February 17, 2008

Update on Volume II

(Tenative Previews on Volume II posted earlier: part 1, part 2, and part 3.)

Not a lot new on the project yet. (I'm still behind the curve at school.) Bible/History stuff is always running on a back burner in my brain, though, and I'm getting clearer about just how much rigor I NEED to put into Volume II.

I was going to skim through the teens & twenties to get to John the Baptist, but I need to show how Herod Antipas viewed the security of his own position as events happened throughout Tiberius' reign.

Here's a few short bits...

Tiberius (through Germanicus) gets aggressive in the East (Thrace, Cappadocia, Armenia) and Antipas has every right to get nervous. After Germanicus dies, Herod gets reports from Rome about Tiberius' prosecutions. The more it seems that people are being arrested for trivial reasons and/or just to enrich the Emperor and his state coffers... the more - I suggest - Herod Antipas must have worried about keeping his position as Tetrarch, which ultimately depended on keeping the good will (and avoiding the bad whims) of Tiberius.

It seems that Antipas goes to Rome the year before John the Baptist starts preaching. And it seems that Antipas made an alliance that year with Sejanus. (Josephus has Antipas' rival Herod-Agrippa dish that dirt years later to Caligula.) If this is true, then we would imagine Antipas feeling secure while Sejanus ran Rome as Tiberius' proxy. In those years, only enemies of Sejanus were being prosecuted.

But after Sejanus dies, Antipas has reason to worry again, and to be cautious. That dynamic shifts gradually from 31 until 36, and I want to examine it carefully. One thing I haven't been able to check yet is the record of prosecutions from 19 to 31, and whether there was a quick or gradual drop off as Macro & Caligula secured their control over things.

It's ironic to me - the main thing in the records of this period, the main thing I was thinking was irrelevant, the main thing I was hoping to skip almost compltely - was these prosecutions. But as someone once said, the study of a topic is driven by the questions asked about that topic. And I thought of a new question that has got to be explored: To what extent did politics in Rome influence Herod Antipas, before and after Sejanus? And how plausible is it that this helped keep Antipas from arresting and executing Jesus before his appointed time?

I think that's worth a bit of time.

When I started this thing, I knew the major events and the outline. The stuff I'm looking at now doesn't change much... it just makes it more complete. Hopefully, that also makes it more reliable, more consistently accurate, and more impressively plausible to the professional scholars whose opinions I need (eventually) to solicit.

We'll see about all that. All I know for sure is how much time it takes me! ;)

So basically, these days I'm doing what it says in the sidebar - I'm prewriting 24 Year Books. So this delay in posting on Year-by-Year may stretch on a few months... And I'm still chomping at the bit to write about Stephen & Titus. But "Patience is Christ!"

Please, y'all, remember to keep me in mind before the Lord.

And pray that we'll get this done yet.

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"If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient observation than to any other reason."

-- Isaac Newton