S P Q R
The letters were tattooed on the muscular right arm of the young man getting off the plane in front of me. Does he know what that means? He had an explanation. “Senatus Publusque Romanus; it means the Roman Senate and the people. The soldiers of the Empire had this tattooed on the arm that wielded the sword.”
Shouldn’t the Republican candidates for president sport this tattoo? In their quest for the evangelical vote they advocate increased military action in the Middle East. Ted Cruz suggested carpet bombing. It is the gospel - evangelium - of the Roman Empire – peace through military might as opposed to the Jewish, Christian program of peace through justice. Biblical scholar John Dominic Crossan writes:
We are at the start of the twenty first century, what the Roman Empire was at the start of the first century. Put succinctly: Rome and the East there, America and the West here. Put succinctly: they then, we now. Put more succinctly: SPQR is SPQA.
John Dominic Crossan, In Search of Paul, Harper SanFrancisco, p. 412.