Paul as Herodian, #4

“Promising Much and Delivering Nothing” (1 Peter 2:15, The Living Bible)

After the death of Nero, a new commando Simon emerged from the zealot stronghold at Masada. His boldness re-ignited the revolution after the loss of so many early leaders. Vespatian held back while Simon fought a very bloody war with rivals in Edom. Vespatian then decided not to involve himself in the power struggle in Rome but instead resumed his campaign in Judea and Edom. Simon and his army were hounded into seeking refuge in Jerusalem, after which his party began to feud with that of the entrenched John son of Levi.

Instead of immediately placing Jerusalem under siege Vespatian allowed John and Simon to fight with one another. With no other immediate threats in Israel, Vespatian was then persuaded to make his bid to become Emperor of Rome. This he did without personally commanding a single battle or even returning to Italy. His younger son Domitian accepted the nomination in his absence. Within a short time he was able to finish the task of ending the Jewish Revolt, and all the more determined to do so to the fullest as proof of his worthiness as the new Caesar.

The family of Herod had spent decades expanding their influence from Arabia and Palestine throughout the Mediterranean, and as far away as Britain and India. Yet, with the exception of Galatia (Gall) no other Roman province joined Judea in declaring their independence. In their struggle no swift Parthian hotshots appeared. Neither was there any inexorable horde from the East. The Jewish patriots stood nearly alone against the wrath of Rome and were overtaken at last.

“Delivered Unto Satan” (1 Timothy 1:20, 1 Corinthians 5:5)

Robert Eisenman agrees with some other scholars that 66 A.D. is the year Paul was beheaded by Nero, if he was in fact beheaded at all. The difference in his death being placed in 66 A.D. rather than 64 A.D. may seem small, but has enormous implications. By living at least two years longer, Paul did more than express a desire for Jews to be punished and those Christians who opposed his Gospel to be cut off. He also took an active political role in making it happen. We are forced then to accept that the doctrine of vengeance toward the Jews (such as found in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16) was not Post-Pauline or Psuedo-Pauline, but genuinely Pauline. Even more stunning, he may have been willing to allow some of his own approved converts in Rome to be sacrificed (along with those he did not approve of) in order to remain in the good graces of Caesar.

Paul’s efforts to better establish the throne of his half-brother Aristobulus (and perhaps his own alongside him) may have been in vain. He had however lived up to his part of the bargain by delivering up the Jewish nation for destruction. In appreciation, Nero likely washed his hands and blamed Paul for causing the Revolt. Such details as these could not be recorded in any official (Roman-Christian) church biography of its founding father.