Timelines

My original Timeline project was to be an exhaustive Chronicle from 9 BC to AD 70. The most detailed efforts thus far follows the years covered by Dio Cassius' 55th Book, to the death of Augustus. What follows here is a hodge-podge of various efforts along the way. Hopefully there will be much more to come.


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I made a chart listing Birth Years of NT Era Figures and another on Sailing Season in the Roman Empire.

Here's a Simple Timeline of 9 BC to AD 72. It's very succinct.

This narrative sketch strings together major events Between the Testaments, from 587 BC to 9 BC.

Here's a links list of posts about the Chronology of Jesus' Nativity, circa 7 BC.

I once detailed my rationale for reconstructing a Chronology of the Gospels, from AD 28 to 33. 

We need to look at much more than dates when we choose between The Four Jesus Timelines.

This critical post follows G.W. Bowersock on Dating Paul's 'Conversion'.

Important people promoted my overview on the Chronology of Paul's Travels & Epistles.

 We can estimate Paul's Likely Age(s) year-by-year through his various adventures.


Finally, here's why the Chronology of Acts 1-9, should only be worked out after everything else.


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Now, as long as you're here...

Knock yourself out with this draft:


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A Timeline of Major Events
in the New Testament Era,
From 9 BC to AD 72


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An incomplete and experimental format appears below, featuring synopses for the years 9 BC thru AD 12. The progress so far includes 11,000 words on the 21 years offered. I may or may not ever finish, but feel free to enjoy!
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Introduction

The content for each year is divided into three categories: Historical Facts, Probable Facts, and Scriptural Facts.  The first category includes facts generally not disputed by historians of the classical period, and the second category involves matters of timing and detail, based on interpretation of sources.  Category three reflects my own view of the New Testament's general historical reliability.  For academic purposes, a "Scriptural Fact" is any factual claim that appears to be made by the New Testament text, to a plain understanding.  In this work, such claims will be accepted as historically factual except where contradictory texts make this non-feasible.

The main reason for this division of categories is to assist those with established opinions on New Testament dates and so forth.  For example, some scholars have different opinions on how to date the Reign of Tiberius (cf. Luke 3:1), and there is little point in their tolerating an entire Timeline where I weave in my assertions.  However, by splitting up groups of facts as I have done, my hope is to focus attention not on my conclusions, but on the basis for them.  It is one thing to quote someone who assigned a "co-regency" to Tiberius in 12 AD.  It is quite another to find out what the sources actually say, and  how solid that position might be.

Obviously, therefore, the accuracy of this Timeline depends on how well I've woven these categories of data together.  So go all timelines.  At least this one attempts to be more transparent about its historiography.  Nevertheless, our goal is presenting Scripture's Testimonial facts woven seamlessly into the rest of History.  As such, we may refer to this Timeline as the Major Events of the New Testament Era.  Naturally, all criticism will be warmly encouraged.

Links and bibliographical footnotes will be added in due course (hopefully).

We now begin with a brief prologue, before the year 9 BC.

Prologue: "Between the Testaments"
Major events in brief:
from Nebuchadnezzar sacking Jerusalem, in 586 BC,
to Augustus' tax reforms in 27 BC, and also including
the lead up to Herod's military troubles with Nabatea in 9 BC.

( To read "Between the Testaments", click HERE.)

And now, without further ado...

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9 BC

9 BC, Historical Facts: In Syria, Gaius Saturninus replaces Marcus Titius as Governor. From Judea, Herod the Great receives permission from G.S. to take troops into Nabatea (North Arabia) to collect on a loan which the Nabatean King's chief minister - Syllaeus - refuses to repay. In Nabatea, Herod also destroys a terrorist hideout being funded by Syllaeus. The Nabatean minister sails to Rome and accuses Herod of invasion and murder. Augustus, bereaved over the recent death of his stepson Drusus Claudius Nero, asks Herod's men in Rome if Judea's army went into Nabatea. Forced to answer yes or no, the Herodians admit to the invasion. Caesar writes Herod and promises to treat him like a subject instead of a friend.

9 BC, Probable Facts: The end of this year must be when Caesar orders Governor Saturninus to begin planning a unique Roman census of Herod's Kingdom, a fulfillment of his threat to treat Herod "like a subject". (For Augustus' only decree of 'worldwide' tax registration, that being his expansion of census practices beyond Italy, and which took place in 27 BC, see the Prologue again.)

9 BC, Scriptural Facts: Gabriel's appearance to Zechariah most likely happens in the latter months of this year, sometime between September and December.  (This dating works backwards from Jesus' birth; see timeline for 7 BC.)

8 BC


8 BC, Historical Facts:  In Palestine, Herod gets Caesar's letter and sends his own chief minister Nicolas of Damascus to counteract the Nabatean Syllaeus. On arriving in Rome, Nicolas is unable to see the Emperor for some time but concocts an alliance with some rival Nabateans supporting the newly self-proclaimed King Aretas (the old King died in Nabatea sometime after Syllaeus had sailed).  Eventually, Nicolas is allowed to see Augustus and clears up the misunderstanding.  Augustus punishes Syllaeus, confirms Aretas' crown and officially returns Herod to his previously favored status.

Nicolas stays in Rome over the winter.  Herod receives word of his 'pardon' before year's end.

Incidentally, Caesar spent much of the warm season away from the city.  He was ceremoniously 'acclaimed' by the Legions in Germany for tasks he'd overseen that spring/early-summer; that acclamation took place before the close of June, which means Augustus must have left Italy by April or early May at the absolute latest.

8 BC, Probable Facts:  Even if traveling over land, Nicolas most likely arrives in Rome *after* Augustus departs for Germany, and (at any rate) almost certainly did not get to speak with Caesar until the second half of the year.  This means Herod was officially Rome's "subject" for up to one full year.

8 BC, Scriptural Facts:  The unique (bizarre, actually) Roman census in Palestine must have taken some time to plan and prepare for [by Saturninus].  We have no idea why it was organized as Luke tells us it was, but the "each to his own city" arrangement could not have been done all at once.  Host cities must have been put on a staggered schedule, which had to be published far and wide in advance, with updates or modifications also being announced if or as necessary.  This must have caused much delay, both in planning, beginning and executing the actual Kingdom-wide census.

For some reason, evidently, Caesar must have permitted this census to go on after Herod's name had been cleared.  The most likely explanation for this (or one factor, at least) would be if the census had already begun by the time Nicolas cleared things up with Augustus in Rome.  Assuming this to be true, and given the timing of Nicolas' summer in Rome (see above), the census most likely got underway by Summer or possibly Autumn.

[Note:  in 13/14 AD, Tiberius Caesar himself took the better part of one year to conduct a census in Italy, where the decennial tradition had been well established long before.  It is not hard to imagine this first-time census of an independent kingdom lasting for at least one full year, especially with such an oddly conceived organization.  The whole census could even have lasted two years, perhaps.]

8 BC, Scriptural Facts (2):  After some personal struggle, and mutual effort, Zechariah & Elizabeth conceive John sometime early this year, perhaps as early as February/March.  Gabriel appears to Mary during Elizabeth's sixth month, perhaps around August.  (This timing depends on events of 7 BC, below.)



7 BC

7 BC, Historical Facts:  Saturninus remains Governor of Syria all year.  Herod the Great, having regained his favored status with Augustus Caesar, petitions the emperor for the rights to (1) execute two of his sons and (2) officially change the approved order of succession for his many sons, to inherit his Kingdom.  Nicolas of Damascus returns to Palestine before Autumn, with the Emperor's blessing.  Herod convenes a trial, which Saturninus attends, and personally renders a guilty verdict against Alexander and Aristobulus, who are speedily sentenced to death by strangulation.  Herod's sole heir in this latest will is now his oldest son, Antipater.

Also this year, Tiberius Nero ends his campaign against the west German tribes - the campaign he adopted when his brother Drusus died two years earlier - and returns to the city of Rome.

7 BC, Probable Facts:  Herod the Great begins the year 7 BC having been out of Caesar's doghouse for only a few months at best.  Thus, it's most likely this year when Herod begins sending his soldiers from town to town, having the people sign an oath of joint loyalty both to the Emperor and to the King.  Naturally, this makes even more sense taking place while the Roman census of Herod's Kingdom was still going on.  That census begins its second year of operations sometime in the middle of 7 BC, and may or may not have been completed before the year's end.


