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ST. PAUL IN ROME
1 THE COMING TO ROME.
(XXVIII 11) AFTER THREE MONTHS WE SET SAIL IN A SHIP OF ALEXANDRIA, WHICH HAD WINTERED IN THE ISLAND, WHOSE SIGN WAS “THE TWIN BROTHERS”. (12) AND TOUCHING AT SYRACUSE, WE TARRIED THERE THREE DAYS. (13) AND FROM THENCE, BY TACKING, WE ARRIVED AT RHEGIUM. AND AFTER ONE DAY A SOUTH WIND SPRANG UP, AND ON THE SECOND DAY WE CAME TO PUTEOLI: (14) WHERE, FINDING BRETHREN, WE WERE CONSOLED AMONG THEM, REMAINING SEVEN DAYS;6262The text of most MSS., “we were entreated to tarry with them seven days,” seems irreconcilable with Paul’s situation as a prisoner. However friendly Julius was to Paul, he was a Roman officer, with whom discipline and obedience to rule were natural. With Blass, we follow the text of the inferior MSS. (see p. 212). AND THEREUPON WE CAME TO ROME. (15) AND FROM THENCE THE BRETHREN, HEARING THE NEWS ABOUT US, CAME TO MEET US AS FAR AS “APPIUS MARKET” AND “THREE TAVERNS”: WHOM, WHEN PAUL SAW, HE THANKED GOD AND TOOK COURAGE. (16) AND WHEN WE ENTERED INTO ROME [the centurion delivered the prisoners to the stratopedarch, and] PAUL WAS SUFFERED TO ABIDE BY HIMSELF WITH THE SOLDIER THAT GUARDED HIM [outside of the camp]. . . . (30) HIRED DWELLING, AND RECEIVED ALL THAT WENT IN UNTO HIM, (31) AND PREACHED THE KINGDOM OF GOD, AND TAUGHT WHAT CONCERNED THE LORD JESUS CHRIST WITH ALL BOLDNESS, NONE FORBIDDING HIM (see note, p. 362).
The wreck took place before the middle of November (p. 322); therefore they sailed from Malta in February. That is earlier than the usual beginning of over-sea navigation; but we may understand that favourable weather tempted them to an early start; and as the autumn was unusually tempestuous, it is probable that fine weather began early. Luke does not tell what sort of wind blew, leaving the reader to understand that it was from a southerly quarter (as otherwise no ancient ship would attempt the over-sea voyage). The wind fell and they had to wait three days in Syracuse. Then though the breeze was not from the south, they were able by good seamanship to work up to Rhegium6363Westcott and Hort prefer the text of the great MSS. περιελόντες, which could hardly mean more than “casting off,” an unnecessary piece of information here, though important in XXVII.. Here, after one day, a south wind arose; and they sailed across to Puteoli, arriving there on the second day.
The passage probably took not much over twenty-four hours, beginning one day and ending the following morning: with a following wind, these large merchant vessels sailed fast. The passengers landed in Puteoli; but the cargo, doubtless, was carried to Ostia, where it had to be transshipped to smaller vessels which could go up the Tiber to Rome.
Luke mentions the name of the last vessel, but not of any of the others. The reason lies in the circumstances. He heard the news about the last vessel before he saw it; but he became acquainted with the others by seeing them. Probably the news that the Dioscuri, of the Alexandrian Imperial fleet, was lying in the great harbour, reached the shipwrecked party during the three days when they were in Poplius’s house; and was so noted in Luke’s memoranda. But he had not the sailor’s mind, who thinks of his ship as a living friend, and always speaks of her by her name; hence the other ships were to him only means of conveyance, whereas the name of the Dioscuri was the first fact which he learned about her.
Puteoli, as a great harbour, was a central point and a crossing of intercourse; and thus Christianity had already established itself there. All movements of thought throughout the Empire acted with marvellous rapidity on Rome, the heart of the vast and complicated organism; and the crossing-places or knots6464Each of them may be called πάροδος, the epithet applied to Ephesus by Ignatius, Rom. 12, Church in R. E., p. 318 f. on the main highways of intercourse with the East—Puteoli, Corinth, Ephesus, Syrian Antioch—became centres from which Christianity radiated. At Pompeii, which is not far from Puteoli, the Christians were a subject of gossip among loungers in the street before it was destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79.
