It is not supposed to be an academic book review, for which this would suffice: "Koester's important work remains (despite some outdated sections) the standard introduction to the Hellenistic and Roman periods for those interested in the religious landscape that shaped the various Christianities and Judaisms." But certainly the fact that it remains in the curriculum of the University of Helsinki already betrays the fact. A reading diary, on the other hand, would look much the same: "Koester's important work, which has been the backbone of the curriculum of the University of Helsinki and upon which I have constructed my understanding of the religious landscape of the Hellenistic and Roman periods that shaped the various Christianities and Judaisms, fits (despite some outdated sections) on close reading exactly to that understanding of the religious landscape etc. I have constructed upon the curriculum etc." It might be a beautiful circle of a sentence, but banal nevertheless.
Yet it is only a matter of time for insights to develop. It is my great pleasure to observe that I am content in possessing a certain level of competence in my field of study, which means to say that I did not spot any serious flaws in my understanding or total surprises. The extended notes I prepared, however, are boring. I will leave them as an addendum to this post. Here in front I wish to discuss three things I gained in reading this first volume of Koester's introduction.
First, I believe I relearned to appreciate just how much historians are tied to their own time and how large an effect it has for their scholarship. Koester's Introduction to the New Testament was originally published in 1980 (in one volume) as Einführung in das Neue Testament. That more than 30 years has elapsed since then is most evident, naturally, in those few instances in which Koester's scholarship has become outdated. I cannot imagine a contemporary scholar stating that "There is no question that the Jewish sect of Qumran was indeed identical with the sect mentioned in the ancient reports about the Essenes" and that because of the Dead Sea Scrolls "The history of the sect can now be reconstructed with relative certainty" (235). Nor is Koester's sharp distinction between religion and magic—e.g. "religious thought and rites appear here [magical papyri] only in the shadow of magic" (105)—really practised anymore. Likewise, Koester's treatment on "Gnosticism" (382-388) requires a rewriting, though he himself notes presciently at one point that "Further clarification can be expected from the ongoing scholarly investigation of the newly discovered texts from Nag Hammadi" (385).
Yet the zeitgeist in which Koester wrote this work seeps through in other places as well. Beginning from chapter III (alternatively, it took me that far to begin to see some of these subtexts) certain throwaway sentences not only enliven the text but also disclose some of the spirit of that bygone world that undoubtedly haunted the lecture halls of universities with the more—shall we say—prolonged traditions. An innocent example is Koester's statement while discussing the differences between the rhetorical styles of Atticism and Asianism of the Hellenistic period: "The leading proponents of rhetoric and literature of ancient Atticism were unable to comprehend that the principal task of literature is the cultivation of the living, spoken language." (104) It is such a sweeping generalization that it makes me wonder who would disagree with it. Apart from the proponents of Atticism. And my Greek instructor at the Classics Department. Does literature even need a principal task? How does this function with the fact that early Christian writings—as Koester rightly notes—were written in the Greek Koine, the vernacular language of the times (even if some, like the Epistle to the Hebrews, were written in a sort-of "elevated Koine")? It is all the more curious as other examples from Koester read a bit differently, cultural capital wise.
As it happens, I told a lie above. I was surprised at one specific point whilst reading, when Koester discusses the new form of "dramatic performance" that was developed during the Hellenistic period: the mime. The strange wrap-up is this: "But the mimes do not permit their audience to transcend the limitations of banal everyday experience and recognize their true identity in experiences of the realm of unique and extraordinary events." (127) Contrary to this (once again) sweeping generalization I found Koester's description of the mimes fascinating: borrowing from ancient forms of dance and cultic rites and influenced by the New Comedy, the mimes made performances of ancient and modern subjects, performed solo and in groups with improvisation, music, acrobatics, all in the everyday language of the crowds who simply adored them. What, exactly, prevents such performances from transcending "the limitations of banal everyday experience"? Why would we want to do that in the first place, come to think of it? If I may take just one more example from Koester, his discussion of the thriving of literary forms and subjects during the Hellenistic period notes at one point that "There were, of course, educated readers, who would usually restrict their reading to philosophical and scientific literature; but there also was a broader public, able to read and hungry to be entertained." (122) This is probably the most explicit sentence in the first volume that could be used—in case of every single title page and library record of the book going missing—to date its writing: the latter half of the twentieth century (but closer to the 1950s) since that particular distinction between "educated readers" who read only philosophy and "broader public" (masses) who just want to be entertained looks all but impossible to use post-2000 without even a hint of irony.
I do not wish the dwell on Koester's understanding of the role of education and class distinction he discloses in these sidenotes, nor do I wish to offer any sort of judgement on them—the strength of our times, after all, is the proliferation of endless debate and every voice needs to be counted for us to have that. But I wish to note that certain facts—in this instance that Koester was born in 1920s and wrote this work, incidentally, years before I was born, and, to take a random example, the current minister of culture in Finland prefers football and rap music over the classical arts like opera—enable us to pinpoint the origins of literary works with some degree of certainty, whether the works themselves are ancient or modern. And should anyone point out that even today the choice of one's leisure activities is largely depended on one's cultural and social capital (and that, consequently, the "low" and "high" cultures can still be discerned, citing, say, Herbert Gans' Popular Culture and High Culture (2008, Revised and Updated Edition) for evidence), the dating game of Koester's is not really dependent on this one aspect alone. Consider, for instance, his discussion on Euripides (d. 407/406 BCE), whose dramas continued to be very popular throughout the Hellenistic era. Koester reasons that their longevity is due to "his radically new characterization of human life" in which the characters are "ultimately left isolated and helpless" in face of the insurmountable forces of fate (123); a reading of Euripides that seems to betray Koester's dependence on certain twentieth-century philosophers, mainly Martin Heidegger (Introduction to the New Testament happens to be dedicated "To the Memory of my Teacher Rudolf Bultmann").
