Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Christianity and the Roman Empire – Part II The First Century A.D.

Rome was in constant conflict with the Jewish people during the first century A.D. because the latter had become tired of enslavement by foreign rulers. By the seventh decade that conflict would erupt into the war that destroyed Jerusalem. Earlier, during the third decade, a messianic leader appeared among the Jews and spoke of the coming kingdom of God, before he was captured and crucified by the Romans. His followers, once they had overcome their grief, created a new religion based on Jesus' life and work. Christianity eventually made its way to Rome and from there, with the help of Constantine, flourished.
We're  going to divide the first century into two posts. This one will discuss the conflict between the Jews and Romans while the second will bring Christianity into the picture from its inception to the end of the century.
First we start with a lesson in Jewish history to set the stage.
After Alexander, the Seleucid kings Antiochus III and IV conquered and controlled Judea from 200 to 168 B.C. Then in 167 B.C. Judas Maccabaeus and his brothers began a revolt which saw the defeat of their enemy and a treaty with the Roman republic. The victor, Judas Maccabaeus, had a profound impact on his time and is considered one of the four greatest generals of Israel along with Joshua, Gideon, and David. Maccabaeus in Hebrew means "the hammer".