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JUDAISM: ITS DIFFUSION AND LIMITS
To nascent Christianity the synagogues in the Diaspora meant more than the fontes persecutionum of Tertullian's complaint; they also formed the most important presupposition for the rise and growth of Christian communities throughout the empire. The network of the synagogues furnished the Christian propaganda with centres and courses for its development, and in this way the mission of the new religion, which was undertaken in the name of the God of Abraham and Moses, found a sphere already prepared for itself.
Surveys of the spread of Judaism at the opening of our period have been often made, most recently and with especial care by Schürer (Geschichte des jüdischen Volkes, Bd. III.(3) pp. 1-38; Eng. trans., II. ii. 220 f.). Here we are concerned with the following points:
(1) There were Jews in most of the Roman provinces, at any rate in all those which touched or adjoined the Mediterranean, to say nothing of the Black Sea; eastward also, beyond Syria, they were thickly massed in Mesopotamia, Babylonia, and Media.11The conversion of the royal family of Adiabene (on the Tigris, at the frontier of the Roman Empire and of Parthia) to Judaism, during the reign of Claudius, is a fact of special moment in the history of the spread of Judaism, and Josephus gives it due prominence. A striking parallel, a century and a half later, is afforded by the conversion of the royal house of Edessa to Christianity. Renan (Les Apôtres, ch. xiv.) is not wrong when he remarks, in his own way, that “the royal family of Adiabene belongs to the history of Christianity.” He does not mean to say, with Orosius (vii. 6) and Moses of Chorene (ii. 35), that they actually became Christians, but simply that “in embracing Judaism, they obeyed a sentiment which was destined to bring over the entire pagan world to Christianity.” A further and striking parallel to the efforts of Queen Helena of Adiabene (cp. Jos., Antiq., xx. 2 f.; B.J., v. 2-4, v. 6. 1, vi. 6. 3) is to be found in the charitable activity of Constantine's mother, Queen Helena, in Jerusalem. Possibly the latter took the Jewish queen as her model, for Helena of Adiabene's philanthropy was still remembered in Jerusalem and by Jews in general (cp. Eus., H.E., ii. 12, and the Talmudic tradition).—Comprehensive evidence for the spread of Judaism throughout the empire lies in Philo (Legat. 36 and Flacc. 7), Acts (ii. 9 f.), and Josephus (Bell., ii. 16. 4, vii. 3. 3; Apion, ii. 39). The statement of Josephus (οὐκ ἔστιν ἐπὶ τῆς οἰκουμένης δῆμος ὁ μὴ μοῖραν ἡμετέραν ἔχων: “there is no people in the world which does not contain some part of us”) had been anticipated more than two centuries earlier by a Jewish Sibylline oracle (Sib. orac., iii. 271; πᾶσα δὲ γαῖα σέθεν πλήρης καὶ πᾶσα θάλασσα: “every land and sea is filled with thee”). By 139-138 B.C. a decree for the protection of Jews had been issued by the Roman Senate to the kings of Egypt, Syria, Pergamum, Cappadocia and Parthia, as well as to Sampsamê (Amisus?), Sparta, Sicyon (in the Peloponnese), Delos, Samos, the town of Gortyna, Caria and Myndus, Halicarnassus and Cnidus, Cos and Rhodes, the province of Lycia together with Phaselis, Pamphilia with Sidê, the Phœnician town Aradus, Cyrene and Cyprus. By the time of Sulla, Strabo had written thus (according to Josephus, Antiq., xiv. 7. 2): εἰς πᾶσαν πόλιν ἤδη παρεληλύθει, καὶ τόπον οὐκ ἔστι ῥᾳδίως εὑρεῖν τῆς οἰκουμένης ὃς οὐ παραδέδεκται τοῦτο τὸ φῦλον μηδ᾽ ἐπικρατεῖται ὑπ᾽ αὐτοῦ (“They have now got into every city, and it is hard to find a spot on earth which has not admitted this tribe and come under their control”). For the intensive spread of Judaism Seneca's testimony (cited by Augustine, De Civit. Dei, vi. 11) is particularly instructive: cum interim usque eo sceleratissimae gentis consuetudo valuit, ut per omnes iam terras recepta sit; victi victoribus leges dederunt (“Meantime the customs of this most accursed race have prevailed to such an extent that they are everywhere received. The conquered have imposed their laws on the conquerors”). Justin declares that “there are nations in which not one of your race [i.e. of the Jews] can be found” (ἔστι τὰ ἔθνη ἐν οἷς οὐδέπω οὐδεὶς ὑμῶν τοῦ γένους ᾤκησεν, Dial. 117), but the following claim that there were Christians in every nation shows that his statement is due to tendency.2
