Reactions to Empire: Sacred Texts in their Socio-Political Contexts 3161534131, 9783161534133

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Table of contents :
Table of Contents
LOREN T. STUCKENBRUCK: A Place for Socio-Political Oppressors at the End of History? Eschatological Perspectives from 1 Enoch
Widening Participation: Eschatological Worship of God in the Book of Watchers
The Ultimate Outcome for the Nations in the Hebrew Bible
The Children of Humanity in 10:21 and Their Function in the Book of Watchers
1 Enoch 10:21: Its Impact on the Early Enoch Tradition
AMANDA M. DAVIS BLEDSOE: Attitudes Toward Seleucid Imperial Hegemony in the Book of Daniel
Nebuchadnezzar in MT and OG Daniel 1–4
The Vision of Daniel 7
Conclusions: Daniel and Seleucid Imperial Hegemony
NADAV SHARON: Between Opposition to the Hasmoneans and Resistance to Rome: The Psalms of Solomon and the Dead Sea Scrolls
63–37 B.C.E. : A Period of Constant Unrest
The Literary Evidence
The Romans as God’s Tool
Psalms of Solomon’s View of the Romans
The Dead Sea Scrolls’ View of the Roman Conquest and the Romans
Distinct Texts but Similar Responses to Roman Domination
MATTHEW V. NOVENSON: What the Apostles Did Not See
Ancient politics in modern New Testament scholarship
“Someone going forth from Judea will become ruler of the world”
Between early Judaism and early Christianity
CHRISTOPH HEILIG: Methodological Considerations for the Search of Counter-Imperial “Echoes” in Pauline Literature
Counter-Imperial “Echoes” on the Level of Subtext
Methodological Foundations: Hays’s Criteria
Application to Imperial Ideology: N. T. Wright
Application to Imperial Ideology: Neil Elliott
Methodological Evaluation
Bayes’s Theorem
Hays’s Criteria in the Context of Bayes’s Theorem
Suggestions for Evaluating the Background Plausibility p(H)
Nested Necessary Conditions
Discourse Context
Roman Context: Criticism as Part of the Public Transcript?
Roman Context: Roman Ideology in the Environment of Paul
Pauline Context—The Empire in Paul’s Worldview: A Critical Attitude?
Pauline Context—Paul’s Personality: From Attitude to Expression?
ALEXANDER P. THOMPSON: Thwarting the Enemies of God: Contrasting the Death of Herod and the Resurrection of Jesus in Luke-Acts
The Interpretive Framework: The Literary Conflict with Herod and Political Christology
Contrasting Herod and Jesus in Acts 12:20–23
DAVID I. STARLING: “She Who Is in Babylon”: 1 Peter and the Hermeneutics of Empire
1 Peter among the Postcolonials
Empire of Fear
Empire of Grace
Empire of Glory
BRANDON WALKER: The Forgotten Kingdom: Miracle, the Memory of Jesus, and Counter-Ideology to the Roman Empire
Beelzebul Controversy (Q 11:14–23; Matt 12:22–38; Mark 3:22; Luke 11:15–19)
Paul, Miracles, and the Kingdom of God
The Kingdom in the Second Century
Acts of Peter
Acts of Paul
Possible Explanations for the separation of Kingdom and Miracle
CANDIDA R. MOSS: Resisting Empire in Early Christian Martyrdom Literature
Acts of Justin
Acts of the Scillitan Martyrs
Martyrs of Lyons and Vienne
BERNIE HODKIN: Theologies of Resistance: A Re-examination of Rabbinic Traditions about Rome
The Mishnah
The Fantasy of Titus’s Divine Retribution
List of Contributors
Index of References
1. Hebrew Bible
2. Apocrypha
3. Pseudepigrapha
4. Dead Sea Scrolls
5. New Testament
6. Other Early Christian Writings
7. Other Greco-Roman Writers
8. Other Jewish Writings
Index of Modern Authors and Persons
Index of Subjects
Recommend Papers

Reactions to Empire: Sacred Texts in their Socio-Political Contexts
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Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament · 2. Reihe Herausgeber / Editor Jörg Frey (Zürich) Mitherausgeber / Associate Editors Markus Bockmuehl (Oxford) James A. Kelhoffer (Uppsala) Hans-Josef Klauck (Chicago, IL) Tobias Nicklas (Regensburg)


Reactions to Empire Sacred Texts in their Socio-Political Contexts edited by

John Anthony Dunne and Dan Batovici

Mohr Siebeck

John Anthony Dunne, born 1986; studied Biblical and Theological Studies at Biola University, 2008 BA; 2010 MA in New Testament Language and Literature, 2011 MA in Old Testament and Semitics at Talbot School of Theology; currently a PhD candidate at the University of St Andrews. Dan Batovici, born 1976; 2009 graduated Classics in Bucharest; taught MPhil in Theology and Religious Studies in Cambridge; research MPhil in Theology and Religious Studies in St Andrews; currently a PhD candidate at KU Leuven.

e-ISBN PDF 978-3-16-153414-0 ISBN 978-3-16-153413-3 ISSN 0340-9570 (Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, 2. Reihe) The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliographie; detailed bibliographic data are available on the Internet at

© 2014 by Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, Germany. This book may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form (beyond that permitted by copyright law) without the publisher’s written permission. This applies particularly to reproductions, translations, microfilms and storage and processing in electronic systems. The book was printed by Laupp & Göbel in Nehren on non-aging paper and bound by Buchbinderei Nädele in Nehren. Printed in Germany.

Table of Contents Introduction ........................................................................................... VII LOREN T. STUCKENBRUCK A Place for Socio-Political Oppressors at the End of History? Eschatological Perspectives from 1 Enoch ................................................ 1 AMANDA M. DAVIS BLEDSOE Attitudes Toward Seleucid Imperial Hegemony in the Book of Daniel .............................................. 23 NADAV SHARON Between Opposition to the Hasmoneans and Resistance to Rome: The Psalms of Solomon and the Dead Sea Scrolls ................................... 41 MATTHEW V. NOVENSON What the Apostles Did Not See ............................................................... 55 CHRISTOPH HEILIG Methodological Considerations for the Search of Counter-Imperial “Echoes” in Pauline Literature ................................... 73 ALEXANDER P. THOMPSON Thwarting the Enemies of God: Contrasting the Death of Herod and the Resurrection of Jesus in Luke-Acts ............................................ 93 DAVID I. STARLING “She Who Is in Babylon”: 1 Peter and the Hermeneutics of Empire ............................................... 111


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BRANDON WALKER The Forgotten Kingdom: Miracle, the Memory of Jesus, and Counter-Ideology to the Roman Empire.......................................... 129 CANDIDA R. MOSS Resisting Empire in Early Christian Martyrdom Literature ................... 147 BERNIE HODKIN Theologies of Resistance: A Re-examination of Rabbinic Traditions about Rome ......................... 163 List of Contributors ...................................................................................... 179 Index of Sources........................................................................................... 181 Index of Modern Authors and Persons......................................................... 196 Index of Subjects.......................................................................................... 202

Introduction This volume grew out of the third instalment of the St Andrews Graduate Conference for Biblical and Early Christian Studies, “Sacred Texts in their Socio-Political Contexts,” organised as a seminar within the International Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, 7–11 July 2013 at St Andrews. The conference had four sections – Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, New Testament, Pseudepigrapha & the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Early Christianity – and the main aim was to explore various instances of theopolitical visions of authoritative texts in these areas, and as such to offer a broader perspective on the same topos, “sacred texts in their context.” This is precisely what this volume has to offer; instead of a narrow exploration of the “political intent” of a singular text or group of texts, our volume contains the treatment of a wide range of texts, out of different corpora, with their discrete contexts. Their juxtaposition, as well as that of the respective scholarly approaches of the essays, is meant to offer fresh insights on the matter. A further point of convergence presented itself in the papers selected for publication; each of the essays in our collection addresses the issue of oppressive imperial ideology and the extent to which the authors of sacred texts engaged their political contexts. Apart from the first two entries, eight contributions specifically present reactions to the Roman Empire. Our first two essays, by Loren T. Stuckenbruck and Amanda M. Davis Bledsoe, are the only two that do not work with texts situated in the Roman era. However, their essays address the same issues of imperial ideology and so provide fitting contributions to the overall focus of the volume. Their essays are also complementary in providing a unique angle on subversion, particularly the way that conversion was presented toward that end. At this point a brief overview of the contributions in this volume will be offered in order to provide the reader with a summary abstract for each essay as well as provide a sense for the coherence of the volume taken together. Within the Book of the Watchers (1 En. 6–36), many have noted a sociopolitical critique of oppressive hierarchies. In this reading, oppression is aligned with the anti-creation forces of evil that are represented in the


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Watchers themselves and in their gigantic offspring. Yet what has not been adequately addressed to date is how the anticipation of universal worship in 1 En. 10:20–22 relates to this. Loren T. Stuckenbruck addresses this question in his essay by analyzing how the expectation of global worship fits within both the immediate context of the Book of the Watchers (particularly chapters 6–11), the broader literary context of 1 Enoch, contemporary Jewish traditions, and the Hebrew Bible. Ultimately, Stuckenbruck demonstrates that the universal acknowledgment of God is to be read in the light of the mythic context of the Watchers as an affirmation of God’s sovereign rule over all creation, including human forces of oppression, even though present appearances for the original writers/readers may suggest otherwise. The book of Daniel contains portraits of two of the most hated figures in the collective Jewish memory, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who rose against the Jews of Jerusalem in the second century B.C.E., and Nebuchadnezzar II, the destroyer of Jerusalem and the first Jewish Temple in 586 B.C.E. Often Nebuchadnezzar, who features prominently in the stories of the first half of the book, is viewed as a prefiguration of Antiochus, the main figure in the visions of the second half of the book. Amanda M. Davis Bledsoe contends, however, that by reading the depictions of these two kings side by side we are left with a surprising contrast. She proposes that the author(s) of the book of Daniel reshaped the earlier Danielic stories concerning King Nebuchadnezzar to depict him as a greatly rehabilitated servant of God in order to provide a foil for Antiochus, the ultimate evil of the author’s own day, who has no redeeming qualities and sets himself in constant opposition to God. She further argues that in intentionally juxtaposing these two figures the author of Daniel offers a critique of Seleucid hegemony and presents a powerful counter-discourse to imperial ideology. The rest of the volume focuses on various responses to Roman imperial hegemony. As a fitting start to analyzing such reactions to Rome, Nadav Sharon’s essay examines the possible relationship between opposition to the Hasmoneans in Judea and the reaction to Roman domination as expressed in two contemporary literary corpora from Judea: the Psalms of Solomon and the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is often assumed that the Hasmoneans were widely rejected in Judea. Therefore, it is possible to presume, as some scholars did, that the Romans, who ousted the Hasmoneans, would have been favorably or at least neutrally received. However, while there is a lack of contemporary evidence of widespread rejection of the Hasmoneans, the first decades of Roman domination over Judea were a period of constant unrest and rebellion that appear to have been mostly anti-Roman. Yet, both the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Psalms of Solomon are often



viewed as significant exempla of opposition to the Hasmonean dynasty, and at least the former is often viewed as initially accepting of Roman rule. However, whereas the Dead Sea sect indeed opposed the Hasmoneans, the Psalms of Solomon indicates no such opposition during the Hasmonean period, but rather recognition in hindsight of the sinfulness of the Hasmoneans. Despite this crucial difference, Sharon’s examination of both corpora reveals that they have a similar view of the Romans; they are God’s agents to punish his sinful people, but, nevertheless, their rule is rejected, they are deeply hated, and their immediate downfall is hoped for and expected. Therefore, Sharon demonstrates that equation of Hasmonean rejection with Roman acceptance cannot be sustained on either side, and the literary evidence appears to support the historical picture of a hostile Judean reaction to Roman domination. The next set of essays pertains to texts from the New Testament. The first two by Matthew V. Novenson and Christoph Heilig address the same question – did the early Christians have an anti-imperial message? – and conclude with different answers. Novenson addresses this question with a broader focus on the New Testament and the early apostles more generally, whereas Heilig focuses particularly on the letters of Paul. Arnaldo Momigliano famously explained Josephus’s silence about the synagogue and about apocalyptic movements under the rubric “what Josephus did not see.” In his essay, Matthew V. Novenson suggests an analogous explanation for the near silence of the New Testament writers about the Roman Empire. Of course, Novenson is careful to note that the Roman Empire imposed itself strongly upon the lives of its provincial subjects, but it did so especially through the medium of government by indigenous elites (city councils, client kings, and so on). The local face of Roman rule was a familiar face. If the apostolic sect were inclined to view their opponents through an apocalyptic lens as undifferentiated “rulers of this age,” the structure of Roman provincial administration could easily reinforce such an understanding. The exception that proves the rule is John of Patmos, who singles out Rome as an enemy because he has been singled out by Rome as an enemy. But most first-century Christian texts, although their Christology implies an anti-Roman posture (“If Jesus is lord, then Caesar is not”), do not actually draw this implication. For both ideological and social reasons, Novenson concludes that the apostles simply did not see the Roman Empire. The other side of the spectrum can be found in the essay by Christoph Heilig. The debate regarding Paul’s use of subversive sub-texts to criticize the imperial ideology of Rome has caused quite a bit of controversy within New Testament scholarship. Some of those who favor the position that Paul was intentionally and creatively reacting to the Empire’s grandiose


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claims about itself have proposed a methodology of discerning “echoes” of imperial criticism, borrowing the work of Richard Hays. In Heilig’s essay, he re-evaluates the legitimacy of this methodology in the light of Bayes’s theorem. His conclusion is that a more robust and systematic approach is needed, one that considers the discourse context, the availability of Roman propaganda in a first-century Roman context, and Paul’s personality. Heilig’s contribution is the offering of this new methodology that subjects all claims to sub-text criticism, or “echoes,” to more pertinent scrutiny than Hays’s seven criteria. This approach enables Heilig to counter some of John Barclay’s arguments that critiquing Rome was less of an interest for Paul. Accordingly, he concludes that the general background plausibility of the subtext-hypothesis can be defended, at least in a modified form. The next two essays round out the discussion on the New Testament. The first addresses the criticism of individual rulers more directly, whereas the second focuses on various customs and social structures within the Empire. The political agenda of the book of Acts, and Luke-Acts as a whole, has been the subject of much debate. Scholars have proposed a variety of perspectives that include political detachment, apologetic for early Christian civility, and implicit or explicit subversion of Roman power. Centered within this debate, Alexander P. Thompson addresses the depiction of the death of Herod Agrippa I in Acts 12:20–23 as an intentional political critique that arises from the narrative role of Herod as an opponent of Jesus throughout Luke-Acts. This political subversion is particularly seen in the contrast between the gruesome death of Herod and the imperishable resurrection of Jesus. Such a powerful foil suggests other avenues for discussing the political perspective of Luke-Acts. In a recent paper on 1 Peter, David Horrell has argued that the longrunning “Balch–Elliott debate” regarding the stance the author takes toward the values and ethos of his readers’ pagan social environment needs to be focused more deliberately on the particularities of the imperial context and the shape that it gave to the power-structures within which the letter’s readers were required to relate to their social environment. In this article, David I. Starling argues that another crucial particularity of the text that needs to be taken into account is the tradition of understanding within which the author encourages his readers to interpret that imperial power and their relation to it. With those two considerations in mind, this chapter examines the ways in which the author’s use of OT traditions contributes to the stance that he urges his readers to take toward the imperial dynamics of fear, patronage, and honor that shaped their socio-political context, concluding that both the socially “conformist” and the socially “resistant” di-



mensions of the letter’s injunctions are expressed in terms of scriptural categories and grounded in scriptural patterns of judgment. As early Christianity emerged, did Christians maintain the same level of discourse vis-à-vis the Roman Empire? The next two essays address this question in their own way. The relationship between Jesus’s preaching of the Kingdom of God and his miracles is attested in the Synoptic Gospels (Matt 4:23; 9:35; 10:7–8; 11:2–6; Luke 9:2; 10:9). However, this correlation is not strongly upheld into the second century. The following essay by Brandon Walker traces the development of the decline of correlation in the Kingdom of God language as it relates to miracles in the first to second centuries. Through comparing Jesus’s statement relating the Kingdom and exorcism in the Beelzebul controversy with second-century apologists and popular literature such as the Acts of Peter and the Acts of Paul, which all contain miracle accounts, this distancing is most noticeable. After surveying these relevant sources from the first and second centuries, Walker offers several explanations for this separation. First, the waning of allusion to the Kingdom and miracles in the second century is probably a result of the novelty of the early Jesus movement wearing off and other issues taking precedent. Second, it is possible that the acceptance of the Gentiles into the church caused a reorientation in language and theopolitical imagination. Finally, in an effort not to be perceived as politically subversive in a time of shifting Jewish-Roman political tensions, the memory of the connection between Kingdom and deeds of power would likewise have changed. As well, in the development of early Christianity, martyrdom theology became a dominant feature. Naturally, those who idealized martyrs would have a different set of values than the Roman Empire. In Candida R. Moss’s essay she explores three texts in particular – the Acts of Justin, the Acts of the Scillitan Martyrs, and the Letter of the Churches of Lyons and Vienne – and addresses the critique of Roman hegemony and ideology within these writings, particularly by showing how typically Roman ideals, such as masculinity, were assigned to the Christians martyrs whereas the Romans were portrayed with a dearth of these qualities. The final essay in our volume addresses the question of Empire within the development of rabbinic theology. As scholars have addressed, for the Jews of the classical rabbinic corpora, the conflict with Rome was pronounced, especially as the Roman Empire came to appropriate Christianity. Yet Bernie Hodkin has provided a re-examination of the rabbinic evidence for Roman resistance, and has argued that the rabbinic source material does not reflect a uniform disposition to Rome, but that unique outlooks can be discerned according to provenance. Particularly, rabbis in Sassanian


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Persia often reformulated Palestinian sources in order to reflect a different outlook on the Roman Empire. Finally, the editors would like to thank everyone who participated in the conference, both the presenters who offered stimulating papers as well as those who attended and engaged our speakers with perceptive questions. We would like to give special thanks to our four keynote speakers – Nathan MacDonald, Loren Stuckenbruck, Matthew Novenson, and Candida Moss – for offering papers at the conference and for their assistance in putting together this volume. We are very grateful for the endorsement of Jörg Frey to move this volume forward for publication, and for all the help we received from the wonderful team at Mohr Siebeck, including Katharina Stichling, Henning Ziebritzki, and Matthias Spitzner. We would also like to thank Kristin De Troyer and Elizabeth Tracy; the conference would not have been possible without their prompt help. 15 June 2014

John Anthony Dunne Dan Batovici

A Place for Socio-Political Oppressors at the End of History? Eschatological Perspectives from 1 Enoch1 LOREN T. STUCKENBRUCK Widening Participation: Eschatological Worship of God in the Book of Watchers The present discussion takes the rebellious angels myth in the early Enoch tradition as a point of departure. Much has been made by recent interpreters of chapters 6 through 16 of the Book of Watchers in 1 Enoch regarding a socio-political setting that explains the myth in which “the sons of God” choose women on earth for themselves, sire gigantic offspring through them, and give humanity a series of reprehensible instructions (1 En. 6:1–8:3). In particular, behind these events and activities, one is supposed to see a phenomenon of “political” or at least “social” oppression at work that those who originally generated and received the text categorically condemned. Such an interpretation can easily assume that the angels and/or their giantsized progeny are steno-symbols for people who have both devised and carried out their claims to power at the expense of Jewish society. The political might behind the repression of pious Jews and the values they hold dear is, in effect, “demonised” and thus rejected as having anything to do with God’s purpose for the world. This way of reading the Book of Watchers, as is the case with any work that draws on language of oppression, is attractive, not only because of the historical sense it makes of the text but also on hermeneutical grounds. While it is not the purpose of this discussion to turn such an approach on its head, I do think there is reason to recover some of the nuance and perspective the Enochic tradition and its early heirs bring to bear on the suffering endured by those who are oppressed. Rather than beginning with a recounting of the fallen angels tradition itself, I think it is appropriate for our purposes here to focus initially on the 1

Though the focus has shifted, some of the research behind this lecture is adapted from Loren T. Stuckenbruck, “The Eschatological Worship of God by the Nations: An Inquiry into the Early Enoch Tradition,” in Wisdom as a Robe, ed. K. Dobos et al. (Sheffield: Phoenix, 2009), 191–208.


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last part of chapters 6–11 in the Book of Watchers, a section, which, next to portions of the Astronomical Book, is one of the oldest parts of 1 Enoch. The text, which spans from 10:17 to 11:2, describes blissful conditions that are to characterize the state of creation when the world is brought into an order originally intended for it. In addition to presenting the ideal future as one in which the environment will be unleashed to flourish and reproduce unhindered, the passage depicts how humans will fit into this picture. According to 1 En. 10:20–22, God instructs the archangel Michael as follows:2 (20)



But as for you, cleanse the earth from all uncleanness, and from all injustice, and from all sin and godlessness. And eliminate all the unclean things that have been done on the earth. And all the children of humanity will become righteous, 3 and all the peoples will serve (Grk. λατρεύοντες) and bless (εὐλογοῦντες) me, and they will all worship (προσκυνοῦντες) me. And the entire earth will be cleansed from all defilement and all uncleanness. And no wrath or torment will I ever again send upon them, for all the generations of eternity.

Here a purification or cleansing of the earth from the evils that have plagued it – the wording in verse 22 alludes to the divine promise not to repeat a destruction of the earth after the Great Flood in Gen 9:15b – is a prelude to the worship of God by all peoples. While Michael is the one whose agency prepares for this state of things, it is God who announces it.4 Surprisingly, among the vast amount of scholarly and popularizing literature devoted to Enochic studies in the last 25 years, relatively little has been written that considers just what the worship of God by all peoples is supposed to mean within both its immediate context and larger literary set2

The translation below is my own, based on the Ethiopic I recension, with insertions of corresponding Greek terms from Codex Panopolitanus (also known as the Gizeh Papyrus). For a recent discussion on the relative value of the Ethiopic recensions, see Loren T. Stuckenbruck, Commentary on 1 Enoch 91–108 (CEJL; Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2007), 19–26. For the Greek text, it is expedient to rely on the edition by Matthew Black, Apocalypsis Henochi Graeci in Pseudepigrapha Veteris Testamenti (PVTG 3; Leiden: Brill, 1970). 3 The text “and all . . . righteous” is original, though probably omitted in Grk. Cod. Pan. by homoio-arcton, perhaps at the stage of its Semitic Vorlage. 4 Significantly, this is the only time in 1 En. 6–11 that God speaks. The weight attached to divine speech in the Book of Watchers is also apparent from 1 En. 15:1–16:4, in which the divine pronouncement against the forces of evil represented by the wayward angels and the giants follows upon Enoch’s throne vision (14:8–25).

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ting. As we shall see, a closer reading of the text and its function as a conclusion to chapters 6 through 11 may be said to have a bearing on the question of political and social oppression. For the most part, this text has most often been treated in passing as a curious vision of the future; commentators have either noted how the world-wide worship of God draws on traditions from the Hebrew Bible regarding the fate of the nations or how it links up with later Enochic (and perhaps other) texts.5 Over a century ago, Robert Henry Charles, in an overview of apocalyptic ideas that he assigned to the second century B.C.E., commented rather straightforwardly that, “[a]ccording to I Enoch x. 21, all the Gentiles are to become righteous and worship God.”6 Most readers today will agree with this reading, although the date of the Book of Watchers probably goes back to the third century B.C.E.7 Most importantly, this text is frequently taken as a significant example of how some Jews were able to envision a world in which all peoples – that is, people outside the bounds of Judaism – will participate in authentic worship, and in a text that hardly mentions the Mosaic Law. This, in turn, is regarded as a strand of Jewish thought that could imagine authentic worship apart from the Law and so prepared the way for Christian faith of the sort that Paul the apostle would communicate.8 Thus, while we have to do with a tradition that may be said to have been in circulation during the third century B.C.E., we are in a position to address several questions. Beyond the general affirmation that those who will worship God embraces Gentiles, can anything further be said about whom, more precisely, the phrase “all people” includes? Are these, for example, simply Gentiles who in the future are expected to recognize that Israel’s God is the only legitimate God and creator of the world, or is there something particular going on in the literary context that suggests more about their profile? How is the expectation in the cited text (1 En. 10:20–22) 5 See esp. Matthew Black, The Book of Enoch or I Enoch (SVTP 7; Leiden: Brill, 1985), 140; George W. E. Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1: A Commentary (Hermeneia; Philadelphia, PA: Augsburg Fortress, 2001), 224, 228; Siegbert Uhlig, Jüdische Schriften aus hellenistisch-römischer Zeit. Band V: Apocalypsen; Lieferung 6: Das Äthiopische Henochbuch (Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 1984), 531–32; and Daniel Olson, Enoch: A New Translation (N. Richland Hills, TX: BIBAL, 2004), 40. 6 R. H. Charles, Eschatology: The Doctrine of a Future Life in Israel, Judaism and Christianity: A Critical History (New York: Schocken Brooks, 1963; reprinted from 2nd ed. published in 1913), 246. Charles offers no comment on the text in his commentary – so in Charles, The Book of Enoch or 1 Enoch (Oxford: Clarendon, 1912), 26 – but rather reserves his discussion on “the conversion of Gentiles” under Animal Apocalypse at 1 En. 90:30 (Charles, Eschatology, 214–15). 7 Cf. J. T. Milik, The Books of Enoch: Aramaic Fragments from Qumrân Cave 4 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1976), 24 and Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1, 169–71. 8 So e.g., Gabriele Boccaccini, Beyond the Essene Hypothesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998), 81–162.


Loren T. Stuckenbruck

shaped by the preceding story in the Book of Watchers chapters 6–8 about the rebellious angels and their gigantic offspring? This is a fair question to ask, since at first there might not seem to be any connection in relation to that storyline at all. How can a myth about rebellion in heaven have anything to do with an account that anticipates the globalization of ritual purity, faith, justice, and worship? Moreover, on what grounds can such be expected to happen and, again, whom does “all people” include and not include? Three factors form a framework within which to address these questions. The first is how the eschatological expectation relates to passages in the Hebrew Bible that refer to the eventual recognition of Israel’s God among the nations (see esp. Isa 2:3; 18:7; 19:22; 45:14–15; 60; 66:18–23; Jer 16:19; Zech 8:20–23; 14:16–21; Ps 22:27–28; 47:8; 63:2–4; 86:9; 102:15; 117:1). The second is how 1 En. 10:20–22 functions within the Book of Watchers, especially in chapters 6–11. And thirdly, there is the question of how this passages relates to other contemporary Jewish traditions that anticipate the recognition by the nations of Israel’s God (Pss. Sol. 17:29–32, 34; Book of Parables in 1 En. 48:5; 50:2; Dan 7:14) or similarly anticipate among the nations some kind of “conversion”9 or worship of God (Tob 14:6; Animal Apocalypse at 1 En. 90:37; Apocalypse of Weeks at 1 En. 91:14; Epistle of Enoch at 1 En. 100:6; 105:1; Dan 7:14). It is along each of these lines that the discussion below shall proceed.

The Ultimate Outcome for the Nations in the Hebrew Bible A number of passages in the Jewish scriptures express the belief that the nations of the earth will recognize, perhaps even worship the God of Israel. Such texts are primarily motivated by the conviction that what happens to Israel – whether it be exile or restoration – forms part of a grand design of things on the part of God the Creator, for the rest of the world.10 In these 9 The term “conversion” is frequently applied by scholars to the 1 Enoch passages under consideration here; however, my use of it in this discussion is non-technical. It is not, for example, clear that the turning to God by the peoples of the earth is to involve circumcision (see the discussion in the following section below): do any of the expectations of these texts envision an inclusion of Gentiles among God’s covenant people (which would then involve circumcision), or does the turning to God in an eschatological age imply that the use of circumcision to signify belonging to God’s people will no longer be necessary? Failing more specific indications in the texts themselves, my use of “conversion” will neither reject nor assume that circumcision was thought to be involved. 10 N. T. Wright aptly states in The New Testament and the People of God (London: SPCK, 1992), 268 that “the fate of the nations was inexorably and irreversibly bound up with that of Israel.”

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traditions the nations’ ultimate response to Israel’s God comes to expression in a number of ways: – they will come to Jerusalem to be instructed and actually “walk in his paths” (Isa 2:3; Mic 4:2) – they will offer gifts and bring their wealth to Jerusalem (Isa 18:7; 45:14; 60:5, 11) – they will petition God for mercy (Isa 19:22; Zech 8:21–22) – they will be bow down and be subservient to Israel (Isa 45:14; 60:12) – they will recognize and declare that the God of Israel is unique (Isa 45:14–15; 66:18; Ps 102:15) – they will recognize the special status of Israel in relation to God amongst the nations (Zech 8:23; cf. Isa 60:3) – they will worship God in Jerusalem (Isa 66:23; Zech 14:16–19; Ps 22:27; 86:9) – it is deemed appropriate for them to praise God for his justice and mercy (Ps 67:3–4; 117:1) – they will “turn” to God (Ps 22:27)

Why, beyond the motivation mentioned above, is the motif of the nations’ eventual worship or recognition of God so important in these texts? First, and fundamentally, it expressed the conviction that Israel’s faith is supreme. What the nations will someday do reflects an outcome that emerges logically from a fundamental conviction of Israel as God’s elect people, and that this God, at the same time, is Creator of the cosmos. Although faith in this God can express itself through a sense of national or ethnic identity, God is regarded as being active throughout the created order, with the result that other nations, although not elect, somehow come under and are subject to God’s rule (e.g., Ps 22:28; 47:8; 86:9). Second, Jerusalem, especially the Temple, is considered the unmatched place of God’s presence. In the proper order of things, when Israel is restored from her dispersion among the other nations to worship in the place where God is present, the nations will recognize the futility of their gods and follow in tow (e.g., Jer 16:19). Third, the motif of the worship of God by other peoples in the Hebrew Bible expresses hope for a reversal of the conditions of unjust domination being suffered at the hands of other nations by Israel. Despite Israel’s oppressed status, the nations’ acknowledgement of God will demonstrate that they – and not Israel – should be the subservient ones (see esp. Isa 60). So, already we see that the expression “the nations” does not merely function as a general designation, but refers specifically to those who are to be held responsible for ethnic and religious oppression. Nonetheless, it is not apparent from any of the passages referred to above that a “conversion” of the nations is in view, especially if we define the term “conversion” as the complete transfer from one religion to another.11 Of course, the nations can receive instruction, be governed by 11

See also the comment in n. 9 above.


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God’s justice and mercy, and even “walk in his paths” (Isa 2:4; Mic 4:2). However, they will essentially remain without a special covenant, they will not enjoy the status of being God’s “elect” or “chosen” people, they will never specifically be associated with “righteousness,” and they will only indirectly participate in the Temple cult (e.g., by the offering their wealth or by manifesting their submission to God there).

The Children of Humanity in 10:21 and Their Function in the Book of Watchers Here, we look especially at the literary setting in which the passage of 1 En. 10:20–22 appears: chapters 6–11. This part of 1 Enoch is often regarded as a blend of different traditions which elaborate, as we have seen, the story in Genesis chapters 6–9 about “the sons of God” and “the daughters of humanity,” about their giant-sized offspring, about the growing evil and violence on earth, and about God’s judgment which followed (6:5– 10:16). As is well known, chapters 6–1112 form a distinct unit within the Book of Watchers. Unlike the rest of the book, the patriarch Enoch is neither named nor receives any, even implicit, attention here. Both this and the fact that chapter 10 opens with an address to “the son of Lamech” (1 En. 10:1-3) suggest that the tradition is closely associated with the figure of Noah.13 The appearance of a figure like Noah in a story relating to the time of the Great Flood comes as no surprise. In the book of Genesis chapter 6, the mating of “the sons of God” with women on earth serves as a prelude to the Great Flood, and it is thereafter in the text tradition that Noah becomes the main character (Gen 6:5–9:17). Noah is, in addition, a figure of interest in other parts of 1 Enoch (so esp. in chapters 61 and 65–68, 88, and 106– 107), as well as in other related texts that date to the second century B.C.E. 12

Though a literary unit, these chapters are themselves a blending in these chapters of originally separate traditions that can still be distinguished, see esp. Paul Hanson, “Rebellion in Heaven, Azazel, and Euhemeristic Heroes in 1 Enoch 6–11,” JBL 96 (1977): 195–233; George W. E. Nickelsburg, “Apocalyptic and Myth in 1 Enoch 6–11,” JBL 96 (1977): 383–405; John J. Collins, “Methodological Issues in the Study of 1 Enoch: Reflections on the Articles of P. D. Hanson and G. W. Nickelsburg,” in Society of Biblical Literature Seminar Papers 18, ed. Paul J. Achtemeier (2 vols.; Missoula, MT: Scholars, 1978), 1:315–22; Devorah Dimant, “1 Enoch 6–11: A Methodological Perspective,“ in Society of Biblical Literature Seminar Papers 18, 1:323–39; Carol A. Newsom, “The Development of 1 Enoch 6-19: Cosmology and Judgment,” CBQ 42 (1980): 313; and Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1, 171–72. 13 So especially Charles, The Book of Enoch or 1 Enoch, 13–14, who regarded chapters 6–11 as a “fragment” from a now lost “Apocalypse” or “Book of Noah.”

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Two of these works are concerned with the birth of Noah (Genesis Apocryphon = 1Q20 ii 1 – v 26; Birth of Noah in 1 En. 106:1–107:3) and imagine this event in relation to the period before the Flood when the rebellious angels engaged in their notorious activities and sired offspring. Noah, in fact, is suspected of having been fathered by the rebellious angels and, therefore, of being one of the “giants.”14 Interestingly, in one text-tradition that only survives in fragments transmitted in Greek, Noah’s lineage is actually traced back to the giants (so Pseudo-Eupolemos, preserved in Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelica 9.17.1–9 and 18.2). This tradition, which regarded the giants simply as carriers of culture and not necessarily as quintessential agents of evil, is completely rejected by pious Jews, including those behind 1 Enoch.15 Those behind the Enochic traditions correlated Noah’s birth instead to the activity of God who through Noah ensures the survival of humanity during and after the coming destruction through the Flood. As far as 1 Enoch chapters 6–11 are concerned, the importance of Noah also makes sense because much of the imagery in chapter 10 derives from the story of the Great Flood. In the present shape of the text, the mention of Noah occurs as part of God’s response to the complaints of murdered humans against the horrible injustices which the giants have carried out against them and against the earth (8:4–9:11). Here God’s message, mediated through the angel Sariel, comes to Noah and declares three things: (i) a destruction of “the whole earth” is about to take place (10:2); (ii) Noah will survive this destruction (10:1, 3); and (iii) from Noah a “plant” (Eth.; Grk. “seed”) will be established “for all generations of eternity.” Once Noah is mentioned in 1 En. 10:1–3, readers familiar with the Genesis account might at this point expect a retelling of the Flood story (Gen 6:5–8:22). The writer of the tradition, however, does much more than retell events in his own words from the time of Noah. The storyline actually functions as a way for the writer to offer comment about his own time and about his hope for the (eschatological) future. But the analogy between the 14 Another, the Book of Giants, is preserved in fragments which – as 1 En.10:1–3 – focus on the theme of Noah’s escape from the flood (cf. 6Q8 2). Interestingly, the work refers to Enoch as the authoritative interpreter of the giants’ ominous dreams, although it was copied in a ms. (4Q203) that Milik identified as the same ms. (4Q204) that contains several parts of 1 Enoch (Book of Watchers, Animal Apocalypse, Apocalypse of Weeks, Epistle of Enoch, and Birth of Noah). Although the Book of Giants shares the third narrative style of chapters 6–11, when compared to the Book of Watchers as a whole, it is not a work that claims Enoch as its fictive author. 15 See further Loren T. Stuckenbruck, “The “Angels” and “Giants” of Genesis 6:1–4 in Second and Third Century BCE Jewish Interpretation,” DSD 7 no. 3 (2000): 354–77; see further idem, Commentary on 1 Enoch 91–108, under the Notes to 1 En. 106:4–7 and 106:9–12.


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story of Noah and the writer’s own time is not immediately clear. While the Noahic storyline is not entirely lost – indeed, motifs related to the Noah account intermittently recur later in the chapter (esp. from v. 14) – what follows (so 10:4–13) focuses instead on the punishments meted out against the main evildoers of the text: against one of the leaders of the angelic rebellion, ‘Asa’el (10:4–6; he is bound, thrown into darkness, and is to be burnt with fire at the Great Judgement), against the giants (10:9–10; they are condemned to annihilate one another), and against another leader of the rebellion, “Shemihazah and his companions” (10:11–13; they are bound for seventy generations and eternally confined in a prison where in the end they will undergo torment by fire). These acts of divine judgement and punishment, which are carried out, respectively, by the angels Raphael, Gabriel, and Michael, deal directly with the demonic world, and it is against the demonic world that the souls of the enslaved and killed humans have complained. The angels who have heard the lamentation of the suffering souls (9:1, 4) are the same angels who carry out justice on their behalf at God’s command (10:1, 4, 9, 11). In this way the story of the fallen angels and the story of Noah merge and can be regarded as comprising a continuous narrative. The eternal “plant” to come from Noah (10:3) and the final judgement against the rebellious angels (10:5–6, 12–13) show that for the writer the story is concerned both with Noah’s time in the sacred past and with eschatological time in the future. Such sacred past and sacred future come together; what happens in the one time corresponds to what happens in the other. Thus the story about fallen angels at the beginning of chapter 6 is relevant to how the writer(s) imagined the future to be at the end of chapter 10. Significantly, the scope of this correlation between sacred past and sacred future involves all humanity. The story begins with the mass of humanity: “the sons of men” and “the daughters of men” (6:1–2) who multiply on the face of the earth. The rebellious angels intermingle with the human species, and when the giants become violent, humanity’s very existence as a species is under threat. Through Noah, however, the survival of humanity as a whole is assured. It should not be surprising, then, if in the end, at 10:20–22, all humanity is featured once again and will be found to worship God. The opening and closing of the story may be clear enough, but the path to this happy conclusion is not straightforward. The condemnation of the fallen angels and slaughter of their offspring (10:14–15) is not complete at the time of the Flood.16 The Flood and internecine fighting among the gi-


The Flood itself does not constitute the punishment of either the Watchers or giants. Instead, deluge imagery relates to the theme of Noah’s escape (10:3), the destruction and

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giants constitute provisional forms of punishment; however, they mark a time of decisive punishment that guarantees the complete removal and annihilation of evil at the end of history. What characterizes the time in between past punishment and final annihilation is the appearance of Noah’s offspring, called “the plant of truth and righteousness” (10:16). This community of faith lives in a time of tension between the defeat of evil in the past and its full destruction in the future, between an “already” and “not yet.” We may ask: who or what is this “plant of truth and righteousness” in the text? Here the narrative is concerned with those who are obedient to the covenant between God and Noah; they are a community of those who are actively faithful and are described as doing “works of righteousness” (Eth. to 1 En. 10:16; omitted in the Grk. through homoioteleuton17). As such, they are the ones who, presumably as Noah during the Flood, will “escape” when “all iniquity” and, as the text puts it, “every evil work” are destroyed (10:16; cf. also Birth of Noah at 1 En. 107:1). Read in relation to the story about the fallen angels, the text draws an analogy between the destruction and eternal punishment of the angels and giants (cf. 10:9–14) and the destruction of iniquitous deeds or activities. Given the angelic and non-human origin of evil, destruction is not anticipated for human beings as much as for the reprehensible deeds and knowledge they have learned from the angels (7:3–5; 8:1–3).18 The emphasis here is somewhat different from several recent interpretations offered for 1 En. 6–11. Several scholars have argued that in the story “the fallen angels” and “the giants” are not really angels and giants; instead, they are to be understood as metaphors or code words for oppressive socio-political and religious realities during the time the text was put together. These realities are the military successors to Alexander the Great during late fourth and early third centuries B.C.E. Called the “Diadochi,” they wielded considerable power in the Eastern Mediterranean world; they not only enslaved some of those they conquered, they also played a major role in imposing Greek culture, ideals, and practices onto Jews and other ethnic groups in the region. The Enochic text here functions as a voice of protest and resistance. All those things which the Greeks have imposed on Jews undermine obedience to the covenant as the writer understood it. The elimination of iniquity and impurity from the earth (10:16, 20, 22), and the escape of the righteous in the eschaton (10:17). 17 See Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1, 218, who notes with Milik (The Books of Enoch, 189) that the longer reading is supported by the Aramaic text in 4QEnc 1 v. 1. 18 In this way, the tradition’s focus on the culpability of the Watchers and giants is nuanced: it does not imply that humans who have been taught by them are not held responsible.


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fallen angels are said to teach the making of weapons, the fashioning of jewellery, techniques of make-up on the face, beautification of the eyelids, the use of herbs as medicine, astrology, and magical practices. One could argue that, in economic terms, these teachings would have been “good” for the Judeans, creating industries from which the more progressive sectors of society would have benefited. Now according to George Nickelsburg,19 the rebellious angels and giants are actually the Greek overlords who encourage, if not require, Jews to throw away their indigenous values. Similarly, though in a different vein, David Suter has argued that the angels are to be deciphered to mean the Greek oppressors of Jews while the giants are Jewish priests who have succumbed to the influences of the Greeks and have become disloyal to the covenant.20 To be sure, the explanation that the period of the Greek Diadochi provided the context for the fallen angels story is plausible in itself. The texts may reflect Jewish protest against a cultural and military repressive regime that treated the ancient covenant between God and Israel with contempt. However, does this mean that the angels and giants are simply this and nothing more? I think that the power of the story lies in its essentially mythic character. The story is one that is essentially concerned with demonic origins of evil, of evil wherever, whenever, and however it occurs. Demonic beings who have violated the created order not only are at work among and within Jews who are prepared to compromise their cultural and religious heritage, they also work behind the powerful who have introduced reprehensible and objectionable practices and beliefs in the first place. For all the Enochic text’s rejection of bad forms of culture and of the oppression imposed from above that comes through it, this story’s essentially mythic character ends up being remarkably open; it not only acknowledges the existence of a repressed community of obedient Jews, but also shows awareness of a troubled humanity who, though they are largely aligned with the demonic world, are created by God and, as such, in themselves21 have not set the world down the wrong path. They have been taught wicked deeds by the angels and it is these deeds that will be wiped away. By contrast, the angels did not merely do bad things; they are by their very nature breaching the boundaries between heaven and earth (implied here and explicated in 15:7–10), while the giants they produced are embodied combinations of spheres that ought to 19 Nickelsburg, “Apocalyptic and Myth in 1 Enoch 6–11,” 383–405 and 1 Enoch 1, 170. See also Anathea E. Portier-Young, Apocalypse Against Empire: Theologies of Resistance in Early Judaism (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2011), 45. 20 David Suter, “Fallen Angels, Fallen Priests,” HUCA 50 (1979): 115–35, who takes the reference in Cod. Pan. of 1 En. 10:9 to the giants as “µαζερεους” (transliterated from Hebrew ‫ממזרים‬, i.e., “bastards”) as his point of departure. 21 Because the text emphasizes the destruction of “works” and deeds (10:16, 20).

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have remained separate.22 The humans, as the giants, are similarly constituted of flesh and soul. However, there is a difference. This coming together of body and soul in human beings is one that God has sanctioned; humans are endemic to the created order, while the giants, by their very nature, are not. Hence humanity as a whole remains the target of God’s salvific activity, while as far as creation is concerned, the giants are misfits. This contrast, however, does not wipe away the distinction between the faithful among Noah’s descendants, called “the plant of truth and righteousness” (10:16) and “all the children of humanity” who in the end will worship God (10:21). “The plant of truth and righteousness” will, in the end, escape God’s global punishment against the angels and their offspring. These righteous ones are promised a limitless period of reproductive and agricultural activity (10:17–19) that reverses the annihilation and oppression suffered in the time before the Flood (7:3–5). The extant Ethiopic and Greek texts do not spell out that this happy outcome will include absolutely all humanity, nor do any of the versions state precisely how the special “plant” is related to “all people,” that is, the rest of humanity. However, the arena of what “the righteous” will enjoy is “all the earth.” While the idea of a new beginning evokes the Noahic covenant following the deluge (Gen 9:1–17; see the allusion to Gen 9:11 in 10:22), the passage draws conceptually on the language of Isa 65:17–25 and 66:22–23. Both these Isaianic texts refer to God’s creation of a “new heaven and earth,” the former passage associating it with images of fertility (cf. 10:17–19; 11:1) and the latter anticipating a world order in which “all flesh” (‫ ;כל בשׂר‬LXX πάσα σάρξ) will “worship God” (cf. 10:21). There are two respects, however, in which the text in 1 En. 10 differs from the antecedent traditions in Isaiah. First, it places eschatological expectation within a Noahic framework. This narrative setting is reformulated through a reading of Gen. 6 that addresses the cosmic dimension of evil. Second, and following from this, chapter 10 takes divine redemption out from affecting a small community of the faith and projects the activity of it onto the world stage. Thus, whatever its precise status, “the plant of truth and righteousness” in 10:16 must be linked up with the entire human race that has been subjected to demonic power. Third, unlike Isaiah, the text nowhere specifies that the worship of God will happen in Jerusalem. To be sure, the Greek Codex Panopolitanus may imply participation in the cult when it declares that the all humanity will “serve” God (λατρεύουσιν), and there is no obvious attempt to reject Jerusalem as the center of wor22 See Loren T. Stuckenbruck, “Giant Mythology and Demonology: From the Ancient Near East to the Dead Sea Scrolls,” in Die Dämonen. Demons, ed. A. Lange, H. Lichtenberger, and K. T. Diethard Römheld (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003), 318–38.


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ship. However, the complete lack of emphasis on Jerusalem is conspicuous and contrasts with the biblical traditions that anticipate that this is where the Gentiles’ worship of Israel’s God will take place.23 How is it that the worship of God by all humanity will come about? The text in 10:14–11:2 does not draw a direct line of continuity between “the plant of truth and righteousness” and the deliverance of humanity from destruction; “the righteous” do not testify or bear witness to anything that results in the conversion of the nations. Instead, to the extent that the Isaianic paradigm is operative here, the eschatological activity of the nations will take place as part of the establishment of a new world order after divine removal of all “uncleanness” and godless activities from the earth. For this “new beginning” of humanity in the coming era (10:22), the period after the Flood (Gen 9:1–17) serves as an archetype. To summarize thus far: In 1 Enoch chapter 10, the turning of the nations to God within a world that is being cleansed from “impurity” and “defilement” builds on a setting constructed out of the biblical Noah narrative. The story begins (with the multiplying of humanity upon the earth; 6:1) and ends (with the worship of all people; 10:21) with a concern for the situation of humanity as a whole, while providing crucial signposts for divine redemptive activity along the way (the deliverance of Noah, the escape of “the plant of truth and righteousness” from destruction, and the definitive punishment of evil). Even more profoundly, the motif of the nations’ worship of God moves beyond biblical antecedents in its fundamental distinction between the essentially integrated nature of humanity as God’s creation and the breach of cosmological order brought about by the rebellious angels and embodied by the giants. The destruction of evil activity by the Flood, a type that anticipates eschatological salvation and judgement, could therefore be carried through without doing away with the human race itself. Given the Noahic setting and with conditions for a new, eschatological start of things in place, the conclusion to chapters 6–11 comes as no surprise. Significantly, if we read the tradition within the context of the third century B.C.E., the text was not simply placing blame for cultural, military, economic, and social upheaval on Alexander the Great’s successors and those who spread and supported their influence. The “demonic” could not, and should not, be reduced to people in this way. The status of the demonic as a species is irretrievable, while humanity fit into the divine economy of redemption. While linking cultural and religious incursions with angelic powers that have fallen from heaven, the author(s) of chapters 6–11 held


Interestingly, the Eth. ms. traditions all read here the vb. yāmelleku (lit. “to be subject to”), which has no obvious cultic connotation.

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out for the restoration of humanity, even a humanity that had gone astray under demonic influence.

1 Enoch 10:21: Its Impact on the Early Enoch Tradition The continued transmission of 1 En. 6–11 within the growing Enochic collection of tradition secured its influence while adjusting the fall of angels story to new contexts. Initially, material explicitly associated with the figure of Enoch and likewise dateable to the third century B.C.E., was added to form what is called the Book of Watchers. This was followed by further additions of Enochic tradition composed as discrete works during the second century B.C.E. It is especially these later writings that reflect the influence of how 1 Enoch chapters 6–11 present what happens to the nations or non-Jews at the end of history. 1 Enoch 12–16. The attachment of the unit with 1 Enoch chapters 12–16 juxtaposed the Noahic framework with a parallel storyline in which Enoch plays the central role. Enoch is commissioned to mediate divine pronouncements against the Watchers. Here, the aberrations of the fallen angels and their progeny are reflected upon in relation to boundaries that God has set up to distinguish and separate the heavenly from what is earthly in the cosmos (15:3–16:4). In addition, attention is given to the ongoing activities of demonic beings as disembodied entities that come from the giants when they were destroyed. The implied distinction between the angels and giants, on the one hand, and human nature, on the other, is consistent with what we have inferred from chapter 10. However, the temporal horizon of this section does not extend into or focus on the eschatological future, and so the nations as such are not singled out for emphasis. 1 Enoch 17–36. The remaining chapters from the Book of Watchers take the eschatological discourse in a very different direction. In chapters 17–19 and 20–22, the Enochic seer’s journeys through the cosmos take him to the places of fiery punishment for the wayward stars and fallen angels (cf. 18:11–16; 19:1–2; 21:1–10). During the course of the second journey, he sees four chambers inhabited by four classes of souls: (1) the righteous, (2) sinners of the first rank, (3) victims of sinners, and (4) a lesser rank of sinners (22:8–14). Unlike chapters 6–11, the text begins to focus on the consequences of human participation in sin, while the significance of the fallen angels tradition is relegated to a position of lesser prominence. This posture is retained through the remaining chapters of the Book of Watchers. 1 Enoch 5:4–9. A parallel tradition to the eschatological events described in chapter 10 re-enters the Book of Watchers through the addition


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of an introduction in chapters 1–5. At this point, remnants of the Watcher tradition have all but disappeared (except 1:5), while the spotlight is almost exclusively cast on the sinners and the righteous among humanity. Thus, the wicked, who are without prospect for salvation, are cursed (5:4– 6a, 7b). By contrast, at the conclusion of the section, the destiny of the righteous “chosen ones” is described in several ways: they will be given “light and grace” and “wisdom,” they will no longer “sin,” and they, “the wise ones,” shall complete the full number of the days of their lives. Their lives will grow in peace. The years of their joy will increase in gladness and eternal peace throughout the days of their lives. (5:9)

This passage suggests that the bliss associated with all humanity when they worship God in chapter 10 is here applied to the righteous, which appears to be a group of more limited scope. There is no hint that “sinners” (or any wider group of humanity apart from the righteous) will be transformed. Indeed, if there is any eschatological metamorphosis at all, it belongs to “the chosen ones” alone, and they alone will enjoy eschatological blessings. The second century B.C.E. traditions that that would be composed and added to the early Enochic corpus – the Apocalypse of Weeks (91:14), Epistle of Enoch (100:6 and 105:1) and Animal Apocalypse (90:37) – largely wanted to have it both ways; evil comes about through the activities of both demonic beings and wrongdoers who, in contrast with the Book of Watchers, are more obviously held accountable. 1 Enoch 91:14 (Apocalypse of Weeks). The Apocalypse of Weeks, composed during the early part of the second century B.C.E. just prior to the Maccabean revolt, organizes history into ten periods of time called “weeks.” The period described as “the seventh week” is that of the author who refers to a community of “chosen ones from the eternal plant of righteousness” who will be given special “sevenfold instruction” (93:10). In the rest of week seven and in week eight, the Apocalypse refers to a punishment of “the wicked” in which “the righteous” will be given a (violent) part to play (91:11–12). Week eight concludes with the righteous being rewarded and with the rebuilding of the Temple for eternity (91:13). So far, those considered righteous have been rewarded and the wicked have been punished. However, for week nine, the text, only completely preserved in Ethiopic, reads as follows: And after this, in the ninth week, the righteous judgement will be revealed to all the world, and all the works of the wicked will depart from the whole earth. And the world will be written down for destruction, and all people will look to the way of uprightness. (91:14)

Eschatological Perspectives from 1 Enoch


Whereas the eighth week is concerned with the elect of Israel and the establishment of the Temple cult, the ninth week takes up eschatological events on a broader stage that in week ten will be extended even further to envelope the cosmos as a whole. This broader focus suggests that the “wicked” whose deeds are removed from the earth are not the same group as the oppressors mentioned in week eight. Whereas in week eight “the wicked” themselves are destroyed (i.e., they are the author and his community’s immediate opponents or oppressors), in week nine it is the works (so the Eth.; the Aram. text from 4QEng is lost at this point) of the wicked that will be removed. If this is the correct reading of the text, then the Apocalypse may be picking up on a distinction implicit in 1 En. 10:16, that is, one between iniquitous activity24 and the human beings who engage in them (cf. Birth of Noah in 1 En. 107:1; Exhortation in 1 En. 91:6–8).25 This, in turn, makes it possible for the text to look forward to when all humans “will look to the way of uprightness.”26 This conversion or turning towards uprightness is not unanticipated; it is the proper conclusion (cf. Isa 49:6) to a story in which God, the Creator of the world and the one who has fixed each of the weeks from the beginning, renews and realigns the created order to its original purpose. While sharing with chapter 10 the emphasis on the destruction of wicked deeds and the subsequent righteousness of humanity, the Apocalypse of Weeks places much less emphasis on the wickedness of the fallen angels who, until a possible allusion to them in the tenth week (91:15),27 have disappeared from the scene. The Apocalypse also picks up on biblical tradition by having the transformation 24

See the discussion in the previous section above and the related n. 18. It is important to acknowledge that “works” may have two meanings. (1) They can refer to activities in a broad sense, so that once destroyed, human beings who are “cleansed” no longer engage in them (see the passage cited in the following n. and a similar idea in the New Testament at 1 Cor 3:10–15). (2) They can refer, more specifically, to the products of human activity. So, for example, it is possible that idols (i.e., because they are fashioned by human hands) are in view. This would mean that the eschatological establishment of the divine rule over the cosmos would be manifest in the destruction of idols that obstruct the worship of God (cf., e.g., the Exhortation in 1 En. 91:8–10, the Epistle at 1 En. 99:9 and the later Book of Parables in 1 En. 48:7 and esp. 50:2). 25 Within a more sectarian framework that does not envision a conversion of humanity, the similar distinction is operative in the Treatise on the Two Spirits in 1QS iii 13–iv 26. According to the last section of this text (iv 15–16), God’s final visitation will bring evil to an end by removing “the innermost framework of human flesh” and replacing it with purity and “the spirit of truth” (iv 18–21). In the end, the “flesh” emerges purified. 26 Though Isa 2:3 and Mic 4:2 may lie in the background, there is no mention here of any instruction through which this is to happen; see, by contrast, 105:1–2 (discussion below). 27 On the textual problem, see Olson, Enoch: A New Translation, 222.


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of humanity follow restorative events associated with the Temple (here, its building “in glory” 91:13); with the eschatological Temple in place, God’s rule manifests itself in a new way.28 This introduces a logical tension into the narrative that is less apparent in chapters 6–11; on the one hand, the wicked are destroyed by the sword (91:11–12) while, on the other, in the wake of the justice and judgement brought about by God’s kingly rule, “all people will look to the way of uprightness” (91:14). The writer’s more immediate concern for justice against contemporary apostates involved in oppression (93:9, 11) is resolved by the slaughter of humans, whereas the punishment of the fallen angels and their offspring in chapter 10 leaves the ultimate destiny of humanity more open-ended. The pattern of 91:14 in itself, however, retains the influence of chapter 10. 1 Enoch 100:6 and 105:1-2 (Epistle of Enoch). The texts mentioned here are found, respectively, in the main body and the conclusion of the Epistle. Though the passages in which they occur probably do not stem from the same author, they do share an emphasis that juxtaposes the motif of Gentiles coming to understanding with the vilification of “sinners” for whom eschatological punishment is deemed irreversible.29 The texts, extant in Ethiopic (with only 100:6 extant in Grk.), may be translated as follows: In those days, says the Lord, they will summon and give testimony to the children of the earth from their wisdom. Show (it) to them, for you are their leaders and the rewards upon the whole earth. For I and my son will join ourselves with them forever on the ways of righteousness during their lives. And you will have peace. (105:1-2) And men among the wise will see what is true, and the children of the earth will understand the entire discourse of this book, and they will know that their wealth cannot save them in during the collapse of their sin. (100:6)

These passages share the hope that “the children of the earth” will eventually comprehend the wisdom that has been disclosed to the Enochic author (and perhaps, with him, his community). Moreover, the writer of 105:2 expects that humanity will embark “on the ways of righteousness,” comparable to week eight of the Apocalypse of Weeks (cf. 91:14). Even more than what we observed in the Apocalypse of Weeks, however, the field of vision has narrowed. The message of the Epistle is overwhelmed by a conflict between the author’s community and “the sinners” who are repeatedly denounced through a series of invectives (mostly woe-oracles and oaths). This is especially true of 100:6, in which “the children of the earth” are, in effect, treated as “the sinners” who can attain little more than the recognition that the Enochic revelation is true. The function of this acquired un28

According to 91:13 in 4QEng 1 iv 17–18, the Temple is described as being “of the kingdom of the Great One.” 29 This juxtaposition is analogous to the tension attributed to the Apocalypse of Weeks above.

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understanding, then, is the validation of Enochic revelation rather than any turn-around among the nations as such. This is much in contrast to the derivation of evil in the Book of Watchers from rebellious angels (esp. chapters 6–36). In the body of the Epistle the blame for oppression and false teaching is laid so completely at the feet of “the sinners” that the writer claims that “sin was not sent to the earth, but the people have created it by themselves, and those who commit it will be subject to a great curse.” Clearly, the human dimension of sin in 1 En. 5:4–6a, 7b lies more in the background than 1 En. 6–11, and, unlike 1 En. 10 (and the Animal Apocalypse), there is no real distinction between deeds and human beings who commit them. What, then, of 105:1–2? Within what framework is the coming to wisdom of humanity to be understood? Unlike the earlier Enochic counterparts, the writer of 105:1–2 draws a direct line of development between the righteous community and “the ways of righteousness” to be shared by “the children of the earth.” The text assumes that the righteous themselves will function as agents in playing revealing knowledge that comes from God to the rest of the world.30 While in the other Enochic texts the righteous play little or no obvious role (chapter 10; 91:1431; cf. on Animal Apocalypse in chapter 90 below), here it is expected that the righteous will dispense their wisdom to others, and even that they will do so with success. If we take the preceding verses (104:12–13) into account, the means by which the divine revelation will be brought to the world is expected to involve the faithful copying and translation of the Enochic tradition. To this extent, it is possible that the writer himself probably thought he was participating in passing on the testimony to which he refers in 105:1. 1 Enoch 90:30 and 37 (Animal Apocalypse). The Animal Apocalypse or Vision, composed in the mid-to-late 160s B.C.E., adopts a position comparable to the ones we have outlined for the Apocalypse of Weeks and, especially, the Epistle. The work, which offers a much more elaborate recounting of Israel’s sacred history than the Apocalypse of Weeks, draws heavily on animal symbols to represent human characters from the time of Adam all the way to the time of the Maccabean revolt under Judas Maccabeus, and beyond to the ultimate conclusion of history, the period of eschatological punishment and reward. Near the conclusion to the work, in 90:16–38, the Enochic author offers an account that sketches eschatological scenes of judgement and reward. Significantly, these scenes draw on symbols that have already featured in 30

Though the references to instruction and paths of righteousness is influenced by the language of Isa 2:3 and Mic 4:2, the Enochic writer is giving the Enochic community a more explicit role in the dissemination of the instruction. 31 The phrase “will be revealed” denotes divine activity more than any human meditation.


