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STEPHEN:

Hellenist Jewish convert to Christianity who, according to tradition, was martyred at Jerusalem Dec. 26, in the year 29 C.E. Epiphanius ("Hæres." xx. 4) records him as one of the seventy chosen disciples of Jesus. That he was a Hellenist is seen from his Greek name; according to Basil of Seleucia ("Oratio de S. Stephano"), his Jewish name was Kelil (="crown"), the equivalent of Στέφανος. Stephen is said to have been chosen one of the seven deacons charged with the distribution of the common fund entrusted to the Apostles. To him was ascribed the power of miracle-working (Acts vi. 5 et seq.); but he was accused of having spoken blasphemous words in declaring that Jesus would destroy the Temple and would change the customs instituted by Moses (verses 11-15 of the same chapter). When the high priest asked him whether such was the case, Stephen is said to have made a long speech in reply, imitating that of Samuel (I Sam. xii. 6 et seq.) and passing in review Jewish history from the time of Abraham until that of the building of the Temple of Solomon. Then, imitating the Prophets, he rebuked the people for their stubbornness, insisting that the Temple stood against the desire of God. This enraged the people, who cast him out of the city and stoned him, Saul of Tarsus being present at the execution and consenting thereto (Acts vii. 1-viii. 1).

J. M. Sel.
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