7 BC:  Probable Facts (2):  Chronology of Jesus' Birth:  Jesus was almost certainly born this year, most likely in late spring.  There are three reasons for this.  (1) On the likelihood that Matthew 2:42 explains Luke 2:22 - that Joseph kept little Jesus from Passover all those years *because* Archelaus was still ruling in Judea - Jesus' thirteenth birthday belongs sometime after March of 7 AD.  This puts Jesus' birth date somewhere in a twelve month window between April of 7 BC and March of 6 BC.  (2) On the likelihood that Saturninus' census was over before the beginning of 6 BC, it is more likely that Jesus' birth belongs at the start of our 'window' than at the end.  (3) On the likelihood that the Magi were initially drawn to Judea by the triple conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter (May, October, December), their actual visit fits best in December, and Herod's inflation of their report on the child's age makes the most sense if they reported the first 'star' was in May.  This last point, however, assumes Jesus was actually born some time around their sighting, and the scripture may or may not have implied this.  (*) Bonus:  if Jesus was born at least one week before Pentecost, this year (a date which approximately corresponds to the first astronomical sighting), then Jesus will have barely touched the first days of his fortieth year on the Earth, just before his ascension, in mid-May of 33 AD.

7 BC, Scriptural Facts:  Joseph and Mary moved to Bethlehem some time before the census was scheduled to register that town.  They settled in with Joseph's kinfolk, but had no room in the house all to themselves when the child was delivered.  So they made do with the household's back stable or storage shed.  After Jesus' birth, Mary's cleansing and the child's dedication at Jerusalem, the young couple continued to live in Bethlehem.  The birth was most likely in April or May, and it was probably December when the Magi arrived. which puts the Holy family on the road down to Egypt before 6 BC.


6 BC

6 BC, Historical Facts:   With Parthia (Iran) trying to take over Armenia (Roman client state), the Roman Senate votes supreme Imperial Power to Tiberius, with limited Eastern jurisdiction, for a period of five years.  But instead of taking the Syrian Legions to battle, Tiberius decides to 'retire' on the Aegean island of Rhoads; this was partly due to Tiberius' concerns about jealousy of Augustus' teenage gransons, his chief heirs, Gaius & Lucius.  Meanwhile, Herod's son Antipater hatches a plot to assassinate his father and become King.  Antipater sails to Rome for the winter, whereupon Herod discovers the scheme and begins plotting his own method for trapping Antipater.

In Antioch, around midsummer, Quinctillius Varus sails in to become the new Governor of Syria.  In Galatia, the Governor and his two Legions (V & VII) complete the Via Sebaste, running through Antioch Pisidia past Lycaonia.

6 BC, Probable Facts:   The completion of the new highway through Galatia makes the time ripe to begin planning a military campaign against the Homanadensian Tribe, which war Syme & Levick date to about 4-3 BC, under Quirinius; see ahead.

6 BC, Scriptural Facts:   Joseph and Mary find lodging somewhere in Egypt - most likely Alexandria, whose population was roughly 20% Jewish.  Without knowing how long they'll be staying, the couple begins building a new life for themselves and for Jesus.  Undoubtedly, they sell some of the magi's expensive gifts to help pay for all this.  In Egypt, some weeks or months after his very first Passover, Jesus turns one year old.

5 BC

5 BC, Historical Facts:   On Rhoads, Tiberius keeps refusing to go on to war, and lives simply, like a philosopher.  Back home, Augustus' first heir Gaius (NOT the future Emperor) becomes a man by Roman law; Gaius is 15, but won't live ten more years.  Meanwhile, Antipater sails home towards Judea having decided to start false rumors about two more of his younger brothers, Archelaus (18) and Philip (15), as if they despised the King.  Another brother, Antipas, is not accused of anything, while a fifth living son of the King, 'Herod Philip' was disowned circa last year.  From his ten wives, Herod has four remaining male heirs; but Herod now knows Antipater framed his dead brothers for treason.

Governor Varus comes at Herod's request and presides at an impromptu trial for Antipater, whom the King denounces with vitriol and immediately imprisons.  Because the prince is Rome's approved heir, Herod has to write for Augustus' permission to execute Antipater, and to change his will once again.  Since the rumors against Archelaus and young Philip seem plausible at this point, Anipas is named sole heir, pending Rome's approval.  At year's end, Herod has not yet received Caesar's decision(s).

5 BC, Probable Facts:   The Proconsul Quirinius, almost certainly, arrives in the Galatian Province mid-year, in order to begin preparations for his campaign to eradicate and/or pacify the hostile Homanadensian tribes, in the Mountains of Eastern Pisidia.  This in turn, almost certainly, makes Quirinius the Governor of that province from 5 BC until at least 3, or more likely until 2 BC.  Note:  Governor Varus remains in Antioch until mid-3 BC.

5 BC, Scriptural Facts:   Joseph, Mary and Jesus continue to live somewhere in Egypt, doubtlessly aware of Herod's extreme old age, and poor health, but uncertain how long they might have to remain far from Judea.  Some time after Passover this year, Jesus turns two years old.

4 BC

4 BC, Historical Facts:  Caesar sends approval for Antipater's execution and Antipas' new inheritance.  Suicide, suffering painfully from disease, Herod commits interrupted suicide but kills Antipater for being openly giddy about the false alarm.  That last treason causes Herod to discount the rumors against Archelaus and young Philip, which leads to five days of frenzied revision to the new will, at the end of which, Herod dies.  (There was also an incident with burning some students just before an eclipse, on the first night of Purim.)

Herod dies in late March, at Jericho.  His sister Salome proclaims Archelaus King and gets Antipas & Philip to acquiesce.  An advisor is dispatched to Antioch, to tell Varus.  The new King holds a funeral at Herodium, and then holds audiences for the Passover pilgrims at Jerusalem, making empty promises which quickly lead to violent protests, at which 3,000 people are trampled by the Herodian cavalry in the streets, on the first day of Passover (the Preparation Day).  It is April 11th.

The Herodian party flees Jerusalem and waits in Caesarea for good sailing weather.  Governor Varus brings down one Legion from Syria, to keep peace.  The independent Procurator Sabinus also comes down from Syria, eager to claim surplus Herodian property, ostensibly "for the Emperor".  Varus advises all parties and proceeds to Jerusalem, puts down a small (nondescript) uprising, leaves the Legion encamped near the city, and befriends young Philip, who rides back to Antioch with the Proconsul.  The rest of the Herodian family is at sea before May, after which Sabinus begins stirring up trouble, hoping to profit somehow.

4 BC, Historical Facts (2):  On Sunday June 3rd, a raft of misunderstandings - by Sabinus, the Legion, and unaffiliated rebel groups who'd each assembled in three different parts of the city - uncontrollably swells into a raging Battle of Pentecost, with a Roman detachment being trapped at one point on three sides, and by day's end, according to Josephus, the Temple complex had burned completely down to the leveled ground of Mount Zion.  During the fighting, Sabinus cleaned out both Herodian and civic treasuries and made off like a bandit.  Then the Legion retreated (with 3,000 Sebastean/Samaritan soldiers) and was suddenly besieged in their fortified camp by a spontaneous force of 10,000 Judeans.

For the rest of the summer, Varus and his two remaining Legions clean up all the mess.  The largest city in Galilee, Sepphoris is burned down for refusing to give up the rebel group that had seized it.  The spontaneous Judean Army was dispersed easily enough, and when a similar force (briefly) reassembled nearby Varus discovered the impetus was coming from older cousins of Herod the Great.  From nearby regions which had sent Varus military support, the Nabatean Army committed war crimes against some villages; quickly reported, they were sent home to King Aretas.  By August, Varus' Legions were rounding up the true ringleaders from all parts of the Kingdom; over 2,000 of those were crucified, outside Jerusalem, probably on whatever the soldiers could find.  Blood stained trees must have lined all roads in for the pilgrims at that year's high holy days... and there will be no more uprisings to speak of for several decades to come, in Judea, after Varus' executions.

4 BC, Historical Facts (3):  Meanwhile, in Rome, Aunt Salome had decided Antipas was a safer choice than Archelaus, and supported him before Caesar.  For various reasons, but mainly due to the news of rebellion - which news arrived in Italy by Imperial messenger shortly after their sailing vessel - the Emperor continued postponing his decision on the dispute over the King's revised will.  The approved will, remember, named Antipas sole heir; but the revised ammendments, composed on Herod's deathbed, gave each brother merely one portion of the whole Kingdom.

