The New Testament World (Int nt, chap 1, pp. 15-45) Post-Exile: The Persian Period



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The New Testament World (Int NT, chap 1, pp. 15-45)

Post-Exile: The Persian Period (ca. 537-332 BC)

  • Persia had conquered Babylon (539 BC)

  • Jews return from Babylon to Judea after the exile… but not all at once… and many Jews lived elsewhere in the “diaspora

  • Jews ruled by high priests & governors (not kings)

  • Temple is rebuilt in Jerusalem in 515 BC under Zerubbabel.

  • Synagogues emerge as local places of worship.

  • Judaism emerges and becomes “ethnocentric”

  • Jews focus on the Torah, and the scribes copy and interpret the Law (e.g., Ezra in the 400s)

The Hellenistic Period (ca. 332-167 BC)

  • Alexander the Great unites the Greeks and conquers Persia and the world (334-323 BC)

  • Hellenism is spread: Greek philosophy, Greek religion, Greek language, Greek currency… Greek culture.

  • Judea is dominated by Greek dynasties to the south (Ptolemies in Egypt, 320-198 BC) and then to the north (Seleucids in Antioch, Syria, 198-167 BC).

  • Antiochus 4 Epiphanes violently enforced Hellenism and forbid Jewish rituals.

  • In 167 BC, Antiochus 4 Epiphanes raided the Jerusalem temple and desecrated it (= “abomination of desolation”)

  • During this Greek crisis, “apocalyptic” outlooks arose… expecting God to dramatically, cataclysmically intervene.

The Maccabean Revolt and the Hasmonean Period (ca. 167-63 BC)

  • Mattathias sparked a rebellion against the Greek rule (the “Seleucids” from Antioch)

  • Judas the “Maccabee” led the rebellion and retook Jerusalem from the Greeks.

  • In Dec 164 BC, Judas “cleansed” the Temple and instituted Hanukkah.

  • The Hasmonean family end up ruling the Jews as high priests… but many Jews despised them as illegitimate, corrupt, and violent.

  • Judea was independent from foreign intrusion until…

The Roman Period (ca. 63 BC to AD 70)

  • In 63 BC, the Romans under Pompey enter Judea, which means Roman troops, taxes, and intrusion into Jewish affairs.

  • Appointed by Rome, Herod the Great ruled all Palestine (37-4 BC). Herod was famous for political maneuvering, extensive building projects, renovating the Temple, and violently securing his reign… Jesus was born during his reign (Mt 1-2).

  • Three of Herod’s sons ruled parts of Palestine… Herod Antipas ruled Galilee (4 BC to AD 39)… who beheaded John the Baptist (cf. Mark 6:14-29).

  • Roman prefects & procurators ruled Judea in AD 6-41 and AD 44-66… Pontius Pilate (AD 26-36) crucified Jesus.

  • Herod Agrippa 1 (HtG’s grandson) ruled as king in AD 41-44 (cf. Acts 12:1-23)

  • In AD 64, Rome burned and Nero blamed it on Christians.

Jewish Revolts (AD 66-73, 132-35)

  • The Jews became increasingly enraged at the Romans.

  • Judea openly revolted against Rome in AD 66.

  • The Romans under Vespasian subdued the revolt… and under Titus destroyed Jerusalem & the Temple in AD 70 (cf. Mark 13).

  • Masada fell to the Romans in AD 73.

  • Rabbinic Judaism emerged which focused on rituals (circumcision, Sabbath, festivals) and the Torah instead of the Temple, the land, and sacrifices.

  • Josephus writes The Jewish War (ca. AD 75) and Antiquities of the Jews (AD 93).

  • A Second Jewish Revolt (AD 132-35) was led by Simon bar Kochba… but it was squashed by the Romans under Hadrian.

Jewish Groups in the NT

  • Pharisees = extremely legalistic and pious, believed in a resurrection, recognized angels & demons, more associated with villages and synagogues (cf. Matt 23:1-36)

  • Sadducees = aristocratic “old school” status quo, only held to Torah, rejected a resurrection, more associated with Jerusalem and the Temple (cf. Mark 12:18-27)

  • Essenes = ascetic separatists who lived at Qumran and wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls.

  • Zealots = radical anti-Roman Jews… terrorists… often associated with Galilee… led the rebellion against Rome.

  • Samaritans = remnants of 10 northern tribes; lived between Galilee & Judea; much hostility between Jews & Samaritans

  • Gentiles = non-Jewish nations considered “pagans”


CST130 NT Survey, Dr. Cate


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