The English word “emperor” is derived from Latin imperator, first given by soldiers in the field to a successful general, later a permanent title of Julius Caesar (100–44 BCE) and his successors, the equivalent of “commander‐in‐chief.” It has no exact correspondent in Greek and is not used in the New Testament. In the NRSV, “emperor” is used to translate two different terms. The most frequent is the Greek word kaisar, itself a transliteration of the Latin Caesar. This was the family name of Julius Caesar, assumed by his great‐nephew Octavius (Augustus) (63 BCE–14 CE) and used as a title by subsequent Roman rulers. “Emperor” is also used for Greek basileus, “king,” in 1 Peter 2.13, 17. In neither case is the NRSV's use of “emperor” entirely accurate.
See Roman Empire.
Michael D. Coogan