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the preceding narrative.32 Here Gentile nations, which have usually been symbolized as oppressive “wild animals” and “birds” (and an assortment of other such animals) in the previous part of the vision (cf. esp. 89:10, 42–44, 49, 55–56, 66; 90:2–4, 8–9, 11–12, 13),33 come to feature in an increasingly positive manner (cf. 90:16, 18, 19, 30, 33, 37–38). The negative presentation of the Gentiles reaches its climax in the battle of Beth-Zur in 90:13–15 (cf. 2 Macc 11:6–12). The description of this battle merges with initial stages of what the writer presents as an imminent eschatological future (90:16–19) during which the righteous “sheep” are given a “big sword” with which to kill “all the wild beasts” as an act of retribution (v. 19; cf. Apocalypse of Weeks at 91:11–12). Whether these slaughtered animals specifically represent the Seleucid armies or Gentiles more generally,34 what follows in the vision begins to take a different turn. The consistency of the document’s “anti-Gentile” attitude in the allegory gives way to scenes that involve some measured acceptance of Gentiles, though, to be sure, such effectively lies in the future. This rapprochement takes place in three stages, in 90:28–30, in 90:33 and in 90:37–38. The first stage describes the Gentiles as “falling down and worshipping those sheep, and entreating them and obeying them in every command.” This is an image of subjugation along lines familiar through biblical tradition reviewed earlier (see esp. Isa 45:14; 60:10, 12); the Gentiles submit to the authority of the sheep after the re-establishment of a “new house,” which probably refers to the restoration of Jerusalem as the place of eschatological blessing and rest. Thus, as in the Animal Apocalypse (91:13–14) and the Book of Tobit (13:11–17; 14:5–6), the re-establishment of Jerusalem (and Temple) in all its glory provides the essential prelude to the inclusion of Gentiles in the vision of the future.35 While it is tempting to think that the subjugated Gentiles are those who did not oppress Israel and

32 The present discussion is indebted at several points to the recent treatment of the place of Gentiles in the Animal Apocalypse by Ronald Herms, An Apocalypse for the Church and for the World: The Narrative Function of Universal Language in the Book of Revelation (BZNW 143; Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2006), 120–36. 33 Cf. David Bryan, Cosmos, Chaos, and the Kosher Mentality (JSPSup 12; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1995). 34 Nickelsburg (1 Enoch 1, 401) maintains that “the present text appears to envision the participation of the righteous in militant judgmental action against a broader contingent of the Gentiles than those with whom they had been in immediate conflict.” 35 The clear interest in Jerusalem as the place where these events happen stands in contrast to the Book of Watchers at 1 En. 10:16–22 according to which Jerusalem is at most implied.

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thus have escaped judgement,36 the textual evidence does not support such a precise reading.37 This submission of the nations to the righteous – expressed through prostration, petition (for mercy), and obedience – takes the narrative in a decidedly new direction; however, the Gentiles are not at the point of worshiping God. The second stage gets underway when “all those who had been destroyed and dispersed, along with all the beasts of the field and all the birds of heaven, gathered together in that house, and the Lord of the sheep rejoiced with great joy because they had all become good, and they had returned to his house” (90:33).38 Those who were destroyed and scattered could refer to either the Gentiles slaughtered by the sword in verse 19 or to the “blinded sheep” (apostate Jews) who have been judged by fire in verses 26–27 (hence, the verb “returned” here), or to both groups (as seems most likely). The inclusion of Gentiles with the statement they had all become good ensures that, alongside Jews to be restored, Gentiles will also be the focus of God’s “great joy.” The third and final stage of Gentile inclusion in the eschatological vision occurs with the appearance in 90:37 of “a white bull” with big horns (an image based on the presentation of Adam in 85:1–3). Initially, the author emphasizes the Gentiles’ subservience as in verse 30, though this time the Gentiles show fear to the white bull and make “continual petition before it.”39 This activity leads to the climax of the story. In 90:38 the text states, “As I watched, all of their species were transformed: they all [i.e., the beasts and birds mentioned in v. 37] became white bulls. . . . The Lord of the sheep rejoiced over these and over all of the cattle.” This conversion of the Gentiles comes about through a divine act of recreating the whole human race, even those who have treated Israel so ruthlessly. The transformation of all people, perhaps even some of the worst of them, is seen here the proper conclusion to the reconstitution of Israel. The Animal Apocalypse does not entertain the possibility that the righteous might function as agents in the salvation of humankind (in contrast to the Epistle at 105:1–2). Instead, the writer picks up the new creation motif, 36

This is the view of Patrick A. Tiller, A Commentary on the Animal Apocalypse of 1 Enoch (SBL Early Judaism and Its Literature 4; Atlanta, GA: Scholars, 1993), 377. 37 In 90:19, the slaughter by the righteous of “wild beasts” is supplemented by a statement that “all the animals and birds of heaven fled before them.” The text in 90:30 makes no attempt to identify precisely which Gentiles are being subjugated to the sheep. 38 For the Animal Apocalypse I follow here the translation by Olson, Enoch: A New Translation, 211. 39 The second and third stages outlined here have their closest contemporary parallel in Dan 7:14, which does not necessarily demand that one decide whether or not the “one like a son of man” (7:13) is an angelic divine agent (cf. 1 En. 90:37) or a corporate figure that represents Israel (cf. 90:33).


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which is implied in the Apocalypse of Weeks (91:14 implies such for the earth, while the tenth week in 91:16 mentions the appearance of “a new heaven”) and, more fundamentally, set forth in the Book of Watchers as it draws on Isa 65:17 and 66:22 (cf. 1 En. 10:17–11:2). The Animal Apocalypse also shares with 1 Enoch chapters 6–11 the concern to associate Gentiles with oppressive conditions for Israel, albeit in a different way. We have noted that in chapters 6–11, the bearers of Hellenistic culture – perhaps those who held power and had sway over the cultural ethos of Jerusalem and the Land – are not referred to in any way other than by allusion through the fallen angels. The Animal Apocalypse, by contrast, distinguishes more clearly between demonic power and the human bearers of socio-political power. The vision describes the demonic or wayward angelic world as “stars” and “shepherds” while, as we have seen, the Gentiles are symbolized as wild animals and birds. In this way, the Animal Apocalypse explicates what the earliest tradition in the Book of Watchers, through its theological anthropology, implies; though heinous deeds and terrible crimes have been carried out against God’s people, those who have committed them are not entirely demonized. The ultimate establishment of God’s rule in creation demands that human beings who are part of this creation – this, in principle, includes all of them – be restored. Endzeit (the ultimate outcome of things) must correspond to Adamic Urzeit (how things initially were set up by God to be). The Animal Apocalypse, however, moves away from chapter 10’s focus on the destruction and punishment of the fallen angels and the giants at the end of history. Not only have demonic beings made a mess of the world and therefore undergo judgment (the stars and shepherds, respectively, in 90:24 and 25), humans too (both Gentiles and unfaithful Jews) are held responsible and punished for their wrongdoing (90:26–27). The crucial distinction between humans and their deeds in the Book of Watchers – which is picked up in the Animal Apocalypse and Exhortation – is here lost, replaced by a more contrasting image of total punishment (90:16–19, 26– 27), on the one hand, and total restoration and a turning around (90:33, 37– 38), on the other.

Conclusion One can maintain that the worship of God by all humanity as described in 1 En. 10 is, in terms of its tradition-historical context, remarkable. This singularity obtains in several respects. First, it is shaped by and integral to the literary unit in which it appears, the Book of Watchers chapters 6–11. The storyline of this section, which is chiefly concerned with the time and

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figure of Noah, is essentially mythical and has in all probability been inspired by tradition known through Genesis chapters 6–9. Second, this eschatological inclusion of all humanity, as expected at the conclusion of history, stands in contrast to a complete eradication of evil, which was inaugurated during the time of the Great Flood and will reach its consummation at the time of final judgement. The writer(s) thus understood the present as a period of hope for the faithful. Third, the text distinguishes between humanity on the one side and the demonic world on the other. This important distinction has a corollary in the text’s understanding of human nature, its “theological anthropology.” What the angels have done in their rebellious activity runs counter to and breaches the way God has arranged and organized the cosmos; correspondingly, the race of giants, who embody this rebellion within their very being, have no God-given place in the created order. Though some humans comply with and follow the instructions of the angels, the humans themselves are, on the whole, treated as victims, whether they themselves realize this or not. Significantly, if one takes the mythology seriously, the angels and giants do not have to be interpreted merely as ciphers for human oppressors who themselves can be profoundly understood as victims. Whatever part oppressors have had in sponsoring violence and in the spreading of unjust and objectionable forms of culture, they remain, as humans, a constituent part of the created order. Thus the retelling of Noah’s rescue and escape from the Great Flood not only serves as a type for a community of the righteous called “the plant of truth and righteousness,” but also – and ultimately – makes it possible for this antique section of the Book of Watchers to anticipate a full restoration of a broader humanity at its conclusion. The Enoch writers and those for whom they wrote were convinced that no matter how bad conditions become in the created world, God will have God’s way and those regarded as agents of evil are eventually going to acknowledge and submit to it.

Attitudes Toward Seleucid Imperial Hegemony in the Book of Daniel AMANDA M. DAVIS BLEDSOE The figure of Nebuchadnezzar II, the ancient king of Babylon, is one of the most hated individuals in the collective Jewish memory. In late biblical, early Jewish, and rabbinic literature this king is presented as cruel and merciless in his hatred toward the Jewish people;1 his standard epithet in rabbinic aggadah being “the wicked one.”2 Likewise, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who rose against the Jews of Jerusalem in the second century B.C.E., is often paired with the notorious Babylonian king.3 Each of these kings carried out violent military campaigns against Jerusalem, the Jewish people, and the Jewish Temple, and thus came to represent the quintessential Jewish enemy.4 In the book of Daniel both Nebuchadnezzar and Antiochus figure prominently. Several of the opening chapters are set in the court of Nebuchadnezzar, where he is one of the primary characters, at times even overshadowing the book’s namesake, Daniel.5 Although not mentioned by name, there is little doubt that Antiochus is the primary antagonist behind the apocalyptic images in chapters 7–12 of the book. It is my contention 1

See, e.g., 2 Kgs 25–26; 2 Chr 36:5–21; Jer 21:7; Ezek 29:17–20; Jdt 1–6; Ep Jer. b. Ber. 57b; b. Shabb. 149b; b. Meg. 11a. 3 See esp. the book of Judith, where it is likely that the figure of Nebuchadnezzar was used as a cipher for Antiochus. See Deborah L. Gera, “The Jewish Textual Traditions,” in The Sword of Judith: Judith Studies Across the Disciplines, ed. Kevin R. Brine, Elena Ciletti, and Henrike Lähnemann (Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2010), 23–39, as well as her forthcoming commentary in the Commentaries on Jewish Literature Series by de Gruyter. 4 For one historical reconstruction of the Seleucid period see, Anathea E. PortierYoung, Apocalypse Against Empire: Theologies of Resistance in Early Judaism (Grand Rapids, MI/Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2011), esp. 49–174. 5 Chapters 1–4 are set during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar and at his court. Daniel is entirely absent form the third chapter and only barely appears in the fourth. Although he is not physically present, Nebuchadnezzar is again mentioned in the fifth chapter, which is set during the reign of his “son” Belshazzar who is repeatedly compared with Nebuchadnezzar (Temple vessels, 5:2; calling on Daniel, 5:11–13; events from chapter 4, 5:18–22 [MT only]). Thus, Nebuchadnezzar is one of the key features that unites the individual stories of the first five chapters of the book. 2


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that by reading the depictions of these two kings side by side we are left with a surprising contrast, where the most despised king in Jewish cultural memory is presented more favorably than the current ruling power, that is, the Seleucid monarch.6 I propose that the author(s) of the book of Daniel reshaped the earlier Danielic stories,7 particularly those concerning King Nebuchadnezzar, to depict him as the greatly rehabilitated servant of God, possibly even to the point of conversion!8 The figure of Nebuchadnezzar further provides a foil for Antiochus, the ultimate evil of the author’s own day, who has no redeeming qualities and sets himself in constant opposition to God. Building on the influential work of Anathea Portier-Young (Apocalypse Against Empire: Theologies of Resistance in Early Judaism), I argue that by intentionally juxtaposing these two figures the author of Daniel is highlighting the truly horrific nature of Seleucid hegemony and offering a powerful counter-discourse to imperial ideology.9


Following James A. Montgomery, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Daniel (ICC; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1927), 89–90; Lawrence M. Wills, The Jewish Novel in the Ancient World (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1995), 47; Danna Nolan Fewell, Circle of Sovereignty: A Story of Stories in Daniel 1–6 (Sheffield: Almond, 1988); Portier-Young, Apocalypse Against Empire. Contra many scholars who understand the figure of Nebuchadnezzar to play a negative role in the book of Daniel, even foreshadowing that of Antiochus; e.g., H. H. Rowley, “The Unity of the Book of Daniel” in The Servant of the Lord and Other Essays on the Old Testament, ed. H. H. Rowley (2nd ed.; Oxford: Blackwell, 1965), 249–60, esp. 277; David Valeta, Lions and Ovens and Visions: A Satirical Reading of Daniel 1–6 (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix, 2008); idem, “Court or Jester Tales? Resistance and Social Reality in Daniel 1–6,” PRSt 32 (2005): 309–24; Mary Mills, Biblical Morality: Moral Perspectives in Old Testament Narratives (Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2001), 210–14; Hector Avalos, “The Comedic Function of the Enumerations of Officials and Instruments in Daniel 3,” CBQ 53.4 (1991): 580–88; Sharon Pace, Daniel (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys, 2008), 117–18. 7 In this paper, I will steer away from the complexities of the person or group responsible for the authorship of the book of Daniel. For further on this topic, see Lester L. Grabbe, “A Dan(iel) for All Seasons: For Whom Was Daniel Important?” in The Book of Daniel: Composition and Reception, ed. John J. Collins and Peter W. Flint (2 vols.; Boston, MA/Leiden: Brill, 2002), 1:229–46; Philip R. Davies, “The Scribal School of Daniel,” in The Book of Daniel: Composition and Reception, 1:247–65. 8 Though largely ignored in the present study, much has been written on the composition history of the book of Daniel (see the summary in John J. Collins, Daniel: A Commentary on the Book of Daniel [Hermeneia; Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 1993], 35–52, 220–21). Here I have accepted the majority view that the stories of chapters 2–6 probably initially circulated independently, later coming together and forming a unit to which the introduction (chapter 1) and visions (chapters 7–12) were subsequently added. 9 In her discussion of the book of Daniel as a form of resistance literature toward Seleucid power, Portier-Young primarily focuses on the apocalyptic chapters of the book. Only in a short section does she discuss the early stories and the relation of Nebuchadnezzar to Antiochus IV (Apocalypse Against Empire, 180–81).

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In this paper, I will focus on the characterizations of these two kings in the first and second halves of the book of Daniel. When appropriate, I will also include a discussion of the divergences between the two major editions of the book: the Masoretic Text (MT) and the Old Greek (OG).10 I will first examine how the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, is portrayed in the stories of the first four chapters set during his reign. I will then contrast this with the symbolic depictions of Antiochus in the latter half of the book with particular attention on the four kingdoms in the vision of the seventh chapter of Daniel. Finally, I will show how the author of the book used these differing characterizations of Nebuchadnezzar and Antiochus as a way to critique Seleucid imperial hegemony.

Nebuchadnezzar in MT and OG Daniel 1–4 By name King Nebuchadnezzar figures only in the first four chapters of the book of Daniel. Here he sacks Jerusalem (1:1), carries off the Temple vessels to Babylon (1:2), constructs a giant statue (chapter 3), and receives a pair of frightening dream visions (chapters 2, 4). Throughout these chapters he also makes rash death threats (2:5; 3:6), loses his temper (3:13, 19 MT/OG; 2:12 MT), and practices idolatry (chapter 3). We can imagine that from an audience’s perspective these acts in themselves would be viewed as exceedingly negative.11 But perhaps what is more intriguing is the overall portrayal of this notorious king in the narrative of the book of Daniel. From the very first mention of Nebuchadnezzar in Dan 1:1, he is introduced as the king who besieged Jerusalem. In the very next verse, however, the narrative explains that this happened not because of Nebuchad10

The book of Daniel is known in three different editions: the Hebrew and Aramaic Masoretic edition, and two Greek editions, the Old Greek (sometimes referred to as the Septuagint), and Theodotion (Th). For the majority of the chapters of Daniel, the three editions preserve similar narratives, with only minor additions or alterations. Chapters 4– 6, however, display two clearly distinct editions of the narratives; the MT and Th align, while that of the OG diverges greatly. Further, both the OG and Th include several “additions” to Daniel. These are “The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Youths” (an appendix to chapter 3) and “Susanna” and “Bel and the Dragon” (chapters 13 and 14, respectively). Since Th is so similar to the MT it has not been included in this discussion, but see Alexander A. Di Lella, “The Textual History of Septuagint-Daniel and Theodotion-Daniel,” in The Book of Daniel: Composition and Reception, 2:586–607, for a short discussion of the two Greek editions. I believe that the contrast of the two kings was part of the original form of the book and it is thus present in each of the subsequent editions. 11 This is also how the king has been traditionally understood in scholarly literature. See, e.g., John E. Goldingay, Daniel (WBC; Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1989), 2– 28.


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nezzar’s ruthlessness or arrogance, but because “the Lord gave Jehoiakim, king of Judah, into [Nebuchadnezzar’s] hand, along with some of the vessels of the house of God” (Dan 1:2 MT).12 Thus, we see that in both editions there is no specific indictment of Nebuchadnezzar’s character offered nor is he condemned for his actions against Jerusalem and its Temple; rather the king is the mere instrument chosen for carrying out God’s own will.13 Chapter 1 then continues with Nebuchadnezzar appointing his officer to select some of the children of the Jewish captives to live in the king’s own palace, to be educated in the king’s language (Chaldean), and to be given food from the king’s own table (although Daniel and his companions refuse it). Although these acts are often interpreted negatively as Nebuchadnezzar overstepping his boundaries, I propose that it is equally likely that this story actually presents a positive depiction of the Babylonian king.14 Nebuchadnezzar’s conscious inclusion of the Jewish youths in his own court perhaps indicates that he held the Jewish people in esteem; he invested a considerable amount of time and money into their education and welfare over a period of three years. Further, the chapter ends with his appointing them into his personal service because of his recognition of their knowledge and talents (1:19). The OG edition further states that the king glorified them and made them rulers over his kingdom (1:20).15 Thus, there is no discernible tone of negativity from the author of this chapter.

12 This and all translations are my own. Dan 1:2 OG further states that the Lord gave the city of Jerusalem into Nebuchadnezzar’s hand as well (as a punishment for the Jewish people’s sins?; cf. Dan 9 in MT/OG or “the Prayer of Azariah” in the Greek editions, esp. 3:28–31). 13 This has been added in the Old Greek edition of Dan 4. Daniel speaks to Nebuchadnezzar: “Your heart was exalted with pride and power before the Holy One and his angels. Your works were seen how you destroyed the house of the Living God . . .” (4:19). And Nebuchadnezzar’s later restoration comes only after he repents of his sins (4:30a). 14 Contra Sharon Pace, “Diaspora Dangers, Diaspora Dreams” in Studies in the Hebrew Bible, Qumran, and the Septuagint Presented to Eugene Ulrich, ed. Peter W. Flint, Emanuel Tov, and James C. VanderKam (Leiden/Boston, MA: Brill, 2006), 22–27, who refers to this as their “indoctrination period” (p. 27). Although Pace makes much of the youth’s God-given abilities, she entirely ignores the fact that God also gave Nebuchadnezzar his conquest of Jerusalem. It is possible that this story reflects the customary treatment of captive peoples in antiquity (see, e.g., Paul-Alain Beaulieu, “Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon as World Capital,” CSMS Journal 3 [2008]: 5–12; Ronald Sack, Images of Nebuchadnezzar: The Emergence of a Legend [2nd ed.; Cranberry, NJ: Rosemont, 2004], esp. 88–94), but the historicity of these narratives should probably not be overstated. 15 Cf. also chapters 2 and 3.

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In the second of the four chapters dealing with Nebuchadnezzar, the king has a frightening dream that requires interpretation. Upon calling in all of his groups of wise men, none are able to tell the king that which he desires: both his dream and its meaning; the king is convinced that if he relates his dream then they will not tell a true interpretation. The MT reports that Nebuchadnezzar then went into a violent rage and sentenced the wise men of his kingdom to death (2:5, 12 MT), typically interpreted as a negative portrayal of the Babylonian king.16 The OG edition, however, offers a softer reaction: Nebuchadnezzar condemns the wise men to death as a public punishment, but rather than angry he becomes extremely sorrowful (2:5, 12–13 OG).17 Ultimately, Daniel and his companions entreat the Lord for assistance and he makes the mystery known to Daniel so that their lives may be saved. It is perhaps significant, however, that even though the king has “acted harshly” (2:15), Daniel never questions his right to rule. Instead he actually affirms it! In his praise to God over granting him understanding, Daniel proclaims: . . . Blessed be the name of God from eternity to eternity; For wisdom and might are his; He changes times and seasons; He removes kings and sets up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise, And knowledge to those who would understand. (Dan 2:20–21 MT)

Daniel recognizes that the Lord alone has authority over earthly kings and kingdoms, and, thus, he has personally selected Nebuchadnezzar to rule over the kingdom of men. The author of Daniel makes this even more explicit, when the Jewish wise man proclaims: You, O King, are the King of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, and the strength, and the honor. And all who are dwelling – the sons of men, beasts of the field, and birds of the sky – he has given them into your hand so that you may rule over them . . . (Dan 2:37–38 MT)


See, e.g., Tessa Rajak, “The Angry Tyrant,” in Jewish Perspectives on Hellenistic Rulers, ed. Tessa Rajak, Sarah Pearce, James Aitken, and Jennifer Dines (Berkeley/Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 2007), 110–27; Michael J. Chan, “Ira Regis: Comedic Inflections of Royal Rage in Jewish Court Tales,” JQR 103.1 (2013): 1–25. Royal anger is a common motif in Jewish court tales; cf. Esth 1:12; 7:7; 3 Macc 3:1; 5:1, 30; Gen. R. 38:13. Note, however, that some of the vocabulary used to describe Nebuchadnezzar’s wrath (‫חמא‬/‫יחם‬, ‫קצף‬, θυµός, ὀργή) is elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible used for divine wrath. 17 Elsewhere in the book of Daniel a king’s word is said to be unchangeable (e.g., Dan 6:9, 13, 16, 18). This does not seem to be an issue, however, in any of the chapters dealing with Nebuchadnezzar, who repeatedly enacts or alters edicts.


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Similarly, within this narrative it is repeated on three separate occasions that God sent the dream to Nebuchadnezzar so that he may know what will happen in the days to come, and that God has revealed the meaning of the dream to Daniel only so that he may convey its significance to the king.18 It thus seems that by indicating that God would go to such measures to make his plans known to this foreign king, the author of Daniel expresses a purpose behind the revelation as well as a certain amount of concern for the king. Unfortunately, in neither edition of the book are we offered any insight into what Nebuchadnezzar did with this information or how this knowledge may have affected his own future. The chapter closes with Nebuchadnezzar at first worshipping Daniel, then with his recognition of Daniel’s God as the “God of Gods and Lord of Kings” (2:47), and finally with his appointment of Daniel and his companions to royal administrative positions.19 In the next chapter set during Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, the king erects a golden image that he commands all of his officials (MT; OG has all people) to fall down before and worship. The king is informed that Daniel’s companions have not obeyed this order, and he flies into a violent rage (3:12–13).20 He then summons the three youths and – apparently now composed – questions if what he has heard is true and allows them the opportunity to reconsider or face the specified punishment (3:14–15).21 Only after they reject his offer does Nebuchadnezzar again become furious and command their immediate punishment (3:19). Many commentators have understood the king’s offer for repentance as merely a rhetorical device to allow the three youths to express their commitment to the Jewish God before the king.22 It is also possible, however, that this conversation is intended as further indication of Nebuchadnezzar’s justness. 23 When the three youths refuse to obey Nebuchadnezzar’s edict, he has them thrown into a fiery furnace heated seven times hotter than usual.24 God, however, intervenes on behalf of Daniel’s companions, a power which Nebuchadnezzar aptly recognizes when he declares, “Blessed be the 18

See Dan 2:23, 29–30, 45. For more on this phrase, see below. 20 See above n. 17. 21 It is seemingly important that the king allows the three youths to reconsider their actions, since he is perhaps allowed the same in the next chapter (although it is not explicit, there is a period of 12 months before he meets with the fate of his dream and Daniel admonishes him to give alms in atonement for his sins, see Dan 4:24). 22 See, e.g., Collins, Daniel, 187. 23 This interpretation is perhaps greatly contradicted, however, by the king’s intense anger and death threats. 24 In the OG edition of chapter 3, the furnace is heated an additional seven times (i.e., 49 times) hotter: . . . καὶ ἡ κάµινος ἐξεκαύθη ὑπὲρ τὸ πρότερον ἑπταπλασίως . . . (Dan 3:22). 19

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(Lord) God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego . . . for there is no other God who is able to deliver in this way” (3:28–29 ΜΤ; 3:95–96 OG).25 The king then makes a new edict where blasphemy against their God is punishable by death, that is, a thorough reversal of his earlier decree. Thus, the author of Daniel has crafted this chapter so that it ends just as the previous one had, with Nebuchadnezzar’s recognition of the power and authority of the Jewish God and yet another apparent positive portrayal of the notorious monarch. The OG edition of the book of Daniel – along with Theodotion – includes two lengthy additions in the middle of chapter 3. These are the “Prayer of Azariah” and the “Song of the Three Youths,” inserted before verse 24, while Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are in the fiery furnace.26 The Song makes no mention of Nebuchadnezzar or of ruling powers. The Prayer, however, explicitly states that it is because of the sins of the Jewish people that Jerusalem was destroyed and the Jewish people were taken captive (3:28–31). It further identifies Nebuchadnezzar as “an unjust king and the most evil in the world” (3:32). This is certainly the most negative portrayal of the Babylonian monarch in the entire book, and any language endorsing Nebuchadnezzar’s actions as his being chosen by God are entirely absent.27 Since this depiction of the Babylonian king so sharply contrasts with what we find elsewhere in the book, it should be seen as further evidence of the late date of the Greek Additions to chapter 3.28 In chapter 4, the final story centered on King Nebuchadnezzar, he has another frightening dream; this time it is one that will affect him more personally. The king calls in Daniel and recites to him his dream.29 Upon hear25 Several times the OG edition reads κύριος ὁ θεός for ‫ אלהים‬in the MT edition (and Th). See also 4:33, 34b; 10:12. 26 In these additions, the two Greek versions use the Jewish names for the three youths: Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael (cf. Dan 1:6–7). This makes the narrative rather awkward since both before (3:1–23) and after (3:24–30) the additions their Babylonian names are used. 27 Contra Dan 1:2, etc. See more below. In addition to the adverse presentation of Nebuchadnezzar, the Prayer also speaks of the “lawless and hostile traitors/apostates,” probably indicating opposition to other Jews. 28 These were probably added during or shortly after the Seleucid period as a commentary on Antiochus’s actions. So, Collins, Daniel, 200; T. J. Meadowcroft, Aramaic Daniel and Greek Daniel: A Literary Comparison (JSOTSup 198; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1998), 136. 29 In the OG Nebuchadnezzar immediately summons only “Daniel, the ruler of the wise men and the leader of those who decipher dreams” (4:15 OG). In contrast, the MT edition of the book, probably under the influence of chapter 2, has the king call on Daniel only after the failure of the wise men to provide him with an interpretation (4:6–8; cf. 2:2–4, 26–27). The MT further has Nebuchadnezzar ask Daniel to tell both the dream and its interpretation (4:6 MT; cf. 2:2, 5, 6, 9, 26, 28 MT), although this is lacking later in the


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ing the king’s dream, Daniel recognizes the ill fate to befall Nebuchadnezzar and becomes greatly upset, crying out that he wished the dream were instead for the king’s enemies (4:16).30 After his interpretation, Daniel continues by begging the king to change his ways so that he may delay or even evade this calamity (4:24). This scene is particularly striking in assessing the author’s outlook toward Nebuchadnezzar. Many commentators (both ancient and modern) have struggled to understand how Daniel could care so much for the wellbeing of such an evil king.31 For the author of Daniel, however, there must not have been such an issue for such an overtly positive stance toward Nebuchadnezzar because the protagonist of the book very clearly has amiable feelings for the king and holds him in high regard.32 It is perhaps even more interesting that the narrative continues by showing that Nebuchadnezzar reciprocates Daniel’s feelings when he moves to console Daniel in his distress (4:16); thus, presenting Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar as if they are almost friends! Nevertheless, Daniel’s interpretation of the king’s dream comes to pass. Twelve months later while looking down on the city of Babylon,33 Nebuchadnezzar remarks: “Is this not the great Babylon, which, by the strength of my power and for the glory of my majesty, I built as a royal house?” (4:27). Immediately the king is transformed and made to live in the wilderness for an unspecified period of time. In the MT edition the author gives no explicit reason for why these events will befall Nebuchadnezzar (cf. 5:20 MT). Some commentators have suggested that it is due to his huchapter (4:7–15 MT). Collins (Daniel, 208, following Montgomery, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Daniel, 226) views this difference as a textual corruption and alters the text to read ‫“ חזי‬behold” instead of ‫“ חזוי‬visions”: “behold the dream that I saw and tell its interpretation” rather than “say the visions of the dream I saw and its interpretation.” 30 The evils to befall the king are quite different in each edition. While the MT is rather terse and focuses on his animal-like transformation, the OG includes a detailed description of the king’s imprisonment and his being whipped and chased by the angels. 31 See discussion in David Satran, “Early Jewish and Christian Interpretation of the Fourth Chapter of the Book of Daniel” (Ph.D. thesis; Hebrew University, 1985), 95–171. Goldingay interprets this passage theologically, while emphasizing Nebuchadnezzar’s evil: “Daniel encourages us here to long for God to have compassion on world rulers, specifically the wicked ones . . .” (Daniel, 94). 32 It has also been suggested that Daniel’s words to Nebuchadnezzar here have a double meaning, which is actually quite negative toward the king: the king’s enemies are God and/or the Jewish people. See Exod. R. 30:24; Pace, Daniel, 133: “what is bad news for Nebuchadnezzar is good news for his conquered peoples—for it is they who are his enemies.” I think it is significant, however, that in MT Daniel the king is never condemned for his destruction of the Temple, making it unlikely that this passage is meant as a reference to that event. 33 See below for discussion of chronological references in the two editions of the book.

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bris since his punishment happens directly after his words of conceit.34 The OG edition, however, clearly states that these things have happened to the king because of his acts against the Jerusalem Temple and the Jewish people (4:20–21).35 At the conclusion to the narrative, Nebuchadnezzar is returned to his throne once he recognizes that there is a power greater than his own: The Most High is ruler over the kingdom of men, And he gives it to whomever he wants . . . For his dominion is an everlasting dominion, And his kingdom is from forever until forever, And he does with the host of heaven and those dwelling on the earth whatever he wants, And none can stay his hand, or say to him: “What are you doing?” (Dan 4:29, 31–32 MT)

In the OG edition of this narrative, however, a much fuller picture of Nebuchadnezzar’s reaction is offered, one that details the king’s full-blown conversion (4:34, 34a–c). First, he acknowledges the Most High as the creator of all things and as having a greater power than all other gods. He even assigns him the extreme epithet “God of gods, Lord of lords, and King of kings.” But he does not stop there. The king further commits to serve the Most High by offering daily sacrifices and by doing what is pleasing to him. Finally, he even gives an edict that the people of his kingdom should follow his example, and that if anyone is caught speaking against the God of Heaven, they are condemned to death. Although this is likely an OG addition, we can see that the editor of this edition has probably very purposefully crafted this description to conclude the narrative with an extremely positive depiction of the Babylonian king. The final place in the book of Daniel that Nebuchadnezzar is named is in chapter five. This narrative is set in the reign of his “son,” Belshazzar. Here, again, the vessels that Nebuchadnezzar took from the Jerusalem Temple are mentioned without condemnation of the king’s actions (5:2–3). When Belshazzar is frightened and perplexed by the writing on the wall, his mother reminds him of Daniel, who had interpreted difficult things for Nebuchadnezzar (5:11–12 MT/OG; 5:13–15 MT). When Daniel arrives, he states that he will make the interpretation known to Belshazzar but any statement of God’s desire to enlighten the king is lacking (5:17 MT; cf. 34

E.g., Norman W. Porteous, Daniel (OTL; Philadephia, PA: Westminster John Knox, 1965), 69; Collins, Daniel, 234. Goldingay identifies Nebuchadnezzar’s sin here as “injustice and unconcern” (Daniel, 95). 35 I agree with Collins (Daniel, 229) that this phrase is most probably secondary to the original narrative since it seems very unlikely the MT editor would have chosen to omit such a condemnation.


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2:23, 29–30, 45).36 Daniel then recounts how God bestowed the throne upon Nebuchadnezzar (5:18–19 MT) and recounts the events from chapter 4 (5:20–21). Finally, Daniel criticizes Belshazzar for not recognizing God as the source of his power and position and says that the kingdom has been given to someone else (5:23–28). In this chapter, it is interesting that Daniel is not distressed over the calamity that will befall Belshazzar and this king is offered no second chance to amend his ways. Rather, the chapter ends with his immediate death and end of the Babylonian kingdom (5:30– 31). This entire scene is especially striking when compared with that of Nebuchadnezzar in chapter 4, and only serves to even more highlight the positive position he is assigned by the author of Daniel.37 From this collected evidence we can make some observations about the portrayal of King Nebuchadnezzar in the early chapters of the book of Daniel. First, Nebuchadnezzar is very clearly presented as an agent of the Jewish God. This identification of the king is probably closely related to that of Jeremiah, where he is twice introduced in a speech of the deity as “Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, my servant” (Jer 25:9; 27:6).38 Admittedly he is the same king who sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple (Dan 1:1 MT/OG; 4:20–21 OG), but all of these actions were carried out in accordance with God’s own will, which is a theme repeated time and again throughout these opening chapters.39 The two editions of Daniel, however, differ markedly in their understanding of Nebuchadnezzar’s responsibility for his role in the destruction of Jerusalem, the Temple, and the Jewish people. The MT edition of Daniel never explicitly condemns Nebuchadnezzar for these actions, and, in fact, aside from the brief references in chapters one and five it is not mentioned in the book. Thus, if anyone is to blame in the MT it is only the Jewish people themselves. This is especially remarkable in that Nebuchadnezzar becomes in later Jewish memory the enemy par excellence precisely because of his Jerusalem conquest. Nevertheless, he is also not an entirely positive character. He is clearly presented

36 This part of the narrative (vv. 17–22) is lacking in the OG edition of chapter 5. It is probable that this is a later addition in the MT edition of the chapter, but it also seems that the OG is secondary as well since some elements are clearly condensed. 37 See below for further discussion of the contrast between Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar and the relation of this chapter to the later visions. 38 See further Jer 25:1–22; 27:1–11; Ezek 26:7; 29:17–19; 30:10; 1 Chr 6:15; Ezra 5:12; W. Lee Humphreys, “A Life-Style for Diaspora: A Study of the Tales of Esther and Daniel,” JBL 92.2 (1973): 211–23, esp. 212. Cf. also the role of Cyrus in Second Isaiah (Isa 44:28–45:14). 39 See, e.g., Dan 3:33; 4:14, 22; 5:21; 6:27; 7:14, 27.

Imperial Hegemony in the Book of Daniel


as raging (2:5, 12; 3:12–13 MT) and constantly forgetful of his previous “lessons.”40 In contrast, these chapters in the OG are repeatedly concerned with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. In two of the four chapters dealing with Nebuchadnezzar (chapters 3 and 4), the OG introduces them as occurring during the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, that is, immediately after his first conquest of Jerusalem.41 Nebuchadnezzar’s second conquest of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple did not occur until the nineteenth year of his reign and this is precisely the date given for the king’s punishment: “twelve months later” read in conjunction with the opening date of chapter four.42 Elsewhere in OG Dan 4, we see an additional focus on Nebuchadnezzar’s actions against the Temple. For example, it is only in the OG edition that the Babylonian king is explicitly condemned for his destruction of the Jerusalem Temple (4:19) – he is told: “Your heart was exalted with pride and power against the holy one and his angels, your works were seen how you devastated the house of the living God, according to the sins of the sanctified people” (4:20–21) – a detail strangely absent in the MT.43 Finally, his restoration occurs only after the king confessed his sins and his punishment was completed (4:30a, c OG). Despite his somewhat negative depiction – or very negative in the case of 3:28–32 OG – there is further indication that Nebuchadnezzar was ultimately regarded as a positive character by the author of Daniel: regardless of his character flaws and destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, this notorious king is always given the opportunity to recognize his follies and

40 Speaking here narratively not historically. He repeatedly “forgets” his praise of the Jewish God until he is again astounded by the actions of Daniel and his companions. Additionally, when he has his second dream (chapter 4) he again summons all of the wise men before he calls on Daniel, even though Daniel alone was capable of repeating and interpreting his first dream (chapter 2). It is striking, however, that, although the king may have forgotten about Daniel, the queen did not and summons him immediately when the need arises (chapter 5). 41 See Jer 52:29. 42 See Jer 52:12–13; 2 Kgs 25:8–9. To my knowledge this connection in the OG edition of the date of the destruction of the Temple and of Nebuchadnezzar’s punishment has not been made previously in the scholarly literature. Michael Segal (“The Masoretic and Old Greek Versions of Daniel 4” [paper presented at the IOSCS Meeting; Munich, August 1, 2013) and I (“A Fresh Look at the Relationship between MT and OG Daniel” [paper presented at the International SBL Meeting; St Andrews, July 8, 2013]) apparently arrived at this same conclusion independently and about the same time. 43 See above n. 34. It does seem that the order of the chapter in the OG may have been corrupted since his condemnation for the destruction of the Temple (4:20–21) apparently occurs before he actually does the deed (i.e., his nineteenth year, 4:26; this is perhaps where we would expect the reference to the Temple).


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embrace the God of Israel as the Most High and absolute sovereign.44 At the end of each chapter in which he appears, Nebuchadnezzar is confronted by the power of the Jewish God, after which he recognizes his errors, makes amends, and offers praise. This may be partially diminished by the fact that he continuously seems to forget his previous recognition of the deity, but, nonetheless, each chapter concludes with a favorable ending for the king. In the final chapter of the OG edition, Nebuchadnezzar even becomes an apparent Jewish convert: he acknowledges the Most High as the creator of all things and as having a greater power than all other gods, he commits to serving the Most High by daily sacrifices and by doing only what is pleasing to him, he writes an edict that the people of his kingdom should follow his example, and finally he gives one of the highest epithets of the entire Hebrew Bible when he praises the Jewish God as the “God of gods, Lord of lords, and Lord of kings” (Dan 4:34 OG).45

The Vision of Daniel 7 Whereas the first six chapters of the book of Daniel relate a series of tales about the trials Daniel and his companions face while at court, the final six chapters offer a very different perspective: a series of visions.46 There are several notable changes in these visions.47 For example, the foreign kings are no longer mentioned by name (aside from the dates given at the beginnings of the visions) but are now depicted symbolically and Daniel no longer plays the part of interpreter for the foreign dreaming king; rather he has his own visions for which he needs assistance interpreting. These large disparities from the earlier parts of the book has led commentators to assign a different background for their composition, the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes and his persecution and destruction of the Jewish communities of Jerusalem and Palestine.48

44 The numerous times Nebuchadnezzar is offered redemption is even more striking in the context of his destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. Why does God grant such salvation to this Gentile king when there is seemingly none granted for his own people? 45 Similarly “God of gods and Lord of Kings” (2:47 MT & OG) or “God of gods” (Dan 3:90; 4:30a, c OG). But all of these come from the mouth of Nebuchadnezzar with the exception of 3:90 from the “Song of the Three Youths.” 46 While the MT and OG editions have many notable differences in the first six chapters of Daniel, in the final half of the book they more closely align. 47 For a discussion of the differences between the two halves of the book, see Montgomery, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Daniel, 88–104. 48 E.g., Montgomery, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Daniel, 96–99; Collins, Daniel, 61–66.

Imperial Hegemony in the Book of Daniel


The first of Daniel’s visions is recounted in chapter 7, which depicts a series of four composite beasts rising out of the sea.49 Of the first three beasts only brief descriptions are offered. The first (Dan 7:4) has the appearance of a lion with the wings of an eagle, until its wings are plucked and it is made to stand on two feet and given the heart of a human.50 The second beast (7:5) has the appearance of a bear raised up on one side, with three ribs in its mouth and is given the instructions, “Arise, devour much flesh.” The third beast (7:6), which has the appearance of a leopard with four wings of a bird on its side and with four heads, is “given dominion” (MT) or the ability to speak (OG).51 For the fourth beast (7:7), however, a more detailed description is provided. Of its physical appearance it is said to be vastly different from the three previous beasts; it is not compared to particular animals, but is described as terribly fearsome and exceedingly strong with great iron teeth with which it eats while crushing and trampling with its feet. It has ten horns until another little horn with human eyes and a mouth arises and uproots three of those horns.52 Then the Ancient of Days sits in judgment (7:9) and the fourth beast is slain and its body given to the fire, while the other three beasts remain alive but lose their dominion, which is instead given to one like a Son of Man whose eternal kingdom will be established.53 Daniel now plays the part of the foreign kings from the first half of the book, and he becomes greatly upset by his vision and seeks its interpretation from a nearby attendant (Dan 7:15).54 He is told that the four beasts


This vision has much in common with Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of chapter 2, wherein the king saw a statue made of four metals of decreasing worth: a head of gold, torso of silver, loins/thighs of bronze, and legs of iron. In both accounts the four kingdoms are replaced by a fifth kingdom. 50 The OG edition here (as well as Th) has λέαινα, “lioness.” 51 OG has literally καὶ γλῶσσα ἐδόθη αὐτῷ, “and it was given a tongue/language.” 52 The OG reads the strange phrase “and many thoughts were in its horns,” rather than “I was contemplating the horns” (MT, Th). The OG further adds here that it was making war against the holy ones (cf. 7:21). 53 OG has that the fourth beast was “bludgeoned to death.” Also OG has an unspecified “he” take the dominion from the other three beasts, whereas MT (and Th) have the verb in the passive. Much has been written about the identification of the Son of Man in the OG with the Ancient of Days; ὤς (OG) instead of ἔος (Th). See, e.g., Sharon Pace Jeansonne, The Old Greek Translation of Daniel 7–12 (CBQMS 19; Washington, D.C.: Catholic Biblical Association of America, 1988), 96–99. 54 His specific reaction differs in the two editions. The MT uses precisely the same vocabulary and previously for Nebuchadnezzar (cf. chapters 2, 4). The OG uses the word ἀκηδιάσας, meaning “grieving/worrying.” Similarly in 7:28 Daniel’s fearful reaction is repeated and this time it is added that he kept the matter in his heart, which further echoes the Babylonian king in 4:25 OG (lacking from MT).


Amanda M. Davis Bledsoe

symbolize four kingdoms.55 Traditionally, the first beast/kingdom is understood as Babylon, specifically king Nebuchadnezzar.56 Elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible, the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar is compared to a lion and his armies to an eagle.57 Further, the reference to the beast being made to stand on two feet and given a human heart depicts a reversal of the imagery of Nebuchadnezzar’s earlier-discussed transformation in Dan 4.58 The second, bear-like beast is typically understood as a depiction of the kingdom of Media and the third leopard-like beast as the kingdom of Persia.59 The description of these beasts is extremely terse and, therefore, does not necessarily suggest an association with either of these kingdoms; rather they seem to be the most likely candidates due to the appearance of these kingdoms elsewhere in the book of Daniel: the four metals/kingdoms (chapter 2); Darius the Mede (chapter 5), Cyrus of Persia (chapter 6), and the kingdoms of Media and Persia represented by the ram’s two horns in the later vision of chapter 8. Aside from the fact that they are construed as predatory animals, there is nothing about the portrayal of these three kingdoms in Dan 7 that is particularly negative.60 That the description of the fourth kingdom is so much greater than that of the first three suggests that that it is the primary focus of the vision.61 This is made even further evident in that three times in chapter 7, the narrative specifically emphasizes that the fourth beast is “different from all the others” (Dan 7:7, 19, 23, 24).62 It is, therefore, of no surprise that the fourth beast receives a different sentence than the others. While the first 55

Lit., “kings” here in the MT, but later (7:23) “kingdoms”; Th here follows OG. For a discussion of the animal imagery of the four beasts, see Goldingay, Daniel, 148–53; Collins, Daniel, 295–99. 57 Lion: Jer 50:17 MT (27:17 OG); cf. Jer 4:7; 49:19 MT (30:13 OG). Here it is notable that in the Greek edition “lion” is in the masculine form, rather than the feminine form as we have in Dan 7:4. Note that the order of the OG edition of Jeremiah greatly differs from that of the MT edition of the book. Eagle: Jer 49:22 MT (30:16 OG); Hab 1:8; Ezek 17:3. 58 Already in antiquity Hippolytus and Jerome made this connection (Collins, Daniel, 297). His human heart is exchanged for that of an animal (4:13) and he is presumably made to crawl on all fours; his dwelling will be with the animals and he will eat grass like oxen (4:12, 20, 22, 29, 30 MT; 4:12, 29, 30a OG). 59 Porteous, Daniel, 103–5; Collins, Daniel, 297–98. 60 In Gen 49, Judah is compared with a lion, presumably a good feature. Also, in Ezek 1 God’s own attendants have animalistic features (e.g., those of a lion, a bull, and an eagle). Contra Collins (Daniel, 289), who concludes that they are negative because “the basic character and significance of the beasts, then, is determined by the fact that they rise from the sea.” 61 So, Collins, Daniel, 304. 62 At 7:23, 24 the OG has a different reading, namely that the fourth beast will be different in that he is more evil than the previous kingdoms. 56

Imperial Hegemony in the Book of Daniel


three beasts have their dominion taken from them, they suffer no further punishment. Rather they are granted “an extension of life” (7:12). Although the precise meaning of this phrase is uncertain, it is apparent that their fate is drastically different from that of the fourth beast, whose body is immediately slain and cast into the burning fire (7:11).63 Scholars traditionally identify this beast with the kingdom of the Greeks, and its ten horns, with ten successive kings, although the precise identification of who these ten horns represent is somewhat debated.64 Although he is never explicitly named in the book of Daniel, there is scarce doubt that the “little horn” depicts Antiochus IV Epiphanes.65 This horn is said to make war against the holy ones and prevail over them (7:21), and such flagrant acts are reported to have been perpetrated against the Jewish people during Antiochus’s reign; other Second Temple period sources state that Antiochus sold the high priesthood, sacked Jerusalem, forbade the practice of Judaism, and desecrated the Temple.66 Although probably all scholars agree on the entirely negative depiction of the fourth beast, I think that some of the elements the author of Daniel uses to describe this beast have been overlooked, namely the shared language between its description and the earlier chapters set in the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. First, we observe that the same language used to describe Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest of Jerusalem in chapter 1 is here used in connection with the actions of the fourth beast: “they will be given into his hand for a time, two times, and half a time” (Dan 7:25). There are, however, two important differences for understanding the author’s presentation of the fourth beast. Most importantly, in Dan 7 there is no mention that the Jewish God ordained this; rather the passive voice is used.67 Further, there is a specific limit to Antiochus’s power, which was absent from the description in chapter one. We see additional shared language in the actions of the little horn, who is said to “uproot” three previous kings (7:8) and “to 63

Collins mentions a few theories as for the meaning of the extension of life, but concludes: “The point of Dan 7:12 is surely to distinguish the fourth beast from its predecessors” (Daniel, 304). For immediate destruction, see the figure of Belshazzar in chapter 5. Goldingay suggests that, with the destruction of the fourth kingdom and establishment of the new and eternal one, the first three empires will either regain independence or they will submit to God and his people (Daniel, 166–67). 64 See discussion in Porteous, Daniel, 106–7. The ten horns have variously been identified as ten generations of kings from Alexander to Antiochus IV or as a “standard round number” suggestive of “fullness” (see, e.g., Goldingay, Daniel, 164). Cf. chapter 8 where the goat represents Greece and its horns are also understood as the kings of Greece. 65 Cf. also chapter 8 where the “little horn” likewise represents Antiochus. 66 See Lester L. Grabbe, Judaism from Cyrus to Hadrian. Volume One: The Persian and Greek Periods (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 1992), 1:276–85. 67 Cf. “they will be given into his hand” (7:25) with “the Lord gave into his hand” (1:2).


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intend to change the times and law” (7:25). From the earlier chapters, we know that the authority for these activities resides only with God, the true sovereign over the heavens and the earth. He changes the times and seasons; He removes kings and sets up kings . . . And he is able to bring low those who walk in pride. (Dan 2:21; 4:34)

Finally, this little horn utters boastful words (7:8), even going so far as to speak against the Most High (7:25). This directly contradicts the earlier pictures of Nebuchadnezzar who repeatedly learns humility and offers praise to the Most High.68 In the subsequent visions of Daniel we see similar depictions of Antiochus as here in chapter 7. In the vision of chapter 8 the little horn is again given power over the Jewish people (the “host of heaven”) and the Jerusalem Temple (“the sanctuary”) (8:10–14). Yet here again, its power is limited and its destruction foretold (8:25–26).69 In chapter 9 the evil king is mentioned only in the final verse to speak of his abominations and destruction (9:27). Even though Daniel’s prayer of this chapter places the blame on the Jewish people themselves,70 there is clearly a condemnatory tone toward the king and again there is lacking any description of his deeds as ordained by the Jewish God.71 In the final vision of the book (chapters 10– 12) we see the most negative portrayal of the Seleucid king. He is described as “a despised person on whom the honor of the kingdom was not conferred” (11:21).72 He will further “do according to his own will” and even set up his own rulers (11:36, 39). All of this stands in direct opposition to the repeated messages elsewhere in the early sections of the book of Daniel that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whomever he wants (4:14), that is, Nebuchadnezzar!


See discussion above. Both of the Greek editions offer a drastically different reading of the final phrase of 8:25. OG reads the strange phrase: “and he will make a gathering (συναγωγήν) by hand and will give back.” Th has “and he will break like an egg in hand.” 70 Cf. “the Prayer of Azariah” in the Greek editions, esp. 3:28–31. See Collins (Daniel, 347–48) for discussion of the authenticity of the prayer. 71 See, esp. Dan 9:26–27. 72 Cf. here the language with that of the contemned person who will rule in Nebuchadnezzar’s absence in chapter 4. 69

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Conclusions: Daniel and Seleucid Imperial Hegemony While in other sources of the Second Temple period the figures of Nebuchadnezzar II and Antiochus IV Epiphanes are paralleled, I have argued that in the book of Daniel we have a very different picture. From the very beginning of the book, the author revealed that the Jewish God himself established Nebuchadnezzar upon his throne and the king’s militaristic actions carried out against the Jews were in accordance with God’s own will, probably as a result of their covenantal unfaithfulness (chapter 9). In the MT edition of the book Nebuchadnezzar is never explicitly condemned for these actions. In the OG edition, however, his actions are noted, he receives an appropriate punishment, and is then returned to his position of power.73 Similarly, in the later apocalyptic vision in which he appears, Nebuchadnezzar is among the first three kingdoms that are granted an extension of life. Thus, the same king who had sacked Jerusalem, destroyed the holy Temple, and carried off Judeans into slavery by the thousands was allowed to live a long and prosperous life. This apparently presented no problems for the author of Daniel, and it is only in the much later Greek addition of “The Prayer of Azariah” that we can detect any hint that the view toward Nebuchadnezzar has changed. Antiochus, on the other hand, is no Nebuchadnezzar; he is, in fact, much worse. For the author of the book of Daniel, he is the most violent leader of the most violent kingdom; the very incarnation of evil. His political policies directly contradict everything we are told of God’s chosen rulers. Rather than following God’s order and being subject to the divine will, he set himself up in direct opposition to God and persecuted and murdered the holy people without provocation. Moreover, the Seleucid king even attempted to take on the role of God himself, by appointing his own rulers and attempting to change the times and law. For his gross transgression of the powers afforded to human kings by the Most High, he is therefore granted no chance of redemption as Nebuchadnezzar continuously is in chapters 1–4 and no prolonging of life as are the first three beasts of chapter 7. The time for the fulfillment of the prophecies is at hand and Antiochus’s position as king is revoked. His punishment, therefore, is total and imminent and the rule of the kingdom of men will pass to the Holy Ones of the Most High. Thus, I have contended that from a close examination of the characterizations of Antiochus IV Epiphanes and of Nebuchadnezzar II in the book of Daniel, it becomes apparent that the Seleucid king has been very purposefully juxtaposed with that of the notorious, yet now rehabilitated, Ne73

See discussion of Daniel chapter four above.


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Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon. It is through this sharp contrast, that we are faced with the truly horrific nature of the Seleucid Empire; an evil so great that it even surpasses that of the despised destroyer of Jerusalem and Jewish Temple! This also presents another indication that the author of the book of Daniel very carefully crafted his work to serve as a powerful counter-discourse to imperial ideology as argued by Portier-Young in her book, Apocalypse Against Empire. Although Portier-Young primarily focuses on the apocalyptic chapters of the book, my argument here evidences that this theme of resistance is thoroughly grounded in the entire book of Daniel, not just the later chapters.74 Further, by identifying this contrast between the figures of Nebuchadnezzar and Antiochus, we can see that the author of the book had great reason for appending his visions to the popular stories associated with Daniel and his friends.75 Nebuchadnezzar, the notoriously evil king who even was responsible for the destruction of the first Temple, was not really so terrible. His actions were ordained by God, whom he recognized as the source of authority, and the Jewish people were not really treated so badly. Antiochus, however, made no such recognition and instead presented himself as equal to God and worked to destroy the Jewish people. The reader, then, is left with the expectation of imminent divine action for the destruction of this terrible world power and its replacement with the eternal kingdom of God and his holy ones.


Only in a short section does she discuss the early stories and the relation of Nebuchadnezzar to Antiochus IV (Apocalypse Against Empire, 180–81). 75 See also Portier-Young, “Languages of Identity and Obligation: Daniel as Bilingual Book,” VT 60 (2010): 98–115.

Between Opposition to the Hasmoneans and Resistance to Rome: The Psalms of Solomon and the Dead Sea Scrolls1 NADAV SHARON Introduction In recent scholarship of Second Temple Judaism one sometimes finds the suggestion that until the eruption of the Great Revolt in 66 C.E. relations between Judeans and Rome were generally peaceful, and that most Judeans were accepting of Roman rule. According to this view, whatever disturbances may have occurred were, for the most part, internal Judean affairs, not essentially anti-Roman actions. Most recently and most systematically this view was advanced by Martin Goodman in his Rome and Jerusalem.2 It seems to me that, although not always explicitly stated, this view is related to another, more common, scholarly assertion: that there was widespread opposition in Judea to the Hasmonean dynasty. For, if indeed there was such general rejection of the Hasmoneans, one may presume that the Romans, who ousted the Hasmoneans, would have been favorably, or at least neutrally, received. This is explicitly asserted by Elias Bickerman, who writes: But the historian may deduce from the progress of history that precisely this estrangement of the people or its parts from the dynasty had great and, in the sequel, wholesome effects on Judaism. The subjugation of 63 [B.C.E., by Pompey the Great — N.S.] . . . now no longer seemed a national and religious catastrophe that called forth despair for

1 I am grateful to Dan Batovici and John Anthony Dunne for organizing the stimulating 2013 St Andrews Graduate Conference for Biblical and Early Christian Studies in which this paper was first presented, and to the conference participants. I also wish to thank Prof. Daniel R. Schwartz for his helpful suggestions. 2 Martin Goodman, Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations (London: Allen Lane, 2007). See his eleventh chapter, esp. pp. 379–99. See also Shaye J. D. Cohen, From the Maccabees to the Mishnah (2nd ed.; Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2006), 21–22, 26, 49–50; P. A. Brunt, Roman Imperial Themes (Oxford: Clarendon, 1990), 519. For the opposite view see e.g., Jonathan J. Price, Jerusalem under Siege: The Collapse of the Jewish State 66–70 C.E. (Leiden: Brill, 1992), 2–11.


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the future of the nation and the beneficence of God; rather, it seemed the just penalty for 3 a dynasty of usurpers.

In this paper I will examine both sides of this equation, by scrutinizing the literary evidence. This examination will focus on two literary corpora, the Psalms of Solomon and the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are often viewed as significant exempla of opposition to the Hasmonean dynasty and which were at least partially composed after the Roman conquest of Judea in 63 B.C.E. But, before I turn to that examination, I shall briefly review the historical evidence for the early Judean reaction to Roman domination.

63–37 B.C.E. : A Period of Constant Unrest Studies asserting that Judean-Roman relations were peaceful until 66 C.E. tend to ignore the first period of Roman domination over Judea (i.e., 63–37 B.C.E.), perhaps as part of a more general scholarly neglect of that period.4 Yet, that early period appears to have been plagued almost constantly by just about every form of unrest: from small, perhaps local, disturbances to major revolts to full-scale wars. In addition to the initial resistance to Pompey’s conquest, in virtually every year for which we have any substantial information, mainly from Flavius Josephus (Jewish War 1 and Jewish Antiquities 14), there is some sort of disturbance, revolt, or war. Thus, while Josephus appears to have lacked information for 63–57 B.C.E., once his narrative picks up in 57 B.C.E. Judea is already in the midst of revolt. Revolts ensue in 56 B.C.E. (see also Plutarch, Anthony 3.2–3; Cassius Dio 39.56.6) and 55 B.C.E., and while information is again mostly absent for 54–47 B.C.E. we nevertheless learn of a revolt in 53 B.C.E., and in 47 B.C.E. there are various local disturbances. During the turmoil in the Republic following the assassination of Caesar in 44 B.C.E., Judea too was engulfed in constant turmoil. Finally, in 40 B.C.E., on the tips of Parthian spears, but with the support of many Judeans, Mattathias Antigonus succeeded in capturing Jerusalem and taking the throne, which he held until the conquest of Jerusalem by Herod and the Roman general Sossius in 37 B.C.E. True, many of these revolts were led by the Hasmoneans Aristobulus II, who had been ousted by Pompey in 63 B.C.E. in favor of his rival-brother Hyrcanus II, and Aristobulus’s sons Alexander and Antigonus. Accord3 Elias Bickerman, From Ezra to the Last of the Maccabees: Foundations of Post– Biblical Judaism (New York: Schocken, 1962), 174–77; quote from p. 176. 4 Nadav Sharon, “The End of the Hasmonean State and the Beginning of Roman Rule in the Land of Israel (67–37 BCE): History, Historiography, and Impact on Jewish Society and Religion” (PhD thesis; Hebrew University, 2013), 2–7, 234–36.

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ingly, some studies assert that their intentions were not anti-Roman, but rather that they were motivated by internal politics – to attain the government for themselves – as a continuation of the earlier internecine conflict of 67–63 B.C.E. And, indeed these Hasmoneans appear to have been content to receive the government of Judea from Roman hands (e.g., War 1.183–184; Ant. 14.123–124; cf. Cassius Dio 41.18.1; War 1.195–196; Ant. 14.140).5 While that may be true, I am not convinced that that is the full extent of their motivations,6 but be that as it may, for the purposes of this paper I am mainly interested in the motivations underlying the popular support which they enjoyed, for the evidence indicates that the support for these various rebellions was immense amidst the Judean population (e.g., War 1.171, Ant. 14.93, 470; Plutarch, Anthony 3.3).7 Aside from the general consideration that it is difficult to assume that there would have been such widespread Judean support merely for the cause of swapping one Hasmonean puppet of Rome for another,8 a close examination of these episodes of unrest and rebellion indicates that their purpose was essentially anti-Roman. It is beyond the scope of this paper to delve into the details of this examination, and it suffices to note the following:9 First, some of these revolts appear to have specifically targeted Romans, not Judeans (see esp. War 1.176; Ant. 14.100). Second, the Romans certainly saw these events as mainly aimed against their rule in Judea (see esp. War 1.185; Ant. 14.125), as is indicated by the fact that except for times when the country was probably vacant of Roman forces, the Roman army was the main, and often the only, force involved in suppressing these rebellions.10 Indeed, even if the revolts’ immediate target were the current 5 Cf. Eyal Regev, “Why Did Aristobulus and His Son Alexander Fortify AlexandrionSartaba?” in Jerusalem and Eretz Israel: Arie Kindler Volume, ed. Joshua Schwartz, Zohar Amar, and Irit Ziffer (Ramat-Gan: Bar-Ilan University and Tel-Aviv: Eretz Israel Museum, 2000), 125–30 (Hebrew). 6 Recall that the early Maccabees apparently had no qualms about obtaining the highpriesthood and other rights from the Seleucids (e.g., 1 Macc 10:2–47), against whom they were fighting. 7 Cf. Israel Shatzman, The Armies of the Hasmonaeans and Herod: From Hellenistic to Roman Frameworks (Tübingen: Mohr [Siebeck], 1991), 132–35. See also War 1.177; Ant. 14.101–102. Although numbers are of course suspect as exaggerations, they may nevertheless provide some indication of the popular support for the revolts. For comparison, note that the entire population accompanying Herod in his escape from Jerusalem in 40 B.C.E., of which many were certainly non-Jews and which included mostly civilians and only some mercenaries, is reported as being only over 9,000 (War 1.266; Ant. 14.361). 8 Price, Jerusalem under Siege, 4–5. 9 For this detailed examination see Sharon, “The End of the Hasmonean State,” 206– 18. 10 Cf. Shatzman, The Armies, 137–38.