(2) Their numbers were greatest in Syria,22The large number of Jews in Antioch is particularly striking. next to that in Egypt (in all the nomes as far as Upper Egypt),33For the diffusion of Jews in S. Arabia, cp. Philostorgius's important evidence (H.E., iii. 4). The local population, he avers, οὐκ ὀλίγον πλῆθος Ἰουδαίων ἀναπέφυρται. Rome, and the provinces of Asia Minor44Philo, Legat. 33: Ἰουδαῖοι καθ᾽ ἑκάστην πόλιν εἰσὶ παμπληθεῖς Ἀσίας τε καὶ Συρίας (“The Jews abound in every city of Asia and Syria”). The word “every” (ἑκάστην) is confirmed by a number of special testimonies, e.g. for Cilicia by Epiphanius (Hær., xxx. 11), who says of the “apostle” sent by the Jewish patriarch to collect the Jewish taxes in Cilicia: ὃς ἀνελθὼν ἐκεῖσε ἀπὸ ἑκάστης πόλεως τῆς Κιλικίας τὰ ἐπιδέκατα κτλ εἰσέπραττεν (“On his arrival there he proceeded to lift the tithes, etc., from every city in Cilicia”). On the spread of Judaism in Phrygia and the adjoining provinces (even into the districts of the interior), see Ramsay's two great works, The Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia, and The Historical Geography of Asia Minor, along with his essay in the Expositor (January 1902) on “The Jews in the Græco-Asiatic Cities.” Wherever any considerable number of inscriptions are found in these regions, some of them are always Jewish. The rô1e played by the Jewish element in Pisidian Antioch is shown by Acts xiii.; see especially verses 44 and 50 οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι παρώτρυναν τὰς σεβομένας γυναῖκας τὰς ἐυσχήμονας καὶ τοὺς πρώτους τῆς πόλεως). And the significance of the Jewish element in Smyrna comes out conspicuously in the martyrdom of Polycarp and of Pionius; on the day of a Jewish festival the appearance of the streets was quite changed. ''The diffusion and importance of the Jews in Asia Minor are attested among other things by the attempt made during the reign of Augustus, by the Ionian cities, apparently after joint counsel, to compel their Jewish fellow-townsmen to abandon their faith or else to assume the full burdens of citizenship” (Mommsen, Röm. Gesch., v. pp. 489 f., Eng. trans. Provinces, ii. 163).. The extent to which they had 3made their way into all the local conditions is made particularly clear by the evidence bearing on the sphere last named, where, as on the north coast of the Black Sea, Judaism also played some part in the blending of religions (e.g., the cult of “The most high God,” and of the God called “Sabbatistes”). The same holds true of Syria, though the evidence here is not taken so plainly from direct testimony, but drawn indirectly from the historical presuppositions of Christian gnosticism.55Cp. also the remarks of Epiphanius (Hær., lxxx. l) upon the cult of Παντοκράτωρ. In Africa, along the coast-line, from the proconsular province to Mauretania, Jews were numerous.66See Monceaux, “les colonies juives dans l'Afrique romaine” (Rev. des Études juives, 1902); and Leclerq, L'Afrique chrétienne (1904), I. pp. 36 f. We have evidence for Jewish communities at Carthage, Naro, Hadrumetum, Utica, Hippo, Simittu, Volubilis, Cirta, Auzia, Sitifis, Cæsarea, Tipasa, and Oea, etc. At Lyons, in the time of Irenæus,77To all appearance, therefore, he knew no Jewish Christians at first hand. they do not seem to have abounded; but in southern Gaul, as later sources indicate, their numbers cannot have been small, whilst in Spain, as is obvious from the resolutions of the synod of Elvira (c. 300 A.D.), they were both populous and powerful. Finally, we may assume that in Italy—apart from Rome and Southern Italy, where they were widely spread—they 4were not exactly numerous under the early empire, although even in Upper Italy at that period individual synagogues were in existence. This feature was due to the history of Italian civilization, and it is corroborated by the fact that, beyond Rome and Southern Italy, early Jewish inscriptions are scanty and uncertain. “The Jews were the first to exemplify that kind of patriotism which the Parsees, the Armenians, and to some extent the modern Greeks were to display in later ages, viz. a patriotism of extraordinary warmth, but not attached to any one locality, a patriotism of traders who wandered up and down the world and everywhere hailed each other as brethren, a patriotism which aimed at forming not great, compact states but small, autonomous communities under the ægis of other states.”88Renan, Les Apôtres (ch. xvi.).
