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Lecture 30

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University of Toronto St. George
Glenn Wilkinson

Lecture 30 (November 27) Ancient Christianity 1. “Third Jewish Revolt” (132-135 A.D.) – (terms: Aelia Capitolina; Simon bar Kokhba) 2. Introduction to Ancient Christianity 3. Earliest evidence for Roman imperial reaction a. Tacitus on Nero b. Pliny and Trajan 4. Christian “Apologies” 5. The 3 century to the beginning of the 4 th a. Septimius Severus (193-211 A.D.) b. Decius, 249-251 A.D. c. Valerian, 253-260 A.D. d. Legalization under Gallienus and Aurelian (260s and 270s A.D.) e. The Great Persecution, 303-313 A.D. Jewish Revolts - refounding of city of Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina - drew up plans to build a temple to Jupiter on the site of old Jewish temple - third Jewish revolt led by Simon bar Kokhba (Simon son of a star) - explicitly nationalist uprising - coins minted – Simon used Roman coins and struck over them - generals and legions were summoned by Hadrian – confront Simon’s army in Judea - intense fighting with enormous casualties on both sides – more than a half million Jews killed - by 135 A.D. – Hadrian took steps to eradicate Jewish identity - changed Judea to Palestine - failed revolt on Rome – Jews in the empire were severely weakened – massive loss of life, enslaved, and not allowed to enter their city Ancient Christianity - in first century B.C. to first century A.D. - one of many Jewish offshoots – centered around Jesus - controversial ideas led to his execution by equestrian Pontius Pilate - crucifixion as standard punishment in Rome - followers believed that he was some kind of a divine being - initially quite popular within Jews - attracted many non-Jews – from Mediterranean to Rome - by the end of the first century A.D. – Christianity was predominantly a non- Jewish religion - two religions – Gentile Christianity and Judaism - in second century A.D. - philosophical discourse developed surrounding their religious belief - categorically rejected animal sacrifice – oddity in Mediterranean religion Early Evidence for Roman Views - tolerant to foreign religions - belief that one of their keys to success was that they accepted all other gods - under Augustus, Jews were granted special dispensation regarding imperial cult - initially Christianity seen as another strand of Judaism – but as Gentiles became predominant in Christianity it became different - emperor Nero blamed Christians for burning the city – seen as enemies of the human race according to Tacitus (human torches and killed on crosses – animal skins were put on them to be attacked/killed by the dogs) - claim that Christians deserved to die – not because guilty of arson but of other “horrible” crimes (Tacitus) - note that onlookers pitied – not for “public good but for the cruelty of one man” (the way they were lit of fire) - first evidence for state persecution – but one time occurrence and convenient scapegoat for a lunatic – not a state policy - correspondence between emperor Trajan and Pliny the You
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