the Jewish Talmud was finally stopped in the fifth century, its assortment of works amounted to over 70 times the size of the Old Testament!) 23
With the death of Claudius on 13 October 54, Nero, at the age of seventeen, was acclaimed Emperor. This new Emperor was a murderous and cowardly weakling. For the first five years of his reign however he was kept under control by his tutor Seneca, by Burrhus the Prefect of the Praetorian Guard, and above all by Agrippina, his terrifying mother, to whose murderous intrigues in fact he owed his throne. In 58 however Nero met and quickly fell under the seductions of one Poppaea Sabina. In 59, after a number of sometimes bizarre attempts, he finally managed to murder his mother. (He needed to make her death seem accidental. Finally, one night in the bay of Naples, he managed to have a ship sink under her. She swam away but, after she arrived ashore, she was hunted down and clubbed to death.) In 62 Poppaea Sabina became pregnant. She could not however marry Nero while his wife Octavia still lived. Nero repeatedly raised the question of a divorce with his advisers, but on this Burrhus was adamant. ‘If you want to divorce her,’ he said, ‘you must give her back her dowry.’ By this he meant the Empire itself, for she was Claudius’ daughter. The death of Burrhus by poisoning cleared the way for the divorce, exile and on 9 June, the execution of Octavia ‘for adultery’. With the rise of Poppaea Sabina and the removal of the restraints imposed upon him by his mother, Burrhus and Seneca, Nero, as the 60’s progressed, grew ever more public and dangerous in his madness. As Poppaea Sabina was a leading protectress of the Jews, her triumph soon meant the triumph of the Jewish accusers over their Christian adversaries.* 24
For the endless accusations of the Jews were beginning to bear fruit in a steadily growing general hostility among the pagans towards the Christiani everywhere both in Rome and in the East. Incidents were multiplying. In 63 or early 64 therefore, with St. Silas as his secretary, St. Peter, to steel them against the persecutions which were breaking out upon them, dictated the First Epistle of St. Peter to the churches he had founded in northern and western Asia Minor. In this epistle we see that the Christians were being calumniated, slandered and reproached for the name of Christ. In all this we can see the hostile behaviour of individuals rather than administrative persecution. The Neronian storm was brewing but had not yet broken in its full fury and cruelty. Christians must be ready to give pagans the reasons for their hope, and to endure all things as Christ had suffered. Also they must ‘honour the Emperor’ who at this time was Nero. I St. Peter is remarkable for the extent of its indebtedness to other epistles. Many of its passages show an acquaintance with St. James, and scholars have found more than forty marginal references from chapters 12 to 14 of Romans, as well as twenty such references from the first three chapters of Ephesians. Considerable parts of I St. Peter were also most suitable for use in instructions for Baptism. At the time however the main purpose for which this epistle was composed and sent was similar to that of its contemporary
Published on Nov 29, 2011
Published on Nov 29, 2011
This survey of how the New Testament came to be written is also a chronicle of the first 40 years of the history of the Christian Church. It...