(3) The exact number of Jews in the Diaspora can only be calculated roughly. Our information with regard to figures is as follows. Speaking of the Jews in Babylonia, Josephus declares there were “not a few myriads,” or “innumerable myriads'” in that region.99Antiq., xv. 3. 1, xi. 5. 2. According to Antiq., xii. 3. 4, Antiochus the Great deported 2000 families of Babylonian Jews to Phrygia and Lydia. At Damascus, during the great war, he narrates (Bell. Jud., ii. 20. 2) how ten thousand Jews were massacred; elsewhere in the same book (vii. 8. 7) he writes “eighteen thousand.'” Of the five civic quarters of Alexandria, two were called “the Jewish” (according to Philo, In Flacc. 8), since they were mainly inhabited by Jews; in the other quarters Jews were also to be met with, and Philo (In Flacc. 6) reckons their total number in Egypt (as far as the borders of Ethiopia) to have been at least 100 myriads (= a million). In the time of Sulla the Jews of Cyrene, according to Strabo (cited by Josephus, Antiq., xiv. 7. 2), formed one of the four classes into which the population was divided, the others being citizens, peasants, and resident aliens. During the great rebellion in Trajan's reign they are said to have slaughtered 220,000 unbelievers in Cyrene (Dio Cassius, lxviii. 32), in revenge for which “many myriads” of their own number were put to death by Marcus Turbo (Euseb., H.E., iv. 2). The Jewish revolt spread also to Cyprus, where 240,000 Gentiles are said to have 5been murdered by them.1010Dio Cassius (loc. cit.). The same author declares (lxix. 14) that 580,000 Jews perished in Palestine during the rebellion of Barcochba. As for the number of Jews in Rome, we have these two statements: first, that in B.C. 4 a Jewish embassy from Palestine to the metropolis was joined by 8000 local Jews (Joseph., Antiq., xvii. 2. 1; Bell., ii. 6. 1); and secondly, that in 19 A.D., when Tiberius banished the whole Jewish community from Rome, 4000 able-bodied Jews were deported to Sardinia. The latter statement merits especial attention, as it is handed down by Tacitus as well as Josephus.1111There is a discrepancy between them. Whilst Josephus (Antiq., xviii. 3. 5) mentions only Jews, Tacitus (Annal., ii. 85) writes: “Actum et de sacris Aegyptiis Judaicisque pellendis factumque patrum consultum, ut quattuor milia libertini generis ea superstitione infecta, quis idonea aetas, in insulam Sardiniam veherentur, coercendis illic latrociniis et, si ob gravitatem caeli interissent, vile damnum; ceteri cederent Italia, nisi certam ante diem profanes ritus exuissent” (“Measures were also adopted for the extermination of Egyptian and Jewish rites, and the Senate passed a decree that four thousand freedmen, able-bodied, who were tainted with that superstition, should be deported to the island of Sardinia to put a check upon the local brigands. Should the climate kill them 'twould be no great loss! As for the rest, they were to leave Italy unless they abjured their profane rites by a given day”). The expulsion is also described by Suetonius (Tiber. 36); “Externas caeremonias, Aegyptios Judaicosque ritus compescuit, coactis qui superstitione ea tenebantur religiosas vestes cum instrumento omni comburere. Judaeorum juventutem per speciem sacramenti in provincias gravioris caeli distribuit, reliquos gentis eiusdem vel similia sectantes urbe summovit, sub poena perpetuae servitutis nisi obtemperassent” (“Foreign religions, including the rites of Egyptians and Jews, he suppressed, forcing those who practised that superstition to burn their sacred vestments and all their utensils. He scattered the Jewish youth in provinces of an unhealthy climate, on the pretext of military service, whilst the rest of that race or of those who shared their practices were expelled from Rome, the penalty for disobedience being penal servitude for life”). After the fall of Sejanus, when Tiberius revoked the edict (Philo, Legat. 24), the Jews at once made up their former numbers in Rome (Dio Cassius, lx. 6, πλεονάσαντες αὖθις); the movement for their expulsion reappeared under Claudius in 49 A.D., but the enforcement of the order looked to be so risky that it was presently withdrawn and limited to a prohibition of religious gatherings.1212The sources here are contradictory. Acts (xviii. 2), Suetonius (Claud. 25), and Orosius (vii. 6. 15)—the last named appealing by mistake to Josephus, who says nothing about the incident—all speak of a formal (and enforced) edict of expulsion, but Dio Cassius (lx. 6) writes: τούς τε Ἰουδαίους πλεονάσαντας αὖθις, ὥστε χαλεπῶς ἂν ἄνευ ταραχῆς ὑπὸ τοῦ ὄχλου σφῶν τῆς πόλεως εἰρχθῆναι, οὐκ ἐξήλασε· μέν, τῷ δὲ δὴ πατρίῳ βίῳ χρωμένους ἐκέλευσε μὴ συναθροίζεσθαι (“As the Jews had once more multiplied, so that it would have been difficult to remove them without a popular riot, he did not expel them, but simply prohibited any gatherings of those who held to their ancestral customs”). We have no business, in my opinion, to use Dio Cassius in order to set aside two such excellent witnesses as Luke and Suetonius. Nor is it a satisfactory expedient to suppose, with Schürer (III. p. 32; cp. Eng. trans., II. ii. 237), that the government simply intended to expel the Jews. The edict must have been actually issued, although it was presently replaced by a prohibition of meetings, after the Jews had given a guarantee of good behaviour. In Rome the Jews dwelt chiefly in 6Trastevere; but as Jewish churchyards have been discovered in various parts of the city, they were also to be met with in other quarters as well.
