March 10, 2009

The Baptist and Sejanus - 5

Series History: Posts 1, 2 & 3 were 2 to 4 months ago. Post # 4 was last week.

Judea & Galilee learned about Sejanus' death by December of 31 AD. What was Jesus doing at that point? And what do the Gospels tell us about Antipas' activities at that time?

The three-year chronology of Jesus' ministry says Jesus was laying low. His disciples were out spreading good news. John the Baptist was rotting in prison. Three months later, John was dead and Jesus began moving frequently in and out of Galilee because Antipas was trying to find him, too. Nine months after that December, Jesus was back in Judea for a seven month tour, leading up to the Cross. If the three-year chronology is correct, this sequence must be historical.

In contrast, the four-year chronology says Jesus was at Chanukah in Judea in early December of 31 AD. His disciples were home in Galilee for their last normal winter. John the Baptist had been dead almost a year. Jesus himself would scarcely see Galilee again, and Herod Antipas will not appear again (in the Gospels) until Good Friday. In this chronology, Jesus leaves Galilee forever about five months after Sejanus' death (just after squeezing in his only visit north of Galilee) and thus begins an eleven month tour of Judea, leading up to the Cross.

The question I've been wrangling with for some time now is this - can we observe anything in either of these competing sequences that stands out clearly as seeming consistent or inconsistent with the effect Sejanus' death evidently had on Herod Antipas? I'm getting closer to firm on my own answer, I think.

But first, I'd love to know - if anyone's game - what's your quick impression, based on the above?

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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."

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