status, both in terms of where he goes and before whom he has voice.


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