A glance at these numerical statements shows1313I omit a series of figures given elsewhere by Josephus; they are not of the slightest use. that only two possess any significance. The first is Philo's, that the Egyptian Jews amounted to quite a million. Philo's comparatively precise mode of expression (οὐκ ἀποδέουσι μυριάδων ἑκατὸν οἱ τὴν Ἀλεξάνδρειαν καὶ τὴν χώραν Ἰουδᾶιοι κατοικοῦντες ἀπὸ τοῦ πρὸς Λιβύην καταβαθμοῦ μέχρι τῶν ὁρίων Αἰθιοπίας: “The Jews resident in Alexandria and in the country from the descent to Libya back to the bounds of Ethiopia, do not fall short of a million”), taken together with the fact that registers for the purpose of taxation were accurately kept in Egypt, renders it probable that we have here to do with no fanciful number. Nor does the figure itself appear too high, when we consider that it includes the whole Jewish population of Alexandria. As the entire population of Egypt (under Vespasian) amounted to seven or eight millions, the Jews thus turn out to have formed a seventh or an eighth of the whole (somewhere about thirteen per cent.).1414See Mommsen, Röm. Gesch., v. p. 578 [Eng. trans., “Provinces of the Roman Empire,” ii. p. 258], and Pietschmann in Pauly-Wissowa's Encyklop., i., col. 990 f. Beloch (Die Bevölkerung der griechisch-römischen Welt, pp. 258 f.) questions the reckoning of Josephus (Bell., ii. 16. 4) that the population of Egypt under Nero amounted to seven and a half millions. He will not allow more than about five, though he adduces no conclusive argument against Josephus, Still, as he also holds it an exaggeration to say, with Philo, that the Jews in Egypt were a million strong, he is not opposed to the hypothesis that Judaism in Egypt amounted to about 13 per cent. of the total population. Beloch reckons the population of Alexandria (including slaves) at about half a million. Of these, 200,000 would be Jews, as the Alexandrian Jews numbered about two-fifths of the whole. Syria is the only province of the empire where we 7must assume a higher percentage of Jews among the population;1515Josephus, Bell., vii. 3. 3; (Τὸ Ἰουδαίων γένος πολὺ μὲν κατὰ πᾶσαν τὴν οἰκουμένην παρέσπαρται τοῖς ἐπιχωρίοις, πλεῖστον δὲ τῇ Συρίᾳ: “The Jewish race is thickly spread over the world among its inhabitants, but specially in Syria”). Beloch (pp. 242 f., 507) estimates the population of Syria under Augustus at about six millions, under Nero at about seven, whilst the free inhabitants of Antioch under Augustus numbered close on 300,000. As the percentage of Jews in Syria (and especially in Antioch) was larger than in Egypt (about 13 per cent.), certainly over a million Jews must be assumed for Syria under Nero. in all the other provinces their numbers were smaller.
The second passage of importance is the statement that Tiberius deported four thousand able-bodied Jews to Sardinia—Jews, be it noted, not (as Tacitus declares) Egyptians and Jews, for the distinct evidence of Josephus on this point is corroborated by that of Suetonius (see above), who, after speaking at first of Jews and Egyptians, adds, by way of closer definition, “Judaeorum juventatem per speciem sacramenti in provincias gravioris caeli distribuit.'” Four thousand able-bodied men answers to a total of at least ten thousand human beings,1616Taking for granted, as in the case of any immigrant population, that the number of men is very considerably larger than that of women, I allow 2000 boys and old men to 4000 able-bodied men, and assume about 4000 females. and something like this represented the size of the contemporary Jewish community at Rome. Now, of course, this reckoning agrees but poorly with the other piece of information, viz., that twenty-three years earlier a Palestinian deputation had its ranks swelled by 8000 Roman Jews. Either Josephus has inserted the total number of Jews in this passage, or he is guilty of serious exaggeration. The most reliable estimate of the Roman population under Augustus (in B.C. 5) gives 320,000 male plebeians over ten years of age. As women were notoriously in a minority at Rome, this number represents about 600,000 inhabitants (excluding slaves),1717See Beloch, pp. 292 f. His figure, 500,000, seems to me rather low. so that about 10,000 Jews1818Renan (L'Antéchrist, ch. i.) is inclined to estimate the number of the Roman Jews, including women and children, at from twenty to thirty thousand. would be equivalent to about one-sixtieth of the population.1919The total number, including foreigners and slaves, would amount to something between 800,000 and 900,000 (according to Beloch, 800,000 at the outside). Tiberius could still risk the strong measure of expelling them; but when 8Claudius tried to repeat the experiment thirty years later, he was unable to carry it out.
We can hardly suppose that the Jewish community at Rome continued to show any considerable increase after the great rebellions and wars under Vespasian, Titus, Trajan, and Hadrian, since the decimation of the Jews in many provinces of the empire must have re-acted upon the Jewish community in the capital. Details on this point, however, are wanting.
If the Jews in Egypt amounted to about a million, those in Syria were still more numerous. Allowing about 700,000 Jews to Palestine—and at this moment between 600,000 and 650,000 people live there; see Baedeker's Palestine, 1900, p. lvii.—we are within the mark at all events when we reckon the Jews in the remaining districts of the empire (i.e., in Asia Minor, Greece, Cyrene, Rome, Italy, Gaul, Spain, etc.) at about one million and a half. In this way a grand total of about four or four and a half million Jews is reached. Now, it is an extremely surprising thing, a thing that seems at first to throw doubt upon any estimate whatsoever of the population, to say that while (according to Beloch) the population of the whole Roman empire under Augustus is reported to have amounted to nearly fifty-four millions, the Jews in the empire at that period must be reckoned at not less than four or four and a half millions. Even if one raises Beloch's figure to sixty millions, how can the Jews have represented seven per cent. of the total population? Either our calculation is wrong—and mistakes are almost inevitable in a matter like this—or the propaganda of Judaism was extremely successful in the provinces; for it is utterly impossible to explain the large total of Jews in the Diaspora by the mere fact of the fertility of Jewish families. We must assume, I imagine, that a very large number of pagans, and in particular of kindred Semites of the lower class, trooped over to the religion of Yahweh2020After the edict of Pius, which forbade in the most stringent terms the circumcision of any who had not been born in Judaism (cp. also the previous edict of Hadrian), regular secessions must have either ceased altogether or occurred extremely seldom; cp. Orig., c. Cels., II. xiii.—for the Jews of the Diaspora were genuine Jews only to a certain extent. Now if Judaism was actually so 9vigorous throughout the empire as to embrace about seven percent. of the total population under Augustus,2121In modern Germany the Jews number a little over one per cent of the population; in Austro-Hungary, four and two-thirds per cent. one begins to realize its great influence and social importance. And in order to comprehend the propaganda and diffusion of Christianity, it is quite essential to understand that the religion under whose “shadow” it made its way out into the world, not merely contained elements of vital significance but had expanded till it embraced a considerable proportion of the world's population.
