Transcript of "Jewish and roman backgrounds of early christianity"
Jewish and Roman Backgrounds Of Early Christianity
Two ways to look at it:• Chronologically• Thematically
Major Periods in 2nd Temple Judaism• Exilic (587-539ish)• Persian Period (539-334/3)• Hellenistic Period (334/3-depends on how you think about it)• Maccabean (164-63)• Roman (63 BCE and onward)
Exilic Period•587-539 BCE•Babylon destroys Jerusalem in587 BCE•Exiles taken to Babylon•Characterized by defeat,destruction, exile Destruction of Jerusalem, Nuremberg Chronicles, 1493
Persian Period•539-334/3 BCE•Cyrus and the Persians defeat Babylonin 539 BCE•Cyrus issues edict allowing the returnof exiles and rebuilding of the temple•Waves of exiles return in the 530s,520s, mid-400s, and clash with those leftbehind•Temple rededicated in 516•Characterized by return, warm Cyrus Cylinder, 6th century BCErelations with Persia, conﬂicts betweenreturnees and those who had stayed
Hellenistic Period•334/3-164 BCE•Alexander the Great conquers prettymuch everything, 334/3•Alexander’s reign doesn’t last long, butGreek inﬂuence does•Egyptian Ptolemies rule for a centuryor so•Seleucids for a few decades•Characterized by dramatic cultural Alexander the Great at the Battle of Issus. Pompeii.changes and hybridizations (andconﬂicts), linguistic change, andultimately revolt
Maccabean Period•164-63 BCE•Begins with a revolt led by Mattathiasand Judah the Maccabeee•Eventually expands into a largekingdom•Was the last independent Jewish stateuntil 1948 CE•Characterized by nationalism, alliance-making, and a simultaneous re-assertionof religious purity and ongoing cultural Judas Maccabeus, from a coin.
Roman Period•63BCE-6th/7th centuries CE•Rome conquered Jerusalem in63•Rome ruled by proxy kings,most notably the Herods,including Herod the Great andHerod Agrippa•Characterized by rebellion, Paper cache, Bar Kokhbafoment, religious and messianicfervor, and ultimatelydestruction
Religion•Temple worship•Regional temples and shrines•Popular religion•Synagogues•Personal piety (prayer, etc)•Law observance•Priest-mediated and not•Individual and communal•Turn-of-the-millennium trends:increase in belief in semi-divine beingslike Satan, increased messianic fervor, Elephantine Island, Egypt, site of a Jewish templeincrease in apocalyptic fervor,decentralization of religion
Texts and Canon•Texts became increasingly importantafter the exile•By the time of Jesus, one could speakof “the law and the prophets”•By the late ﬁrst century CE, a “canon”of Jewish scriptures had formed,comprised by the Torah (law), Nevi’im(prophets), and Kethuvim (writings),often expressed in an acronym as TNKor Tanahk Page from the Aleppo Codex, an example of the Masoretic Text
Sects•There seemed to be three mainoptions: Sadducees, Pharisees, andEssenes•Josephus also describes a “fourthphilosophy,” possibly an anti-Romangroup•Sicarii and Zealots also get lumpedtogether with the Fourth Philosophy,although they seem to have beendistinct groups•Judaism was just as diverse as anyother religion Flavius Josephus, bust
Accommodation and Rebellion•Cohen notes that the Jewswere usually content to honorforeign authority, within limits•Beginning with the Maccabeesand particularly with Romanrule, Judea became known as ahotbed of rebellion•Jewish War, 66-70; Bar KokhbaRevolt, 132-135
The Greco- Roman Religious Context•Overwhelmingly polytheistic,pluralistic, accommodating, and vigorous•Comprised of traditional pantheons,imported “eastern” religions, ofﬁcialmythologies, and various philosophies•Judaism was already an ancient, well- Mithraic bull-slaying scene, modernknown, and mostly well-regarded partof the Greco-Roman religious world