The double expression of arrival at Rome in vv. 14 and 16 is remarkable; and has caused much speculation among commentators. Blass is inclined to seek a change of text, giving the sense “we proceeded on our way (imperfect) to Rome, then we came to Appii Forum, etc., and finally we entered Rome “. Others prefer other interpretations. But the double expression seems due to the double sense that every name of a city-state bears in Greek: the word Rome might either include the entire territory of the city, the XXXV tribes as they were completed in B.C. 241, i.e., the whole ager Romanus, or be restricted to the walls and buildings. Thus v. 13, “we reached the state Rome,” the bounds of which were probably pointed out as the party reached them; in 14, “we passed through two points in the ager Romanus”; and in 15, “we entered the (walls of) Rome” (see p. 111).
It is evident that Paul, when he reached this crisis of his fate, was feeling dispirited; for the tendency to low spirits is always one of the most trying concomitants of his chronic disorder, as described in Ch. V § 2. The allusions to the consolation that he received from meeting Brethren at Puteoli, Appius’s Forum, and the Three Taverns, must be taken as indications of some marked frame of mind. We have already observed him in a similar state of depression when he was in Troas and Philippi (p. 283 f.).
When the party reached Rome, the centurion delivered his charge to his superior officer, who bears the title Chief of the Camp (Stratopedarch) in the Greek text.6565Text of XXVIII 16. The failure in the great MSS. of the delivery of Paul to the Stratopedarch is a very clear case of omitting a Lukan detail, which had only a mundane interest; and the failure of similar details in XXVII 5, XVI 30, etc., may be estimated by the analogy of this case. This title has always hitherto been interpreted as denoting the Prefect of the Prætorian Guard, stationed in a large camp adjoining the wails of Rome. But that interpretation is not well suited either to the natural character of language or to the facts of the Roman service. The title could not properly designate an officer of such high rank; and the Prætorian Prefect would hardly be concerned with a comparatively humble duty like the reception of and responsibility for prisoners. The Greek title Stratopedarch very rarely occurs; and it remained for Mommsen, aided by the form given in an old Latin version, Princeps Peregrinorum, to explain who the officer really was, and to place the whole episode of Paul’s Roman residence in a new light (see p. 315).
Augustus had reduced to a regular system the maintenance of communications between the centre of control in Rome and the armies stationed in the great frontier provinces. Legionary centurions, called commonly frumentarii, went to and fro between Rome and the armies; and were employed for numerous purposes that demanded communication between the Emperor and his armies and provinces. They acted not only for commissariat purposes (whence the name), but as couriers, and for police purposes, and for conducting prisoners; and in time they became detested as agents and spies of Government. They all belonged to legions stationed in the provinces, and were considered to be on detached duty when they went to Rome; and hence in Rome they were “soldiers from abroad,” peregrini. While in Rome they resided in a camp on the Cælian Hill, called Castra Peregrinorum; in this camp there were always a number of them present, changing from day to day, as some came and others went away. This camp was under command of the Princeps Peregrinorum; and it is clear that Stratopedarch in Acts is the Greek name for that officer (see p. 315). This whole branch of the service is very obscure. Marquardt considers that it was first organised by Hadrian; but Mommsen believes that it must have been instituted by Augustus.
2. THE RESIDENCE IN ROME.
Paul was treated in Rome with the utmost leniency. He was allowed to hire a house or a lodging in the city, and live there at his own convenience under the surveillance of a soldier who was responsible for his presence when required. A light chain fastened Paul’s wrist to that of the soldier. No hindrance was offered to his inviting friends into his house, or to his preaching to all who came in to him; but he was not allowed to go out freely.
After the depression of spirit in which Paul entered Rome, Acts concludes with a distinct implication of easier and more hopeful circumstances. His work went on unimpeded, while the rest after the fatigue and hardships of the voyage would be beneficial to his physical health (even though September might afterwards prove unhealthy); and thus the two chief reasons for his gloomy frame of mind on landing in Italy were removed. He regarded himself as “an ambassador in a chain” (Eph. VI 20); he asked for the prayers of the Colossians and the Asian Churches generally for his success in preaching; his tone is hopeful and full of energy and spirit for the work (1. c., Col. IV 3, 4); and he looked forward to acquittal and a visit to Colossai (Philem. 22). We may date these letters to Philemon, to Colossai, and to the Asian Churches generally (Eph.) near the middle of the long imprisonment; an accurate date is impossible, but for brevity’s sake we may speak of their date as early in 61.
