Roman Influence on the Birth of Christianity

Who Did Jesus Curse – Praise?

  • The primary source of Jewish resistance to Roman authority was the religious culture firmly embedded in their beliefs developed over many centuries.

Regarding the Jewish Religious Order:

  • Jesus publicly and frequently criticized Jewish religious authority:

    • Those who copied the holy manuscripts – the scribes.[1]

    • Those who studied and maintained the only written form of the Jewish faith and the Mosaic Law.[2]

    • Those who guided the faith of the Jewish masses – the chief priests.[3]

    • The Pharisees[4]

    • The Sadducees[5]

    • And when an unknown number of people (a few, all?) from Jewish communities expressed skepticism over Jesus’ works, Matthew 11:21-24 quotes Jesus as saying:

    Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Beht-sai-da!  And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades.

  • All of the above, including Jewish elders, are documented numerous times (too many to list here) as being highly critical of Jesus – even seeking his death. The Gospel of John extends this dislike to Jews in general.

  • Jesus’ criticism of the Jewish religious order would have been consistent with Roman goals of breaking down competition to their authority.

Regarding Roman Authority:

  • In one of only two written accounts where Jesus makes reference to Roman authority, Jesus states, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s".[6]

  • In the second account (Matthew 8:10-13, Luke 7:9), Jesus publicly announces that a Roman centurion has the greatest faith in all of Israel.

  • In turn, Roman centurions refer to Jesus as “Lord”[7] and in another case as “[a or the] Son of God.”[8]

  • Jesus is never documented criticizing Roman authority and Roman authority is never documented (in the New Testament) being critical of Jesus

[1] Matthew 15:1-7 23:2-3 23:13-29, Mark 12:38-40, Luke 20:46

[2] Luke 11:45-47 11:52

[3] Matthew 21:23 21:31

[4] Matthew 15:1-7 16:6 16:11-12 23:2-3 23:13-29, Mark 8:15, Luke 11:42-44 12:1

[5] Matthew 16:6 16:11-12 22:23-29

[6] Matthew 22:21, Mark 12:17, Luke 20:25

[7] Matthew 8:8, Luke 7:6

[8] Matthew 27:54, Mark 15:39


Historical Discussion
In Depth

Historical Context

Dating the Gospels

I Was a Sunday-School Spy

The Crucifixion (animation)

Post Appearance of Jesus


Taxes to Rome

Submissiveness to Oppression

John the Baptist

Admirable and Amazing Works

The Term Gospel

Jewish Judgment

Pilate's Defense (animation)

Roman Soldiers at the Tomb

Migration of Christianity to Rome

Irony of Faith

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