Eventually, as is well known, Augustus decided on this course of action.  Caesar gave Judea, Samaria and Idumea to Archelaus, but demoted his title from King to Ethnarch, because of his rashness on Passover.  Galilee and most of the Jordan valley went to Antipas, while the Northeast territories (which were mostly Arab, claimed by Herod in 22 or 20 BC) when to young Philip, who had arrived in person by that Autumn, bearing letters from Varus about most everything under discussion.

This ends the busiest year in our Timeline, for known historical facts.

4 BC, Probable Facts:  With the list of activity given to April and May, *after* Varus' arrival, Salome's advisor (one "Ptolemy", of no royal descent) must have gone straight to Antioch upon Herod's death, which explains the rapid turn in the narrative of Antiquities 17.221.  That being true, the presence of Ptolemy with the Herodian party at 17.219 (at their flight from Jerusalem) may provide us with strong parameters for a somewhat more precise dating of Herod's death.  If Ptolemy needed so many days to reach Antioch and return, within reasonable limits, the King's death must have been so many days before April 11th.  The funeral did not last many days (Antiquities correcting War, in Josephus' self corrective style), but Herod should have died somewhere between March 18th and 25th, although with better logistical estimates, this range of dates might collapse further.

4 BC, Scriptural Facts:   Notified in a dream about the Herod's death, Joseph promptly takes Mary and Jesus back towards Judea.  Based on the range of dates given above, there is no way the small trio made it back to Jerusalem before Passover, which means that the holy family definitely had to hear about the festival massacre after the fact.  This, in turn, fits well with Matthew's statement "when Joseph heard that Archelaus was ruling in Judea... he was afraid".

Certainly, Archelaus' actions at Passover (sending Gentile mercenaries to put down demonstrations in the Temple!) could/should/would have given Joseph all the reason he needed to suspect the new King was already becoming as ruthless as his father.  The next dream of Joseph's is the last that he had, that we know of, in which God instructed him to take Jesus and Mary to Galilee.  And so, the young couple returned to the place of their betrothal, but in place of the scandal was this beautiful boy, whom Mary's family and former community had never laid eyes on, until now.

At some point this year, after Passover, baby Jesus turns three years old.  He will live for about thirty years in Nazareth, until his public baptism by John, at the approximate age of 34.

3 BC

3 BC, Historical Facts:   The Herodian princes return from Rome to begin ruling the divvied up Kingdom.  Archelaus finds his treasuries raided, his palaces looted and burned, his army dissolved, a Roman Legion camped outside Jerusalem, and the Holy Temple destroyed.  Archelaus reforms a small army, which hunts down and destroys some malingering rebels; then the ex-King goes back to his partying ways, eager to restore his old lifestyle, but on roughly half Herod's annual revenue, if that.

Antipas enters Galilee to find all his wealthiest citizens trying to repair properties in the burned out city of Sepphoris, which at once becomes the new Tetrarch's chief priority as well.  In taking responsibility for the rebuilding, Antipas' revenue is wisely directed towards hiring workmen and pleasing his upper class.  Meanwhile, across the Lake, Philip enters his Tetrarchy without much revenue to speak of.  He makes plans to build up a small town as his new capital, Caesarea Philippi, and he renames Bethsaida as Julias, in honor of Augustus' daughter.

In Rome, Augustus is hearing rumors of a new coup in Parthia, but he cannot send anyone to the East since Tiberius is still lounging at Rhoads (since 6 BC).  But Augustus does not yet know that his daughter Julia is carrying on several semi-public affairs while her husband Tiberius is away.  The Emperor is more preoccupied with the training of the grandsons, Gaius & Lucius.

3 BC, Probable Facts:   To the intensely devout, this autumn begins a Sabbatical year (cf. Zuckerman).  Nevertheless, Archelaus expects farmers to raise crops anyway (cf. Antiquities 17.347).  Meanwhile, the leaders of Jerusalem (a mere handful of years from demanding the ouster of this selfish young Ethnarch) were almost certainly left to their own resources for the reconstruction project on Mount Zion.  This seems further confirmed by the fact that what took King Herod less than 16 years to prepare and complete the first time (cf. Antiq.16-17) is now about to take three more decades (if John 2:20 contains factual data) for the city fathers to accomplish on their own.  At any rate, if Archelaus helped, he couldn't have helped very much.

Naturally, Rome's Legion leaves Jerusalem some time after Archelaus restores order, perhaps late in this year.  Around midsummer, Governor Varus is replaced in Syria by an unknown Proconsul; an inscription suggested as evidence most likely suggests one of the Pisos (see Levick, Roman Colonies in Southern Galatia, Appendix V).  Meanwhile, Governor Quirinius is mopping up his war in Pisidia, pacifying the Tarus Mountains near the Via Sebaste.  Quirinius will not return home until next year.

Finally, sometime this year, Augustus seems to have punished King Aretas of Nabatea, for his soldiers' war crimes while assisting Varus in Judea last year.  In Strabo's words, the Nabateans became Roman "subjects" (temporarily; see G.W. Bowersock's Roman Arabia, chapter 4b).  Aretas' punishment apparently included loss of title, as suggested by an absence of royal coinage for this period, 3 to 1 BC.

3 BC, Scriptural Facts:   Joseph ended last year believing Nazareth to be under Archelaus' jurisdiction, but comforted by its distance from Judea.  But sometime early this year, all of Galilee learns it's been given to Antipas.  This likely gives Joseph some reassurance after last spring's decision to trust God - from his dream - and move Jesus & Mary to her old home.

More encouragement comes with the construction projects in Sepphoris; even if Joseph does not go to work there, the employment of so many builders in Sepphoris surely raises demand for a carpenter/stoneworker in Nazareth as well.  This means the young family, surely sharing a home with Mary's kinfolk, are able to start contributing more to their household, which must have helped their relationship with the Synagogue, also.

In the Spring of 3 BC, Joseph and Mary went down to Archelaus' Jerusalem for Passover, but cautiously left Jesus behind with family members.  Some months after their return, Jesus turned 4 years old.

2 BC

2 BC, Historical Facts:   Augustus Caesar sends his oldest grandson Gaius to the lower Danube region, where he begins training as a commander of Legions.  At some point, Augustus also learns his daughter Julia has been carrying on with several married Senators.  Furious, the Emperor locks Julia in her room for a long time and sends divorce papers to his stepson/son-in-law Tiberius, on the Greek island of Rhoads.  Tiberius makes a show of reluctance, by letter, but then agrees to the divorce.  The marriage had essentially been forced on him anyway, back in 11 BC.  After much turmoil, Augustus sends Julia to live under guard, in exile, on a small island south of Italy.  For the rest of his life, the Emperor refuses to utter her name, instead calling her only his boil or his ulcer.  And Augustus did all this, despite the fact that he himself was a seasoned adulterer!

2 BC, Probable Facts:   Despite the Sabbatical year, Archelaus collected tax on the annual spring harvest.  This probably continues a trend begun by King Herod (see here).  Any devoutly observant farmers most likely had to pay anyway.  In Galilee, Antipas continues rebuilding Sepphoris, and in Gaulanitis, Philip most likely changes the name of Julias back to Bethsaida; it is strange that Josephus even records this information, since the name change cannot have lasted for very long.

Also, around midsummer, the Proconsul Quirinius departs from his Governorship of Galatia.  En route back to Rome, Quirinius did what most traveling dignitaries were doing in these years - he stopped in at Rhoads to pay respects.  Even though Gaius looked like Augustus' successor, it's always prudent to hedge one's political bets.  Regardless, Quirinius did see Tiberius - probably this year - and the two begin a friendship that will be significant to both men in the future.

Finally, King Aretas probably spends this year making overtures of peace to his new Herodian neighbors, as a measure of seeking Augustus' approval again.  Eventually, Aretas strikes a particularly close alliance with Antipas in Galilee.  (See next year.)

2 BC, Scriptural Facts:  Joseph keeps working as a carpenter/stoneworker, to help support Jesus, Mary and her extended family.  In spring, the young couple again heads into Archelaus' territory for the Passover festival, but leaves Jesus safely with kinfolk in Nazareth.  Later on in the year, Jesus turns 5 years old.

1 BC

1 BC, Historical Facts:   In Judea, Archelaus presides over his fourth straight harvest as ruler of that land.  In Galilee and the Northeast, Antipas and Philip preside over their third.

In Rome, news from Parthia and Armenia grows more urgent.  With Tiberius' special powers set to expire on July 1st, Augustus recalls Gaius from exercises on the Danube and prepares the young man to take charge of the East.  Married quickly, for political reasons, Gaius is granted Tiberius' expiring powers by the Senate.  Sent away quickly, Gaius is told to tour Greece while his grandfather attempts to settle this conflict by messenger.  So, while Augustus stalls, Gaius begins fancifully retracing Alexander's steps around the Aegean.

