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The Golden Verses Of The Stoic

Seneca and Epictetus refer to the Golden Verses of Pythagoras , which happens to provide a good framework for developing a daily routine, bookended by morning and evening contemplative practices. Zeno of Citium , who founded Stoicism in 301 BC, expressed his doctrines in notoriously terse arguments and concise maxims.  However, Chrysippus, the third head of the Stoic school, wrote over 700 books fleshing these ideas out and adding complex arguments to support them. 

Timelines and events

It is amazingly difficult to bring to bear anything solid for accounts happening in Jerusalem in the first fifty years of the first century. For the most part, we are stuck with Biblical accounts, which are vague and rather inaccurate as well. But it is what we have...


Upon the death of Herod, his kingdom is divided among his three surviving sons, Philip, Antipas, and Archelaus.

These three traveled to Rome to apply for legal ratification of their father's will (cf. parable in Luke 19:12,14).

Caesar Augustus and the disposition of power was as follows:

1. Antipas (4 B.C. to AD 39) ruled Galilee and Perea (east of the Jordan in the north). The Jews were offended by the illicit union of Antipas with his niece and sister-in-law Herodias. This formed the occasion on which John the Baptist was imprisoned and martyred (Mark 6:14-29; see also Jospehus Ant. XVIII, 116-119).

In A.D. 39, Antipas was banished from his rule.

2. Philip (4 B.C. to AD 6) had the region east of the Jordan in the northern part of the kingdom. He built a new residence, Caesarea Phillipi (Mark 8:27). Upon his death, the region he ruled passed under the control of the legate of Syria.

3. (4 B.C. to AD 6) ruled over Judea, Samaria, and Idumea. Archelaus was most despised by the people (cf. Matt 2:22) and was removed from office.

Archelaus' territory is then placed under a Roman governor or procurator, answerable to the emperor.

During the times of Jesus Pontius Pilate (the fifth procurator) held the office as Roman governor (26-36). (Philo, Legatio ad Gaium, 302, said his conduct was marked by "corruption, violence, depredations, ill treatment, offenses, numerous illegal executions, and incessant, unbearable cruelty.")


This is a typical time line, with a heavy bias. What we don't really get from this is an account of "who" is leading the corruption, violence, depredations, ill treatment, offences, and numerous illegal executions.

We are lead to believe, by the context, that it is the Romans who are the instigators fo all of this, but the more I read, the more I really wonder about this assumption. For example, one of the bits of information I came across is that the Temple would purchase the sacrificial animals from the herdsmen at a set price, which of course was not what we would call "market value". It is also clear that the herdsmen were obligated to sell the best of their stock to the Temple as well.

What is also clear, is the left over stock would then be brought into the city to be sold. Of course, the Romans, and Arabs are telling these herdsman that since the best of this stock sells for the set price purchased by the temple, the rest of his flawed stock should sell for less than that price.

Then of course, there is the tax for the sales to the Temple, which the herdsman is obligated to pay, and these taxes go up over the years, and so does his rent in the fields (very few herdsmen would be land owners, and this is a major conflict amoungs the eliete of the Jews, and the poorer classes). So this guys cost of living is going up, while his available income is staying the same.

He's caught. Can't move, and there is little in a way out. So, what does he do? Many of the books and research I've gone over, suggest he becomes a robber, so he can afford to feed his family. Of course, he gets caught, or kills several of his own people.

So, while the Romans are certainly accountable for many hardships and deprived actions, we can not simply ignore the violence and hardship instigated by the Temple, or rather the Priests of the Temple during this time period.

What also comes to mind is that the Hebrew law, certainly did not have a clause or accomidation for the Temple existing, and active, in a city where the Jewish people are being ruled by another country; and certainly not another religon. So, I'm starting to get the idea, that these conflicts and wars which happen during this time, all of them, are given birth by the Roman ideal of allowing a conquered culture to maintain its heritage and beliefs, and by building the second temple for the Jewish people (Herod built the temple with Roman money, hiring 1000 priests for the work).