Finally, I wish to come back to Koester's idea on the task of literature (quoted above) in which he challenged Atticism in favour of writing the vernacular language of "broader public" (to use his words for effect once again). That Koester in this instance feels the need to make an apology on behalf of early Christians (who made virtually all of their writings fit into Koester's ideal) becomes evident when we consider another apology of Koester's, only much more pronounced. In discussing the new development of the Imperial period, the "Philosophical Marketplace" or preaching one's ideas (philosophical, religious, or magical) out in the open, with persuasive speech and demonstrations that one possessed supernatural powers, Koester wants to justify the similar conduct of early Christian preachers (Paul and Barnabas in the Acts of the Apostles comes to mind) with the following:
The ancient and new insights of the philosophers and great thinkers were not in demand, but rather whatever could clarify the world and its powers as they affected peoples' everyday problems. Astral powers thus took the place of the old gods; new deities recommended themselves rather than critically tested philosophical doctrines; demonic forces were better explanations of the world than scientific knowledge. Simple moral rules for human behavior offered better advice than psychological insights into the motivations of human actions. The solution of the pressing personal problems, even if by magical tricks, would be more readily accepted than demands for social reform. If Christianity wanted to keep its message competitive in this religious market, it had to enter into a critical debate with the laws of supply and demand of the marketplace. (357; emphasis mine)In effect, historians are not only hopelessly stuck to their times, they also come to love their subjects (sometimes they both love and hate them), ending up constructing apologies on behalf of them (sometimes diatribes against them). Koester is no worse a historian for possessing these qualities, and certainly better than most. For insight grows naturally out of hindsight—which requires the passing of time—and performs as the best tool available in the historian's toolbox, especially when it comes to assessing the work of other historians. And the final thing I gained in reading this volume? That sweeping generalizations are never more than sweeping generalizations and thus dangerous: avoid them as much as you can (but note that you sometimes cannot).
Oh, and one final question: I began to wonder whilst reading how would our understanding of early Christianities change if we, instead of making it sui generis by giving it a label of its own, decided to refer to the cult(s) of Christ and thus make the playing field even with the other cults of Isis, Mithras, Sarapis, the Roman Emperor, Yahweh etc.?
A Few Notes on Helmut Koester's Introduction to the New Testament, Volume One: History, Culture and Religion of the Hellenistic Age (Fortress Press/Walter de Gruyter, 1982)
K begins with a historical survey of the so-called Hellenistic states beginning with the earliest Greek colonies as far back as X BCE (1), but focusing on the conflict between the Greeks and the Persian Empire, the depictions between the "West" (Greek) and "East" (Persian) and the longstanding, perceived superiority of the Greek system having their roots in the early Greek successes against Persian superpower (2). As expected, Alexander is the turning point in K's narrative, coming from amongst the Macedonians ("nation closely related to the Greeks" but with certain differences; 6) and K emphasises that when Macedonians were raised to the position of power among the Greek city states in IV BCE it was a tremendous change in the power dynamics of the region (9); Alexander went on to conquer the "East" (9-11), but his early death in 323 BCE created an impossibility, an empire too large and divided to be governed effectually and A's empire was broken in various battles of succession among the Diadochi i.e. the succerssors of A (11-12); in any case, the numerous Greek immigrants ensured that the lands of the former Persian empire were to become (largely) "Hellenistic" states (12), except for Egypt which had a somewhat more rough process (25). K notes that these Hellenistic kingdoms needed access to Greek mainland for manpower, and because of economic and symbolic considerations (15), and both the Seleucid empire and Ptolemaic Egypt succeeded in securing this access (16).
The next century saw the rise of the Romans and in K's narrative this came as "a real shock" (17) to both Macedonia and Greece (16-17). The growing influence of Rome was felt in all the Hellenistic states (16-31) with the usual back-and-forth fortunes of war (Mithridates, also known as the "New Dionysus" succeeded in "liberating" all of Asia Minor and Greece in I BCE (22); Pyrrhus of Epirus' campaigns in the Italian mainland; 30), a history of bloodpaths and atrocities. Related to the general warfare were the internal affairs of many Hellenistic states, and the Maccabean Revolt (168-164 BCE) was among them (29), K suggests that the intervention of Rome in this was part of the downfall of the Seleucid empire (29).
K touches upon the unsolved question of the divinity of Alexander, who (so the stories go) was greeted by a priest as the son of Zeus-Ammon (10) and at the very least requested the worship of his dead friend Hephaestion as divine hero (11), and quits with an excursus on the Greek ruler cult, noting first that the concept of state is missing in the Greek language; they would have spoken of "polis" or "commonwealth" instead, for the "state" was not a property of the ruler (opposed to Persian political ideology) (32); the idea of the "divinely gifted individual" as a ruler came forth only in the beginning of IV BCE and following the decline of the polis (33) and this led to the practice of bestowing occasional "divine honours" on rulers and generals during their lifetime (33), while Alexander began as an imitator of the hero Hercules but ended accepting divine veneration and certainly was worshipped as divine after he had died (but how long after there is no consensus; 33-34); in Egypt the traditions of the land (pharaoh was the son of the god Re due to the office) paved way for the Greeks in Egypt to worship Ptolemy I and Berenice (wife) as "Savior Gods" soon after their death (34-35) and later on to worship the still living rulers as divine (35), and a parallel development took place also in the Seleucid empire (36).
K begins with the problems of using the term "Hellenism", for it has since J. G. Droysen been used to refer to "the amalgamation of Greek and oriental culture" (39), but such process began already before Alexander nor was it a proper "amalgamation" for the Greek element was thought to prevail (at least in the minds of the Greek themselves; 39); if the term is used it should be restricted to designate a certain historical period between Alexander and the Roman empire, a period in which "the expansion of the Greek language and culture and, most of all, the establishment of the Greeks' political dominion over other nations of the east" was the theme (39), though at least in certain areas (religion, for instance where the deities were overlapping) K sees the end result as "syncretism" i.e. a proper mixture of both Greek and Eastern elements, noting that the non-Greek contribution is easy to miss due to its presentation (naturally) in Greek (language) using the Greek-developed structures (41).
For Society and Economics K mentions the founding of cities as an important development for it "created cultural and economic centers everywhere, to an extent that was unknown in the east heretofore" (43). The mainland Greece, however, fell into poverty due to its lack of natural resources and cultivated land, and because everyone wanted a piece of Greece for symbolic value and made their wars there (43). Cities in Asia Minor fared only a little better (45) but the kingdoms of Asia Minor amassed wealth (46-47) as did Egypt (48) and the Seleucid Empire though the latter encompassed such a large landmass that a unified economic system was impossible (51) though its administration was centralized to a degree (much of the empire was ruled by various vassals, nations, princes and cities; 51). Administration was funded by taxes, both direct (head tax, property tax, commercial license fee) and indirect (customs, sales tax, port tax) variants were used (53); K sees difficulties in assessing just how oppressive the taxation was, but citing 1 Maccabees 10 and 14 suggests that it doesn't seem to have been "exorbitant" and that the Jews objected them out of principle (54).
The question of indigenous population was more complex. K notes that in Egypt there was a rather clear two-caste system of Greeks and Egyptian population (55) with the "foreigners" having more rights for themselves (56), a social contrast that was lacking in the Seleucid empire (56) in which non-Greeks could be found in the "Greek bourgeoisie" positions of physicians and merchants (57). The question of slavery is a hard one, given the contemporary attitudes towards it. K notes that slavery in the Hellenistic period was not like the slavery in the United States during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, for ancient slaves had certain privileges regarding property and marriage (60). One myth that K rightly demolishes is that the society would have required slavery to function. Rome might have been dependent on slaves to an extent (especially during II and I BCE), but certainly Egypt and the Seleucid empire were not as the number of slaves has been established to have been rather low (60-61). There is always a danger in generalizing when it comes to large landmass or to a long period of time. While there were no abolitionists, some parts of the society were virtually indifferent to slavery, especially religious associations; religions that originated in the East (including Christianity) accepted both the free and the slave into their initiations (62).