After mid-year, with Gaius' retinue somewhere near Ephesus, Tiberius sails over to pay his respects.  Influenced by his chief advisor Marcus Lollius, Gaius is so cool to his ex-stepfather that a dinner guest - on another night soon after - offers to visit Rhoads for the young Caesar and "bring back the head of the exile".  Without powers or entourage, Tiberius begins writing Augustus for permission to retire at Rome.  Forbidding this, Augustus was persuaded by the Empress Livia to at least make her son an official ambassador to Rhoads.  This gave Tiberius a staff and bodyguards again.

By winter, the young Caesar was in Antioch, but Augustus' dispatches kept advising him to wait longer.  The Emperor was still trying to negotiate peace from afar, to keep his grandson from going to war.

1 BC, Probable Facts:   It is probably in this year that Herod Antipas and Aretas of Nabatea send to Rome for approval of their proposed marriage alliance, though at this point the betrothed bride must have been very young.  Appointed King six years previously, Aretas will rule for another 40, so he cannnot now have been much older than twenty - but of course, that is old enough to have an underage daughter.  While we don't know her age, or the year of their wedding, we do know their divorce takes place in another 29 years.

1 BC, Scriptural Facts:   Life in Nazareth continues apace.  In spring, Joseph & Mary again travel into Jerusalem for Passover, but leave Jesus back home, far away from Herod Archelaus.  Some time later, Jesus turns six years old.


Note:  The BC/AD calendar has no "year zero".


AD 1

AD 1, Historical Facts:   By this time, Archelaus begins using "Herod" on his coins, as a title of respect.  Unfortunately, his selfish rule was earning only disrespect among the Judeans.  Even Gaius Caesar snubbed Archelaus this year, bypassing Jerusalem on the way down to Arabia and back - a mission Augustus concocted for Gaius while he finalized peace negotiations with Parthia & Armenia.  As it turned out, the young Caesar's nearby presence turned the Armenian King Tigranes' loyalty to Rome.  Parthia, wanting no war with Rome, agreed to withdraw from the border kingdom entirely.

At a peace ceremony on the Euphrates, to which Gaius brought all three Syrian Legions, the Parthian King Phrataces revealed Marcus Lollius, Gaius' chief advisor, as his own traitor.  Lollius was dealt with quickly, leaving Gaius to rethink all his recent advice.  Meanwhile, Tiberius had written so many letters from Rhoads, begging the Emperor's permission to come home, that Augustus had thrown up his hands and put the matter directly to Gaius.  But the young Caesar was not ready just yet to let the experienced General [his ex-stepfather, adopted step-brother and chief rival] come back to the Capitol.

AD 1, Probable Facts:   Gaius' expedition to Arabia (above) almost certainly included a visit to Nabatea, where Aretas must have been restored, and this was likely in part because of his proposed marriage alliance with Herod Antipas in Galilee.  Client Royalty knew Augustus loved it when they intermarried like that.  Whatever else explains this result, AD 1 is the year Aretas' royal coins reappear in our extant collections, and following Gaius' visit, Nabatea enjoys uninterrupted peace from this time until AD 34.

AD 1, Scriptural Facts:   As usual, Joseph & Mary leave Jesus in Nazareth when the travel to Passover, some time before their son's sixth birthday.  This marks their fourth Judean Passover since returning from Egypt, and the fifth Passover of Archelaus' rule.

By age six, Jesus must have been attending Synagogue gatherings for some years, no doubt sitting quietly next to his mother, no doubt, listening very intently at some times, and focusing elsewhere at others.  In other words, he looked much like any other six year old in the Synagogue, at least outwardly...  but more than this we cannot reasonably estimate or describe.

AD 2


AD 2, Historical Facts:   With Lollius gone, Augustus handpicked a new chief advisor for Gaius Caesar, the Proconsul Quirinius, who reached Syria before midyear.  Meanwhile, King Tigranes had died, and Augustus had chosen a replacement King for Gaius & Quirinius to install over Armenia.  But this Mede raised at Rome was rejected by the Armenians, who now revolted against external rule.  It's unclear if the Legions engage anywhere this year, but the rebels secure themselves in a fortress at Artagira, for the winter.

Some time during all this, perhaps around the time of Quirinius' arrival in Syria, Gaius finally decides to bless Tiberius' requests to go retire at Rome.  Eerily, however, the old General's arrival in Italy comes within weeks of the tragic news that Gaius' brother Lucius had drowned in a sailing mishap, on August 20th, in the West Mediterranean.

[Note:  the next major event in Gaius' life belongs to AD 2 or 3; Swan find the bulk of evidence supports 3.]

AD 2, Probable Facts:   Quirinius most likely visited Rhoads on his way East, once again paying his respects to the man whose mother was still Empress, at least.  That said, there is no evidence that Quirinius was directly influential in Gaius' change of heart about Tiberius.  What we do know is that Tiberius will come to publicly honor this Proconsul above all others, near the end of Quirinius' life.  It is probably safest to say that Quirinius was likely credited by Tiberius with performing this favor, whether or not he really had much effect.

AD 2, Scriptural Facts:   Joseph & Mary once again visit Jerusalem for Passover, once again leaving Jesus in Nazareth.  Later that year, Jesus turns seven.  While this may not have been an issue for anyone in the Nazareth Synagogue, it bears noting that as Jesus gets older, his absence from the town's pilgrim caravan(s) will grow more and more conspicuous.  But Joseph stayed true to his chief task in life - he kept God's child safe, far away from Herod's frightening son Archelaus, who now celebrated his sixth harvest as ruler of Judea.

AD 3

AD 3, Historical Facts:   This year, Gaius Caesar took the (3 or 4) Legions of Syria into Armenia to engage the rebellion there, and besiege Artagira by late summer.  On September 9th, Gaius is tricked into coming near the wall and receives a near mortal wound, which festers as the siege drags on.  Writing his grandfather Augustus, Gaius begs permission to quit his post but remain in the East for a quiet retirement.  Distraught, the Emperor promises to let Gaius retire from public life, but demands he come home immediately.  Thus, Quirinius makes plans for a difficult winter's travel by oarship.

AD 3, Probable Facts:   By this year, if not 1-2 years earlier, Augustus most likely has added a fourth Legion to the province of Syria, to ensure Gaius' success and safety.  What we know for certain is that Legio X Fretensis, recently of Macedonia, was not in Syria during the War of Varus (4 BC), and will not be in Macedonia to defend against the Illyrian uprising (AD 6), but later attestations find it stationed in Syria.

AD 3, Scriptural Facts:   For the sixth straight year, Joseph & Mary leave Jesus with family in Nazareth while they go to the Passover.  The boy turns eight this year, but Joseph still won't take him anywhere near the territory of Archelaus.

AD 4

AD 4, Historical Facts:   In Judea, in his eighth year of rule, Archelaus had by now rebuilt palaces, refilled his treasuries and diverted a stream to water a new city named for himself, but the Temple of Jerusalem (burned down in 4 BC) was still in early stages of reconstruction.  On top of all that, it was [*see below*] probably in this year Archelaus divorced his wife Marriamme and scandalously married his ex-sister-in-law Glaphyra (widow of Alexander, d.7 BC).  Since she'd borne a son, the observant Jews in Judea were outraged, and some Jerusalemites took this as their final motivation to begin plotting a way to get rid of their self absorbed Ethnarch.

Further north, Gaius finally succumbed to his wound on February 21st, after Quirinius took them to port in Lycia, beyond Cyprus.  Bereft at the news, Augustus mourned a few months before officially adopting Tiberius as his heir, on June 27th.  However, the Emperor first had required Tiberius to disown his son Drusus  (2) and adopt his nephew Germanicus (see 9 BC) as next in line.  Augustus also adopted his (technically illegitimate) third grandson Agrippa, nicknamed Posthumous from birth.  This grandson now stood to inherit nothing important, but he was currently Augustus' last male descendant on Earth.

As soon as all this was official, Augustus sent Tiberius into Germany, where he began reconquering lands from the Rhine to the Elbe, which his brother Drusus (1) had previously claimed prior to 9 BC.  But as the Legions set up winter quarters, Tiberius rode back down to Italy, to be near his new father, and to be seen around Rome in his new status and position.

