Text and Traditions: Work Requirement One Historical Reconstruction
Major events in Jewish history to the first century AD
1250 BC Fall of Jerusalem to the Romans.
931 BC Divided Kingdoms.
721 BC Fall of Samaria.
587 BC Fall of Jerusalem, Babylonian captivity.
333 BC Jews under Hellenistic rule.
63 BCJews under Roman rule.
70 ADFall of Jerusalem to the Romans.
Major events between 50 BC – 100 AD
63 BC – 40 BC Hyrcanus2 rules, but is subject to Rome.
41 BC – 30 BC Antony Caesar Roman Emperor.
40 BC – 37 BC Parathions conquer Jerusalem.
38 BC – 4 BC Herod rules as king. Subject to Rome.
37 BCJerusalem besieged for 6 months.
32 BCHerod Defeated.
31 BC – 14 AD Caesar Augustus Roman Emperor.
19 BCHerod’s Temple begun.
16 BCHerod visits Agrppa.
4 BCHerod dies; Archelaus succeeds.
37 AD – 41 AD Caliguta Roman Emperor.
41 AD – 54 AD Claudius Roman Emperor.
54 AD – 68 AD Nero Roman Emperor. The first persecutor of Christians.
66 ADJews in Palestine tried to revolt. Were crushed by
69 AD – 79 AD Vespasia Roman Emperor. He continued the persecution.
70 ADJewish temple destroyed. Small part of the wall left
79 ADTitus Roman Emperor.
Detailed analysis of major Jewish groups of the time
Pharisees The Pharisees were a group of Jews, that believed strongly against the
adoption of Greek ways. They wanted to uphold and protect their fragile Jewish
culture, from the Greek influence that was flooding into Israel at the time.
They developed as haters of the tradition Greek ways, because of their customs
were related to idolatry and immorality. They joined up with a group know as the
Hasmoneans and proceeded to conduct a rebellion against the Greek. After gaining
religious freedom, they then separated from their new partners, and formed the
breakaway party, known today as the Pharisees (meaning the separated’). They
had extreme power in the synagogue, and eventually turned it into the center of
the Jewish faith. This didn’t last forever, as it was finally replaced by the
temple, erected by David.
Saducees The Sadducees (Sons of Zadok) seemed to be a group of aristocratic
priestly families, that were powerful within the High Priesthood. They held a
monopoly over all the High Priesthood positions and were also powerful in the
Sanhedrin. They came across as being a very selfish group that retained their
rights and traditions, and also trying to stay on the good side of the Roman
Empire. Unlike the Pharisees, they were rigid and closed in sect, and not open
to change. When the Romans destroyed the temple, they disappeared and were never
heard from again.
Zealots The Zealots were a group of radical extremists, that were the cause of
many uprisings throughout their history, and eventually they lead a revolt
against the Romans in 66-73 AD. To stop this, the Roman Emperor destroyed the
third temple, which lead to the end of the uprising. This not only lead to their
downfall, but that of the Jews when they were crushed by Emperor Titus in 73 AD.
Qumrans/Essenes They were an important Jewish group in the community around the
time of Jesus. Although it wasn’t until 150 BC until they emerged, they lived
their lives according to a strict set of beliefs and rules. To join the group a
three year probationary period was imposed to new comers. Members were bound to
keep secret the doctrines and practices. Its is believed that John the Baptist
was and Essene, and had high connections to their community. The discovery of
the Dead Sea Scrolls has shed a lot more light on the practices of the Essenes.
These discoveries have proved that some Christian qualities and beliefs are an
exact copy of that of the Qumrans/Essenes.
Samaritans Samaritans originated from the area located between Judea and Galilee,
when the Assyrian settlers intermarried with the Jews that lived there. The
population created followed all the laws of Torah in their own special way, and
considered themselves to be Jewish. The normal Jews did not accept this, as
intermarriage between Jews and Gentiles was forbidden. Throughout the bible, it
has been documented that the Samaritans and the Jews were at each other throats,
Analysis of major philosophical ideas of the time
Platonism Plato was an ancient Greek philosopher who taught in the period
between 427 and 347 BC. He reasoned that the senses can’t be trusted, and that
one must use reason and maths, to solve problems and to guide oneself throughout
life. Plato was a student of Socrates and throughout his works, he drew from
other Greek philosophies, although as time progressed, he developed an entirely
different philosophical form of thinking that became his own.