As for the economy, agriculture was the most important source of wealth (62, 74) and the highest social classes were always relatively small and located in the cities (63). The most important social institutions were the associations (and continued to be far into the Roman period; 65) which included associations for the benefit of the whole community (gymnasium associations), professional associations (guilds and unions), social clubs, and religious associations (65-66). As mentioned earlier, the Hellenistic city was one of the defining features of the period, Alexandria of Egypt being a prominent example (68). Many cities were also originally founded as military colonies, for the soldiers (once settled to cultivate the lands) had a strong incentive to defend it and would attract other Greek immigrants as well (69). The new cities were modelled after the classical Greek cities with walls, a central agora, temples, administrative buildings, a theater, a gymnasium etc. though they also introduced a number of modifications such as a lack of acropolis reflecting the changing social atmosphere (71). While agriculture remained the basis for the economy and produced some interesting dynamics especially in the mainland Greece which depended on imported grain (74) and in Egypt which became the biggest exporter of grain (74), it was supplemented by various manufacturing and industry products, including mining and metalwork, textiles, ceramics and glass, and writing materials and books (76-82).
Finally, K discusses the trading and monetary systems noting that through various trade routes by sea (to the west) or by land (to the east; 85-88) "trade among the various countries of the Mediterranean world tended to favor items of special value and quality: expensive wine, fine olive oil, ceramic and toreutic products of particular beauty, etc. (84) Trading was conducted through a monetary system based on silver following Alexander who introduced the Attic standard for the whole of his empire though every political institution minted its own coins (88). While Alexander's system was generally upheld, it was supplemented by copper and gold coins into a three-metal system in Egypt and the Seleucid empire, and fixed at that by Augustus in the beginning of the Imperial period (88-89).
Chapter 3 looks at education and literature. Schooling system was the foundation of "the public character of cultural and intellectual life" (93). Primary schooling was usually on the responsibility of the city state, while instruction by a grammarian (who taught poets, especially Homer and Euripides) was paid separately. Young men in their 15th/17th year attended gymnasium for primarily athletics and "preliminary military training" (93). Even higher education was available in medical schools and in schools of rhetoric and philosophy (93-94). Books were available in the Hellenistic period in larger quantities, and public libraries were founded (94-95). In theaters (which were located in every city) the classical poets could also be heard for the benefit of the illiterate (95). K notes of the public character of life that "[s]ectarian seclusion was at variance with the principles of educational policy of the Hellenistic city, which insisted upon the public character of education and instruction" (96). Much of the policies mentioned above continued into the Roman period (97).
Under Roman rule the culture of the world was Hellenistic. As previously noted, this development had already begun in III BCE and it would not be an exaggeration to state following K that "the majority of the Jewish people became thoroughly Hellenized" as well (97). The cultural and intellectual life was not only public but also international. Stoic philosophers thought the world as a large polis with all the people its citizens and all the gods representatives of one divine principle (98). Athens maintained its status as "the cultural capital of the world" well into the Roman period, and students of philosophy continued to study in its Stoic school, Plato's Academy, Aristotle's Lyceum, and the Garden of the Epicureans (99). Other important centres included Alexandria, Pergamum and Rhodes (99-100).
From the number of dialects of Greek from V BCE (Ionic, Aeolic, Doric, and Attic have been preserved in literature) it was the "Ionicised Attic" that became the official language of administration of Alexander's empire, which in turn developed into Koine or the "common" language of the period (101-103). Koine was, however, used less in literature. Instead of vernacular language of the ordinary people (used by certain Hellenistic historians such as Polybius and Diodorus Siculus; 104) or even "elevated Koine", many writers wanted to hark back and uphold the classical Attic prose, while others preferred "Asianism", or (in K's description) "a rhetorical style ... which deliberately used uncommon syntactical constructions and phrases, overloaded sentences with resounding words, and employed sequences of abridged clauses for rhetorical effectiveness" (103-104). Of the early Christian writers, Ignatius of Antioch used Asianism, while Clement of Alexandria preferred Atticism, which was the mainstream choice (104). Early Christian writers wrote Koine. In fact, K observes that "[t]he New Testament has very little relationship to the artificial representation of the language of Attic prose in the literature and rhetoric of the Roman imperial period" (107). Various New Testament authors, however, exhibit different literary sensibilities. The Epistle to the Hebrews comes close to the principles of Atticism, while the authors of 2 Peter and the Gospel of Luke (and Acts of the Apostles) are certainly familiar with various literary conventions, writing in somewhat elevated Koine compared to, say, Paul or (even more so) to the author of the Gospel of Mark (107-110).
Education and language lead us to the sciences or scientific thinking which K traces to VI BCE due to Greek colonization at that time and the influences a close contact with other cultures brought within. The disciplines were as varied as ethnography (also the literary genre of periploi or circumnavigations), medical science, astronomy, mathematics and geometry, and physics. Aristotle cannot go unmentioned regarding all of this (113-116). K places the "Golden Age of Scholarship" into the Hellenistic period, with individuals such as Eudemus of Rhodes, Archimedes of Syracuse, Aristarchos of Samos, Hipparchus of Nicea, Erastosthenes, Herophilus, Erasistratus, and Aristarchus of Samothrace in the forefront of the sciences of their day. Regarding philology one important development occurred in Alexandria where the classical authors were systematically revised through the comparison of extant manuscripts; various commentaries, concordances and monographs were also published at this time (116-119). K sees that the scholarship begins to decline in the Roman period when creative enterprises were replaced by encyclopedias and other collections of past scholarship (119). With some curious disdain he notes that "some ... had no other aim but to entertain the reader" (120). The sole exception to this rule was the medical research, which florished following the works of Rufus of Ephesus and Galen of Pergamum (120).
The final section of chapter 3 discusses the literature of the Hellenized world. K notes that "new subjects, forms, and traditions ... were generated by the wider horizons of the understanding of the world", and much inspiration was derived from Eastern materials (121). Literature thrived not only in variety but also in quantity and influence, as books were also designed and produced for private use. Despite the diversity of Hellenistic literature, however, K sees a certain coherence present, as its roots are ultimately traceable to the traditions of the classical Greece. One author who cannot go unmentioned here is Euripides, whose dramas (originally written in V BCE) maintained their relevance throughout the period (K reasons that this is due to "his radically new characterization of human life" in which the characters are "ultimately left isolated and helpless" (123) in face of the insurmountable forces of fate (122-123). Greek tragedy continued to be produced during the Hellenistic period though only few fragments have been preserved. The New Comedy of Athens, especially due to Menander (whom Paul quotes in 1 Cor 15:33: "Bad company destroys good morals"), entertained the crowds alongside with the mimes (!), the new "popular form of dramatic performance" (126) as K puts it (123-126). Important poets included Callimachus and Theocritus, and Apollonius of Rhodes (127-128).