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Judean leadership (i.e., Hyrcanus and Antipater) it should have been quite clear that as far as the Romans were concerned any revolt against their appointees in Judea was equivalent to a revolt against Rome (cf. War 1.202; Ant. 14.157). Third, the leaders of some of these rebellions in Judea appear to have had ties to anti-Roman forces in other areas, such as the ties of Aristobulus’s family with Ptolemy son of Mennaeus, the tetrarch of Chalcis, who aided them in their insurrections (see War 1.185–186, 238–240; Ant. 14.125–126, 297–299), and, of course, Antigonus’s alliance with the Parthians (see esp. War 1.284; Ant. 14.384). Consequently, notwithstanding internal-political and other purposes, these episodes all appear to have also had a considerable anti-Roman purpose. However, in this paper I would like to examine non-historiographical literary evidence to see whether it can support or refute this historical conclusion.

The Literary Evidence The literature to be considered is some of the sectarian texts from Qumran and the Psalms of Solomon. Many of the distinctly sectarian texts among the Dead Sea Scrolls were apparently written or copied in the first century B.C.E., mostly after the Roman conquest, and the major texts to be examined here – the Pesher texts on Nahum and Habakkuk – certainly appear to have been composed in the wake of that conquest. The second corpus, the Psalms of Solomon, is a collection of 18 psalms probably written in Hebrew in Jerusalem by one person or group, around the middle of the first century B.C.E., given that some of the psalms clearly allude to Pompey’s conquest (Pss. Sol. 2 and 8 and likely also 17).11 Considering that these texts were composed during the historical period discussed above – in contrast to the historical sources about it which were mostly composed considerably later – and given their disparate backgrounds and outlooks, they can serve as test-cases for some contemporary Judean attitudes. Evidence of Opposition to the Hasmoneans? It is often surmised that the Qumran sectarians parted from the Jerusalem Temple establishment because they rejected the Hasmonean highpriesthood, since the Hasmoneans were not of the house of Zadok.12 In11

George W. E. Nickelsburg, Jewish Literature Between the Bible and the Mishnah: A Historical and Literary Introduction (2nd ed.; Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2005), 238– 47. 12 E.g., recently Hanan Eshel, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Hasmonean State (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans; Jerusalem: Yad Ben-Zvi, 2008), 29–61 (esp. 59–61) and Bilhah Nitzan, “Reality and Hopes of the Qumran Community as Response to Crises in Second

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deed, the sect’s priests are sometimes presented as the genuine Zadokite priests (e.g., 1QS 5:1–3, 9–10).13 However, some scholars reject this understanding and argue that the sect arose out of a dispute over halakhah or from a rejection of the practices of the priests, 14 which may have occurred at a rather late stage of the Hasmonean period.15 Nevertheless, by the time Pompey took Judea, the sect was certainly strongly opposed to the Hasmoneans. Yet the outlook of a small, secluded sect certainly cannot attest to the attitude of most Judeans.16 Accordingly, the Psalms of Solomon have often served as crucial contemporary evidence of a general anti-Hasmonean environment in Judea.17 However, while scholars have proposed associating these psalms with just about every known group in Second Temple Judea, most often with the Pharisees,18 no suggestion is free of difficulties, and it seems best not to attribute them to any known group.19 Thus, it is questionable to what extent

Temple Judaism,” in Religious Responses to Political Crisis, ed. Henning Graf Reventlow and Yair Hoffman (LHBOTS 444; New York: T&T Clark, 2008), 75–93 (esp. 77–78, 86–89). 13 Jacob Licht, The Rule Scroll (Jerusalem: Bialik, 1965), 113–5 (Hebrew). Cf. Phillip R. Davies, “Zadok, Sons of,” in Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. Lawrence H. Schiffman and James C. VanderKam (2 vols.; New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 2:1005–7. 14 John J. Collins, “Reading for History in the Dead Sea Scrolls,” DSD 18 (2011): 295–315. Cf. Albert I. Baumgarten, The Flourishing of Jewish Sects in the Maccabean Era: An Interpretation (Leiden: Brill, 1997), 31–33. 15 Michael O. Wise, “Dating the Teacher of Righteousness and the Floruit of His Movement,” JBL 122 (2003): 53–87; John J. Collins, Beyond the Qumran Community: The Sectarian Movement of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010), 88–121. 16 For the attitude towards the Hasmoneans in the Dead Sea Scrolls see Joseph Sievers, The Hasmoneans and Their Supporters: From Mattathias to the Death of John Hyrcanus I (Atlanta, GA: Scholars, 1990), 88–92, who argues that the Scrolls’ opposition was probably not unchanged from its beginnings to the composition of the Pesharim (p. 90), and asserts that they rather “indicate that the Hasmoneans had a considerable following” (p. 92). 17 E.g., Israel Shatzman, “The Hasmoneans in Greco-Roman Historiography,” Zion 57 (1992): 56–57 (Hebrew); Bickerman, From Ezra, 176–77. For the generally accepted view that this text is anti-Hasmonean see Emil Schürer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ (175 B.C.–A.D. 135), rev. and ed. by Geza Vermes, Fergus Millar, and Matthew Black (3 vols.; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1979), 3:193–94. 18 E.g., Schürer, History of the Jewish People, 3:193–95. For a list of suggested identifications see Kenneth Atkinson, I Cried to the Lord: A Study of the Psalms of Solomon’s Historical Background and Social Setting (JSJSup 84; Leiden: Brill, 2004), 8 and notes. 19 Nickelsburg, Jewish Literature, 246–47; Atkinson, I Cried, 49, 81–86, 220–22.


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they represent the views of Judeans beyond the author and his immediate circle of relatives and friends.20 Be that as it may, these psalms explain Pompey’s conquest and invasion of the Temple as a punishment for sins,21 but those sins are of “the people of Jerusalem” (e.g., 2:3, 11, 13; 17:15), not specifically of the Hasmoneans.22 More importantly, this explanation seems to be a case of religious hindsight; the author testifies that he was previously unaware of those sins, and he justifies the punishment in retrospect. Thus he says: I said: “Are not these people righteous?” I considered God’s judgments since the creation of heaven and earth; I believed God to be right in his judgments, those from the beginning of time. God exposed their sins to the light of the sun . . . But their offences were in 23 secret hiding places . . . (8:6–9; see also 1:7; 2:17)

That is, for the author the reality of punishment revealed the existence of those sins. Such theodicy does not attest to opposition to the Hasmoneans prior to 63, but perhaps actually to support for them. Admittedly, in Pss. Sol. 17:4–6 the Hasmoneans are apparently denounced for illegally usurping the Davidic throne. Yet, it is intriguing that no such condemnation is found in any of the other psalms. More importantly, this again appears to be a case of hindsight. In fact, in a recent study Benedikt Eckhardt argues that Pss. Sol. 17 is a composite text; that vss. 1– 10 must have been composed after Herod’s ascension to the throne (37 B.C.E.); and that therefore the condemnation of the Hasmoneans should be seen against the background of their elimination by Herod, which allowed the specific identification of the Hasmoneans as the primary sinners in Jerusalem, their elimination being an act of divine justice.24 Be that as it may, Pss. Sol. 17 too should certainly be read in light of the Hasmoneans’s fall,25 whether that of 63 or that of 37. Consequently, we lack substantial contemporary evidence for a general fundamental Judean rejection of the Hasmoneans per se. Most other evidence for such rejection is later and questionable.26 In contrast, there is 20

Cf. Arnaldo Momigliano, “Religion in Athens, Rome and Jerusalem in the First Century B.C.” in Approaches to Ancient Judaism, Volume V: Studies in Judaism and Its Greco-Roman Context, ed. William Scott Green (Atlanta, GA: Scholars, 1985), 7. 21 Cf. Atkinson, I Cried, 60–87. 22 Benedikt Eckhardt, “PsSal 17, die Hasmonäer und der Herodompeius,” JSJ 40 (2009): 489–91 and n. 64. 23 All translations of the Psalms of Solomon are based on Robert B. Wright, The Psalms of Solomon: A Critical Edition of the Greek Text (London: T&T Clark International, 2007). 24 Eckhardt, “PsSal 17.” 25 Eckhardt, “PsSal 17,” 492. 26 The story of the Judean delegation which appealed to Pompey in Damascus in 63 B.C.E. against both Hasmonean brothers is probably a case of Pompeian propaganda and

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evidence for immense popularity of the Hasmoneans in Judea after Pompey’s conquest and into Herod’s reign (e.g., Ant. 15.8–10, 51–52). Therefore, the equation that the Romans were favorably or neutrally accepted in Judea because of a previous general rejection of the Hasmoneans cannot be sustained. The Romans as God’s Tool Nevertheless, we should examine the views of the Romans and the Roman conquest expressed in these texts. The Psalms of Solomon see the Romans as God’s tool to punish his sinful people (e.g., 8:7–15), and a similar view of the Roman conquest is found in the Qumran Scrolls (1QpHab 4:5–9; 9:1–7). This is, of course, a basic religious and biblical view; hardship, and certainly foreign conquests, must be punishment for sins. Accordingly, one may argue that, whatever view of the Hasmoneans the authors of either of these corpora may have held, their view of the Romans may have been positive, or at least not hostile, since the Romans were the implementers of God’s justice. Some scholars, in fact, posit exactly this for the Qumran sect. These scholars suggest that initially, following Pompey’s conquest, the sect’s view of the Romans was positive or neutral, and only later was it transformed into one of hostility. Thus wrote the late Geza Vermes: “These Kittim [i.e., the Romans], first portrayed as God’s instruments of revenge against the last wicked priests of Jerusalem, were transformed in the final stages of Qumran history into the ultimate foe to be brought low by the

therefore cannot be indicative of prevalent Judean views (Sharon, “The End of the Hasmonean State,” 56–74; Bezalel Bar-Kochva, “Manpower, Economics, and Internal Strife in the Hasmonean State,” in Armées et fiscalité dans le monde antique, Paris, 14–16 Octobre 1976, ed. H. van Effenterre [Paris: Éditions du Centre national de la recherche scientifique, 1977] 179–81). The story of the Pharisees’s break from John Hyrcanus (Ant. 13.288–296; Janneaus in b. Qidd. 66a) too does not attest to an anti-Hasmonean attitude of that sect, as has been recently shown by Vered Noam (“The Story of King Jannaeus (b. Qiddushin 66a): A Pharisaic Reply to Sectarian Polemic,” HTR [2014]: 31–58). This is not meant to deny that there were those who opposed this or that Hasmonean. Obviously, as politics go, it is only natural that there was such opposition, and certainly this was the case in the internal conflicts during the time of Alexander Jannaeus, but what concerns me here is the notion of widespread Judean fundamental opposition to – and rejection of – the Hasmoneans per se. The later Pharisaic support of Jannaeus’s widow, Alexandra, proves that the mentioned conflict was mainly with him and not a rejection of the Hasmoneans per se. For the support for the Hasmoneans see further Sievers, The Hasmoneans and Their Supporters.


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Prince of the Congregation …”27 And Timothy Lim summarizes this scholarly position thus: It has been suggested that the Qumran Community came to regard the Kittim/Romans as its chief enemy, even though earlier it depicted them simply as instruments of divine punishment of the “last priests of Jerusalem” (1QpHab ix.4). This developmental view involves seeing the pesharim to Habakkuk and Nahum as representing the earlier, more neutral stage, and the War Scroll, the War Rule, and Pesher Isaiaha the later, hostile repositioning. 28

Psalms of Solomon’s View of the Romans I want to first look at the Psalms of Solomon, before examining the Qumran view of the Roman conquest. Pss. Sol. 7 appears to have been composed on the eve of the Roman conquest (see v. 1). In vv. 2–3 the author pleads the Lord not to allow the Gentiles’ conquest: “May their feet not trample your holy inheritance. Discipline us as you wish, but don’t turn us over to the Gentiles.” When the Gentiles are nonetheless triumphant the psalmist, as mentioned above, justifies the judgment as punishment for the people’s sins. But he also strongly vilifies the Roman conquerors. Thus, Pss. Sol. 8 presents Pompey – and, by inference, the Romans – as perfidious and murderous. After being peacefully let into the city by its leaders he tore down its walls and killed its leaders and many others; “he poured out the blood of the people of Jerusalem like dirty water” (vv. 16–20; cf. War 1.142–151; Ant. 14.58–70). Pss. Sol. 2 opens with “the sinner contemptuously” smashing Jerusalem’s walls (v. 1), and continues: “Gentiles who worship other gods went up to your altar; they brazenly trampled around with their sandals on” (v. 2). Although the Romans serve as God’s tool to chastise the sinful “sons of Jerusalem,” the psalmist nevertheless asks God to retaliate against them, and especially that he disgrace “the dragon’s arrogance” (v. 25),29 and im-


Geza Vermes, “Historiographical Elements in the Qumran Writings: A Synopsis of the Textual Evidence,” JJS 58 (2007): 139. So too Kenneth Atkinson, “On the Herodian Origin of Militant Davidic Messianism,” JBL 118 (1999): esp. 445. 28 Timothy H. Lim, “Kittim,” in Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. Lawrence H. Schiffman and James C. VanderKam (2 vols.; New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 470. Other scholars posit a development in the opposite direction. They assert that the War Scroll, War Rule, and Pesher Isaiaha (4Q161) are earlier – from Hasmonean times – and refer to the Seleucid empire, and that the expectation of the imminent fall of the Gentiles found in those texts was dropped following the Roman conquest, when there is – so they assert – no such expectation in the Pesharim. See esp. Eshel, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Hasmonean State, 163–79. 29 In the Septuagint δράκων usually translates ‫( תנין‬sea-monster) or ‫( לויתן‬leviathan), and it is quite instructive to ponder which biblical verses the psalmist may have had in

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mediately describes the fulfilment of that request: Pompey’s murder off the shores of Egypt near Mount Cassius.30 It is instructive to see how the psalmist here undermines Roman, or specifically Pompeian, imperial ideology. He says: Don’t delay, O God, in retaliating against their leaders, by disgracing the dragon’s arrogance. I did not have long to wait until God showed me his arrogance. Stabbed on the 31 sand dunes (ἐπὶ τῶν ὀρέων) of Egypt, he was more despised than anything in the whole 32 world. His body was violently carried over the waves and there was no one to bury 33 him, because God contemptuously despised him. He did not realize that he was merely mortal . . . He said: “I will be lord of the whole world”; he failed to recognize that it is God who is great (µέγας), who is mighty in his great strength. He himself is king over the heavens, he who judges kings and rulers. He is the one who raises me up into glory, and who brings down the arrogant to sleep, to their dishonorable destruction forever, because they did not know him. (Pss. Sol. 2:25–31)

The mention of Egypt, sand dunes, and the body carried over the waves are clearly reminiscent of descriptions of Pompey’s death on the shores of Egypt near Mount Cassius.34 Furthermore, the author makes a pun on Pompey’s title magnus by clarifying that it is God who is great. Moreover, the arrogant one’s heretical saying: “I will be lord of the whole world,” juxtaposed with the determination that it is God who is king over the heavens and judges all mortals, is an allusion to contemporary Roman perceptions of Rome’s universal rule, perceptions which were especially evident in Pompey’s self-portrayal. For example, Diodorus (40.4) records an inscription of Pompey in Rome in which he claims to have “extended the frontiers of the empire to the limits of the earth,” and Plutarch comments that Pompey celebrated three triumphs, each one over a different continent “so that he seemed in a way to have included the whole world in his three triumphs” (Plutarch, Pompey 45.5; see also 38.2–3).35 Thus, however we unmind: e.g., Ezek 29:3; 32:2, both referring to Pharaoh; Jer 51:34, referring to Nebuchadnezzar; cf. Ps 74:13–14. 30 For Pompey’s murder see, among other sources, Plutarch, Pompey, 78–80 and Appian, B.C. 2.84–86. 31 Lit. “on the mountains,” implying Mount Cassius (see Atkinson, I Cried, 17–18 n. 4). 32 Compare Lucan’s description: “Pompey is battered on the shore, and his headless body is tossed hither and thither in the shallows . . . He is tossed on the sands and mangled in the rocks, while his wounds drink in the wave; he is the plaything of Ocean” (Pharsalia 8.698–699, 708–710; trans. Duff in LCL). 33 Cf. Lucan, Pharsalia 8.712–823. 34 See the previous notes. That these verses refer to Pompey’s murder is indeed the common understanding. See, e.g., Atkinson, I Cried, 32–36. 35 Cicero, Pro Man. 56 is an example showing that this was not only a Pompeian ideology but rather a significant Roman ideology at the time. See further Claude Nicolet, Space, Geography, and Politics in the Early Roman Empire (Ann Arbor, MI: University


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understand this psalmist’s attitude to the Hasmoneans, his very unflattering description of the Romans and his undermining of Roman imperial ideology makes his hostility towards Rome unambiguous. The Dead Sea Scrolls’ View of the Roman Conquest and the Romans I now turn to the Qumran sectarians, who, as we have seen, were certainly opposed to the Hasmoneans on the eve of Pompey’s conquest and, as quoted above, are often thought to have initially been quite receptive of the Romans. Like the Psalms of Solomon, the Qumran Scrolls too view the Roman conquest as God’s just punishment of the sinful Jews and their leaders. But unlike the Psalms of Solomon, and in accordance with the sect’s opposition to the Hasmoneans, the Scrolls do not appear to bemoan the actual conquest. While for the author of the Psalms of Solomon the Roman conquest revealed a truth that was hidden from him until then, namely, that the Hasmoneans were sinners, for the sectarians it certainly “proved” that they had been right all along in their rejection of the Hasmoneans and their departure into the desert. Interestingly, the kind of revelation found in the Psalms of Solomon is anticipated or celebrated in Pesher Nahum 3–4, iii 3–5:36 . . . Its interpretation concerns the Seekers-After-Smooth-Things (‫)דורשי החלקות‬, whose wicked deeds will be revealed to all Israel at the last period, and many will discern their sin, will hate them, and consider them repulsive on account of their guilty insolence. And when the glory of Judah is [re]vealed, the simple ones of Ephraim will flee from the midst of their assembly. And they will abandon those who led them astray and will join [I]srael.

That is, “at the last period” the sinfulness of the rivals of the sect will be made known publicly, and many of their adherents will leave them. And this will entail the revelation of the glory of Judah, i.e., the Qumran sect.37 As the genre of Pesharim works this may be an anticipation for the future, but it may also be referring to recent history,38 and Pesher Nahum was cerof Michigan Press, 1991), 29–56 and Israel Shatzman, “The Integration of Judaea into the Roman Empire,” Scripta Classica Israelica 18 (1999): 49–84, esp. pp. 54–58, 78–80 (and the references there). 36 Translations of the Pesher texts are based on Maurya P. Horgan’s translation in The Dead Sea Scrolls: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek Texts with English Translations; Volume 6B: Pesharim, Other Commentaries, and Related Documents, ed. James H. Charlesworth et al. (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck; Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2002). 37 Shani L. Berrin (Tzoref), The Pesher Nahum Scroll from Qumran: An Exegetical Study of 4Q169 (STDJ 53; Leiden: Brill, 2004), 205–8; Joseph D. Amusin, “The Reflection of Historical Events of the First Century B.C. in Qumran Commentaries (4Q161; 4Q169; 4Q166),” HUCA 48 (1977): 145. 38 Cf. Annette Steudel, “‘The End of Days’ in the Texts from Qumran,” Revue de Qumran 16 (1993): 225–46.

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tainly composed in the wake of the Roman conquest, as the reference to Jerusalem’s conquest by the “rulers of the Kittim” (3–4, i 2–3) proves. True, this text does not speak of the Hasmoneans, but rather of the Seekers-After-Smooth-Things, whom scholarship identifies with the Pharisees,39 but I assert that the same would hold for the Hasmoneans; the general recognition that they are sinners “proves” that the sect had been right. Be that as it may, in contrast to the scholarly view mentioned above, the Scrolls’ view of the Romans immediately after the conquest is far from positive or even “neutral.” I cannot delve here into the question of the dating of the War texts, and will just say that I see no reason to date their composition either significantly earlier or later than the Pesharim, and I believe that at least in their current form they were composed around the same time as the Pesharim.40 I see no reason to assume that the differences between the War texts and the Pesharim indicate a change in the sect’s views over time. Rather, they are likely a result of their different genres and purposes, and the different biblical texts they rely upon.41 Be that as it may, what I would like to assert here is that the view of the Romans in the Pesharim is, in any case, oppositional and hostile. Although they are God’s agents, the Romans (i.e., the “Kittim” of Pesher Nahum and Pesher Habakkuk) are presented as extremely wicked. Pesher Habakkuk 3:4–6 says: “Its interpretation concerns the Kittim, the fear and dread of whom are upon all the nations. And by design all their plans are to do evil, and with cunning and deceit they shall deal with all the peoples.” This is somewhat reminiscent of the aforementioned depiction of Pompey and the Romans as perfidious in Pss. Sol. 8:16–20. A few lines later the Pesher reads: “Its inter[pretation] concerns the Kittim, who trample the land with [their] horse[s] and with their beasts. And from a distance they come, from the islands of the sea, to devour all the peoples, like an eagle, and there is no satiety” (3:9–12). Similarly, they come “to ravage many countries” (6:8) and “to destroy the earth/land,” as 4:10–13 says: “Its interpretation [co]ncerns the rulers of the Kittim, who, in the council of [their] guilty house (or, ‘the house of [their] guilt’; [‫)בית אשמ]תם‬, pass by, each man before his neighbor. [Their] rulers come [on]e after another to ruin the l[and].” The phrase [‫ בית אשמ]תם‬here apparently refers to the Roman Senate. In 6:10–12 this Pesher says: “Its interpretation concerns the Kittim, who destroy many with the sword – young men, strong men and 39

Albert I. Baumgarten, “Seekers After Smooth Things,” in Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. Lawrence H. Schiffman and James C. VanderKam (2 vols.; New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 857–59. 40 Cf. recently Brian Schultz, Conquering the World: The War Scroll (1QM) Reconsidered (Leiden: Brill, 2009), esp. 379–90. 41 I intend to publish my view concerning this issue in the near future.


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old men, women and toddlers – and on the fruit of the womb they have no compassion” (compare Pss. Sol. 2:6–8, 23–24; 8:20–21; 17:11–12; cf. War 1.149–152; Ant. 14.66, 69–71).42 Certainly these depictions cannot be seen as “neutral.” Though not mentioning the Kittim specifically, Pesher Habakkuk 12:12–14 speaks of the idolatrous nations and their future punishment on “the day of judgment”: “The interpretation of the passage concerns all the idols of the nations, which they have made so that they may worship them and bow down before them, but they will not save them on the day of judgment.” Writing closely after Pompey’s conquest, the author could not but have had the Romans in mind when writing this passage (perhaps along with other Gentile nations). Finally, according to a commonly accepted completion at the beginning of Pesher Nahum (1–2, ii 3–4), the interpretation of Nah 1:4a, “He rebuked the sea and dried it up,” is “‘the sea’—that is all the Ki[ttim . . . ] so as to ren[der] a judgment against them and to wipe them out from upon the face of [the earth . . . ] with [all] their [ru]lers (‫ ;מושליהם‬cf. 3–4, i 3: ‫ – מושלי כתיים‬rulers of the Kittim), whose dominion will be ended.”43 Consequently, these Pesharim paint a very negative picture of the Romans, and express an expectation of the Romans’ future downfall. Yet this was not some far-off future. The Qumran sectarians saw themselves as presently living in the eschatological age, so that for them the expectation for the Kittim’s fall in “the day of judgment” was for their very near, immediate, future.44 Thus, these Pesharim present a view of the Romans which is very much in line with the hostile view of the War Scroll etc., and it is not a view which developed after a positive or neutral view. Rather, these two perceptions – of the Romans as God’s agents and as the ultimate enemy of the Jews – go hand in hand. But this should not surprise us, since it is a very biblical combination. Thus, for example, in Isa 10 Assyria is 42

Cf. Pesher Nahum 3–4, ii 4–6; 3–4, iv 1–4. Although such descriptions of the Pesher texts and the Psalms of Solomon are doubtlessly influenced by biblical texts (e.g., Deut 28:50; 32:25; Lam 2:21), they nevertheless appear to be based – even if exaggerated – upon actual events, as Josephus describes. For indiscriminate massacre of the population of a conquered city by the Romans, followed by widespread pillaging, see Polybius 10.15.4–9; Tacitus, Histories 3.33; William V. Harris, War and Imperialism in Republican Rome, 327–70 B.C. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1979), 50–53; Adam Ziolkowski, “Urbs direpta, or How the Romans Sacked Cities,” in War and Society in the Roman World, ed. John Rich and Graham Shipley (London: Routledge, 1993), 69–91. 43 So, for example, already in Allegro’s 1968 edition in DJD 5, p. 37; in Horgan’s translation in Charlesworth’s 2002 edition (above, n. 36), p. 146; and in Elisha Qimron’s very recent edition, The Dead Sea Scrolls: The Hebrew Writings, Volume Two (Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi, 2013), 282. 44 Collins, Beyond the Qumran Community, 33–34, 101. Cf. Steudel, “The End of Days.”

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the rod of God’s anger, but is also the focus of divine wrath after it has carried out its role. This is clearly the way in which Pesher Habakkuk understands its base text, that is the book of Habakkuk. Habakkuk 1:6 says that God is raising up the Chaldeans and 1:12b says: “O Lord, for judgment Thou didst appoint him [that is, the Chaldeans]; and, O Rock, for accusation Thou didst establish him.”45 However, the Pesher interprets the latter verse thus: “that God will not destroy his people by the hand of the nations, but into the hand of his chosen God will give the judgment of all the nations” (1QpHab 5:3–4).46 As we have seen above, basically this is also the view of the Psalms of Solomon; the Romans are God’s agents to punish the Jewish sinners, but at the same time their downfall is hoped for and expected. Distinct Texts but Similar Responses to Roman Domination Thus, although the authors of the Qumran Scrolls and of the Psalms of Solomon appear to come from very distinct Jewish outlooks, and while the former were apparently fundamentally opposed to the Hasmoneans the latter may not have been, they both seem to have had a similar stance towards the Romans and their conquest of Judea. In any case, even where there was criticism of, and even extreme opposition to, the Hasmoneans, as in the Qumran Scrolls, it did not result in a positive or neutral acceptance of the Romans. Rather, the Romans are deeply hated and their downfall is hoped for in both corpora. An additional similarity in response to the Roman occupation appears to be in the development of a similar messianic expectation. It seems that at this time both groups developed a vision of Davidic Messianism, not prevalent in earlier Second Temple Judaism. This view is most elaborately illustrated in Pss. Sol. 17, but is also expressed in various Qumran compositions, which are generally dated to the latter half of the first century B.C.E. (e.g., 4Q161; 4Q174; 4Q285).47 This similarity of responses to the 45

Translation based on Francis I. Andersen, Habakkuk: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (Anchor Bible; New York: Doubleday, 2001), 169; cf. the commentary on pp. 178–80. 46 Anselm C. Hagedorn and Shani Tzoref, “Attitudes to Gentiles in the Minor Prophets and in Corresponding Pesharim,” DSD 20 (2013): 501. I thank Dr. Tzoref for sharing this paper with me. 47 George J. Brooke, “Crisis Without, Crisis Within: Changes and Developments within the Dead Sea Scrolls Movement,” in Judaism and Crisis: Crisis as a Catalyst in Jewish Cultural History, ed. Armin Lange, K. F. Diethard Römheld, and Matthias Weigold (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2011), 100: “It is notable that whereas it is likely that there was a consistent dualistic messianic understanding in all stages of the life of the movement, only in the late first century B.C.E. compositions is the messiah of Israel explicitly named as Davidic.” Cf. Kenneth Atkinson, “On the Herodian Origin of


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same historical development by two distinct Judean groups is not surprising, given the Biblical precedent (cf. Isa 10–11) and the history of the Second Temple period and earlier foreign dominations and persecutions.48

Conclusion If the people represented by these two disparate corpora, and especially the anti-Hasmonean Qumran sectarians, were so similarly anti-Roman, it stands to reason that so were others who were not (as) opposed to the Hasmoneans. This conclusion supports the historical picture presented at the beginning of this paper, that the early period of Roman domination over Judea was ridden with rebellions and unrest that appear to have been basically anti-Roman and were supported by a great many Judeans. Thus, when that historical picture is taken together with the literary evidence examined here it is difficult to uphold the assertion that relations between Judeans and Rome were always peaceful prior to the Great Revolt. Rather, the evidence concerning the first decades of Roman rule in Judea indicates that at the outset the basic Judean reaction was one of ideological opposition and resistance. Accordingly, subsequent Judean-Roman relations should be examined in the light of this basic ideological opposition.49

Militant Davidic Messianism at Qumran: New Light from Psalm of Solomon 17,” JBL 118 (1999): 435–60. 48 Cf. Shani L. Berrin (Tzoref), “Pesher Nahum, Psalms of Solomon and Pompey,” in Reworking the Bible: Apocryphal and Related Texts at Qumran. Proceedings of a Joint Symposium by the Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated Literature and the Hebrew University Institute for Advanced Studies Research Group on Qumran, 15–17 January, 2002, ed. Esther G. Chazon, Devorah Dimant, and Ruth A. Clements (STDJ 58; Leiden: Brill, 2005), 65–84. 49 See further, Price, Jerusalem under Siege, 2–11.

What the Apostles Did Not See MATTHEW V. NOVENSON The title of this essay, “What the apostles did not see,” aspires to allude to a classic 1984 essay by Arnaldo Momigliano, “Ciò che Flavio Giuseppe non vide,” “What Flavius Josephus did not see.”1 In that essay, Momigliano argues that Josephus’s conspicuous silence both about the institution of the synagogue and about the apocalyptic movements in Roman Judea was due to Josephus’s effective blindness to those features of contemporary Jewish experience – they simply were not part of the Judaism that Josephus himself knew at firsthand. Momigliano writes, “He was divorced from the two vital currents in the Judaism of his time, the apocalypse and the synagogue. . . . As a result, Josephus’s Judaism was colorless, not false and not trivial, but rhetorical, generic, and rather unreal.”2 I begin with Momigliano’s essay because I think that it presents an interesting analogy with the curious case of the New Testament writers visà-vis the Julio-Claudian and Flavian emperors of Rome. As a great deal of recent research has shown, Roman imperial propaganda (cultic and otherwise) will have been an imposing feature of the earliest Christians’ daily


Arnaldo Momigliano, “Ciò che Flavio Giuseppe non vide,” in idem, Settimo Contributo alla Storia Degli Studi Classici e del Mondo Antico (Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 1984), 305–17; ET “What Josephus Did Not See,” in idem, On Pagans, Jews, and Christians (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1987), 108–19. This essay benefited from valuable feedback in the context of our 2013 colloquium in St Andrews. I am grateful in particular to David Eastman and Hans Leander for their incisive comments in the course of discussion and to Dan Batovici and John Dunne for organizing a very fine conference. Thanks, also, to my colleague Helen Bond, who generously read and commented on a revised version of the essay. 2 Momigliano, “What Josephus Did Not See,” 118–19. Momigliano’s essay has generally been well received, but see the cautiously critical treatment of Tessa Rajak, “Ciò che Flavio Giuseppe vide: Josephus and the Essenes,” in eadem, The Jewish Dialogue with Greece and Rome: Studies in Cultural and Social Interaction (Leiden: Brill, 2001), 237: “‘What Josephus did not see’ should therefore perhaps best be reformulated as ‘what Josephus did see but could not write about.’ For there were strong constraints upon him, the constraints not (as is so often suggested) of patronage or of dishonesty, not even just those of his own temperament, but something equally pervasive—the constraints of literary form, the tyranny of text.”


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experience,3 and their encomiastic language for the risen Jesus (υἱὸς θεοῦ, κύριος, βασιλέυς, σωτήρ, εὐαγγέλιον, and so on) overlaps extensively and conspicuously with official and unofficial nomenclature for the Roman emperors,4 so that a number of their contemporaries (Romans, Jews, other provincials, and indeed later generations of Christians) heard in the apostolic kerygma the possibility, at least, of sedition against the Roman order; if Jesus is Lord, then Caesar is not, to borrow a phrase.5 And yet, although ancient observers and modern exegetes have thought that conclusion obvious, few of the New Testament writers actually draw it. My goal in this essay is to consider why this is the case. I take it that there are several different kinds of relevant reasons for the apparently quietistic politics that we find in most Christian texts from the first century C.E. John Barclay has recently identified a salient theological reason in the case of the apostle Paul, namely, his apocalyptic worldview.6 In this essay, I am interested in the social and institutional reasons that are distinct from but by no means unrelated to such ideological reasons. The first step is a brief look at modern research on the topic.

Ancient politics in modern New Testament scholarship In order to get a historical perspective on the status quaestionis, it is instructive to compare the way the discussion looked to one important par3 See in particular S. R. F. Price, Rituals and Power: The Roman Imperial Cult in Asia Minor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984); Paul Zanker, The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus, trans. Alan Shapiro (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1988); Justin Meggitt, “Taking the Emperor’s Clothes Seriously: The New Testament and the Roman Emperor,” in The Quest for Wisdom: Essays in Honour of Philip Budd, ed. C. Joynes (Cambridge: Orchard Academic, 2002), 143–70; and Laura Nasrallah, Christian Responses to Roman Art and Architecture: The Second-Century Church amid the Spaces of Empire (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010). 4 Thus famously Adolf Deissmann, Licht vom Osten (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1908); ET Light from the Ancient East, trans. Lionel R. M. Strachan (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1910). 5 N. T. Wright, “Paul’s Gospel and Caesar’s Empire,” in Paul and Politics: Ekklesia, Israel, Imperium, Interpretation, ed. Richard A. Horsley (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity, 2000), 160–83. 6 John M. G. Barclay, “Why the Roman Empire Was Insignificant to Paul,” in idem, Pauline Churches and Diaspora Jews (WUNT 275; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2011), 363–87, here 385: “[Paul’s] failure to name ‘Rome’ springs not from naivety or pietism (nor from fear of political openness), but because his systemic analysis of the world differs from ours . . . The Roman empire is not significant to Paul qua the Roman empire: it certainly features on his map, but under different auspices and as subservient to more significant powers.”

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ticipant just half a century ago. Writing in 1967, S. G. F. Brandon assessed scholarship on politics in the New Testament in the following way: In Britain . . . Josephus’ evaluation of the Zealots as brigands and fanatics, who by political murder and sabotage pushed their nation into its fatal revolt against Rome, evoked a ready acceptance from people proudly conscious of their imperial mission of bringing well-ordered government and civilisation to non-European nations. Accordingly, to those troubled by revolutionaries, whether Russian, Irish or Indian, who threatened the stability of Western capitalist society or British rule, the character and activities of the Zealots in first-century Palestine seemed only too familiar. There was no disposition to consider their cause against imperial Rome sympathetically; and this attitude seems, in turn, to have produced an instinctive abhorrence for any suggestion that Jesus could have sympathised with such subversive elements in Judaea. The Second World War has, however, apparently wrought a change of sentiment: the admiration and encouragement given to ‘resistance’ groups in various Nazi-occupied lands seem to have stirred a new and sympathetic interest in the Zealots. This change of attitude is beginning to show itself in New Testament study; but with what result remains yet to be seen.7

One wonders what Brandon would think of the degree to which the nascent “change of sentiment” that he observed has established itself as a new status quo. Nowadays one would be hard-pressed to find an academic treatment of the Jewish-Roman War that takes the moral side of the Romans over against the provincials.8 To be sure, the ostensibly postcolonial age in which we now live is not actually as postcolonial as we might like to think (as the biblical meta-critics, not to mention the newspapers, remind us);9 but New Testament scholarship is certainly more attuned to first-century politics and, indeed, more inclined to have a preferential option for the colonized than it was a generation ago. In view of the explosion of scholarly interest in the theme of “gospel and empire” (to use a generalizing shorthand) over the last generation – represented in the work of Martin Hengel, Dieter Georgi, Helmut Koester, Klaus Wengst, Robert Jewett, Richard Horsley, Neil Elliott, N. T. Wright, John Dominic Crossan, Jonathan Reed, Warren Carter, Peter Oakes, Sylvia Keesmaat, Brigitte Kahl, Laura Nasrallah, Kavin Rowe, and Justin Meggitt, to name a few – one might get the idea that political interpretation of 7

S. G. F. Brandon, Jesus and the Zealots (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1967), 24. 8 Valuable recent treatments of the war include Andrea M. Berlin and J. Andrew Overman, eds., The First Jewish Revolt: Archaeology, History, and Ideology (London: Routledge, 2002); Martin Goodman, Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations (New York: Knopf, 2007); and Mladen Popovic, ed., The Jewish Revolt against Rome: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (JSJSup 154; Leiden: Brill, 2011). Steve Mason’s forthcoming monograph on the war, not yet available as I write this essay, is likely to become a new point of reference. 9 On this point, see James G. Crossley, Jesus in an Age of Terror: Scholarly Projects in a New American Century (London: Equinox, 2008).


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the New Testament is a recent and even avant garde development in the field.10 In fact, however, it figured prominently at the birth of modern New Testament criticism in the eighteenth century. When, between 1774 and 1778, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing published the Wolfenbüttel Fragmente of Hermann Samuel Reimarus, one reason for the popular backlash that followed was the anonymous fragmentist’s provocative claim that Jesus’s aim had been to get himself crowned king by popular acclaim and to kindle a war against the Romans.11 About Jesus’s final, fateful visit to Jerusalem, Reimarus writes: 10

A very selective list of highlights might include Martin Hengel, Was Jesus a Revolutionist?, trans. William Klassen (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1971 [German 1970]); Klaus Wengst, Pax Romana and the Peace of Jesus Christ, trans. John Bowden (London: SCM, 1987 [German 1986]); Dieter Georgi, Theocracy in Paul’s Praxis and Theology, trans. David E. Green (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 1991 [German 1987]); Richard A. Horsley, Jesus and the Spiral of Violence: Popular Jewish Resistance in Roman Palestine (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1987); Helmut Koester, “Imperial Ideology and Paul’s Eschatology in 1 Thessalonians,” in Paul and Empire: Religion and Power in Roman Imperial Society, ed. Richard A. Horsley (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity, 1997), 158–66; Neil Elliott, Liberating Paul: The Justice of God and the Politics of the Apostle (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 1994); idem, The Arrogance of Nations: Reading Romans in the Shadow of Empire (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2008); N. T. Wright, “Paul’s Gospel and Caesar’s Empire”; idem, Paul: In Fresh Perspective (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2005); John Dominic Crossan and Jonathan L. Reed, In Search of Paul: How Jesus’ Apostle Opposed Rome’s Empire with God’s Kingdom (San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins, 2005); Warren Carter, Matthew and Empire: Initial Explorations (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity, 2001); idem, John and Empire: Initial Explorations (London: T&T Clark, 2008); Peter Oakes, “Christian Attitudes to Rome at the Time of Paul’s Letter,” RevExp 100 (2003): 103–11; idem, “Remapping the Universe: Paul and the Emperor in 1 Thessalonians and Philippians,” JSNT 27 (2005): 301–22; Brian J. Walsh and Sylvia C. Keesmaat, Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2004); Robert Jewett, Romans: A Commentary (Hermeneia; Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2007); Brigitte Kahl, Galatians Re-Imagined: Reading with the Eyes of the Vanquished (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2009); C. Kavin Rowe, World Upside Down: Reading Acts in the Graeco-Roman Age (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009); Meggitt, “Emperor’s Clothes”; Nasrallah, Christian Responses. 11 Writing in 1779, J. S. Semler describes the popular response to the Wolfenbüttel Fragmente thusly: “The first result was a kind of amazement even on the part of many politicians, displeasure on the part of the more sober and worthy classes, frivolous jesting and deliberate elaboration of the derision, sketched here only in outline. This derision spread immediately among many young educated people from whom these effects extended still wider to the citizens and such participants as the ‘Unknown’ [i.e., Reimarus, the anonymous author] had certainly never calculated on. . . . Many thoughtful and serious young men who had dedicated themselves to the Christian ministry were involved in great perplexity in consequence of their own convictions being thus so fearfully shaken. Many determined to choose another profession for their future labors rather than persevere so long under increasing uncertainty” (J. S. Semler, preface to Beantwortung der Fragmente eines Ungenanten insbesondere vom Zweck Jesu und seiner Jünger [Halle,

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He wished that all the people of Israel who were there gathered together should unanimously proclaim him king. . . . So the attempt was ventured upon. Jesus takes his seat upon the ass. He allows royal honors to be done to him. He makes a public entry, and as this appears in some measure to succeed, he goes straight to the temple, where the High Court of Justice was wont to be held. He lays aside his gentleness, begins a disturbance, and commits acts of violence, like one who suddenly considers himself possessed of worldly power. . . . Now, is not this inciting the people to rebellion? Is not this stirring them up against the government? Was not this saying the equivalent of “Down with the senate, down with the magistrates, who are nothing but blind guides, hypocrites, and unjust men; they are only a hindrance to the kingdom of the Messiah; one is your master, even I, and you shall henceforth not see my face until you proclaim me the Christ who is to come to you in the name of the Lord”?12

Now, Reimarus’s thesis – that Jesus was in truth an anti-Roman militant rendered innocuous by the pious storytelling of the Gospel writers – has not carried the day. It has been revived from time to time by scholars such as Robert Eisler, S. G. F. Brandon, and recently Reza Aslan;13 but the majority have taken a range of views closer to that articulated by the young Martin Hengel in response to Brandon – that while Jesus’s message of the kingdom of God did run counter to the myth of Roman manifest destiny, it also ran counter to the politics of Jesus’s own more hawkish countrymen.14 In other words, Jesus was not a zealot, but he proposed an alternative, nonviolent solution to the same problem for which zealotism was a solution, namely, the unjust rule of a pagan empire over the people of God.15 For the “gospel and empire” movement in New Testament scholarship, the same is true, mutatis mutandis, of at least some of the New Testament writers (especially the apostle Paul and John of Patmos, and more problematically Luke-Acts and 1 Peter):16 When they announce Jesus as Lord, 1779]; trans. apud Charles H. Talbert, “Introduction,” in H. S. Reimarus, Fragments, ed. Charles H. Talbert, trans. Ralph S. Fraser [Philadelphia, PA: Fortress, 1970], 1). A catalog of the many public responses to the Fragmente is provided by Karl Gödeke, Grundriss zur Geschichte der Deutschen Dichtung (Dresden: Ehlermann, 1916), 4.1:436–42. 12 Reimarus, Fragments, 146–47. 13 Robert Eisler, ΙΗΣΟΥΣ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ ΟΥ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣΑΣ (2 vols.; Heidelberg: Winter, 1929–1930); ET The Messiah Jesus and John the Baptist (London: Methuen, 1931); Brandon, Jesus and the Zealots; Reza Aslan, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth (London: Westbourne, 2013). See also Ernst Bammel, “The Revolutionary Theory from Reimarus to Brandon,” in Jesus and the Politics of His Day, ed. Ernst Bammel and C. F. D. Moule (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 11–68. 14 Hengel, Was Jesus a Revolutionist? 15 On this point, see further Marcus Borg, Conflict, Holiness, and Politics in the Teachings of Jesus (London: Continuum, 1998 [1984]). 16 The secondary literature on the politics of each of these texts is prohibitively vast, but for key treatments see, respectively, Horsley, ed., Paul and Empire; Adela Yarbro Collins, Crisis and Catharsis: The Power of the Apocalypse (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster, 1984); Rowe, World Upside Down; and David G. Horrell, Becoming Christian: Es-


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king, son of God, and savior, they implicitly deny the Roman emperor’s claim to those titles. This hypothesis was already entertained – although not fully endorsed – by Adolf Deissmann in the early days of the twentieth century, when epigraphic, documentary, and numismatic evidence of Roman imperial propaganda in the Near East was being unearthed at a breathtaking pace.17 Canvassing the many newly published inscriptions from the Roman Near East in his seminal book Licht vom Osten, Deissmann concludes, “It must not be supposed that St. Paul and his fellow-believers went through the world blindfolded, unaffected by what was then moving the minds of men in great cities.”18 Indeed. But there is more than one way of being affected by imperial propaganda, and Deissmann demurs from a straightforwardly counter-imperial reading of the New Testament evidence, arguing instead for a relation that he calls polemischer Parallelismus: The cult of Christ goes forth into the world of the Mediterranean and soon displays the endeavor to reserve for Christ the words already in use for worship in that world, words that had just been transferred to the deified emperors or had perhaps even been newly invented in emperor worship. Thus there arises a polemical parallelism between the cult of the emperor and the cult of Christ, which makes itself felt where ancient words derived by Christianity from the treasury of the Septuagint and the Gospels happen to coincide with solemn concepts of the Imperial cult which sounded the same or similar.19

Thus Deissmann in 1908. A century later, scholars working on the same comparative material have tended to see a sharper, more intentional polemic on the part of the New Testament writers toward their Roman overlords. For many of these scholars, the apostolic kerygma is eo ipso a form of anti-imperial resistance, subversion, or protest. (Of course, each of these concepts can be and has been theorized in various ways, but that is beyond the scope of this paper.)20 On this account, centuries of ecclesiastical use says on 1 Peter and the Making of Christian Identity (London: T&T Clark, 2013), 100– 238. 17 Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, esp. 342–84. Deissmann’s preface to the first edition of Licht vom Osten conveys something of the excitement felt by European scholars in those days: “After fifteen years spent in studying the Greek Bible and other secular documents of the Hellenistic East, it was a matter of extreme moment to me to be privileged in the spring months of 1906 take part in an expedition, assisted by a grant from the Baden Ministry of Education, for study purposes to Vienna, Buda Pesth, Bucharest, Constantinople, Asia Minor, Greece with the principal islands, and Southern Italy. The tour was organized and conducted in masterly fashion by Friedrich von Duhn. In the great museums and at the centres where international excavations are in progress we had not only him to instruct us, but the foremost authorities in archaeology and epigraphy” (Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, xxvi). 18 Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, 344. 19 Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, 346. 20 On the relevant concepts, see the classic treatments of James C. Scott, Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance (New Haven, CT: Yale University

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may have given the New Testament texts an air of pious quietism, but in their original contexts they are political documents, and dangerous ones, at that. To cite one eloquent example: In his brilliant series of lectures on Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, the twentieth-century German Jewish political philosopher Jacob Taubes comments on the formula “the son of God, who comes from the seed of David according to the flesh and was appointed son of God in power according to the spirit of holiness from the resurrection of the dead” (Rom 1:3–4)21 under the heading “the gospel as a declaration of war against Rome.” Taubes writes: I want to stress that this is a political declaration of war, when a letter introduced using these words, and not others, is sent to the congregation in Rome to be read aloud. One doesn’t know into whose hands it will fall, and the censors aren’t idiots. One could, after all, have introduced it pietistically, quietistically, neutrally, or however else; but there is none of that here. This is why my thesis is that in this sense the Epistle to the Romans is a political theology, a political declaration of war on the Caesar.22

“Someone going forth from Judea will become ruler of the world” Nero, who was Caesar when Paul wrote the passage in question, probably would have agreed with Taubes’s assessment. Indeed, if the secondcentury Acts of Paul is right that Nero ordered the execution of the apostle (Acts of Paul 10.4–5), then perhaps Nero did in fact agree with Taubes’s assessment.23 If any Julio-Claudian or Flavian emperor could have been bothered to consider the apostolic message, it would presumably have sounded treasonous: Jesus, who was recently crucified by the Roman governor in Judea as would-be king of the Jews, will soon return from heaven to execute judgment on the whole oikoumene. A declaration of war, indeed. (One thinks of the fourth-century apocryphal Correspondence of

Press, 1985); idem, Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1990); Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “Can the Subaltern Speak?” in Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, ed. Cary Nelson and Larry Grossberg (Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1988), 271–313; Homi K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture (London: Routledge, 1994). 21 Here and throughout, New Testament citations follow the Greek text of NA27. Translations of primary texts are my own unless otherwise noted. 22 Jacob Taubes, The Political Theology of Paul, trans. Dana Hollander (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004), 16. 23 On the literary sources for the death of Paul under Nero, see David L. Eastman, Paul the Martyr: The Cult of the Apostle in the Latin West (Atlanta, GA: SBL, 2011), 15–24.


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Paul and Seneca, in which Paul, upon learning that Seneca has read some of Paul’s letters aloud to Nero, implores him not to do so again [§§ 7–9].) Quite apart from the early Christians, Jewish talk about the imminent rise of a Jewish world ruler was not unfamiliar to Roman elites in the first century C.E. We have from the turn of the second century several reports of a rumor current in and around Judea to the effect that at that time a man would arise from Judea to wield authority over the whole inhabited world:24 What more than all else incited them [the Jewish rebels of 66–70 C.E.] to the war was an ambiguous oracle, likewise found in their sacred scriptures [χρησµὸς ἀµφίβολος ὁµοίως ἐν τοῖς ἱεροῖς εὑρηµένος γράµµασιν], to the effect that at that time one from their country would become ruler of the world [ἀπὸ τῆς χώρας αὐτῶν τις ἄρξει τῆς οἰκουµένης]. This they understood to mean someone of their own race, and many of their wise men went astray in their interpretation of it. The oracle, however, in reality signified the sovereignty of Vespasian, who was proclaimed emperor on Jewish soil. (Josephus, War 6.312– 313) 25 The majority [of the Jews] firmly believed that their ancient priestly writings [antiquis sacerdotum litteris] contained the prophecy that this was the very time when the East should grow strong and that men starting from Judea should possess the world [profectique Iudaea rerum potirentur]. This mysterious prophecy had in reality pointed to Vespasian and Titus, but the common people, as is the way of human ambition, interpreted these great destinies in their own favour, and could not be turned to the truth even by adversity. (Tacitus, Hist. 5.13)26 There had spread over all the Orient an old and established belief, that it was fated at that time for men coming from Judaea to rule the world [Iudaea profecti rerum potirentur]. This prediction, referring to the emperor of Rome, as afterwards appeared from the event, the people of Judaea took to themselves; accordingly they revolted. (Suetonius, Vesp. 4.5)27

It is noteworthy that not only the expatriate Judean Josephus but also the native Romans Tacitus and Suetonius acknowledge the truth of this Jewish oracle.28 They see it fulfilled in the person of Vespasian, who was acclaimed emperor of Rome while he was deployed as a general in the war in 24 On the source-critical question surrounding these three reports, see Eduard Norden, “Josephus und Tacitus über Jesus Christus und eine messianische Prophetie,” NJahrb 31 (1913): 636–66. 25 Text and trans. H. St. John Thackeray in Josephus, The Jewish War (LCL; London: Heinemann, 1927). 26 Text and trans. Clifford H. Moore in Tacitus, The Histories (LCL; London: Heinemann, 1925–1931). 27 Text and trans. J. C. Rolfe in Suetonius, Lives of the Caesars (LCL; London: Heinemann, 1913–1914). 28 The identification of the oracle remains problematic. See the recent treatment of Anthony J. Tomasino, “Oracles of Insurrection: The Prophetic Catalyst of the Great Revolt,” JJS 59 (2008): 86–111.

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Judea (as per the prophecy: “Someone going forth from Judea will acquire universal empire”). Josephus, Tacitus, and Suetonius fault the Jewish insurgents not for believing this exotic oracle but for misinterpreting it. The rebels in Judea fail to see that even their own holy books testify to the inevitable expansion of the Roman Imperium over the entire known world. (This is a good illustration of the point that in antiquity, as a rule, other nations’ religions are not false; they are just other nations’ religions.)29 From the perspective of these Roman writers, the Judean masses cannot be trusted to interpret their own oracles sensibly. When they go searching their holy books for prophecies of a coming world ruler, rebellion in the provinces is not far behind. The case of the Jews is the best documented and the largest in scale, but it is by no means unique. Throughout the provinces, as Simon Price has noted, “local cultic traditions could become the rallying ground for opposition to Roman rule.”30 To cite just a few examples: During the reign of Augustus there was a Thracian rebellion led by a certain Vologaesus, a priest of Dionysus, in response to the confiscation by the Romans of the temple of Dionysus at Thrace (Cassius Dio 51.25.5; 54.34.5–7). During the year of the four emperors (69 C.E.), when the Capitoline temple in Rome suffered a fire, the Druids in Gaul considered the event a fulfillment of one of their own prophecies and so rose up in revolt. Tacitus cites the Druid prophecy thusly: “‘This fatal conflagration has given a proof from heaven of the divine wrath and presages the passage of the sovereignty of the world to the peoples beyond the Alps.’ Such [Tacitus says] were the vain and superstitious prophecies of the Druids” (Tacitus, Hist. 4.54; trans. Moore). Again, a century later during the reign of Marcus Aurelius, an Egyptian priest named Isidorus led a group called the Bucoli in revolt against the Roman occupiers, almost taking Alexandria before being put down by Cassius (Cassius Dio 72.4). And examples might be multiplied further.31 Provincial rebellions against Roman rule were not infrequently connected to local religious traditions: priests, temples, holy books, and so on. Elite Roman writers criticize the provincial insurgents, of course, but they also take the indigenous gods of the provinces seriously. As Momig29 Recent research has seen a fruitful exploration of the perception of religious pluralism in antiquity, on which see in particular Mark S. Smith, God in Translation: CrossCultural Recognition of Deities in the Biblical World (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010); H. S. Versnel, Coping with the Gods: Wayward Readings in Greek Theology (RGRW 173; Leiden: Brill, 2011). 30 Simon R. F. Price, “Response,” in Richard A. Horsley, ed., Paul and the Roman Imperial Order (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity, 2004), 180. 31 See Greg Woolf, “Provincial Revolts in the Early Roman Empire,” in The Jewish Revolt against Rome: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, ed. Mladen Popovic (JSJSup 154; Leiden: Brill, 2011), 27–44.


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liano observes in a different context, “No doubt people felt that there were enemies of the Empire other than the visible ones beyond the borders. No wonder. Pompey introduced Judaea into the Empire; Caesar annexed Gaul; Octavian made Egypt a province. These were regions where prophets and visionaries prospered.”32 From the perspective of the Roman provincial administration, the apostolic message about Jesus would likely have sounded like this kind of thing. It has all the telltale signs of a local religious controversy, not just of the innocuous sort concerned with pedantic matters of ancestral law, but of the troublesome sort concerned with dreams of an autonomous state ruled by an indigenous king.33 The Gospel of Matthew, for instance, quotes a certain Judean oracle to the effect that “You, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are not at all least among the rulers of Judah, for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel” (Matt 2:6, citing Mic 5:2). Likewise, the Gospel of Luke prophesies ominously, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and made a ransom for his people, and has raised a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, just as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old: deliverance from our enemies and from the hand of all those who hate us” (Luke 1:68– 71; cf. 2 Kgdms 22:18; Ps 17:18 LXX). Other apostolic texts go still further, claiming for Jesus not only rightful rule over Judea but – what Tacitus and Suetonius warn about – universal empire. In this vein, Paul interprets his own mission to Gentile cities as the conquest of pagan nations by the Jewish king: “The root of Jesse shall come, even he who rises to rule the Gentiles [ὁ ἀνιστάµενος ἄρχειν ἐθνῶν]” (Rom 15:12, citing Isa 11:10). The Gospel of Matthew prophesies Jesus’s triumphant return in similar terms: “When the son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, at that time he will sit on his glorious throne. All the Gentiles will be gathered before him [συναχθήσονται ἔµπροσθεν αὐτοῦ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη], and he will separate them one from another, just as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” (Matt 25:31–32). The inference from this kind of christological discourse to an antiRoman politics (“If Jesus is Lord, then Caesar is not”) is attested not only in modern scholarship but in the ancient literary record, as well. Indeed, the New Testament texts themselves record the perception on the part of 32 Arnaldo Momigliano, “‘Religious Opposition’ to the Roman Empire,” in idem, On Pagans, Jews, and Christians, 123. 33 Cf. the distinction made by Gallio, proconsul of Achaia, in Acts 18:14–15: “If there were any injustice or egregious wrongdoing [ἀδίκηµά τι ἢ ῥᾳδιούργηµα πονηρόν], O Jews, then I would admit your complaint. But if the disputes have to do with a message and names and your own law [λόγου καὶ ὀνοµάτων καὶ νόµου τοῦ καθ᾿ ὑµᾶς], then you will see to it. I am not willing to be a judge in such matters.”

What the Apostles Did Not See


outsiders (not only Romans but also Jews and other provincials) that the Jesus movement, on the surface of it, looks like an anti-Roman movement. This perception is of course at the center of the Gospel accounts of the trial and execution of Jesus, for instance: The whole company of them [the temple authorities] rose and led him [Jesus] to Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man perverting our ethnos [διαστρέφοντα τὸ ἔθνος ἡµῶν], and hindering us from paying taxes to Caesar [κωλύοντα φόρους Καίσαρι διδόναι], and saying that he himself is the messiah, a king [λέγοντα ἑαυτὸν χριστὸν βασιλέα εἶναι].” And Pilate questioned him saying, “Are you the king of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You say so.” Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this person.” But they were insistent, saying, “He incites the people [ἀνασείει τὸν λαὸν], teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee even to here.” (Luke 23:1–5) Pilate was seeking to release him [Jesus], but the Jews cried out saying, “If you release this man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar [πᾶς ὁ βασιλέα ἑαυτὸν ποιῶν ἀντιλέγει τῷ Καίσαρι].” When Pilate heard these words, he led Jesus outside and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called the Pavement, or in Hebrew, Gabbatha. It was the day of preparation of the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your king!” They then cried out, “Take him away, take him away, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your king?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king except Caesar [οὐκ ἔχοµεν βασιλέα εἰ µὴ Καίσαρα].” (John 19:12–15)

The Gospel accounts plead Jesus’s innocence of the charges brought against him: He is not the kind of messiah that the Romans are worried about. But as Morton Smith notes, “Roman provincial governors were not au courant in questions of messianic typology; anybody who got to be known as a messiah was likely to end up on a cross.”34 It is understandable, then, that the stigma associated with Jesus’s execution as a rival king attaches also to the apostolic mission in the Diaspora. In this connection, Luke relates the following story about Paul and Silas in Thessalonica: The Jews [of Thessalonica] were jealous, and taking some wicked men from among the loiterers, they gathered a mob, incited the city, and set upon the house of Jason, seeking to bring them [Paul and Silas] out to the people. But when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brethren before the city officials, crying, “These men who have subverted the oikoumene [οἱ τὴν οἰκουµένην ἀναστατώσαντες] have come here also, whom Jason has welcomed; and they are all carrying on against the decrees of Caesar [ἀπέναντι τῶν δογµάτων Καίσαρος πράσσουσιν], saying that there is another king, Jesus [βασιλέα ἕτερον λέγοντες εἶναι Ἰησοῦν].” (Acts 17:5–7)

The Macedonian Jews in the story do not want their city authorities to get the wrong idea about them, to think that they have any truck with these 34

Morton Smith, “Messiahs: Robbers, Jurists, Prophets, and Magicians,” PAAJR 44 (1977): 193.


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Jewish preachers recently arrived from Syria. The newcomers subvert the oikoumene with their proclamation of a rival king, but the Jews of Thessalonica (like the Jerusalemites in the Lukan passion narrative) loudly declare their fealty to Caesar. As Paula Fredriksen has argued, in view of the genuinely precarious social situation of ancient Diaspora Jewish communities, such an inner-Jewish response to the apostolic sect is historically quite plausible.35 This phenomenon is related to the fear expressed by the Jerusalem Sanhedrin in the Gospel of John: “If we let him [Jesus] carry on in this way . . . the Romans will come and destroy both our place and our ethnos” (John 11:48); and perhaps also to the motives of the circumcision party in the churches of Galatia: “It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who are compelling you to be circumcised, only in order that they might not be persecuted for the cross of Christ” (Gal 6:12). In short, it was in the best interests of the mainstream Jewish community to make their disapproval of the apostolic troublemakers clear. There is some evidence that, even at the end of the first century C.E., the Jesus sect in Judea, at least, still looked to Roman eyes like a politically troublesome band of Jews. The second-century Christian chronicler Hegesippus relates the story (preserved for us by Eusebius) of how, in the early 90s C.E., the emperor Domitian interrogated some of the so-called desposyni, descendants of the family of Jesus, about their connection to the ancient dynasty of king David and about the politics of “the kingdom of Christ”: Of the family of the Lord there were still living [in the 90s C.E.] the grandchildren of Jude, who is said to have been the Lord’s brother according to the flesh. Information was given that they belonged to the family of David, and they were brought to the emperor Domitian by the Evocatus. For Domitian feared the coming of Christ as Herod also had feared it. And he asked them if they were descendants of David, and they confessed that they were. Then he asked them how much property they had, or how much money they owned. And both of them answered that they had only nine thousand denarii, half of which belonged to each of them. And this property did not consist of silver, but of a piece of land which contained only thirty-nine acres, and from which they raised their taxes and supported themselves by their own labor. Then they showed their hands, exhibiting the hardness of their bodies and the callousness produced upon their hands by continuous toil as evidence of their own labor. And when they were asked concerning Christ and his kingdom, of what sort it was and where and when it was to appear, they answered that it was not a temporal nor an earthly kingdom, but a heavenly and angelic one, which would appear at the end of the world, when he should come in glory to judge the quick and the dead, and to give unto every one according to his works. Upon hearing this, Domitian did not pass judgment against them, but, despising them as of no account, he let 35

Paula Fredriksen, From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Jesus (2nd ed.; New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2000), 153–56; and cf. the similar suggestion of Martin Goodman, The Roman World 44BC-AD180 (London: Routledge, 1997), 325.