Aristotelianism Aristotle was a Greek philosopher that was born nearly 400 year
BC. During his well documented life, he served as the tutor to Alexander the
Great and also wrote many papers on various topics such as Ethics, Physics and
Metaphysics. Aristotle also developed theories on the human soul in relation to
god. He represented it as a trinity of matter, being vegetable, animal and human
in nature, and proposed a non-abstract theory of form, where the initiator of
all existence is acknowledged as God.
Epicureanism Epicurus set up a school in Athens that taught ethics, based on his
writings and opinions, in the Hellenistic world. He proposed that the pursuit of
happiness should be mans greatest concern, rather than modeling his life on the
pleasing of gods and of the deeds needed to be completed for one to have a
pleasurable afterlife. His philosophy was that the pleasure seeking of mankind,
would not only provide fulfilment for one’s own self, but also lead to the
advancement and development of society in general.
Stoicism Stoicism was a famous school of Hellenistic thought. Its teachings were
not just philosophical, but could be used by everyday people, in everyday life.
The main goal for the tradition was to attain happiness and liberation from
emotion, through the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom. We can draw many
comparisons between the Christian faith and that of Stoicism. We can also see
the influence that the tradition had on many of the late Christian theologians.
Mystery Cults/Religions The mystery cults originated from many places in the
first century AD. They developed to replace the Olympic pantheons that were
becoming implausible and unsatisfying. The followers of these cults worshiped a
variety of gods or philosophies, each with their own set of obscure rules and
rituals. Secrecy played a great part in these cults (hence the name mystery
religions’) as one could incur the death sentence by revealing the mysteries
through speech, dance, pantomime, or any other form of communication. Although
one can debate the point of having these religions, it does prove that the human
soul requires some form of religious worship, mainstream or otherwise.
Gnosticism The Gnostics were a group/sect that existed in the first half of the
20th century, and were thought to lead Christians astray by teaching
manipulations of the Gospel. The mixed the ideas of the Christians with that of
the Greeks, producing a religion that wanted release from the prison of this
world. It draws on the Jewish monldthum, Babylonian anthology and Iranian Deulum,
and believes that light and darkness are entwined in a constant battle of cosmic
First Century Roman Judea
Summary of major New Testament Christian Leaders
Peter Peter was one of the first, and major disciples. Peter’s original name was
the Heb. Simon. His fathers name was Jonah. He worked as a fisherman at the two
places of which he took residence: Beth-saida and Capernaum in Galilee. At these
places he was in contact with the gentiles. He was probably effected by John the
Baptist’s movement. He was often the spokesperson for all the of the followers
and friends. Before Pentecost it was Peter who took the lead role of educating
the people and preaching the word of the bible. The church had made a large
impact on the community, but it was Peter that was seen to be the hero and
leader. He also was the first apostle to be associated with the Gentiles. At
that time in history this move was bound to draw him a lot of criticism. Despite
this criticism Peter with some support from his friends was able to make some
progress in the acceptance of other racial groups. After the death of Stephen,
Peter’s whereabouts and activities became very scarce. At one stage he was
imprisoned at Jerusalem and then later escaped. It has been thought that he
travelled through many cities, taking many brief jobs and participating in some
James James was one of the sons of Zebedee. Was a fisherman when called to
become one of the twelve apostles with his brother John. These two along with
Peter formed the inner circle of the apostles. This inner group was present at
most of the major events and were widely respected for their dedication and
sheer faith. James was good friends with Jesus and with his brother John, were
adeptly nicknamed Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder. It was these two again
that cause a stir when requesting Jesus for a place in the Holy Christ’s
Kingdom. The two were not promised this privilege, they continued to believe and
have the faith that would, in theory, get them there anyway.
