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C O U R S E 
Letters of the Apostle Paul
Laura Nasrallah, Harvard University
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
Four Stories of Empire in Judea: Babylonian, Macedonian, Seleucid, and Roman
Notes taken on February 4, 2014 by Edward Tanguay
Paul was a Jewish man writing in the context of the Roman Empire
writes to Jews and Gentiles who are interested in participating in Judaism
four contextual stories of empire
1. Babylonian and Persian Empires
587: Jerusalem destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylonia
many of the elites of Judah were taken into exile to Babylonia
this is where the story of Daniel happened
a story written during another time time of repression under Antiochus IV
539 BC, Babylonian Empire taken over by Persian king Cyrus
Persians allowed Jews to return
some Jews stayed in Babylonia
520-515 BC: Persians allowed the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem
Judah became a typical client temple state
2. Macedonian Empire
had long been culturally allied to Greece
considered itself a disseminator of Greek culture
Alexander the Great
well educated in Greek culture, Aristotle one of his teachers
conquered Persian Empire
333 BC: Battle of Issus, gained control of Palestine and Jerusalem
327 BC: reached India
323 BC: died in Babylon which he had chosen to be the capital of his empire
a time of cultural mixing but also of the spread of Hellenism, i.e. Greek language, traditions, and culture mixed with local traditions to the east
after he died, generals spent a lot of time fighting over the empire
two dynasties that emerged from the successors of Alexander: Seleucids and Ptolemies which rushed up and down the Levant area conquering back and forth
3. Ptolemies vs. Seleucids (300BC-30BC)
Jewish high priest is allied to the Seleucids
receives permission to constitute Jerusalem as a Greek city
a time of Hellenization of the region, including the association of the Jewish God with Zeus
this offended many Jews
Jason was ousted
169: Antiochus IV conducted campaigns against Egypt
168: on way back, plundered Jerusalem temple in order to pay his soldiers
Jews rebelled, Antiochus captured Jerusalem and turned it militarily occupied city
Antiochus brought the sacred rock of Zeus Baal Shamayin into the temple
annulled Jewish laws, told in Second Maccabees
Hasmonean Jews retake Jerusalem
Jews from the country took the temple from Jewish elite as well as from Antiochus
force circumcisions and conversion on many inhabitants
some Jews (Essenes) retreated to desert in disagreement with what they saw as corruption and improper rule of Hasmonean Jews
awaited a day when two messiahs, a warrior and a priest would help them retake the temple
4. Roman domination of Judea
63 BC: Romans enter Jerusalem and end Hasmonean rule in Palestine
Rome established a new dynasty loyal to Rome
Herod the Great
tried to be king over all, not just Jews
built pagan cities, temples, as well as Jewish cities
after Herod the Great, Roman administrators were even less sensitive to the needs of the populace
brutality of Pontius Pilate, under whom Jesus was killed
66 AD: Jews were revolting against the Roman power, but not very organized
68 AD: chaos at the head of the Roman Empire, Nero committed suicide
70 AD: Titus besieged and captured Jerusalem, destroyed the city and the Second Temple
132 CE: Simon bar Kokhba, Jewish leader of a revolt against the Roman Empire, established an independent Jewish state which he ruled for three years as Nasi ("Prince"), his state was conquered by the Hadrian in 135 following a two-year war
Rome printed coins to celebrate the victory over Judea
587 BCE to 70 CE: Second Temple Period
Paul's existing letters only take up a decade of that time in the mid-first century before the destruction of the second temple