K notes that historiography was popular in the Hellenistic period. Historians such as Josephus, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Arrian, Dio Cassius, and Herodian produced "well-informed reports based upon personal experience or upon reliable sources such as diaries and original documents" (129). Polybius is on the record as having stated that "only those who participate actively in the events of their time are capable of writing history" (12.25; paraphrased by K) (130). And while Polybius as well as other historians taught morality lessons he nevertheless "rejects the notion that historiography should provide entertainment" (2.56; paraphrased by K) (130). Yet many historians of the period were mainly collecting historical anecdotes nor is the panegyric glorification of Alexander and other historical figures up to the standards of K's sensibilities (131-132).
Finally, the two interesting literary genres, biography (and aretalogy) and romance are discussed by K with some depth. The first was born out of the monarchic rule of Egypt, where a "fixed and detailed schemata" had been laid down for the writing of biography; the same schemata was also utilized in the Jewish Bible e.g. in the story of Moses and Nehemiah (132-133). Contrary to this, the classical Greece lacked such a genre, and K suggest that "[t]he political and social structures of the Greek society at that time did not favor an interest in the single individual who surpassed all others", and came to be only at the beginning of the Hellenistic period; recalling the name of Aristoxenus (one of the students of Aristotle) in this context (he wrote biographies of Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato among others though nothing has been preserved of these; 133). Polybius, the historian mentioned above, brought the biography into historiography. K distinguishes proper biographies from aretalogies, noting that the latter was closely related to the former since extraordinary power of the individual were quite compatible with divine powers "manifested in present events", and that a common opinion of the times held that great works of poetry and philosophy etc. were divinely inspired (134-135). For the Imperial period, the biography continued to thrive in such works as Suetonius' lives of the emperors up to the lives of Christian martyrs (135). Finally, K considers the romance a "typical literary expression of the late-Hellenistic view of human existence" (136-137). This genre collects its characteristics from all the known genres of Greek literature, but focused largely on two themes of eroticism and adventurous travel (first brought together in Chariton's Chaereas and Callirhoe in I CE). It was very popular at the time, and one should consider that practically all of the acts of apostles were examples of (Christian) romances (137-140).
In the chapter on Philosophy and Religion K considers the philosophical schools of the time (Platonism, Aristotle's Peripatetic philosophy, Epicureans, and Stoics) as well as smaller movements of Cynicism, Euhemerism, Orphism, and Greek religion old and new (including mystery religions). Beginning with the established philosophical schools, Aristotle's Peripatetic school was the least influential as the Philosopher himself was largely known only as a natural scientist during the Hellenistic period (144-145). Plato's Academy had its greatest impact on matters demonical (or concerning daimones; Justin Martyr, for instance, claimed that the similarities between pagan cults and Christianity were due to evil demons' impact) and regarding skepticism in obtaining truth from sensory-perceptible world. Contrary to Academicians and their philosophy, Platonism—as Platonic concepts became coiled with Stoic ideas—became the universal framework of thought beginning in I BCE (141-144).
Stoicism was a cosmopolitan perspective, its ethics centering on the concept of virtue and of the goal (telos) of true happiness (eudaimonia) (according to Chrysippus) "to live in agreement with nature (physis)" or according to reason (Logos), free from affections (in a state of apatheia; literally without affections) (147-150). With such cosmological and psychological speculations, stoicism resulted in "a strictly materialistic and deterministic view of the course of all things", though interestingly the very materialistic understanding of the world suited well for the emergent Hellenistic theology as the reason or logos of the Stoics could result in pantheistic theology (149-151). Finally, the Stoics developed the allegorical method in order to reinterpret myths (and Homer!), in K's words "the standard hermeneutical method of antiquity" also heavily utilized by Jewish and Christian writers (151). Like Stoics, Epicureans strived for eudaimonia and taught that the gods were inconsequential for human life; K suggests that Epicureans practised their philosophy in "the Garden" as a conscious substitute for religion with "obvious" parallels to mystery religions, and this probably limited their influence only to the upper classes (145-147).
K sees "the spirit of the Hellenistic Age" present in various (comparatively) fringe movements of the time. The Cynics, known for their impudence in their rejection of standard values and conventions, contributed by developing the diatribe in which—contrary to the (Platonic) dialogue—vernacular language was used in providing "[o]bjections by a fictitious opponent, rhetorical questions, extreme examples, anecdotes, and striking quotations" even to the point of rudeness in the chosen language, though other philosophical traditions apart from Cynicism were also present in the creation of the diatribe style (153-154). Euhemerism, named after Euhemerus, explained myths in anthropomorphic terms, and "reduced the gods to heroes"; Euhemerus himself was an atheist (154-155). Orphism existed already at least in VI BCE with conventicles, largely a movement of the lower classes, with fully developed mysteries in III BCE. Its main influence was seen in the ideas of transmigration of souls and in punishment after death (in the underworld or Tartarus) or post mortem existence in the fields of bliss in "far west". Orphism probably influenced the emerging mystery religions of the Hellenistic period (159-162).
Similar to chapter II and the problems with the concept of "Hellenism", K tries to bring clarity to one of its commonly referred components, "Syncretism". For K, this concept comes to life in the amalgamation of deities (Zeus = Jupiter, Aphrodite = Venus etc.), the translation of Eastern cult texts and rituals into Greek and their transformation from e.g. local cults into world religions through allegorical interpretation which in turn is practised through the new philosophical framework of the times, and in the creation of completely new religions from combining Greek and non-Greek elements (the cult of Sarapis); Christianity, in general, is consequently a thoroughly syncretistic religion (164-167).
The Hellenistic period saw the reorganization of cults following the disappearance of political power many temples had previously possessed, and new forms of existing without being a state religion (not to forget the lack of state revenue) had to be developed, including liturgical and theological reforms. Cults themselves, however, essentially flourished, as witnessed by festivals and games that continued to be held. The Imperial period brought changes as the Greek cults were suddenly supported by the philhellene emperors, though K observes that such state funding eventually led to their downfall as the cults became "estranged from the religious consciousness of the majority of the population", despite the old cults having attained an outlook fairly similar to the synagogue system (and services) of the Jews and the congregations and practices of early Christians (167-171). The oracles were also stripped of political influence they had previously possessed, though this was somewhat transferred to the Sibylline oracles (at the Hellenistic period this meant books of prophecies by various Sibyls). The Roman period, however, saw some of the old oracle sanctuaries flourishing for a period, but only one of them (the oracle of Apollo in Claros) could be said to have adapted to the times with theological and liturgical innovations (such as IAO (Yahweh?) as the highest god; 171-173). The cult of Asclepius, however, remained popular throughout as the healing services (advertised in wooden tablets and stone inscriptions as well as in aretalogies full of miraculous stories of healings) continued to be in demand; K suggests that the perception of Asclepius as "the most humane god" ("Savior") was at least partly responsible (173-176).
