Posted: Jan 14, 2017 10:33 pm
by RealityRules
DavidMcC wrote:
... I am pretty sure that Roman repression would have been resisted by many of the various politico-religious sects, and "Historical Jesus" is as good a name as any for one of the leaders of that resistance. What he [Jesus] actually said is what is lost, thanks to Constantine, because that emperor had his own agenda, which was to re-write the early Christians' rebellious religion (which can't have been like any version of the bible) so that they would not be so rebellious, but "turn the other cheek", as the real Jesus probably didn't say.

See my fuller response on p. 2106 of the Historical Jesus thread

    eg. So the Jesus of the NT is not really a "historical Jesus"? ...he's a construct of Constantine?

DavidMcC wrote:
[Constantine] converted to Christianity in order to control them, and re-write their religion.

    That's an interesting proposition.

DavidMcC wrote:
It is also a fact that the Romans wanted to build a temple in Palestine, and make the local people pay for it. Hence extra taxes were levied, sparking resistance from the taxed. Surely you don't deny THAT bit of history as well?

    There were two or three instances that Romans wanted to build significant Roman structures in Palestine.

    The fiscus Judaicus (aka fiscus Iudaicus) was the tax-collecting agency instituted by Vespasian to collect a new tax imposed on Jews throughout the Roman Empire as a result of the First Roman-Jewish War of 66–73 AD (the First Jewish Revolt) (Josephus BJ 7. 218; Dio Cassius 66.7.2).. Revenues were directed to the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus in Rome.

    This new tax replaced the levy (Tithe) on Jews towards the upkeep of the Temple: that Tithe had only been payable by adult men between the ages of 20 and 50 (and probably only by those living in Judea). The fiscus Iudaicus was imposed on all Jews, including women, children, and elderly —and even Jewish slaves. It was humiliating to the Jews. In addition, if it were determined that a person was not Jewish, but was living a Jewish life, this person could also face the confiscation of his property as well as the possibility of execution if he was unwilling to sacrifice to the Roman gods and the emperor (Pliny, Ep. 10.96; Rev. 14:9-11). This group probably included 'Gentiles' and other 'pagans'.

    Those who had abandoned Judaism were exempt from paying it.

    One of the unintended consequences of the Jewish Tax was that it forced the various communities to define themselves as either Jewish or non-Jewish. One the one hand there were those traditional Jews, who saw themselves as Torah observant and covenant members of Israel, and who would never shrink from that identity; they would clearly pay the tax. On the other hand, there were those who, although Jewish by blood, tried to hide their Jewishness in order to prevent having to pay the tax: this was apparently far more widespread than one might initially realize. For example, there were thousands of Jews who had been captured as slaves and been brought to Rome during Pompey's assault on Jerusalem in 63 BCE.

    By Domitan's time many of the descendants of those slaves saw themselves as thoroughly Roman: they bitterly resented having to pay such a heavy tax (Domitian expanded the tax; see next paragraph). Finally, there were those who, although not Jewish by blood, nevertheless practiced the Jewish faith in both Messianic and traditional Jewish communities. Of these groups, the early Messianic Community found itself particularly vulnerable since these followers of "The Way" belonged to a faith that was still considered a party of Judaism.

    Domitian, who ruled between 81 and 96 AD, expanded the fiscus Iudaicus to include not only born Jews and converts to Judaism, but also on those who concealed the fact that they were Jews or who merely observed Jewish customs. Suetonius relates that when he was young an old man of 90 was examined to see whether he was circumcised, which shows that during this period the tax was levied even on those above the age of 62.

    In 96 AD the emperor Nerva determined that the fiscus courts were the improper venue for convicting non-Jews of living a Jewish life improfessus. It is contended that Nerva instituted a change in the official definition of a “Jew,” from an ethnic to a religious one, and limited the tax to those who openly practised Judaism. This would have permitted apostate Jews to avoid the tax.

    The coins of Nerva [Archaeology!] bear the legend fisci Iudaici calumnia sublata -"abolition of malicious prosecution in connection with the Jewish tax"- in reference to his reform of the harsh policies of Domitian.

    Marius Heemstra argues in The Fiscus Judaicus and the Parting of the Ways. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament. 2. Reihe, 277 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010) that this tax had an important role in the separation of Judaism from other social and cultural systems, particularly recent Gentile-deconverts; a process commonly called “the parting of the ways.” Heemstra relates the tax and its relaxation to the supposed writing of various 'Christian' texts in the late 1st century, but I am not so sure those relationships can be verified.

    There seems to have then been increased tensions between Jews and Gentiles: supposedly a growing anti-Gentile polemic within the Traditional Jewish communities.

    (One of the characteristic features of Nerva’s short reign was his attempt to relieve the poor. He bought up large lots of land from the wealthy landlords, and let them out to the needy citizens. It is noteworthy that he submitted this law to the assembly of the people. In the next place, he showed his great interest in the cause of public education. He set apart a certain fund, the interest of which was used to educate the children of poor parents. This interest in providing for the care and education of the poorer classes was continued by his successors.)

    It remains unclear when exactly the fiscus Iudaicus was abolished. Documentary evidence confirms the collection of the tax in the middle of the 2nd century, and literary sources indicate that the tax was still in existence in the early 3rd century. It is not known when the tax was formally abolished. Some historians credit the emperor Julian the Apostate with its abolition in about 361 or 362