John John was the other son of Zebedee. Was the brother James (the son of
Zebedee). It is also possible that John was the cousin of Jesus on his mothers
side. As with his Brother James, he was present at many very significant events
on the history of Christianity. He was also sent by Jesus to prepare the final
pass over meal. John was the one that was probably the closest to Jesus, he was
trusted with responsibilities that Jesus himself had given him.
James, brother of Jesus James was Jesus’s younger brother who, along with his
other siblings, refused to accept Jesus’s claims of authority before his
resurrection. He along with some of his close friends were a group which failed
to accept the power and authority of Jesus before the resurrection. The effect
the resurrection had on James was unmistakable. He became the leader of the
Jewish-Christian Church at Jerusalem. The tradition stated that he was placed
the first leader of the faith by the lord himself. He remained leader of the
Church, by himself, for some time. He was still the leader when Paul visited
Jerusalem for the last time. After receiving a death by stoning, James was named
the “just” for his Jewish piety. James is also said to have described himself as
“a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ”.
Paul (Saul of Tarsis) Paul was born in Tarsus a Roman citizen. After a simple
beginning Paul was only effected by preaching of Jesus after he had contact with
the risen Christ. Paul then spent the next three years preaching in Damascus.
After some pressure from the Jews of the area, Paul fled to Jerusalem where he
met up with Barnabas. Barnabas then introduced Paul to the leaders of
Christianity. His stay only lasted a brief two weeks because several Jews were
trying to kill him. Retreating for some ten years, Barnabas contacted Paul and
encouraged him to rejoin the now flourishing Gentile mission. Paul and Barnabas
were sent on a mission to establish Christianity in the area surrounding Cyprus
and the S Galatia. Despite several set backs and violent outbursts the mission
was very successful with new territories become adapt to the Christian ways. As
one would expect the relationship between the Gentiles and the newly turned
Jewish community was one that was tested often. Differing beliefs lead to a
number of verbal and physical conflicts and Barnabas and Paul were called upon
to resolve these. They used the help and guidance of their elders and fellow
Christians to help with their decisions. Paul once again set off through parts
of Europe to convert people to Christianity. This time Barnabas did not travel
with him because of a rift in there relationship. Paul discovered new friend
that he took with him through Greece and the surrounding parts. He helped set up
a large amount of new mission which set the standard for others to grow by. The
next area to converted was the lands of Asia. This goal was quickly accomplished
by Paul. He was then returned to Greece to help secure the faith there. It was
in the years that followed that he wrote several telling letters. This letters
were to become a crucial part of the Christian faith in years to come.
Judas Iscariot Judas was a member of the 12 disciples, and was the one who
betrayed Jesus, which ended in his crucifixion. The opportunity came about when
Judas turned Jesus to the authorities. After the event, guilt was beset upon
this traitor. Unable to over come this guilt, his life ended in suicide. Judas
is widely remember for his treachery and betrayal of the other eleven apostles.
He was thought of as a man who was touched by Satan and influenced into evil
ways. He was bribed and accepted money to do evil deeds. He claimed this money
would be used for the poor..
Barnabas Barnabas was born into a Jewish-Cypriot family. He a member of the
Jerusalem church, and as he progressed he became very serious about religion. He
also had a significant effect on several matters. He introduced a converted Saul
to the main apostles, which lead to Saul being accepted after originally being
called an impostor. It was Barnabas who stuck up for the gentiles when they were
being condemned. Barnabas thought the movement to accept the Gentiles as equals
was an act ignited by God and therefor took the side of God. Being a key member,
he took a journey with Paul from Cyprus, to Asia minor, which was taken with the
goal of setting up a group of successful Gentile churches. Barnabas was also
placed in front of the Jerusalem council with Paul. Barnabas’ importance to the
issue is clearly shown by the mere fact that he is mentioned before Paul in
accounts of the proceedings.
Setting the scene, Goosen & Thomlinson “Jesus; Mystery and Surprise” (Sydney: EJ
Philosophies, Elwell (ed.) “Evangelical Dictionary of Theology” (Grand Rapids:
Baker Bookhouse, 1990)
“The New Bible Dictionary” (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers Inc, 1962)
Logos Bible Software v2.0 (Oakharbour: Logos Research System)
World Book Encyclopedia
World Wide Web (Internet)