Ist Period III
- IV to conclusion
||Historical Summary (62-117
2nd Period 2nd Journey
|Acts St Paul Arrest Trial 21 - 28||
||102 Paul arrested in the Temple|
|'Sicari' (Assassins)||The procurator, Antonius Felix, (see Chronology Of The Acts)||Roman Provinces Jesus time||
|The storm and shipwreck 276 persons||
Viper Bites Paul on Malta
|Paul Cures on Malta
Publius and others
Letter to Colossians
THE APOSTOLIC WRITINGS FROM NERO’S PERSECUTION
TILL THE DEATH OF ST JOHN
(64-104 A. D.)
JerusalemThe Pinnacle of the Temple recalls the martyrdom of St James, Jesus’ cousin.
The south-eastern corner of the Herodian wall was generally called the ‘Pinnacle’; it was about a hundred metres high.
Excavations which are now being carried out at the foot of the south-eastern corner
give rise to the opinion that the foundations of the Pinnacle itself are several metres below the present level.
HISTORICAL SUMMARYFrom the time when the book of the Acts ends (in 63 AD.) until the end of the apostolic age which closes with the death of St John the Evangelist (about the year
103) there was a succession of events ot great importance in the history of the early Church. The essential points in these events are as follows:
62 A.D. MARTYRDOM OF ST JAMES, JESUS’ COUSINIn the year 62 the Procurator Festus, who had sent Paul for trial in Rome (see No. 108) died in office, and had no successor for some months until the arrival of the new Procurator Albinos. The High Priest, Ananias, son of that Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who had played a large part in the condemnation of Jesus, took advantage of the ‘power vacuum’ to bring some Christians to trial and condemn them to death. Among them was James, the ‘brother’ or cousin of Jesus (see Nos. 42 and 101) who was head of the Church in Jerusalem. Even many of the Jews deplored this killing, for James was held in considerable esteem for his ascetic life and was well known for his particular observance of all the rules of the Law of Moses. In fact the new Procurator Albinus accused Ananias of breaking the statute which forbade the Sanhedrin to carry out death sentences, and had him deposed. According to a tradition not to be lightly dismissed, James was cast down from the south-eastern side of the Temple into the valley of the Kedron and there stoned. While he was praying for his murderers, a blow on the head with a cudgel ended his life.
The death of St James marks the final estrangement of the Jewish Christians from official Judaism. St James had tried hard not to break these ties, by frequenting the Temple and praying for the conversion of his people.
64-67 AD. NERO’S PERSECUTIONAs the book of the Acts also shows, until the year 64 the Roman authorities had shown no bias against the Christians; in tact St Paul had chosen Nero’s judgment in preference to that of the Sanhedrim (see No. 108).
But the situation changed without warning after the fire which devastated Rome in July, 64. Nero, who was accused by public opinion of having caused the fire, threw back the charge on to the Christians, who were unpopular because of their rejection of the national religion. The historian Tacitus writes that ‘a huge crowd’ of Christians was condemned to death to provide a public spectacle in Nero’s gardens on the slopes of the Vatican hill.
They were clothed in animals’ skins and torn to pieces by dogs or covered with inflammable materials and burnt alive to illuminate the nocturnal revelries. On this occasion the imperial decree ‘It is not permitted to be a Christian’ was promulgated: it formed the legal ground for the persecutions which followed.
67 A.D. THE MARTYRDOM OF ST PETER AND ST PAUL
The most distinguished victims of Nero’s persecution were the apostles Peter and Paul, the former discovered to be head of the Roman church, the latter probably arrested at Troas and brought to Rome. According to a well-founded historical tradition, St Peter was crucified on the Vatican hill where his tomb has been constantly venerated until
our own days. This tradition has been confirmed by recent archaeological excavations under the Basilica of St Peter.
St Paul, as a Roman citizen, died by the sword, being beheaded on the Ostian Way. The site of his martyrdom is shown in the Church of the Three Fountains:
his tomb is in the Basilica of St Paul-outside-the-Walls.
Very early ‘graffiti’ and inscriptions by pilgrims,
invoking Peter and Paul in the Catacombs
of St Sebastian on the Old Appian Way.
Historical Summary (62-117 A.D.)66-70 A.D. THE JEWISH WAR
The insurrection of the Palestinian Jews against the Romans was caused by the greedy and provocative government of the Roman Procurator Gessius Florus (64.66).
The first acts of armed hostility were the massacre of the Roman garrison of Jerusalem, in spite of King Agrippa’s attempt to pacify the insurgents, and the assassination of the high priest, Ananias, chief spokesman of the pacifists.
This happened in May-June 66. In the autumn the Legate (Governor) of Syria, Cestius Gallus, intervened with his Legion and auxiliary troops. He occupied the northern part of Jerusalem and made an unsuccessful assault on the Temple, which was like a great fortress. He then withdrew, pursued by the insurgents, who were by now determined to use every means against the colossal power of Rome. Nero, who was then in Greece, gave the command of Judea to Vespasian, who went there with three legions and, allied farces, in all about 60,000 men.
Meanwhile the, Christian community in Jerusalem, mindful of Jesus’ prophecy, left the city destined for destruction, and took refuge in the free city of Pella on the other side of the Jordan.