The Greek mysteries are treated with some depth by K, and if I drop the details of the mysteries themselves (so well-known to me), I would just note that K sees the mysteries at Eleusis as the prototype of the later mystery religions, with great influence up to the Roman times when it became a worldwide phenomenon; even emperors were initiated into the mysteries (176-180). The other early Greek mystery (apart from Orphism mentioned above) was the cult of Dionysus (Bakchos/Bacchus), with its orgiastic feasts with the practice of omophagia i.e. wild animals torn to pieces alive and eaten raw (in the Thracian myth of Dionysus the god appears not in the form of animal but as a child "born into the spring" with phallus as his symbol); the outlook of the cult differed in different places and e.g. the ritual of a hieros gamos was not always part of the cultic activities. Only Asclepius challenged Dionysus in popularity in the Hellenistic period. It is notable that the cult of Dionysus seems to have both a public face with public celebrations and a mystery cult aspect of which details (as is also the case with the Eleusinian mysteries) are unsure (180-183).
The end of chapter 4 discusses the new religions of the Hellenistic period. Sarapis, an artificial and syncretistic god created by Ptolemy I out of Egyptian and Greek elements (originally Oserapis or closely connected Osiris and Apis was worshipped in Memphis) and made the cult of Sarapis the central cult of the realm. K suggests that the creation of Sarapis was due to the Ptolemies needing to legitimate themselves as true heirs of the Pharaohs and that they needed a god to adopt for that purpose (183-188). Sarapis was eventually eclipsed in significance by Isis, originally an Egyptian deity, who was transformed from Osiris' wife to "the goddess of heaven and mother of the All", a truly universal deity. K notes, quite rightly, that "Mary, the mother and goddess of heaven in Christianity, is little more artistically than a copy of Isis", noting that characteristics of Isis are plainly in sight in the Revelations' depiction of the pregnant woman "dressed with the sun and ... the zodiac on her head" fleeing the dragon (Typhon) together with her child (188). The Isis mysteries were one of the more popular of the mystery religions. Though details are once again uncertain, K sees the initiate having been reborn and placed "on a new course of life and salvation"; not immortality nor resurrection from the dead, but "dying to one's former life and ... a new life in the service of the goddess", while Isis' protection extended even after death ("living in the Elysian fields you will worship me as your gracious protector"; Metam. 11.6); Christian parallels would include Paul in Romans 6 and K notes, rightly again, that "[o]ne should not deny that the New Testament and the mysteries often speak the same language" (190-191). The difference between Christianity and mystery religions for K lies in the financial means required to participate, which Christianity did not require. This essential difference, however, is contested by archaeological finds for the cult structures in various cities could have held a large congregation, which for K makes them to closely resemble Jewish and Christian places of worship in this regard (191). Another popular mystery religion of the Hellenistic period was the cult of the Great Mother (Magna Mater and also known as Cybele) and her lover Attis. Rome recognized the cult already in 204 BCE (the first Eastern cult to receive such official sanctimony), but due to its "radical and extreme" religious fervor certain restrictions for participation were not lifted until I CE (191-194).
Other new religions included the cult of Sabazius, the cult of Men (Tyrannus) and the Dea Syria (Atargatis); of interest is the expulsion of the Jews from Rome in 139 BCE as they, according to Valerius Maximus (1.3.2) "had tried to corrupt the Roman customs with the cult of Sabazius Jupiter" (195). Whether this represents misinformation, typo, or Jewish movement which had adopted—as the times dictated—a quite syncretistic outlook for itself remains undecided for K (194-196). Finally, K discusses the "Problem of the Mystery Religions" and notes that some of their more common features include an organizational structure, set rites of initiation, regular meetings and ceremonies, an ethic code, mutual support between members, obedience to the leader, and disciplina arcani i.e. the necessity to remain silent about the rites and ceremonies of the cult. Though not every mystery religion is required to have all of these features, the task of drawing the line is made even more difficult by the variety existing inside the geographically distinct bodies of the same cult. For an illustrating example, K considers the differences among the early Christians, noting that "there were various forms of the words of institution for the Lord's Supper ... some congregations observed dietary laws, and others did not; some churches had "apostles" and "prophets" as their leaders, and other had presbyters or a bishop; there was certainly no uniform interpretation of the tradition, for indeed a generally accepted tradition did not even exist ... some Christians celebrated the eucharist as a mystery that guaranteed immortality for each participant, others understood the common meal as a messianic banquet in expectation of the coming of the savior" (198-199). Regardless, the concepts of mystery, salvation and immortality do not themselves make a mystery religion (so the question of whether early Christianities represented one remains undecided despite e.g. their use of mysterion for the Lord's Supper and other pieces of mystery language) for these concepts were very much "in the air" in the Hellenistic period (196-203).
For his chapter on Judaism in the Hellenistic Period K begins with a historical survey from the destruction of Jerusalem in VI BCE to its designation as a typical temple state following Ezra's reforms in IV BCE and the inevitable Greek influences in the following centuries (205-208). Alexander gained control of the area after the battle of Issus in 333 BCE, passed to the Ptolemies and later on to the Seleucids. The religious life of Jerusalem remained steady though the ruling priestly families exhibit all the signs of Hellenization (208-210). Various factors (the contrast between Hellenization and the traditional religion of the Jews; political struggles amongst the elite, notions of "utopian apocalypticism") led to the Maccabean revolt in II BCE following a fight over the position of the high priest of Jerusalem and the attempt of Antiochus Epiphanes to secure the funds of the temple for his campaigns against Egypt. In other words, the Maccabean revolt did not spring up from a simple attempt to convert the temple cult of Yahweh (who, incidentally, was already called by the name of Zeus Olympius following the reform of the high priest Jason to "reconstitute" the city of Jerusalem as a Greek city called Antioch) into the cult of Zeus Baal Shamayin though this also happened once the hostilities between the fighting parties had intensified in 167 BCE and led to the persecution of Jews in Judea. Successful guerilla warfare was waged from the mountains of Judea under Judas Maccabeus and Jerusalem was conquered by the Hasmoneans, and the traditional cult was returned to Jerusalem in 162 BCE following an agreement between the Hasmoneans and Antiochus V Eupator, the new Seleucid king. The matter was finally settled in 157 BCE with a treaty and by 152 BCE Jonathan (who had been appointed "judge" by the treaty and had chosen well his sides in the internal struggles of the Seleucid empire) was made "strategos and governor of Judea" (210-215).
