The Synagogue of Freedmen in Jerusalem
The Synagogue of Freedmen (συναγωγή των Λιβερτίνων) is mentioned in Acts 6:9. The Greek term Freedmen (Λιβερτῖνος) is a loanword from Latin libertini, who were freed slaves. In the Roman world, this was a reference to one’s social status, usually for the purpose of differentiating one from someone who was never a slave. In Acts 6:9 those who belonged to this synagogue together with Cyrenian, Alexandrian, Cilician, and Asian Jews argued with Stephen, one of the deacons (servants) in the Jerusalem Assembly. As a result of this theological dispute, Stephen was falsely accused of blasphemy, tried, and stoned outside the city (Acts 6:11-7:59). Only a handful of historical references provide clues to the nature and composition of this Synagogue of Freedmen in Jerusalem, producing multiple scholarly theories and speculations.