Our survey would not be complete if we did not glance, however briefly, at the nature of the Jewish propaganda in the empire,2222Compare, on this point, Schürer's description, op, cit., III.(3) pp. 102 f. [Eng. trans., II. ii. 126 f.]. for some part, at least, of her missionary zeal was inherited by Christianity from Judaism. As I shall have to refer to this Jewish mission wherever any means employed in the Christian propaganda are taken over from Judaism, I shall confine myself in the meantime to some general observations.
It is surprising that a religion which raised so stout a wall of partition between itself and all other religions, and which in practice and prospects alike was bound up so closely with its nation, should have possessed a missionary impulse2323The duty and the hopefulness of missions are brought out in the earliest Jewish Sibylline books. Almost the whole of the literature of Alexandrian Judaism has an apologetic bent and the instinct of propaganda. of such vigour and attained so large a measure of success. This is not ultimately to be explained by any craving for power or ambition; it is a proof2424Cp. Bousset's Die Religion des Judentums im neutest, Zeitalter 1903), especially the sections on “The Theologians, the Church and the Laity, Women, Confession (Faith and Dogma), the Synagogue as an Institute of Salvation” (pp. 139-184), and the large section devoted to “The Faith of the Individual and Theology.” If a popular religion passes into a confession of faith and a church, individual faith with all its reach and strain also comes into view together with the church. For the propaganda of Judaism in the pagan world, cp. pp. 77 f. that Judaism, as a religion, was already blossoming out by some inward transformation and becoming across between a national religion and a world-religion (confession of faith and a church). Proudly the Jew felt that he had something to say and bring to the world, which concerned all men, viz., The one and only spiritual God, creator of heaven and earth, 10with his holy moral law. It was owing to the consciousness of this (Rom. ii. 19 f.) that he felt missions to be a duty. The Jewish propaganda throughout the empire was primarily the proclamation of the one and only God, of his moral law, and of his judgment; to this everything else became secondary. The object in many cases might be pure proselytism (Matt. xxiii. 15), but Judaism was quite in earnest in overthrowing dumb idols and inducing pagans to recognize their creator and judge, for in this the honour of the God of Israel was concerned.
It is in this light that one must judge a phenomenon which is misunderstood so long as we explain it by means of specious analogies—I mean, the different degrees and phases of proselytism. In other religions, variations of this kind usually proceed from an endeavour to render the moral precepts imposed by the religion somewhat easier for the proselyte. In Judaism this tendency never prevailed, at least never outright. On the contrary, the moral demand remained unlowered. As the recognition of God was considered the cardinal point, Judaism was in a position to depreciate the claims of the cultus and of ceremonies, and the different kinds of Jewish proselytism were almost entirely due to the different degrees in which the ceremonial precepts of the Law were observed. The fine generosity of such an attitude was, of course, facilitated by the fact that a man who let even his little finger be grasped by this religion, thereby became a Jew.2525If he did not, his son did. Again, strictly speaking, even a born Jew was only a proselyte so soon as he left the soil of Palestine, since thereby he parted with the sacrificial system; besides, he was unable in a foreign country to fulfil, or at least to fulfil satisfactorily, many other precepts of the Law.2626Circumcision, of course, was always a troublesome wall of partition. Born Jews, as a rule, laid the greatest stress upon it, while pagans submitted to the operation with extreme reluctance. For generations there had been a gradual neutralising of the sacrificial system proceeding apace within the inner life of Judaism—even among the Pharisees; and this coincided with an historical situation which obliged by far the greater number of the adherents of the religion to live amid conditions which had made them 11strangers for a long period to the sacrificial system. In this way they were also rendered accessible on every side of their spiritual nature to foreign cults and philosophies, and thus there originated Persian and Græco-Jewish religious alloys, several of whose phenomena threatened even the monotheistic belief. The destruction of the temple by the Romans really destroyed nothing; it may be viewed as an incident organic to the history of Jewish religion. When pious people held God's ways at that crisis were incomprehensible, they were but deluding themselves.