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let them go, and by a decree put a stop to the persecution of the Church. (Hegesippus apud Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 3.19–20) 36

To be sure, there are questions about the reliability of this story. I am inclined to think, with several recent interpreters, that in its main lines the account is not implausible.37 But even if, as may be the case, it is entirely hagiographical fiction, it shows that at least Hegesippus could conceive of Roman anxiety about the Jesus sect trying to jumpstart the long defunct Jewish monarchy. These texts attest an important moment in the history of the perception of Christianity. In time, the Jesus movement would come to look to outsiders like a cult – a bizarre, bloodless, aniconic cult – but a cult nonetheless, in which Jesus figured as a deity.38 One thinks of Pliny’s description of the Bithynian Christians under his jurisdiction in the early 110s C.E.: “They meet regularly before dawn on a fixed day to chant verses alternately amongst themselves in honour of Christ as if to a god [Christo quasi deo]. . . . [In my investigation] I found nothing but a degenerate sort of cult carried to extravagant lengths [superstitionem pravam et immodicam]” (Pliny, Ep. 10.96).39 This would become a more or less standard view of Christianity among its cultured despisers in late antiquity. And its uncultured despisers, too, for that matter. The famous Alexamenos graffito from the Palatine Hill in Rome (perhaps early third century) portrays its subject doing obeisance before a crucified man with the head of an ass, with the caption ΑΛΕΧΑΜΕΝΟΣ ΣΕΒΕΤΕ ΘΕΟΝ, “Alexamenos worship(s) god.”40 For the graffitist, as for Pliny, Christianity is effectively a cult that has Christ as its deity. But that is not yet the prevailing perception that we find reported in the texts comprising the New Testament. In those texts, the memory of Jesus’s charismatic career and its ignominious end is very 36

Trans. A. C. McGiffert in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, second series, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace (London: Parker, 1890). 37 See Robert M. Grant, Jesus after the Gospels: The Christ of the Second Century (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1990), 17; Richard Bauckham, Jude and the Relatives of Jesus in the Early Church (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1990), 94–105; but cf. Joan E. Taylor, Christians and the Holy Places: The Myth of Jewish-Christian Origins (Oxford: Clarendon, 1993), 31–36. 38 Here I mean “cult” specifically in the ancient ritual sense (cultus), not in the modern sociological sense (“sect”). On the ancient perception of Jesus as a cult deity, see M. David Litwa, Iesus Deus: The Early Christian Depiction of Jesus as a Mediterranean God (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2014). 39 Trans. Betty Radice, The Letters of the Younger Pliny (Baltimore, MD: Penguin, 1963). 40 See Rodolfo Lanciani, Ancient Rome in Light of Recent Discoveries (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1891), 121–22; Heikki Solin and Marja Itkonen-Kaila, Graffiti del Palatino: Paedagogium (Acta Instituti Romani Finlandiae 3; Helsinki: Helsingfors, 1966), no. 246.


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fresh, and the question put by outsiders is whether the apostolic sect poses the same threat to the Roman peace that their executed leader had ostensibly posed. Unlike the second- and third-century apologists, the New Testament writers (and here I must generalize, at the risk of imprecision) do not go out of their way to assuage such worries. This may be, at least in part, because they are addressing an insider audience, not an outsider one. Even so, the relation between the Christology of the New Testament and the civic ethics of the New Testament is not always easy to follow. On the one hand, the apostles proclaim, “Then the end [will come], when he [Christ] delivers the kingdom to God the father, after he puts an end to every rule and every authority and power [καταργήσῃ πᾶσαν ἀρχὴν καὶ πᾶσαν ἐξουσίαν καὶ δύναµιν]. For he must reign until he puts all his enemies under his feet” (1 Cor 15:24–25, citing Ps 109:1 LXX). But on the other hand, they counsel, “Let every person be subjected to the prevailing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that are have been appointed by God. Consequently, he who resists authority opposes what God has decreed [ὁ ἀντιτασσόµενος τῇ ἐξουσίᾳ τῇ τοῦ θεοῦ διαταγῇ ἀνθέστηκεν]” (Rom 13:1–2). The latter passage is, if not strictly a non sequitur, at least not an obvious inference from the former. Granted, Paul’s assignment of the Roman emperor to the role of servant of the Jewish God (Rom 13:4) is a demotion relative to the emperor’s own pretensions;41 but, one must add, only relative to them. Relative to Paul’s own christological discourse, this passage seems to pull a punch. Yes, it is far less than the emperor would claim for himself, but it is far more than Paul allows him elsewhere. John of Patmos, at least, sees that “the testimony of Jesus” has set his churches on a collision course with the Roman Empire. Why, then, do the other New Testament writers not see it?

Between early Judaism and early Christianity From a bird’s-eye historical view, there is a certain naivete in the New Testament writers’ posture toward the Roman Empire. But of course, they themselves did not have such a view. And in fact, it may be that their peculiar historical situation itself accounts for their inability to see what Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny, Justin, and Tertullian saw very clearly. For at least the four decades between the death of Jesus under Tiberius and the sack of Jerusalem under Vespasian, the Jesus movement fell rather awkwardly in the notional intersection between what we call early Judaism 41

Thus, e.g., Wright, “Paul’s Gospel and Caesar’s Empire,” 172.

What the Apostles Did Not See


and what we call early Christianity.42 The apostolic sect were both Jews and Christians, or, from a slightly different perspective, they were neither Jews nor Christians, as we normally use those terms.43 The ancient Jewish community had a reasonably workable relationship with the Roman Empire. The Jews, like any ethnos that fell under the Roman Imperium, were permitted and indeed expected to carry on offering cult to their god and following their ancestral customs, provided that they also demonstrated due reverence to him to whom providence had granted universal empire. In view of the Jews’ idiosyncratic insistence on monolatry, provisions could be and were made for the priests in the Jerusalem Temple to offer sacrifices for the sake of the emperor rather than to him.44 This thin semantic difference seems to have kept the Jews blameless and the Romans happy, and so for all practical purposes the Jews got on like any other ethnos in the Empire, whether Gauls, Egyptians, Syrians, Thracians, or what have you. There were of course horrible exceptions, in particular the Jewish-Roman wars of 66–70 C.E. and 132–136 C.E., but the exceptions prove the rule. These wars broke out because the modus vivendi that had been in place more or less since the Judean campaign of Pompey in the 60s B.C.E. broke down. Someone (either a Roman governor or a local Jewish leader or both) oversteps the familiar arrangement, stasis erupts for three to five years, the Romans finally end it with a tremendous show of military force, penalties are exacted, and equilibrium is restored. It was not pretty, but it was typical. The Christian community, on the other hand, had its own very different relationship to the Roman Empire through the second and third centuries.45 Unlike Judaism, Christianity was not the ancestral cult of any ethnos, and its practitioners came from every ethnos. They abandoned their own ancestral gods and customs and offered cult to a new god called Christ, 42

Cf. Loren Stuckenbruck’s and Candida Moss’s essays in the present volume. The literature on the emergence of the identity marker “Christian” is vast and rapidly growing, but see in particular Judith M. Lieu, Neither Jew nor Greek? Constructing Early Christian Identity (London: T&T Clark, 2002); eadem, Christian Identity in the Jewish and Graeco-Roman World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004); and Philippa Townsend, “Who Were the First Christians? Jews, Gentiles, and the Christianoi,” in Heresy and Identity in Late Antiquity, ed. Eduard Iricinschi and Holger M. Zellentin (TSAJ 119; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008), 212–30. 44 See Philo, Legat. 357, where Caligula complains that the standing arrangement is not to his satisfaction: τεθύκατε, ἀλλ᾽ ἑτέρῳ, κἂν ὑπὲρ ἐµοῦ· τί οὖν ὄφελος; οὐ γὰρ ἐµοὶ τεθύκατε, “You have sacrificed, but to another, even if it was for my sake. What good is it then? For you have not sacrificed to me” (Greek text ed. L. Cohn and S. Reiter, Philonis Alexandrini opera quae supersunt [6 vols.; Berlin: Reimer, 1896–1915]). 45 See Robert L. Wilken, The Christians as the Romans Saw Them (2nd ed.; New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003 [1st ed. 1984]); Robin Lane Fox, Pagans and Christians (New York: Knopf, 1986). 43


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which, from a Roman perspective, was naturally perceived as superstitio (e.g., Pliny, Ep. 10.96). With time, and no small effort from Christian apologists like Justin, Origen, and Tertullian, Christianity effectively became a Greco-Roman religion in its own right, although its recent vintage and its inhospitableness toward all ancestral cults remained problematic. From time to time, groups of Christians ran afoul of this or that emperor or provincial governor, resulting in punitive measures, but such episodes were the exception rather than the rule.46 In any case, the religion represented in the New Testament is not yet that Christianity. And to just that extent, its situation vis-à-vis the Roman Empire is not yet the situation that obtained for Christians in the second and third centuries. For most of the first century C.E., the followers of Jesus did not yet identify as “Christians,” nor did the Romans identify them thusly.47 From the perspective of all parties concerned, they were a sect of Jews, including, however, a large and growing number of judaizing Gentiles.48 For a time, the apostolic sect simply carried on under the prevailing Jewish-Roman détente, but they also effectively breached that détente, first, by conspicuously hailing a recently executed Judean insurgent as coming ruler of the world and, second, by soliciting law-abiding Roman subjects to forsake their own ancestral gods in order to follow this Judean superstitio. When they caught the attention of Roman magistrates, they looked like and were treated like treasonous Jews. But it was only rarely that they did catch the attention of Roman magistrates. Indeed, it may be that the New Testament writers say so little about the Roman Empire as such precisely because they had so little interaction with the Roman Empire as such. Not that the Empire did not impose itself strongly upon their daily existence; it certainly did.49 But as a sect of Jews in the provinces of the Greek East, the apostolic sect neither warranted nor received much in the way of direct attention from Rome. Their predominant political contexts were the synagogues, city councils, and courts of client kings in the eastern provinces. Paul’s dramatic appeal to Caesar in Acts 25 is dramatic precisely because it is exceptional. A case such as his might have been handled by the Jerusalem council (Acts 22:30–23:10), or failing that by the client king Agrippa II (Acts 26:32), or failing that by the

46 Candida Moss has recently argued that they were even more exceptional than has generally been supposed (Candida Moss, The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martrydom [San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins, 2013]). 47 The exceptions are Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Pet 4:16. 48 On this point, see in particular Oakes, “Christian Attitudes to Rome at the Time of Paul’s Letter.” 49 So rightly Meggitt, “Emperor’s Clothes.”

What the Apostles Did Not See


provincial governor (Acts 23:26–25:12). These were the local faces of the Roman Empire. In New Testament scholarship, we have a mental habit of conceiving the Jews and the Romans as quite discrete groups, which can be helpful, for instance, when discussing the assignment of blame for the death of Jesus in the Gospel passion narratives (e.g., Matt 27:24–25). To be sure, in certain senses and for certain purposes, the Jews and the Romans were discrete groups. But in other senses and for other purposes, the two cooperated quite extensively.50 So here. Because the Romans typically governed the provinces through the medium of local aristocrats, in the daily experience of many provincials the public face of the Roman Empire was a familiar face. Martin Goodman rightly notes: The personnel employed by the state required for [provincial administration] was thus very small, but the process relied on the co-operation of the local people, in particular local aristocrats. Such aristocrats, often but not always descendants of the indigenous elite, but always defined at least partly by their wealth, were the main channel for provincials to have contact with the sources of power in the Roman Empire. 51

In the case of Judea, after the dismissal of Archelaus in 6 C.E., according to Josephus, ἀριστοκρατία µὲν ἦν ἡ πολιτεία, τὴν δὲ προστασίαν τοῦ ἔθνους οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς ἐπεπίστευντο, “The polity became an aristocracy, and the chief priests were entrusted with leadership of the ethnos” (Ant. 20.251).52 Likewise, near the end of the War Josephus has Titus describe Roman administration of Judea thusly: βασιλεῖς ὁµοφύλους ἐπεστήσαµεν, ἔπειτα τοὺς πατρίους νόµους ἐτηρήσαµεν, “We appointed kings from your own tribe, and moreover we upheld your ancestral laws” (War 6.333– 334).53 Seth Schwartz aptly summarizes: Scholars often treat the arrival of the Romans in Palestine in 63 B.C.E. as a watershed in Jewish history. But little changed for the first 140 years of Roman rule. The Romans were more interventionist than their Hellenistic predecessors but initially preferred to rule through local agents. The Romans made many changes small and large in the administrative organization of Jewish Palestine and meddled tirelessly in the affairs of the Jewish ruling classes, but they allowed the Jews to remain a more or less autonomous nation


I am grateful to David Eastman for his valuable comments on this point. Goodman, Roman World, 101. See also Ramsay Macmullen, Romanization in the Time of Augustus (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2000), 4: “The form of government prevailing in cities throughout the east remained very much as Roman conquest had found it, oligarchic. Roman senators controlling foreign affairs wanted to find their like in charge of the local scene, suitably conservative and deferential; but the natural drift of things even before conquest had long lain in that oligarchic direction anyway.” 52 Greek text ed. Benedikt Niese, Flavii Iosephi opera (Berlin: Weidmann, 1892). 53 Greek text ed. Niese. 51


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centered on the Jerusalem temple and governed by the laws of the Torah. This changed only in the later first century C.E.54

Adjusting for differing arrangements elsewhere in the Empire, this picture is generally consistent with what we find in the New Testament sources. Sometimes Paul finds himself imprisoned by the praetorium (Phil 1:13), and he counts among his coreligionists some in the familia Caesaris (Phil 4:22). But just as often he comes up against local political structures. “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes less one” (2 Cor 11:24), a reference to discipline meted out in the Diaspora synagogues, perhaps the makkot mardut of rabbinic legislation (m. Mak. 3).55 Elsewhere Paul relates how “In Damascus, the ethnarch under King Aretas guarded the city of the Damascenes in order to seize me” (2 Cor 11:32), implicating both the Nabataean client king and his Syrian appointee. From the perspective of these soldiers, kings, ethnarchs, elders, and archisynagogoi, these were no doubt so many mundane instances of provincial jurisprudence. These indigenous political institutions were recognized by the imperial government and tasked with maintaining Roman order locally, and so they did. Paul, on the other hand, views these episodes as outbursts of Satanic violence by the principalities and powers of this world against his own apostolic mission to announce the messiah Jesus, risen from the dead and coming soon to judge the cosmos. As Paul sees it, synagogue authorities, client kings, Roman guards, and indeed the imperator himself are so many cogs in one vast political machine, “the rulers of this age” (1 Cor 2:6-8). And in a sense, by the very design of the Roman provincial administration, that is what they were. No wonder, then, that the apostles did not see an inevitable clash between Christ and Caesar. Caesar himself was far away in Rome, and the rulers and authorities with whom they had to do were as often Jewish, Syrian, Asian, or Macedonian as they were Italian. As for Christ, he was coming soon to judge the cosmos and hand over the kingdom to God. If the Romans could not be bothered to take notice of the apostles, well, neither could the apostles the Romans.

54 Seth Schwartz, Imperialism and Jewish Society 200 B.C.E. to 630 C.E. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009), 43; similarly E. Mary Smallwood, The Jews Under Roman Rule from Pompey to Diocletian: A Study in Political Relations (2nd ed.; Leiden: Brill, 1981), 149. 55 Plausibly suggested by Fredriksen, From Jesus to Christ, 145.

Methodological Considerations for the Search of Counter-Imperial “Echoes” in Pauline Literature1 CHRISTOPH HEILIG Counter-Imperial “Echoes” on the Level of Subtext Introduction In the last two decades an increasing number of scholars have argued for a much more critical evaluation of the Roman Empire in the Pauline letters than has often been assumed.2 The fundamental criticism which is raised against such an interpretation of Paul is, naturally, the apparently positive evaluation of state power in Rom 13:1–7 in combination with the lack of


This paper is a summary of a larger project which will be published soon. John M. G. Barclay was so kind to provide me with constructive feedback on this paper and I hope that I will be able to do full justice to his response in the book version. I am extremely grateful to Theresa Heilig for her help in shaping my views on methodology, and to Anthony Fisher for his insightful comments and assistance with English. 2 Some forerunners include, for example, G. Adolf Deissmann, Licht vom Osten: Das Neue Testament und die neuentdeckten Texte der hellenistisch-römischen Welt (4th ed.; Tübingen: Mohr, 1923); Klaus Wengst, Pax Romana: Anspruch und Wirklichkeit: Erfahrungen und Wahrnehmungen des Friedens bei Jesus und im Urchristentum (München: Kaiser, 1986); and Dieter Georgi, “Gott auf den Kopf stellen: Überlegungen zu Tendenz und Kontext des Theokratiegedankens in paulinischer Praxis und Theologie,” in Theokratie, ed. Jacob Taubes (vol. 3 of Religionstheorie und Politische Theologie; München: Ferdinand Schöningh/Wilhelm Funk, 1987), 148–205. The last contribution has gained some influence due to its inclusion in the important anthology of Richard A. Horsley, ed., Paul and Empire: Religion and Power in Roman Imperial Society (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity, 1997). Nevertheless, caution is necessary when attributing an uncritical position to earlier (exegetical and systematic-theological) scholarship. One only has to consult some of the nuanced contributions from post-war Germany, sensitized to tyranny. Compare, for example, Oscar Cullmann, Der Staat im Neuen Testament (2nd ed.; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1961), with the rather pompous statements of some current interpreters of Paul who deny that former generations had a nuanced position on this topic. For a recent bibliography of important recent contributions see John M. G. Barclay, “Why the Roman Empire was Insignificant to Paul,” in Pauline Churches and Diaspora Jews, ed. idem (WUNT 275; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2011), 365.


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clear criticism in the rest of the Corpus Paulinum.3 Since on the surface of the text such a critical attitude is not apparent, the search for critical allusions on the level of a subtext4 has become increasingly important.5 As a methodological help, N. T. Wright6 and Neil Elliott7 suggest the use of Richard B. Hays’s criteria8 for identifying “echoes” of the Hebrew Bible in the NT. Methodological Foundations: Hays’s Criteria Richard B. Hays’s Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul is one of the most influential books in Pauline scholarship from the second half of the twentieth century.9 He discusses the use of the Hebrew Bible in the letters of Paul but in contrast to many other scholars, he does not merely focus on clearly recognizable quotes which Paul is said to have used as prooftexts.10 Instead, he concentrates on short phrases reminiscent of scriptural passages (hence the metaphor of “echoes”) and shows that often the whole story of the original section resonates.11 An “echo” in Hays’s terminology is more subtle than an allusion or even a quote.12 In fact, it can be so subtle that it might not even have been intended as an inter-textual link by the author himself.13 (Just like biblical formulations in modern authors.)14 In


Cf. Joel R. White, “Anti-Imperial Subtexts in Paul: An Attempt at Building a Firmer Foundation,” Biblica 90 (2009): 305–7 on the problem of a positive evaluation of the Roman Empire in Rom 13:1–7 and the lack of overt negative criticism. 4 A subtext is “[a]ny meaning or set of meanings which is implied rather than explicitly stated in a literary work, especially in a play“ (Chris Baldick, “subtext,” in The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms n. p. [online version]). 5 White, “Subtexts,” 308: “In view of the absence of direct evidence, proponents of an anti-imperial Paul have turned their attention to examining the subtexts of Paul’s writing.” 6 N. T. Wright, Paul: In Fresh Perspective (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2005), 61. 7 Neil Elliott, The Arrogance of Nations: Reading Romans in the Shadow of Empire (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2008), 22. 8 Richard B. Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press: 1989). 9 Cf. N. T. Wright, “Paul in Current Anglophone Scholarship,” Expository Times 128 (2012): 371, who calls it “groundbreaking.” For a detailed discussion of Hays’s theses see the anthology of Craig A. Evans and James A. Sanders, eds., Paul and the Scriptures of Israel (JSNTSup 83; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1993). 10 Cf. Wright, “Anglophone Scholarship,” 371. 11 See, for example, Hays, Echoes, 21–4 on Phil 1:19. 12 Hays, Echoes, 29. This distinction is quite vague and not very important for our investigation since the authors discussed here (Elliott and Wright) do not adopt it. 13 Cf. the hermeneutical discussion in Hays, Echoes, 25–29. 14 Hays, Echoes, 29.

Counter-Imperial “Echoes” in Pauline Literature


order to identify such echoes, Hays suggests seven criteria,15 which he sees more like guidelines than a procedure that has to be followed strictly:16 1. Availability: Was the supposed source of the echo available to the author/the original reader? The Hebrew scriptures are assumed to be known to Paul on the grounds of many explicit quotes. On the other hand, this shows that Paul expects his readers to be familiar with this material. 17 2. Volume: The “volume” is mainly determined by the degree of explicit repetition of words or syntactic patterns. But there are other factors, such as the question of how important the source text was in the Jewish canon and how much the echo is emphasized.18 3. Recurrence: How often does Paul quote the same scriptural passage or allude to it? 19 4. Thematic Coherence: This criterion analyzes how well the supposed echo fits into the flow of Paul’s argument or to other quotes in his letters.20 5. Historical Plausibility: Is it historically plausible that Paul would have intended the effect of the echo and that his readers could have understood it?21 6. History of Interpretation: Has the echo been identified before? Since discoveries could be new and meanings lost for a long time, a negative test result is not a criterion for exclusion.22 7. Satisfaction: This criterion asks questions like: Does the new reading make sense? Does it shed light on the discourse? Does it offer a good explanation for the supposed inter-textual link?23

Application to Imperial Ideology: N. T. Wright In his book on Pauline theology, Paul: In Fresh Perspective, Wright devotes an entire chapter to the relationship between Paul and the Roman Empire.24 At the outset, he refers to cases of hidden communication. He


Hays, Echoes, 29–32. Hays, Echoes, 29: “Precision in such judgment calls is unattainable, because exegesis is a modest imaginative craft, not an exact science; still, it is possible to specify certain rules of thumb that might help the craftsman decide whether to treat a particular phrase as an echo and whether to credit my proposed reading of it.” 17 Hays, Echoes, 29–30. 18 Hays, Echoes, 30. 19 Hays, Echoes, 30. 20 Hays, Echoes, 30. 21 Hays, Echoes, 30–31. The motivation for this criterion is to avoid anachronisms. From my perspective, Hays contradicts his own hermeneutical presupposition of not making an assumption about the intention of the echo. 22 Hays, Echoes, 31. 23 Hays, Echoes, 31–32. 24 Wright, Perspective, 59–79: “Gospel and Empire.” 16


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mentions the literature discussed by Graham Robb,25 which alludes to homosexual motifs by means of key words, colours, and pictures “at a time when such things could not be published openly.”26 He also adduces the case of a playwright who criticized the current regime during the time of the Chinese cultural revolution by means of plays which he placed in a setting long passed (apparently he was not very successful; he was detected and persecuted).27 As for the first century, he refers to some hidden critique under Nero and a coded critique identified by Goodenough in some of Philo’s writings.28 For the field of the New Testament, he adduces the work of Hays with regard to the identification of allusions and echoes.29 He wants to use this tool in order to identify “echoes of Caesar.”30 In his analysis of Pauline texts, Wright does not work through the individual criteria in order to show that they are met in specific texts. He presupposes them as the background to his discussion rather than referring to them explicitly. First of all, Wright outlines the Roman context with its ideology31 and shows how in the Jewish tradition there exists the idea of God using the reign of Gentiles in order to prevent anarchy on the one hand, alongside with the conviction that the covenant God will intervene and judge the Gentiles for oppressing his people on the other.32 These two aspects, combined with the experience of the resurrection of Jesus, generated the conviction that Jesus was Lord, and Caesar was not.33 At the same time (and in analogy with Jewish tradition), Wright argues that this claim was compatible with a positive evaluation of Gentile power as evident in Rom 13 and Acts.34 Accordingly, he thinks that this integration of an apparently pro-imperial passage is compatible with the criterion of “Them-


Graham Robb, Strangers: Homosexual Love in the Nineteenth Century (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2003). 26 Wright, Perspective, 60. 27 Wright, Perspective, 60–61. 28 Edward Champlin, Nero (Cambridge: Belknap, 2003) and Erwin R. Goodenough, The Politics of Philo Judaeus: Practice and Theory (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1938). 29 Wright, Perspective, 61. 30 Wright, Perspective, 61. It is quite significant that he lays the focus on the person of Caesar. For Wright, Paul is not opposed to the Roman Empire as a whole but “only” to certain claims of the ideology of the ruler and the associated propaganda (cf. Barclay, “Empire,” 370–1). 31 Wright, Perspective, 62–65. 32 Wright, Perspective, 65–69. 33 Wright, Perspective, 69. 34 Cf. Wright, Perspective, 70, and on Rom 13:1–7 in more detail see pp. 78–79.

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atic Coherence.”35 Apart from this short comment, Wright does not refer to any of the individual criteria36 but sums up generally: It would be possible . . . to explore the relevant material by means of key words and ideas: Kyrios, Sōter, parousia, euangelion, dikaiosynē, and so on. At each point we would find that the material (to return to Richard Hays’s categories) was available, loud in volume, frequent in recurrence and thematic coherence, historically plausible, and, though routinely not noticed within much of the history of interpretation, enormously productive of that ‘aha’ which is one of the results of good historical exegesis.37

Instead of following this path, Wright proceeds to show how Paul picks up and confronts imperial themes.38 Application to Imperial Ideology: Neil Elliott In the introductory remarks of his analysis of the letter to the Romans, Elliott emphasizes that Hays’s criteria can be applied to mythical and ideological themes, which were ubiquitous in the Roman capital, as well as to texts of the Hebrew Bible.39 He comments on some of the criteria; with regard to availability, Elliott thinks that the fulfilment of this criterion can be assumed, since themes of imperial propaganda were widely known in the cities of the Roman empires through pictures, processions, and panegyric. He adds that this presupposition can be made even firmer than the one of the familiarity of the non-Jewish addressees of Paul with the Septuagint.40 On “Volume,” Elliott acknowledges that, with the exception of 1 Thess 5:3, Paul does not refer explicitly to slogans of imperial propaganda or even Roman writings. Nevertheless, he invokes Hays’s remark that the volume is also determined by the prominence of the source text of the 35

Wright, Perspective, 61. One could argue that Wright’s discussion at the beginning of the chapter at least implicitly engages with the criterion of “Historical Plausibility.” There, Wright emphasizes that the strict distinction between theology and society, or religion and politics, which is part of our own worldview, is inappropriate to describe the situation in the first century. This distinction would not have made sense either in a Jewish or in a GrecoRoman context (Wright, Perspective, 60). For Israel, YHWH was not only creator but also ruler of the world. Caesar, on the other hand, “was a living example of the uniting of the divine and human spheres” (Perspective, 60). The charge of anachronism thus has to be raised against those exegetes who try to understand Paul’s worldview with the presupposition of such a dichotomy (Perspective, 61). 37 Wright, Perspective, 70–71. 38 Wright, Perspective, 71–78. 39 Elliott, Arrogance, 22. For a shorter and, with regard to our question, more poignant extract of this work, see Neil Elliott, “‘Blasphemed among the Nations’: Pursuing an Anti-Imperial ‘Intertextuality’ in Romans,” in As it is Written: Studying Paul’s Use of Scripture, ed. Stanley E. Porter and Christopher D. Stanley (SBLSymS 50; Atlanta, GA: Scholars, 2008), 219. 40 Elliott, “Nations,” 219. 36


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echo: “Themes that loom large in Romans – justice, mercy, piety, and virtue – were overwhelmingly ‘distinctive and prominent’ in Roman imperial ideology as well.”41 Commenting on the criterion of historical plausibility, Elliott refers to Champlin’s assertion of a “remarkable sensitivity” among the Roman population with regard to irony, ambiguity, and other forms of indirect communication.42 Concerning the history of interpretation, Elliott points out that it is not very important for Hays. He also emphasizes that at the moment there is a greater awareness in scholarship for political themes and allusions in the writings of Paul.43 Altogether, Elliott thinks that these observations allow for the preliminary conclusion that it is appropriate to read the letter to the Romans with the same sensitivity for political connotations that the audience in the Roman theatre would have had.44 Summary As we have seen, N. T. Wright and Neil Elliott use Hays’s criteria in a quite similar way. Both use them in order to justify their search for a veiled criticism of the Roman Empire in Paul. Both do not apply the criteria to specific texts but rather presuppose them as justification of their approach. Both seem to understand the echoes to be intentional (departing from Hays, who remains agnostic about this with regard to scriptural echoes). And very importantly, both stress that it is the combination of (a) oppression and (b) the avoidance of persecution that justifies the search for “echoes” of the Empire in Paul.

Methodological Evaluation Criteria By looking at Wright’s and Elliott’s approach, we have already encountered concrete “criteria” in order to identify echoes that are critical of the Roman Empire. Developing and using criteria to answer questions is a common practice in scientific research in general and in the field of New Testament research in particular: “Does text X have feature A, B, and C? If so, it follows that it also has feature Y.” To give one example, the judgement on the historicity of statements or deeds attributed to Jesus in the Gospels is dependent on the fulfillment of certain criteria. The same is true for “mirror-reading” Paul’s letter in order to determine what can be learned 41

Elliott, “Nations,” Elliott, “Nations,” 43 Elliott, “Nations,” 44 Elliott, “Nations,” 42

220. 219–20. Cf. Champlin, Nero, 95–96. 220. 220.

Counter-Imperial “Echoes” in Pauline Literature


from them about his opponents. And, as we have already seen, tests are used to identify echoes of the Hebrew Bible in the letters of Paul. All these phenomena are in some sense inter-textual45 and the analysis of specific criteria aims to check whether a postulated connection is historically plausible (Historical Jesus → Words and deeds of Jesus in the Gospels; Hebrew Bible/Message of the opponents → Paul’s letters). In principle then, one may also want to formulate criteria for the relationship at the center of Wright’s and Elliott’s investigation (imperial propaganda → letters of Paul). However, before taking over criteria from one field and applying them to another, we first have to clarify what “criteria” really are. First of all, it is important to note that usually a much weaker notion of “criterion” is used in biblical studies compared to philosophical discourse, in which criteria for the predicate P being the case for a thing x are “nichts anderes als die jeweils notwendigen und zusammengenommen hinreichenden Bedingungen dafür, dass P auf x zutrifft.”46 By contrast, in the areas of application just mentioned, the notion of “criteria” is used more with the meaning of “symptom” or “mark” and implies a tendency rather than a necessary consequence. This realism does justice to the fact that historical events usually cannot be broken down to a few verifiable basic points. However, this automatically implies that the use of criteria eventually is not a phenomenon of logic but of pragmatism. The examination of certain criteria allows one to classify objects without having to comprehend them in their entirety, which is an immense practical advantage. But what makes such a predication true in the end is not the fulfillment of the criteria itself but their agreement with the logical inference for which the criteria are only the shortcut. Criteria can thus be legitimized in two ways: First, by showing a multiplicity of cases in which they lead to the right – independently established – result or, secondly (and far better since being itself the basis for such an empirical assessment), by explicating how these criteria relate to the complete inference.47 If criteria are applied to another field, it is especially 45

A similar focus on the value of criteria can be found in (mostly popular) books on textual criticism. 46 Heinrich Schmidt and Martin Gessmann, eds., Philosophisches Wörterbuch (23rd ed.; Stuttgart: Kröner, 2009), 411. In English, this means that these criteria are “nothing but the necessary and – taken together – sufficient conditions for P being true for x.” 47 Hence, it is odd that James R. Harrison, Paul and the Imperial Authorities at Thessalonica and Rome (WUNT 273; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2011), 37 says: “Several of Hays’ methodological criteria, as reconfigured by Wright, coincide with my own, though my criteria have been independently formulated of Wright and Hays. They flow methodologically from my engagement of the ancient literary, documentary, numismatic, iconographic and archaeological evidence with the texts of Paul.” To say that criteria are


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prudent to see whether they fit their new (inferential) context.48 We thus want to take a look at the implicit foundation of the whole argument in the next section in order to see whether Hays’s criteria are a useful representation of the inference for which they were originally developed. Only then will we ask the question whether it is fitting to transfer them to another context. Bayes’s Theorem At this point, we can make use of Bayes’s theorem.49 It offers a basic structure of an inference50 by stating which elements amount to the overall plausibility of a hypothesis. The theorem can be derived easily from the axioms of probability theory. It is very simple in its structure, and its use for historical research obvious:51 p(H|E) = p(E|H)*p(H)/p(E)

p(H|E) is the probability we want to determine, the probability of a hypothesis H in light of the occurrence of the event E. Since we are talking about past events, it is best to think of this value as corresponding to the

methodologically derived from the object of investigation is as incorrect as a cook who claims that his recipes are derived from his products alone (and not from principles of composition with regard to taste, texture, and color). 48 Cf. Christoph Heilig, “Anonymes oder Spezifisches Design? Vergleich zweier methodischer Ansätze für Forschung im Rahmen der teleologischen Perspektive,” in Die Ursprungsfrage: Beiträge zum Status teleologischer Antwortversuche, ed. Christoph Heilig and Jens Kany (Edition Forschung 1; Münster: Lit, 2011), 102–9. 49 For a very detailed discussion of the aspects which can only be treated very briefly here see Colin Howson and Peter Urbach, Scientific Reasoning: The Bayesian Approach (Chicago, IL: Open Court, 1993). For the original essay by Thomas Bayes, see the appendix in Richard Swinburne, ed., Bayes’s Theorem (PBA 113; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 117–49. 50 Cf. Philip Dawid, “Bayes’s Theorem and Weighing Evidence by Juries,” in Bayes’s Theorem, ed. R. Swinburne (PBA 113; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 88: “Bayesian statistics is just the logic of rational inference in the presence of uncertainty. It is a valuable intellectual resource, bringing clarity to the formulation and analysis of many perplexing problems” (emphasis mine). 51 For Bayes’s theorem in historical research see Aviezer Tucker, Our Knowledge of the Past: A Philosophy of Historiography (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 92–140. Cf. also the introductions of Mark Day, The Philosophy of History: An Introduction (London: Continuum, 2008), 31–49; and Mark Day and Gregory Radick, “Historiographic Evidence and Confirmation,” in A Companion to the Philosophy of History and Historiography, ed. A. Tucker (Blackwell Companions to Philosophy; Oxford: Blackwell, 2009), 87–97. The chapter by Dawid, “Theorem,” discusses the evaluation of evidence in court and has many intriguing impulses for dealing with data in historical sciences.

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confidence in the truth of H. How much would you be willing to bet on the truth of H? The first element that is necessary in order to determine this value is the probability of the event E if the hypothesis H is presupposed (this is called “likelihood” or better “predictive power”).52 It is the explanatory potential of the hypothesis that is investigated at this point. Does the occurrence of E fit nicely into what one would expect on the basis of H or is it surprising? The other values are called “priors” since they describe probabilities before the occurrence of the event E itself. How probable is the hypothesis H (irrespective of E) and how probable is the occurrence of E at all?53 To determine p(H) is one of the great challenges of inferences according to Bayes’s theorem. If our inferences were based only on the event E, this would be problematic indeed, since the probability p(H) would have no testable reference point. How could one tell which hypothesis has the higher probability at the outset?54 Fortunately we do not look at E in isolation but against the background of our knowledge of other things. That this knowledge is incorporated into Bayes’s theorem can be shown by reformulating it so that the prior of H is dependent on our previous knowledge P: 55 p(H|E & P) = p(E|H & P)*p(H|P)/p(E|P)

Much of this knowledge will, of course, be irrelevant for determining our probabilities. The knowledge that is crucial is the knowledge that concerns the basic parameters which are presupposed by the assumption of a hypothesis H. A hypothesis can have a very high explanatory power p(E|H); that means, if it is true, the event which occurred would make perfect sense, but if our prior knowledge P contradicts the presuppositions of H, it can have a very low overall probability.56 The last aspect we have to expli52

Cf. Richard Swinburne, “Introduction,” in Bayes’s Theorem, ed. idem (PBA 113; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 10. 53 Accordingly p(H|E) is called the “posterior”-probability because here the probability is dependent on the occurrence of E. 54 On this problem see exemplarily Elliott Sober, “Bayesianism: Its Scope and Limits,” in Bayes’s Theorem, ed. R. Swinburne (PBA 113; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 22–38, esp. 22–24. 55 The assignment of events into the categories P and E is, of course, artificial and derived from the problem that is investigated: What counts as established knowledge, and what is debated? Cf. Swinburne, “Introduction,” 10. 56 That is precisely the problem with conspiracy theories; they appeal to many people and are found persuasive because humans do not intuitively tend to think in a Bayesian mode and thus make huge mistakes in evaluating probabilities. On conspiracy theories, see Peter Lipton, Inference to the Best Explanation (2nd ed.; London: Routledge, 2004), 60: “If only it were true, it would provide a very good explanation.” On astonishing illustrations of the inclination of humans to think non-Bayesian see Lipton, Inference, 108–9.


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cate is p(E). Normally, there are several hypotheses which are suggested as an explanation for the occurrence of E. This comparative aspect is also incorporated in the theorem, although this is not apparent at first sight and it looks as if only one explanation is analyzed. However, p(E) – the overall probability of the occurrence of E – also includes the probability of E under the presupposition of all alternative hypotheses of H (here summarized by the negation ~H), so that p(E) can be reformulated as p(E|H)*p(H) + p(E|~H)*p(~H).57 If two specific hypotheses H1 and H2 are to be compared, the theorem can be reformulated in a way in which the knowledge of the overall probability of E – p(E) – is no longer necessary:58 p(H 1|E)/p(H 2|E) = p(E|H 1)*p(H 1)/(p(E|H 2)*p(H 2))

This means that a hypothesis H1 is to be preferred over against another hypothesis H2 if the probability – which is based on background plausibility and explanatory potential – is higher in the first case. Thus it is true that p(H1|E) > p(H2|E) if and only if p(E|H1)*p(H1) > p(E|H2)*p(H2).59 Hays’s Criteria in the Context of Bayes’s Theorem We can thus conclude on the basis of Bayes’s theorem that criteria which are supposed to establish a hypothesis have to ensure that background plausibility and explanatory potential are both considered and that both of these fields – especially the background plausibility – are covered completely. The question we have to ask next is whether Hays’s criteria really are a faithful representation of these two essential elements of Bayes’s theorem. First, let us turn to the background plausibility. The “Thematic Coherence” of an alleged echo with the immediate literary context can influence this plausibility. Would we expect from the flow of the argument the proposition that emerges if we assume an echo for a specific verse? If yes, then we have reason to expect the echo even before (“prior to”) looking at the concrete wording of the phrase in question. Similarly, if the phrase in question is anticipated from the flow of the passage without recourse to a scriptural link this increases the probability of the alternative “chance,” thus taking away reason to assume a scriptural background. “Thematic Coherence” with regard to other quotes in Paul60 is also significant for the background plausibility/prior-probability. The potential explanation “echo in verse X” gains plausibility if it can be shown that Paul did similar things in the wider corpus of his letters. This aspect of the 57

Cf. Swinburne, “Introduction,” 10. Day, Philosophy, 33. Cf. the erroneous presentation in Day and Radick, “Evidence,” 89–90, where the element of the prior-probability is missing. 59 Cf. Sober, “Bayesianism,” 21. 60 Hays, Echoes, 30. 58

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fourth criterion is very similar to the third: “Recurrence.” Even if the assumption of an echo explains the verse very well, one still needs to ask whether it is even plausible that such a process could ever have happened. This is more probable if it is known that Paul has acted in exactly the same way in other places, and less probable if his behaviour is discontinuous. The criterion of “Availability” (criterion 1) has the same effect on the probability of the hypothesis being true. The potential explanation that Paul, in Gal 3:28, does not have Gen 1:27 LXX (or traditions derived from it) in mind but a phrase from a modern feminist might have a large explanatory potential. However, its background plausibility is 0, since one of its necessary presuppositions (postulated sequence) is wrong. The criterion of “Historical Plausibility” (criterion 5) belongs closely to the one just discussed. However, it does not concern the availability of the Vorlage but its effect (in the worldview of Paul/his readers), which is assumed to be intentional. The presupposition of a certain echo could give a fascinating sense to a difficult passage (explanatory potential), but if the meaning that is attained by this interpretation only makes sense before the horizon of much later time, Bayes’s theorem exposes its low plausibility. The criterion of the “History of Interpretation” (criterion 6) is connected to the logical structure of the inference only insofar as it is understood as a subcategory of the latter criterion or of the one of “Availability” and is limited to a certain circle of recipients. If very early interpreters of the Pauline letters (or later readers who were very well informed about the original context) heard the same echo, this would add plausibility to the case that the Vorlage might also have been familiar to those involved in the original communication process (“Availability”) and that they could have heard the same echo (“Historical Plausibility”).61 After having sifted through the criteria with regard to the background plausibility, let us now turn to the explanatory potential. Ultimately, what Hays calls “Satisfaction” is exactly this component. Provided that the explanation of a scriptural background (or: criticism against the Empire) was correct, would this make the concrete textual form comprehensible? Even more precise (also considering p(E|P)): Would the echo-explanation explain the text at hand better than alternative explanations (such as: chance, other textual traditions; in case of counter-imperial echoes: LXX, pagan cults . . . )? Part of this comparison of the explanatory potential is the question related to “Volume” (criterion 2). It indicates whether a strong corre61 Seyoon Kim (Christ and Caesar: The Gospel and the Roman Empire in the Writings of Paul and Luke [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008], 60–64) constructs a counterargument based on the lack of such early reception. However, it is confusing, to say the least, how he can assure (p. 33) that even the original recipients (!) of the Pauline letters did not hear any message critical of the Empire.


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lation with the assumed Vorlage (quality) or an especially large piece of it (quantity) is existent in the text at hand, if the explanation of an echo were true. If we sum up these observations on Hays’s criteria in relation to the basic structure of Bayes’s theorem, the following correlation emerges: 1. Background Plausibility: p(H) 1. “Availability” of the Vorlage for the author (including parts of “History of Interpretation”). 2. “Historical Plausibility” of the achieved effect in the framework of the worldview of author and recipient (including parts of “History of Interpretation”). 3. “Thematic Coherence” with the immediate literary coherence. 4. “Thematic Coherence” with other allusions of Paul and “Recurrence” of the motif. 2. Explanatory Potential = “Satisfaction”: p(E|H) Including “Volume” of the potential echo

So what can we conclude on this basis? First, the set of criteria invites the uncritical interpreter to overemphasize certain factors, since Hays’s criteria are in part only sub-factors of other criteria, and they should not be used as separate touchstones since this would yield an unrealistic result. For example, one could get the impression that it is correct to treat “Satisfaction” and “Volume” as two different arguments. However, “Satisfaction” can not be determined without analyzing its subordinate aspects. Second, there is the danger of underemphasizing the aspect of “Satisfaction.” Most exegetes probably are not aware of the fact that this factor makes up half of the overall plausibility of an echo. Third, another danger in using Hays’s criteria is that parts of the relevant data could be overlooked, since the criteria are spread out rather chaotically over parts of the two large factors in Bayes’s theorem and defined rather vaguely. To give just one example: How do we know that we have really covered the whole area relevant to determine the crucial factor of the background plausibility? How do we know that the criteria Hays suggested does not leave important gaps in the evaluation of the data? Connected with this is, fourth, the problem that the consequences of failing and fulfilling of a test are unclear. The criteria function cumulatively, and what is missing in one area in terms of plausibility can be counterbalanced by another aspect. Without a control mechanism, this becomes quite an arbitrary way of weighing evidence. In light of all this it does not seem advisable to use Hays’s criteria as a methodologically sound way of identifying echoes. To be sure, it is possible to come to well founded conclusions on their basis (conclusions that agree with an inference in terms of Bayes), but in these cases it is not the set of criteria itself which guarantees the success, but their wise use, which attributes the correct significance to each of them. The danger of such a methodological procedure is that intuitive decisions that are made in ad-

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vance, and are sanctioned afterwards by “tests” which have the appearance of scientific method.

Suggestions for Evaluating the Background Plausibility p(H) What we need is an approach that covers all of the areas relevant for a complete inference in a systematic manner. We thus have to translate the two factors of Bayes’s theorem into testable questions which cover all the relevant data. In what follows, I will concentrate on proposing a new approach for assessing the general plausibility of the echo-hypothesis and not discuss the explanatory potential. This has the following reason: Whereas we can discuss p(H) independently of specific references to Pauline wordings, p(H|E) is dependent on E, i.e., specific verses.62 While the detailed exegesis of numerous relevant passages is not possible in this context, we can lay the foundation for such concrete analyses by offering a short assessment of the background plausibility of the hypothesis of counterimperial echoes in the letters of Paul. Nested Necessary Conditions As we have already noted, we need to look at the plausibility of the presupposed parameters of H in order to determine p(H|P). This means that in order for the hypothesis to be true, certain assumptions need to be made, which are necessary conditions for (this version of) the hypothesis. If we combine the notion of necessary conditions with Bayes’s theorem, we see that the failure to fulfill one of these implies that p(H|P)=0 and accordingly p(H|E & P)=0. If a condition is met, this opens up the question concerning the status of another, consequential, necessary condition. This approach of nested necessary conditions avoids the problem of unclear consequences mentioned above. It is always evident which function each individual operation has. If the hypothesis falls through, it has to be rejected or modified so that the condition no longer poses an obstacle to it. This method also has great advantages in terms of scholarly discourse. In this framework, pointless discussion about the integration of details into the parameters of a hypothesis which does not even meet its most foundational conditions is avoided. Additionally, in the case of disagreement, it allows for very precise communication of where exactly the point of separation lies and which areas (namely the following steps) are affected by that. (Other disagreements may be due to the opinion that important necessary conditions 62

Moreover, such an endeavour would, of course, demand a comparative evaluation of the probabilities as implied by Bayes’s theorem.


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are missing. This procedure allows for specific localization of such dispute.) Building on these considerations I suggest the following steps of procedure:63 1. Discourse Context: The subtext-hypothesis presupposes that hypothetical criticism against the Empire in the Pauline letters would have been placed on the level of subtext by the apostle. In order to maintain this assumption it has to be clarified first in what way these letters were affected by the rules of public discourse at all. This is a necessary condition for the assumption that criticism would have been restricted to the level of subtext for security reasons. 2. Historical/Roman Context: (2a) Further, the question needs to be answered how these rules were framed exactly in the explicit context of the Roman Empire: Would they have sanctioned criticism against the Empire? If not, this would mean the classical echohypothesis would lose its justification for the hiding of criticism. (2b) Even if, on the basis of these considerations, we could conclude that criticism against the Empire – if present in Paul’s letter – would have been sanctioned on the level of the surface of the text but not on the level of the subtext, this still leaves open the question whether such a critical attitude can be assumed for Paul: Without a negative evaluation of the Empire on Paul’s part, there is no reason to expect the discovery of pejorative comments, neither on the level of text surface nor on the level of subtext. In order to attest such a critical attitude, we first have to clarify whether Paul could have had – generally and to what extent – an exposure to imperial ideology. 3. Pauline Context: (3a) The individual steps have become more and more focused, already examining Paul in his historical context in the last step. Now we have to go even further and focus on Paul himself: Even if he was exposed to imperial propaganda, is there any reason to assume that he would have judged it negatively? We are thus asking a question about Paul’s worldview here and the possible integration of a critical attitude in it. (3b) Again, even if such sentiments could be attributed to him, the question would remain how plausible it is, in light of his personality, that he would have limited his criticism only to the level of subtext in order to avoid danger. 4. Explanatory Potential: Even if all these steps helped establish an overall plausibility for the echo-hypothesis, this only presents a precondition for a successful inference because everything still depends on whether this hypothesis, with its plausible parameters, can make sense of the concrete textual phenomena.

Discourse Context In order to maintain the assumption of the necessity of “hiding” criticism, it has to be clarified first in what way Paul’s letters were affected by the rules of public discourse at all. James C. Scott’s terminology of “hidden” and “public transcript” has been used by many scholars to classify the Pau-


Note that I have included the evaluation of the explanatory potential p(E|H) as a fourth step to emphasize its importance for any study which claims to be able to say anything definitive about a concrete echo, although I will not be able to discuss this aspect in what follows.

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line literature with regard to different discourse levels.64 A public transcript describes the public discourse as determined by the dominating party, the hidden transcript is the discourse within each social group (the dominators as well as the suppressed). Both John Barclay and Richard Horsley think that Paul’s letters are more or less a hidden transcript in pure form.65 This would imply that any criticism should be directly available at the surface of the text and any search for a critical subtext would not make sense. But I think this conclusion is demonstrably wrong.66 Since Paul’s letters were read aloud in the congregations, and we know from 1 Cor 14:23 that the assemblies were open to outsiders, Paul would have had to consider the possibility that his letters could fall into the wrong hands. This holds true even if Bruce Winter’s intriguing interpretation of the ἄγγελοι in 1 Cor 11:10 as clients of outsiders were incorrect.67 That Paul encouraged the circulation of his letters further decreased his control over their final recipients. I thus conclude that the Pauline letters, though private correspondence, were affected by public scrutiny and the rules of public discourse. However, how this influenced Paul’s writing is a larger question, whose answer also has to take into account the concrete character of these rules and Paul’s personality: Did the rules of public discourse forbid criticism and would Paul have cared? To these questions we turn now. Roman Context: Criticism as Part of the Public Transcript? The question needs to be answered how exactly these rules were framed in the specific context of the Roman Empire. Would they have sanctioned criticism? One critique Barclay has levelled against the echo-hypothesis is that it was entirely possible to criticize the Roman Empire publicly.68 I 64 James C. Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1990). 65 Barclay, “Empire,” 382–83; Richard A. Horsley, “Introduction: Jesus, Paul, and the ‘Arts of Resistance’: Leaves from the Notebook of James C. Scott,” in Hidden Transcripts and the Arts of Resistance: Applying the Work of James C. Scott to Jesus and Paul, ed. idem (Semeia Studies 48; Atlanta, GA: Scholars, 2004), 1–26. 66 The same is true for Neil Elliott, “Strategies of Resistance and Hidden Transcripts in the Pauline Communities,” in Hidden Transcripts and the Arts of Resistance: Applying the Work of James C. Scott to Jesus and Paul, ed. R. A. Horsley (Semeia Studies 48; Atlanta, GA: Scholars, 2004), 97–122, who argues that Scott’s conception implies that the Pauline literature is “hidden transcript in veiled form.” This is not the correct classification since this category applies to criticism that is explicitly directed towards the suppressing party. 67 Bruce W. Winter, After Paul Left Corinth: The Influence of Secular Ethics and Social Change (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2001), 136–37. 68 Barclay, “Empire,” 381–82.


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think that this thesis is partly right and demands a modification – or rather a specification – of the criticized object of the echo-hypothesis. Barclay is right that there was some room for criticizing certain, culturally dependent, expressions of imperial ideology (like the “divinity” of the Emperor). However, the examples he offers do not demonstrate that there would have been room in the public transcript for overt criticism of basic features of imperial ideology itself, especially for criticism that is based on a competitor for universal claims: Christ. To pick up just one of Barclay’s examples, Philo’s criticism of Caligula’s hubris is embedded in an enthusiastic praise of Augustus as the saviour of the world. Barclay rightly notes that the Roman Empire was not a centralized police state, but, as Vasily Rudich has shown, although there was no central censorship in the early Principate, it was precisely the lack of such official structures which allowed for quite arbitrary accusations and produced plenty of coded criticism:69 “[A]ny action or behavior construable as subverting the authority of the Emperor”70 was extremely dangerous. Consequently, we know of censorship under the reign of all emperors from the Julio-Claudian dynasty except Claudius.71 Roman Context: Roman Ideology in the Environment of Paul Let me just comment very briefly on the necessary condition that Paul had an exposure to imperial ideology. This consensus is not challenged by the recent work of Colin Miller, which is methodologically flawed.72 However, I would also like to sound a note of caution. It is important to note that the availability – and distinctiveness (especially with regard to the use of similar terminology in other pagan cults) – of imperial motifs has to be demonstrated for each individual case. Hafemann, for example, argues in detail that θριαµβεύω with the direct object was used as a terminus technicus for 69

Vasily Rudich, “Navigating the Uncertain: Literature and Censorship in the Early Roman Empire,” Arion 14 (2006): 7–28. 70 Rudich, “Uncertain,” 16. 71 Ronald Mellor, Tacitus’ Annals (Oxford Approaches to Classical Literature; New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 90. 72 Colin Miller, “The Imperial Cult in the Pauline Cities of Asia Minor and Greece,” CBQ 72 (2010): 314–32. Miller (p. 322) even claims: “Philippi became a ‘neokorate’ city only in the early second century, and there is no evidence of the cult before then. Moreover, the silence of the archaeological record regarding the existence of the cult in this Roman colony appears very loud indeed. How widespread and constituent a part of city life could the cult have been in Paul’s day if such a major center of Romanitas lacked it?” Very loud indeed, if only it were true. However inscriptions clearly show that this analysis, which is based on archaeological remains of cultic sites, is simply wrong (cf. Lukas Bormann, Philippi: Stadt und Christengemeinde zur Zeit des Paulus [SNT 78; Leiden: Brill, 1995], 41–60).

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leading captives in a triumphal procession and was almost synonymous with “lead to death.”73 However, this is not a sufficient condition (nor a necessary one by the way) for the assumption that Paul used this word in this sense in 2 Cor 2:14 since we also have to determine which aspects of this event Paul would have known.74 The actual evidence does not give any reason for assuming that the presentation of captives was especially prominent for Paul. Pauline Context—The Empire in Paul’s Worldview: A Critical Attitude? We are continuing to narrow our focus from Paul in his historical context to Paul himself. Even if he was exposed to imperial propaganda, is there any reason to assume that he would have judged it negatively? We are thus asking a question about Paul’s worldview and the possible integration of a critical attitude in it. Barclay argues that for Paul the Roman Empire was simply insignificant. It is certainly correct that Paul’s experience of the risen Christ transformed his Jewish categories, including the one of the “enemy” of God. The Roman Empire no longer took this role, and sin and death as cosmic powers did.75 Nevertheless, I find it astonishing that Barclay himself thinks that the Confessing Church correctly applied Paul’s vision to the concrete forms of evil in their day.76 I think that it is very appropriate to attribute the same ability to Paul that Barclay acknowledges his followers to have had. There is thus every reason to think that Paul was able to identify specific manifestations of evil in Roman imperial rule and ideology. Pauline Context—Paul’s Personality: From Attitude to Expression? But there is another aspect with regard to the person of Paul, which does demand serious modification of the echo-hypothesis as suggested by 73 Scott J. Hafemann, Suffering and the Spirit: An Exegetical Study of 2 Cor 2:14–3:3 within the Context of the Corinthian Correspondence (WUNT 2/19; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 1986), 39. 74 So also Larry J. Kreitzer, Striking New Images: Roman Imperial Coinage and the New Testament World (JSNTSup 134; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1996), 128. Kreitzer thinks that the numismatic evidence supports Hafemann’s claims. Although this is the correct procedure, I do not think that the material Kreitzer cites can bear that weight. 75 Barclay, “Empire,” 383–85. 76 Barclay on 19 November 2007 at SBL in San Diego in a debate with N. T. Wright (and Robert Jewett) on the topic of “Paul and Empire.” This statement can be found in his response to Jewett and Wright and is available on the internet (John M. G. Barclay, “Response to N. T. Wright and Robert Jewett,” n.p. (around minute 27:00) [cited 7 June 2013]. Online: %202%20of%202.mp3.


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Wright and Elliott: Paul’s personality. There is some truth in Barclay’s statement that the thesis that the apostle used the subtext in order to avoid persecution “underrates Paul’s courage.”77 One could argue of course that Paul was able to be diplomatic in order to avoid trouble, as Acts vividly shows, but this does not hide the fact that in his letters Paul openly criticizes pagan praxis of idol worship, which was foundational for society. Additionally, I think we do have open criticism of Roman authorities at least in one place in his letters. In light of the sharp criticism in 1 Cor 2:6 (τῶν ἀρχόντων τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου τῶν καταργουµένων; cf. 2:8) it is unclear why Paul would not have formulated other criticism clearer. The assumption that Paul’s motivation for using the subtext for his counterimperial remarks was an attempt to avoid persecution thus faces a serious problem. However, we can avoid this obstacle for the echo-hypothesis by modifying (or rather specifying) it with regard to Paul’s motivation for using the subtext for his criticism. To do that we need to rethink what the concepts of “criticism” and “subtext” imply. 1. First, there are a wide variety of different kinds of criticism, and “confrontation” is only one of them. Galinsky has pointed out this fact when he used the phrase “more perfect version of the same concept.” 78 Maybe it was not Paul’s primary intention to say something about Caesar, but rather to say something about the Messiah and God, although he was perfectly aware of the critical implications these statements had for other competing worldviews. Such a more nuanced understanding of criticism could explain why Paul, although not a coward, did not feel any need to be more explicit. In 2 Cor 2:14, for example, Paul does not want to say something against imperialism, but something about his apostleship in relation to God and Christ. However, there might well be critical connotations. After all, the echo evokes a familiar scenery which is transformed by the application to another context in which God is leading the procession. The narrative dimension of this echo leads us to my second point. 2. The implicit presupposition of Wright and Elliott seems to be: “If Paul had been free with regard to his writing, he would have formulated his criticism more openly.” This assumes that the subtext is not an effective tool for persuasion. My approach challenges the idea that the use of the subtext is a kind of second class level of communication, necessitated by oppressive circumstances. After all, the effect of an “echo” can be much bigger than the one of bare juxtaposition. Narrative structures are formative for worldviews, and echoes are able to evoke alternative scenarios in the imagination, which can


Barclay, “Empire,” 380. Karl Galinsky, “The Cult of the Roman Emperor: Uniter or Divider?,” in Rome and Religion: A Cross-Disciplinary Dialogue on the Imperial Cult, ed. J. Brodd and J. L. Reed (Writings from the Greco-Roman World Supplement Series 5; Atlanta, GA: Scholars, 2011), 11–13. 78

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have persuading power. Stories are able to challenge other stories and the worldviews they represent much more effectively than purely factual criticism.79

To make this more concrete: If Rom 1 really is a “parody of the imperial cult”80 this poses the question whether Paul’s echo-like, resonance-evoking formulation could not have been the most appropriate means to express this powerful contrast (instead of simply being the “safer” way of communication). Similarly, when Paul tells the story of the exaltation of the Messiah in Phil 2, which climaxes in the worship of the κύριος Jesus, I have the impression that it would (a) not have done justice to Paul’s primary aim of discourse if he had denied the lordship of Caesar directly nor would it (b) have been more effective to choose such a procedure.

Conclusions In this chapter I have critically examined the hypothesis of Wright, Elliott, and others that there is a counter-imperial subtext in the Pauline letters. The results are ambivalent with regard to the proposed methodology on the one hand and with regard to the conclusions of these scholars on the other hand. In light of Bayes’s theorem, it does not seem advisable to base the search for criticism of the Roman Empire in Paul on Hays’s criteria since they are prone to subjective influences. Accordingly, I have argued that a more systematic approach, which follows nested necessary conditions, offers an advantage of objectivity. This argumentative structure will also make it easier to locate and discuss potential objections to the steps suggested in this article (e.g., by adding new necessary conditions or by arguing against the fulfillment of one of the proposed conditions). With regard to the subtext-hypothesis itself, I hope that I was able to show – in an admittedly brief discussion of these steps – that the background plausibility of the assumption of imperial echoes in the letters of Paul is not as low as sometimes stated, e.g., by Barclay. Nevertheless, this investigation has also shown that in light of the concrete nature of the public transcript in the early Principate and taking into account Paul’s personality this is only true if we allow for the modification or specification of 79 This fits nicely with what Wright has written in other places on these categories: cf. N. T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God (COQG 1; Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 1992), 38–44. 80 N. T. Wright, “Paul and Caesar: A New Reading of Romans,” in A Royal Priesthood? The Use of the Bible Ethically and Politically: A Dialogue with Oliver O’Donovan, ed. Craig G. Bartholomew et al. (Scripture and Hermeneutic Series 3; Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 176.


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(a) the object of criticism, (b) the kind/degree of criticism, and (c) the motivation for choosing the subtext as the level of communication of this criticism. This preliminary result should encourage scholars to re-examine carefully specific Pauline texts with regard to their likelihood in the framework of a creative and subversive use of phrases evoking and challenging claims of Roman ideology.

