🔼The name Titius: Summary
🔼The name Titius in the Bible
The name Titius occurs only once in the Bible, namely in Acts 18:7 ("Then he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus..."), and that only in some Greek manuscripts. The Textus Receptus and translations based on it, omit this name and speak of a man simply named Justus. Other Greek manuscripts speak of Τιτιου Ιουστου (Titiou Ioustou), which is the genitive form of Τιτιος Ιουστος (Titios Ioustos). Jerome's Vulgate, and translations based thereon, speak of Titi Iusti, which is the Latin genitive of Titus Iustus, although up to the age of Augustus, both Titi and Titii were used as genitive of Titius.
The house of Titius Justus was conveniently situated next to the synagogue of Corinth, whose leader, Crispus, accepted the gospel that Paul preached there for eighteen months. By that time, Judaism, and thus Christianity, was rapidly becoming illegal (see Acts 18:2), which makes it unlikely that author Luke was listing the real names of real people with their actual addresses in his widely copied accounts (see for a closer look at the nature of Luke's literature our article on Sopater; for Paul's obviously synthetic use of names, see our article on Onesimus).
Which historical person or phenomenon the literary character of Titius Justus may then refer to isn't immediately clear anymore but the gens Titia (from which a man named Titius would derive his nomen) was quite common in Rome of the first century. Our name Titius Justus would thus refer to a man known as the Righteous One of the Titia family, and although about two dozen men named Titius are mentioned in Latin literature, the most noteworthy Titius of that time would have been Marcus Titius, the army commander who executed Pompey (the general who was more than instrumental in destabilizing the Republic).
Initially in with Mark Anthony and Cleopatra (who appears to have named a city after Titius, namely Titiopolis in Cilicia), Marcus Titius joined Octavian about two years before the lovers' defeat. His intel on their operations certainly aided their undoing, and when Octavian became Augustus and the dying Republic was reborn as the monstrous Empire (a transition legally marked by, curious enough, the lex Titia, or Law of Titius, after Publius Titius), Marcus Titius too flourished. In 13 BC, he became the governor of Syria, the realm of which would, some years later, come to include Judea, while its government came to rest upon Quirinius (Luke 2:2).
🔼Etymology of the name Titius
The name Titius is obviously related to the name Titus, although it's not wholly clear how the connection works or even what the name Titus itself might have meant or even where it came from. Titius may simply be a variant and equivalent of Titus, or both derive from an obscure Sabine term.
To Latin speakers, the names Titus and Titius may have reminded of:
- The Titans, the first generation deities of the Greco-Roman pantheon.
- The noun titillus, meaning a tickle, from the verb titillo, meaning to tickle (hence our English word "titillation").
- The noun titio, meaning firebrand.
- The noun titulus, meaning title, sign or inscription.
Greek speakers may perhaps have associated our name with:
- Again the Titans (Τιταν), or more specifically: Tityos (Τιτυος, Tituos), the divine rapist whose punishment included the daily consumption of his liver by vultures.
- The noun τιτυσ (titus), which according to Liddell and Scott is a rare form of τισις (tisis), meaning penalty, retribution or vengeance.
- The noun τιτθος (titthos), meaning breast.