The presence of many friends in Rome also cheered Paul. He had been permitted to take two personal attendants with him from Cæsareia; but though his other companions in Jerusalem were prevented from accompanying him in his voyage, some of them followed him to Rome. Timothy was with him during great part of his imprisonment, was sent on a mission to Philippi about the end of 61 (Phil. II 19), and thereafter seems to have had his headquarters in Asia, whence he was summoned by Paul to join him during his second imprisonment. Tychicus also joined Paul in Rome in 60, and was sent on a mission to Asia, and especially to the Churches of the Lycos valley, early in 61. They probably left Cæsareia when Paul sailed for Rome, visited on the way their own homes, and arrived in Rome not long after Paul himself.
Moreover, Mark, who had become reconciled with Paul (probably during his residence at Jerusalem, or his imprisonment in Cæsareia), came also to Rome. He left Rome in 61, contemplating an extended tour in the province Asia, in the course of which he would probably visit Colossai. Oral instructions had been already sent to the Colossians, and, doubtless, other Pauline Churches (probably by Onesimus and Tychicus), to welcome him as Paul’s deputy; and Paul writes to the Colossians a formal recommendation of him (IV 10). The terms in which Paul speaks suggest that he had not taken any active interest in the new Pauline Churches since the unfortunate quarrel in Pamphylia, and that there was likely to be some coldness towards him among the Pauline Christians. From this year, apparently, began a new era in Mark’s life. His work seems to have lain in Asia during the next few years, for about the close of his life Paul bids Timothy (IV 11) bring Mark with him to Rome, implying that they were near each other; and Timothy was in Ephesus at the time. Probably Paul had been informed of Mark’s desire to rejoin him in his troubles. At a later date Mark is associated with the greeting of I Peter V 13 to the Churches of the provinces of Asia Minor, in such a way as to imply personal acquaintance with them; and this wide range of work, though not easily reconcilable with the earlier dates assigned to that Epistle, suits naturally and well the date about 80 (Church in R.E., p. 280 f). On this view Mark after Paul’s death must have devoted himself to work in the more easterly provinces of Asia Minor; and returned to Rome ten or twelve years later.
It is remarkable that Luke has not a word to say about the process by which Christianity spread to Rome; but, according to the plan which we have already seen to be shadowed forth for the sequel of this history, the process would form part of the contemplated Third Book. That Book would naturally open with a brief statement of the western dispersion and the planting of Christianity in Italy, going back for the moment to an earlier date, just as in XI 27 the historian, when he has to include Antioch in the stage of his drama, turns back to the movement originating in Stephen’s work. So here he brings Paul to Rome; and thereafter he would probably have made a new start with the Churches of the West and the new impulse imparted to them by Paul’s acquittal. We are compelled to make some conjecture on this point; for no one can accept the ending of Acts as the conclusion of a rationally conceived history. Such an ending might exist in a diary, which has no determining idea, but not in a history; and we, who work on the hypothesis that Acts is a history, must strive to understand the guiding idea of an unfinished work.
According to modern ideas, the rapidity with which every movement in the provinces influenced Rome is a sign of strong vitality and intimate union of the parts of that vast Empire. The Imperial policy fostered intercommunication and unity to the utmost; and it is not too much to say that travelling was more highly developed, and the dividing power of distance was weaker, under the Empire than at any time before or since, until we come down to the present century. But that fact, which we estimate as probably the best measure of material civilisation, was regarded with horror by the party of old Roman thought and manners, which was stubbornly opposed in mind to the Imperial rule, though it was powerless against it. They saw that the old Roman character was changed, and the old Roman ideals of life and government were destroyed, by the influx of provincial thoughts and manners. The Orontes was pouring its waters into the Tiber; Syrian and Greek vices were substituted for Roman virtues; and prominent among these vices were Judaism, Christianity, and other “debasing superstitions”
The new movement made marked progress in the vast Imperial household; and Paul, in sending to the Philippian Church the greetings of the Roman Christians, says, “All the saints salute you, especially they that are of Cæsar’s household ”. This is quite to be expected. The Imperial household was at the centre of affairs and in most intimate relations with all parts of the Empire; and in it influences from the provinces were most certain to be felt early. There can be no doubt that Lightfoot is right in considering that Christianity effected an entrance into Cæesar’s household before Paul entered Rome; in all probability he is right also in thinking that all the slaves of Aristobulus (son of Herod the Great) and of Narcissus (Claudius’s favourite freedman) had passed into the Imperial household, and that members of these two familiæ are saluted as Christians by Paul (Rom. XVI 10 f.).