Thus begins the time of the Hasmoneans. In 142-141 BCE Simon was made an "independent ruler of Judea" and a high priest shortly afterwards. Disputes over the rights for the high priesthood made one group of the Hasmoneans flee to Qumran (whom K identifies with the Essenes), while the ruling Hasmoneans began a series of campaigns to expand the territory of their state; though Hellenized to the degree of changing their names to proper Greek names and assuming titles such as "Philhellenos", the Hasmonean state was quite unlike the Hellenistic states and the citizens of many conquered Greek states in Palestine were forced to flee or convert to Judaism. Intraparty fighting came once again to blows at the beginning of I BCE with high priests coming and going, until a deadlock between Hyrcanus and Aristobulus made both of them to appeal to the Roman general Pompey for resolution. Pompey conquered Jerusalem in 63 BCE and ended the Hasmonean rule (215-219).
Meanwhile the Jews outside Palestine (in diaspora)—where they had ended up beginning with the Babylonian exile in VI BCE—had a divergent cultural and religious development. Most important cities of Jewish diaspora were Babylon, Seleucia, and Alexandria. The latter saw the translation of the Hebrew bible to Greek (beginning in III BCE), and their migration to other parts of the Mediterranean brought their influence with them. In I CE there was a Jewish community in practically every major city (219-224). K emphasizes how much the process of Hellenization affected the Jews both in Palestine and in diaspora. Hebrew as a language was displaced by Greek (Aramaic in Palestine) and the change in linguistics produced a change in thinking as the Greek translation (Septuagint or LXX) of the sacred writings was read allegorically through Greek ideas and concepts just like Homer. K explains well: "The story of the creation was seen as a cosmogony; religious observances like circumcision and the Sabbath were understood as symbols and reinterpreted spiritually. Traditional Jewish prayers used Stoic formulations in their translated Greek form. Hellenistic Jews utilized the forms of Greek literature for their writings and sometimes published their books under the pseudonym of a famous Greek author from the classical period." (224-225) Greek forms were also introduced at the organizational level (synagoge is rather akin to "associations" and the language of office was borrowed from there as well). Though Jews in diaspora continued to pay the "temple tax" and send it to Jerusalem, K considers this a rather symbolic gesture as no formal ties of authoricity existed between the temple heads and the diaspora Jews (225-226).
The relationship between Jews and other residents is worth considering further. K observes that certain characteristics of Judaism (the Sabbath, the right to come together, and the right to send the temple tax to Jerusalem) required a silent (or explicit) acceptance by the authorities. An official pardon from participating to the ruler cult and other official celebrations, however, could not be obtained and no records exist of such gestures of goodwill towards the Jews. Consequently, K suggest that "[i]n actual practice, it was simply ignored when Jews failed to show up at official religious celebrations", an attitude that also pertained to early Christians (226). From these considerations it follows that Jews almost never had the rights of full citizenship in their towns of residence and were confronted periodically with certain anti-Jewish measures, but could nevertheless rise to prominent positions when the occasion arrived (226-228).
Next K considers important parties and theological motives of the Hellenistic period Judaism: the Sadducees, the Essenes, the Pharisees, the Samaritans, and apocalypticism and wisdom theology. Of the Jewish parties, the Sadducees maintained the legacy of the cult of the rebuilded temple of Jerusalem and the rewritten law as an aristocratic class of priesty families (228-230) while K's depiction of the Essenes is colored by his identification of Qumran with this movement (234-239). K suggests that the Pharisees were "a rather well-organized political movement" (241) and "philosophical sect" according to Josephus, descendents of the Hasidim and precursors of the later Jewish religion without the temple, with a clear Hellenized mindset, apocalyptic and ethic concerns, and whose hermeneutical method (Halacha or "how one should walk") looked for the law "written in order to be valid for a new time" (242) much like the Stoics read Homer (239-243). The Samaritans, as the Samaritan Pentateuch illustrates, were "Jewish" in the sense that they accepted the reforms of Ezra, and the temple on Mt. Gerizim (founded at the beginning of the Hellenistic period) did not initially make them suspicious in the eyes of the Judean population; such fallout happened only during the Hasmonean period (John Hyrcanus destroyed the temple in 128 BCE and later conquered Samaria) and by I CE the parallel developments of the Jewish cults in Samaria and Jerusalem made these two bitter rivals (247-249).
Of the two concepts, apocalypticism "became the most important theological movement in Judaism during the Hellenistic period" (230) and mixed together Canaanite myths with Eastern influences through the process of Hellenization, resulting in dualistic and pessimistic speculations of escatological nature of the salvation of defective individuals through an understanding of "larger cosmic realities" (233) with ideas of individual resurrection/immortality, and of eternal punishment; such ideas first appear in Deutero- and Trito-Isaiah, Ezekiel, and in the apocalypses of Isaiah 24-27 and Zechariah 9-14; 230-234). Wisdom theology tried to render the world intelligible through "contemplation of creation, of the phenomena of nature, and of the primordially determined structures of generally valid human experience" (244), and soon transformed Wisdom into a personified agent of creation and identical with the law of Israel (243-246).
Finally, K offers a brief overview of the Jewish writings from the period. During the Hellenistic period Hebrew was used by scholars while Aramaic was more widely used (and had a number of derivative languages), succumbing only to Greek onslaught with which Palestinian Jewish writings were composed as much as those in the diaspora. The Septuagint, Greek translation of the Jewish scriptures, was the most important as it allowed Jewish theology to break free of the linguistic mold of Hebrew, in K's opinion "the most significant factor in the process of the Hellenization of Judaism" (253) which made the Jewish Bible "generally accessible, divine and inspired book containing ancient wisdom, deep religious truths, and political insights ... instruction for right conduct, but also as a source for magic ... in no way inferior to Homer and the Greek philosophers" (254). Other important works included Daniel, 1 Enoch, The Ascension of Moses, the War Scroll (from Qumran), and the Jewish Sibylline Oracles as well as Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, Manual of Discipline and Damascus Document (from Qumran), Commentaries (Peshers), Hymns (Hodayot), and Psalms of Solomon, all examples of apocalyptic literature in which the past is written as ancient times prophecy following a divine plan with freely borrowed Babylonian and Canaanite mythological topics mixed together, up until the final judgement of the righteous and the wicked (255-262).