Thwarting the Enemies of God: Contrasting the Death of Herod and the Resurrection of Jesus in Luke-Acts1 ALEXANDER P. THOMPSON The death of King Herod Agrippa I in Acts 12:20–23 is a very peculiar interruption to the narrative flow of Acts that offers a strange historical aside in Luke’s narrative of the gospel’s proclamation to the ends of the earth.2 The brief account depicts the people of Tyre and Sidon seeking an audience with Herod in order to secure peace and a food supply. Herod sits before them in his royal robes and offers a public speech to which the crowd responds with shouts of divine acclamation. In an act of hubris, Herod does not give glory to God and is struck by an angel of the Lord with a worm disease resulting in his death. While the account of Herod’s death in Acts 12:20–23 closely correlates with the event recorded in Josephus’s Antiquities suggesting a historical core, Luke’s depiction shows enough variance to propose he has shaped this passage to support his own theological program.3 Recent research has used narrative and political analysis in order to uncover the theological force of this passage with both methods often producing similar conclusions. Narrative readings utilize the tools of literary analysis following Robert C. Tannehill’s expansive work that explored the narrative and literary parallels between Luke-Acts and the Old Testament. A recent expression of this method on Acts 12 is seen in O. Wesley Allen’s The Death of Herod 1 I am grateful to James Ware and N. T. Wright for reading earlier versions of this paper and offering many helpful insights. This version is a revised and expanded form of a paper given in the summer of 2013 at the St Andrews Graduate Conference for Biblical and Early Christian Studies. 2 I follow the tradition of using Luke as the name of the author of both Luke and Acts without any presumption about knowing the actual author. For a brief defense of the literary unity of Luke-Acts, see William Kurz, S.J., Reading Luke-Acts: Dynamics of Biblical Narrative (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1993), 17–36. For a more complete discussion, see the magisterial work of Robert C. Tannehill, The Narrative Unity of Luke-Acts: A Literary Interpretation (Foundations and Facets; 2 vols.; Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 1990). 3 Josephus, Ant. 19.343–350 (Thackeray, LCL). Readers can find treatment of this in O Wesley Allen, The Death of Herod: The Narrative and Theological Function of Retribution in Luke-Acts (SBLDS 158; Atlanta, GA: Scholars, 1997), 66–69.


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which interprets the passage as both a “death of a tyrant” type scene common in the Greco-Roman world and as the conclusion of a narrative conflict with Peter begun in Acts 12. As a Greco-Roman type scene, Herod’s death is depicted in conventional ways as a divine judgment on a pridefilled political leader. What is more revealing, however, is the larger theological themes Allen’s literary analysis uncovers. He highlights the prophetic pattern in Acts 12 which uses Exodus, Passover, and Passion parallels in order to place the church in line with the ministry of Jesus just as Elisha had followed Elijah. Peter is resurrected like Jesus from his imprisonment and is told to dress quickly recalling the Passover commands. Conversely, Herod is cast down from his throne by the angel of God and struck with a wicked plague like Pharaoh (vv. 18–23).4 This pattern supports a contrast between Peter and Herod, as the central conflict of Acts 12 as a literary whole. As another commentator summarizes, “In this, the final ‘Peter/Jesus parallel’ in Acts, the narrator concludes the story of Peter with a sort of passion and resurrection that correspond to the fate of the founder. Peter did follow Jesus, to the brink of the grave and to new life.”5 The theological impact of this reading stresses the continuity between the ministry of Jesus and the early church, validating the church as the true prophetic community. This interpretation is more or less supported by the majority of commentators.6 While Allen’s work offers an insightful literary analysis, it suffers from two key oversights. First, the patterning of Peter after Jesus functions as more than a prophetic parallel. Rather, it reveals a mimetic chain where Peter is consciously depicted as imitating Jesus.7 This imitatio Christi places Jesus and his identity at the center of the conflict between Peter and Herod. Peter is not simply copying Jesus, but is embodying Jesus in his actions in opposition to Herod. Secondly, Allen focuses primarily on Acts 12 as a literary whole, with the death of Herod concluding the literary conflict with Peter. However, this reading fails to consider the larger narrative context of Acts 12 in Luke-Acts. While Allen references similar patterns of judgment in Luke’s two-volume work, he treats Acts 12 primarily as a 4

Allen, The Death of Herod, 104–6. I am in agreement with scholars who remain unconvinced of the links with Ezek 28 suggested by Mark R. Strom, “An Old Testament Background to Acts 12:20-23,” NTS 32 (1986): 289–92. 5 Richard Pervo, Acts: A Commentary (Hermeneia; Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2009), 315. 6 Pervo, Acts, 312–15; Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J., The Acts of the Apostles: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (Anchor Bible; New York: Doubleday, 1998), 491; Luke Timothy Johnson, The Acts of the Apostles (Sacra Pagina 5; Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1992), 219. 7 Candida R. Moss, The Other Christs: Imitating Jesus in Ancient Christian Ideologies of Martyrdom (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 67.

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separate pericope removed from any causal or symbolic connections to Herod’s earlier appearances in Luke-Acts. Both oversights lead to an interpretation of Herod’s death that focuses on Luke’s theology of the church through Peter to the detriment of any possible Christological implications. While literary analysis has offered one approach to Acts 12:20–23, the revisiting of questions of politics in Luke-Acts has also gained renewed attention as an interpretive lens for this passage. While earlier opinion favored Acts as a political apology to Rome, this conclusion has subsequently been challenged and has generated numerous views on the political perspectives of Acts.8 One moderating voice in this debate is the work of C. Kavin Rowe, who proposes that Acts interprets Roman power within its own Christian worldview as something now operating under the authority of Christ. This allows the text to be both sympathetic to Rome while also making claims about the true lordship of Jesus over any other political claimants.9 Within this recent challenge to a pro-Empire reading, scholars have sought to identify aspects of the text that reveal political subversion, especially appealing to the Christological titles in both the Greco-Roman and Jewish worldview. In Magic and Paganism in Early Christianity, Hans-Josef Klauck uses this perspective to interpret Herod’s death as a veiled critique of the Roman emperor Nero, noting particular parallels between the crowd’s divinization of Herod’s voice with Dio Cassius’s account of Nero’s singing. While Klauck acknowledges in passing Luke’s supposed program of political apologetic, he nevertheless sees Herod Agrippa as an enemy of the church in line with both Herod Antipas (who killed John the Baptist) and Nero (who will kill Paul).10 Herod’s death thus cuts with the edge of political subversion. But the primary purpose of this subversion agrees with Allen’s conclusions that the passage functions as consolation and justification for the mission of the early church in the face of unjust rulers. Klauck’s political analysis reveals a polemical thrust to this pericope, aimed at challenging any authority that tries to oppose the gospel’s proclamation. But this political polemic supports the Church’s message rather than speaking to matters of Christology. However, Klauck’s interpretation is ultimately unconvincing for a number of reasons. First, Klauck neglects the larger narrative context of Acts 8 For a brief survey of political perspectives on Acts, see Steve Walton, “The State They Were In: Luke’s View of the Roman Empire,” in Rome in the Bible and the Early Church, ed. Peter Oakes (Carlisle, UK: Paternoster, 2002), 1–41. 9 C. Kavin Rowe, World Upside Down: Reading Acts in the Greco-Roman Age (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 140–56. 10 Hans-Josef Klauck, Magic and Paganism in Early Christianity: The World of the Acts of the Apostles, trans. Brian McNeil (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2000), 44.


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12 choosing instead to focus on the passage as an isolated incident, even more narrowly focused than Allen’s reading of the chapter as a whole. This creates a myopic interpretation that fails to see the larger narrative parallels of Acts 12 and the overarching conflict with the Herodian line throughout Luke-Acts. More importantly, Klauck’s neglect of this larger literary conflict misses an obvious source for the politically subversive reading: the conflict between Jesus and Herod. Klauck’s appeal to an obscure reference from Dio Chrysostom for the political critique is questionable not least because it is difficult to say whether Luke’s audience would have recognized or heard this echo. However, the narrative conflict between Jesus and Herod suggests another way to uncover Luke’s political perspective. While the work of Klauck and Allen have offered great insight into the pericope, their approach neglects the larger narrative conflict between Jesus and Herod and leads to conclusions that favor ecclesiological readings of the passage to the neglect of possible political Christological implications. This essay will attempt to offer a corrective to this reading by extending the literary and political approaches to include the larger narrative conflict between Herod and Jesus in Luke-Acts and the political force of Luke’s Christology. This framework provides a foundation for comparing the death of Herod in Acts 12:20–23 in contrast to Luke’s understanding of Christ, showing how this contrast expresses a strong political critique. This will then lead to some concluding reflections on the political and theological implications of this reading that will seek to hold Luke’s Christology and ecclesiology together.

The Interpretive Framework: The Literary Conflict with Herod and Political Christology Luke-Acts is distinct among the New Testament writings because of the prominent place given to the Herodian dynasty throughout the two-part narrative.11 Throughout this two volume work, Luke uses the name “Herod” to refer to several different members of this dynasty in order to tightly knit them all together as a single literary opponent. Figure 1 illustrates that of the 21 occurrences of the name “Herod,” only five uses are particularly distinguishable by titles such as king or tetrarch. While these titles are often attached at the beginning of narrative section (e.g., Luke 3:1; Acts 11

For instance, in the Synoptic Gospels only Luke contains a trial before Herod Antipas in Luke 23:6–12 and a mention of Herod’s threat to kill Jesus in Luke 13:31–33. These and other foci are highlighted in Harold W. Hoehner, Herod Antipas (SNTSMS 17; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972), 184–250.

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3:1; Acts 12), the overall feel of the narrative is that the name becomes more of a catch phrase to denote the enemy constantly opposing Jesus and the church. As Richard Pervo explains the matter, “the appellation ‘Herod’ will do for any Jewish ruler, particularly the bad.”12 This is especially important in Acts 12, as there is no evidence apart from Luke’s narration that Agrippa I ever bore the nickname “Herod,” suggesting Luke is consciously trying to tie all of the Herodian opponents together. What is even more striking, however, is that the use of this appellation “Herod” concludes with the death of Herod Antipas in Acts 12. Agrippa II, despite being a Herodian, is never called Herod in the narrative of Acts. Rather, the use of “Herod” as an appellation links all three Herodian kings (Herod the Great, Antipas, and Agrippa I) into a single character that is constantly opposing God, who subsequently disappears from the narrative after his death in Acts 12.13 As a narrative scheme, this unites the various named Herods of Luke-Acts into a final defeat in Acts 12. This interpretation of Herod is made even more explicit by the prayer of the church in Acts 4:24–27. In their interpretation of the political citation of Ps 2, the Apostles acknowledge that the kings of the earth and the rulers have gathered together against God and the Messiah. Scholars suggest that the best way to understand these rulers and kings who oppose Jesus is seen in the reference to Herod and Pontius Pilate in the pesher exegesis which unpacks the quotation.14 However, one must then explain why both plural terms in v. 26 (οἱ βασιλεῖς τῆς γῆς καὶ οἱ ἄρχοντες) are connected to the singular persons, Herod and Pilate.15 This is easily answered if one considers “Herod” to be a single literary character that connects several persons. This solution suggests that Luke understood the opposition Jesus faced from Pilate and Herod as paradigmatic for current opposition from other Jewish and Gentile authorities.16 This does not mean that Luke is unable to differentiate the various referents of the opponents (as he often does with various titles) but rather that his theological interpretation of “Herod” functions as a singular literary antagonist for Jesus and his Church throughout the narrative.17 Thus, the reader ought to connect the 12

Pervo, Acts, 303. It is significant that no source outside of dependence on Acts ever calls Agrippa I “Herod.” See Allen, The Death of Herod, 7. 14 Johnson, The Acts of the Apostles, 84. 15 Note, in particular, Jervell’s remarks about the plurals being conspicuous, but not providing a solution. So, Jacob Jervell, The Theology of the Acts of the Apostles (New Testament Theology; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 101. 16 With more space, one could also perhaps link several Roman authorities with Pilate though not following the same notion of a single character. Rather, Pilate seems to stand as a representative for the Roman authorities all the way up the line to Caesar. 17 Klauck, Magic and Paganism, 39. 13


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various Herods throughout the narrative as a paradigmatic enemy of God who opposes the Messiah. 18 With the various Herodian leaders linked under a singular name, one can chart the narrative subplot of the conflict between Herod and Jesus that develops throughout Luke-Acts in tandem with the political tones of Luke’s Christology. The first time the reader encounters Herod is in the opening prologue that announces the birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:5). This follows closely on the heels of the second appearance of Herod in a similar political backdrop which includes Pontius Pilate (Luke 3:1). These introduction formulae establish a global political context reminiscent of Roman propaganda onto which the ministry of Jesus emerges.19 Most notably, this backdrop labels Herod as tetrarch of Galilee (Luke 1:26) the same area from which the Messiah Jesus emerges (Luke 2:4, 39, 51) and will live out much of his ministry.20 This places the characters in the same realm of action and authority, suggesting a possible conflict between them. The opening chapters of Luke also further submerge the reader in Luke’s understanding of Jesus as the Davidic king in strong political terms. Gabriel foretells the birth of Jesus as the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant of 2 Sam 7, noting particular the political promises of a throne and an eternal kingdom (Luke 1:32–33). Jesus is subsequently born in the town of Jerusalem, which Luke is quick to label as a city of David (Luke 2:4, 11). Moreover, this Messiah is proclaimed as a savior, a word replete not only with connections to David but also Roman emperors like Augustus (Luke 1:69; 2:11, 30).21 Most striking, however, is Mary’s praise of God for this act which will bring the powerful down from their thrones (Luke 1:52). The discord between the political rule of Herod and the birth of the true king Jesus establishes the foundation for a continuing conflict between the two rulers. The conflict continues to develop throughout the narrative as Jesus’s destiny and Herod’s character are further revealed. Herod appears again in Luke 3:18–20 imprisoning John and adding to his wickedness (περὶ πάντων ὧν ἐποίησεν πονηρῶν). In Luke 9:7–9, the reader then learns that 18

For a recent detailed discussion of the Herods as a composite literary character along similar lines, see Frank Dicken, “A King and Ruler Takes His Stand: Herod’s Role in Luke-Acts in Light of Acts 4:24–28” (paper presented at the annual meeting of the BNTC, King’s College, London; 8 September 2012), 1–18. 19 Gary Gilbert, “Roman Propaganda and Christian Identity in the Worldview of Luke-Acts,” in Contextualizing Acts: Lukan Narrative and Greco-Roman Discourse, ed. Todd Penner and Caroline Vander-Stichele (SBLSymS 20; Atlanta, GA: SBL, 2003), 237. 20 John A. Darr, On Character Building: The Reader and the Rhetoric of Characterization in Luke-Acts (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1992), 135. 21 Gilbert, “Roman Propaganda and Christian Identity,” 237–42.

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Herod has killed John, with his direct speech claiming full responsibility for this iniquity. 22 As Darr explains, “In Luke’s narrative world, Herod assumes complete responsibility for John’s death and exhibits no remorse, no guilt, no fear, no weakness, no doubts or second thoughts. And this characterization is consistent with the Lukan narrator’s evaluation of him in 3:18–20: he is the evil but powerful political opponent of the Lord’s messengers.”23 Moreover, Luke 9 reveals that Herod has heard all about the ministry of Jesus and is demanding to see (ἐζήτει ἰδεῖν) him. 24 Set alongside Herod’s beheading of John the Baptist, this scene casts a foreboding shadow over a future meeting between these two characters which heightens the tension of kingship. Closely related to these two appearances of Herod are the divine proclamations of the Davidic sonship of Jesus at the baptism (Luke 3:21–22) and the transfiguration (Luke 9:28–36). Such language continues to contrast Jesus as the chosen king who will rule over the nations with the wickedness of the ruler Herod.25 The final intersection of Jesus and Herod before their head on collision in the crucifixion narrative is in Luke 13:31–35 where the Pharisees warn Jesus to flee from Herod. Herod’s motives, already foreshadowed in his treatment of John, are made explicit as he wishes to kill Jesus (Ἡρῴδης θέλει σε ἀποκτεῖναι), a fact which seems both historically and literarily in line with Herod’s character.26 Jesus responds by labeling Herod a fox (ἀλώπηξ), an animal known both for its craftiness and its destructive tendencies, which he contrasts with his own ministry of the hen gathering the chicks of Israel.27 Jesus lumps Herod, the Pharisees, and Jerusalem together as his opponents who will all share in his death rather than acknowledging


Kazuhiko Yamazaki-Ransom, The Roman Empire in Luke’s Narrative (LNTS 404; London: T&T Clark, 2010), 168. 23 Darr, On Character Building, 139. 24 Frederick William Danker, “ζητέω,” BDAG, 428 allows for the more amicable reading “searching” as well as the more authoritative and foreboding “demand” which the context suggests might be more appropriate. This is to disagree with Hans Conzelmann, Theology of St. Luke, trans. Geoffrey Buswell (London: Faber and Faber, 1960), 51, who believes Herod’s desire to see Jesus is purely pragmatic and only serves to introduce him for the Passion account. Rather, it appears that Luke has added this unique saying to the Markan tradition in order to draw a literary parallel with Herod’s depiction in Luke’s passion account. So, Charles H. Talbert, Literary Patterns, Theological Themes, and the Genre of Luke-Acts (Missoula, MT: Scholars, 1974), 27. 25 Following Jervell, Theology of Acts, 30 in reading the language of Son of God in Jewish Messianic categories. 26 Joel B. Green, The Gospel of Luke (NICNT; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1997), 536. 27 Mark Allen Powell, What is Narrative Criticism? A New Approach to the Bible (London: SPCK, 1990), 30.


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the entrance of their true Davidic king in the words of Ps 118:26.28 This realigns the expectations of Jesus’s kingship from one that casts down the proud kings to the suffering of the righteous prophet of God. The reader’s view of Jesus’s kingship depicted in Luke 1–3 is reworked around the language of suffering as the political Christology swells throughout the rest of the narrative building to the crucifixion.29 While this helps prepare the reader for the dramatic reversal at the trial, the narrative conflict still maintains the expectations for Jesus’s casting down of the proud rulers. With respect to this expectation, the climactic meeting of Jesus and Herod in Luke 23:6–12 actually functions as an anti-climax as the wicked Herod is not cast down by the Messiah. Rather, when Herod finally sees Jesus, Jesus does not display or refute his kingship (Luke 23:2). Jesus remains silent before his rival. This silence subverts Herod’s delight at finally seeing Jesus, as the king’s demand for a sign is not simply denied. It is not even acknowledged.30 Herod’s response is to mock Jesus with a shining robe and send him back to Pilate, having seen the impotence of this Messianic pretender. In these actions, Herod is joined not only to the scribes and chief priests (v. 10) but also in a bond of friendship with Pilate (v. 12; cf. Luke 3:1), as all share in the mocking of Jesus. While Herod attests to the innocence of Jesus (v. 15), he does nothing to halt the impending execution but is complicit in the death of the Messiah. While the reader is left to marvel at Jesus’s embodiment of a dramatic reversal of traditional kingship, he is also left with the unfulfilled expectations of the Messiah casting down the proud from their thrones.31 This unfulfilled expectation is subsequently embraced in Luke’s second volume as the church emerges proclaiming the message of Jesus’s death and resurrection noting in particular the impending judgment on those who shared in Jesus’s crucifixion. Jesus’s resurrection attests to the divine victory and vindication of the Messiah (Luke 24:26, 44–48; Acts 2:24). Jesus now sits on the promised throne of David at the right hand of God, awaiting God to put his enemies under his feet (Acts 2:34–36). This grounds Peter’s call to repentance for those Jews who shared with the lawless in 28

Green, The Gospel of Luke, 536. For extensive references to Jesus’s kingship in Luke 19–23, see particularly Scott W. Hahn, Kinship By Covenant: A Canonical Approach to the Fulfillment of God’s Saving Promises (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009), 222. As Walton, “The State They Were In,” 27, succinctly summarizes it, “Jesus is referred to as ‘king’ more frequently than the other evangelists, not least in . . . the insertion of ‘king’ into the acclamation at the triumphal entry (Luke 19:38).” 30 Hoehner, Herod Antipas, 240. 31 This pattern of a critique of current political rule in light of service, while still promising a future judgment by the righteous is also highlighted right before the crucifixion in Luke 22:24–30. 29

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crucifying Jesus, exhorting the people to flee from this wicked generation (Acts 2:40). This gospel proclamation is both for the salvation of the world and carries the continual expectation of the Messiah’s judgment of the enemies of God, as seen in the church’s use of Herod in reading Ps 2.32 Acts picks up the same political Christological language about Jesus through citation of the same Christological texts as Luke’s Gospel. This continuity stresses the continual political aspect of Luke’s Christology. But it is further heightened as the proclamation of Jesus as the Messiah throughout the Roman world causes numerous political upheavals, not least as a challenge to Caesar’s rule (Acts 4; 17:1–7; 19:23–41). The cumulative effect of this narrative and political framework is to create in the reader an expectation for Jesus’s royal triumph over the wicked Herod. Although Jesus is already victorious in his resurrection showing God’s attestation of his Messianic status, the “dark side” of this victory is the defeat of God’s enemies, especially those wickedly opposed to the Messiah’s rule through their own perverse kingship. This framework undergirds the depiction of Herod’s death in Acts 12 offering the reader the narrative resolution suggested from the start. Acts 12 consists of two interlocking narratives. The first part (vv. 1–17) opens with Herod (ironically called “king”) continuing in his wickedness by killing James and imprisoning Peter for a later execution. Although this is a new “historical” Herod, the pattern of behavior and characterization is identical to the Herod who killed John and mocked Jesus. As Herod continues as a political opponent of God’s Messiah, Peter is miraculously delivered from slavery in a setting that invokes both the Passover and Jesus’s own passion account. Peter is “raised up” (ἤγειρεν and Ἀνάστα are both in Acts 12:7) from his imprisonment in chains and delivered from slavery, mirroring Jesus’s defeat of death. Through this imitation, Jesus’s resurrection is being lived out again in thwarting the wicked plans of the tyrant. The second narrative recounts how Herod is cast down from his throne by the angel of God, struck with a wicked plague like Pharaoh (vv. 18–23). The three verses that depict Herod’s death are full of vivid detail, not least in the gruesome worm eaten death that follows from Herod’s divine pretensions. While this idolatrous self-glorification results in his death, the language of the punishment is so vague and the literary framework of persecution so explicit that the punishment is also linked to Herod’s persecuting activity.33 The pericope concludes with a continual triumph of the word of God (vv. 24–25) showing the victory of Messiah and his community

32 33

Darr, On Character Building, 168. Pervo, Acts, 315.


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even in the face of great tribulation.34 The thrust of the entire account thus has a very political edge, as Luke interprets the death of a king as a result of his opposition to the Messiah and his messengers. Peter’s release offers consolation to the church in its role as witnesses, while the death of Herod is a warning to all who fight against God.35 Herod’s death resolves the subplot of the conflict between Herod and Jesus, as the risen Messiah finally cast the proud off his throne. This marks the disappearance of Herod as a character from the rest of the narrative as the gospel continues its march to Rome.36 To briefly summarize, the narrative of Luke-Acts portrays an overarching literary conflict between Jesus and Herod in strikingly political terms. From the birth of Jesus as the prophesied Messiah in Herod’s realm of Galilee to Herod’s death at behest of the proclamation of Jesus the risen Christ, there is a clear narrative framework for interpreting Herod’s death as a political statement about the victory of God’s Messiah. This framework suggests avenues of interpretation for Luke’s audience about theological implications of Herod’s death that are not limited to ecclesial readings. Another additional route of interpretation would be seeing in Herod’s death the victory of God’s Messiah.

Contrasting Herod and Jesus in Acts 12:20–23 With the conflict between Jesus and Herod culminating in the death of Herod in Acts 12:20–23, there is significant reason to read Herod’s death as a strong foil to the vindication of Jesus the Messiah and not solely in contrast to Peter’s deliverance. Indeed, it is commonly noted by scholars that Peter’s deliverance is shaped by Luke’s passion and resurrection accounts, though the contrast is rarely struck between Jesus and Herod.37 The extension of the literary and political approaches utilized in Allen’s and Klauck’s work reveals that there is a larger literary conflict between Jesus and the paradigmatically wicked Herod throughout Luke-Acts that is 34

Gerd Lüdemann, Early Christianity According to the Traditions in Acts: A Commentary, trans. John Bowden (London: SCM, 1989), 142. 35 Klauck, Magic and Paganism, 43. 36 Acts 13 begins the Gentile mission, so that Acts 12 serves as a transition, which James Dunn calls “the first full denunciation of the fallacies of Gentile theism” that opens with the ironic “warning example of the king of the Jews.” So James D. G. Dunn, The Acts of the Apostles (The Epworth Commentaries; London: Epworth, 1996), 165. 37 Johnson, The Acts of the Apostles, 217–19; Pervo, Acts, 302–15. Although the extensive links between Peter and Jesus are often noted, I have yet to find a scholar who suggests the contrast between Jesus and Herod which is surprising due to the numerous parallels between the two and the substantial narrative conflict.

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painted in strong political terms by Luke’s Christology. Such a framework further unpacks Acts 12 not solely as a victory of the church over its persecutors, but an embodiment of the Messiah’s resurrection and defeat of any other political opponents. This framework provides an impetus for reading Herod’s death in Acts 12:20–23 as a conscious contrast with the risen Messiah with clear Christological implications. This contrast is clearly highlighted when one compares the language of the passage with depictions of Jesus throughout Luke-Acts. The significant parallels between Jesus and Herod are presented in Figure 2. The sheer number of correlations provides striking support for this contrast, though a few require further comment in order to see the full force of this reading. First, Herod puts on royal robes (ἐνδυσάµενος ἐσθῆτα βασιλικὴν) before he engages the crowd to discuss famine relief. This connects to Herod’s earlier mocking of Jesus at his trial (Luke 23:11), where Herod heaped scorn on Jesus by giving him gorgeous robes (περιβαλὼν αὐτὸν ἐσθῆτα λαµπρὰν). The literary correspondence, especially of the repeated term for clothing (ἐσθής) not only helps closely invoke the earlier conflict but also establishes a strong sense of irony. Whereas Jesus’s death followed the bestowal of robes by Herod, Herod’s wearing of his own robes foreshadows his demise. Second, Herod’s refusal to give glory to God contrasts with the divine voice’s affirmation of Jesus’s kingship. The people’s assertion of Herod’s divine voice is the primary cause of Herod’s death. In contradistinction to the false praise of the people, the reader of Luke-Acts is reminded of the voice of God from heaven which has continually confirmed the mission of Jesus, both in his baptism (Luke 3:22) and in his transfiguration (Luke 9:35), with clear citation of Ps 2:7 claiming the Davidic kingship of Jesus. Such a refutation of Herod’s divine hubris also offers a tantalizing glimpse into Luke’s view of Jesus’s divinity, as the divine voice has affirmed the mission of the Messiah now exalted to share in God’s identity while rejecting any other falsely divinized pretenders. Such a “high” Christology supports other conclusions about Jesus’s identity as κύριος found in recent scholarship.38 Third, Herod’s decision to sit upon his throne (καθίσας ἐπὶ τοῦ βήµατος) contrasts with Acts’s depiction of Jesus’s ascension to the throne of God. The language of enthronement (βῆµα/θρόνος) is relatively com-

38 For a summary of recent scholarship on early high Christology, see Andrew Chester, “High Christology-Whence, When, and Why?” Early Christianity 2 (2011): 22–50. For a specific discussion with respect to Luke-Acts, see C. Kavin Rowe, Early Narrative Christology: The Lord in the Gospel of Luke (BZNW 139; Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2006).


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mon in Luke-Acts and always conveys authority and political clout.39 However, the overwhelming use of this notion is in descriptions of the Messiah Jesus. For example, Acts 2:30 features Peter using Ps 110:1 of Jesus in order to proclaim that David claimed God “would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne” (καθίσαι ἐπὶ τοῦ θρόνου αὐτοῦ). While the resurrected Messiah is now enthroned, Herod’s enthronement results in being struck down for his arrogance. This ironic reversal comes as no surprise, as the gospel opened with Mary’s praise of the God who “who brought down the powerful from their thrones” (Luke 1:52; καθεῖλεν δυνάστας ἀπὸ θρόνων) and promised her son would have the throne of David (Luke 1:32). Finally, the description of Herod’s death as “being worm-eaten” (γενόµενος σκωληκόβρωτος) provides the most dramatic contrast with Jesus, marking the complete eschatological vindication of Jesus and the complete destruction of the tyrant Herod. This needs a little unpacking as the vivid description of Herod’s death carries a deeper significance than a simple death of a tyrant. The word σκωληκόβρωτος is a hapax legomenon in the New Testament, though it is used throughout the Greco-Roman world for the infestation of dead flesh with maggots or other decomposing agents.40 While in theory it was originally connected to a specific condition in the ancient world, it eventually gained impetus as a divine punishment that plagued the wicked as illustrated by Plutarch’s moralizing of the death of Sulla.41 While this type of death was often used of wicked tyrants, it gained specific political force in Jewish and (later) Christian communities as judgment from God.42 The use of worms as an agent of destruction of the enemies of God first appears in Isa 14:11, where the King of Babylon is cast down into Sheol with worms as his covering. This connects to the description later in Isa 66:24 where the dead bodies of those who rebelled against God are cast out of the vindicated Zion into eternal punishment by fire and worms.43 Both of these descriptions use death by worms as judgment on the enemies


Johnson, The Acts of the Apostles, 215. BDAG, 933. 41 For a detailed description of the interpretation of being worm eaten through the ancient world, see Thomas Africa, “Worms and the Death of Kings,” Classical Antiquity 1.1 (1982): 1–17. 42 Despite Allen’s extensive analysis of the death of tyrant type scene, he fails to distinguish the particularly Jewish element background to “corruption/worm eating” and how that is distinct from other Greco-Roman sources. This is noted in Africa, “Worms and the Death of Kings,” 7–16. 43 Cf. Mark 9:48 40

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of God in an eschatologically charged way.44 Moreover, they suggest a growing political critique as the wicked leaders are punished by the true king, the God of Israel. This same motif appears throughout the Second Temple period, often with clear links to the earlier uses in Isaiah. The book of Judith celebrates God’s defeat of Judith’s political enemies with the claim in 16:17b that “he will send fire and worm into their flesh; they shall weep in pain forever.”45 Similarly, Sir 7:17 warns the proud to humble themselves because “the punishment of the ungodly is fire and worms.”46 A final example is from 2 Macc 9:1–12, where the punishment of death by worms is cast on Antiochus IV Epiphanes for “thinking he could touch the stars of heaven” (v. 10) and considering himself equal to the gods (v. 12).47 Moreover, this decaying judgment is often explicitly contrasted with the hope of a bodily resurrection. To provide just one example, in 2 Macc 7 the seven sons claim the resurrection as the grounds that drives their political disobedience in the face of a tyrant who they claim will receive judgment.48 Indeed, this is the same tyrant who in a few chapters will be subject to a worm eaten death. Thus, resurrection and being worm eaten are joined as contrasting sides of the same act of God. While more texts could be cited, it is clear that the use of “death by worms” imagery is a conscious way of describing the death of an enemy of God that acts as both a political statement and an eschatological judgment.49 With this rich collection of historical precedents, Luke’s audience would have understood Herod’s death by worm infestation as a strong po44

Alan E. Bernstein, The Formation of Hell: Death and Retribution in the Ancient and Christian Worlds (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993), 171. 45 Morton S. Enslin, The Book of Judith: Greek text with English Translation, Commentary and Critical Notes (JAL 7; Leiden: Brill, 1972), 174–75: “The song ends with the prediction of certain doom and torment for the foreign nations who have risen against the people of God.” 46 This is the rendering of the Greek text; the Hebrew lacks worms. For discussion, see James L. Crenshaw, The Book of Sirach: Introduction, Commentary, and Reflections (NIB 5; Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1997), 692. 47 Cf. 1 Macc 2:62–63. 48 Robert Doran, The Second Book of Maccabees: Introduction, Commentary, and Reflections (NIB 4; Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1996), 240–41. For a brief discussion on the intersection of politics and resurrection language, see Alan F. Segal “Life After Death: The Social Sources,” in The Resurrection: An Interdisciplinary Symposium, ed. Stephen Davis et al. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 90–125. 49 More examples abound, as has significantly been shown by Allen, The Death of Herod, 17–20. However, the political thrust of these deaths is little commented on and seems a place for further research, especially in the Jewish sources. This should include the similar movement from salvation for the righteous to judgment on the wicked which grounds the political rebuke to kings in Wis 1–6. See Michael Kolarick, S.J., The Book of Wisdom: Introduction, Commentary, and Reflections (NIB 5; Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1997), 465–90.


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litical and eschatological judgment. While on the surface this judgment arose as a failure to give honor to God, in the larger narrative of Luke-Acts this judgment bears the weight of the continually unfolding conflict between Jesus and Herod which now is exhibited in killing the followers of Christ (Acts 12:1–2). Herod has continually set himself against God, his Messiah, and the mission of the church in such a way that the divine condemnation and death as one eaten by worms is deserved. Thus, Herod is dethroned and subject to eschatological judgment for his opposition to the Messiah proclaimed by the church. Moreover, these same precedents allow Jesus’s resurrection to function as a clear contrast with this punishment. One of the unique aspects of Luke’s understanding of Jesus’s resurrection is its connection to incorruptibility. This is seen in Luke’s very bodily depiction of the resurrection in Luke 24 and the citation of Ps 16 in Acts 2 and 13 which highlight the proof of Jesus’s διαφθορά.50 When one reads the graphic description of Herod’s death in terms of bodily decomposition by worms the contrast is immediately struck with the Messiah raised imperishable. This further stresses the drastic political contrast as God has vindicated the Messiah while striking the royal pretender. This makes the ironic reversal and political subversion complete, as Jesus is exalted to rule from the throne of God while King Herod is struck down by God and subject to the eschatological punishment. The cumulative effect of these insights is clear. The death of Herod in Acts 12 is consciously contrasted with the risen Christ, offering a strong political critique grounded in Luke’s Christology. The resurrection of Jesus as the risen King contrasts sharply with the judged and decaying enemy of God, Herod. This politically subversive reading offers narrative resolution to the conflict, a resolution clearly foreshadowed in Mary’s opening praise of the God who cast down the proud but exalts the humble. Such an avenue of interpretation is grounded on the wider political and literary arc of Luke-Acts and expands current reading of the passage beyond the focus on ecclesiology to include Luke’s Christological claims.

50 It is significant that a later midrash on Ps 16 explicitly explains the incorruption mentioned in the psalm as proving “neither corruption nor worms had power over David’s flesh.” See William G. Braude, trans., Midrash on Psalms (2 vols.; New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1959), 1:201. The language of corruption (φθείρω) is a word family predominantly used in the New Testament with eschatological overtones (cf. 1 Cor 15:50; Gal 6:8; 2 Pet 2:12; Jude 10; Rev 11:18; 19:2). So S. E. Porter, “Wrath, Destruction,” DLNT, ed. Ralph P. Martin and Peter H. Davids (Downers Grover, IL: InterVarsity, 1997), 1238–41.

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Conclusion This essay has attempted to show that the death of Herod, when seen through the narrative conflict between Herod and Jesus and the political overtones of Luke’s Christology, helps establish a powerful contrast between the resurrection of the Messiah and the gruesome death of the wicked ruler that suggests a strong political critique. In closing, I would like to suggest three ways this intersects and enhances the two prevalent interpretations. First, it places the political subversive tones rightly recognized by Klauck into the larger narrative and theological context of LukeActs without being slavishly dependent on a specific political opponent behind the text.51 With the narrative reading of the conflict and the proper biblical backgrounds behind the divine judgment, Herod becomes a type of any political authority that oversteps its authority and opposes God. The political powers are called to submit to the Messiah Jesus. Such a reading also connects well with Allen’s recognition of the intertexual allusions to the Passover and defeat of Pharaoh, a story rife with political overtones.52 However, all of these function within a larger narrative conflict grounded in Luke’s depiction of the Messiah’s vindication. These political overtones contribute to a growing recognition that Luke is not the calm Roman apologist once supposed without making him a full blown political revolutionary.53 Secondly, reading this passage as a strong contrast between Jesus and Herod brings the role of Christology back into the ecclesiological readings of Acts 12. These two themes mutually illuminate one another, as both Peter and Jesus are victorious over the wicked Herod in Acts 12. Not only is Peter carrying on the ministry of Jesus through his suffering, but his victory against the tyrant is grounded in the same mighty act of God which raised Christ. Conversely, the church’s continual proclamation of the risen Messiah interprets in the judgment of Herod a proleptic defeat of an enemy of God that foreshadows Jesus’s return. Indeed, present deliverance can come to the church through the Messiah as Peter is freed from prison using the imagery of the resurrection, but judgment from the Messiah can also be prefigured through the dethroning of God’s enemies. As Allen notes, “the 51 Such an explicit interpretation of Herod in Acts 12 as a reference to Nero leads to the referential fallacy because it fails to recognize that the Herod of the text is a character. This is not to deny that the author had specific situations in mind when he crafted the text, only to recognize its literary nature first and foremost. See Powell, What is Narrative Criticism?, 58. 52 Allen, The Death of Herod, 105–7 53 Following Rowe, World Upside Down, who is one of many scholars who have challenged Conzelmann’s understanding of Luke-Acts as politically detached.


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foreshadowing of retribution is, at times, fulfilled in the narrative, so that both the positive and negative sides of salvation are portrayed in Luke’s second volume.”54 Luke calls the church to continue to proclaim that Jesus is King, aware of the possible political subversion (Acts 4; 17:1–7; 19:23– 41), but nevertheless grounded in the assurance that God has appointed a day to judge the world through Jesus, the risen Messiah (Acts 17:31). The ecclesiological reading of Acts 12 is thoroughly linked to Luke’s political Christology. Finally, reading the gruesome death of Herod through the eschatological image of worm-corruption not only shows the present foretastes of divine retribution, but also helps provide a way to nuance Luke’s depiction of the church’s persecution. Scholars have often noted that the death of James that launches this whole pericope raises theological questions about why God allows James to die while Peter goes free.55 Herod’s worm-corruption points to a possible consolation that subtly nuances death in Acts. While James is martyred for his faith with the hope of the resurrection, Herod’s death is explained in language of eschatological judgment that contrasts with the incorruptibility of the resurrection. This type of gruesome death appears throughout Acts to the enemies of God (Judas in Acts 1:15–20; Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1–10) and demonstrates to the faithful that in the end the wicked will be judged. This affirms the commandment of Jesus in Luke 22:12–19 which exhorts his followers to continue to testify even in the face of hatred from the kings. While these leaders will kill some of the disciples, Jesus assures them that this death will not harm a hair on their heads; rather, their bold witness will save their souls. The death of Herod thus grounds a realistic view that the authorities can and will put the church to death for its witness to Christ. But the message of the risen Messiah promises both a future salvation for the faithful witnesses beyond the grave and a judgment on the wicked. In the end, this text offers both a powerful consolation to the witness of the church as well as a continual political critique, one that supports Luke’s ecclesiology with the truths of his Christology. Herod’s death functions both to encourage the Church’s witness in the world and to attest to the victory of the Messiah over the enemies of God. The Christology and ecclesiology are joined. Peter’s deliverance attests to the outworking of Jesus’s resurrection, while Herod’s death shows the church the coming judgment of the wicked.

54 55

Allen, The Death of Herod, 120. Pervo, Acts, 302.


Thwarting the Enemies of God

Appendix Figure 1: Differentiating the Herodian Line in Luke-Acts Herods in Luke-Acts

Appearances in Luke-Acts (suggested)




Herod the Great (37–4 B.C.E.)

Luke 1:5

Ἡρῴδου τοῦ βασιλέως τῆς Ἰουδαίας

Luke 1

Reference in Acts is to Herod’s Praetorium.

Acts 23:25


Acts 1

Herod Antipas (4 B.C.E.–39 C.E.)

Luke 3:1; 3:19; 9:7; Acts 13:1

ὁ δὲ Ἡρῴδης ὁ τετράρχης

Luke 3 Acts 1

Luke 8:3; 9:9; 13:31; 23:7–15; Acts 4:27


Luke 11 Acts 1

Herod Agrippa I (41–44 C.E.)

Acts 12:1

Ἡρῴδης ὁ βασιλεὺς

Acts 1

Acts 12:6, 11, 19, 20, 21


Acts 5

Herod Agrippa II (48–93/4 C.E.)

Acts 25:13; 25:24; 25:26; 26:2, 7, 19, 27

Ἀγρίππας ὁ βασιλεὺς

Acts 7

Acts 25:22, 23; 26:1, 28, 32


Acts 5

Differentiated by tetrarch. Reference in Acts 13 is to convert from Herod’s house. Appears only in Acts, set apart from Antipas only once by title of King. Always called Agrippa, never Herod.

Figure 2: Comparison and Contrast between Herod’s death in Acts 12 and Jesus in Luke-Acts Point of Comparison

Used of Herod’s Death in Acts 12

Similarities to Jesus

Uses in Luke-Acts

Clothed in Robes

ἐνδυσάµενος ἐσθῆτα βασιλικὴν (v.21)

περιβαλὼν αὐτὸν ἐσθῆτα λαµπρὰν (Luke 23:11)

ἐσθῆτα, used four times, the other 2 for angels’ clothing.


Alexander P. Thompson

Point of Comparison

Used of Herod’s Death in Acts 12

Similarities to Jesus

Uses in Luke-Acts

Sits on Throne

καθίσας ἐπὶ τοῦ βήµατος (v.21)

καθίσαι ἐπὶ τοῦ θρόνου αὐτοῦ (Acts 2:30)

καθίζω used 17 times.

(cf. Ps 110:1 in Acts 2:34)

θρόνος, used 5 times in Luke-Acts, 3 of the Messiah Jesus.

φωνὴν ἐξ οὐρανοῦ (Luke 3:22)

φωνή used 41 times.

Voice of God

Θεοῦ φωνὴ καὶ οὐκ ἀνθρώπου (v.22)

βῆµα used 8 times in Luke-Acts.

φωνὴ ἐγένετο ἐκ τῆς νεφέλης (Luke 9:35) (cf. voice of God in Paul’s conversion Acts 9 and 22 or Peter’s vision in Acts 10) Role of Angels

ἐπάταξεν αὐτὸν ἄγγελος κυρίου (v.23)

ὀπτασίαν ἀγγέλων ἑωρακέναι οἳ λέγουσιν αὐτὸν ζῆν (Luke 24:23)

ἄγγελος used 46 times in Luke-Acts.

(cf. role of angels in Luke 1–2) Glory of God

οὐκ ἔδωκεν τὴν δόξαν τῷ θεῷ (v.23)

οὐχὶ ταῦτα ἔδει παθεῖν τὸν Χριστὸν καὶ εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ (Luke 24:26; cf. 21:27)

δόξα used 17 times in Luke-Acts.

δόξαν θεοῦ καὶ Ἰησοῦν ἑστῶτα ἐκ δεξιῶν τοῦ θεοῦ (Stephen’s death in Acts 7:55) Bodily Corruption

γενόµενος σκωληκόβρωτος (v.23)

ἡ σὰρξ αὐτοῦ εἶδεν διαφθοράν (Acts 2:31; cf. Ps 16:10) ὃν δὲ ὁ θεὸς ἤγειρεν οὐκ εἶδεν διαφθοράν (Acts 13:37; cf. Ps 16:10)

Both διαφθορά and σκωληκόβρωτος are only used in Acts.

“She Who Is In Babylon”: 1 Peter and the Hermeneutics of Empire DAVID I. STARLING A much-discussed topic in recent scholarship on 1 Peter has been the stance that the author takes toward the values and ethos of the pagan social environment inhabited by his readers.1 The benchmarks for the discussion were set thirty years ago by David Balch and John Elliott, whose debate in the early 1980s established the terms of the conversation as a set-piece contest between “conformity” and “resistance” as rival accounts of the letter’s relationship to its socio-political context. Balch, on the one hand, drew on the categories of acculturation and assimilation, and argued that the strategy advocated by the letter (and the household code of 2:11–3:12 in particular) was one of pragmatic accommodation to the mores of the surrounding culture.2 Elliott, on the other hand, depicted the community of the letter’s intended readers as a conversionist sect, to whom the writer was urging a policy of resistance against the pressures of cultural conformity for the sake of the group’s solidarity and distinctiveness. 3 The social-scientific categories utilized by Balch and Elliott have been helpful in highlighting the relationship between the text’s ideology and its socio-political environment, and offering possibilities for understanding 1

I myself am convinced that the arguments in favour of the pseudonymity of the letter have been adequately rebutted (e.g., in J. Ramsey Michaels, 1 Peter [WBC; Waco, TX: Word Books, 1988)], lxii–lxvii) but will refer throughout to “the author” in view of the scholarly disputes over the authorship of the letter. Neither Petrine authorship nor pseudonymity will be presupposed within the argument of the chapter, and I will restrict myself to statements about life within the empire that could have applied equally under Nero, Domitian, or Trajan. 2 Cf. David L. Balch, Let Wives Be Submissive: The Domestic Code in 1 Peter (Chico, CA: Scholars, 1981), 109. Balch drew more explicitly on the social-scientific categories of assimilation and acculturation in the ensuing debate with John Elliott; see, for example, David L. Balch, “Hellenization/Acculturation in 1 Peter,” in Perspectives on First Peter, ed. Charles H. Talbert (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1986). 3 Cf. John H. Elliott, “1 Peter, its Situation and Strategy: A Discussion with David Balch,” in Perspectives on First Peter, ed. Charles H. Talbert (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1986), 72–73, 78. Cf. the broader discussion of “sociological exegesis” and the relevance of the “conversionist sect” category in John H. Elliott, A Home for the Homeless: A Sociological Exegesis of 1 Peter, its Situation and Strategy (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1981), 73–84, 101–50.


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the text and its recipients by analogy with other texts and communities in relevantly similar contexts. But (as Balch and Elliott themselves stress) the usefulness of such theoretical tools is suggestive rather than generative or determinative,4 and the generic categories invoked should not be allowed to smother the particularities of the text, or of its author and readers and their situation. In the case of 1 Peter, one important particularity of the situation of the readers is (as David Horrell has emphasized) the fact of empire and the shape that it gives to the power-structures within which they must relate to their social environment.5 But the imperial context of the letter (both the generic context of empire and the still more specific context of the Roman empire) is not the only particularity to which we need to attend in seeking to understand it. Another crucial particularity of the letter is the tradition of understanding within which the author encourages his readers to interpret that imperial power and negotiate their relation to it. It is impossible to read 1 Peter without noticing the pervasiveness of Old Testament echoes and citations within the rhetoric of the text: within the five short chapters of the letter, the marginal apparatus of NA28 lists 23 direct Old Testament citations, a density of citation that is paralleled within the New Testament only in the books of Hebrews and Revelation.6 In addition to the heavy use of scriptural citations and allusions within the body of the letter, there is also the language and imagery in which the letter-frame is composed, which is pregnant with hermeneutical implications. A letter that addresses its readers as “the exiles of the Dispersion” (1:1) and closes with an assurance that “your sister church in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings” (5:13) clearly invites a reading that relates its injunctions to the situation of the recipients within the empire,7 and interprets that situation in light of the categories and narratives of Scripture. 8 4

Cf. Balch, “Hellenization/Acculturation in 1 Peter,” 79. Cf. David G. Horrell, “Between Conformity and Resistance: Beyond the BalchElliott Debate Towards a Post-Colonial Reading of First Peter,” in Reading First Peter with New Eyes: Methodological Reassessments of the Letter of First Peter, ed. Robert L. Webb and Betsy Bauman-Martin (LNTS 364; London: T&T Clark, 2007). 6 Cf. William L. Schutter, Hermeneutic and Composition in I Peter (WUNT 2/30; Tübingen: Mohr-Siebeck, 1989), 3; Reinhard Feldmeier, The First Letter of Peter: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2008), 26. 7 Biblical quotations throughout this chapter are from the NRSV, unless otherwise indicated. 8 This is the case regardless of whether the recipients are understood to be Jews or Gentiles, and irrespective of whether their identity as “exiles of the Dispersion” is taken to refer primarily to geographical dislocation, social alienation or eschatological allegiance. On the first of these issues, I incline toward the majority view that sees verses like 1:14, 18; 2:9; 4:3–4 as implying a readership composed primarily of Gentile converts 5

1 Peter and the Hermeneutics of Empire


If we are to understand the stance that author of 1 Peter takes toward the social context of his readers we must therefore pay attention not only to the situation of the readers within the Roman Empire but also to the scriptural tradition within which the author encourages his readers to interpret and respond to that situation. In this paper, my purpose is to examine the hermeneutical dimensions of the ideology of 1 Peter, focusing on the ways in which the author’s use of Old Testament traditions (interpreted in light of the story of Christ) contributes to the stance that he urges his readers to take toward the social arrangements that were created or exploited by the empire within which they lived.

1 Peter among the Postcolonials Among recent postcolonial studies of 1 Peter a variety of approaches have been taken to the role played by scriptural traditions within the letter. Warren Carter, in the course of mounting an argument that the letter encourages its readers to “go all the way” in their outward participation in the imperial cult, draws attention to the absence of any explicit reference to the scriptural prohibitions of idolatry within the letter, but has little else to say about the ways in which Scripture is cited and echoed.9 Betsy BaumanMartin’s paper, “Speaking Jewish: Postcolonial Aliens and Strangers in 1 Peter,” pays more attention to the role played by scriptural language and categories within the letter, but her interest is more in the way that the writer exploits Scripture as a source of rhetorical power than in the way that the understanding of the writer himself is shaped by Scripture.10 Jennifer Bird’s monograph, which reads 1 Pet 3:1–6 through a postcolonial lens, includes a brief discussion on how the scriptural metaphors of “immigrants from paganism. On second issue, whilst there is every likelihood that some of the recipients would have been among the many in the province who had experienced a literal geographical displacement (cf. Elliott, A Home for the Homeless: A Sociological Exegesis of 1 Peter, its Situation and Strategy, 24–27; Karen H. Jobes, 1 Peter [BECNT; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2005], 28–41), the Babylon typology of 5:13 and the reference to “the time of your exile” in 1:17 (read in the light of the eschatological context established in 1:3–7, 13, 21) suggest that the exile language functions primarily as a metaphor for the social alienation experienced by the readers under the powers of the present age, as they wait for the salvation of the age to come. 9 Warren Carter, “Going All the Way? Honoring the Emperor and Sacrificing Wives and Slaves in 1 Peter 2.13–3.6,” in A Feminist Companion to the Catholic Epistles and Hebrews, ed. Amy-Jill Levine (London: T&T Clark, 2004), 25. 10 Cf. Betsy Bauman-Martin, “Speaking Jewish: Postcolonial Aliens and Strangers in 1 Peter,” in Reading First Peter with New Eyes: Methodological Reassessments of the Letter of First Peter, ed. Robert L. Webb and Betsy Bauman-Martin (LNTS 364; London: T&T Clark, 2007), 146.


David I. Starling

and refugees” and “royal priesthood” function within the letter (arguing that the latter image swallows up the former, generating a “mimicry of Empire” within the internal power relations of the church and a stance of submissiveness to empire in its external socio-political relations),11 but does not attempt any sort of systematic investigation of the hermeneutics of the letter. David Horrell’s paper, “Between Conformity and Resistance: Beyond the Balch-Elliott Debate toward a Postcolonial Reading of 1 Peter,” pays somewhat more attention to the role played by Scripture in shaping the rhetoric and understanding of the author, beginning with the language of the letter frame (1:1–2; 5:13), which “evokes a whole narrative, a kind of hidden transcript, one forged in the fire of Jewish experience, and one that reflects the experience of the underside of empire.”12 But the account that Horrell offers of the role played by Scripture within 1 Peter still shows a certain one-sidedness. When Horrell is examining the “resistant” elements of the text’s ideology, the influence of scriptural traditions is discussed at some length, and plays a key role in the explanation that Horrell offers for the author’s alienation from the empire: Prior to conversion these people may have been quietly, even contentedly, accommodated to the realities of empire and its local manifestations, keeping the peace and their heads down, paying their dues, financially and religiously. . . . But the call to conversion, a call the author reiterates and amplifies in his letter, is a call to inhabit a narrative, one drawn from the experience of the people of Israel, that puts a different spin on the establishment of empire. Now Rome is Babylon, the oppressor of God’s people, who are displaced and homeless in its realm. One might therefore say that the narrative of identity into which 1 Peter invites its readers is one which constructs a form of postcolonial awareness, which challenges positive acceptance or acquiescence and replaces it with a 13 sense of dislocation and distance.

When it comes to discussing the more socially conformist dimensions of the letter, however, the influence of Scripture disappears from the analysis, and Horrell is content to explain the author’s injunctions as nothing more than “a kind of survival strategy . . . a common and understandable response to the pressures and threats of imperial domination.”14 The picture that emerges is a kind of half-way house between Balch’s reading of the letter and Elliott’s, which is a stance toward the empire that Horrell characterizes as one of “polite resistance,” in which the “resistance” derives (in part, at least) from a scripturally-grounded identity narrative and the “politeness” derives from the survival instincts of the author. 11 Jennifer G. Bird, Abuse, Power and Fearful Obedience: Reconsidering 1 Peter’s Commands to Wives (LNTS 442; London: T&T Clark, 2011), 63–85. 12 Horrell, 126. 13 Horrell, 128. 14 Horrell, 134–35.

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Whilst an account of this sort may fit neatly enough with the sensibilities of modern readers, for whom the elements of resistance within the letter are likely to be more interesting and attractive than the elements of social conformity, it does not do full justice to the nuanced and multidimensional role played by Scripture within the letter, or to the extent to which the various strands of the social ethic advocated in the letter cohere within an integrated whole.15 Whatever conclusions we may draw about the social motivations that stand behind the author’s injunctions, the rhetoric with which he voices and justifies them (including both the “resistant” injunctions and the “conformist” ones) is soaked in Scripture and in recollections of the story of Christ. Furthermore, the elements of the letter that we tease out from each other and assign to the categories of “resistance” and “conformity” are typically found within the letter to be closely interrelated to one another, and undergirded by appeals to the same scriptural sources. There is room, then, for a more careful examination of the way in which scriptural tradition contributes to the interpretation of empire within 1 Peter. In my attempt to sketch an outline within this paper for how such an examination might proceed, I will focus on the forces of fear, patronage, and honor as crucial dimensions of the imperial context that shaped the social experience of the letter’s original readers, and investigate some of the ways in which interpreted Scripture contributes to what is said within the letter concerning each of them.

Empire of Fear Perhaps the most obvious dynamic of empire that contributed to the shaping of the socio-political context of 1 Peter was that of the fear elicited by the use and threat of force. Relations of fear and intimidation were integral and essential to the workings of empire, from the very bottom of the structure (in the coercive force that the master of a household could exert to keep his slaves in their servile position)16 to the very top (in the threats of exile and execution that emperors could marshal against their critics and rivals);17 they were experienced both by the subject peoples who were on 15 Cf. Miroslav Volf, “Soft Difference: Theological Reflections on the Relation between Church and Culture in 1 Peter,” Ex Auditu 10 (1994): 22. 16 Cf. Richard P. Saller, Patriarchy, Property, and Death in the Roman Family (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 133–54. 17 Cf. Tacitus, Agricola 1–2; Histories 1.2–3 and the discussion in Ramsay MacMullen, Enemies of the Roman Order: Treason, Unrest, and Alienation in the Empire (2nd ed.; London: Routledge, 1992), 18–45.


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the receiving end of the force of the Roman armies,18 and by the soldiers who served within them.19 Without fear, there would have been no empire. Within that context, it is not surprising that references to “fear” occur frequently within 1 Peter, in the context of injunctions to the readers concerning both their attitude toward God and their response to the bearers of power within their social context. In 1:17, it is the word φόβος (NRSV: “reverent fear”) that the writer reaches for to summarize the way in which his readers should conduct their lives during the time of their exile. Slaves, according to 2:18, are to accept the authority of their masters “with all deference” (ἐν παντὶ φόβῳ). Wives are to accept the authority of their husbands, so that those who do not obey the word might be won over by “the purity and reverence of your lives” (3:2; τὴν ἐν φόβῳ ἁγνὴν ἀναστροθὴν ὑµῶν). When required to give account for their hope, the readers of the letter are to offer their answer “with gentleness and reverence” (3:16; πραΰτητος καὶ φόβου). Hand in hand with these injunctions to the readers to demonstrate “reverence” and “deference” in their social relationships, there are other exhortations that counsel against fear. The paragraph directed to wives, for example, ends with an encouragement to “do what is good and never let fears alarm you” (ἀγαθοποιοῦσαι καὶ µὴ φοβούµεναι µηδεµίαν πτόησιν), and the carefully worded summary statement in 2:17 draws what appears to be a principled distinction between the command to “fear” (φοβεῖσθε) God and the commands to “honor” (τιµήσατε) all people and “honor” (τιµᾶτε) the emperor. Fear, it seems, is both a prescribed and a prohibited feature of the social relationships of the readers, sometimes within almost the same breath. The best clue to how the language of “fear” can function within the letter both to warrant and to limit the deference that the readers are to give to masters, husbands, governors, and emperors can be found in the Old Testament roots that undergird the exhortations. The place to start in tracing those roots is with the summary injunction in 1:17 to “live in reverent fear during the time of your exile,” which precedes all the specific instructions of the household code. This injunction is predicated, according to verse 17a, on the assumption that “you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds,” a basic axiom of Old Testament faith (cf. Prov 24:12; Ps 62:12; Deut 10:17; verses whose wording is 18

Cf. Tacitus’s shrewd observations in Agricola 14–38 on the necessity (and limitations) of fear as a motive for subjection to imperial domination. 19 Cf. the speech that Tacitus puts in the mouth of Calgacus, which describes the “fear and panic” that function as the “sorry bonds of love” binding the Gauls and Germans and Britons within the Roman army to their superiors: “take these away, and those who have ceased to fear will begin to hate.” (Agricola 32.2)

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echoed in the phraseology of verse 17a) that calls for a response of reverence and humility before God and confidence that present injustices will meet a future reversal. That expectation of future divine judgement evoked in 1:17a is further recalled in the reference made in 2:12 to “the day of visitation,” an echo of the expression used in Isa 10:1 to speak of a judgement within history on the nation of Israel, and the similar language used in later Jewish literature (e.g., Sir 18:20; Wis 3:7) to speak of a divine judgement on individuals. The fear of the LORD that is evoked by this consciousness of divine judgement has a complex set of implications for social relationships. On the one hand, the fear of the LORD is spoken of within the Old Testament Scriptures as engendering a general disposition of humility (e.g., Prov 8:13; 15:33; 22:4; cf. Sir 1:27, 30; 2:17), and a particular response of respect and deference toward God’s servants (e.g., Ps 2:11–12; cf. Sir 7:29– 31), toward one’s elders (e.g., Lev 19:32),20 and toward the bearers of civil authority (Prov 24:21: φοβοῦ τὸν θεόν, υἱέ, καὶ βασιλέα). Accordingly, “fear” can be spoken of within the Scriptures as the appropriate way in which to relate to one’s parents (Lev 19:3) and as the attitude one would expect a slave to have toward a master (Mal 1:6). But an inclination of this sort toward humility and deference to authority is just one of the many social implications of the fear of the LORD, as the idea is articulated and applied within Scripture. In Lev 19, for example, the fear of God is spoken of as engendering respect not only for one’s elders (verse 32) but also for the deaf and the blind (verse 14); later in the same book it is tied to the compassionate treatment of the landless poor (25:36, 43; cf. Neh 5:15). According to Ps 34:13–14 (verses that are quoted as part of an extended citation of Ps 34:13–17 in 1 Pet 3:10–12, and preceded in the original context of the psalm by an invitation to “come” so that the psalmist might “teach you the fear of the LORD”), learning the fear of the LORD involves being taught a whole cluster of social behaviours: “Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.” 21 Whilst the didactic content of the second half of Ps 34 and its emphasis on “the fear of the LORD” (verses 10, 12) suggest affinities with the wisdom tradition, the first half of the psalm reads like the opening of an indi20

See also LXX Prov 3:34, which does not make explicit mention of the fear of the but does warn that he “opposes the proud” and “gives grace to the humble,” and is cited in 1 Pet 5:5 in support of a call for humility and submission to elders. 21 The reminder in the following verses of the psalm (quoted in 1 Pet 3:12) that “the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer,” but “the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” may also help to explain the basis on which husbands are warned a few verses earlier (in 3:7) that a failure to give “consideration” and “honor” to their wives will “hinder your prayers.” LORD ,


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vidual thanksgiving, inviting the community to join with the psalmist in praising God for the deliverance he has experienced, and urging them to learn from his example to seek refuge in the LORD in the midst of their troubles. The first reference to the fear of the LORD within the psalm comes in verse 7, in the form of an assurance that “the angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them,” and the depiction of the righteous in the second half of the psalm is of a beleaguered and suffering people. If this is wisdom literature, it is wisdom under pressure; its invitation to come and learn the fear of the LORD is accompanied by a promise that “the angel of the LORD . . . deliver[s] . . . those who fear him” (verse 7) and a story of how “the LORD . . . delivered me from all my fears” (verse 4). This, too, is a pervasive Old Testament theme (e.g., Ps 33:18–19; 85:9; 111:5; 115:11; 145:19; Prov 14:26–27; 19:23) and one that would have carried obvious relevance to the original vulnerable and suffering recipients of 1 Peter. Thus, the traditional, scriptural language of “the fear of the LORD” on which the writer of 1 Peter is drawing when he calls his readers to a live of “reverent fear,” carries implications for their social relationships that include not only a disposition of humility and deference to authority, but also a broader set of social virtues including integrity, benevolence, and peaceableness, and a certain fearlessness in the face of the threats and terrors of life. There are at least two ways in which the fear of the LORD is spoken of within the Old Testament as driving out other fears, both of which are relevant to how “fear” language is employed within 1 Peter, and to the imperial context of the letter. In the first place, as we have already seen in Ps 34, the fear of the LORD involves confidence in his power to protect his people and defeat their enemies. In the second place, and pervasively within the Old Testament (e.g., Deut 10:10; 13:4), the fear of the LORD is depicted as an exclusive fear that is incompatible with the practices of idolatry. These two dynamics are inter-related, since the worship of a god can involve both a fear of that god’s own hostility and an exercise of trust in that god to keep at bay the other objects of one’s fears. Thus, in Isa 8:12–13 (the first verse of which is quoted in 1 Pet 3:14) the command, “do not fear what [this people] fears, or be in dread” is followed immediately by a summons to the exclusive fear of the LORD: “But the LORD of hosts, him you shall regard as holy; let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.” For the readers of 1 Peter, then, the summons to a life of “reverent fear” during the time of their exile is both a call to humility and social deference (including a willingness to defer to the authority of emperors, governors, masters, husbands, and elders) and a strict limit on the proper motivation

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and expression of that deference. Wives are “never [to] let fears alarm you” (3:6); slaves are to live “as free people” (2:16), submitting to earthly masters διὰ συνείδησιν θεοῦ (“being aware of God”; 2:19) and not because of a servile terror of punishment; members of the church are to relate to the emperor and his servants (and, by implication, to the practices of the imperial cult) in a way that maintains a distinction between the “fear” that belongs to God alone and the “honor” that is due to the emperor (2:17),22 even where that involves the risk of suffering and death. The complex texture of that “fear” and its social implications cannot adequately be explained as deriving simply from a tension between a scripturally-generated alienation from the empire and a social conformity motivated by the survival instincts of the author. Both the deference and the defiance have their source in the same deep scriptural well, whatever may have been the complex set of social motivations influencing the ways in which those scriptural traditions were appropriated and applied.

