Historical context: From pompey’s conquest of the region in 63BCE, the Jews were under roman
control previously: Assyrian conquest 772, Babylonian 586, then Cyrus and his Persian empire,
in 535 (rebuilding of the second temple in Jerusalem, dedicated in 515), Alexamder the Great (d
324) and his successors, Maccabean revolt and Hasmonean dynasty...
Jewish covenantal monotheism could not easily accommodate foreign domination, and exhibited
strong opposition to polytheism idolatry.
Berith, a ‘covenant’ between a people and [a/the] God: “I will take yout o me for a people. And I
will be to you a God” Exodus 6.7 God also promises “all the land of canaan, for an everlasting
possession” genesis 17.8
Foreign domination thus generated ongoing religio-political tensionsL practical realism,
accommodation Idealist fervour, resistence.
Sociologically, the Jesus movement is eschatological millenarian cult*:
(1) Promise of heaven on earth: “the kingdom of God is at hand”
(2) Reversal of the present social order “woe unto you rich... the last shall be first... the meek
shall inherit the earth”
(3) Upsurge and release of emotional enthusiasm: “living in the spirit”
(4) Intial social constituency largely of the disprivileged, the marginal.
*from the latin ‘millennium’= one thousand years; chiliasm in Greek. The belief there will be a
golden age or paradise on earth, under the rule of the returning Christ, to last up to the Day of
Judgment and the final settling of fates: eternal salvation or damnation derived from the book of
J’s message features a “cosmic politics”:
The coming kingdom of God (basileia tou theou), so “render unto Caesar the things that are
Caesar’s” Matt. 22.21 “whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain” Matt 5.41
‘compel’ = technical term angarial angareuein, ‘forced labour’, transport service that occupying
forces commonly imposed, conscripting the local animals as well.
Jesus of Nazareth (6-2 BCE 26-36 CE) charismatic founder: “but I say unto you” J Claims
intimate relation with God the Father (‘Abba”, J was “sent by his father”, “doing his father’s