>I assume you're aware of Dick Horsley's The Liberation of Christmas ...
undercutting the Pax Romana ... ... Luke goes out of his way, more than
portray Christianity as Roman-friendly!<
Thanks, Loren. I would need to refresh my memory on details of Horsley's
argument but would, as you anticipate, deflect attention away from Pax
Romana. There are, of course, two contrasting ways of explaining the
Roman-friendly flavour in the NT (except Revelation). Self preservation
may have required it in a world where open criticism could carry dire
consequences. My preferred explanation is that Rome is a distraction from
the real target of HJ's teaching and mission.
Augustus and Roman tax do get mentioned in the birth narratives, but the
polemic targets Herod and his regime. No mention of rebellion precipitated
by a census. In fact, it actually facilitates the birth of Messiah in
David's city. Thank you, Augustus!
>Sidestepping too much literary analysis and issues relating to authorial
intent will only get you so close to HJ.<
Granted. Missing historical questions as a result of being too focussed on
the text itself is another impediment.
For example, I believe we have clear evidence that at the time JBap was
said to be preaching, the River Jordan formed the boundary between a Roman
province and Antipas' tetrarchy. So we should examine the implications of
the account of his ministry in that particular light, as well as Tanak
traditions concerning Jordan and the wilderness. From that border, JBap
faces one way to denounce the tetrarch for violating Torah; then turns
toward Jerusalem and declares - by inevitable implication - that Yahweh is
no longer resident in its temple, because he calls people to prepare for
His return. That also explains why this priest is not where he should be by
right of birth. His call for repentance is also accompanied by specific but
inclusive advice to soldiers and tax collectors - two strong arms of
government. In the province that means a Roman Governor. What does this
say about his message to the contemporary situation? I find plenty of
discussion in the literature about Tanak and the dispute with Antipas, but
little about the implications regarding governance in Judaea. As it is in
Judaea that Jesus will meet his destiny, this sounds important. (Again,
sources I may have missed would be most welcome).
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