DIGGING DEEP – 8 by Abidan Paul Shah
- Alexander the Great and the spread of Greek culture.
- Koine Greek
One constant factor during the writing of the New Testament was Rome. Roman history can be divided into three parts:
- ROMAN KINGDOM – early stages of Rome. (753 BC – 509 BC) Not very significant for our discussion
- ROMAN REPUBLIC – still an early stage of our discussion (509 BC – 44 BC)
- ROMAN EMPIRE – (44 BC – 6th century AD)
Rome had great admiration for Ancient Greece. Unlike Persia and Greek, Rome knew how to make people Romans. Persian Empire tried to absorb the conquered people but they still did not create unity. Greece tried but not everybody could be a citizen of Greece. But Rome knew how to truly absorb the surrounding cultures – both people and gods.
Some key aspects of the Roman Empire:
- The Emperor
- In 48 BC Julius Caesar declared himself the Dictator. After he was assassinated, his adopted son, Octavius through a series of battles and events became the first emperor of the Roman Empire. Some of those battles might be familiar to you (Mark Anthony and Cleopatra).
- In 27 BC the Senate gave him the title of Caesar Augustus and they became just an advisory council to the Emperor. His rule brought the PAX ROMANA. Rome’s first institutionalized police force and fire fighting force. He built roads throughout Italy.
- The Imperial cult was typically instituted after the death of the emperor. Domitian (AD 81-96) was the first to institute it in his own lifetime. He demanded to be addressed as “dominus et deus” = “Lord and god. This was a major problem to the Christians. (See I Peter 3:12-17; and Revelation 2:13 – “Satan’s throne” in Pergamum)
- Main administrative units; 2 kinds: Senatorial and imperial
- Senatorial provinces were ruled by governors who were appointed by the Senate. They were no threat to peace. For e.g. Sicily, Spain, Pamphylia, Africa, Macedonia, Asia, Crete, Cyprus, etc.
- Imperial provinces were also ruled by governors who were appointed by the emperor. They were on the borders of the empire and had a threat of revolt. For e.g. Syria, Gaul, Galatia, and Britain.
- Client Kingdoms
- Not directly administered by Rome but still under Roman rule.
- They were independent rulers who could appoint their own officials and implement their own policies.
- Palestine was ruled by Herod from 40BC – 4 BC (Judea, Samaria, Galilee, Peraea, and Idumea)
- After his death, his territory was divided into 3 parts: Judea, Idumea, and Samaria to Archelaus; North of Galilee to Philip; and Galilee and Peraea to Antipas.
- Archelaus was removed after 10 years and Idumea and Samaria went under Roman procurators (Pilate, Felix, and Festus).
- Later Herod Agrippa (Herod’s grandson) was a client king over North of Galilee, Galilee, Perea, and Judea. (Acts 12) His son Herod II (acts 25-26).
- Colonies and Free Cities
- Self governing settlements of Roman Citizens
- For e.g. Philippi and Corinth (locals who were granted Roman citizenship)
- Roman Citizenship
- People could have dual citizenship like Paul (Tarsus and Rome).
- It ensured loyalty.
- Roman Law
- Basis of Roman Authority was Legal. It all depended on RIGHT and JURISDICTION. Magistrates had complete power. Measure of all things was the LAW. (Greek – man; East – king; Jewish people – God).
- It was not perfect – THERE WAS CORRUPTION. The further from Rome, the more the corruption.
- The power over life and death (ius gladii) was always retained by Governors.
- Roman Taxation
- Poll tax was on every adult, including women and slaves.
- An amount was set but the local governors could set their amount.
- Pax Romana
- Common Currency – Greek coins (lepta, drachmai,) and Roman coins (assaria, quadrans, denarius). Also temple currency was in shekels
- Matthew 10:18; 11:8; 17:25; 18:23; 22:2; 25:40
- John 18:31
- Acts 16:19-40
- Galatians 3:28
- Acts 24:5