By the way, on Quirinius' return, he somehow became (or had previously agreed to become, by long distance) engaged to marry one Amelia Lepida, noble daughter of a prominent family.  Descended from Sulla and Pompey, Lepida had been engaged to Lucius Caesar before his unfortunate death in AD 2.  So, Quirinius failed to keep one Caesar grandson from dying, and then took the other Caesar grandson's bereaved fiancee.  It's an odd juxtaposition, but these are the facts.

AD 4, Probable Facts:   (*see above*)The dating of Archelaus' new marriage to this year involves estimating the time it takes for the Jerusalemite complaints to intensify and eventually come to fruition, over the next two years.  It's possible Glaphyra came along a year sooner, but was not likely made Archelaus' wife any later than this year.

Oddly, though rumors had swirled in the capitol about Livia and Tiberius (as if they'd somehow plotted both grandsons' deaths), we have no record of rumors about Quirinius.  Most likely it was not yet publicly known that Quirinius had formed a strong bond with Tiberius at Rhoads.  If anything, Quirinius may have subconsciously known that he'd be served better with Tiberius in power, than with Gaius.  But whether conflicted in interest or not, the Proconsul had earned a strong reputation, and the Emperor trusted him.  There was *probably* no question in Rome that he'd faithfully served Gaius with his utmost capacities.

AD 4, Scriptural Facts:   For the seventh straight year, Joseph & Mary leave Jesus behind as they travel to Passover.  It could not have been uncommon for boys almost aged nine to go down with the pilgrims, but Joseph stuck with his plan to keep Jesus away from Archelaus' Judea.

AD 5

AD 5, Historical Facts:  In Judea, a group of wealthy Jews and Samaritans got together and made a list of Archelaus' abusive behaviors as ruler of southern Israel, all of which he'd been asked - and refused - to address.  Upon sailing season, an embassy departed for Italy, where they shared this evidence with the Emperor.  Augustus promised to deal with the problem, and wrote a stern letter of warning to Archelaus.  Naturally, the foolish tyrant ignored Caesar's advice, and sealed his own fate by doing so.

Meanwhile, earlier that spring, Rome had flooded and lost much of its stored grain, which led to an ongoing food shortage.  Worse, the Empire had financial problems, largely due to Augustus having kept 28 Legions active for so many decades of (more or less) peaceful history.  As more and more soldiers retired, the Empire was running out of provincial land to award them with, in lieu of a pension.  Augustus had to begin paying cash bonuses, and this meant Rome was suddenly scrambling to secure extra sources for permanent revenue.

Even earlier, Tiberius had gone ahead back into West Germany, where tribes not yet conquered were now lining up to surrender.  By midsummer, for the first time in history, the Roman Empire's borders included the Elbe River.  A fleet of Roman warships had even sailed round Europe and up river, to help secure the new territory.  But the farther upriver (South) the fleet sailed, the closer Tiberius came to the fierce Marcomanni tribes of Bohemia.  So, shrewdly, Tiberius made plans to deal with that region next year. And once again, the General himself passed the winter in Rome.

AD 5, Probable Facts:   The dating of this year's Jewish-Samaritan embassy is based on estimating logistics implied by Josephus' Antiquities 17.342.

To the intensely devout, this autumn begins a Sabbatical year (cf. Zuckerman).  Nevertheless, as in 3/2 BC, Archelaus expects farmers to raise crops for the spring harvest anyway (cf. Antiquities 17.347).  Among Jews who still cared about these sabbatical laws, this only confirmed that the Ethnarch had to go.

AD 5, Scriptural Facts:   This Passover, Jesus was nearly 11 years old.  Plenty of boys that age were going up to the feast in Jerusalem with their parents, but Joseph and Mary kept up their tradition of leaving Jesus at home.  This was Archelaus' ninth year ruling Judea, and the eighth consecutive year Jesus missed out on the festival.

AD 6


AD 6, Historical Facts:  In Jerusalem, Herod Archelaus presided over his tenth and final Passover as the ruler of Judea.  In Rome, Augustus Caesar decided to annex southern Israel  after hearing that Archelaus had failed to make recently promised concessions to Judea's upper classes.  (Augustus was also facing severe financial problems, and had to give up southern Germany in early spring after Illyrian tribes simultaneously revolted across the Balkans.)  By midsummer, the Herodian Ethnarch was en route to Rome, where Caesar would banish him to the French Alps.

Later that summer, the Proconsul P.Sulpicius Quirinius arrived (officially as the new Governor of Syria) and took possession of southern Palestine - Samaria, Judea and Idumea now became a Roman Province.  Immediately, Quirinius organized a property registration (not a full personal census) of those territories.  Resistance to the property requirement helped fuel the efforts of Judas 'the Galilean', who tried stirring up rebellious sentiments in Judea's poor and wealthy alike.  Judas' plans for rebellion were cut short, but the seed of his anti-Roman philosophy ("No Lord but God") took root, although it will not bloom again for a full generation.

The census of property (not persons) was conducted quickly.  Quirinius also liquidated the assets of Herod's estate and sent all proceeds to the Imperial treasury.  Wealthy Jerusalemites who supported the party of the Sadducees were largely pleased by the appointment of Annas as High Priest.  Quirinius appointed one Coponius as Rome's Prefect in Judea, left a cohort of Legionaries at Caesarea (and probably one in the fortress Antonia, at Jerusalem, as well), and made his way north to Antioch where he governed Syria for another springtime, at least.

AD 6, Historical Facts (2):  Tiberius Caesar opened this campaigning season with a coordinated attack on Bohemia from three sides, using twelve Legions from _**_ different provinces.  Naturally, the Senate had been required to pass jurisdiction allowances for all this.  It was a bold plan to secure a difficult hostile zone very quickly, but in pulling _**_ Legions from Illyricum, Tiberius emboldened the Illyrians to revolt, and before the Bohemian invasion could even begin, a massive uprising had erupted across all parts of Pannonia and Dalmatia, even spilling into West Macedonia.

Because of the special allowances for this invasion, Tiberius could not cross back over the Danube until new jurisdictions had been approved by the Senate.  Augustus' brilliant plan to keep up the charade of democracy had its drawbacks.  By the time most of his army was legally able to enter the province, the Illyrians had already wreaked havoc in Roman settlements and then taken time to organize their resistance.  Now Tiberius had little choice but to claim the Northwestern end of the province and settle in for an early winter, before which he was at least able to secure a peace treaty with the Bohemian ruler.

The loss of Bohemia denied Augustus a lowland route past the Alps that would have streamlined Rome's European travel and communications.  That's why this had been such a big deal, and Augustus was bitterly disappointed that he'd somehow lost such a great opportunity.  Meanwhile, the city dealt with a major fire and resurgence of famine, depopulation, rumors of new taxes, and even threats of revolution against the Emperor. There was a shortage of proconsuls for the Provinces, minor uprisings in North Africa and Galatia, pirates west of Italy and reports of general unrest from cities all over the empire.  (And by the way, it was somewhere in this mix that Augustus received news that Archelaus was disobeying him; so the Ethnarch never had a ghost of a chance!)

All of this was happening while the deaths of his grandsons were still fresh in his mind.  The Illyrian uprising begins the darkest period in the Emperor's personal life, ever.

AD 6, Probable Facts:  The accusations of Simon the Essene reflect ten years of harvested crops, a sure sign that the Essenes, who were more devout about agricultural laws than other Judean Jews, were offended by what must have now been a common practice - presumably - of ignoring the Sabbatical year.  At any rate, if there were any wealthy landowners who were also observant enough to avoid planting this past winter, they would have had to pay Archelaus with money stored up in the previous six years.

AD 6, Probable Facts about Jesus in Nazareth:  Jesus turned twelve this year, sometime after the Passover.  He remained part of the Synagogue community, attended Sabbath meetings, gained great wisdom and insight from the scriptures (which he could not often handle, but did often hear being read aloud and discussed at Synagogue meetings).  Privately - whether alone or in a crowd - Jesus meditated upon the Law and the Prophets, seeking the presence of his Father within him, and his view of the scriptures became effectively God oriented.  In other words, by age twelve, Jesus had developed some awareness of the special relationship he had with God as his son.  (For an explanation of these conclusions, see my series on Jesus in Nazareth.)

AD 6, Scriptural Facts:
Jesus grew bigger and stronger, gaining wisdom, and the favor of God was upon him.  The young man had grown to genuinely love God, and to love those around him.  So far, God the Father was pleased with his son.  This was the final springtime when Joseph & Mary left Jesus home from the Passover, to keep him away from Archelaus.  Sometime later this year, Jesus turned twelve years old.