3. SENECA AND PAUL.
The question has been much discussed what relation, if any, existed between Seneca and Paul at this time. A tradition existed in the fourth century that they had been brought into close relation. It is, however, exceedingly doubtful whether this tradition had any other foundation than the remarkable likeness that many of Seneca’s phrases and sentiments show to passages in the New Testament. But, however striking these extracts seem when collected and looked at apart from their context, I think that a careful consideration of them as they occur in the books, must bring every one to the conclusion advocated by Lightfoot, by Aubé, and by many others, that the likeness affords no proof that Seneca came into such relations with Paul as to be influenced in his sentiments by him: resemblances quite as striking occur in works written before Paul came Rome (according to the received, although not always absolutely certain, chronology of Seneca’s works), as in those written after. Nor was it among the professed philosophers that Paul was likely to be listened to: they considered that they knew all he had to say, and could quote from their own lectures a good moral precept to set alongside of anything he could tell them.
Yet there can be no doubt that some very striking parallels between Senecan and Pauline sayings occur; and this is true of Seneca to a greater extent than of any other non-Christian writer. It is possible that the philosophical school of Tarsus had exercised more influence on Paul than is commonly allowed; and it is certain that Seneca was influenced by Athenodorus of Tarsus. Lightfoot refers especially to the fact that both Paul and Seneca “compare life to a warfare, and describe the struggle after good as a contest with the flesh “. Seneca makes one long quotation from Athenodorus (de Clem., 4), and in it the idea that life is a warfare is worked out elaborately; and the saying (Ep. X), “So live with men, as if God saw you; so speak with God, as if men heard you,” occurs immediately after a quotation from Athenodorus,6666The owners of private merchant ships are distinguished as ἔμποροι from the captains, in a Delian inscription εἰς Βιθυνίαν ἔμποροι καὶ ναύκληροι, Bulletin de Corresp. Hellen. 1880, p. 222. and seems to be a reflection in Seneca’s words of Athenodorus’s intention. Athenodorus lived much in Rome, and died there in Cato’s house, 60–50 B.C.; but it is probable both that his system exercised great influence in the university of his own city, and that Paul’s expression and language may contain traces of his university training in Tarsus.
But though there is no reason to think that Seneca was influenced by Paul’s language or thoughts, yet there is every reason to think that the liberal policy of the Empire at this period in religion was due to Seneca’s broad views. It is certain that he had exercised very great influence on the Imperial policy, since his pupil Nero became Emperor in 54; and it is highly probable that the energy with which that policy was carried out in the East, and the generous freedom with which all religious questions were treated during that period, are due to Seneca’s spirit. He is perhaps the only distinguished politician of the first century who shows some of the wide views of Hadrian; and it is remarkable that both Seneca and Hadrian were sprung from Spain, being thus thoroughly Roman and yet absolutely free from the old narrow Roman spirit. It is clear that, in the later years of Nero’s reign, the Empire began to fall into dangerous disorganisation, while in his early years the government at home and abroad seems to have been remarkably successful; and it is not easy to account for the contrast, except by connecting the success with Seneca’s guiding spirit. Now, the tone which marks the relations of the State to Paul throughout the period described in Acts, is quite different from that which began in A.D. 64 and subsequently became intensified. Surely we can best account for the change by the disgrace and retirement of Seneca in 62: his spirit departed from the administration by rapid steps after that date. Circumstances had given him for a few years such influence as perhaps never again was exercised by a private citizen in the Empire. As a rule, the Emperors held the reins of government tight in their own hands, and allowed no subordinate to exert any influence on the general conduct of affairs; and there are many great Emperors, but only one great Minister under the Empire, Seneca.
