Write From the Agora
“Abdel, do you remember where you delivered the writing tablets last week?
“That Jew, Paul, is staying there. He hired Tertius, to write for him.”
“Tertius? Isn’t his shop in the Agora?”
“That’s the one. I talked to him this morning. The work is greater than he thought. It must be done quickly. Tertius wants supplies from us. And we must move the tablets he has finished to his shop.
“Take a cart to the house. He will be sitting on the floor writing on the clay as Paul dictates. Don’t interrupt them. Tertius said others; he named Timothy, Lucius, Jason and Sospater, come and go and make suggestions. They enjoy each other’s company. Pick up the stacked tablets Tertius has finished. Don’t let the wood frame slip down on the clay and damage the writing or he will be angry.”
“Yes, father. I will stack them carefully and keep them in order.”
“Take him another sandstone erasure so he will have a back-up. I’m sure he makes many changes to the writing. Tertius said Paul is very particular about every word that is written.”
“He needs sheets of second-rate papyrus to transfer the letter onto and black ink cakes. It is important that the letter be professionally prepared to make a good impression on those that receive it. After corrections have been made, Tertius wants the finest papyrus for the letter that Paul will send.”
“Why doesn’t Paul write his own letter?”
“I heard Paul speak and he is highly intelligent. I’m sure he reads well. He may prefer to use an amanuensis, a penman, for personal reasons. Perhaps he is an orator and not a writer.”
“I don’t understand, father?”
“Writing conventions and styles must be followed. For example, writing might be in narrative form, or apocalyptic or follow other techniques. It must be punctuated correctly. Knowing how to read does not make you a writer. A trained scribe is in much demand.”
“I think I would rather sell the supplies and let others do the writing, father.”
“Tertius will make a copy of the final writing for Paul to keep. And we will make a good profit selling him the supplies. There is a ship at the dock with cargo from Egypt. I must hurry there and see if they brought papyrus.”
“I will get the tablets, father. Do you have the wood rollers for the scroll or must you commission someone to make them?”
“Abdel, you are thinking better than I am. Tertius will glue about twenty papyrus sheets together before the scroll is too heavy to be manageable. He thinks the letter to those Romans will make two scrolls. I will need another set of rollers before too many full moons pass.”
“Wow! Paul’s letter is going to cost somebody many Pegasus coins. A Greek scribe, like Tertius, doesn’t give his work away. Our supplies are reasonable but quality papyrus from Egypt is not cheap. The scrolls need strong waterproof cases for a journey to Rome and someone must deliver them. That Jew must have wealthy friends.” *
“Abdel, do you want to take the scrolls to Rome? You would be gone only a few months. It would be a challenging experience for you. I will ask Tertius if Paul is looking for a courier.”
“And miss mother’s cooking? And who would run errands for you, father? Or help you build the writing tablets? Just last week you said the Corinth humidity was making your arthritis act up. If you had fewer daughters and more sons, maybe…”
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* In today’s dollars, Paul may have paid around $2,000 to prepare the Letter to the Romans.
Biblical Illustrator, Vol. 32, Number 4, pg 8.
The above story is fiction based on the historical culture at that time and place.
Romans 16:22 “I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, greet you in the Lord.” NKJ.
It is not clear whether Tertius co-wrote Romans with Paul and knew those to whom the letter was addressed, or only added this word as a scribe. This sentence reveals, at least, a close and warm relationship with Paul.
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