For a long while the popular opinion throughout the empire was that the Jews worshipped God without images, and that they had no temple. Now, although both of these “atheistic” features might appear to the rude populace even more offensive and despicable than circumcision, Sabbath observance, the prohibition of swine's flesh, etc., nevertheless they made a deep impression upon wide circles of educated people.2727This rigid exclusiveness in a religion naturally repelled the majority and excited frank resentment; it was somewhat of a paradox, and cannot fail to have been felt as obdurately inhuman as well as insolent. Anti-Semitism can be plainly traced within the Roman empire from 100 B.C. onwards; in the first century A.D. it steadily increased, discharging itself in outbursts of fearful persecution. Thanks to these traits, together with its monotheism—for which the age was beginning to be ripe2828It was ripe also for the idea of an individual recompense in the future life, as an outcome of the heightened valuation of individual morality in this life, and for the idea of a judgment passed on the individual thereafter.—Judaism seemed as if it were elevated to the rank of philosophy, and inasmuch as it still continued to be a religion, it exhibited a type of mental and spiritual life which was superior to anything of the kind.2929E.g., especially to the idealistic schools of popular philosophy. Cp. Wendland, Philo und die stoisch-kynische Diatribe (1895). At bottom, there was nothing artificial in a Philo or in a Josephus exhibiting Judaism as the philosophic religion, for this kind of apologetic corresponded to the actual situation in which they found themselves3030Cp. Friedlander's Geschichte der jüdischen Apologetik als Vorgeschichte des Christentums, 1903. On the heights of its apologetic, the Jewish religion represented itself as the idealist philosophy based on revelation (the sacred book), i.e., materially as ideological rationalism, and formally as supra-rationalism; it was the “most satisfying” form of religion, retaining a vitality, a precision, and a certainty in its conception of God such as no cognate form of religious philosophy could preserve, while at the same time the overwhelming number and the definite character of its ''prophecies” quelled every doubt.; it was as the revealed and also the philosophic 12religion, equipped with “the oldest book in the world,”that Judaism developed her great propaganda.3131“As a philosophical religion Judaism may have attracted one or two cultured individuals, but it was as a religious and social community with a life of its own that it won the masses.” So Axenfeld, on p. 15 of his study (mentioned below on p. 16). Yet even as a religious fellowship with a life of its own, Judaism made a philosophic impression—and that upon the uneducated as well as upon the educated. I agree with Axenfeld, however, that the Jewish propaganda owed its success not to the literary activity of individual Hellenistic Jews, but to the assimilating power of the communities with their religious life, their strict maintenance of convictions, their recognition of their own interests and their satisfaction of a national pride, as evidenced in their demand for proselytes to glorify Jehovah. The account given by Josephus (Bell., vii. 3. 3) of the situation at Antioch, viz., that “the Jews continued to attract a large number of the Greeks to their services, making them in a sense part of themselves”—this holds true of the Jewish mission in general.3232The keenness of Jewish propaganda throughout the empire during the first century—“the age in which the Christian preaching began its course is the age in which the Jewish propaganda reached the acme of its efforts”—is also clear from the introduction of the Jewish week and Sabbath throughout the empire; cp. Schürer, “Die siebentägige Woche im Gebrauch der christlichen Kirche der ersten Jahrhunderte “ (Zeits. f. die neut. Wiss., 1905, 40 f.). Many pagans celebrated the Sabbath, just as Jews to-day observe Sunday. The adhesion of Greeks and Romans to Judaism ranged over the entire gamut of possible degrees, from the superstitious adoption of certain rites up to complete identification. “God-fearing” pagans constituted the majority; proselytes (i.e., people who were actually Jews, obliged to keep the whole Law), there is no doubt, were comparatively few in number.3333See Eus., H.E., i. 7, for the extent to which proselytes became fused among those who were Jews by birth. Immersion was more indispensable than even circumcision as a condition of entrance.3434It must not be forgotten that even in the Diaspora there was exclusiveness and fanaticism. The first persecution of Christians was set afoot by synagogues of the Diaspora in Jerusalem; Saul was a fanatic Jew of the Diaspora.
While all this was of the utmost importance for the Christian mission which came afterwards, at least equal moment attaches to one vital omission in the Jewish missionary preaching: viz., that no Gentile, in the first generation at least, could become a 13real son of Abraham. His rank before God remained inferior. Thus it also remained very doubtful how far any proselyte—to say nothing of the “God-fearing”—had a share in the glorious promises of the future. The religion which repairs this omission will drive Judaism from the field.3535I know of no reliable inquiries into the decline and fall of Jewish missions in the empire after the second destruction of the temple. It seems to me unquestionable that Judaism henceforth slackened her tie with Hellenism, in order to drop it altogether as time went on, and that the literature of Hellenistic Judaism suddenly became very slender, destined ere long to disappear entirely. But whether we are to see in all this merely the inner stiffening of Judaism, or other causes to boot (e.g., the growing rivalry of Christianity), is a question which I do not venture to decide. On the repudiation of Hellenism by Palestinian Judaism even prior to the first destruction of the temple, see below (p. 16). When it proclaims this message in its fulness, that the last will be first, that freedom from the Law is the normal and higher life, and that the observance of the Law, even at its best, is a thing to be tolerated and no more, it will win thousands where the previous missionary preaching won but hundreds.3636A notable parallel from history to the preaching of Paul in its relation to Jewish preaching, is to be found in Luther's declaration, that the truly perfect man was not a monk, but a Christian living in his daily calling. Luther also explained that the last (those engaged in daily business) were the first.