Brian Tabb, Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies and Assistant Dean, recently completed and successfully defended his PhD thesis
at London School of Theology, under the supervision of Prof. Steve Walton. The title of his thesis is “Suffering in Ancient Worldview:
A Comparative Study of Acts, Fourth Maccabees, and Seneca.”
Dr. Tabb observes that Acts 17:17–18 presents early Christian witnesses, here Paul, directly engaging with Hellenistic Jews on the one hand and popular Greco-Roman philosophy, including Stoicism, on the other. Thus he compares and contrasts how representative first-century authors from each of these groups approaches the topic of suffering and relates suffering to their worldview of God, humanity, the world’s problem(s) and its remedy, and their hope for the future. The final chapter of the thesis presents an ancient conversation about suffering, written in the first person, modeled after Cicero’s famous dialogue On the Nature of the Gods. He concludes that for Luke and early Christians, God is not “outside suffering” (as for Seneca and the Stoics), but accomplishes his plan through the suffering and exaltation of Jesus and the suffering of his Spirit-empowered witnesses, not only for Israel (as 4 Maccabees argues) but also for the nations, to set right the world of sin and suffering.