Synagogue of the Libertines

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According to the Book of Acts, the Synagogue of the Libertines were a group of Hellenistic Jews who disputed with Saint Stephen (Acts 6:9).

The passage reads, ανεστησαν δε τινες των εκ της συναγωγης της λεγομενης λιβερτινων και κυρηναιων και αλεξανδρεων και των απο κιλικιας και ασιας συζητουντες τω στεφανω, and opinion is divided as to the number of synagogues named here. The probability is that there are three, corresponding to the geographical regions involved, Rome and Italy, North East Africa, and Asia Minor. In this case the Synagogue of the Libertines is the assembly of the Freedmen from Rome, descendants of the Jews enslaved by Pompey after his conquest of Judaea in 63 BC. However, λιβερτινων και κυρηναιων και αλεξανδρεων taken closely together, the first name must denote the people of some city or district. The obscure town Libertum (inferred from the title Episcopus Libertinensis in connection with the synod of Carthage, AD 411) is less likely than the reading λιβιων underlying certain Armenian versions and Syriac commentaries. The Greek towns lying west from Cyrene would naturally be called Libyan. Consequently, these returned Jews, instead of being liberalized by their residence abroad, were more tenacious of Judaism and more bitter against Stephen than those who had never left Judaea.

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