Did Jesus look like some Palestinians

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Jewish religious movements and Roman occupation

In 63 BC The Romans had conquered Palestine under the general Pompey. Herod the Great (40 to 4 BC), King by the grace of Rome, had managed to hold down the growing tensions in Palestine at the turn of the ages; he used a secret police, had political opponents, including family members, murdered and installed and deposed the high priests of the Jerusalem temple in an authoritarian manner, although this was a lifelong office. He stylized himself as the new King David, commissioned many buildings, including the redesign of the temple, and knew how to ideologically tie some of the smoldering messianic hopes to himself. These are the circumstances of the time from which apocalyptic fantasies and revolutionary ideas grow.

Time of uprisings and "prophets"

But after Herod 4 BC After he died, all aggression and disappointment vented. A rebellion broke out in Galilee, led by a certain Judas - one of many uprisings in the decades that followed. Various prophets promised miracles of God as a sign of an imminent political change. The Romans were always suspicious of such activities and often ended the marches of the gurus and their followers with a terrifying bloodbath.

While such purges often hit naive idealists, the Romans knew very well that any riot could spark armed resistance. In 6 AD, Quirinius placed governor of Syria, Judea under direct Roman administration, which amounted to a definitive annexation, and ordered a census to organize tax collection.

Violent resistance of the Zealots against Rome

That was the signal for Judas and a Pharisee named Zadok: They united various underground organizations to form the Party of Zealots (Zealots). They proclaimed the "sole rule of God", the forcible expulsion of the Roman occupiers and the deposition of the local kings who collaborated with the Romans. The Zealots had nothing to lose, organized terrorist attacks and even made Jerusalem unsafe: Sicarians (daggers) murdered indiscriminately in the crush of pilgrimages, where they could immediately dive into the crowd.

Jerusalem itself was ruled by the priestly aristocracy of the Sadducees, who lived mainly from pilgrimage tourism. In addition, every Jew had to pay a tithe, a 10 percent temple tax. The Sadducees used a double strategy: they worked together with the Romans because any disturbance of public order endangered their economic basis, namely the pilgrimages; but at the same time they made it clear to the people that the Roman occupation was to blame for everything that caused discontent in the country. In the slipstream of increasing aggressiveness, the Sadducees tried to secure their locally very limited power.

Both the Zealots and the Jerusalem elite had religiously argued "party programs"; but power issues were clearly in the foreground. Two other groups really expected the turning point of a religious renewal: the Essenes and the Pharisees.

Extensive spiritual influence of the Essenes

The Essenes, with their central monastic settlement of Qumran on the Dead Sea, tried to prepare for the rule of God by means of radical severity in observing the biblical purity laws. They built a closed, pure "counter-society"; and although they were considered peaceful, they fantasized about a blood orgy in which all apostates and strangers would perish for the future divine takeover. The core group of the Essenes lived celibate and without private property, refused to take an oath, punished rule violations, for example careless talk, with temporary exclusion.

Since 1948 the "Dead Sea Scrolls" were found in the caves near the Essen settlement of Qumran, research has been carried out into connections between the Essenes and early Christianity. Some text similarities to the New Testament can, however, be explained more easily by the fact that Jesus also used the word patterns and forms of thought that were in circulation; and the Jewish historian Flavius ​​Josephus testifies that the Essenes had far-reaching spiritual influence. There are also suspicions that Jesus and later Paul spent “apprenticeship years” in Qumran. In particular, Paul's conversion before Damascus (Acts 9) is - in this hypothesis - moved to Qumran because the Essenes called their settlement "Damascus in the desert".

Pharisees wanted to religiously renew everyday life

The Pharisees also saw salvation in a stricter observance of the law, that is, the Torah (the ethical and ritual instructions of the Bible, as they are laid down in the five books of Moses); but they were not interested in withdrawal and exclusion; they wanted to renew the normal everyday life of Jewish society.

At the same time as increasing compliance with the law, a pragmatic adaptation of the law to everyday situations was necessary, a dilemma that the Pharisees were not always able to solve, and which sometimes earned them the reputation of being hypocrites or sleight of hand. Still, Phariseeism was the only realistic renewal movement and the only one, as it turned out, that had a future.

As a lay movement, the Pharisees had great ties to the people. They put the study of the Torah on a par with the priestly temple cult, which until then had undisputedly assumed the highest religious rank. They discussed among themselves what was more important: rigorous legal compliance - according to Rabbi Shammai's school - or legal compliance with a sense of practicality - according to Rabbi Hillel's school. It is no wonder, then, that it was the Pharisees with whom Jesus argued most. The more liberal Hillel School prevailed after the Jewish-Roman War and saved Judaism beyond the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in AD 70.

Review article on Christianity

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