The household of Seneca during his ascendancy was likely to be brought into close relations with the great movements that were agitating the Empire. It is therefore natural to expect that the new religion should affect it in some degree, as it did the Imperial household. Nor are we left to mere conjecture on this point. A remarkable inscription of somewhat later date has been found at Ostia, “M. Annaeus Paulus to M. Annaeus Paulus Petrus, his very dear son:” the name “Paul Peter” must be taken as an indubitable proof of religion. These persons possibly belong to a family of freed men connected with the household of Seneca; but, assuming that, it is no more admissible to quote this inscription as corroborating Seneca’s traditional subjection to Christianity, than it would be to quote the strong leaven of Christianity in Cæsar’s household in proof of Cæsar’s amenability to the same influence.
4. THE TRIAL.
It is doubtful why Paul’s trial was so long delayed. Perhaps his opponents, despairing of obtaining his condemnation, preferred to put off the trial as long as possible; and there were then, as there are now, many devices in law for causing delay. Perhaps the case was being inquired into by the Imperial Office: the trial had to take place before the Emperor or one of his representatives (probably one of the two Prefects of the Prætorian Guard). The whole question of free teaching of an oriental religion by a Roman citizen must have been opened up by the case; and it is quite possible that Paul’s previous proceedings were inquired into.
The trial seems to have occurred towards the end of A.D. 61 Its earliest stages were over before Paul wrote to the Philippians, for he says, I 12, “the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the progress of the Good News; so that my bonds became manifest in Christ in the whole Prætorium, and to all the rest; and that most of the Brethren in the Lord, being confident in my bonds, are more abundantly bold to speak the word of God without fear”. This passage has been generally misconceived and connected with the period of imprisonment; and here again we are indebted to Mommsen for the proper interpretation. The Prætorium is the whole body of persons connected with the sitting in judgment, the supreme Imperial Court, doubtless in this case the Prefect or both Prefects of the Prætorian Guard, representing the Emperor in his capacity as the fountain of justice, together with the assessors and high officers of the court. The expression of the chapter as a whole shows that the trial is partly finished, and the issue as yet is so favourable that the Brethren are emboldened by the success of Paul’s courageous and free-spoken defence and the strong impression which he evidently produced on the court; but he himself, being entirely occupied with the trial, is for the moment prevented from preaching as he had been doing when he wrote to the Colossians and the Asian Churches generally.
That Philippians was written near the end of the imprisonment has been widely recognised, though the powerful opposition of Lightfoot has carried away the general current of opinion in England. When Paul was writing to the Church at Philippi, his custom of sending his subordinates on missions had stripped him of companions; and so he says, “I have no man like-minded (with Timothy) who will show genuine care for your state, for they all seek their own, not the things of Jesus Christ, but ye recognise his proved character” (Phil II 20 f.). It seems impossible to believe that Paul could have written like this, if he had had with him Tychicus, “faithful minister and fellow-servant in the Lord,” Aristarchus, Mark, and above all Luke. Yet, if anything is sure about that period, it is that Aristarchus and Luke had been with Paul from his arrival in Rome till after Coloss., Philem. and Eph. were written, while Tychicus probably joined him with Timothy in 60. On our supposition, Mark and Tychicus had already been sent on missions to Asia; Luke is either the “true yoke-fellow” addressed in Phil IV 3, or was actually the bearer of the letter to Philippi; Aristarchus also had been sent on a mission during the summer of 61; and Epaphras naturally had returned to the Lycos valley. There remained some friends with Paul (IV 21), probably Demas among them (Col. IV 14, Philem. 24); but he did not feel sure of their thorough trustworthiness, and his doubt about Demas was afterwards justified (II Tim. IV 10). Hence his eagerness to get back to the company of real and trusty friends (II 24 ff.).
Amid the general tone of hopefulness and confidence in Philippians, there are some touches of depression, which may be attributed to the absence of so many intimate friends, to the increased strain that the trial now proceeding must have put on his powers (p. 94 f.), and to the probable closer confinement necessitated by the trial, that he might always be accessible in case of need. There is more eagerness for the issue of the long proceedings manifest in Phil. than in the other letters from Rome; but it is part of human nature to be more patient when the end is still far off, and more excited and eager as the end approaches.
