wrote to him ironically ‘I thank you, my son, that you are willing to allow me to be Emperor.’ Another sinful city now was about to suffer its greatest agonies: Jerusalem: ‘that great city known symbolically as Sodom or Egypt, where too their Lord was crucified.’ For also apocalyptic were the events taking place at this time in Judaea. In the early 60’s in order to confiscate their wealth for his rapidly emptying treasury, Nero had already begun frequent ‘treason’ trials of prominent Roman citizens. The Emperor’s covetous thoughts now turned to the vast treasures of the Temple in Jerusalem. In 64 he appointed as Governor of Judaea one Gessius Florus, a governor so bad that the historian Josephus expressed his suspicions that he had been sent deliberately to provoke the Jews into revolt. The army necessary had become available. By 64, thanks to the good work by the brilliant and popular general Corbulo, a lasting peace settlement had been arranged with the Parthians over Armenia. At vast expense to the Roman treasury King Tiridates of Armenia made the long journey with virtually his whole court overland to Rome where he made his submission and received his crown from Nero. The journey took nine months and the new king did not arrive back in Armenia until 66. The peace established however was to last nearly fifty years, until late in the reign of Trajan. Meanwhile this peace settlement with the Parthians meant that the five legions normally stationed in Syria were now free to be engaged elsewhere.* 11
Thus finally in the summer of 66 broke out the terrible Roman-Jewish War. After he had crucified some Zealots, Gessius Florus was driven from Jerusalem. In September a Roman force under Cestius Gallus, the governor of Syria, came to Jerusalem, but was driven back with heavy losses. Meanwhile the church of Jerusalem, under St. James’ successor, St. Simeon, fled the doomed city to take refuge across the Jordan River in the pagan city of Pella. Nero ordered that four of the legions stationed in Syria be sent to reconquer Judaea and named T. Flavius Vespasianus as their commander. In 67 as Vespasian’s army of 60,000 was reconquering Galilee, the Zealots led by John of Gischala seized Jerusalem and massacred the High Priest, Ananias II and other leading citizens. In early 68 Vespasian completed the conquest of the coastal plain and the Jordan valley. He began to invest Jerusalem, but in June after he received news that the Emperor had suicided he called the siege off. Jerusalem now was under the rule of Simon Bargiora and his Zealots, the sicarii (‘daggermen’). In July 69 Vespasian was proclaimed Emperor and later departed for Rome, leaving his son Titus to complete the siege of Jerusalem. In April of 70, with four legions, Titus invested the city crowded with pilgrims for the Passover. Weeks of starvation, disease, massacres and cannibalism within and constant fighting without were climaxed with the Roman capture of the Inner Court and the burning of the Temple on 29 August. This last was done against Titus’ orders by Roman soldiers frenzied by the summer heat and endless fighting. 12
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...