The second year of war (67-68) marked for the insurgents the loss of Galilee and the victory of the extreme party, the Zealots, over the traditional aristocracy, inside Jerusalem. The ex-High Priest Ananias, slayer of St James, was also murdered, along with a great many others and lay for a long time unburied. Vespasian occupied the region round Jerusalem until, on the death of Nero (9 June 68), he broke off military operations, though remaining in the positions he had taken.
Rome. In the Roman forum:
detail from the Arch of Triumph raised in honour of Titus,
the victOr of the Judean War. The seven- branched candlestick, in solid gold,
which burned in the Temple of Jerusalem,
is carried by Roman legionaries as a trophy of war.
Masada: a rocky height which stands alone in the volcanic desert of the Dead Sea.
Because of its rugged nature it was often fortified in Jewish history.
Here the survivors of the Jewish War took refuge and here, after a long resistance,
they killed each other so as not to fall alive into the hands of the pagans (73 A.D.).
Historical Summary (62-117 AD.)
The war was at a standstill during the whole of the year 68-69 during which three emperors, Galba, Otto and Vitellius, succeeded one another. But within the city three factions of Zealots, led by John of Giscala, Simon bar Ghiosa and Eleazar, fought among themselves with bitter hatred, great loss of men and the destruction of provisions.
The war started again in July 69 when Vespasian was acclaimed emperor. His son, Titus, was given charge of military operations which he directed calmly and relentlessly until in May 70 he stationed his legions around Jerusalem.
When Titus had surrounded the city on every side with a fortified rampart, hunger began to claim its victims among the besieged. But the city did not yield to hunger. Entrenched behind the great walls which protected the different quarters, the citizens defended their positions desperately but saw one quarter after another fall into enemy hands.
On 6 August 70, against the wishes of Titus, the soldiers set fire to the Temple, which was quickly devoured by the flames.
On 2 September the high city on the western hill fell, and all of Jerusalem that still survived was destroyed by fire.
At Rome the victorious Titus celebrated his triumph. The arch, called in fact the Arch of Titus, (constructed later) still preserves its memory. After this John of Giscala was sent to the galleys and Simon bar Ghiora was beheaded in the Mamertine prison. Some of the 97,000 prisoners were condemned to forced labour in the quarries, others sold into slavery.
The last act of this terrible war was the fall of the fortress of Masada on the western shore of the Dead Sea, where a group of Zealots with theic families resisted desperately until the spring of 73. When surrender became inevitable, they killed each other so as not to fall alive into the hands of the Romans.
Sites of the Jewish war.
The little island off the coast of Asia where St John in exile wrote the Apocalypse.
position of Patmos.
Historical Summary (62-117 AD.)
The fall of Jerusalem and particularly the destruction of the Temple, which was never rebuilt,
marked the end of Biblical Judaism.
It was not the cause of the Diaspora which had already been in existence for more than two centuries, but it deprived the scattered Jews of a single authoritative religious centre. By the Christians it was interpreted as a sign from God of the fall of the old religious system which had indeed prepared for the coming of the Messiah (in the Old Testament), but had no more reason for existing after the inauguration of the Kingdom of Christ.
A.D. 95-96 DOMITIAN’S PERSECUTION
The Emperor Domitian (81-96), successor of his brother Titus, in spite of his successful military enterprises, made himself hated by the tyranny of his rule to such an extent that he was killed by conspirators. Jews and Christians saw in him a second Nero, specially because of his craze for being given divine honours. Domitian renewed Nero’s decree against the Christians, bringing to trial and sending to their deaths even distinguished people like the ex- consul Flavius Clemens, Flavia Domitilla, members of the Imperial family, and Acilius Glabrio, the senator. St John the Evangelist was banished to the island of Patmos where he wrote the Apocalypse in which there are obvious allusions to Domitian and the blood of the martyrs spilt in his reign. According to a tradition mentioned by Tertullian (third century) St John was plunged into boiling oil and whlen he emerged miraculously unhurt was sentenced to banishment.
Historical Summary (62-117 A.D.)98-117 A.D. TRAJAN’S PERSECUTION
After the mild rule of Nerva (96-98) Trajan took the affairs of the Empire firmly in hand and renewed the persecution of the Christians, regulating the procedure by the famous rescript to Pliny the Younger. The police were not to seek out Christians nor were they to accept anonymous accusations. On a regular denunciation they were to take action, enquiring into the truth of the denunciation and trying to make those who turned out to be Christians renounce their religion. Those who persisted were to be sentenced to death.
In this persecution there perished St Ignatius of Antioch and St Simon Bishop of the Jewish Christians.
The Apostle St John died at Ephesus in Trajan’s reign (probably in its sixth year, i.e. about 104 A.D.) but not by martyrdom. Already the Popes Linus, Cletus, Clement and Evaristus had succeeded to St Peter’s Chair in Rome.
Seventy years after Pentecost the Christian Church had spread through Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, Cyprus, Crete, Macedonia, Greece, southern Italy and in Rome, the centre of the Empire.
END OF THE HISTORICAL SUMMARYp. 334