—The above sketch has been contradicted by Friedländer (in Dr. Bloch's Oesterr. Wochenschrift, Zentralorgan f. d. ges. Interessen des Judentums, 1902, Nos. 49 f.), who asserts that proselytes ranked entirely the same as full-blooded Jews. But Friedländer himself confines this liberal attitude towards proselytes to the Judaism of the Greek Diaspora; he refers it to the influence of Hellenism, and supports it simply by Philo (and John the Baptist). Note also that Philo usually holds Jewish pride of birth to be vain, if a man is wicked; in that case, a Jew is far inferior to a man of pagan birth. With this limitation of Friedländer's, no objection can be taken to the thesis in question. I myself go still further; for there is no doubt that even before the rise of Christianity the Jews of the Diaspora allegorised the ceremonial Law, and that this paved the way for the Gentile church's freedom from the Law. Only, the question is (i.) whether the strict Judaism of Palestine, in its obscure origins, was really affected by these softening tendencies, (ii.) whether it did not exercise an increasingly strong influence upon Judaism even in the Diaspora, and (iii.) whether the Judaism of the Diaspora actually renounced all the privileges of its birth. On the two latter points, I should answer in the negative (even with regard to Philo); on the first, however, my reply would be in the affirmative. Yet the propaganda of Judaism did not succeed simply by its high inward worth; the profession of Judaism also conferred great social and political advantages upon its adherents. Compare Schürer's sketch (op. cit., III(3) pp. 56-90; Eng. trans., II ii. 243 f.) of the 14internal organization of Jewish communities in the Diaspora, of their civil position, and of their civic “isopolity,”3737The Jewish communities in the Diaspora also formed small states inside the state or city; one has only to recollect the civil jurisdiction which they exercised, even to the extent of criminal procedure. As late as the third century we possess, with reference to Palestine, Origen's account (Ep. ad Afric., xiv.) of the power of the Ethnarch (or patriarch), which was so great “that he differed in no whit from royalty”; “legal proceedings also took place privately as enjoined by the Law, and several people were condemned to death, not in open court and yet with the cognizance of the authorities.” Similar occurrences would take place in the Diaspora. The age of Hadrian and Pius did bring about a terrible retrograde movement; but afterwards, part of the lost ground was again recovered. and it will be seen how advantageous it was to belong to a Jewish community within the Roman empire. No doubt there were circumstances under which a Jew had to endure ridicule and disdain, but this injustice was compensated by the ample privileges enjoyed by those who adhered to this religio licita. If in addition one possessed the freedom of a city (which it was not difficult to procure) or even Roman citizenship, one occupied a more secure and favourable position than the majority of one's fellow-citizens. No wonder, then, that Christians threatened to apostatize to Judaism during a persecution,3838Proofs of this are not forthcoming, however, in any number. or that separation from the synagogues had also serious economic consequences for Jews who had become Christians.3939Owing to their religious and national characteristics, as well as to the fact that they enjoyed legal recognition throughout the empire, the Jews stood out conspicuously from amongst all the other nations included in the Roman state. This comes out most forcibly in the fact that they were even entitled “The Second race.” We shall afterwards show that Christians were called the Third race, since Jews already ranked thus as the Second.
One thing further. All religions which made their way into the empire along the channels of intercourse and trade were primarily religions of the city, and remained such for a considerable period. It cannot be said that Judaism in the Diaspora was entirely a city-religion; indeed the reverse holds true of one or two large provinces. Yet in the main it continued to be a city-religion, and we hear little about Jews who were settled on the land.
So long as the temple stood, and contributions were paid in to it, this formed a link between the Jews of the Diaspora and 15Palestine.4040Messengers and letters also passed, which kept the tie between Jerusalem and the Jewish church of the Gentiles fresh and close. A good example occurs at the close of Acts. Afterwards, a rabbinical board took the place of the priestly college at Jerusalem, which understood how still to raise and use these contributions. The board was presided over by the patriarch, and the contributions were gathered by “apostles'” whom he sent out.4141On the patriarch, see Schürer, III.(3), pp. 77 f. [Eng. trans., II. ii. 270]. From Vopisc. Saturn. 8 we know that the patriarch himself went also in person to the Diaspora, so far as Egypt is concerned. On the “apostles,” see Book III. ch. i. (2). They appear also to have had additional duties to perform (on which see below).
To the Jewish mission which preceded it, the Christian mission was indebted, in the first place, for a field tilled all over the empire; in the second place, for religious communities already formed everywhere in the towns; thirdly, for what Axenfeld calls “the help of materials'” furnished by the preliminary knowledge of the Old Testament, in addition to catechetical and liturgical materials which could be employed without much alteration; fourthly, for the habit of regular worship and a control of private life; fifthly, for an impressive apologetic on behalf of monotheism, historical teleology, and ethics; and finally, for the feeling that self-diffusion was a duty. The amount of this debt is so large, that one might venture to claim the Christian mission as a continuation of the Jewish propaganda. “Judaism,'' said Renan, “was robbed of its due reward by a generation of fanatics, and it was prevented from gathering in the harvest which it had prepared.”
