March 5, 2009

The Baptist and Sejanus - 4

Note: This is an intermittent series that began last year - see Part 1 (November 3rd), Part 2 (December 6th) and Part 3 (December 29). A synopsis of the whole idea is also here.

In the year that John the Baptist died - which was 31, not 32 AD - Jesus spent several months darting in and out of Galilee, because Herod was looking for him. That period of "withdrawals" ran thru September, followed by two months in Judea. It was the first time Jesus had ventured back to Judea since John's arrest. Fittingly, one thing keeping Him safe at that time seems to have been the people's strong opinion of John as a martyr. (John 11:39-42)

Skip forward to Good Friday, April 3rd, 33 AD. John's death isn't so fresh anymore, but Pilate and Antipas still play "jurisdiction hot potato" over having to decide the Lord's fate. At this point, their political caution is due to a different death - that of Rome's prefect Sejanus, who died in October 31, being allied (to some degree, at least) with Pilate and Antipas. Note that some of Sejanus' allies were still being persecuted as late as 35 AD. (Suetonius, Vitellius 2.3)

One good question is - how far back does Herod Antipas' political caution go? In history, probably to December 31 AD, when news likely reached Israel of Sejanus' fall. In scripture, we don't see it until Good Friday. Or do we?

To be continued...

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