Jewish works dealing with history include the Books of Chronicles, Josephus' Antiquities (already discussed), the book of Jubilees, The Genesis Apocryphon, Fragments of Alexander Polyhistor, Joseph and Asenath, Hecateus, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Esther, Judith, and the book of Tobit, though some of these writings are rather legendary in their appearance (262-268). Wisdom literature includes the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach (which shows Hellenistic traits in its "relative openness towards the world"; 269), the book of Qoholeth (which exhibits Hellenistic ideas in its "radical doubts about justice in the natural order"; 270), 1 Baruch (which illustrates how the two approaches of Sirach and Qoholet were won by the former), Epistle of Aristeas (the law as source of true philosophy), Pseudo-Phocylides, 4 Maccabees, and Wisdom of Solomon. Finally (how many times have I used that word already?), K considers the importance of Philo of Alexandria and concludes that his "large-scale reinterpretation of the Pentateuch for Hellenistic Judaism" (275) such as his allegorical commentary on Genesis (following from Philo's conviction that literal meaning of the word is categorically insufficient) succeeded in transforming the Jewish Bible into a Hellenic book; in the process, the emergence of "the concept of the figure of heavenly wisdom" which Philo "merged with the philosophic and religious idea of the Logos" (280) and other related ideas paved way for the later allegorical Christian readings of the Alexandrian fathers (namely, Clement and Origen; 273-280).
The final chapter of the first volume discusses "the Roman empire as the heir of Hellenism", beginning (once again) with a historical survey from the groups of people who settled the western parts of the Mediterranean c. 1000 BCE while trade interests brought the Phoenicians and others who settled i.a. Carthage, one of the most powerful city states of the period (founded in IX BCE). At the same time the Etruscans came to Italy, soon afterwards joined by the Greeks (281-283).
The Romans were originally a tribe of the Latini, and Rome itself was founded under Etruscan rule, but shed free of them in VI BCE attaining "the political equilibrium of a semi-democratic corporate state" the following centuries despite tensions between the patricians and the plebeians (roughly, the upper class and the lower class, while the founding of the equestrians in II BCE made class warfare even more complex). Once again K places the turnpoint event at a battle, this time Rome's victory over the Samniti, the Celts and the Greeks (led by Pyrrhus) in III BCE, which resulted in Rome that "controlled a large area with several million inhabitants" and experienced "an economic upturn" (283-285). The First Punic War (264-241 BCE) led to the establishment of provinces (K observes that this new imperial policy "implied the exploitation of the conquered lands"; 286) instead of making the conquered lands part of the federation, and for the next three hundred years Rome conquered piece by piece the whole of the Mediterranean and beyond (285-292).
Not even the Civil War fought in 133-30 BCE (over a hundred years) could challenge this development for the Romans saw, as exemplified by Pompey (Gnaeus Pompeius) while pacifying Spain in 77 BCE and hunting the pirates the following decade, that their conduct had to be in accord with the expectations of the conquered people, or in K's words "instead of cruel punishment ... suppression, and exploitation, Pompey advocated clemency and the distribution of benefactions" (296), offering pardon to the defeated enemies in exchange for their loyalty. After the well-known intrigues of the Triumvirates (first between Pompey, Crassus, and Caesar; second between Octavian, Marcus Antonius, and Lepidus) it was Octavius/Octavian, Caesar's nephew, who emerged victorious with a brand new office of the princeps and specific honors from the Senate, including the title "Augustus" (Imperator Caesar divi filius Augustus), authority pro consule over all of the provinces, authority of the tribune, and the office of pontifex maximus as well as parallel "administrative instruments" (as K titles them) to bypass the traditional administration led by the Senate (292-304). Though there were several problems of succession and individual emperors ranging from able (Vespasian) to lunatic (Caligula), on the whole the empire experienced a period of peace and prosperity, especially during the first half of II CE (the "Golden Age" in K's parlance, ending with the death of Marcus Aurelius in 180 CE following continual wars, epidemics and economic difficulties; 306-322).
Despite Octavian coming up with a new institution of the principate, the old institutions from the Republic were not dissolved i.e. the Roman empire was not a monarchy as the Hellenistic kingdoms had been. Much of the stability was accomplished by maintaining the status quo of the classes briefly mentioned above (though social movement seems to have been a real option at the time as well) and keeping the army tied to the civil administration i.e. it was customary for young members of the upper classes to serve as military tribunes in the army before moving on. Another important innovation was the imperial jurisdiction i.e. the courts had imperial representatives present and legal cases could be referred to the emperor (322-326).
Mediterranean trade changed very little as the demand for luxury items continued despite the area becoming a political unit, but economic centres moved westwards and some parts of the Empire, namely Rome, became wholly dependent on importing grain from some distance away, namely Egypt. Building projects included seaports and, most importantly, roads which enabled the transportation of goods and tourists the empire over (326-328). Imperial administration was reformed in order to abolish exploitation of the provinces (i.a. fixed salaries for the Roman officials) and construction works were commissioned, though changes in the ownership of lands in Italy led thousands of impoverished farmers to flock to Rome; another source of population tension and even revolt was the institution of slavery (328-332).
K observes that "[t]he cities were the political and economic backbone of the Roman empire (332). Urbanization was encouraged (with focus on the urban professions in manufacturing and trade) and new cities were founded (Nîmes, Geneva, Lyon, Paris, Cologne, Mainz, Augsburg, Colchester, Lincoln, London) as well as "reconstituted"; contrary to the Hellenistic city the Roman city incorporated the surrounding countryside and the city rule (the class of the decuriones) was not a democratic council (technically) open to all citizens. The Imperial period was the rise of a large middle class which included people from wealthy owners to even slaves in reasonably good positions organized into professional associations. Since the decuriones was a closed class of new aristocracy, the middle class could not cultivate political ambitions, resulting in unrest that became especially worse at the end of II CE following the economic toils of continuous warfare. Following this analysis of the class dynamics of the period, K suggests that Christians found their members from the middle class of the cities (332-336).
Romans idealized Greek culture so far as to lose the old elements of their culture (or at least these become very difficult to distinguish). Every educated Roman was bilingual (Latin and Greek), and Greek concepts and forms were borrowed in literature, architecture (though the arch was a genuine Roman innovation), painting, and sculpture (336-338). From older Roman poets (Ennius, Plautus, Lucretius) to the "modern poets" (Neoterici) including Catullus, Horace, and Virgil, to the next generation of Propertius, Tibullus, and Ovid until the satirical inclinations of Lucan, Petronius, Persius, Martial, and Juvenal; special mentions are reserved for Cicero (who "transformed Latin into a language of literature and philosophy" and "legitimized the acceptance of Greek philosophy in the Roman world"; 343-344) and Varro (who "could boast of a similar accomplishment in the areas of cultural history and in the encyclopedic sciences"; 344) (338-345). For Roman history we have Cato, Caesar, and Sallust (combining the roles of historian and politician) followed by Livy whose Ab urbe condita agrees completely with Augustus who happened to be his patron. Josephus' Jewish War and Jewish Antiquities cannot go unmentioned, nor Tacitus' Histories and Annals (both are works of very recent history from Tacitus' point of view), nor Arrian (the historian of Alexander) and Dio Cassius' Roman history in eighty books (345-350).