Empire of Grace Important as it is to understand the role played by fear and intimidation within the social arrangements of life within the empire, fear alone was not the only force that held the empire together, or the only way in which the imperial context shaped the daily lives of those who lived within its borders. Seneca’s depiction of the benevolent ruler – so well “protected by his own good deeds” (suo beneficio tutus) that he “needs no bodyguard” – painted as a contrast to the tyrant in his treatise On Mercy, is clearly an exaggerated and idealized one; no real Roman emperor ever wore his arms “for adornment only.”23 But it is still, in its own way, grounded in shrewd observations of the workings of power, from a writer who had ample opportunity to observe both the brittleness of an allegiance that rests on fear alone and the power that could be exerted by benefaction and reciprocal obligation within the value-system of the Romans.24 As modern historians 22

If, as I think likely, the second half of the formulation in 2:17 (τὸν θεὸν φοβεῖσθε, τὸν βασιλέα τιµᾶτε) involves an intended echo of Prov 24:21 LXX (φοβοῦ τὸν θεόν, υἱέ, καὶ βασιλέα) then the alteration that has been made to the wording of the original suggests even more strongly that the distinction between φοβεῖσθε and τιµᾶτε is deliberate and emphatic. Cf. Horrell, “Between Conformity and Resistance,” 134–35 for a succinct and lucid critique of Warren Carter’s argument that the author of 1 Peter is counselling his readers, where necessary, to show honor to the emperor by (outward) participation in the rituals of the imperial cult. 23 On Mercy 1.13.5. 24 Cf. his observations on the dangerous effects of “fear that is constant and sharp and brings desperation” in On Mercy 1.12.4, and the comments that Dio Cassius puts into the


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since Anton von Premerstein have increasingly agreed, the Roman empire was as much an empire of patronage as it was an empire of fear.25 Within the context of an empire in which patronage played such a crucial role as a mechanism for social integration, the heavy emphasis of 1 Peter on the language of “grace,” “mercy,” “goodness,” and “good deeds” has powerful social and theological resonances. In the first place (principally in the opening and closing sections of the letter – i.e., in 1:1 – 2:10 and 4:12–5:14),26 the letter draws on the resources of the Old Testament, interpreted within a framework of christological fulfilment (1:10–12), to direct the gratitude of its readers toward God in Christ as the supreme and incomparable benefactor. Thus (after the greeting and a blessing that wishes the readers “grace and peace . . . in abundance”) the letter opens in 1:3–5 with a eulogy that blesses God for his “great mercy” in granting them new birth through Christ’s resurrection into a living hope and an imperishable inheritance, which is “a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” These themes of rebirth and future salvation remain in view throughout the rest of the chapter, and continue to be tied explicitly to the gracious activity of God in Christ. The prophets are spoken of in verses 10–12 as pointing forward to “this salvation . . . the grace that was to be yours,” and the readers are urged in verse 13 to “set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed.” The word τελείως (NRSV “all your hope”; emphasis mine) implies not only fullness of assurance but also singleness of loyalty to Christ as patron and benefactor, preparing the way for the exhortations to holiness in the following verses. The readers are exhorted in the following verse on the basis of the fact that they are “children” who owe obedience to their Father, and they are reminded in verses 18–19 that their salvation was accomplished “not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ”; this contrast simultaneously emphasizes the costly generosity of God as their heavenly benefactor and deprecates the value of the “perishable . . . silver and gold” that earthly patrons might offer. The chapter closes with a reminder in verses 23–25 mouth of Augustus in Roman History 53.4.1, about how “those who were on my side have been made devoted by my reciprocating their friendly services.” 25 Cf. Anton Premerstein, Hans Volkmann, and Walter Gustav Albrecht Otto, Vom Werden und Wesen des Prinzipats (München: Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1937), and the discussions in Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, “Patronage in Roman Society: From Republic to Empire,” in Patronage in Ancient Society, ed. Andrew Wallace-Hadrill (London: Routledge, 1989), 71–85 and J. E. Lendon, Empire of Honour: The Art of Government in the Roman World (Oxford: Clarendon, 1997), 11–13. 26 I am following the analysis of the letter’s structure that is proposed in Paul J. Achtemeier and Eldon Jay Epp, 1 Peter: A Commentary on First Peter (Hermeneia; Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 1996), 73–74.

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that the readers have been “born anew . . . through the living and enduring word of God”; the “word” through which they have been reborn is specified in verse 24 as the merciful summons to return from exile spoken by the prophet in Isa 40 and appropriated in verse 25 as an announcement or anticipation of the gospel of Christ. The twin gifts of new birth and future salvation continue to be in focus in the opening paragraph of the second chapter. The injunctions of verse 1 are supported by an appeal to the readers in verse 2 as “newborn infants” to “long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation.” This experience of drinking from the milk of God’s kindness is depicted in 2:3, in an echo of Ps 34:9, as one of “tast[ing] that the Lord is good [χρηστός].” As was the case in the appropriation of the Isa 40:8 citation in the previous paragraph, this experience of the gracious activity of God, described in the language of the Old Testament, is understood as having taken place in the encounter of the readers with Christ; the “him” of 2:4 implicitly identifies the psalm citation’s reference to “the Lord” as a reference to Christ. The catena of scriptural citations and allusions in verses 6–10 that concludes this first section of the letter closes with the words of the prophet Hosea about apostate and restored Israel, appropriated and applied to the readers of the letter so as to ground their salvation and their very identity as a people in the mercy of God: “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (2:10). It is not surprising, therefore, that the calling of the readers is spoken of in the previous verse as being directed toward the purpose that they might “proclaim the mighty acts [τὰς ἀρετάς] of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light”; this language is reminiscent of the honorific inscriptions praising the generosity of a benefactor.27 A similar emphasis on the grace of God in Christ can be found in the closing chapters of the letter (4:12–5:14). God is depicted in 5:5 as the one who “gives grace to the humble” (drawing on the language of LXX Prov 3:34), and in 5:10 as “the God of all grace,” who “will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you.” Finally, in 5:12, the purpose of the whole letter is summarized as being “to encourage you and to testify that this is the true grace of God,” and the readers are urged to “stand fast in it.” In the absence of any suggestion within the letter that it is occasioned by internal theological debates over the place of divine grace and works of the law, this solemn injunction is best taken as urging trust in the gener-


Cf. Frederick W. Danker, Benefactor: Epigraphic Study of a Graeco-Roman and New Testament Semantic Field (St. Louis, MO: Clayton, 1982), 319, 452.


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osity and faithfulness of God as against trust in earthly resources and defenders. If the opening and closing sections of the letter frame its contents with the reminder that God is the great benefactor, the middle section of the letter body (2:11–4:11) calls on believers to imitate and participate in the generosity of God by acting as benefactors themselves, both within and beyond the community of the church. Within the church, the closing verses of the letter’s middle section urge the readers to act toward one another as “good stewards of the manifold grace of God”; their mutual ministries of word and deed are to be performed as extensions or embodiments of the grace of God, so that their actions function as his actions and their words as his words (4:11). The “steward” imagery of 4:10, together with the injunction to practice hospitality in 4:9, underlines the way in which these expressions of grace within the Christian community connect with the metaphor of the church as a home for the homeless. Faithfulness to Christ may alienate them from patronage networks that might otherwise have offered them some degree of advancement or protection, but the church’s own practices of hospitality and benefaction offered an alternative source of security, as a present and visible expression of the kindness of God.28 But the “good works” that the readers of the letter are encouraged to perform are not limited to these intramural expressions of mutual benevolence; they are also spoken of as part of the way that the members of the church are to relate to their wider community in which they live. A strong indication in this direction is given in the opening verses of the middle section of the letter; believers are not only to “proclaim the mighty acts” of God (2:9) by their words, they are also urged to “conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that, though they malign you as evildoers, they may see your honorable deeds and glorify God when he comes to judge” (2:11). The “honorable deeds” (καλὰ ἔργα) that are immediately in view here are not to be taken exclusively or even primarily as works of active, public benevolence; the verse is flanked on either side by a call to “abstain from the desires of the flesh” and an injunction to “accept the authority of every human institution,” suggesting that a life of “honorable deeds” should be read as embracing a wide range of actions and abstentions. Nevertheless, the reference in the very next verse to governors as being sent not only “to punish those who do wrong” but also “to praise those who do right” (2:14) gives good support to the theory that acts of public benefaction (by those who had the resources to perform them) should be taken as included within 28

Cf. John H. Elliott, 1 Peter: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (Anchor Bible; New York: Doubleday, 2000), 753.

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the scope of the expression. It is, after all, almost impossibly difficult to imagine situations in which the Roman civic authorities would have singled out particular citizens to “praise” them for exemplary marital fidelity or submission to authority, but there was a widespread and welldocumented practice of public praise for notable acts of benefaction.29 An explicit statement of one intended function of such “honorable deeds” is given in verse 15: “that by doing right you should silence the ignorance of the foolish”; the visibly virtuous lifestyle of the church’s members, including their abstention from “sinful passions,” their public benefaction, and their submission to authority, is envisaged as constituting a lived rebuttal of the slanders of their critics. This expectation, however, should not be read as an indication that the letter’s exhortations to good works are intended as nothing more than a pragmatic strategy to improve the church’s public reputation. Even here the apologetic function of the good works of believers is articulated as being “God’s will.” This is consistent with an emphasis on the will and pleasure of God that continues throughout the middle section of the letter (2:16, 20, 21; 3:4, 12, 17; 4:2). The praise of the governor and the silencing of the ignorant are not the only or the ultimate rationale for the “good works” that the readers are urged to perform, but are to be understood in relation to the will and purpose of God. The source of the author’s confidence that good works of this character are “God’s will” and that their divinely intended effect includes the silencing of the ignorant critics of the Christian community is not immediately stated in the verses that surround the assurance that he offers in 2:15. Elsewhere in the letter, however, he is explicit in giving a scriptural grounding to his exhortations to good works and his confidence about their apologetic effect. The most obvious place in which he does this is in 3:8– 13, where the exhortations of verses 8–10 and the reassurance of verse 13 are wrapped around an extended citation from Ps 34:13–17. Within those verses, the psalmist urges his hearers to “turn away from evil and do good,” and to “seek peace and pursue it,” presenting this path not only as a way of duty but as a path of blessedness for those “who desire life and desire to see good days.” In addition to this explicit and unmistakeable citation from Ps 34, it is also possible (as Bruce Winter has argued) that the writer expected his readers – whose lives he has depicted as a “time . . . of exile” (1:17) – to hear the language of “do[ing] good” and “seek[ing] peace” as an echo of the letter to the exiles in Jer 29, with its advice to


Cf. the arguments in Bruce W. Winter, Seek the Welfare of the City: Christians as Benefactors and Citizens (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994), 21–23, 26–40.


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“seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile . . . for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (verse 7).30 Within an empire in which patronage and benefaction functioned as powerful forces of social integration, and exclusion from patronage networks could mean painful alienation, 1 Peter’s reminders about the “grace,” “mercy,” and “goodness” of God, and its exhortations to believers to “do good” and act as “stewards of God’s grace” – drawing, in both cases, on deep wells of scriptural tradition – performed important social functions. In pointing to God as the great benefactor of his people and urging believers to act as agents of his benefaction toward one another, they loosened the ties of dependence and obligation that readers would have felt to pagan patronage networks and compensated for some of the alienation from them that they would have experienced; at the same time, in urging believers themselves to be active in outwardly-directed, publicly visible good works, they encouraged the letter’s readers to maintain positive social linkages with the wider community, extending blessing to their neighbours and combating the slanders of their enemies.

Empire of Glory The bonds of patronage and reciprocity that played such a vital role within the workings of the empire did not function in a crude or mechanistic fashion, like a “colossal back-scratching scheme.”31 The ideals and practices of patronage (along with those of fear and intimidation, discussed above) played their part within a wider, interconnected ecology of economic, aesthetic, ethical, and religious systems. Within that larger imperial ecology, a third crucial dimension of empire – sometimes reinforcing the dynamics of fear and patronage, and sometimes in tension with them – was the system of honor that functioned as a currency for evaluating people and communities, and as a code for measuring and directing conduct. Honor could be amassed by virtuous conduct and exercises of mastery (in battle, or some other analogous contest), and it was displayed in visible, public manifestations of glory.32 It was no accident that the language of “preciousness” was cognate with the language of “honor,”33 since the system was simultaneously ethical, economic, and aesthetic; representations of what was con30

Cf. Winter, Seek the Welfare, 15–17. Lendon, Empire of Honour, 13. 32 Cf. Ramsay MacMullen, Roman Social Relations, 50 B.C. to A.D. 284 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1974), 62–63, 109–13. 33 Cf. the analysis of “the Latin and Greek lexicon of honour” in Lendon, Empire of Honour, 272–79. 31

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sidered splendid and glorious (and, by way of contrast, what was considered shameful and ugly) both drew upon and reinforced the empire’s moral codes and its social and economic order. The imperial code of honor and its omnipresent visual representations are a crucial background against which to read the language of “glory,” “honor,” and “preciousness” that is so prevalent within 1 Peter. For readers who understood themselves to be “exiles” within the empire of “Babylon,” the reminder in 1:24 that “all flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass” was not just an ornamental flourish or an unfocussed truism; in its new context within 1 Peter, as was the case in its original context in Isa 40, it would have carried obvious and weighty implications for how the readers were to view the particular “flesh” and the particular “glory” of the empire under which they lived (cf. Isa 40:6–8, 23–24). Along with this reminder of the passing glory of empire there is also a string of references to the transitoriness of its “perishable” and “fading” commodities (1:4, 8; 3:4). Whilst the bearers of earthly power may be greedy for glory and insistent that they receive it, the readers of the letter are reminded that the one to whom all glory properly belongs is God (4:11). The vocation of the readers is to “proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (2:9), and the author’s desire for the conversion of their pagan neighbours is articulated in terms of a desire that they will “see your honorable deeds and glorify God when he comes to judge” (2:12). Whilst there is an unmistakeably imperial character to the way in which the letter describes the glory of God, the codes of honor and value that pertained within the empire of Rome are not simply mimicked and transferred to the empire of God. The inclusion of the shamed and suffering figure of the crucified Jesus within the identity of God has the effect of radically recalibrating the scale of values on which honor and preciousness are to be measured. This emphasis emerges early in the letter, and is given an explicitly hermeneutical grounding in 1:10–11, where the readers are told that “the Spirit of Christ” testified through the prophets to “the sufferings destined for Christ and the subsequent glory.” The connection between suffering and glory is expressed in 1:11 as a sequential one (τὰ εἰς Χριστὸν παθήµατα καὶ τὰς µετὰ ταῦτα δόξας) but its representation takes on more complexity in 1:18–19, where the blood of Christ’s crucifixion – through Roman eyes, a badge of almost unutterable shame and ugliness – is depicted as “precious” (τίµιος), in the retrospective light of the divine verdict of glorification that is referred to in verse 21. The same language of “preciousness” recurs in the following paragraph, where the crucified and re-


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surrected Jesus is described as “a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight” (2:4) – a description that is supported by a citation in verse 6 from Isa 28:16 that speaks of “a cornerstone chosen and precious,” laid by God in Zion.34 The language of Scripture is also echoed, to similar effect, in 3:22, where the risen Christ is depicted as being seated “at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him” (cf. Ps 110:1). This representation of the crucified Christ as “chosen and precious” to God carries implications of chosenness, beauty, and preciousness for those who are associated with him, including the humble, the powerless and the persecuted. This connection is anticipated as early as 1:1, where the readers are addressed as ἐκλεκτοῖς, and 1:7, where their faith in the midst of sufferings is depicted as πολυτιµότερον χρυσίου. The link between “living stone” and “living stones” is made explicit in 2:4–5, and its implication for the “precious[ness]” of the readers is spelt out in 2:7 (reading ὑµῖν . . . ἡ τιµή as referring not to the status of Christ in the estimation of the readers but to the status of the readers in their association with Christ).35 The most obvious implication that is drawn from this line of connection within the letter is for the way in which the readers are to regard the sufferings that they undergo; the pattern of “sufferings and subsequent glory” established in 1:11 recurs across the rest of the letter (cf. 4:13–16; 5:1, 10) and is extended to the sufferings and disgrace of those who “bear this name” (4:16). But suffering and persecution are not the only points at which the social experience of the readers is to be interpreted and evaluated according to a scale of honor that has been recalibrated in the light of the story of Christ. Wives are told in 3:4 that “a gentle and quiet spirit” constitutes “unfading beauty” that is “very precious [πολυτελές] in God’s sight,”36 and husbands are urged to give “honor” (τιµή) to their wives (3:4) precisely on account of their weaker position. The unjust punishments experienced by slaves are depicted not only as a matter of shame and suffering that will one day be reversed by the honor that they will share with Christ, but also as an expression of a decision on their part to defer to the authority of their masters, which is a stance of submission and endurance

34 The fact that the crucifixion of Christ took place at the hands of the Romans would have given the readers of the letter warrant for drawing connections between the “builders” depicted in Isa 28 and Ps 118 and the imperial authorities under whom they suffered. 35 Cf. Achtemeier and Epp, 1 Peter, 160–61. 36 Cf. the comments on πολυτελές and its function within the discourse of status and honor in Elliott, 1 Peter: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, 568; Barth L. Campbell, Honor, Shame and the Rhetoric of 1 Peter (SBLDS 160; Atlanta, GA: Scholars, 1998), 157.

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that is valorized in 2:20 as carrying great κλέος in God’s sight.37 The extended citation of Isa 53 that follows is presented not only as an example to be imitated but also as a proof that those who do so “have God’s approval” (verse 20); this is presumably a conclusion drawn from the references to divine exaltation and glorification that frame the fourth servant song (cf. Isa 52:13; 53:3–4, 12). The fact that God is depicted within the letter not as the private deity of Christians but as the creator of all the world (cf. 2:13; 4:19) goes some way toward explaining the author’s confidence that there is the possibility of a kind of commensurability between the values of the church and those of the surrounding culture.38 If beauty, honor, and preciousness are ultimately to be measured by how things appear “in the sight of God” (2:4, 5, 20; 3:4), then the counter-cultural value system according to which things are measured in the letter is commended to the readers not merely as the private morality and aesthetics of a sectarian community, but as the way things really are. What is beautiful in the sight of God is – at least in principle – discoverable as beautiful by all who have eyes to see (cf. 2:12; 3:1– 2).

Conclusion Scriptural traditions, interpreted in the light of the sufferings and glorification of Christ, are therefore pervasively present and of fundamental importance within the interpretation of life within the empire that the author of 1 Peter offers to his readers. Both the socially “conformist” and the socially “resistant” dimensions of the letter’s injunctions, applied to the dynamics of fear, patronage, and honor that shaped the social experience of the readers, are expressed in terms of scriptural categories and grounded in scriptural patterns of judgement. Scripture, interpreted christologically, gave the author a language and a rationale for an argument that included both a warrant for deference to secular authority and a limit to its claims; for exhortations that fostered both a willingness to accept alienation from pagan patronage networks and a readiness to engage in works of public benevolence; for a vision of what was beautiful and glorious that embraced both a radical recalibration of the empire’s system of values and a hope that some at least among the empire’s citizens and magistrates would see glimpses of beauty and glory in its social embodiment. If we are to understand the complexities 37 Cf. Lendon, Empire of Honour, 277, for a discussion of the heroic connotations of κλέος and its function within the lexicon of honor. 38 Volf, “Soft Difference,” 26.


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of the letter’s relationship to its social and political context, we must take the hermeneutical dimension of its composition and argumentation as seriously as the author did.

The Forgotten Kingdom: Miracle, the Memory of Jesus, and Counter-Ideology to the Roman Empire BRANDON WALKER Introduction This paper examines the possible reasons for the decline in the use of Kingdom of God language as it relates to miracles from the first to second century. In examining the Beezebul controversy, where Jesus explicitly correlates his miracles and the Kingdom of God, we can see that Jesus’s actions seem to make a theopolitical statement.1 In contrast to this, Paul’s letters rarely mention the Kingdom and the references to miracles are equally sparse. Moving forward, second-century apologists Justin Martyr and Irenaeus as well as two of the earliest Acta, the Acts of Peter and the Acts of Paul, recount miracle stories but hardly mention the Kingdom of God.2 The connection between miracle and the Kingdom of God does not seem to carry on into second-century Christianity. Indeed, there seems to be a decline in the Kingdom of God language as it relates to miracles throughout the second century. After comparing the Kingdom of God in relation to (a) Jesus’s miracles in the Beelzebul controversy,3 (b) Paul’s letters, and (c) the second-century 1

Richard A. Horsley, In the Shadow of Empire: Reclaiming the Bible As a History of Faithful Resistance (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2008), 86; idem, Jesus and the Powers: Conflict, Covenant, and the Hope of the Poor (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2010), 110–12. 2 The significance of the second century is aptly expressed by Gerd Lüdemann, who states, “In the period from the first Christian generations to the end of the second century, more important decisions were made for the whole of Christianity than were made from the end of the second century to the present day.” See Gerd Lüdemann, Heretics: The Other Side of Early Christianity, trans. John Bowden (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1996), 12. The apocryphal Acts have grown in acceptance among scholars as sources into second-century Christianity and the relationship between Christians and the Roman Empire. See Judith Perkins, The Suffering Self: Pain and Narrative Representation in the Early Christian Era (London: Routledge, 1995), 124–41. 3 There are several other locations where the connection between Jesus’s preaching of the gospel or the Kingdom and his miracles (see esp. Matt 4:23; 9:35; 10:7–8; 11:2–6). In Luke 9:2 and 10:9 Jesus sends out the twelve and the seventy (two) giving them instruction to preach about the Kingdom as well as heal the sick.


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Acta, I will suggest three explanations for this decline. First, the decline in Kingdom language as it relates to miracle is probably best viewed in relation with the novelty of the early Jesus movement. The new movement was charged with eschatological and spiritual fervour that eventually waned. Second, the inclusion of the Gentiles into the movement would have resulted in some reorientation of the signs and symbols common to Judaism, but uncommon to the Gentiles.4 Finally, the memory of the connection of the Kingdom of God and miracle shifted as a result of the turbulent political climate.5 It has been noted in social memory theory that during times of stress and political upheaval that memories and traditions change.6 The political shifts occurring in the first- and second-century Palestine would more than likely cause some transitions in the tradition and interpretation of what the Kingdom of God meant in correlation with miracle. However, a nuanced account of what changes occurred will not be given due to space constraints.

Beelzebul Controversy (Q 11:14–23; Matt 12:22–38; Mark 3:22; Luke 11:15–19) Of all of Jesus’s activities, his notoriety as an exorcist and healer predominate. His displays of power in connection with his teaching on the King-

4 While both Jews and Gentiles would understand being conquered or living under Empire, the Christian missionary efforts would necessarily have to make changes to conceptual categories, especially concerning potential politically subversive ideas such as Kingdom of God. The Gentiles would necessarily have to reorient themselves to include narratives that were not their own cultural inheritance. For example, the integration of the Exodus narrative into the life of a Gentile might feel a bit more foreign than that of Homer, Hesiod, or Virgil. See James W. Thompson, “Paul as Missionary Pastor,” in Paul as Missionary: Identity, Activity, Theology and Practice, ed. Trevor J. Burke and Brian S. Rosner (LNTS 420; London: T&T Clark, 2011), 25–36. 5 Everett Ferguson, “The Kingdom of God in Early Patristic Literature,” in Kingdom of God in Twentieth Century Interpretation, ed. Wendell Willis (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1987), 191–208. 6 Edward Shils, Tradition (London: Faber and Faber, 1981); Yael Zerubavel, “The Historic, the Legendary and the Incredible: Invented Tradition and Collective Memory in Israel,” in Commemorations: The Politics of National Identity, ed. John R. Gillis (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996), 104–23; Barry Schwartz, “Christian Origins: Historical Truth and Social Memory,” in Memory, Tradition, and Text: Uses of the Past in Early Christianity, ed. Alan Kirk and Tom Thatcher (Semeia Studies 52; Atlanta, GA: SBL, 2005), 43–56.

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dom of God are most evident in the Beelzebul controversy.7 This incident is noted in the hypothetical text Q as well as all of the Synoptic Gospels and is considered “a powerful case” for the relationship between the Kingdom of God and Jesus’s exorcistic ministry.8 Jesus’s statement in Matthew and Luke seem to indicate that through his exorcisms the Kingdom of God was displayed or made manifest.9 But is there a further theopolitical understanding to this event? Theopolitical readings of exorcism are generally understood in terms of anti-colonial perspectives and focus on the “peasants” versus the oppressive authority figures.10 Interpretation of the expulsion of the demons into the herd of swine in the Gerasene demoniac incident has been given such a theopolitical reading.11 While these studies do make observations about a possible way to view Jesus’s exorcisms in first-century Palestine, there are several problematic areas concerning this interpretation. The first is the use of the term “peasant” to denote first-century Palestine. While economically, those outside of Rome or urban centers were utilized for their farm production, within the societies themselves they probably did not consider themselves poor and they certainly did not use the nineteenth- and twentieth-century label “peasant.”12 Second, Galilee was not occupied by Romans during the time of Jesus and there is no indication that heavy taxation played a role in first-century Galilee.13 With these factors in mind, it is a legitimate question as to whether or not a theopolitical reading is possible. 7 There are other verses correlating healing or miracles and the Kingdom of God, however the Beelzebul controversy seems to make the strongest connection between the two (cf. Matt 9:25). 8 Q 11:14–20. John Dominic Crossan, The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant (1st ed.; San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1991), 318. 9 Graham H. Twelftree, “The Message of Jesus I: Miracles, Continuing Controversies,” in Handbook for the Study of the Historical Jesus, ed. Stanley E. Porter and Tom Holmén (4 vols.; Leiden: Brill, 2011), 4:2517–48; Gerd Theissen, Sociology of Early Palestinian Christianity (Philadelphia, PA: Augsburg Fortress, 1978). 10 Horsley, Jesus and the Powers; idem, Jesus and Empire: The Kingdom of God and the New World Disorder (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2002); Crossan, The Historical Jesus. 11 Eric Sorensen, Possession and Exorcism in the New Testament and Early Christianity (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2002), 129–30. 12 Sharon Lea Mattila, “Jesus and the ‘Middle Peasants’? Problematizing a SocialScientific Concept,” CBQ 72.2 (2010): 291–313. This is not to say, however, that there were not those who were poorer than others or that there were people who took an antiRoman or anti-Idumaean posture. See Josephus, Life 33–34. 13 Stevan L. Davies, Jesus the Healer: Possession, Trance, and the Origins of Christianity (London: SCM, 1995), 78–80; George V. Pixley, “God’s Kingdom in First-Century Palestine: The Strategy of Jesus,” in The Bible and Liberation: Political and Social Hermeneutics, ed. Norman K. Gottwald (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1983), 378–93; E. P Sanders, Jesus and Judaism (1st ed.; Philadelphia, PA: Fortress, 1985). This does not


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There are at least three good reasons why a theopolitical reading is possible. First, the connection between the message of another Kingdom and spiritual power would certainly have raised concern, not only for jealous local leaders, but for anxious Romans desiring to maintain order. While the Beelzebul controversy is an internal affair, involving one Jew arguing against other Jews, the miracles would have hardly escaped the notice of both Jewish and Roman political authorities. As Sanders rightly observes, “One can move from miracles to crowds to teaching to tumult to death much more easily from teacher of law to a miracle worker to a prophet whose passion for sanctity irritated authorities in Jerusalem.”14 Jesus’s reputation as a healer would have spread as he healed those political positions of power such as the Jarius’s daughter (Mark 5:22; Luke 8:41) and a centurion’s servant (Matt 8:5–13). The fact that Herod wanted to see Jesus perform some “sign” indicates that Jesus’s reputation was known among both lower strata of society as well as among the wealthy (Luke 23:8). With this in mind, the collective force of Jesus’s healings gained for him a reputation and when coupled with a message of another Kingdom one could not escape the notion that Jesus’s message was in some way political. Second, the novelty of Jesus’s combined preaching and healing would have certainly drawn attention to the movement. Jesus’s response in the Beelzebul controversy (Matt 12:28; Luke 11:20) relates the presence of the Spirit of God as well as the in-breaking presence of the Kingdom.15 Theissen states that in this conflict Jesus “combines two conceptual worlds which had never been combined in this way before, the apocalyptic expectation of universal salvation in the future and the episodic realization of salvation in the present through miracles.”16 The presence of the Spirit was also an eschatological indicator of a new age that was expected by the prophets.17 While the arrival of the Kingdom itself was not clearly linked negate the fact that the Roman presence during Crassus’s campaign east or Pompey’s presence in Syria might not have made some form of psychological impact. However, we can only infer what the people believed based on their actions and responses. 14 Sanders, Jesus and Judaism, 164 (emphasis original). 15 Schweizer, πνεῦµα, πνευµατικός, TDNT 6.398. Contra Schweitzer and Bultmann who believed that the kingdom of God was merely near or dawning. The aorist use of ἔφθασεν indicates that the Kingdom was thought of as manifestly present or as having arrived. See Rudolf Karl Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament (2 vols.; New York: Scribner, 1965), 2:7; Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus (London: SCM, 2000), 345. 16 Gerd Theissen, The Miracle Stories of the Early Christian Tradition, ed. John Kenneth Riches, trans. Francis McDonagh (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2007), 278. 17 Isa 25:8; 26:19; 34–35; 44:3–4; Jer 23:1–8; 29:10–14; Joel 2:23–30; E. P. Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus (London: Penguin, 1995), 168.

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with the coming of the Holy Spirit, Jesus’s correlation with the expulsion of demons through the presence of the Spirit (Matt 12:28) indicates that the prophetic fulfillment of the expected Kingdom was present.18 Finally, at the theopolitical level, Jesus’s statements such as, “a kingdom divided against itself will not stand,” along with divided cities and houses may reflect the theopolitical situation of first-century Palestine.19 From the time of the splitting of the Kingdom after Solomon until Jesus’s time, Israel had ceased to be a fully unified country.20 The diverse theopolitical factions such as the Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots were well known to Jesus and while not aligning himself with any of the particular groups, he did make attempts to heal the woes of those under Roman rule through his ministry and to gather followers through his deeds of power, especially feeding and healing.21 Within ancient Mediterranean societies it was a commonly held belief that events occurring in the spiritual realm were also occurring in the earthly, especially the actions of kings and rulers.22 The division that Jesus spoke of in light of the context of the expulsion of demonic forces would indicate some understanding of the splitting of earthly and spiritual kingdoms in an effort to bring unity between heaven and earth. On earth, fragmentation or psycho-schismatic personality was usually attributed to demonization.23 For Jesus, the expulsion of the demonic forces and the integration of the demonized person’s personality was a symbolic act to bring unity to Israel and to have the Father’s will done on earth as in heaven. 18

The coming of the Spirit is generally associated with the arrival of a new age or the day of judgement (Isa 44:3; Joel 2:26–29). However, within the Second Temple period the development of the Messiah depicted one on whom the Spirit dwelt (cf. 1 En. 49:3, 62:2; T. Levi 18:7; T. Jud. 24:2; Pss. Sol. 17:37; 18:7). Interestingly enough, there is relatively little regarding miracles in the Second Temple period. Jubilees 23:26, 29 says that there will be healing “in those days” and in some of the Qumran texts there is healing and resurrection of the dead expected in the eschaton (cf. 4Q521 2.ii.8, 12). Other instances of healing and exorcism at Qumran are 4Q504 1–2 II, 14 and 4Q560 1 I, 3; 1 II, 5–6. 19 Crossan, The Historical Jesus, 318–20; Douglas E. Oakman, Jesus and the Peasants (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2008), 118–23. 20 Pixley, “God’s Kingdom in First-Century Palestine,” 382. 21 Howard Clark Kee, Medicine, Miracle and Magic in New Testament Times (SNTSMS 55; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 72–73; Horsley, Jesus and Empire; Paul W. Hollenbach, “Jesus, Demoniacs, and Public Authorities: A SocioHistorical Study,” JAAR 49.4 (1981): 567–88; Pixley, “God’s Kingdom in First-Century Palestine,” 385. 22 Carly L. Crouch, War and Ethics in the Ancient Near East: Military Violence in Light of Cosmology and History (BZAW 407; Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2009), 26; Gregory A. Boyd, God at War: The Bible & Spiritual Conflict (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1997). 23 Joel Marcus, Mark 1-8 (Anchor Bible; New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005), 271.


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Anthropological studies on new religious movements seem to indicate that exorcistic practices, especially among people groups who feel marginalized, involve political understanding and involve some form of body politic.24 Todd Penner has argued that the miracles of the apostles in Acts can be interpreted as “claiming bodies” back from the Empire and into the Jesus movement.25 To argue from analogy, the use of miracles to draw in crowds and new converts to the concern of those in positions of authority has been documented specifically in Belgian Congo with the healings of Simon Kimbangu and William Wade Harris in West Africa.26 Within these contexts social pressures and rigid class stratification seems to be a common factor among cultures practicing exorcism as well as the amount of people considered possessed.27 The presence of other forces related to the colonial powers provides a means of not blaming oneself for their circumstances.28 Similarly, during times of social and political unrest, accusations of madness and witchcraft abound as groups seek to find a source or someone to blame for the disruption of the perceived normalcy.29 Within the context of first-century Palestine, despite the paucity of sources, some of these factors likely played a part in Jesus’s ministry and the correlation of his exorcisms with the Kingdom of God.30 The Beelzebul controversy provides us with insight into a first-century Palestinian theopolitical dispute. While it is not overtly anti-imperial, the correlation between the Kingdom of God and Jesus’s exorcistic ministry lends itself to be concerning for those in higher political positions. Jesus’s reputation as a healer and exor24 I. M. Lewis, Ecstatic Religion: a Study of Shamanism and Spirit Possession (London/New York: Routledge, 2003); Craig Keener, “Spirit Possession as a Cross-Cultural Experience,” BBR 20.2 (2010): 215–35; Hollenbach, “Jesus, Demoniacs, and Public Authorities”; Crossan, The Historical Jesus, 316–20; Craig S Keener, Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2011), 228. 25 Todd Penner, “Res Gestae Divi Christi: Miracles, Early Christian Heroes, and the Discourse of Power in Acts,” in Miracle Discourse in the New Testament, ed. Duane F. Watson (Atlanta, GA: SBL, 2012), 125–73. 26 Keener, Miracles, 226–27. 27 Crossan, The Historical Jesus, 316–17; Hollenbach, “Jesus, Demoniacs, and Public Authorities.” 28 Horsley, Jesus and Empire, 107; Gananath Obeyesekere, “The Idiom of Demonic Possession: A Case Study,” Social Science and Medicine 4 (1970): 105; Hollenbach, “Jesus, Demoniacs, and Public Authorities,” 577. 29 Hollenbach, “Jesus, Demoniacs, and Public Authorities,” 577; Alan F. Segal, “Hellenistic Magic: Some Questions of Definition,” in Studies in Gnosticism and Hellenistic Religions: Presented to Gilles Quispel on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday, ed. Gilles Quispel (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1981), 370. 30 One only needs to read Josephus’s Jewish War to get a sense of what seemingly constant political and social changes occurred within first-century Palestine. See Horsley, Jesus and Empire, 105–28.

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cist was noticed by governing officials in a similar manner as contemporary leaders engaging in similar practices.

Paul, Miracles, and the Kingdom of God Paul references the Kingdom of God infrequently and with only one possible connection with miracles. A brief survey of Paul’s reference to deeds of power and their context will reveal that Paul saw preaching “Christ crucified” of central significance and the working of miracles of secondary importance (1 Cor 1:23). In his letters Paul does not suggest that he performs miracles.31 There are two primary reasons for this. First, as a rhetorician and in an effort to persuade others, Paul claims he preached “Christ crucified” and the central miracle of Jesus’s resurrection (1 Cor 1:23). Second, it was considered bad form in both ancient Judaism and Greco-Roman culture to boast regarding one’s accomplishments.32 To claim he performed a miracle might distract from the purpose of his main message, namely, Christ crucified. This is not to say that miracles were foreign to Paul. Paul witnessed miracles and associated them with the proclamation of his gospel, but in light of his proclamation of the miracle of Jesus’s resurrection these other miracles seem secondary.33 On two occasions Paul explicitly refers to miracles occurring in his midst. First, in his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul refers to the gospel that was preached “not only in word, but in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.”34 The use of “in power” (ἐν δυνάµει) is used elsewhere by Paul to refer to miracles (Rom 15:19; 1 Cor 2:5; 4:20) and the resurrection of Jesus (Rom 1:4; 15:43). Both Watson and Twelftree agree that the nouns, “power,” “Holy Spirit,” and “full conviction” are not separate parallel terms but rather are arranged in a hendiadys nuancing each other.35 The successive “in” (ἐν) phrases are arranged in such a way 31 Graham H. Twelftree, “The Problem of Saint Paul and the Miraculous” (presented at the Informal Biblical Seminar; Nottingham: University of Nottingham, 2012), 29; Graham H. Twelftree, Paul and the Miraculous: A Historical Reconstruction (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2013). 32 Duane F. Watson, “Paul and Boasting,” in Paul in the Greco-Roman World: A Handbook, ed. J. Paul Sampley (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity, 2003), 77–100. 33 1 Thess 1:5. 34 1 Thess 1:5; καὶ ἐν δυνάµει καὶ ἐν πνεύµατι ἁγίῳ καὶ [ἐν] πληροφορίᾳ πολλῇ. 35 Graham H. Twelftree, In the Name of Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007), 70; Duane F. Watson, “Miracle Discourse in the Pauline Epistles: The Role of Resurrection and Rhetoric,” in Miracle Discourse in the New Testament, ed. Duane F. Watson (Atlanta, GA: SBL, 2012), 192.


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that the last two nouns are in apposition to the first providing the power from the source, the Holy Spirit, with the effect of full conviction experienced by the Thessalonians. The second reference to miracles is in the closing of his letter to the Romans. Paul writes: For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has wrought through me to win obedience from the Gentiles, by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Holy Spirit, so that from Jerusalem and as far round as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. (Rom 15:18–19 )

Paul distances himself from his direct involvement in miracle working in two ways in these verses. First, we saw above that Paul does not want to boast in his own ability, which is why he states that “Christ has wrought through me.” Second, Paul’s reference to “word and deed” relates to what he preached (word) and did, which generally meant what he performed in his ministry.36 This might include miracles, but it is not explicit. In v. 19 Paul refers to “in the power of signs and wonders” (ἐν δυνάµει σηµείων καὶ τεράτων) that parallels “in the power of the Spirit” (ἐν δυνάµει πνεύµατος). Similarly, in 1 Thessalonians, Paul attributes the Spirit as the source of power of the miracles rather than the miracles accrediting his ministry.37 In a defence of his apostolic calling against the “super-apostles,” Paul reminds the Corinthians that the signs of apostles were performed by him (2 Cor 12:9–12). These “signs” were “signs and wonders” and “mighty works” (σηµείοις τε καὶ τέρασιν καὶ δυνάµεσιν) each of which are related to miracles within Paul’s writings. In questioning the Galatians commitment to faith rather than the law, Paul asks in 3:5, “Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?” Again, Paul attributes the presence of the miracles as a work or function of the Holy Spirit. The fact that Paul felt threatened by other apostles brings to our attention that there were also other Christian miracle workers gaining a reputation for their deeds of power. Watson and Jervell claim that the combination of preaching and miracle working occurring consistently wherever he

36 Paul nowhere else uses “deed” (ἔργον) to refer to miraculous events, which lends reason to believe Paul was more generally speaking of his ministry. See C. E. B. Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, ed. W. Sanday (2 vols.; 6th ed.; ICC; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1975), 2:759; Twelftree, In the Name of Jesus, 96. 37 Each of these instances parallels with the Lukan Christology. Just as Jesus was empowered by the Spirit (Luke 4:14; Acts 10:38), so is Paul.

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preaches distinguishes Paul from other apostles.38 However, from what we know of the memories of the other apostles record of healing and exorcism as depicted in the Gospels, Acts, and non-canonical literature, it is difficult to see how this might be the case.39 For Paul the Kingdom of God was seen as both a future and present reality, or what is sometimes called the “now-not yet” of the Kingdom.40 The Kingdom of God is present in the lives of the early Christian communities, but its full realization will be in the future.41 The eschatological misunderstanding on the part of the Corinthians warranted a response by Paul. Some among the community believed that there was no resurrection from the dead (1 Cor 15:12–13). With no future resurrection expected, these Corinthian believers understood themselves as living in the “fullness” of the reality of the Kingdom, which Paul seeks to clarify.42 In 1 Cor 15:24, Paul states, “then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.” While the presence of the Kingdom is displayed through charismatic phenomena (1 Cor 12; 14), the entire realization of the Kingdom will not arise until the return of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, and the handing over of the Kingdom to the Father.43 Related with this temporal understanding of the Kingdom of God is the ethical behavior of the believer related with eschatology. The Kingdom of God consists of righteousness, joy, and peace in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17). Given the debate over the weak and strong in relation to food in vv. 14–16, Paul prioritizes unity as well as these three virtues in the Holy Spirit. Behaving in a way that is honorable towards one’s brother/sister in light of the cross of Christ and his impending return is living in the Kingdom. The presence of the Kingdom is evident through these qualities in the believer through the empowerment of the Spirit.44 38 Jacob Jervell, The Unknown Paul: Essays on Luke-Acts and Early Christian History (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 1984), 92; Watson, “Miracle Discourse in the Pauline Epistles,” 193. 39 Jervell, The Unknown Paul, 92. 40 Contra Johnston, who sees Paul’s vision of the Kingdom as strictly future. George Johnston, “‘Kingdom of God’ Sayings in Paul’s Letters,” in From Jesus to Paul: Studies in Honour of Francis Wright Beare, ed. Francis Wright Beare, Peter Richardson, and John Coolidge Hurd (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1984), 144. 41 Karl Paul Donfried, “The Kingdom of God in Paul,” in Kingdom of God in Twentieth Century Interpretation, ed. Wendell Willis (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1987), 175– 90. 42 Note the sarcasm in 1 Cor 4:8, 10. 43 Hans Conzelmann, 1 Corinthians: A Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians (Hermeneia; Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 1975), 270. 44 Donfried, “The Kingdom of God in Paul”; Ernst Käsemann, Commentary on Romans (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1980), 377.


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Other references to the Kingdom of God also relate to proper ethical behavior (1 Thess 2:11–12; 1 Cor 6:9–10; Gal 5:21). This ethical instruction is paraenetic and was likely repeated by the new believer at baptism.45 As believers Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to “lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory” (1 Thess 2:12). The present active participle καλοῦντος shows that Paul viewed the Kingdom as being available for the Thessalonians to enter. The life worthy of leading is further articulated in 1 Thess 4:3–8 where the church is called to live holy lives, avoiding sexual immorality, and growing in brotherly love. Both 1 Cor 6:9–10 and Gal 5:21 provide a list of behaviors that Paul deems unworthy and those practicing them “will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” The formulaic saying, “inherit the kingdom of God” found in each of these verses parallels Matt 25:34 with its opposite found in 25:41. Both of these verses come from Matthew’s special material. The fact that there is no reference to “inheriting the Kingdom” in Q suggests that this expression comes from baptismal catechetical instruction.46 In Gal 5:21 the list of vices provides the requirement for entry into the Kingdom.47 The lists of vices are similar to 1 Thessalonians and are intended to remind the congregations what is “unworthy” behavior in light of what God has accomplished through Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection.48 The fact that Paul warned the Galatians “before” (καθὼς προεῖπον) indicates a previous time that Paul addressed the Galatians, possibly at their baptismal instruction.49 In contrast to the “arrogant” among the Corinthians who valued eloquent rhetoric, for Paul the Kingdom of God consisted not in talk but in power (1 Cor 4:20). Out of the entire Pauline corpus, this verse represents the closest correlation between the Kingdom and miracles. As mentioned above, the use of “power” (δύναµις) is likely a reference to miracles since 45

Donfried, “The Kingdom of God in Paul,” 184. Justin, 1 Apol. 61; Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel According to John (2 vols.; Anchor Bible; Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1966), 1:143–44; Donfried, “The Kingdom of God in Paul,” 184–86. 47 Hans Dieter Betz, Galatians: A Commentary on Paul’s Letter to the Churches in Galatia (Hermeneia; Philadelphia, PA: Fortress, 1979), 285. Based on the two ways in Didache 1–3 and the baptismal instruction in 7:1, these vices and virtues are likely part of the early Christian catechesis. 48 Jonathan A. Draper, “Vice Catalogues as Oral-Mnemonic Cues: A Comparative Study of the Two-Ways Tradition in the Didache and Parallels from the Perspective of Oral Tradition,” in Jesus, the Voice, and the Text: Beyond the Oral and Written Gospel, ed. Tom Thatcher (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2008), 111–31. 49 Betz, Galatians, 285; F. F. Bruce, The Epistle of Paul to the Galatians: A Commentary on the Greek Text (NIGTC; Exeter, UK: Paternoster, 1982), 250–51; J. Louis Martyn, Galatians: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (Anchor Bible; New York/London: Doubleday, 1997), 498. 46

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Paul uses the same word in connection with “signs and wonders” in 1 Thess 1:5 and Rom 15:19.50 From this brief survey we can posit several conclusions. First, Paul relates the Kingdom of God primarily with ethical behaviour and once with charismatic experience. Both ethical prescriptions and charismatic gifts are related with the Holy Spirit.51 The Spirit was an eschatological seal of the future inheritance (2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13) who worked miracles among the communities (Gal 3:5) and Paul laid no personal claim to them. Second, there is little connection between the Kingdom of God language and miracle for Paul. The most explicit reference is 1 Cor 4:20 where the Kingdom is not of talk, but of power. Finally, Paul’s concern with ethical behaviour and the Kingdom denotes the “now-not yet” aspect of the Kingdom. His concern for present behaviour and walking in a “worthy” manner is encouraged in light of the return of Jesus (1 Thess 2:12; 4:9–14). The communities that Paul addressed needed to be reminded of these ethical mandates in order that they might maintain and inherit eternal life.

The Kingdom in the Second Century 52 Throughout the apostolic and ante-Nicene fathers “Kingdom” often refers to earthly kingdoms53 or the Kingdom of God.54 While some first-century Christian writers saw the eternal reign and kingdom of Christ in contrast to the Roman Empire or Caesar,55 a large number of second-century writers saw the kingdom in futuristic terms.56 Second-century apologists Justin Martyr and Irenaeus saw the Kingdom of God as a future and eschatologi-


David Wenham, Paul and Jesus: The True Story (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002), 162. 51 Rom 5:5; 8:8–11; 14:17; 1 Cor 6:9–10; Gal 5:21. 52 Space constraints prevent me from a detailed analysis of each reference to the Kingdom of God in the second century and developments in the third and fourth centuries. A summary of references to the Kingdom are given in Ferguson, “The Kingdom of God in Early Patristic Literature,” 201–7. For a brief survey of the changes in understanding of the Kingdom of God see, Peter Steinacker, “Kingdom of God, History of Theology,” in The Encyclopedia of Christianity, ed. Geoffrey William Bromiley and Erwin Fahlbusch (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003). For miracles in the third and fourth centuries, see Giselle De Nie, Poetics of Wonder: Testimonies of the New Christian Miracles in the Late Antique Latin World (Turnhout: Brepols, 2011). 53 Tatian, Orat. 39. 54 1 Clem. 50:3; Ign. Rom 6:1; Justin, 1 Apol. 11. 55 Justin, 2 Apol. 2.19. 56 Barn. 21:1; 1 Clem. 42:3; 50:3; 2 Clem. 11:7; Mart. Poly. 9.3; 21.2; Athenagoras, Plea 1.3; 6.3; 37.1.


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cal realm or domain of sovereignty.57 Everett Ferguson notes that the transition from a dynamic active understanding of the in-breaking of kingly power to a static “realm” is indicative of the shift to the Greco-Roman thought-world.58 This futuristic understanding impacts how second-century Christians viewed miracles. If the Kingdom of God was seen as mostly if not entirely future, then the interpretation of miracles would likewise differ from the close correlation found in the New Testament. Justin and Irenaeus provide examples of miracles and exorcisms, but do not relate them with kingdom terminology. Justin gives first hand evidence when he states, “And now we, who believe on our Lord Jesus, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, when we exorcise all demons and evil spirits, have them subjected to us.”59 His statement relates the connection of faith in Jesus with exorcism. The use of “Lord” as well as crucifixion “under Pontius Pilate” echoes early creedal statements, especially the Apostles creed or a primitive regulae fidei.60 Irenaeus mentions exorcisms and resuscitations occurring in his church community after times of prayer and fasting.61 There is no specific reference to the Kingdom of God in these two accounts. In more popular Christian literature such as the second- and thirdcentury Apocryphal Acts, the frequency of miracles is noticeable, however the relationship of the Kingdom of God with miracle is lacking. Due to the fact that these works were popular and early, it is worth examining two of the earliest Acta, the Acts of Peter and the Acts of Paul.62


Ferguson, “The Kingdom of God in Early Patristic Literature,” 200. Ferguson, “The Kingdom of God in Early Patristic Literature,” 192. 59 Justin, Dial. 76.6. 60 Liuwe H. Westra, “Regula Fidei and Other Credal Formulations in the Acts of Peter,” in The Apocryphal Acts of Peter: Magic Miracles and Gnosticism, ed. Jan N. Bremmer (Leuven: Peeters, 1998), 138. 61 Irenaeus, Haer. 2.31.2. 62 The fact that these works were translated into multiple languages lends weight to their popularity and circulation. We can also posit that their narratives and novelistic style would have been appealing to a rather wide readership. See Jan N. Bremmer, “Magic, Martyrdom and Women’s Liberation in the Acts of Paul and Thecla,” in The Apocryphal Acts of Paul and Thecla, ed. Jan N. Bremmer (Studies on the Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles 2; Kampen: Kok Pharos, 1996), 36–59. 58

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Acts of Peter63 In contrast to early Christian Gospels and Paul’s letters, the second- and third-century Apocryphal Acts have relatively little to say concerning the Kingdom of God. When it is raised, it is usually thought of in future terms and not in union with the miraculous.64 Within the so-called apocryphal Acts of Peter (hereafter, Ac. Pet.) the apostle engages in a variety of miraculous activities, including healings and resuscitations.65 In the Ac. Pet. there is a miracle “showdown” between Peter and Simon Magus involving three men resuscitated and Simon’s levitation over the city. 66 As Simon flies through the air Peter prays resulting in Simon’s immediate collapse breaking his legs and instigating his death within a few weeks. Within this text the Kingdom of God is only mentioned three times (Ac. Pet. 7, 24, 38[9]) and never in relation to Peter’s miracles. Peter exhorts the Christians in Rome not to be deceived by Satan’s messenger (Simon) and speaks of becoming “enemies of the Kingdom of God.” Here the reference is seen in theopolitical terms: God’s Kingdom opposing Satan’s, but there is no reference to miracles. Peter later refers to “The Kingdom” as “mysterious” (mysterium) and a topic that he does not have the time to expound upon (Ac. Pet. 24). Robert Stoops has shown that the miracle working performed by Peter display Jesus as a greater patron than that of the ruling authorities of Rome.67 Where those in positions of power fail to provide for their people, God’s representatives are able to mediate a response from their great Patron. While there is no mention of the Kingdom of God in relation to miracle working, Stoops’s argument might provide some insight into the vision of the Kingdom in this text. The adjustment from one patron, in this case the senator named Marcellus’s to another heavenly one, Jesus. In Ac. Pet. 39 Peter addresses Jesus as “King,” recognizing his sovereign authority. While the miracles might not be directly related with the teaching or preaching of the Kingdom of God for the apostle, the vision of the theopolitical reality of Jesus as King is present.68

63 English translation is from J. K. Elliott, The Apocryphal New Testament: A Collection of Apocryphal Christian Literature in an English Translation (Oxford: Clarendon, 1993). Greek or Latin texts come from Heinz Kraft, R. A. Lipsius, and Max Bonnet, eds., Acta Apostolorum Apocrypha (3 vols.; Hildesheim: Olms, 1959). 64 Regarding the difference in genre, both Gospels and Acta are narrative in character and would have been received as such and made similar impacts on their audiences. 65 Ac. Pet. 25–27. 66 Ac. Pet. 25–27, 32. 67 R. F. Stoops, “Patronage in the Acts of Peter,” Semeia 38 (1986): 91–100. 68 Cf. Irenaeus, Epid. 47, 52, 56, 61, 64, 74, 84.


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Acts of Paul Like the Ac. Pet., there is no direct relationship between the Kingdom of God and the miracle working of the apostles in the Acts of Paul (hereafter, Ac. Paul). Thecla’s rescues from death are miraculous.69 In Myra, Paul heals a man named Hermocrates who suffered from dropsy as well as his son who was struck blind.70 Paul resuscitates a girl named Frontina in Philippi and may have engaged in exorcisms in Tyre.71 The closest evidence relating the Kingdom of God and miracles is the raising of Patroclus in the Martyrdom of Paul (hereafter Mart. Paul), a dead boy who is also the cupbearer to Nero. In the account, Paul resuscitates Patroclus who Satan had pushed out a high window. Nero learns of the boy’s death and is grieved but quickly replaces him. Patroclus returns to Nero who is surprised and asks, “Patroclus are you alive?” He answered, “I am alive, Caesar.”72 Nero asks how he was made alive and the boy responds, “Christ Jesus, the king of the ages.”73 Nero is concerned and asks, “Is he to be king of the ages and destroy all kingdoms?” Patroclus answers in the affirmative and says, “he destroys all kingdoms under heaven, and he alone shall remain in all eternity, and there will be no kingdom which escapes him.” Patroclus and others are arrested after admitting that they fight for this “king,” Jesus. The Kingdom references in this account are instigated by the resuscitation of Patroclus.74 To state that “Christ Jesus, king of the ages” is a theopolitical statement and Patroclus presents an inaugurated eschatology. Nero interprets Patroclus’s statement politically and is threatened by this new Kingdom and the king Jesus resulting in the execution of Christians. However, the kingdom is not directly related to miracles, rather the references provide the opportunity for explanation of an alternative king who is 69 Ac. Paul III, 1–26, 27–43. See also, Jeremy W. Barrier, The Acts of Paul and Thecla: A Critical Introduction and Commentary (WUNT 2/270; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2009). 70 Ac. Paul IV. 71 On resuscitation see Ac. Paul VIII. On exorcisms see Ac. Paul V. Despite the damage to the manuscript, Schneemelcher believes exorcisms occurred in this passage. See Wilhelm Schneemelcher, “The Acts of Paul,” in New Testament Apocrypha, ed. Wilhelm Schneemelcher (2 vols.; Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2003), 2:250. 72 Mart. Paul I–II. 73 Mart. Paul II, 4–10. Ὁ δὲ εἴπεν· Τίς ὁ ποιήσας σὲ ζῆσαι; Ὁ δὲ παῖς φρονήµατι πίστεως φερόµενος εἶπεν· Χριστὸς Ἰησοῦς ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν αἰώνων. Ὁ δὲ Καῖσαρ ταραχθεὶς εἶπεν· ’Εκεῖνος οὖν µέλλει βασιλεύειν τῶν αἰώνων, καὶ καταλύειν πάσας τὰς βασιλείας; Λέγει αὐτῷ Πάτροκλος· Ναί, πάσας τὰς βασιλείας τὰς ὑπ᾽ οὐρανὸν καταλύει, καὶ αὐτὸς ἔσται µόνος εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας, καὶ οὐκ ἔσται βασιλεία, ἣτις διαφεύξεται αὐτόν. 74 The reference to Jesus as “king of the ages” parallels 1 Tim 1:17: “To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

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greater than Caesar and can raise the dead. The resuscitation itself is performed corporately by Paul and the church members, and in their lament the boy is revived (Mart. Paul I). Prior to this dialogue Paul gives no indication that miracles are bringing about the Kingdom or the inauguration of the Kingdom.