Finally, late in this year, somewhere in Judea, John the Baptist turned thirteen.  If his elderly parents were still living, they would not be for much longer.  Someday soon, we can guess John the Baptist will be moving out into the wilderness, there to begin decades of preparation for little more than one year of public ministry.  Such is often God's way, or at least so it would seem.

AD 7


AD 7, Historical Facts:  Quirinius continues as Governor of Syria until midsummer, and possibly not any longer.  We don't know who replaced him, or when.  At some point, however, we do know that Quirinius also conducted a census of Abilene.  We also know that Coponius the Procurator oversaw a peaceful Judea, and Annas the High Priest secured local politics effectively.  Most impressively, in this year Roman Judea paid its first poll tax directly to Roman authorities (and probably also the land tax, cf Smallwood; but see here for details).

This was the first summer in Jerusalem in almost fifty years without a Herod in charge.  But directly or indirectly, Rome's control over Judea was approaching the century mark.  It had been almost 70 years since Pompey took control of the Mid-East.

Meanwhile, in Rome, Augustus was dealing with continued famine and the extreme costs of maintaining the Legions.  Recent social and political unrest (see AD 6) had been festering, and the Emperor had to banish his (recently disowned) grandson Posthumous Agrippa, for aberrant behavior and general foulness of attitude.  The young man's mother, Julia, also exiled, still had her supporters in Rome, and their displeasure increased.

In Pannonia, Tiberius had settled into the western side of Pannonia, with seven Legions, guarding the roads into north Italy.  Another three Legions from Galatia and Moesia marched westward, fighting through rebels en route to join Tiberius.  Oddly, the rebels had begun scorching their own fields to starve out the Romans, so Tiberius held position in the west, near Italian grainfields, letting the Illyrian tribesmen weaken themselves.  Augustus was eager to finish the war, and let Germanicus take a Legion on raids into Dalmatia (southern Illyricum).  But Tiberius stubbornly insisted on a slow siege of the entire country.  And so things dragged on, leading into the winter.

By the way, the Governor of Germany and commander of the Rhine Legions this year was Gaius Sentius Saturninus (Syrian Gov, 9-6 BC).  Around midsummer, Saturninus was replaced - as he had been in Syria - by P. Quinctillius Varus, whose relationship to the German tribes will soon get... interesting.

AD 7, Probable Facts:  The two Galatian Legions (V Macedonia & VII Macedonia) must have completely subdued the Isaurian tribes in one year (a campaign not mentioned in AD 6 on this timeline) because they had to be called upon early this year for the campaign in North Illyricum (Pannonia).

The Roman map still showed Pannonia and Dalmatia as one territory, Provincia Illyricum, occupied by a diverse plethora of Illyrian tribes.  With the southern rebels joining the northern rebels for solidarity, it seems no one had yet realized the real strength of this rebellion so far was mostly due to southerner contributions (especially the Dalmatian Bato, their leader).


AD 7, Scriptural Facts:  With Archelaus no longer making Joseph nervous for Jesus' safety, he and Mary take Jesus to Jerusalem for the first time since his infancy, for the Passover festival.  Afterwards, when Jesus failed to join their caravan back to Nazareth, Joseph and Mary spent two days searching Jerusalem, and the last place they thought to look was the Temple. (!)  Apparently, Jesus thought he'd be staying behind, to become more involved with God's work on Earth.  But Mary & Joseph commanded him to return, and he did so obediently.

Evidently, Jesus felt greatly devoted to God, and had become aware of his unique sonship in some way, but he hadn't quite gotten clear on the mission just yet.  Thank God for giving him Mary & Joseph, who gave God's son plenty of time to grow up, fully.

AD 7, Probable Facts (2):  Remarkably, when Jesus went home, the wisdom he'd been so vocal about in Jerusalem wasn't on display in the Synagogue.  He didn't ask questions that penetrated to the core of what Torah was all about.  He didn't impress anyone wit his insights or his focus on the meaning of God's statutes.  In fact, after coming home from this amazing trip to the Temple, Jesus didn't do anything at all in his home town to make anyone think he had any special connection to God or the scriptures.  At least, no one in town ever got any reasons to think Jesus could have taught them from scripture.  For the rest of his life, at the Nazareth Synagogue, nobody knew Jesus was anything more than a carpenter's son.

Nevertheless, without showing outward signs of his wisdom, Jesus continued increasing that wisdom as he grew up in stature.  Thus, he grew in favor with both God and with man.  Generally, people in Nazareth liked Jesus.  And sometime this year, he turned thirteen, and became an adult in the eyes of the Synagogue.

So far, the Father was very well pleased with his Son.

AD 8

AD 8, Historical Facts:   In early January, during some kind of political firestorm, Augustus cancelled elections in the Senate and filled all important offices personally.  Then he banished his granddaughter Julia (the younger, whose husband had been recently executed for treason) and also, for mysterious reasons, the poet Ovid.  With Julia, Julia and Posthumous all banished, dissent evaporated.  Meanwhile, the food crisis had ended, and Augustus held special games to celebrate.  The only blood kin Augustus still claimed was his granddaughter Agrippina, whose marriage to Germanicus we skipped over in AD 5, and now her two infant sons, Nero-Julius and Drusus-Julius.  We will hear more about them in the 20's AD.

With Rome secure, internally, Augustus went into North Italy to confer with Tiberius, who believed the Illyrian rebels were near to their breaking point.  Sure enough, they began infighting and the Legions were able to mop up easily in Pannonia (North Illyricum).  With this, Augustus recalled Tiberius and said Germanicus could finish the war in Dalmatia (South Illyricum), with advisors.  Tiberius protested, and they compromised.  The General would stay with his Legions - where he most loved to be - through the winter, to plan next year's strategy; and then come home forever.  Augustus was 70 years old, and Tiberius needed to prepare for a coming transition, whether he liked it or not.

AD 8, Probable Facts:  What Augustus and Tiberius had not yet realized was that Dalmatian tribesmen had by far made up the stronger part of the rebel force, to date.  If they'd known now who they were really dealing with in the southern Bato, Tiberius probably wouldn't have been recalled.

AD 8, Scriptural Facts:   We have no record of whether Joseph & Mary continued taking Jesus to Jerusalem as a teenager.  We might suppose probably that he remained a faithful once-a-year pilgrim, but then again, we have indications he skipped Passover more than once during his public ministry, so we might suspect just as probably that the family was avoiding any chance of renewing his brief notoriety, from last year.  It's *possible* they all went, and kept their heads down.  It's also *possible* Jesus stayed home from now on, to ensure that low profile.

Again, we don't know.  What we do know (based on this chronology) is that Jesus turned 14 this year, sometime after Passover... and that he continued growing in wisdom, and stature, and in favor with both God and man... whether or not he made annual pilgrimages.

AD 9

AD 9, Historical Facts:   In Jerusalem, around dawn on the day before Passover, a group of Samaritan discontents snuck into the Temple courts and scattered human bones all over the courtyard.  The bizarre incident seemed to be isolated, however, and had no effect on the Procurator Coponius' scheduled replacement for that summer, Marcus Ambibulus.  Being Italian gave these Governors an advantage in Judea; if they had to settle any disputes between Greeks, Samaritans and Jews, no one could claim the Procurator was inherently biased.  Anyway, Ambibulus' one decision on record is that he wisely allowed the High Priest Annas to retain his position.  Under Ambibulus and Annas, Judea remained peaceful.

In Illyricum, Rome's Legions quickly discovered the Dalmatian tribes in the south were not going to be as easy to defeat as the Pannonian tribes in the north.  By summer, Augustus sent Tiberius back to the war, where the General was able to capture - with difficulty, but before winter - the southern rebel leader, one Bato, a Daesitian.  Impressed with the man, Tiberius inquired as to his reasons for the revolt, to which Bato replied - it's because of you Romans, because you don't send shepherds to govern your flocks, you send wolves.

In Germany, at about the same time when Bato confessed to Tiberius, the Proconsul Q. Varus was leading Legions XVII, XVIII and XIX into a horrific ambush, somewhere deep in the Teutoberg Forest.  The German commander, Arminius, had spent the past two years gaining Varus' trust, and convincing his people to give the General a false sense of confidence, and all that while Varus kept taking advantage of his own position at the expense of the tribes.  But at just the right place and time, around September, Arminius caught Varus' entire army on the march through dense woods, in unfamiliar terrain, on a mud road, before a multi-day rainstorm.  It took several days for the Germans to pick everyone off, but the Romans never stood a chance of surviving, and Varus himself reportedly fell on his sword.  Arminius sent Varus' head to Bohemia, whose ruler declined to ally himself with Arminius, but instead sent the head on to Caesar, who respectuflly buried it.