The letter to Philippi was not called forth by any dangerous crisis there, as were the letters to Colossai and to the Asian Churches generally (Eph.). Hence Col. and Eph. “exhibit a more advanced stage in the development of the Church” than Phil. Lightfoot and others are indubitably right in that point; but their inference that Phil. was written earlier than the others does not follow. The tone of Col. and Eph. is determined by the circumstances of the Churches addressed. The great cities of Asia were on the highway of the world, which traversed the Lycos valley, and in them development took place with great rapidity. But the Macedonians were a simple-minded people in comparison with Ephesus and Laodiceia and Colossai, living further away from the great movements of thought. It was not in Paul’s way to send to Philippi an elaborate treatise against a subtle speculative heresy, which had never affected that Church. His letter was called forth by the gifts which had been sent by the Philippians; it is a recognition of their thoughtful kindness; and hence it has a marked character, being “the noblest reflection of St. Paul’s personal character and spiritual illumination, his large sympathies, his womanly tenderness, his delicate courtesy” (to use once more the words of Lightfoot). It is plain that he did not actually need the help that the), now sent; but his gratitude is as warm and genuine as if he had been in deep need, and he recurs to the former occasions when his real poverty had been aided by them. The freedom from anxiety about the development at Philippi, and the hearty affection for kind friends, make this in many respects the most pleasing of all Paul’s letters.
Though prepared to face death if need be, Paul was comparatively confident of the issue when he wrote to Philippi: “I have the confident conviction that I shall remain and abide for you all to your progress and joy of believing,” and “I trust that I shall come to you shortly” That he was acquitted is demanded both by the plan evident in Acts (p. 308) and by other reasons well stated by others.
5. LAST TRIAL AND DEATH OF PAUL.
His later career is concealed from us, for the hints contained in the Pastoral Epistles hardly furnish even an outline of his travels, which must have lasted three or four years, 62–65 A.D. At his second trial the veil that hides his fate is raised for the moment. On that occasion the circumstances were very different from his first trial. His confinement was more rigorous, for Onesiphorus had to take much trouble before obtaining an interview with the prisoner (II Tim. I 17): “he fared ill as far as bonds, like a criminal” (II 9). He had no hope of acquittal: he recognised that he was “already being poured forth as an offering, and the time of his departure was come”. The gloom and hopelessness of the situation damped and dismayed all his friends: at his first hearing “all forsook” him; yet for the time he “was delivered out of the mouth of the lion”. In every respect the situation thus indicated is the opposite of the circumstances described on the first trial. Phil. occupies the same place in the first as II Tim. in the second trial; but Phil. looks forward to a fresh career among the Churches, while II Tim. is the testament of a dying man. In one respect, however, the second trial was like the first. Paul again defended himself in the same bold and outspoken way as before, expounding the principles of his life to a great audience, “that all the Gentiles might hear”.
Yet the circumstances of this second trial are totally different from that “short way with the dissenters” which was customary under Domitian and Trajan and later Emperors. After his first examination Paul could still write to Asia bidding Timothy and Mark come to him, which shows that he looked forward to a considerable interval before the next stage of his trial. He was charged as a malefactor, crimes had to be proved against him, and evidence brought; and the simple acknowledgment that he was a Christian was still far from sufficient to condemn him, as it was under Domitian. It is a plausible conjecture of Conybeare and Howson that the first hearing, on which he was acquitted and “delivered out of the lion’s mouth,” was on the charge of complicity and sympathy with the incendiaries, who had burned Rome in 64; and that charge was triumphantly disproved. The trial in that case did not occur until the first frenzy of terror and rage against the supposed incendiaries was over; and some other species of crime had to be laid to the account of the Christians charged before the courts. The second and fatal charge, heard later, was doubtless that of treason, shown by hostility to the established customs of society, and by weakening the Imperial authority.
If our conception of the trial is correct, the precedent of the first great trial still guided the courts of the empire (as we have elsewhere sought to prove). It had then been decided that the preaching of the new religion was not in itself a crime; and that legal offences must be proved against Christians as against any other subjects of the empire. That was the charter of freedom (p. 282) which was abrogated shortly after; and part of Luke’s design was, as we have seen (p. 307), to record the circumstances in which the charter had been obtained, as a protest against the Flavian policy, which had overturned a well-weighed decision of the supreme court.
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