The extent to which Judaism was prepared for the gospel may also be judged by means of the syncretism into which it had developed. The development was along no mere side-issues. The transformation of a national into a universal religion may take place in two ways: either by the national religion being reduced to great central principles, or by its assimilation of a wealth of new elements from other religions. Both processes developed simultaneously in Judaism.4242For “syncretism,” see especially the last chapter in Bousset's volume (pp. 448-493). Syncretism melted each of the older elements within the religion of Judaism, and introduced a wealth of entirely new elements. But nothing decomposed the claim that Judaism was the true religion, or the conviction that in “Moses” all truth lay. But the former is the 16more important of the two, as a preparation for Christianity. This is to be deduced especially from that great scene preserved for us by Mark xii. 28-34—in its simplicity of spirit, the greatest memorial we possess of the history of religion at the epoch of its vital change.4343The nearest approach to it is to be found in the missionary speech put into Paul's mouth on the hill of Mars. “A scribe asked Jesus, What is the first of all the commandments? Jesus replied, The first is: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one God, and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and all thy soul, and all thy mind, and all thy strength. The second is: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is no commandment greater than these. And the scribe said to him. True, O teacher; thou hast rightly said that he is one, and that beside him there is none else, and that to love him with all the heart, and all the understanding and all the strength, and to love one's neighbour as oneself, is far above all holocausts and sacrifices. And when Jesus saw that he answered intelligently, he said: Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.”
With regard to the attitude of Palestinian Judaism towards the mission-idea (i.e., universalism and the duty of systematic propaganda), the state of matters during the age of Christ and the apostles is such as to permit pleadings upon both sides of the question.4444Cp. Bertholet, Die Stellung der Israeliten und Juden zu den Fremden (1890); Schürer, III.(3), pp. 125 f.); Bousset, op. cit., 82 f.; Axenfeld, “Die judische Propaganda als Vorläuferin der urchristlichen Mission,” in the Missionswiss. Studien (Festschrift für Warneck), 1904, pp. l-80. Previous to that age, there had been two periods which were essentially opposite in tendency. The older, resting upon the second Isaiah, gave vivid expression, even within Palestine itself, to the universalism of the Jewish religion as well as to a religious ethic which rose almost to the pitch of humanitarianism. This is represented in a number of the psalms, in the book of Jonah, and in the Wisdom-literature. The pious are fully conscious that Yahweh rules over the nation and over all mankind, that he is the God of each individual, and that he requires nothing but reverence. Hence their hope for the 17ultimate conversion of all the heathen. They will have kings and people alike to bow before Yahweh and to praise him. Their desire is that Yahweh's name be known everywhere among the heathen, and his glory (in the sense of conversion to him) spread far and wide. With the age of the Maccabees, however, an opposite tendency set in. Apocalyptic was keener upon the downfall of the heathen than upon their conversion, and the exclusive tendencies of Judaism again assert themselves, in the struggle to preserve the distinctive characteristics of the nation. “One of the most important results which flowed from the outrageous policy of Antiochus was that it discredited for all time to come the idea of a Judaism free from any limitation whatsoever, and that it either made pro-Hellenism, in the sense of Jason and Alcimus, impossible for Palestine and the Diaspora alike, or else exposed it to sharp correction whenever it should raise its head” (Axenfeld, p. 28). Now, in the age of Christ and the apostles, these two waves, the progressive and the nationalist, are beating each other back. Pharisaism itself appears to be torn in twain. In some psalms and manuals, as well as in the 13th Blessing of the Schmone Esre, universalism still breaks out. “Hillel, the most famous representative of Jewish Biblical learning, was accustomed, with his pupils, to pay special attention to the propaganda of religion. ‘Love men and draw them to the Law' is one of his traditional maxims” (Pirke Aboth, 1. 12). Gamaliel, Paul's teacher, is also to be ranked among the propagandists. It was not impossible, however, to be both exclusive and in favour of the propaganda, for the conditions of the mission were sharpened into the demand that the entire Law should be kept. If I mistake not, Jesus was primarily at issue with this kind of Pharisaism in Jerusalem. Now the keener became the opposition within Palestine to the foreign dominion, and the nearer the great catastrophe came, the more strenuous grew the reaction against all that was foreign, as well as the idea that whatever was un-Jewish would perish in the judgment. Not long before the destruction of Jerusalem, in all probability, the controversy between the schools of Hillel and Shammai ended in a complete victory for the latter. Shammai was not indeed an opponent of the mission in principle, 18but he subjected it to the most rigorous conditions. The eighteen rules which were laid down included, among other things, the prohibition against learning Greek, and that against accepting presents from pagans for the temple. Intercourse with pagans was confined within the strictest of regulations, and had to be given up as a whole. This opened the way for the Judaism of the Talmud and the Mishna. The Judaism of the Diaspora followed the same course of development, though not till some time afterwards.4545Axenfeld remarks very truly (pp. 8 f.) that “the history of the Jewish propaganda is to be explained by the constant strain between the demand that the heathen should be included and the dread which this excited. The Judaism which felt the impulse of propaganda resembled an invading host, whose offensive movements are continually being hampered by considerations arising from the need of keeping in close touch with their basis of operations.” But it seems to me an artificial and theological reflection, when the same scholar lays supreme weight on the fact that the Jewish propaganda had no “consciousness of a vocation,” and that, in contrast to the Christian mission, it simply proclaimed its God zealously from the consciousness of an innate religious pre-eminence, devoid of humility and obedience. I have tried in vain to find an atom of truth in this thesis, with its resultant defence of the historicity of Matthew xxviii. 19. It is of course admitted on all hands that Christian missionary zeal was bound subsequently to be intensified by the belief that Jesus had directly enjoined it.
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