Possible Explanations for the separation of Kingdom and Miracle The Kingdom of God was central to Jesus’s mission and demonstrated through his miracles and preaching. However, based on the limited usage of the Kingdom of God language in relation to miracles in these two second-century texts as well as early apologists, it seems that the significance of this correspondence waned. There are several explanations for this. First, in the early days of the Jesus movement, the message of the Kingdom of God and more noticeably Jesus’s miracles were new and fresh as acclamations related to Jesus’s teaching and exorcisms indicate.75 As a tradition, the Kingdom of God as Jesus demonstrated and preached was given as an alternative to other theopolitical movements of the time.76 Regarding the development of traditions, Edward Shils has argued that novelty eventually wears off and is replaced with something else that is new, though standing in the same stream of what came before it.77 As time progressed and fewer theopolitical options remained, especially after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the significance of this proclamation would have remained in the Jesus tradition, but declined in significance. As people joined the Jesus movement, other issues began to arise such as circumcision of the Gentiles resulting in the waning priority of the Kingdom being displaced for practical realities. Secondly, the entrance of the Gentiles would have caused a reorientation of signs, symbols, and language. As a new religious movement using language and customs from Judaism, the language would necessarily have to change.78 It is significant that there is little mention of the Kingdom of God or Kingdom language in Paul’s letters or his teaching, or explanation of miracles in Acts.79 The background story of what became known as the


Theissen, Miracle Stories, 70–73. Cf. Mark 1:27. Pixley, “God’s Kingdom in First-Century Palestine.” 77 Shils, Tradition, 144. 78 Thompson, “Paul as Missionary Pastor.” 79 As a document that depicts the growth and transitions of the early Christian movement, Acts documents the transition between Judaism and what developed into Christian76


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Old Testament would not have been known to new Gentile converts unless they were God-fearers. The Jewish theocratic ideal of a single God ruling over a kingdom may have been a stumbling block for those coming from polytheistic backgrounds.80 As F. W. Beare states: Naturally, he [Paul] sought for ways to making his gospel intelligible to Greeks; he makes no bones about borrowing words and phrases and good ideas from the religions and philosophies of the Greek world, if only he could bring them into the service of the gospel. The kingdom of God, of which Jesus spoke so often meant nothing to a Greek; and so Paul hardly eve makes use of the phrase when he is writing to the Greeks . . . 81

Hence the predominant use of the slave and master relationship,82 rather than patron and client throughout Paul’s letters.83 Similarly, Paul’s declaration in Rom 10:9 that the verbal confession “Jesus is Lord” would have been understood to challenge the authority and worship of Caesar.84 This is a phrase that both Greek speaking Jews and Gentiles would understand. This declaration provides us with Paul’s understanding of the theopolitics and the loyalty of early Christianity to the Lord (κύριος) Jesus. Finally, another possibility in relation to the decline in Kingdom of God language is the waning and alteration of memory in relation to the revolts of Jerusalem. Social psychology and group memory studies have shown that during times of political turmoil and war traditions and memories undergo change.85 The construction of memories within early Christianity ity. While not giving all the details, it does provide an early window, albeit idealized, into the early Christian movement. 80 This is probably also true in light of the cult of the Emperor. See S. R. F. Price, Rituals and Power: The Roman Imperial Cult in Asia Minor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984). 81 F. W. Beare, “Jesus and Paul,” Canadian Journal of Theology 5 (1959): 84. Quoted in Johnston, “‘Kingdom of God’ Sayings in Paul’s Letters,” 143. 82 Rom 1:1; 13:4; 14:4; 15:8; Gal 1:10; Phil 2:7; Col 1:7; 4:7, 12; 1 Thess 3:2; 2 Tim 2:24; Tit 1:1. 83 Those involved in patron-client relationships have options of establishing or leaving the relationship, whereas those serving as slaves are completely at their masters bidding. It is beyond the scope of this paper, but it should be noted that the phrase “Lord” Jesus Christ would have had theopolitical implications. See Scot McKnight and Joseph B. Modica, eds., Jesus Is Lord, Caesar Is Not: Evaluating Empire in New Testament Studies (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2013). 84 Joseph A. Fitzmyer, Romans: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (Anchor Bible; New York/London: Doubleday, 1993), 591. Cf. Mart. Poly. 8.2 85 Barry Schwartz, “The Social Context of Commemoration: A Study in Collective Memory,” Social Forces 61.2 (1982): 374–402; Zerubavel, “The Historic, the Legendary and the Incredible.” That Paul rejects the “patron” client relationship is evident in the fact that he was willing to work as a tentmaker rather than accepting too much from the Corinthians. See Steve Walton, “Paul, Patronage and Pay: What Do We Know About He Apostle’s Financial Support?,” in Paul as Missionary: Identity, Activity, Theology and

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would have shifted as certain needs within communities arose.86 The memory of the Beelzebul controversy held fast through the turbulent political situations of Palestine and beyond and remained in the memory of the early Christian communities. The fact that the disciples, though having been sent out to proclaim the Kingdom and bring healing, as Jesus did, occurs in the Gospels, shows that they possibly correlated the two early on. However, as time progressed, the memory of this connection seems to have faded, probably as the eschatological fervour and vision of covenant renewal was disrupted by the destruction of the Temple (70 C.E.) and the later Bar Kochba revolt (132 C.E.).87 In such a context the memory and proclamation of a Kingdom message would be seen as politically subversive as indicated in the Mart. Paul.88 For a fledgling religious movement, the hopes for success were best served by remaining below the radar for a period of time, which is what the early Jesus followers seemed to have done.89

Conclusion The connection of miracles with the Kingdom of God is unique to the person of Jesus. Despite the fact that Jesus sent out the earliest disciples to preach the Kingdom and heal the sick,90 it is surprising that later followers of Jesus did not further this connection. The theopolitical understanding of Jesus as the inaugurator of the Kingdom of God seems to show that the connection between the miracles and the Kingdom of God may not have been that significant to later Christians. What became important for them was the salvation made available through Jesus’s death and resurrection, which was equated with entrance into the Kingdom of God. From this brief survey we can conclude the following: 1) The entrance of the Gentiles into the early Jesus movement entailed a reorientation of Practice, ed. Trevor J. Burke and Brian S. Rosner (LNTS 420; London: T&T Clark, 2011), 220–33. 86 Maurice Halbwachs, On Collective Memory (Heritage of Sociology; Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 1992); Schwartz, “The Social Context of Commemoration.” 87 On responses to the destruction of the Temple and Bar Kochba revolt see, Henning Graf Reventlow and Yair Hoffman (eds.), Religious Responses to Political Crises in Jewish and Christian Traditions (LHBOTS 444; New York/London: T&T Clark, 2008). 88 Ferguson, “The Kingdom of God in Early Patristic Literature,” 200. 89 The fact that there is little mention of Christianity in secular sources indicates that outside the early Jesus community, relatively few people noticed or cared about the movement. 90 Matt 10:7–8; Luke 9:1–2; 10:9.


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language and concepts in what it meant to follow Jesus; 2) as the newness of Christian living wore on, the issues of every day Christian life became more important and the proclamation of the Kingdom declined; 3) the early Christians may have already understood themselves as in or involved in Kingdom activity with no need to expound upon their actions; and 4) it seems as though the Christians of the late first and second centuries, while attributing miracles to the presence of Jesus among them, did not view miracles in eschatological or Kingdom terms.

Resisting Empire in Early Christian Martyrdom Literature CANDIDA R. MOSS Introduction To say that the early Christian resistance to the Roman Empire is a facet in Christian history would be a vast understatement.1 The image of the passive martyr meekly yet confidently resisting the coercive efforts of the Roman emperor and judge, and vanquishing both Satan and an oppressive political regime with his or her quiet witness is one of the more popular icons of Christian theology.2 It became a moral exemplar in the pedagogy of medieval monasticism and catechesis, formed the basis for contested claims to power and Christian authenticity in the early modern period, and continues to tug on the heartstrings and beat the drums of rhetorical war among Christians even to this day.3 Our understanding of this ideological and theological conflict comes to us from Church historians like Sozomon and Eusebius, from liturgical celebrations commemorating the dies natalis of saints, from the apologetic tracts of Justin and Tertullian, and from the acta martyrum themselves. It is this final group of texts – the stories of the trials, tortures, and executions of early Christians prior to the conversion of the emperor Constantine – that will be the focus of this paper. In examining resistance to Roman imperialism and visions of Empire in early Christian martyrdom literature, we will focus on three of the secondcentury “authentic” martyrdom accounts – the Acts of Justin, the Acts of the Scillitan Martyrs, and the Letter of the Churches of Lyons and Vienne. This paper will examine the ways that these texts interact with and present imperial ideals, ambitions, ideologies, and structures, for the purposes of displaying the variegated means by which Christians positioned themselves vis-à-vis the Roman Empire. 1

This paper was first delivered at the St Andrews Graduate Conference that met in 2013. I am grateful to the organizers for reading my paper in my absence. 2 Ironically we are mostly indebted to Constantine for the notion of the passive martyr. Pre-Decian accounts present their protagonists as strong willed and fierce. 3 For a discussion of the lasting legacy of martyr theology see Candida R. Moss, The Myth of Persecution (San Francisco, CA: Harper One, 2013).


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Prolegomena Before proceeding to an analysis of the texts themselves it is necessary to preface our examination with two important caveats. The first pertains to the issue of Romans persecuting Christians: the historical events assumed to have shaped and determined counter- or anti-imperial discourse. When it comes to the question of resisting empire in martyrdom literature, the vast majority of the question has focused on the political, social, and physical realities that confronted Christians in the late first to early fourth centuries and the strategies that they developed to deal with their situations. Scholarly discussion, therefore, has taken place against the heated and ideologically loaded debate about the severity of the persecution by Romans. The vast majority of scholars, following the work of the Jesuit Bollandists and Edward Gibbon as well as more recent scholars like James Rives, have recognized the limits of our evidence for the imperial persecution of Christians and the extent to which our primary sources – martyrdom stories – were created, edited, and reshaped by generations of postConstantinian and medieval copyists.4 Yet there still remains a tendency to romanticize our picture of early Christianity. Add to this the vehement belief of classicists that the Romans have been framed and the equally idealistic and anachronistic portrait of Romans and, following Nietzsche, polytheists in general as “tolerant,” and discussions of early Christianity become trapped in an ideological cul-de-sac.5 Of particular importance for this paper is the extent to which modern scholars have superimposed modern categories like “belief,” “religious tolerance,” and the hermetically sealed concept of “religion” as distinct from everything else on to the ancient world.6 The claims of early Chris4

Jean Bollandus et al., Acta Sanctorum (71 vols.; Brussels: Société des Bollandistes, 1643–1940); Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (6 vols.; London: Strahan and Cadell, 1776–1788); G. E. M. De Ste. Croix, “Why Were the Early Christians Persecuted?” P&P 26 (1963): 6–38 reprinted in pp. 105–52 in idem, Christian Persecution, Martyrdom, and Orthodoxy (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006); Stephen Williams, Diocletian and the Roman Recovery (London: Routledge, 1996), 173–85; James B. Rives, “The Decree of Decius and the Religion of Empire,” JRS 89 (1999): 135–54; Candida R. Moss, The Myth of Persecution, chapters 4–5. 5 Friedrich Nietzsche, Kritische Gesamtausgabe, ed. G. Colli and M. Montinari (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1973), 2.168f. 6 J. N. Bremmer, “‘Religion’, ‘Ritual’ and the Opposition ‘Sacred vs. Profane’: Notes Towards a Terminological ‘Genealogy,’” in Ansichten griechischer Rituale. Festschrift für Walter Burkert, ed. F. Graf (Stuttgart and Leipzig: Teubner, 1998), 9–32 at 10–14; G. Casadio, “Religio versus Religion,” in Myths, Martyrs, and Modernity: Studies in the History of Religions in Honour of Jan N. Bremmer, ed. J. Dijkstra et al. (Leiden: Brill, 2010), 301–26; B. Nongbri, Before Religion (New Haven, CT/London: Yale University Press, 2012).

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tians are read in light of the extremely modern view that individuals should be allowed religious freedom as an inalienable human right and that religion is a distinct and discernible category in the ancient world. What all of this discussion overshadows is the creativity of early Christians. In assuming the existence of these categories and the reality and ubiquity of Roman persecution, we can miss many of the Christian innovations. To give but one example of how this works: the retrojection of the notion of religious tolerance into the ancient world obscures three things.7 First, is the fact that there is no Greek or Latin linguistic term to match the concept. Second, is the fact that the concept itself did not appear to exist in the ancient world. And third, is the innovative conceptual work done by Justin, Tertullian, Origen, et al., who created the idea of tolerating private religious practices and invented the discourse of tolerance that we find so instinctive today. In order to fully appreciate the way that Christian texts relating to martyrdom and, more broadly, persecution relate to the Roman Empire and the broader political world, we need first to appreciate the role that the theopolitical imaginary has had in constructing normative religious rights and notions of imperialism in general. My second caveat pertains to the way that Roman imperialism and imperial structures, ideologies, and institutions are used by scholars of early Christianity. In treatments of this subject the Roman Empire and Roman imperialism are treated as stable, unchanging, and monolithic entities. While many scholars have recognized the fragmentary and diverse forms of Christianities in the first four centuries of the common era and while some, most notably myself, have sought to apply this recognition to the development of martyrdom in early Christianity, few of us have considered the shifts that took place in Roman politics during this same period. When recourse is made to Roman historiography, iconography, and papyrological and legal evidence, it is often for the purpose of establishing historical events. For example: did or did not Decius enact legislation specifically involving Christians ca. 250 C.E.? When iconographic or architectural evidence is used to construct a picture of Roman ideology, it is drawn upon to construct a single picture of Romanitas or imperial auctoritas. Given how interested Roman emperors were in both unity and continuity across reigns and regions one might wonder if we have been seduced by ancient Roman marketing. Perhaps the strategies and nuances of these macro-goals and the texture of imperialism and Christian responses to this imperialism have been lost on us entirely.


P. Athanassiadi, Vers la pensée unique. La montée de l’intolérance dans l’Antiquité tardive (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2010), 48.


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Acts of Justin The vulgate recension of the Acts of Justin contains an account of the trial of Christian philosopher and pedagogue Justin and six of his students before Rusticus, the famed Stoic and prefect of Rome ca. 165 C.E. 8 Though undoubtedly subject to later editing, the Acts of Justin is assumed by many, including De Cavllieri, Lazzatti, Musurillo, and Bastiaensen, to have been based in part on courtroom records (or commentary). Recension B, the edition commonly known and used by scholars today, is a revision of the briefer Recension A.9 For our purposes the salient features of the Acts of Justin are the representation of Rusticus – the emperor Marcus Aurelius’s own tutor – and the contestation over philosophy that takes place throughout the account between the two central characters. Rusticus’s antagonism toward Christianity and the subtle philosophical banter are only sharpened by the editor of Recension B. In particular, and throughout the vulgate edition, there are a number of instances in which the eusebeia, or reverence/piety, shown by the Christian heroes to Christ is juxtaposed with eusebeia that Rusticus believes should be directed towards the emperor. At the very outset of the narrative, Recension B introduces this contrast into the text by locating the martyrdoms within the context of “impious decrees posted against the pious Christians” (Ac. Justin B 1.1). This historical backdrop and initial designation of the Roman decrees as impious and the Christians as pious informs our understanding of the subsequent usage of the terms in the text. It serves as a framing device for the reader who, from this point onwards, knows to look for it. The contrast between competing notions of piety and impiety reverberates throughout the account as the editor of Recension B systematically incorporates additional language of eusebeia into Rusticus’s interrogations of the martyrs. The effect of the additions is that Rusticus and Liberian appear to talk at cross-purposes. The redactor alters the text so that in response to Rusticus’s question, “Do you also refuse to be reverent?” Liberian responds “I am reverent toward . . .” (Ac. Justin B 4.9). Quite 8 For a fuller discussion of this text and its rhetoric see Candida R. Moss, Ancient Christian Martyrdom: Diverse Practices, Theologies, and Traditions (Yale Anchor Reference Library; New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012). 9 The division and categorization of the manuscripts of the Acts of Justin into three recensions was achieved by Pio Franchi De Cavalieri, “Gli Atti di S. Giustino,” Studi e Testi 8 (1902): 33–36; F. C. Burkitt, “The Oldest Manuscript of St. Justin’s Martyrdom,” JTS 11 (1909): 61–66; and Giuseppi Lazzati, “Gli Atti di S. Giustini Martire,” Aevum 27 (1953): 473–97. See also the appendix and the discussion in Gary A. Bisbee, Pre-Decian Acts of the Martyrs and Commentarii, ed. Margaret R. Miles and Bernadette J. Brooten (Harvard Dissertations in Religion 22; Philadelphia, PA: Fortress, 1988).

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clearly, Rusticus and the Christian martyr have conflicting understandings of what it means to be “pious.” The contrast is in the first place ironic. The Roman prefect who himself propounds the “impious decrees” (Ac. Justin B 1.1) does not even understand piety at all. In particular he fails to comprehend the manner in which the mono-directional piety of the Christians trumps Roman eusebeia for Liberian. The climax of this confusing debate comes in an unparalleled passage toward the end of Recension B where, to paraphrase the words of Rusticus, we arrive at the crux of the matter. Rusticus asks Justin whether he will sacrifice to idols, and Justin replies with the pithy statement that, “no one of sound mind turns from piety to impiety” (Ac. Justin B 5.4). This response not only echoes the form of philosophical slogans in general but it also summarizes the position of the martyrs. Christian eusebeia is incompatible with Roman notions of eusebeia. The redefined exclusivity of Christian eusebeia means that a display of eusebeia to anyone but Christ is itself considered impious.10 If we consider the argumentation of Recension B in light of ancient notions of eusebeia and pietas, we see why Rusticus and the martyrs talk past one another. To a Roman administrator it would not have been apparent why Christians could not show eusebeia to both Christ and the emperor, not only because the Romans were accommodating of long-standing indigenous religious traditions, but also because Roman eusebeia implied a network of social allegiances and duties. The gestures of deference and articulations of power implied in the discourse of piety were not exclusively religious but encompassed all manner of social and identitygrounded responsibilities. Displays of reverence reinforced social relations and regulated networks of power. For the Romans pietas, or eusebeia, to the emperor was compatible with pietas to the gods or one’s parents. Only to Christians did the two seem mutually exclusive and diametrically opposed. Rusticus’s horror at Christian “impiety” (Ac. Justin B 2.1–2) is a result of that impiety’s resistance to and transgression of the established social order.

10 To the modern reader the exclusivity of Christian piety appears obvious; after all, modern definitions of monotheism preclude the possibility of worshipping other deities. The key to understanding the nuances of these exchanges lies in the ancient understanding of eusebeia. In its non-Christian use, eusebeia was an ambiguous term denoting reverence or respect for the orders of the domestic, national, and cosmological spheres. The vagueness of its meaning required that the term often be combined with prepositions in order to clarify to whom eusebeia was being shown; in other words, eusebeia denotes proper conduct toward any established order, not solely one that is religious. In Recension B, Rusticus and Justin wrestle over the limits and specificity of reverence, and the narrator reworks Roman pietas into Christian self-exclusion.


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Just as Christian and Roman notions of piety are contrasted, so too adherence to the decrees of Rome is contrasted with the proscriptions of Christ. In Recension A, Rusticus’s first question to Justin concerns his manner of life – “What kind of life do you lead?” (Ac. Justin A 2.1) – to which Justin replies that his life is “blameless and without condemnation in the eyes of all people” (Ac. Justin A 2.2). The editor of Recension B postpones Rusticus’s question and replaces it with a command to obey the gods and emperor. As a result, obedience to the impious decrees of Marcus Aurelius is contrasted with obedience to the commands of Christ (Ac. Justin B 1.1). Justin’s response – that “there is no blame or condemnation in obeying the commands of our savior Jesus Christ” (Ac. Justin B 2.1–2) – initially reads as a non sequitur. Rusticus has asked Justin a straightforward question, and Justin’s response is evasive. Frend interprets this passage as a quintessentially apologetic response intended to draw attention to the lawfulness of Christian conduct and highlight the injustice of persecuting Christians on the basis of name alone. His reading is persuasive, but only for Recension A, where Justin’s reply fits the question. In Recension B, Justin’s response moves the conversation away from the question of sacrifice to idols and toward the nature of Christian doctrine and identity. Rusticus will be unable to draw the conversation back to idols until halfway through the interrogation. The change in the opening of the tribunal serves a number of purposes. First, the editorial alteration reinforces the portrait of Justin as the emboldened philosopher who cleverly evades the interrogations of his persecutors. Second, the linguistic mirroring of the terminology of obedience in the Acts of Justin B 2.1–2 contrasts obedience to the gods (and emperor) with obedience to Christ. This juxtaposition and the legal motif suggested by the exchange reappear in B 5.6 where Justin offsets the tribunal of Rusticus with the eschatological trial before Christ. The subordination of earthly laws and punishments to eternal ones demonstrates the inevitability and non-choice that Justin and his companions face; they answer to a superior heavenly authority that outclasses the threat of earthly punishment. Like other authors of martyrdom accounts, the editor of B amplifies the rhetorical force of the confessional formula “I am Christian” so that it negates other forms of social identification. This interest lies behind the expansion of the dialogue between Euelpistus and Rusticus. In B, Euelpistus is clearly identified as an imperial slave and attributes his freedom to his new Christian identity: “Euelpistus, an imperial slave, answered, ‘I am also a Christian. I have been freed by Christ and share in the same hope by the grace of Christ’” (Ac. Justin B 4.3). This passage, which plays with Pauline metaphors of freedom from slavery, removes the constraints of social

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conventions and the obligations (eusebeia) that Euelpistus should feel toward his imperial master. The negation of identity is, as just mentioned, paralleled in a number of other acts of the martyrs. In these texts it is notable that when the accused are questioned regarding their names, places of origin, and social status, their self-identification as Christian supersedes other identity markers. The system of identification and social classification that underpinned Roman society and set the emperor at the top of a clearly established hierarchy is constantly undercut, superseded, and negated.

Acts of the Scillitan Martyrs Let us turn now to the Acts of the Scillitan Martyrs, the first North African Christian literature, composed ca. 180 C.E. in the general environs of Carthage. This account, which like the Acts of Justin is written in a courtroom style, takes a slightly different tack in resisting imperial decrees and values. Toward the beginning of the account, Saturninus interrogates Speratus about the nature of Christianity. The exchange is peculiar; Saturninus almost seems to offer an apology for Roman practices and to justify his position to the accused Christian. He says this: “We too are a religious people, and our religion is a simple one: we swear by the genius of our lord the emperor and we offer prayers for his health as you also ought to do.” Speratus said: “If you will give me a calm hearing, I shall tell you the mystery of simplicity.” (Ac. Scilli. 3–4)

The juxtaposition between the competing notions of simplicity underlies the exchange. Roman claims to simplicity, an attribute prized by Roman rhetoricians and society, are undercut by the simple “mystery” of the Christians.11 The rhetoric of “simplicity” here functions both to defend Christianity against charges of superstitio, which was believed by some to be an excess of religion, and to indict the Romans for practicing a religion of excess.12 They are hoisted on their own petard. Despite Saturninus’s pro11 Von Harnack takes this passage as the foundation of his assertion that Christianity prospered by “the power of its simplicity.” The simplicity seems to me to be at once a rhetorical claim and a reference to baptism. It is not a commentary on the ontological character of simplicity. 12 The rhetoric of simplicity is a prominent feature in Roman rhetoric, which connected complexity and excess or luxury with theatricality and unreliability. This rhetoric was inlaid with ethnic stereotypes: simplicity of speech, for instance, which was often associated with Attic was preferred over the showy, theatrical styles of the Asiatic (Cicero, Brutus 51). Generally, the Greeks were similarly condemned for their luxurious and unreliable nature. See William J. Dominik, ed., Roman Eloquence: Rhetoric in Soci-


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testations, it is clear that Roman claims to “religiosity” have no basis in rhetorically powerful simplicity. The content of the mysterium simplicitas is likely baptism. The simple act of baptism is contrasted with the grandeur of its effect, resurrection. But Speratus never gets to explicate the meaning of the mystery. For those in the audience in the know, it hangs in the air as a promise for the martyrs (and, by extension, the audience) and as a foreshadowing of the conclusion of the account. As in the Acts of Justin, Speratus and Saturninus talk past one another. When Saturninus offers Speratus the pardon of the emperor, Speratus sets his gaze beyond the courtroom to heaven and states, “we [the Christians] hold our emperor in honor” (Ac. Scilli. 2). Speratus’s emboldened rejection of Roman authority, however, is modified by his position on economic tribute: Speratus said: “I do not recognize the empire of this world. Rather, I serve that God whom no man has seen, nor can see with these eyes. I have not stolen; and on any purchase I pay the tax for I acknowledge my lord who is the emperor of kings and of nations.” (Ac. Scilli. 6)

Speratus’s response places the Roman emperor in a subordinate position to God, the emperor of kings. That Speratus pays taxes on account of his recognition of divine authority subordinates the Roman emperor to Speratus’s God. The thought here is very close to Rom 13:6 in which Paul instructs the community at Rome to pay taxes because the authorities have been appointed by God. At the same time, Speratus is clear: Roman authority is subjected to God and temporal authority is trumped by the celestial, universal empire of God. The distinction between the Roman and universal emperors passes Saturninus by, but the references to the superior authority of God and parallel celestial affairs continue throughout the account. Cittinus protests that they have nothing to fear but their Lord God who is in heaven (1.8) and, modifying the gospel maxim to rank secular and sacred affair, Donata says, “Pay honour to Caesar as Caesar; but it is God we fear” (Ac. Scilli. 9; Cf. Matt 22:21). Most famously, after the sentence has been read, the martyr Nartzalus says, “Today we are martyrs in heaven. Thanks be to God!” (1.15). The statement has been read as evidence both that martyrs go directly to heaven and that the term martys refers, in this account and period,

ety and Literature (New York: Routledge, 1997). For a discussion of Roman criticisms of superstition see Dale B. Martin, Inventing Superstition: From the Hippocratics to the Socratics (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007), 128–29. The connection of superstition with excess is implicit in Pliny’s Natural History, where the burning of expensive incense is condemned as superstitio (22.56.118).

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to someone who dies for Christ.13 It may, however, continue the interest in superior heavenly structures of power. This interest may well reflect Paul’s statement that the citizenship of Christians is in heaven (Phil 3:20), a statement that constructs the structures of power as paralleling our own. Read in light of Pauline discussions of heavenly citizenship and the constant references to parallel heavenly affairs throughout the martyr act, it is possible that Nartzalus is declaring the condemned to be witnesses in a heavenly court. The rhetorical effect of the heavenly imperial court is to trump the powers of the legal courtroom. Paradoxically, it is by reinscribing Roman structures of power and authority in the celestial sphere that the Christians producing this account are able to render the Roman government impotent. The reconstruction of citizenship in this account certainly draws upon Paul.14 But it is important, as already noted, to consider the manner in which the valence of the counter-imperial themes in this text change with shifts in imperial ideology. In 212 C.E., the Antonine Constitution extended citizenship to almost all freemen in the Roman Empire. If, prior to 212 C.E., the notion of Christian citizenship in a divine empire articulated a vision of the world in which Christian bureaucratic structures trumped earthly Roman ones, and in which one elite unifying power structure is trumped by another equally elite but self-described-as-universal structure, what happened to that relationship once citizenship was extended to almost all? Especially given the roughly contemporaneous evidence that suggests that the Antonine Constitution was an effort to extend tax obligations to a greater number of newly inducted citizens? Certainly the dynamic would change. What scholars like Peter Brown have called the debasing of Roman citizenship did not render citizenship utterly baseless, but created new opportunities for loss of citizenship and new modes of self-expression.15 While it is difficult to say if such examples are typical, the kind of dual 13 The observation that martyrs go directly to heaven at their death was first made by Edward Gibbon in his monumental Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire. Gibbon cited the post-mortem expectations of the martyred death as one of the reasons for Christianity’s success (Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, XV). He has been followed by many. For a recent discussion of the afterlife in North African martyrdom literature see Jan N. Bremmer, “Contextualizing Heaven in Third-Century North Africa,” in Heavenly Realms and Earthly Realities in Late Antique Religions, ed. R. S. Boustan and A. Y. Reed (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 159–73. 14 For a discussion of Pauline influences in the Acts of the Scillitan Martyrs see David L. Eastman, Paul the Martyr: The Cult of the Apostle in the Latin West (Writings from the Greco-Roman World Supplements Series; Leiden: Brill, 2011), 158; Moss, Ancient Christian Martyrdom, 126. 15 Peter Brown, Power and Persuasion in Late Antiquity: Towards a Christian Empire (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1992), 154.


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sense of self-expression evident in the poet Ausonius’s statement that he loves “Bordeaux . . . esteems Rome: is a citizen of the one, a consul in both” creates a new and interesting counterpoint to exclusivity of Christian citizenship.16 Now Christian references to Pauline heavenly citizenship are a foil to a near-universal category. That Christians did not elect to describe themselves as Christians and citizens in the face of these new identity categories only amplified the counter-cultural and counter-imperial valence of Christian citizenship in heaven. The martyrs of Scilli pay the taxes enforced by citizenship but reject that same citizenship for citizenship in heaven. We might imagine that recipients of the Acts of the Scillitan Martyrs hearing the text read aloud on the anniversary of the martyr’s deaths in 213 C.E. might understand it differently: as offering a more robustly antagonistic, anti-imperial, and exclusivistic sense of Christian identity.

Martyrs of Lyons and Vienne Preserved only in Eusebius and purportedly dating to 177 C.E., this letter is the most graphic and evocative of the pre-Decian accounts.17 The descriptions of torture and travail are more extensive and detailed than even those of the much-beloved Passion of Perpetua. One of the distinctive aspects of the Letter of the Churches of Vienne and Lyons is its voyeuristic focus on torture and bodily degradation.18 The author delights in the licking of whips, dissolution of bodily parts, and contortions of the flesh. The martyrs’ bodies become the setting for a cosmic battle between the Devil and Christ. They are amorphous vessels for Christ to inhabit and sites of victory and triumph. Throughout the account there remains a dual focus on both the torturer’s efforts to subjugate the Christians and the ultimate impotence and ineffi16

Ausonius, Carmina 11.20.40–41: “Diligo Burdigalam, Romam colo; civis in hac sum / consul in ambabus.” 17 For the date see R. M. Grant, “Eusebius and the Martyrs of Gaul,” in Les Martyrs de Lyon (177), ed. Jean Rougé and Robert Turcan (Colloques internationaux du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique 575; Paris: Éditions du CNRS, 1978), 129–36. For a discussion of Eusebius’s use of sources see T. D. Barnes, “Eusebius and the Date of the Martyrdoms,” in Les Martyrs de Lyons (177), ed. Jean Rougé and Robert Turcan (Colloques internationaux du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique 575; Paris: Éditions du CNRS, 1978), 137–43, esp. 139. 18 On spectacle in early Christian literature see Christopher Frilingos, Spectacles of Empire: Monsters, Martyrs, and the Book of Revelation (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), who provides a wonderful entrée into spectacles in the ancient world and the function of ekphrastic scenes in Revelation.

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cacy of these attempts. If in the world of the text the martyr’s body is the locus for cosmic battle, in Greek and Roman interrogation the body of the tortured subject (a slave) is a locus for truth. According to this system, a slave cannot resist the truth-extracting structures of torture. The artifice of human interaction and guile is destroyed by torture: the slave cannot help but give truthful witness in this state. The inextricability of torture and truth meant that the slave body was morally and legally open to attack and could be pillaged for truth.19 In the Letter of the Churches of Vienne and Lyons, as in other accounts, this notion is harnessed by the hagiographer as a way to show the reversal of power. The account in part reproduces the notion of torture as truth as a means of guaranteeing the authenticity of the Christian message. The inflexibility of the martyr’s body and his or her endurance despite harsh and degrading tortures serve as markers of truth for the Christian audience. Simultaneously and lingering beneath the surface of these descriptions of torture is a fear of apostasy. Blandina’s mistress worries that she is not strong enough to maintain her confession (5.1.18) and the martyr Biblis is at first “feeble and weak” and blasphemes (5.1.25) only to later renew her confession. The author of the Letter offers an explanation: those who deny Christ under torture have been seduced by the devil (5.1.27). Torture is paradoxically both the sit of truth and the activity of the Deceiver. The delicate balance between torture as trial and torture as truth preoccupies much of the account. From a historio-sociological perspective, one purpose of torture is to force the tortured to acknowledge and defer to the claims of the torturer. In the process the identity of the individual is lost in the blurred experience of pain.20 The narrative of the Letter of the Churches of Vienne and Lyons, however, tells a very different story. The martyrs will not be de-natured or degraded. Even as the author seems to take pleasure in the brutality of the examinations, the true martyrs resist all attempts to subjugate them:

19 Virginia Burrus, “Torture and Travail: Producing the Christian Martyr,” in A Feminist Companion to Patristic Literature, ed. Amy-Jill Levine and Maria Mayo Robbins (New York: T&T Clark, 2008), 56–71; Kate Cooper, “Voice of the Victim: Gender, Representation, and Early Christian Martyrdom,” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 80 (1998): 147–57, esp. 152–53; Page duBois, Torture and Truth (New York: Routledge, 1991), 35–38, 47–68; J. Albert Harrill, “The Domestic Enemy: A Moral Polarity of Household Slaves in Early Christian Apologies and Martyrdoms,” in Early Christian Families in Context: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue, ed. David Balch and Carolyn Osiek (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003), 248. 20 In her influential study of pain Elaine Scarry demonstrates that for the tortured all that exists is pain; pain is reality. See Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985).


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But Sanctus also endured marvelously and superhumanly all the outrages which he suffered . . . There arose therefore on the part of the governor and his tormentors a great desire to conquer him; but having nothing more that they could do to him, they finally fastened red-hot brazen plates to the most tender parts of his body. And these indeed were burned, but he continued unbending and unyielding, firm in his confession, and refreshed and strengthened by the heavenly fountain of the water of life, flowing from the belly of Christ. And his body was a witness of his sufferings, being one complete wound and bruise, drawn out of shape, and altogether unlike a human form. Christ, suffering in him, manifested his glory, delivering him from his adversary, and making him an example for the others, showing that nothing is fearful where the love of the Father is, and nothing painful where there is the glory of Christ.21 (5.1.20–23)

The description of Sanctus’s tortures reproduces the dual purpose of torture in the Letter. On the one hand, Sanctus feels no pain: he is “unyielding,” “unbending,” and “firm in his confession.” Sanctus is a model of Roman masculinity his confession is rigid and terse. The truth of his testimony is reinforced by the fact that he clings to it even to death.22 If Sanctus’s masculinity is expressed in his stiffened resolve and the firmness of his confession, his masculinity is immediately undercut by the new-found shapelessness of his body. This shapelessness forces a blurring of identity, as it is precisely those anatomical features that have marked Sanctus’s body as masculine that have been rendered indistinguishable and without form. At this moment Christ suffers in him and delivers him from the adversary. Torture here succeeds in denaturing Sanctus’s body, but the identity he acquires in its place is the elevated association with Christ. For when the wicked men tortured him a second time after some days, supposing that with his body swollen and inflamed to such a degree that he could not bear the touch of a hand, if they should again apply the same instruments, they would overcome him, or at least by his death under his sufferings others would be made afraid, not only did not this occur, but, contrary to all human expectation, his body arose and stood erect in the midst of the subsequent torments, and resumed its original appearance and the use of its limbs, so that, through the grace of Christ, these second sufferings became to him, not torture, but healing. 23 (5.1.24) 21

Ὁ δὲ Σάγκτος, καὶ αὐτὸς ὑπερβεβληµένως καὶ ὑπὲρ πάντα ἄνθρωπον πάσας τὰς ἐξ ἀνθρώπων αἰκίας γενναίως ὑποµένων . . . Τὸ δὲ σωµάτιον µάρτυς ἦν τῶν συµβεβηκότων, ὅλον τραῦµα καὶ µώλωψ, καὶ συνεσπασµένον, καὶ ἀποβεβληκὸς τὴν ἀνθρώπειον ἔξωθεν µορφήν. Ἐν ᾧ πάσχων Χριστὸς µεγάλας ἐπετέλει δόξας, καταργῶν τὸν ἀντικείµενον, καὶ εἰς τὴν τῶν λοιπῶν ὑποτύπωσιν ὑποδεικνύων, ὅτι µηδὲν φοβερὸν ὅπου Πατρὸς ἀγάπη, µηδὲ ἀλγεινὸν ὅπου Χριστοῦ δόξα. 22 So Cooper, who notes that in the Roman legal system torture and truth were associated with one another by the theory of basanos. See Cooper, “Voice of the Victim,” 147– 57, esp. 153. 23 Τῶν γὰρ ἀνόµων µεθ᾽ ἡµέρας πάλιν στρεβλούντων τὸν µάρτυρα, καὶ νοµιζόντων, ὅτι, οἰδούντων καὶ φλεγµαινόντων τῶν σωµάτων, εἰ τὰ αὐτὰ προσενέγκοιεν κολαστήρια, περιέσοιντο αὐτοῦ, ὁπότε οὐδὲ τήν ἀπὸ τῶν χειρῶν ἁφὴν ἠνείχετο: ἤ ὅτι ἐναποθανὼν ταῖς βασάνοις, φόβον ἐµποιήσειε τοῖς λοιποῖς, οὐ µόνον οὐδὲν περὶ αὐτὸν τοιοῦτο

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Despite the torturers’ best efforts, the application of additional sufferings only fortifies and reconstructs Sanctus’s body. Supplementary torture serves a similar function in the case of Biblis, which follows immediately after this description of Sanctus. Within the context of audience reception, the narrative eradication of pain serves both consolatory and exhortatory purposes. The account consoles the relatives of those who have suffered for Christ that their loved ones did not experience pain. In a broader sense, if Augustine is to be believed, the painlessness of suffering for Christ consoles those grieving in general.24 Furthermore, the denial of pain encourages those who were scared of or intimidated by the prospect of martyrdom to fear nothing. The presentation of pain as healing reassures those who otherwise would be inclined to avoid suffering for Christ that suffering can be painless. In fact, in the case of Biblis, renewed tortures serve to recompose the martyr’s body and rouse her from apostasying slumber (5.1.24, 26). The author creates a literary trompe l’oeil in which bodily suffering is rendered impotent by Christly analgesic and in which the administering of pain serves only to solidify the martyr’s body. The bifurcation of pain and suffering in the account is noteworthy. Historically, suffering and pain have been viewed as synonymous and equally negative entities. Yet in the logic of the Letter of the Churches of Vienne and Lyons, pain and suffering are clearly demarcated from one another.25 We might reasonably infer that Sanctus enjoys the experience of suffering for Christ, but it is not necessary, or even appropriate, to categorize his experience as masochistic. Suffering for Christ is painless. Sanctus’s experience and the narrative’s denial of pain gesture to ancient constructions of masculinity. At the same time, in the narrative, Sanctus’s denial of pain resists the structures of torture. Rather than being denatured by pain, Sanctus enjoys himself; his focus on his confession is sharpened by torture, and the process of torture itself is short-circuited. Moreover, de-identification allows Sanctus to assume a new identity: Christ. The physical eradication of Sanctus’s shape, his morphe, allows Christ to inhabit his body. Paradoxically, the eradication of Sanctus’s identity permits him to assume a better one. In this way, the author of the Letter of the Churches of Vienne and Lyons layers the descriptions of torture with modes of resistance. The συνέβη, ἀλλὰ καὶ παρὰ πᾶσαν δόξαν ἀνθρώπων ἀνέκυψε καὶ ἀνωρθώθη τὸ σωµάτιον ἐν ταῖς µετέπειτα βασάνοις, καὶ τὴν ἰδέαν ἀπέλαβε τὴν προτέραν καὶ τὴν χρῆσιν τῶν µελῶν, ὥστε µὴ κόλασιν, ἀλλ᾽ ἴασιν διὰ τῆς χάριτος τοῦ Χριστοῦ, τὴν δευτέραν στρέβλωσιν αὐτῷ γενέσθαι. 24 For analogies between martyrdom and illness see Augustine, Serm. 328.8 (PLS 2.801). 25 The subtle distinction between pain and suffering is overlooked by Perkins in her Suffering Self.


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objectives of the torturers are at every turn frustrated: torture is depicted as exaltation, as painless, and as communion with Christ. In the Letter, the ambitions of torture are supplemented by the rituals of the amphitheater, which are intended further to denigrate and animalize the criminal in a public forum. Just as torture is rendered futile, so too the spectacle of exposure to the beasts is subverted. The martyrs resist the constraints and expectations of amphitheater ritual and reconfigure the hierarchies of the execution ritual itself.26 While the process was designed to place the deaths of the martyrs on display, it is not the martyrs but the audience members themselves who become the spectacle. The martyrs Maturus, Sanctus, Blandina and Attalus were led into the amphitheater “to be exposed to the beasts and to give a public spectacle of the heathen inhumanity” (5.1.37), but the crowd, not the martyrs, grows angry and uncontrolled and is reduced to the status of beasts. Once again they [the martyrs] ran the gauntlet of whips (according to the local custom), the mauling of animals, and anything else that the mad mob from different places shouted for and demanded. And to crown all they were put in the iron seat, from which their roasted flesh filled the audience with its savour. But that was not enough for them, and they continued to rage in their desire to break down the martyrs’ resistance. (5.1.38–39) 27

The maddened mob with its cannibalistic yearning to taste the flesh of the martyrs is exactly the opposite of the civilized observers they were supposed to be. Attalus himself condemns the crowd, saying that they are eating human flesh (5.1.52). That Attalus responds in Latin is a marker of his citizen status (5.1.43) and, at the same time, a gesture to the social status of those whom he addresses, for they are Romans. In the background echoes a subtle jab at Roman civility in Gaul: the Romans had officially deemed human sacrifice illegal and barbaric, but in the Letter of the Churches of Vienne and Lyons they themselves delight in the perverse sacrifice of Christians. A number of the martyrs remain silent throughout their execution. Alexander, for instance, “uttered no groan or cry at all but simply spoke to God in his heart” (5.1.51). Alexander’s self-control is a display of good Roman masculinity: he is strong, resolute, and controlled. Once inside the 26

On bodily resistance see Peter Brown, Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988), 12; Brent D. Shaw, “Body/Power/Identity: Passions of the Martyrs,” JECS 4 (1996): 269– 312. 27 ὑπέφερον πάλιν τὰς διεξόδους τῶν µαστίγων τὰς ἐκεῖσε εἰθισµένας, καὶ τοὺς ἀπὸ τῶν θηρίων ἑλκηθµούς, καὶ πάνθ᾽ ὅσα µαινόµενος ὁ δῆµος ἄλλοι ἀλλαχόθεν ἐπεβόων καὶ ἐπεκελεύοντο, ἐπὶ πᾶσι τὴν σιδηρᾶν καθέδραν, ἐφ᾽ ἧς τηγανιζόµενα τὰ σώµατα, κνίσσης αὐτοὺς ἐνεφόρει. Οἱ δ᾽οὐδ᾽οὕτως ἔληγον, ἀλλ᾽ ἔτι καὶ µᾶλλον ἐξεµαίνοντο, βουλόµενοι νικῆσαι τὴν ἐκείνων ὑποµονήν.

Resisting Empire in Early Christian Martyrdom Literature


arena, the female martyr Blandina was “hung on a post and exposed as bait for the wild animals that were let loose on her” (5.1.41). Blandina remains composed in prayer, and the wild animals never approach her; she is unhooked from her perch and returned to prison. The animals that will not touch her are, following the conventions of the apocryphal acts, domesticated. The crowd, by contrast, is enraged by the martyrs’ calmness and composure. It is the behavior of the martyrs that has caused them to become mad; that is, to become bodies without rationality, the very condition to which they had come to watch the martyrs reduced. By the end of the account the crowd has become fully animalized, “wild and barbarous” (5.1.57), “enflamed [by] their bestial anger,” and raging and grinding their teeth (5.1.58). The conduct of the martyrs subverts the expectations of the spectacle; instead of the martyrs being animalized by the process of execution, their silence and acceptance disorients the crowd. The condemned become civilized, while the civilized become barbaric. Just as with torture, the narrative reversal of ritual expectations articulates the martyr’s resistance.

Conclusion In these brief vignettes of resistance to imperial structures, stratagems, and hierarchies we have seen the way that early Christian martyrdom texts – some of the most overtly anti-imperial literature from the ancient world – construct both imperial power and Christian autonomy. There are different strategies at work here, from the reshaping of language of piety and reason in the Acts of Justin to the rejection of categories of citizenship by the martyrs of Scilli to the immunity to pain and coercion in the Letter of the Churches of Lyons and Vienne. What is constant in these accounts is a high regard for and claiming of virtues and attributes normally associated with Romanness. Ideals like masculinity, piety, and sophrosyne are preserved as virtues and ideals. In the same way as 2 and 4 Maccabees encoded Hellenistic virtues and masculinity in their protagonists to demonstrate the moral failings of their adversaries, the narratives of Christian martyrs demonstrate the ways in which the Christians outstrip the Romans in their own terms. We should not assume that this is a constant. Donatist martyrdom accounts, for example, reject the ideal of “unity” as demonically inspired. What seems to be a constant in second-century texts, therefore, is the prizing of traditional Roman values and their reclamation as Christian ideals. It is not that citizenship and imperial reign are rejected; they are instead trumped, replaced, and utterly obliterated by the power of the new emperor, Christ.

Theologies of Resistance: A Re-examination of Rabbinic Traditions About Rome BERNIE HODKIN Introduction The Babylonian and Palestinian rabbis experienced fundamentally different realities in the early centuries of the Common Era. The Palestinian rabbis were a minority living in a Roman province, subject not only to Roman domination on a physical level but to their imperial ideology as well, one that often espoused the divinity of the Roman Empire and its rulers.1 The Babylonian rabbis, on the other hand, at the time of the composition of the Babylonian Talmud, lived largely under Sasanian rule, an empire that did

1 Regarding the social situation of the Jews living under Roman rule from the first through the fifth centuries C.E., see M. Avi-Yonah, The Jews Under Roman and Byzantine Rule: A Political History of Palestine from the Bar Kokhba War to the Arab Conquest (New York: Schocken Books, 1984); Oded Irshai, “Confronting a Christian Empire: Jewish Culture in the World of Byzantium,” in Cultures of the Jews: A New History, ed. David Biale (New York: Random House, 2002), 182–221; Lee Levine, “Between Rome and Byzantium in the History of Israel: Documentation, Reality, and Providence,” in Continuity and Change: Jews and Judaism in Byzantine-Christian Palestine, ed. idem (Jerusalem: Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi, 2004), 7–48; Amnon Linder, “The Legal Status of the Jews in the Roman Empire,” in The Cambridge History of Judaism: Volume 4, The Late Roman-Rabbinic Period, ed. Steven T. Katz (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 128–73; Seth Schwartz, Imperialism and Jewish Society (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001); E. Mary Smallwood, The Jews Under Roman Rule: From Pompey to Diocletian: A Study in Political Relations (Leiden: Brill, 2001). Concerning the function of the Palestinian rabbis as a Roman provincial population, see Hayim Lapin, Rabbis as Romans: The Rabbinic Movement in Palestine: 100–400 C.E. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012). For an overview of Roman imperial ideology and its function in the provinces, see Clifford Ando, Imperial Ideology and Provincial Loyalty in the Roman Empire (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2000). Concerning the general topic of imperial ideology and the language of power, see Louis Althusser, “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses (Notes towards an Investigation),” in The Anthropology of the State: A Reader, ed. Aradhana Sharma and Akhil Gupta (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2006), 86–111; Pierre Bourdieu, “Social Space and Symbolic Power,” in Sociological Theory 7.1 (1989): 14–25; and Karl Mannheim, Ideologie und Utopie (8th ed.; Bonn: Friedrich Cohen, 1995).


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not apply the same degree of total domination on its inhabitants.2 Despite the different circumstances of the domination of these rabbis, Rome figures greatly into the writings of both groups for the obvious reason of its role in the destruction of the Second Temple.3 However, these crucial differences caused the two groups to maintain a different relationship with their past and God’s role in it. While the Palestinian rabbis sought to find God’s place in a world ruled by people, the Babylonian rabbis felt less tension between God’s rule and that of their earthly rulers. “[Historical theology],” as Kaufmann Kohler defines it, “traces the various doctrines of the faith in question through the different epoch and stages of culture.”4 In order to understand the historical theology of the rabbis, we must first understand the effects of Roman imperialism in Palestine in the centuries that the rabbis were writing. Once we have fully grasped how the writings of the Palestinian rabbis respond to imperial rule, then we can proceed to understand how the Babylonian reformulations of these received traditions reflect a different historical reality from that of the Palestinian rabbis. 2

Regarding the history of the Babylonian rabbis living under Sasanian rule, as well as their use of older Palestinian traditions, see Yaakov Elman, Authority and Tradition: Toseftan Baraitot in Talmudic Babylonia (New York: Yeshiva University Press, 1994); Isaiah Gafni, “The Political, Social, and Economic History of Babylonian Jewry, 224– 638 CE,” in The Cambridge History of Judaism: Volume 4, The Late Roman-Rabbinic Period (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 792–820; Richard Kalmin, Jewish Babylonia between Persia and Roman Palestine (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006); and Jeffrey Rubenstein, The Culture of the Babylonian Talmud (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005). Concerning the character of Sasanian rule and the relationship between the Sasanian and Roman empires, see Touraj Daryaee, “The Sasanian Empire (224–651 C.E.),” in The Oxford Handbook of Iranian History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 187–207; Beate Dignas and Engelbert Winter, Rome and Persia in Late Antiquity: Neighbors and Rivals (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007); and Dietrich Huff, “Formation and Ideology of the Sasanian State in the Context of Archaeological Evidence,” in The Sasanian Era, ed. Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis and Sarah Stewart (London: I. B. Tauris & Co., 2008), 31–59. While Zoroastrianism, the religion of the empire, certainly had an impact on Babylonian rabbinic texts, this religious element has little to do with the discussion at hand. Regarding this issue, see Shai Secunda, The Iranian Talmud: Reading the Bavli in Its Sasanian Context (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013). 3 The breadth of scholarship concerning this issue of Jewish attitudes towards the Second Temple’s destruction is too immense to mention in full. Some important works include Matthias Henze and Gabriele Boccaccini, eds., Fourth Ezra and Second Baruch: Reconstruction After the Fall (Leiden: Brill, 2013); Robert Kirschner, “Apocalyptic and Rabbinic Responses to the Destruction of 70,” HTR 78.1–2 (1985): 27–46; and Jonathan Klawans, “Josephus, the Rabbis, and Responses to Catastrophe Ancient and Modern,” in JQR 100.2 (2010): 278–309. 4 Kaufmann Kohler, Jewish Theology: Systematically and Historically Considered (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1918).

Theologies of Resistance: Rabbinic Traditions About Rome


Studies of resistance and response to imperial and colonial domination have begun to play a significant role in the study of Ancient Judaism. James Scott’s model of the hidden transcript, through which he argues that conversations that take place away from the site of the rulers often reflect resistance, has emerged as particularly popular.5 While critiques of Scott show that his theory can be overly dualistic, resulting in a permanent distinction between outward behavior and inward thought and neglecting the unconscious, the hidden transcript can often still be an effective tool for mapping both the way that subordinate groups viewed their rulers and the extent to which these groups themselves were influenced by the ruling ideologies themselves.6 Philip Esler equates Roman imperialism with European colonialism, identifying three major aspects of such power: political control over subordinates backed up by military force, the extraction of economic resources, and an ideology that justifies these conquests.7 Such total and visible rule had a profound effect on the rabbis. Hayim Lapin notes that this relationship between the ruler and the one being ruled is marked by a legitimization of the ruling classes as well as a perpetual struggle and a “hidden ideology” comprised of fantasies of revenge.8 Ra’anan Boustan 5

See Alan Appelbaum, “The Parable of the Seated Augustus: At the Intersection of Imperial History, Rabbinic Midrash, and Roman Art,” JLA 4.2 (2011): 268–79; Shaye J. D. Cohen, “The Conversion of Antoninus,” in The Significance of Yavneh and Other Essays in Jewish Hellenism, ed. idem (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010), 329–60; Allen Harris Cutler, “Third-Century Rabbinic Attitudes Towards the Prospect of the Fall of Rome,” Jewish Social Studies 31.4 (1969): 275–85; Philip F. Esler, “Rome in Apocalyptic and Rabbinic Literature,” in The Gospel of Matthew and its Roman Imperial Context, ed. John K. Riches and David C. Sim (London: Continuum, 2005), 9–33; Louis Feldman, “Abba Kolon and the Founding of Rome,” JQR 81 ¾ (1991): 239–66; Martin Goodman, “Palestinian Rabbis and the Conversion of Constantine to Christianity,” in The Talmud Yerushalmi and Graeco-Roman Culture II, ed. Peter Schäfer and Catherine Hezser (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2000), 1–9; Mireille Hadas-Lebel, Jerusalem Against Rome, trans. Robyn Frechet (Leuven: Peeters, 2006); Richard Kalmin, “Rabbinic Traditions about Roman Persecutions of the Jews: A Reconsideration,” JJS 54.1 (2003): 21–50; Nicholas R. M. de Lange, “Jewish Attitudes to the Roman Empire,” in Imperialism in the Ancient World, ed. P. D. A. Garnsey and C. R. Whittaker (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978). 6 See Lila Abu-Lughod, “The Romance of Resistance: Tracing Transformations of Power Through Bedouin Women,” in American Ethnologist 17.1 (1990): 41–55 and Timothy Mitchell, “Everyday Metaphors of Power,” in Theory and Society 19.5 (1990): 545– 77. 7 Esler, “Rome in Apocalyptic and Rabbinic Literature,” 9–33, particularly page 10. 8 Hayim Lapin, “Hegemony and Its Discontents: The Rabbis as a Late Antique Provincial Population,” in Jewish Culture and Society under the Christian Roman Empire, ed. Richard Kalmin and Seth Schwartz (Leuven: Peeters, 2003), 319–48, particularly 331–32.


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discusses the phenomenon of the increasing violence of these revenge fantasies among the rabbis, particularly under Christian rule, asserting that these vengeful fantasies reflect their real powerlessness.9 Although Esler’s equation of the effects of Roman imperialism to European colonialism is largely effective for the study of Palestinian rabbinic literature, he neglects to adequately differentiate between Babylonian and Palestinian sources. While his theory of rabbis writing like those under colonial rule almost certainly applies to the Palestinian rabbis, it does not apply to their Babylonian counterparts. Although the Babylonian rabbis received many of the same Palestinian sources, they reformulated them to fit their own agenda, resulting in narratives with similar plots but fundamentally different ideologies.10 This study is structured in two parts. First, I evaluate m. Sot. 9:14–15 in light of its portrayals of the destruction of the Temple and the need to beseech God. The second section is comprised of a comparison between the Palestinian and Babylonian narratives concerning Titus’s death. While the two stories share the same basic elements, they also radically differ in both their approaches to Titus and to God. I make no claims to discuss historical truth in this paper, but only how the rabbis perceived God in relation to Roman imperial rule.

The Mishnah Scholars have argued that the rabbis of the Mishnah often did not wish to address the calamity of the destruction of the Second Temple. Shaye Cohen observed that: For some Jews, the destruction of the temple posed a theological crisis no less severe than that which had been felt in the wake of the destruction of the First Temple in 587 BCE, and the profanation of the Second in the late 160s BCE [. . .] In contrast, the Mishnah and, generally, the rabbis of the second century seem thoroughly unconcerned with these questions.11


Ra’anan Boustan, “Immolating Emperors: Spectacles of Imperial Suffering and the Making of a Jewish Minority Culture in Late Antiquity,” Biblical Interpretation: A Journal of Contemporary Approaches (2009): 207–38. 10 For an evaluation of this phenomenon, see Alyssa Gray, A Talmud in Exile (Providence: Brown Judaic Studies, 2005), 26. Also see Christine Hayes, Between the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmuds: Accounting for Halakhic Difference in Selected Sugyot from Tractate Avodah Zara (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997). 11 Shaye Cohen, From the Maccabees to the Mishnah (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2006), 210.

Theologies of Resistance: Rabbinic Traditions About Rome


This assertion reflects a general tendency of the Mishnah but ignores the sections in which such discourse does, in fact, take place. The passage cited below demonstrates that the rabbis engaged in theological consideration of the Temple’s destruction and their resulting hardships.12 (14) During the war of Vespasian, they decreed against the crowns of the bridegrooms and the drum used in wedding celebrations. During the war of Titus,13 they decreed against the crowns of brides and that one must not teach his son Greek. In the last war, they decreed that a bride could not go out into the city in a palanquin, but the sages allowed the bride to go out in the city in a palanquin. (15) . . . Rabbi Pinhas ben Yair said: From when the Temple was destroyed, scholars and free men were shamed, and they bent their heads, and men of [good] deeds were diminished, but men of force and rhetoric became strong. There is no one who seeks and no one who begs and no one who asks [on behalf of Israel]. On whom can we rely? Upon our father in heaven. (Aramaic) Rabbi Eliezer the Great said: From the day that the Temple was destroyed, the sages were permitted to become like Bible teachers, and Bible teachers like synagogue sextons, and synagogue sextons like those not learned in Torah, and those not learned in Torah continue to diminish, and there is no one who begs [on behalf of Israel]. Upon whom can we rely? Upon our father in Heaven. (Hebrew) On the heels of the coming of the Messiah, insolence will increase and prices will drastically increase. The vineyard will give fruits, but wine will be expensive. The government will turn to heresy,14 and there will be no reprimand. The academy will turn to fornication, and the Galilee will be destroyed, and Gablon will be desolate, and the people living on the borders will turn from city to city and will not find favor. The wisdom of the scribes will decompose, and the ones who fear sin will be detested, and the truth will be rejected. Youth will shame their elders, the elders will stand before young children. “The son dishonors his father, the daughter rises against her mother, a daughterin-law against her mother-in-law, each member of the household is an enemy to each other (Micah 7:6).” The face of the generation is like the face of a dog. Upon whom can we rely? Upon our father in heaven. 15

This chapter of Mishnah largely discusses the decline of the Jewish community as either a result of sin, particularly murder,16 promiscuity, and


All translations are my own. Mss Kaufmann reads “Quietus,” possibly referring to Lucius Quietus, who served as the Roman governor of Judea under Trajan. 14 “Minut.” 15 m. Sot. 9:14–15. Also see t. Sot. 15:8 for a slightly different list of the prohibitions and their clarifications. The absence of this passage from the Parma manuscript is notable, but it does appear in the Kaufmann manuscript. The Vatican manuscript of the Babylonian Talmud also does not quote this passage, but the Munich one does. In the Palestinian Talmud, this passage is quoted as a Mishnah. In all places where this passage appears, there is no discrepancy in the actual language. 16 m. Sot. 9:12. 13


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magic;17 or the deaths of leading religious figures and institutions.18 Although specific wars are mentioned, Roman actions taken against the Jews are not. The first part of this Mishnah discusses the rituals that the Jews undertook in response to the calamities brought on by the Romans. Although weddings themselves were not banned, their various adornments were. It is unclear who is issuing the decrees concerning weddings during the wars. Susan Marks notes that if the concern of the issuers was to avoid the government, then it is particularly unusual that crowns would be prohibited but processions, which are far more noticeable, permitted.19 This fear of avoiding the government also does not seem valid in light of the Tosefta parallel, which says that the sons of Rabban Gamliel were allowed to learn Greek because they were close with the ruling powers, indicating that a relationship between the rabbis and the government was actually something to be encouraged.20 This Mishnah actually appears to be a criticism against those making the decrees. The term “they decreed” has no explicit subject, but they are contrasted with the sages, who allow the wedding palanquin despite “their” prohibition. This section of the Mishnah is not only a commentary against Romans, but against Jews who were of a different mindset than the rabbis, possibly the ones who espoused ideals of active resistance against the Romans. The rabbis preferred to conduct such resistance on an ideological level rather than making formal decrees. If the Kaufmann manuscript is correct in writing “Quietus,” who served as Trajan’s general in the Jewish Revolt in 117–118 C.E., then the rabbis were writing about decrees during a series of wars beginning with the First Jewish Revolt and ending with Bar Kokhba.21 The rabbis expressed their lack of support for these rebellions and retrojected their legal authority to these time periods. However, the extreme losses experienced by the Jews of late antiquity were brought upon not only by the Romans, but by their own ineffective leaders.


m. Sot. 9:13. m. Sot. 9:11 and the beginning of 9:15. 19 Susan Marks, “History vs. Ritual in Time and End-time: The Case of Early Rabbinic Weddings in Light of Catherine Bell,” JAAR 79.3 (2011): 587–613, esp. 595. 20 t. Sot. 15:8. See Talmudic discussion b. Sot. 49b and Saul Lieberman’s analysis in Hellenism in Jewish Palestine: Studies in the Literary Transmission, Beliefs, and Manners of Palestine in the I Century B.C.E.–IV Century C.E. (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1950), 100–14. 21 A similar line of thinking can be seen in Jan Nicolaas Sevenster, Do You Know Greek?: How Much Greek Could the First Jewish Christian Have Known? (Leiden: Brill Archive, 1968), 47–48. 18

Theologies of Resistance: Rabbinic Traditions About Rome


The language switching that takes place between Hebrew and Aramaic here is noteworthy, since the Mishnah was largely written in Hebrew.22 One possible reason for the appearance of Aramaic here is that the material is folkloristic, so the rabbis may have been compelled to write it in the lingua franca.23 However, in this situation, such an explanation is unlikely because the other two similar passages are written in Hebrew. The Tosefta parallel to this passage also comments about the decrees of Titus and Vespasian, but does not encompass the last two narrative sections and contains more decrees, including one concerning the bridal canopy. I remain unconvinced that this passage was a later, “pseudo-Mishnaic,” addition, which many scholars have generally accepted as an explanation for its anomalies with little reason. 24 By this statement, I am not claiming unequivocally that this tradition was certainly authentically Mishnaic, but that it is Tannaitic and was regarded as such by later rabbis. The justification for this claim is that the passage is cited as a Mishnah in both the Palestinian and Babylonian Talmuds, indicating that it was accepted as a Mishnah by the fourth century. The manuscriptural evidence is inconclusive, since the passage either appears in its entirety or not at all.25 The rabbis cited are of the final generation of the redaction of the Mishnah, which allows for the viewing of this passage in a third-century context. This section of the Mishnah takes place within a larger discussion of the decline of the Jewish community both before and after the Temple’s destruction. The Temple’s destruction provided affirmation that Israel was at the point of no return, and the Jewish community only continued to decline even beyond that point. Scholars, or the rabbinic ideal of the Jewish man, were scorned while men of force and rhetoric, Roman and Hellenistic ideals, thrived.26 The passage concludes with the hope that if conditions worsened, it would be a sign of the coming of the Messiah. 22

See Daniel Snell, “Why Is There Aramaic in the Bible?,” JSOT 32.5 (1980): 32–51. I am indebted to Judith Hauptman for this suggestion. For examples of this phenomenon see, Y. Yahalom, “Angels do not understand Aramaic: On the Literary Use of Jewish Palestinian Aramaic in Late Antiquity,” JJS 47.1 (1996): 33–44. 24 See Jacob N. Epstein, Introduction to the Text of the Mishnah (2nd ed.; Jerusalem: Magnes, 1964) and Adiel Schremer, “The Christinaization of the Roman Empire and Rabbinic Literature” in Jewish Identities in Antiquity: Studies in Memory of Menahem Stern, ed. Lee I. Levine and Daniel Schwartz (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2009), 349–66. 25 Regarding methodologies in evaluating Talmudic manuscripts and the dating of specific passages, see Shamma Friedman, Perek Ha-Ishah Rabbah Ba-Bavli (Jerusalem: Jewish Theological Seminary, 1978). One of Friedman’s primary criteria for determining if a passage is a later addition is discrepancies between manuscripts, particularly concerning technical terminology. 26 For other places where the terminology of “men and force” applies to Romans, see p. Shev. 10:1 (27b); p. Ta’an. 3:3 (14b); Gen. R. 13:9. Note that all of these examples come from Palestinian Amoraic sources and are attributed to Tannaitic rabbis. 23


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The attitude in the Mishnah is one of despair. The rabbis were completely marginalized in favor of those who had physical and legal power. God and the promise of the Messiah were all that was left for the Jews. The use of the term “father in heaven” for God is one of a plea, unusual in the rabbinic literary corpora. It is never used in the Mishnah outside of this context, and it is only mentioned once in the Palestinian Talmud in connection with prayer.27 This section of Mishnah characterizes the Romans, powerful in both rhetoric and force, as foils to the rabbis themselves, who were sage and powerful in good deeds. They pit themselves against the Romans, arguing that the latter attained power at their expense. The rabbis acknowledged Roman strength here while simultaneously hating it. They claimed that this Roman power would lead to an ultimate degradation of values and morality.28 The mention of the kingdom’s turn to heresy, or “minut,” is also a point to be discussed. The use of the term here is unusual, since heresy usually implies the deviation from the norms of the internal group itself rather than to an outside faction.29 In other words, in this case, “minut” does not refer to a general state of sinfulness, but one of nonconformity with rabbinic Judaism. However, the rabbis were discussing the Roman kingdom and not the kingdom of Israel. Therefore, “minut” certainly cannot refer to heresy in the general sense, but to a specific form of heresy that the rabbis would find abhorrent even for non-Jews to practice. There are two possibilities for its meaning in this context, both highly speculative. One is that the term “minut” in this Mishnah refers to Christianity and was portending the Christianization of the Roman Empire, the explanation favored by Adiel Schremer.30 Frequently, this explanation does work in rabbinic literature. It is plausible that the rabbis believed that the conversion of the empire to Christianity would portend the coming of the Messiah. The statement could almost be a play on the Christian belief that their Messiah had come by predicting that only through their wrongful conversions could the real Messiah be brought. 27

p. Hag. 2:1. See Daniel Boyarin, Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), 220–21. 29 See Daniel Boyarin, “On Stoves, Sex, and Slave-girls: Rabbinic Orthodoxy and the Definition of Jewish Identity,” Hebrew Studies 41 (2000): 169–88; Richard Kalmin, “Christians and Heretics in Rabbinic Literature of Late Antiquity,” HTR 87.2 (1994): 155–69; and Adiel Schremer, “Thinking about Belonging in Early Rabbinic Literature: Proselytes, Apostates, and ‘Children of Israel,’ or: Does It Make Sense to Speak of Early Rabbinic Orthodoxy?,” JSJ 43.2 (2012): 249–75 for further discussion of the term “minut.” 30 See Schremer, “The Christianization of Rome,” 349. 28

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However, there is another plausible explanation as well, which is that the term refers to the propagation of the imperial cult. This definition might be more logical in light of the critique by the rabbis of other Roman ideals here, such as force and rhetoric. Further, the third century was a time of vast persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire.31 The crisis of the third century, when emperors were quickly dying and being succeeded, as well as a major time of war with the Parthian Empire, was a time in which imperial propaganda was at a high. This reality can be seen in numismatic evidence, in which the Pax Augusta and divinity of the emperor figures highly.32 It is possible that the rabbis internalized such discourse and used “minut” to critique yet another practice of the Roman government, that of emperor worship. Regardless of the exact ideology that the rabbis here were opposing, the rabbis of the third century certainly understood themselves as being utterly under the political control of the Roman Empire and acknowledged their destiny as such. The only choice they saw was to beseech God, their father in heaven. Although they had contributed to bringing upon their own destruction, they hoped that God would intervene and save them from the consequences of their actions. However, when they could rely on no one else to save them from their dire fates, they believed that God would ultimately redeem them and bring about the Messiah.