In Rome, Augustus head about Tiberius' victory just before he heard about Varus' defeat.  For days and months afterward, the Emperor could sometimes be found beating his 71 year old head against doors and exclaiming, "Quinctillius Varus, bring back my Eagles!"

AD 9, Probable Facts:  Josephus' purpose in telling about scattered bones may be to highlight something about Temple security, and also suggests that the perimeter walls were probably not yet fully rebuilt from the fire in 4 BC.

The Roman Province of Illyricum was almost certainly divided in this year into the Provinces of Pannonia and Dalmatia - first, because the political & military circumstances demanded it, and second because Velleius (who was there) cites one Vibius as "Governor of Dalmatia" (Velleius 2.116; see also Wilkes, The Illyrians, about 2/3 through into chapter 7.)  While some Latin speakers still continue referring to both provinces as "Illyricum", the same natural tendency can be found when Greek speakers referred to Western Provincia Macedonia as the old Hellenistic Kingdom of "Illyricum" (cf. Romans 15:19, Strabo 7.7.4).

Varus' Governorship to the Elbe was the high water mark of Roman expansion across the Rhine, but the significance of Varus' defeat has probably been much exaggerated.  Although it does motivate Augustus to proclaim Germany forever beyond Rome's control, there were later Emperors with opportunity to defy that precedent - for example, the Empire held Alpine lands beyond both Rhine and Danube for a while after Trajan.  Thus, while the general persistence of these boundaries was and is hugely significant for later European History, it is too much to suppose that this status quo was irrevocably settled by one drastic battle.

AD 9, Scriptural Facts:  At some point this year, Jesus turned 15 years old.  He may or may not have gone to Jerusalem at Passover.  He was definitely working as a carpenter/stonecutter with Joseph by this time.  Also, it's extremely likely that by now Jesus had brothers and sisters.  (NB: or "cousins", perhaps, if you're Catholic. ;-)  At any rate, by this age Jesus was able to take on much greater responsibility in the household, which probably have included extended family members, as most ancient Jewish households would have.

Finally, of course, if it's true that Jesus continued growing in favor with the townspeople of Nazareth, then he surely must have continued as a faithful part of their local Synagogue community.  He attended their gatherings on the Sabbath and heard scripture read aloud.  And - quite surely by this time in his life, at the latest - he had begun to lean hard on his devotional life before God, for the strength and encouragement he needed on a day to day basis.

That is, if Jesus in these years was living by the moral standard he raised up during his preaching ministry, and if we assume he was the *only* soul living up to that standard, in Nazareth, and if we assume he kept this discipline privately (cf. Matthew 6), then Jesus would have gone crazy... without being able to turn to God, his Father, with all of his struggles.

In other words - this is an historical conclusion - by ages 14 and 15, with all that entails, Jesus must have begun developing a rich devotional life with the Father.  Without question, this was fueled by the scriptures he heard in the Synagogues, but which he may or may not have yet been able to read a bit for himself.

(For more discussion of these considerations, see my post page on Jesus in Nazareth.)

AD 10

AD 10, Historical Facts:   As soon as the Alps had thawed out well enough to cross over, Tiberius rode north to gather the Rhine Legions and to secure the border against Arminius and the German tribes who'd attacked Varus last year.  Over the winter, Augustus had reorganized Rome's 25 remaining Legions, and placed eight of them along the Rhine.  The Emperor was irrationally terrified that the Germans would soon invade Italy.  However, all year long Tiberius did nothing but patrol the river and build bridges; the Legions did not cross over.

Back in Rome, young Germanicus Caesar turned 25 this year, and his popularity soared as an ostensible war hero of the Illyrian revolt.  By contrast, Tiberius was widely disliked for his general demeanor.  But Augustus grew so depressed - and frustrated with Tiberius' extreme patience - that he let his beard grow out for the better part of the year.  Meanwhile, Arminius was indeed building up forces, East of the Rhine.  But there was no fighting in Germany this year.

In Judea, the Procurator Coponius governed peacefully with Annas still as high priest of Jerusalem. Either this year or next, Herod's sister Salome died and left all of her wealth to the Empress Livia, her good friend, who now claimed annual revenue from three Judean towns.

AD 10, Probable Facts:  Hillel the Elder's long career in Jerusalem is normally said to have ended by this time.  A respected Pharisee, Hillel was the most famous Rabbi born in Israel, up to his time.  His life spanned most major events of the reign of King Herod, yet he's remembered only for his impressive devotion to the study and teaching of the Jewish Law.  Hillel was present for all the major events in the 19 Annals above, but it seems he never got politically involved.

Naturally, this would be just the kind of Pharisee that the ruling Sadducee party would love to support as a major leader of their chief political rivals.  Nevertheless, Hillel's teaching was very influential, and it was some time around this year that his mantle was passed, when the Rabbi Gamaliel becomes head of "the Hillel School".  Gamaliel probably gains his seat on Jerusalem's council at about this time, also.  Much like his teacher, Gamaliel's laizzez-faire attitude was probably beneficial for Annas the High Priest.

Whatever the precise dates, Gamaliel and Annas are going to serve together in the Sanhedrin at some point, but they most likely did so for the better part of four decades.  Gamaliel, of course, will one day become more famous because of one particular student he trains, Saul of Tarsus, a couple of decades from now.

AD 10, Scriptural Facts:   Some time this year, Jesus turned sixteen.  He continued to grow and develop as a young man of his Father, and he was a humble participant in the Nazareth Synagogue community.

AD 11

AD 11, Historical Facts:   Augustus Caesar sent Germanicus to assist Tiberius in command of the Rhine Legions, and to satisfy the Emperor's impatience that something be resolved about Germany.  Together, Tiberius & Germanicus patrolled the Rhine and made some punitive sorties into parts of West Germany, but they fought no real battles, succeeding only in convincing the Germans Rome was ready to protect their territory.  Before winter, the General again stayed with his Legions, but Germanicus was sent home to be with his young wife Agrippina.  The Caesarian bloodline had to continue one way or another!

AD 11, Probable Facts:  Augustus was likely still debating whether the Empire should try and retake West Germany, but it seems Tiberius had decided (at least) that such a task was not to be undertaken just yet.  The overall character of Tiberius' campaigns in these years was probably just to send Armenius a message.  And of course, also because Tiberius strongly preferred Army life to Roman politics.

AD 11, Scriptural Facts:  Jesus turns 17 at some point this year.

AD 12

AD 12, Historical Facts:   The Province of Judea received another new Procurator this year when Ambiblius was replaced by Annius Rufus, who wisely followed his predecessors and allowed Annas to retain his position as High Priest over Jerusalem.  Under Rufus and Annas, there was peace throughout southern Israel.

In Rome, Augustus was tired of letting Tiberius patrol the Rhine without conquering land, and the news from elsewhere in the Empire wasn't great.  A strong new King of Parthia, one Artabanus, had installed his own ruler in Armenia, and thus claimed the next several years of their tribute payments.  At the same time, the King of Thrace died without choosing an heir, so Augustus gave half of Thrace to each of two brothers, Rhoemetalces and Cotys, but he had to suspect that solution wouldn't last for too many years.

Near the end of campaigning season, the Emperor called his top General home for the last time.  Upon Tiberius' return, the Senate scheduled a date for the Triumphal Parade they'd been postponing for four years, to celebrate the victory of Pannonia.  Thus, we know for sure Tiberius was home from Germany some days or weeks before that parade, held on October 23rd.

AD 12, Probable Facts:   To the intensely devout Jews, this autumn begins a Sabbatical year (cf. Zuckerman).  At this point, however, Rome took the same taxes from Judea year in and year out.  If any landowners decided to leave their ground fallow this autumn and winter, they will still be required to pay Roman taxes, next spring.

It is sometimes alleged that the 15 years of Luke 3:1 ("the reign of Tiberius") should be counted from the year 12 AD, but there is absolutely no reasonable case to be made for Tiberius to have ruled in 12 AD.  For one thing, he wasn't physically in Rome until late in the year (see above).  For the rest, here are the details:

Tiberius' powers *may* have been increased by the Senate late this year, but if so it was only an expansion of his existing powers (the "proconsular imperium" and "tribunicia potestate") to all the overseas provinces.  In other words, Tiberius had recently held such powers in Germany and/or Illyricum, the same powers which he'd been assigned in 6 BC for his mission to the East.  But these powers did not extend to Rome, or Italy, and so Tiberius' powers were not yet close to being on par with Augustus' - and that's even *if* this expansion of powers happened late this year (instead of next year, which also happens to be more likely).