Much of the characteristics of these Roman authors (many of whom wrote in Greek and/or were originally non-Roman) has already been covered in chapter III since they followed their Greek exemplars rather faithfully. The Imperial period saw the rise of the Second Sophistic, or the re-emergence of the sophist idea of a wise man who is also politically active (Quintilian, Herodes Atticus, Hadrian of Tyre), and witnessed the Stoic philosophy focusing on the ethics (Seneca, Musonius Rufus, Epictetus, the emperor Marcus Aurelius). Other schools of philosophy wrote commentaries on their founders' works while K names "The Philosophical Marketplace" the new development of preaching one's ideas (whether philosophical, religious, or magical—if one needs to make such distinctions) out in the open, with persuasive speech and demonstrations that one possessed supernatural powers; yet some thinkers of the age do not fit into any of the old philosophical traditions nor into the marketplace (Dio Cocceianus of Prusa, Plutarch, Lucian; 351-362).
Religions in the Imperial period were diverse. K begins with the problems of reconstructing "ancient Roman religion", noting that pietas (piety) and religio meant for Romans "the exact observation of established rites on behalf of the whole political community" (363) and that both prayer and the observation of signs (omina) were important elements. Despite such incidents as the Bacchanalian scandal in 186 BCE (witnessing Roman suspicions of mystery religions) the Roman religion was quite open to other cults; Christian as well as other itinerant preachers could proclaim their message in most circumstances openly (362-366). The Imperial period saw the development of the cult of the emperor, which combined ideas from Hellenistic royal cults and Roman concept of felicitas, "the almost supernatural ability to lead a project to a happy and successful conclusion through insight, courage, and dexterity", even "a manifestation of divine intervention in the deeds of the individual" (290). For a generalized difference, Greeks gave divine honours to the ruler as the epiphany of god while Romans gave divine honours to his felicitas. The cult of the emperor did not (strictly speaking) make a god out of the emperor, but through the cult of Roma (Rome as city), the cult of the emperor's genius (personal supernatural guardian), and Lares Augusti (supernatural guardians of the emperor's house) it was "a supplementary glorification" (370) of the Roman religion and, consequently, of the Roman state. Such fine distinctions, however, were lost in the provinces of the East where the emperors from Augustus onwards received altars and temples and were identified as gods among all the other gods (366-371).
The cult of Mithras possibly attained its mystery religion outlook only by its journey to the west in the Imperial period. K goes so far as to state that this cult which accepted only men and had the bull, the sun, and the covenant present in its myth "was the most important mystery religion of the pagan world during the whole imperial period and as late as IV CE" (372-373). Another religious movement was the Neopythagoreanism (though it is doubtful just what the actual relationship with Pythagoras' order from VI BCE was), which incorporated Pythagorean and Orphic elements and stressed rules for conduct as well as the importance of numerology, holding that "the power and superiority of the human self" should be "visibly presented in the life of the philosopher" (375); K considers Apollonius of Tyana to be a model example of the latter (374-376). Astrology, which was first in the realm of the upper classes, became everyone's favourite in I CE: astrological symbols and writings were everywhere and the calculation of favourable days and hours based on the planets and stars was widely practised; Jewish and Christian sources are full of examples of astrological elements such as Revelations 12:1ff description of the woman in a vision. Magic, as well, was widely practised including Jewish and Christian circles (examples from early Christian literature include the Acts of John and the Acts of Peter; 376-381). Finally, K considers Gnosticism and the Hermetic Religion. Though K's treatment of the first could be rewritten to incorporate much more nuanced understanding the Nag Hammadi scholarship has produced, his short description of Hermetic Writings suggests that a certain "pagan gnostic mystery religion" must have existed alongside those who combined Gnostic ideas with Christian ideas (the traditional view of Gnostics such as Valentinus as "Christianity's heresy" with little pre-Christian exemplars; 381-389).
The very last section of the book (phew!) discusses the fortunes of Palestine in the Roman period. Caesar had made Antipater the administrator (procurator) of Judea for his services, and later his son Herod was appointed king of Judea and (after much warfare and political intrigue) also Samaria, the area around Jericho and the Palestinian coast. During Herod the Great's reign (38-4 BCE) many cities were refound or recommissioned, and there was a considerable economic thrive even though the king himself was thought as a tyrant (390-393). After Herod's death the kingdom was divided among his sons Archelaus, Antipas, and Philip (Archelaus' Judea fell under Roman administration headed by a prefect in 6 CE; especially Pontius Pilate's administration saw tumultuous times). Agrippa I reigned once again over the whole area (41-44 CE), but his son Agrippa II was made a ruler of a much smaller realm. Instead of a kingdom, Palestine was reorganized as a Roman province following the death of Agrippa I, with Fadus, Tiberius Alexander, Cumanus, Felix, Festus, Albinus, and Gessius Florus as procurators between 44-66 CE. Josephus describes the reasons for the Jewish War (in K's paraphrase) as "the incredible stupidity and brutality of the Roman procurator" (401), but K suggests that "eschatological aspirations" were also playing a role in the escalation of violence so far that the Romans were in opposition with a political movement supported by most of the population. Vespasian, and ultimately his son Titus (after Vespasian had to leave to Rome as the new emperor), conquered Jerusalem and made it Aelia Capitolina, a Roman city forbidden for the Jews to enter (394-403).
Though there are practically no sources of Judaism in late I and II CE, the diaspora solutions of living a Jewish life without access to the temple of Jerusalem were probably helpful here, and the question of conduct (halachah) and, furthermore, mystical speculations and proclamation (haggadah) became central for Judaism. Much of the later development is owned to Hillel and the traditions around him, and one of his disciples (so the story goes) Yohanan ben Zakkai decided to settle in Jamnia in the late 60s. Yohanan held that the catastrophe was a punishment for Israel's sins and that the law needed to be upheld much better from now on. K notes that now "Hillel's methods of interpretation and his principal rules of conduct ... became decisive" (407). The Jamnia-based Beth-Din ("Law Court"), however, had probably only limited influence until the end of IV CE though K notes the difficulties in concluding this or that from the archaeological evidence. Another Jewish messianic movement was defeated in a war between 132-135 CE and the Roman response was fierce: ban on circumcision, Sabbath, festivals, and Torah, though the legislation was largely gone by the time of Antoninus Pius. The important Jewish writings that emerged out of this period (though they did not receive a written form before late II CE) were the Mishnah (interpretations of laws), the Early Midrashim (legal commentaries on the Jewish Bible), and the Tosefta (collection of halachic materials) (403-412).