The Fantasy of Titus’s Divine Retribution The Palestinian rabbis of the third to sixth centuries lived in a time of great turmoil and change within the Roman Empire.33 The rabbis faced increasing hostility from the Roman government as it Christianized and faced its 31

See Christopher J. Haas, “Imperial Religious Policy”; G. E. M. de Ste. Croix “Aspects of the ‘Great’ Persecution,” HTR 47.2 (1954): 75–113 and idem, “Why Were the Early Christians Persecuted?” Past & Present 26 (1963): 6–38. 32 L. De Blois, “Traditional Virtues and New Spiritual Qualities in Third Century Views of Empire, Emperorship, and Practical Policies,” Mnemosyne 47.2 (1994): 166– 76; Richard Gordon, “The Roman Imperial Cult and the Question of Power” in Raising the Eyebrow: John Onians and World Art Studies, ed. L. Golden (BAR International Series 996; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 107–22; Ragnar Hedlund, “…Achieved Nothing Worthy of Memory,” in Coinage and Authority in the Roman Empire C. AD 260–295, ed. Harald Nilsson (Ph.D. diss.; Uppsala University, 2008), 5–48, 82–86, and 174–79; and David Shotter, “Roman Historians and the Roman Coinage,” Greece & Rome, Second Series, 25.2 (1978): 156–68. 33 See Oded Irshai, “Confronting a Christian Empire: Jewish Life and Culture in the World of Early Byzantium,” in Jews in Byzantium: Dialectics of Minority and Majority Cultures, ed. Robert Bonfil (Leiden: Brill, 2011), 17–64.


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own troubles. The following story of Titus’s death at the hands of God demonstrates the extent to which the rabbis often used Roman figures as foils of their own ideology, committing disgusting acts in holy places. Further, the portrayal of Titus shows the extent to which these rabbis viewed themselves as powerless. However, although they could not envision human resistance to the imperial ruling powers, they envisioned God as enacting the ultimate vengeance for the Jews. The earliest narrative portrayal of Titus’s actions within the Temple is in the third-century Sifre Deuteronomy and has a parallel in Midrash Tannaim.34 “Those who ate the fat of their sacrifices and drank the wine of their wine offerings, let them arise and help you and they will be your protector! (Deuteronomy 32:38).” . . . “Let them arise and help you.” It does not say here that they will arise and help, but that they will arise and help you. Rabbi Nehemiah says, “This is Titus the Wicked, the son of the wife of Vespasian, who entered the Holy of Holies and ripped the two curtains with his sword35 and said, ‘If he is truly God, he will come and smite [me].’” 36 . . . “They will rise and they will help you and they will be your protector.” God forgives everything, but he immediately punishes for the desecration of His name. 37

The mention of Titus here is brief. Although the Midrash claims that those who desecrate God’s name are punished immediately, the reader does not see Titus’s actual punishment in this passage. While the parallel version in Midrash Tannaim connects the idea of future punishment to a Scriptural verse, the story is never completed. However, this idea of Titus’s blasphemy is expanded in later narratives and recounts his punishment at the hands of God. Titus the Wicked entered the Holy of Holies, his sword drawn in his hand, and slashed the two curtains, and brought two prostitutes and engaged in intercourse with them on the altar, and his sword emerged full of blood. Some say that it was the blood of the sacrifices, and others say that it was the blood of the goat-sacrifice of Yom Kippur. He emptied and took all of the utensils of the Temple and he made a kind of net and he blasphemed toward the Heavens. He said, “The one who wages war with the king in the desert and defeats him is not the same as the one who wages war with the king in his own palace and defeats him.” He descended to his boat. At the moment that he descended, a gale came up from the sea. He said, “This is like God’s strength is only in the sea. The generation of Enosh was punished by means of water, the generation of the flood was punished by means of water, Pharaoh and his soldiers were punished by water; and I, 34 Regarding the dating of this source, see Hermann L. Strack and Gunter Stemberger, An Introduction to Talmud and Midrash, trans. Markus Bockmuehl (reprint; Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 1996), 270–72. 35 Mid. Tann. adds, “and cursed and blasphemed.” 36 Mid. Tann.: “If he is truly God, he will come forward and stand for his children.” 37 Sif. Deut. Haazinu 35. See also Mid. Tann. 32:37–38. The end of Mid. Tann. adds, “For this, it is said, ‘Afterwards, see now that I am the Lord your God.’”

Theologies of Resistance: Rabbinic Traditions About Rome


when I was in my house on my own property, He was not able to stand up against me, and now He comes before me here. He wishes to kill me in the water!” The Holy One Blessed is He said to him, “Wicked man! This wicked man will be punished with the smallest creation of all that I created in the six days of creation!” Immediately, the Holy One Blessed is He gestured to the prince of the sea and it ceased from its vehemence. When he reached Rome, all of the great men of Rome emerged to greet him and praise him. When he arose to Rome, he entered the bathhouse. When he left, they brought him bowls of poterion wine to drink. A gnat entered his nose and knocked around his brain and continued to do so until it became like a pigeon weighing two litras. He made a commandment and said, “Split open the head of this man (himself) and know how the God of the Jews punished this man!” Immediately, they called to the doctors, and they split open his head, and they removed something like a pigeon weighing two litras. Rabbi Aha bar Yose said: “In Rome, I saw two liters on one side and the pigeon on the other side, and they weighed the same.” They removed it and put it into a bowl. When the gnat departed, the life of Titus the Wicked departed.38

This passage pits God and Titus directly against each other, with God emerging as the clear winner. The rabbis believed that although Rome was ruling them at the time, God would ultimately defeat their enemies, depicting a God here who methodically punishes measure-for-measure. For Titus’s crime in Jerusalem, he was punished in Rome. For his blasphemy on the sea comparing himself to God, he was punished by the most insignificant being that God created.39 This story expanded the point in the earlier midrashim that God immediately punishes those who blaspheme Him. Neither the rabbis nor the Jews are at all involved in this battle. The rabbis saw Titus’s crimes as a personal affront to God, and God sought out revenge. This revenge took place on earth, not in the Heavens, maybe because Titus challenged God to punish him in his own domain. This battle may also be a play on the Roman idea of the apotheosis of the emperor after his death. Rather than becoming a god himself, Titus is killed by the God. God emerges as the omnipotent winner, and Titus acknowledges that his fate was a result of the anger of the “God of the Jews.” The Babylonian account enhances our understanding of this story even further. While retaining the same base elements, there are a number of notable changes. 38 Gen. R. 10:7. This story also appears in Lev. R. 22:3; Num. R. 18:22, and Ecc. R. 5:4. In the Num. R. account, the part about the gnat being taken out is not there, but a section concerning how God punishes his worst enemies with His most insignificant creatures. The end of Ecc. R. says that the soul of Titus departed “to avvadon and to the depths of the world,” implying eternal punishment. See Boustan, “Immolating Emperors,” 229. 39 Joshua Levinson discusses this theme of sin and punishment in “‘Tragedies Naturally Performed:’ Fatal Charades, Parodia Sacra, and the Death of Titus,” in Jewish Culture and Society Under the Christian Roman Empire, ed. Richard Lee Kalmin and Seth Schwartz (Leuven: Peeters, 2003), 349–84.


Bernie Hodkin

(Hebrew) “And he will say: Where are your gods, the rock in which you refuged (Deuteronomy 32:37)?” This refers to Titus the Wicked, who blasphemed towards the Heavens. What did he do? He took a prostitute and entered the Holy of Holies and laid out a Torah scroll and transgressed upon it, and he took a sword and slashed the curtain. A miracle happened and blood emerged from it, and he was sure that he killed Him,40 as it says, “Your enemies have shouted in your dwelling-place, they have set up their signs for signs (Psalms 74:4).” Abba Hanan said: “Who is like you in strength (Psalms 89:9)?” Who is like you in strength and hardness, that you heard the insults and blasphemies of this wicked man and were silent? The school of Rabbi Ishmael taught: “Who among the gods is like you (Exodus 15:11)?” Who is like you among the mute? What did he do? He took the curtain and made it like a net and he brought all of the utensils from the Temple and put them in there, and placed them on his boat to triumph in his city, as it says, “And then, I saw the wicked buried, those who came and went from the holy place and were forgotten in the city where they did such (Ecclesiastes 8:10).” Do not read “buried” but “gathered”; do not read “forgotten” but “praised.” (Aramaic) One can also say that it is definitely “buried,” that even matters that were hidden were revealed to them. (Hebrew) A gale emerged from the sea to drown him. He said, “It appears to me that their God only has strength in the water! When Pharaoh came, he drowned him in water; when Sisera came, he drowned him in water; and now he seeks to drown me in water! If he is strong, he will emerge to dry land and wage war with me!” A bat qol emerged and said to him, “Wicked man, son of a wicked man, son of Esau the wicked, there is an insignificant being in my world, and “gnat” is its name. (Aramaic) Why is it called an insignificant being? Because it has a mouth and no rectum. (Hebrew) Arise to dry land and make war with it!” He arose to dry land, and a gnat entered his nose and knocked his brain for seven years. (Aramaic) One day, he passed by the gate of a blacksmith. He heard the sound of a hammer and [the gnat] silenced. He said, “This is the cure!” Every day, they brought a blacksmith who hammered before him. For a Gentile, they gave him four zuz, and to a Jew, they said, “It is enough that you are seeing your enemy [suffer].” He did this for thirty days, but then it became accustomed to it. (Hebrew) We learn from a baraita that Rabbi Pinhas ben Aruba said: I was among the great men of Rome, and when he died, they split his head open, and they found a sparrow that weighed two selas. It is taught in a Tannaitic story: Like a year-old bird that weighed two litras. Abaye said: We have a tradition that it had a beak of copper and nails of iron. (Aramaic) As he was dying, he said, “Burn this man and scatter his ashes across the sea so that the God of the Jews will not find him and bring him to justice.” Onqelos bar Qoloniqos, the son of Titus’s sister, wished to convert. He went to raise Titus from the 40

Also in the Num. R. account.

Theologies of Resistance: Rabbinic Traditions About Rome


grave. He said to him, “Who is most important in this world?” Titus said, “Israel.” [Onqelos responded], “What about joining them?” He said to him, “Their burdens are large, and you will be unable to fulfill them. Go and incite them in this world and you will be at the head, as it is written, ‘Their enemies became the head (Lamentations 1:5).’ Everyone who brings troubles upon Israel becomes the head.” 41

This account is separable into Hebrew and Aramaic components. While some of these elements merely reflect Babylonian rabbinic sensibilities of rabbinization of the past, such as the transgression of Titus upon the Torah scroll,42 or Stammaitic activity, such as the commentaries upon the nature of the gnat, others reflect differences that are more relevant to the larger argument of this paper. One fundamental difference between this account and that in the Palestinian corpora is the use of the bat qol on the ship instead of God. Because God no longer speaks directly to Titus in this account, the two no longer engage in head-to-head combat. A greater distance is created between God and Titus. Titus, the emperor of Rome, could not hope to even speak to God, the almighty king of the universe. This theme is echoed when Titus requests that his ashes be scattered because he does not want to be judged before God. Titus could not compete with God once they were in the same place. Although the narrative does not tell the story of the trial of Titus, the reader learns that his ultimate punishment was to be burned and have his ashes spread across the world for all eternity. The Babylonian rabbis make their final theological point in the narrative with Onqelos, saying that Israel was destined to face hardship. Those who oppressed Israel would seemingly be rewarded and come out “the head.” However, in the World to Come, God’s world, Israel was still God’s chosen nation and the most important. Whether events in the physical world seemed to indicate it or not, God would always support Israel against her enemies. In this narrative, Titus serves as a general example of an enemy of the Jewish people. Therefore, he commits numerous actions that oppose rabbinic ideology, such as disrespecting a Torah scroll, fornicating in the Temple, and insulting God. He faces punishment on earth for his sins against God and in hell for his crimes against Israel. However, there is also a difference in the two narratives between the actual sins of Titus. In the Palestinian account, Titus is not punished for destroying the Temple, but only for his blasphemy against God. This punishment accords with the sources from Midrash Tannaim and Sifre Deuteronomy, which claim that God immediately punishes those who desecrate 41

b. Git. 56b. See Richard Kalmin, Christians and Heretics; idem, The Sage in Jewish Society of Late Antiquity (London: Routledge, 1999). 42


Bernie Hodkin

His name. However, in the Babylonian story, Titus is not only avenged for his attempt to wage war with God but also for his destruction of the Temple. The gnat was the measure-for-measure for his statement against God, and his cremation was the measure-for-measure for his burning of the Temple.43 It is possible that the Palestinian rabbis believed that the destruction of the Temple was divinely sanctioned and not an offense against Heaven. Therefore, Titus was merely functioning as a messenger of God in his actions against the Jews. His real sin was comprised of his actions towards God. God’s wishes and Israel’s wishes were not synonymous. The Babylonian account, in contrast, explicitly places Israel at the center. Titus’s destruction of the Temple was an unforgivable sin, and his punishment would be eternal. The Babylonian narrative is not a piece of resistance literature directed at Rome. Rather, they adapted this Palestinian story and conformed it to their own theology and cultural surroundings. As Peter Schäfer notes in his Jesus in the Talmud, the Babylonian rabbis were more comfortable in their surroundings and were able to express themselves more freely than their Palestinian counterparts,44 reducing the need for a hidden transcript, particularly one directed at an empire that did not rule them. Rome for them was symbolic of evil, but did not represent a cultural reality. The Palestinian rabbis, on the other hand, had a greater need to defend God’s name against the “divine” Roman emperor as well as their own ideology against the dominant discourses. The differences between the Palestinian and Babylonian portrayals of the Roman Empire and Titus convey a great deal about the two groups of rabbis. The Palestinian rabbis viewed God in this narrative as one who looked out for Himself. While they imagined a fantasy of Titus’s death, it was ultimately not a punishment for the suffering he inflicted upon them, but for offending God. Having lived under Roman rule for numerous centuries, the Palestinian rabbis had reconciled themselves with the Temple’s destruction and their fate as subordinates. While they believed that God would avenge them, it was only because they would eventually do something to upset Him and not because of their actions against Israel. The Babylonian rabbis, not subject to Roman rule, only had the collective memories of the destruction of the Temple. Therefore, they were able to develop more elaborate fictions about the Roman past.

43 44

Schäfer, Jesus in the Talmud, 87. Schäfer, Jesus in the Talmud, 8.

Theologies of Resistance: Rabbinic Traditions About Rome


Conclusion The Roman Empire had a great impact on the formation of rabbinic Judaism. Reading a hidden transcript into rabbinic accounts of the Roman Empire provides new insight into the different rabbinic conceptions of God. Through understanding the relationship between subordinates and their rulers, we are able to see how the rabbis responded to their ruling power through their conversations that took place away from their sight. The Babylonian reformulations of these same accounts show how their own ideology shaped the way that these narratives evolved in their literature. The theology of the rabbis changed as history ran its course through late antiquity. The early rabbis living shortly after the destruction of the Second Temple believed that they had lost God’s favor as a result of their own actions. However, they still wished to beseech Him to save them from their Roman rulers and the resulting decline of society. This God was not ideologically aligned with them, but they hoped for His help. Their wish was that the rapid decline of Torah scholarship that they portrayed was a portent to the coming of the Messiah. The later Palestinian and Babylonian accounts of Titus’s destruction also reflect differing ideologies. While the Babylonian rabbis understood the Roman ruling power to be wicked and unjust, the Palestinian rabbis believed Rome to be their rightful rulers. As long as they governed reasonably, there would be no problem. Titus received punishment for attempting to spar with God, but not for any action that he committed against Israel. In contrast, in the Babylonian account, Titus was doomed to eternal punishment for his actions against both God and Israel.

List of Contributors DAN BATOVICI, PhD Candidate in Theology and Religious Studies at KU Leuven AMANDA M. DAVIS BLEDSOE, Doctoral Fellow at Ludwig-MaximiliansUniversität München, Distant Worlds JOHN ANTHONY DUNNE, PhD Candidate in New Testament at the University of St Andrews CHRISTOPH HEILIG, PhD Candidate at Georg-August-Universität Göttingen BERNIE HODKIN, PhD Candidate at Jewish Theological Seminary, Department of Rabbinic Literatures and Cultures CANDIDA R. MOSS, Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity, University of Notre Dame and Visiting Fellow, University of Pretoria MATTHEW V. NOVENSON, Lecturer in New Testament and Christian Origins, University of Edinburgh NADAV SHARON, Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Haifa DAVID I. STARLING, Senior Lecturer in New Testament at Morling College (Australian College of Theology and University of Divinity) LOREN T. STUCKENBRUCK, Professor of New Testament and Second Temple Judaism at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München ALEXANDER P. THOMPSON, PhD Candidate in New Testament at Emory University BRANDON WALKER, PhD Candidate in Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Nottingham

Index of References 1. Hebrew Bible Genesis (the book) 1:27 (LXX) 6 6–9 6:5–8:22 6:5–9:17 9:1–17 9:11 9:15b 10:22 49

7 83 11 6, 21 7 6 11–12 11 2 11 36

Exodus 15:11


Leviticus 19 19:14 19:32 25:36 25:43

117 117 117 117 117

Deuteronomy 10:10 10:17 13:4 28:50 32:25 32:37 32:38

118 116 118 52 52 174 172

2 Samuel 7 22:18 (LXX)

98 64

2 Kings 25–26 25:8–9

23 33

1 Chronicles 6:15


2 Chronicles 36:5–21


Ezra 5:12


Nehemiah 5:15


Esther 1:12 7:7

27 27

Psalms 2 2:7 2:11–12 16 16:10 17:18 (LXX) 22:27 22:27–28 22:28 33:18–19 34 34:4 34:7 34:9 34:10 34:12 34:13–14 34:13–17 47:8 62:12 63:2–4 67:3–4 74:4

97, 101 103 117 106 110 64 5 4 5 117 117–118, 123 118 118 121 117 117 117 117, 123 4, 5 116 4 5 174


Index of References

74:13–14 85:9 86:9 89:9 102:15 109:1 (LXX) 110:1 111:5 115:11 117:1 118 118:26 145:19

49 118 4, 5 174 4, 5 68 104, 110, 126 118 118 4, 5 126 100 118

Proverbs 3:34 (LXX) 8:13 14:26–27 15:33 19:23 22:4 24:12 24:21 24:21 (LXX)

117, 121 117 118 117 118 117 116 117 119

Ecclesiastes 8:10


Isaiah (the book) 2:3 2:4 8:12–13 10 10–11 10:1 11:10 14:11 18:7 19:22 25:8 26:19 28 28:16 34–35 40 40:6–8 40:8 40:23–24 44:3

104 4–5, 15, 17 6 118 52 54 117 64 104 4, 5 4, 5 132 132 126 126 132 121, 125 125 121 125 133

44:3–4 44:28–45:14 45:14 45:14–15 49:6 52:13 53:3–4 53:12 60 60:3 60:5 60:10 60:11 60:12 65:17 65:17–25 66:18 66:18–23 66:22 66:22–23 66:23 66:24

132 32 5, 18 4–5 15 127 127 127 4–5 5 5 18 5 5, 18 20 11 5 4 20 11 5 104

Jeremiah (the book) 4:7 16:19 21:7 23:1–8 25:1–22 25:9 27:1–11 27:6 27:17 (OG) 29 29:7 29:10–14 30:13 (OG) 30:16 (OG) 49:19 49:22 50:17 51:34 (OG) 52:12–13 52:29

32, 36 36 4–5 23 132 32 32 32 32 36 123 124 132 36 36 36 36 36 49 33 33

Lamentations 1:5 2:21

175 52

Index of References Ezekiel 1 17:3 26:7 28 29:3 29:17–19 29:17–20 30:10 32:2 Daniel (the book) 1 1–4 1:1 1:1 (OG) 1:2 1:2 (OG) 1:6–7 (OG) 1:19 1:20 (OG) 2 2 (OG) 2–6 2:2 2:2–4 2:5 2:5 (OG) 2:6 2:9 2:12 2:12–13 (OG) 2:15 2:20–21 2:21 2:23 2:26 2:26–27 2:28 2:29–30 2:37–38 2:45 2:47 2:47 (OG) 3 3 (OG) 3:1–23 (OG) 3:6

36 36 32 94 49 32 23 32 49

23–25, 28–32, 34, 36–37, 39 24, 26, 32, 37 23, 25, 39 25, 32 32 25–26, 29, 37 26 29 26 26 25, 29, 33, 35–36 26 24 29 29 25, 27, 29, 33 27 29 29 25, 27, 33 27 27 27 38 28, 32 29 29 29 28, 32 27 28, 32 28, 34 34 25 26, 28–29, 33 29 25

3:12–13 3:13 3:13 (OG) 3:14–15 3:19 3:19 (OG) 3:22 (OG) 3:24 3:24–30 (OG) 3:28–29 3:28–31 (OG) 3:28–32 (OG) 3:32 (OG) 3:33 3:90 (OG) 3:95–96 (OG) 4 4 (OG) 4–6 4:6 4:6–8 4:7–15 4:12 4:12 (OG) 4:13 4:14 4:15 (OG) 4:16 4:19 (OG) 4:20 4:20–21 (OG) 4:22 4:24 4:25 (OG) 4:26 (OG) 4:27 4:29 4:29 (OG) 4:30 4:30a (OG) 4:30c (OG) 4:31–32 4:33 (OG) 4:34 4:34 (OG) 4:34a–c (OG) 4:34b (OG) 5 5 (OG)

183 28, 33 25 25 28 25, 28 25 28 29 29 29 26, 29, 38 33 29 32 34 29 23, 25, 29, 32–33, 35–36, 38–39 26, 33 25 29 29 30 36 36 36 32, 38 29 30 26, 33 36 31–33 30, 36 28, 30 35 33 30 31, 36 36 36 26, 33–34, 36 33–34 31 29 38 31, 34 31 29 31–33, 36–37 32

184 5:2 5:2–3 5:11–12 5:11–12 (OG) 5:11–13 5:13–15 5:17 5:17–22 5:18–19 5:18–22 5:20 5:20–21 5:21 5:23–28 5:30–31 6 6:9 6:13 6:16 6:18 6:27 7 7–12 7:4 7:5 7:6 7:6 (OG) 7:7 7:8 7:9 7:11 7:12 7:13 7:14 7:15 7:19 7:21 7:23 7:23 (OG) 7:24 7:24 (OG) 7:25 7:27 7:28

Index of References 23 31 31 31 23 31 31 32 32 23 30 32 32 32 32 36 27 27 27 27 32 34–39 23–24 35–36 35 35 35 35–36 37–38 35 37 37 19 4, 19, 32 35 36 35–37 36 36 36 36 37–38 32 35

8 8:10–14 8:25 (OG) 8:25–26 9 9 (OG) 9:26–27 9:27 10–12 10:12 (OG) 11:21 11:36 11:39 13 (OG) 14 (OG)

36–38 38 38 38 26, 38–39 26 38 38 38 29 38 38 38 25 25

Joel 2:23–30 2:26–29

132 132

Micah 4:2 5:2 7:6

5–6, 15, 17 64 167

Nahum 1:4a


Habakkuk (the book) 1:6 1:8 1:12b

53 53 36 53

Zechariah 8:20–23 8:21–22 8:23 14:16–19 14:16–21

4 5 5 5 4

Malachi 1:6



Index of References

2. Apocrypha 1 Maccabees 2:62–63 10:2–47

105 43

2 Maccabees (the book) 7 9:1–12 9:10 9:12 11:6–12

161 105 105 105 105 18

3 Maccabees 3:1 5:1 5:30

27 27 27

4 Maccabees (the book)


Judith (the book)

1–6 16:17b

23 105

Epistle of Jeremiah (the text)


Sirach 1:27 1:30 2:17 7:17 7:29–31 18:20

117 117 117 105 117 117

Tobit 13:11–17 14:5–6 14:6

18 18 4

Wisdom of Solomon 1–6 3:7

105 117


3. Pseudepigrapha 1 Enoch (the book) 1–5 1:5 5:4–6a 5:4–9 5:7b 5:9 6 6–8 6–11 6–36 6:1 6:1–2 6:1–8:3 6:5–10:16 7:3–5 8:1–3

1–2, 4, 6–7 14 14 14, 17 13 14, 17 14 1, 3, 6, 8 4 2, 4, 6–7, 9, 12–13, 16, 17, 20 17 12 8 1 6 9, 11 9

8:4–9:11 9:1 9:4 10 10:1 10:1–3 10:2 10:3 10:4 10:4–6 10:4–13 10:5–6 10:9 10:9–10 10:9–14 10:11 10:11–13 10:12–13 10:14

7 8 8 7–8, 11, 13–17, 20 7–8 6–7 7 7–8 8 8 8 8 8, 10 8 9 8 8 8 8

186 10:14–15 10:14–11:2 10:16 10:16–22 10:17 10:17–19 10:17–11:2 10:20 10:20–22 10:21 10:22 11 11:1 11:2 12–16 14:8–25 15:1–16:4 15:3–16:4 15:7–10 16 17–19 17–36 18:11–16 19:1–2 20–22 21:1–10 22:8–14 48:5 48:7 49:3 50:2 61 62:2 65–68 85:1–3 89:10 89:42–44 89:49 89:55–56 89:66 90 90:2–4 90:8–9 90:11–12 90:13 90:13–15 90:16 90:16–19 90:16–38 90:18

Index of References 8 12 9–11, 15 18 2, 9 11 20 9–10 2–4, 6, 8 3, 11–13 9, 12 3 11 2 13 2 2 13 10 1 13 13 13 13 13 13 13 4 15 133 4, 15 6 133 6 19 18 18 18 18 18 17 18 18 18 18 18 18 18, 20 17 18

90:19 90:24 90:25 90:26–27 90:28–30 90:30 90:33 90:37 90:37–38 90:38 91:6–8 91:8–10 91:11–12 91:13 91:13–14 91:14 91:15 91:16 93:9 93:11 93:10 99:9 100:6 104:12–13 105:1 105:1–2 105:2 106–107 106:1–107:3 106:4–7 106:9–12 107:1

18–19 20 20 19–20 18 3, 17–19 18–20 4, 14, 17, 19 18, 20 19 15 15 14, 16, 18 14, 16 18 4, 14, 16–17, 20 15 20 16 16 14 15 4, 14, 16 17 4, 14, 17 15–17, 19 16 6 7 7 7 9, 15

Jubilees 23:26 23:29

133 133

Psalms of Solomon (the book) 1:7 2 2:1 2:2 2:3 2:6–8 2:11 2:13 2:17 2:23–24

42, 44–45, 47–48, 50, 52–53 46 44, 48 48 48 46 52 46 46 46 52


Index of References 2:25 2:25–31 3:9–12 4:10–13 6:8 6:10–12 7 7:1 7:2–3 8 8:6–9 8:7–15 8:16–20 8:20–21

48 49 51 51 51 51 48 48 48 44, 48 46 47 48, 50 52

17 17:1–10 17:4–6 17:11–12 17:15 17:29–32 17:37 18:7

44, 46, 53 46 46 52 46 4 133 133

Testament of Levi 18:7


Testament of Judah 24:2


4. Dead Sea Scrolls 1Q20 (Genesis Apocryphon) ii 1 – v 26 7 1QS iii 13–iv 26 iv 15–16 iv 18–21 5:1–3 5:9–10

15 15 15 45 45

1QpHab (Pesher Habakkuk) (the document) 44, 48, 51 3:4–6 51 4:5–9 47 5:3–4 53 9:1–7 47 ix.4 48 12:12–14 52 a

4Q161 (Pesher Isaiah ) (the document) 48, 53 4Q174 (the document)

4Q285 (War Rule) (the document)

48, 51, 53

4Q504 1–2 II, 14


4Q521 2.ii.8 2.ii.12

133 133

4Q560 1 I, 3 1 II, 5–6

133 133

4QEnc 1 v. 1


4QEng 1 iv 17–18


6Q8 2


Pesher Nahum (the document) 1–2, ii 3–4 3–4, i 2–3 3–4, i 3 3–4, ii 4–6 3–4, iii 3–5

44, 48, 50–51 52 51 52 52 50


4Q203 (the document)


4Q204 (the document)


188 3–4, iv 1–4

Index of References 52

War Scroll (the document)

48, 51–52

5. New Testament Q (the source) 11:14–20 11:14–23

138 131 130

Matthew (the book) 2:6 4:23 8:5–13 9:25 9:35 10:7–8 11:2–6 12:22–38 12:28 22:21 25:31–32 25:34 25:41 27:24–25

131, 138 64 129 132 131 129 129, 145 129 130 132–133 154 64 138 138 71

Mark (the book) 1:27 3:22 5:22

99 143 130 132

Luke (the book)

1 1–2 1–3 1:5 1:26 1:32 1:32–33 1:52 1:68–71 1:69 2:4

59, 93–99, 102–103, 105–107, 109–110, 131 109 110 100 98, 109 98 104 98 98, 104 64 98 98

2:11 2:30 2:39 2:51 3 3:1 3:18–20 3:19 3:21–22 3:22 4:14 8:3 8:41 9 9:1–2 9:2 9:7 9:7–9 9:9 9:28–36 9:35 10:9 11 11:15–19 11:20 13:1–33 13:31 13:31–35 19–23 21:27 22:12–19 22:24–30 23:1–5 23:2 23:6–12 23:7–15 23:8 23:10 23:11 23:12 23:15 24 24:23

98 98 98 98 109 96, 98, 100, 109 98–99 109 99 103, 110 136 109 132 99 145 129 109 98 109 99 103, 110 129, 145 109 130 132 96 109 99 100 110 108 100 65 100 96, 100 109 132 100 103, 109 100 100 106 110


Index of References 24:26 24:44–48

100, 110 100

John 11:48 19:12–15

66 65

Acts (the book)

1 1:15–20 2 2:24 2:30 2:31 2:34 2:34–36 2:40 3:1 4 4:24–27 4:26 4:27 5 5:1–10 7 7:55 9 10 10:38 11:26 12 12:1 12:1–2 12:1–7 12:6 12:7 12:11 12:18–23 12:19 12:20 12:20–23 12:21 12:22 12:23

59, 76, 90, 93–98, 100–103, 105–110, 134, 137, 143 109 108 106 100 104, 110 110 110 100 101 96–97 101, 108 97 97 109 109 108 109 110 110 110 136 70 93–97, 101–102, 106–109 109 106 101 109 101 109 94, 101 109 109 93, 95–96, 102, 103 109–110 110 110

12:24–25 13 13:1 13:37 17:1–7 17:5–7 17:31 18:14–15 19:23–41 22 22:30–23:10 23:25 23:26–25:12 25 25:13 25:22 25:23 25:24 25:26 26:1 26:2 26:7 26:19 26:27 26:28 26:32

101 102–103, 106 109 110 101, 108 65 108 64 101, 108 110 70 109 71 70 109 109 109 109 109 109 109 109 109 109 70, 109 70, 109

Romans (the letter) 1 1:1 1:3–4 1:4 5:5 8:8–11 10:9 13 13:1–2 13:1–7 13:4 13:6 14:4 14:7 14:14–16 14:17 15:8 15:12 15:18–19 15:19 15:43

61, 77–78 91 144 61 135 139 139 144 76 68 73–74, 76 68, 144 154 144 137 137 139 144 64 136 135–136, 139 135


Index of References

1 Corinthians 1:23 2:5 2:6 2:6–8 2:8 3:10–15 4:8 4:10 4:20 6:9–10 11:10 12 14 14:23 15:12–13 15:24 15:24–25 15:50

135 135 90 72 90 15 137 137 135, 138–139 138–139 87 137 137 87 137 137 68 106

2 Corinthians 1:22 2:14 11:24 11:32 12:9–12

139 89–90 72 72 136

Galatians 1:10 3:5 3:28 5:21 6:8 6:12

144 136, 139 83 138–139 106 66

Ephesians 1:13


Philippians 1:13 1:19 2 2:7 3:20 4:22

72 73 91 144 155 72

Colossians 1:7 4:7

144 144



1 Thessalonians (the letter) 1:5 2:11–12 2:12 3:2 4:3–8 4:9–14 5:3

136, 138 135, 139 138 138–139 144 138 139 77

1 Timothy 1:17


2 Timothy 2:24


Titus 1:1


Hebrews (the letter)


1 Peter (the letter) 1:1 1:1–2 1:3–5 1:3–7 1:4 1:7 1:8 1:10–11 1:10–12 1:11 1:13 1:14 1:17 1:17a 1:18 1:18–19 1:21 1:23–25 1:24 1:25 2:1 2:2 2:3

59, 111–116, 118, 124–125, 127 112, 120, 126 114 120 113 125 126 125 125 120 125–126 113, 120 112 113, 116, 123 116–117 112 120, 125 113, 125 120 121, 125 121 121 121 121


Index of References 2:4 2:4–5 2:5 2:6 2:6–10 2:7 2:9 2:10 2:11 2:11–3:12 2:11–4:11 2:12 2:13 2:14 2:15 2:16 2:17 2:18 2:19 2:20 2:21 3:1–2 3:1–6 3:2 3:4 3:6 3:7 3:8–10 3:8–13 3:10–12 3:12

121, 126–127 126 127 126 121 126 112, 122, 125 120–121 122 111 122 117, 125, 127 127 122 123 119, 123 116, 119 116 119 123, 127 123 127 113 116 123, 125–127 119 117 123 123 117 117, 123

3:13 3:14 3:16 3:17 3:22 4:2 4:3–4 4:9 4:10 4:11 4:12–5:14 4:13–16 4:16 4:19 5:1 5:5 5:10 5:12 5:13

123 118 116 123 126 123 112 122 122 122, 125 120–121 126 70, 126 127 126 117, 121 121, 126 121 112–114

2 Peter 2:12


Jude 10


Revelation (the book) 11:18 19:2

112 106 106

6. Other Early Christian Writings 1 Clement 42:3 50:3

139 139

2 Clement 11:7


Acts of Paul (the book) III, 1–26 III, 27–43 IV V VIII

61, 129, 140, 142 142 142 142 142 142



Acts of Peter (the book) 7 24 25–27 32 38[9] 39

129, 140–141 141 141 14 1 141 141 141

Acts of Justin (the book) 1.1 (B)

147, 150, 154, 161 150–152

192 2.1 (A) 2.1–2 (B) 2.2 (A) 4.3 (B) 4.9 (B) 5.4 (B) 5.6 (B)

Index of References 152 151–152 152 152 151 151 152

Irenaeus Adversus Haereses 2.31.2


Irenaeus Epideixis 47 52 56 61 64 74 84

141 141 141 141 141 141 141

Justin Martyr 1 Apology 11 61

139 138

139 139 139

Justin Martyr 2 Apology 2.19


Augustine Sermons 328.8


Justin Martyr Dialogue with Trypho 76.6 140

Epistle of Barnabas 21:1


Acts of the Scillitan Martyrs (the book) 147, 153, 155–156 1.8 154 1.15 154 2 154 3–4 153 6 154 9 154 Athenagoras Plea 1.3 6.3 37.1

Correspondence of Paul and Seneca §§ 7–9 61 Didache 1–3 7:1

138 138

Eusebius Praeparatio Evangelica 9.17.1–9 7 18.2 7 Eusebius Historia Ecclesiastica 3.19–20 66–67 Ignatius Epistle to the Romans 6:1 139

Letter of the Churches of Lyons and Vienne (the letter) 147, 156–157, 159–161 5.1.18 157 5.1.20–23 157–158 5.1.24 158–159 5.1.25 157 5.1.26 159 5.1.27 157 5.1.37 160 5.1.38–39 160 5.1.41 160 5.1.43 160 5.1.51 160 5.1.52 160 5.1.57 161 5.1.58 161 Martyrdom of Polycarp 8.2 144 9.3 139 21.2 139


Index of References Martyrdom of Paul (the book) I I–II II, 4–10

Passion of Perpetua 156 142, 145 142 142 142

Tatian Oratio ad Graecos 39


7. Other Greco-Roman Writers Appian Bellum Civile 2.84–86 Ausonius Carmina 11.20.40–41


Pliny Epistulae 10.96

67, 70


Pliny Natural History 22.56.118


Plutarch Antony 3.2–3 3.3

42 43

Plutarch Pompey 38.2–3 45.5 78–80

49 49 49

Polybius Histories 10.15.4–9


Seneca On Mercy 1.12.4 1.13.5

119 119

Suetonius Vespasian 4.5


Tacitus Histories 1.2–3 3.33 4.54 5.13

115 52 62 62

Cassius Dio Roman History 39.56.6 41.18.1 51.25.5 53.4.1 54.34.5–7 72.4

42, 95 43 62 120 62 62

Cicero Brutus 51


Cicero Pro Lege Manilia 56


Diodorus Bibliotheca historica 40.4 49 Dio Chrysostom (the autor) Lucan Pharsalia 8.698–699 8.708–710 8.712–823


49 49 49

194 Tacitus Agricola 1–2

Index of References 14–38 32.2

116 116


8. Other Jewish Writings m. Makkot 3


m. Sotah 9:11 9:12 9:13 9:14–15 9:15

168 167 168 166–167 168

t. Sotah 15:8


b. Berakoth 57b


b. Shabbath 149b


b. Megillah 11a


b. Qiddushin 66a


b. Sotah 49b


b. Gittin 56b


p. Shevi’it 10:1 (27b)


p. Ta’anit 3:3 (14b)


p. Hagigah 2:1


Ecclesiastes Rabbah 5:4 173

Exodus Rabbah 30.24


Genesis Rabbah 10:7 13:9 38.13

172–173 169 27

Josephus Jewish War (the book) 1 1.142–151 1.149–152 1.171 1.176 1.183–184 1.185 1.185–186 1.195–196 1.202 1.238–240 1.266 1.284 6.312–313 6.333–334

134 42 48 52 43 43 43 43 44 43 44 44 43 44 62 71

Josephus Jewish Antiquities (the book) 13.288–296 14 14.66 14.69–71 14.93 14.58–70 14.100 14.123–124 14.125 14.125–126 14.140 14.157 14.297–299

93 46 42 52 52 43 48 43 43 43 44 43 44 44


Index of References 14.361 14.384 14.470 15.8–10 15.51–52 19.343–350 20.251

43 44 43 47 47 93 71

Josephus Life 33–34


Leviticus Rabbah 22:3


Numbers Rabbah (the book) 18:22

174 173

Midrash Tannaim (the book) 32:37–38

172, 175 172

Philo Legat. 357


Sifre Deuteronomy Haazinu (the book) 172, 175 35 172

Index of Modern Authors and Persons Abu-Lughod, L. 165 Achtemeier, P.J. 6, 120, 126 Africa, T. 104 Aitken, J. 27 Allegro, J.M. 52 Allen, O.W. 93–97, 102, 104–105, 107– 108 Althusser, L. 163 Amar, Z. 43 Amusin, J.D. 50 Andersen, F.I. 53 Ando, C. 163 Appelbaum, A. 165 Aslan, R. 59 Athanassiadi, P. 149 Atkinson, K. 45–46, 48–49, 53 Avalos, H. 24 Avi-Yonah, M. 163 Balch, D. 111–112, 114, 157 Baldick, C. 74 Bammel, E. 59 Barclay, J.M.G. 56, 73, 76, 87–91 Bar-Kochva, B. 47 Barnes, T.D. 156 Barrier, J.W. 142 Bartholomew, C.G. 91 Bastiaensen, A.A.R. 150 Batovici, D. 41, 55 Baumgarten, A.I. 45, 51 Bauckham, R. 67 Bauman-Martin, B. 112–113 Bayes, T. 80–85, 91 Beare, F.W. 137, 144 Beaulieu, P.-A. 26 Berlin, A.M. 57 Bernstein, A.E. 105 Berrin Tzoref, S.L. 50, 53–54 Betz, H.D. 138 Bhabha, H.K. 61 Biale, D. 163 Bickerman, E. 41–42, 45

Bird, J.G. 113–114 Bisbee, G.A. 150 Black, M. 2–3, 45 Blois, L. De 171 Boccaccini, G. 3, 164 Bockmuehl, M. 172 Bollandus, J. 148 Bond, H. 55 Bonfil, R. 171 Bonnet, M. 141 Borg, M. 59 Bormann, L. 88 Bourdieu, P. 163 Boustan, R.S. 155, 165–166, 173 Bowden, J. 58, 102, 129 Boyarin, D. 170 Boyd, G.A. 133 Brandon, S.G.F. 57, 59 Braude, W.G. 106 Bremmer, J.N. 140, 148, 155 Brine, K.R. 23 Brodd, J. 90 Bromiley, G.W. 139 Brooke, G.J. 53 Brooten, B.J. 150 Brown, P. 155, 160 Brown, R.E. 138 Bruce, F.F. 138 Brunt, P.A. 41 Bryan, D. 18 Bultmann, R.K. 132 Burke, T.J. 130, 145 Burkitt, F.C. 150 Burrus, V. 157 Buswell, G. 99 Campbell, B.L. 126 Carter, W. 57–58, 113, 119 Casadio, G. 148 Cavalieri, P.F. De. 150 Champlin, E. 76, 78 Chan, M.J. 27

Index of Modern Authors and Persons Charles, R.H. 3, 6 Charlesworth, J.H. 50, 52 Chazon, E.G. 54 Chester, A. 103 Ciletti, E. 23 Clements, R.A. 54 Cohn, L. 69 Cohen, S.J.D. 41, 165–166 Colli, G. 148 Collins, J.J. 6, 24, 28–31, 34, 36–38, 45, 52 Conzelmann, H. 99, 107, 137 Cooper, K. 157–158 Cranfield, C.E.B. 136 Crenshaw, J.L. 105 Crossan, J.D. 57–58, 131, 133–134 Crossley, J.G. 57 Crouch, C.L. 133 Cullmann, O. 73 Curtis, V.S. 164 Cutler, A.H. 165 Danker, F.W. 99, 121 Darr, J.A. 98–99, 101 Daryaee, T. 164 Davids, P.H. 106 Davies, P.R. 24, 45 Davies, S.L. 131 Davis, S. 105 Dawid, P. 80 Day, M. 80, 82 Deissmann, A. 56, 60, 73 Di Lella, A.A. 25 Dicken, F. 98 Dignas, B. 164 Dijkstra, J. 148 Dimant, D. 6, 54 Dines, J. 27 Dobos, K. 1 Dominik, W.J. 153 Donfried, K.P. 137–138 Doran, R. 105 Draper, J.A. 138 DuBois, P. 157 Duhn, F. von 60 Dunn, J.D.G. 102 Dunne, J.A. 41, 55 Eastman, D.L. 55, 61, 71, 155 Eckhardt, B. 46


Effenterre, H. van 47 Eisler, R. 59 Elliott, J.H. 111–114, 122, 126 Elliott, J.K. 141 Elliott, N. 57–58, 74, 77–79, 87, 90–91 Elman, Y. 164 Enslin, M.S. 105 Epp, E.J. 120, 126 Epstein, J.N. 169 Eshel, H. 44, 48 Esler, P.F. 165–166 Evans, C.A. 74 Fahlbusch, E. 139 Feldman, L. 165 Feldmeier, R. 112 Ferguson, E. 130, 139–140, 145 Fewell, D.N. 24 Fisher, A. 73 Fitzmyer, J.A. 94, 144 Flint, P.W. 24, 26 Fox, R.L. 69 Fraser, R.S. 59 Frechet, R. 165 Fredriksen, P. 66, 72 Frend, W.H.C. 152 Friedman, S. 169 Frilingos, C. 156 Gafni, I. 164 Galinsky, K. 90 Garnsey, P.D.A. 165 Georgi, D. 57–58, 73 Gera, D.L. 23 Gessmann, M. 79 Gibbon, E. 148, 155 Gilbert, G. 98 Gillis, J.R. 130 Gödeke, K. 59 Golden, L. 171 Goldingay, J.E. 25, 30–31, 36–37 Goodenough, E.R. 76 Goodman, M. 41, 57, 66, 71, 165 Gordon, R. 171 Gottwald, N.K. 131 Grabbe, L.L. 24, 37 Graf, F. 148 Grant, R.M. 67, 156 Gray, A. 166 Green, D.E. 58


Index of Modern Authors and Persons

Green, J.B. 99–100 Green, W.S. 46 Grossberg, L. 61 Gupta, A. 163 Haas, C.J. 171 Hadas-Lebel, M. 165 Hafemann, S.J. 88–89 Hahn, S.W. 100 Hagedorn, A.C. 53 Halbwachs, M. 145 Hanson, P. 6 Harnack, A. von 153 Harrill, J.A. 157 Harris, W.V. 52 Harris, W.W. 134 Harrison, J.R. 79 Hauptman, J. 169 Hayes, C. 166 Hays, R.B. 74–80, 82–84, 91 Hedlund, R. 171 Heilig, C. 80 Heilig, T. 73 Hengel, M. 57–59 Henze, M. 164 Herms, R. 18 Hezser, C. 165 Hoehner, H.W. 96, 100 Hoffman, Y. 45, 145 Hollander, D. 61 Hollenbach, P.W. 133–134 Holmen, T. 131 Horgan, M.P. 50, 52 Horrell, D.G. 59, 112, 114, 119 Horsley, R.A. 56–59, 63, 73, 87, 129, 131, 133–134 Howson, C. 80 Huff, D. 164 Humphreys, W.L. 32 Hurd, J.C. 137 Iricinschi, E. 69 Irshai, O. 163, 171 Itkonen-Kaila, M. 67 Jervell, J. 97, 99, 137 Jewett, R. 57–58, 89 Jobes, K.H. 113 Johnson, L.T. 94, 97, 102, 104 Johnston, G. 137, 144

Joynes, C. 56 Kahl, B. 57–58 Kalmin, R. 164–166, 170, 173, 175 Kany, J. 80 Katz, S.T. 163 Käsemann, E. 138 Kee, H.C. 133 Keener, C. 134 Keesmaat, S.C. 57–58 Kim, S. 83 Kimbangu, S. 134 Kirk, A. 130 Kirschner, R. 164 Klassen W. 58 Klauck, H.-J. 95–97, 102, 107 Klawans, J. 164 Koester, H. 57–58 Kohler, K. 164 Kolarick, M. 105 Kraft, H. 141 Kreitzer, L.J. 89 Kurz, W. 93 Lähnemann, H. 23 Lanciani, R. 67 Lange, A. 11, 53 Lange, N.R.M. de 165 Lapin, H. 163, 165 Lazzati, G. 150 Leander, H. 55 Lendon, J.E. 120, 124, 127 Lessing, G.E. 58 Levine, A.-J. 113, 157 Levine, L.I. 163, 169 Levinson, J. 173 Lewis, I.M. 134 Licht, J. 45 Lichtenberger, H. 11 Lieberman, S. 168 Lieu, J.M. 69 Lim, T. 48 Linder, A. 163 Lipsius, R.A. 141 Lipton, P. 81 Litwa, M.D. 67 Lüdemann, G. 102, 129 MacMullen, R. 71, 115, 124 Mannheim, K. 163

Index of Modern Authors and Persons Marcus, J. 133 Marks, S. 168 Martin, D.B. 154 Martin, R.P. 106 Martyn, J.L. 138 Mason, S. 57 Mattila, S.L. 131 McDonagh, F. 132 McGiffert, A.C. 67 McKnight, S. 144 McNeil, B. 95 Meadowcroft, T.J. 29 Meggitt, J. 56–58, 70 Mellor, R. 88 Michaels, J.R. 111 Miles, M.R. 150 Milik, J.T. 3, 7, 9 Miller, C. 88 Millar, F. 45 Mills, M. 24 Mitchell, T. 165 Modica, J.B. 144 Momigliano, A. 46, 55, 63–64 Montgomery, J.A. 24, 30, 34 Montinari, M. 148 Moore, C.H. 62, 63 Moss, C.R. 69–70, 94, 147–148, 150, 155 Moule, C.F.D. 59 Musurillo, H.A. 150 Nasrallah, L. 56–58 Nelson, C. 61 Newsom, C.A. 6 Nickelsburg, G.W.E. 3, 6, 9–10, 18, 44– 45 Nicolet, C. 49 Nie, G. De 139 Niese, B. 71 Nietzsche, F. 148 Nilsson, H. 171 Nitzan, B. 44 Noam, V. 47 Nongbri, B. 148 Norden, E. 62 Oakes, P. 57–58, 70, 95 Oakman, D.E. 133 Obeyesekere, G. 134 Olson, D. 3, 15, 19 Osiek, C. 157

Otto, W.G.A. 120 Overman, J.A. 57 Pace (Jeansonne), S. 24, 26, 30, 35 Pearce, S. 27 Penner, T. 98, 134 Perkins, J. 129, 159 Pervo, R. 94, 97, 101–102, 108 Pixley, G.V. 131, 133, 143 Popovic, M. 57, 63 Porteous, N.W. 31, 36–37 Porter, S.E. 77, 106, 131 Portier-Young, A.E. 10, 23–24, 40 Powell, M.A. 99, 107 Premerstein, A. von 120 Price, J.J. 41, 43, 54 Price, S.R.F. 57, 63, 144 Qimron, E. 52 Quispel, G. 134 Radice, B. 67 Radick, G. 80, 82 Rajak, T. 27, 55 Reed, A.Y. 155 Reed, J.L. 57–58, 90 Regev, E. 43 Reimarus, H.S. 58–59 Reiter, S. 69 Reventlow H.G. 45, 145 Richardson, P. 137 Riches, J.K. 132, 165 Rives, J.B. 148 Robb, G. 76 Robbins, M.M. 157 Rolfe, J.C. 62 Römheld, K.T.D. 11, 53 Rougé, J. 156 Rosner, B.S. 130, 145 Rowe, C.K. 57–59, 95, 103, 107 Rowley, H.H. 24 Rubenstein, J. 164 Rudich, V. 88 Sack, R. 26 Saller, R.P. 115 Sampley, J.P. 135 Sanday, W. 136 Sanders, E.P. 131–132 Sanders, J.A. 74



Index of Modern Authors and Persons

Satran, D. 30 Scarry, E. 157 Schäfer, P. 165, 176 Schaff, P. 67 Schiffman, L.H. 45, 48, 51 Schmidt, H. 79 Schneemelcher, W. 142 Schremer, A. 169–170 Schultz, B. 51 Schutter, W.L. 112 Schürer, E. 45 Schwartz, B. 130, 144–145 Schwartz, D.R. 41, 169 Schwartz, J. 43 Schwartz, S. 71–72, 163, 166, 173 Schweitzer, A. 132 Schweizer, E. 132 Scott, J.C. 60, 86–87, 165 Secunda, S. 164 Segal, A.F. 105, 134 Segal, M. 33 Semler, J.S. 58 Sevenster, J.N. 168 Shapiro, A. 56 Sharma, A. 163 Sharon, N. 42–43, 47 Shatzman, I. 43, 45, 50 Shaw, B.D. 160 Shils, E. 130, 143 Shotter, D. 171 Sievers, J. 45, 47 Sim, D.C. 165 Smallwood, E.M. 72, 163 Smith, M. 65 Smith, M.S. 63 Snell, D. 169 Sober, E. 81–82 Solin, H. 67 Sorensen, E. 131 Spivak, G.C. 61 Stanley, C.D. 77 Ste. Croix, G.E.M. De 148, 171 Steinacker, P. 139 Stemberger, G. 172 Steudel, A. 50, 52 Stewart, S. 164 Stoops, R.F. 141 Strachan, L.R.M. 56 Strack, H.L. 172 Strom, M.R. 94

Stuckenbruck, L.T. 1, 2, 7, 11, 69 Suter, D. 10 Swinburne, R. 80–82 Talbert, C.H. 59, 99, 111 Tannehill, R.C. 93 Taubes, J. 61, 73 Taylor, J.E. 67 Thatcher, T. 130, 138 Thackeray, H.St.J. 62, 93 Theissen, G. 131–132, 143 Thompson, J.W. 130, 143 Tiller, P.A. 19 Tomasino, A.J. 62 Tov, E. 26 Townsend, P. 69 Tucker, A. 80 Turcan, R. 156 Twelftree, G.H. 131, 135–136 Uhlig, S. 3 Urbach, P. 80 Valeta, D. 24 Vander-Stichele, C. 98 VanderKam, J.C. 26, 45, 48, 51 Vermes, G. 45, 47–48 Versnel, H.S. 63 Volf, M. 115, 127 Volkmann, H. 120 Wace, H. 67 Wallace-Hadrill, A. 120 Walsh, B.J. 58 Walton, S. 95, 100, 144 Ware, J. 93 Watson, D.F. 134–137 Webb, R.L. 112–113 Weigold, M. 53 Wengst, K. 57–58, 73 Wenham, D. 139 Westra, L.H. 140 White, J.R. 74 Whittaker, C.R. 165 Wilken, R.L. 69 Williams, S. 148 Willis W. 130, 137 Wills, L.M. 24 Winter, B.W. 87, 123, 124 Winter, E. 164

Index of Modern Authors and Persons Wise, M.O. 45 Woolf, G. 63 Wright, R.B. 46 Wright, N.T. 4, 56–58, 68, 74–79, 89–91, 93 Yahalom, Y. 169 Yamazaki-Ransom, K. 99

Yarbro Collins, A. 59 Zanker, P. 56 Zellentin, H.M. 69 Zerubavel, Y. 130, 144 Ziffer, I. 43 Ziolkowski, A. 52


Index of Subjects Apocalyptic 2–4, 6–7, 10, 14–18, 20, 23– 24, 39, 40, 55–56, 59, 132, 164–165 Apostasy 16, 19, 29, 121, 157, 159 Apostolic message/mission 56, 60–61, 64–65, 72

Great Revolt 41, 43, 54, 57, 62, 69, 145, 166–167, 169, 176–177

Baptism 99, 103, 138, 153–154 Benefaction 119–124 Blasphemy 29, 77, 157, 172–175

Idolatry 15, 25, 52, 90, 101, 113, 118, 151–152 Imperial cult 56, 60, 88, 90–91, 113, 119, 144, 171 Imperialism 52, 72, 90, 147, 149, 163– 166 Intertextuality 74–75, 77, 107

Charismatic 67, 137, 139 Christology 64, 68, 95–96, 98, 100–103, 106–108, 120, 127, 136 Composition history 24–25, 34, 45, 51, 53, 112, 128, 163 Conversion 3–5, 12, 15, 19, 24, 31, 111, 114, 125, 147, 165, 170 Covenant/Election 4–6, 9–11, 15, 39, 76, 98, 100, 129, 145 Davidic Messianism 46, 48, 53–54, 61– 62, 64–66, 98–99, 100–104 Demons 1, 8, 10–14, 20–21, 72, 131, 133, 134, 140–142, 147, 161 Ecclesiology 60, 96, 102, 106–108 Ethical Behaviour 68, 87, 91, 115, 124, 137–139 Eusebeia 150–151, 153 Exile 4–5, 26, 29, 39, 112–113, 115–116, 118, 121, 123–125, 166 Exorcism 130–131, 133–135, 137, 140, 142–143 Fear 19, 35, 51, 56, 66, 99, 114–120, 124, 127, 144, 154, 157–158, 168 God as Creator 3–5, 11, 12, 15, 20–21, 31, 34, 77, 127 God as Sovereign 1, 5, 15–16, 20, 27, 31, 34, 38, 40, 47, 49, 140

Healing 129–135, 137, 141–142, 145, 158–159

Judgement 6–8, 12–17, 19–21, 35, 46– 50, 52–53, 61, 93–94, 97, 101–108, 117, 125, 172–173, 175–176 Monotheism 3, 151 Mosaic Law 3, 72, 121, 132, 136 Patronage 55, 115, 120, 122, 124, 127, 141, 144 Persecution 34, 39, 54, 66–67, 70, 76, 78, 90, 101, 103, 108, 126, 147–149, 152, 165, 171 Postcolonial readings 57, 112–114, 131, 134, 165–166 Propaganda 46, 55, 60, 76–77, 79, 86, 89, 98, 171 Religious tolerance 148–149 Resistance 9–10, 23–24, 40–42, 54, 57– 61, 63, 87, 111–112, 114–115, 119, 129, 147, 151, 159–161, 163, 165, 168, 172, 176 Resurrection 61, 76, 93–94, 100–108, 120, 133, 135–138, 145, 154 Roman Conquest of Judea (63 B.C.E.) 41–44, 46–48, 50–51, 53, 69, 71

Index of Subjects Salvation 12, 14, 19, 34, 64, 101, 105, 108, 113, 120–121, 132, 145


Torture 147, 156–161 Violent Resistance 58–59, 63

Temple Cult 5–6, 11–12, 14–16, 18, 23, 25–26, 31–34, 37–40, 46, 69 Text Critical Matters 2, 7, 10–16, 25–30, 32–36, 38–39, 150, 169

Worldview 56, 77, 83–84, 86, 89–91, 95, 98