Paul was executed in 51 AD under the rule of Nero according to the third-century Christian author, Ammonius of Alexandria, and two other writers.
A deeper look into this text and a translation.
Ammonius was trying to dispel a misunderstanding of the Herod dynasty about the timelines of Christ and Paul. Both are interesting but the history he ascribes to Paul is especially intriguing. By doing so, he gave the above information.
Few know about Ammonius, and less about his writings. Ammonius lived in Alexandria and was a noted Biblical scholar.1 Unfortunately, only remnants of his writings are available today.
An interesting person along with important historical texts. His persona beckons an English translation so that his contribution is more widely known. So, this is what the rest of this article intends to do.
The following translation has a little crossover of John Chrysostom and some influence by the eleventh century writer, Theophylacti of Bulgaria. It appears from a very informal look that most of this is penned by the hand of Ammonius.
Here is my translation.
Why is he freely given over to the Jews? It was both an entire region and a whole city. For this reason, Paul was threatened by it, being subjected to armed men, ““I stand at the tribunal of Caesar, where I ought to be tried.”2 I wish to depart before him, to the King in Rome, and in that place to be judged. I summons you,” he says. It shows that he rightly called upon Caesar. Even if they had nothing terrible to put forward, yet these people of the region were fixated, for obvious reasons he departs for Caesar. So in the meantime while awaiting judgment, the plan devised against him by the Jews was meaningless.
Whether Agrippa came into the power of king and because of this was called a king, or that perhaps he was the king of the eastern regions, while Nero ruled the western regions and lived in Rome. For the name Caesar in Rome means king, as all the kings of Rome are to be commonly called by the name Caesar and insofar as much as kings — however, their designated names are definitely not to be equivocal ones.
Consequently, I say this, that no one ought to suppose from the general commonality of the name that the Lord was born under his kingship, and Paul died.
So the Lord was born during the times shown under Augustus Caesar and afterward died after 32 years3 under Tiberius Caesar. Paul died under Nero, 22 years after the death of the Lord. But rather Herod, as Agrippa, had come to the power of a king and, therefore, was called a king.4
If one can use the traditional date of 29 A.D. as the year of Christ’s crucifixion, which is arguably one of the more consistent year values in the life of Christ, then Paul died in 51 A.D under the rulership of Nero.
I haven’t studied the literary sources on Paul’s death outside of the texts used here. However, it is a very interesting reference.
For more information on the problem of dating Christ’s birth or the challenge of correlating ancient dating systems with modern calendars, see the full range of articles found at: Christian Calendar Systems.
- Ammonius of Alexandria (Christian)
- Acts 25:10
- The Theophylacti Bulgariae text changes this to 33. MPG. Vol. 125. Col. 1123
- As taken from: Amonii Alexandrinii, Fragmenta in Acta Apostolorum, MPG. Vol. 85. col 1593: Catena in Acta SS. Apostolorum. J. A Cramer, S.T.P. Oxonii. 1838. Pg. 384 Theophylacti Bulgariae Archiep. Expositionis in Acta Tertius.Vol 125 Col. 1124.