For more, see Levick, Swan, Seager, and footnotes there.

AD 12, Scriptural Facts:   Jesus turns 18 at some point this year.

AD 13

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AD 28

AD 28, Historical Facts:  Pontius Pilate begins his 3rd year as Prefect of Judea.  Lucius Lamia remains at Rome, Governing Syria in absentia.  Antipas is Tetrarch of Galilee & Peraea.  Philip is Tetrarch of Iturea, Gaulanitis, and Trachonitis.  Lysanias is Tetrarch of Abilene.  In Rome, Agrippina-the-younger weds Ahenobarus (the future parents of Emperor Nero) while Agrippina-the-elder remains held under house arrest by Tiberius' prefect Sejanus.  The Emperor stays on the Isle of Capri, indulging himself.  Finally, somewhere in Idumea, Herod Agrippa's wife Cypros gives birth to their daughter Bernice.  In the coming years, Bernice will grow very close to her older brother, Agrippa Junior.

AD 28, Probable Facts:  It is probably this autumn when Herod Antipas returns from a very important trip to Rome, where he apparently won the right to mint regional coins in Galilee, and also must have received some sort of official blessing in favor of his desire to divorce his Arabian wife and marry his niece (and sister in law) Herodias - despite the first marriage being part of a longstanding treaty with another client King, Aretas of Nabatea.

Some time during this autumn/winter, Herodias divorces her husband Herod-Philip (a disowned Herodian sibling; not the Tetrarch).  Meanwhile, Antipas' first wife flees to her father, Aretas.  The divorce becomes official some time before next spring, which is also when news of the remarriage becomes public knowledge throughout all of Galilee and Judea.

AD 28, Scriptural Facts:  It is probably springtime this year when John the Baptist begins preaching and baptizing along the Jordan River.  During the festival cycle, from March through September, all devout Jewish pilgrims have a chance to hear about John's ministry, and many go out to be baptized by him.  After the fall harvest festival, John's cousin Jesus also comes to be baptized, probably some time in October.  Jesus is baptized, God's voice fills the sky, and the Spirit alighting upon Jesus immediately leads him out into the wilderness to be tested.  A forty-day fast ensues, followed by at least three encounters with Satan.  On his way home to Nazareth, Jesus resists all the devil's temptations, staying strongly devoted to his Father God.  Before year's end, Jesus is back home in Nazareth, resting from his ordeal.  Undoubtedly, Jesus will spend the rest of this winter making preparations for the debut of his public campaign.


AD 29

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AD 29 - 1st Temple cleansing; John arrested; Samaria; re-calling & re-recalling the fishermen

AD 30

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AD 30 - appointing disciples by Spring; sending them out by two's before Winter

AD 31

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AD 31 - John beheaded; Jesus begins avoiding Galilee & Antipas; Sept thru Dec in Judea

AD 32

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AD 32 - transfiguration, departing from Galilee, begins Judean ministry in earnest

AD 33

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AD 33 - Bethany, Calvary, Golgotha, Pentecost; Stephen stoned & all scatter (+ regather)

AD 34

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AD 34 - Paul meets Jesus, flees Damascus; Sabbatical Summer

AD 35

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AD 35 - Jubilee Summer

AD 36

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AD 36 - Paul flees Damascus a 2nd time

AD 37

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AD 37 - Tiberius dies; Caligular Emperor; Vitellius visits at Passover; Jerusalem finds out about Antioch

AD 38

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AD 38 - Antioch begins saving money for Jerusalem (?)

AD 39

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AD 39 - Agrippa gets Antipas banished & receives Galilee

AD 40

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AD 40 - Caligula's Temple gambit

AD 41

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AD 41 - Caligula dies; Claudius Emperor; Sabbatical Summer

AD 42

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AD 42 - the year of Paul's vision (14 years before 2nd Corinthians written)


AD 43

AD 43, Historical Facts:  The Emperor Claudius accompanied his General Plautius and their four Legions on the invasion of Britain.  (The commander of Legion II was the future Emperor, Vespasian.)  Under Claudius' orders, Rome also annexed Northwest Africa (Mauritania) and Southwest Asia Minor (Lycia) as new provincial territories.

Herod Agrippa maintained construction efforts for Jerusalem's third wall but received word that Claudius was displeased with the military implications.  After some consideration of Claudius' concerns, Agrippa officially ended the project; however, Jews in Jerusalem rushed in to complete the walls.

AD 43, Probable Facts:  If Agrippa died late this year or early March of next year (on which, see Schwartz Chapter 5 & Appendix 7), then the Passover incident of Acts 12 most likely happened this year, AD 43, with last year, 42, as a less likely alternative.  If Agrippa died in the 2nd half of 44 - the traditional view, then the following scriptural facts can be moved as far ahead as 44.  For more details, see this post.

AD 43, Scriptural Facts:  The church in Antioch sent money to Jerusalem, in advance of the predicted famine (which peaks in 46/47). They did not wait until the famine was in full swing and try to ship grain for thousands of starving people, nor did they try to wheel such a massive grain train through the gates of a hungry city.  They sent money, early enough for the Christians in Jerusalem to begin buying & storing up extra grain.  That means the relevant testimony of Acts (11:30 to 12:19a,25) all belongs to this year.

So Paul & Barnabas travel to Jerusalem with Antioch's financial gift for the church there.  Shrewdly, and perhaps also devotedly, they arrive during Passover (most likely the first week of April, that year).  Unfortunately, Agrippa has just thrown Peter into prison after executing James-ben-Zebidee, thus sparking a fresh wave of persecution against Christians in the holy city.  Since the church goes into hiding, they are unable to meet Paul in person.  Thus, Paul remained "unknown in person to the churches of Judea".  An angel helps Peter escape from prison, but Paul & Barnabas prudently leave town without staying long.

Back in Antioch, later this year (or perhaps some time next year), Barnabas & Paul got together with three other brothers in the church:  Simon the Black, Lucius of Cyrene & Manaen of Galilee.  After fasting and ministering to the Lord for some time, the Holy Spirit directed them to dedicate Barnabas & Paul to a special work.  Presumably, soon thereafter, the church in Antioch begins setting aside funds to support Barnabas & Paul on their upcoming travels.


AD 44

AD 44, Historical Facts:  Herod Agrippa makes a speech in the Amphitheater (Hippodrome) of Caesarea-by-the Sea, but mysteriously collapses.  Five days later, he dies from intense abdominal pains - possibly intestinal worms, if the testimony of Acts 12:23 is accurate.  Agrippa's son (Agrippa Jr.) was in Rome with their good friend, the Emperor Claudius.  His age, only 17, may be one factor explaining why Claudius kept Agrippa in Rome and reclaimed the entire Jewish Kingdom for Rome as Provincia Judaea.

By midsummer, the Procurator Fadus had arrived in Judea, to serve as the Provincial Governor.  Fadus replaces the high priest Matthias son of Ananus with Elionaeus, son of Simon Cantheras.  Fadus thus ends the long dynastic hold - since AD 6 - of the family of Annas over Jerusalem's high priesthood.  This may or may not contribute to other problems Fadus is about to deal with in his Procuratorship.

AD 44, Probable Facts:  The consensus on a death date for Agrippa is early March, this year.  For an exhaustive discussion of the details, and an alternate view, see Schwartz, Chapter 5, plus Appendix 7.  Going with the consensus, and since the full moon of early April 44 was most likely the preferred date for Passover in that year (as against early March), the Passover episode of Acts 12 must belong to a year prior to this one; most likely AD 43.  Again, see this post for more explanation.

AD 44, Scriptural Facts:  The 'prayer meeting' of the five brothers in Antioch, assigned to AD 43, above, may belong to this year instead.  In either case, the church in Antioch spends all or at least part of this year setting aside funds for the inevitable travels of Barnabas & Paul.  There is also a slight chance those travels begin this year, but it is more likely they begin next year.

AD 45

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AD 49

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AD 49 - Claudius banishes all Jews from the city of Rome

AD 50

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AD 54 - Claudius dies in Rome; in Ephesus, Paul alters his travel plans to include Rome

AD 55

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AD 64

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AD 64 - Paul dies

AD 65

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AD 66

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