Monday, July 15, 2013

Paul, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, Circumcision, Roman Law, Torah Law, Desolating Sacrilege (Revised 8-22-13)

Hadrian, Emperor 117-138 CE
When Hadrian became Caesar in 117 CE it was under controversial circumstances, Historia Augusta 1.4, a rather gossipy work [1], paints the issue of his adoption by Trajan as something of a deathbed scandal. But the machinations described surrounding his ascension to the throne are consistent with the more reliable account of Cassius Dio Historiae Romanae 69.1 [2], which describes the murky circumstances under which he became Emperor. When taken in conjunction with his immediate decisions on the throne to extricate the Empire from Parthia, to reorganize the legions of the east, secure defensible borders, and put down rebellions in recently conquered territories, it looks for all the world to have been something of a consensus move by the powerful in the Military and the government. They wanted to correct the dangerously unsustainable expansionist policies of Trajan that were overtaxing the Empire and had led to the a quagmire in Mesopotamia, an expensive and failing campaign despite the propaganda. Hadrian was the man to do that job.

As I have gone about investigating the origins of Christianity, no figure looms larger on the scene in the birth of the new religion than Hadrian, even larger than Marcion. It is during his reign that Rome radically changes course, where the focus turns to securing the borders, shortening the lines of communication, and solidifying the identity of the empire both at the border and within. Cassius Dio gives us a good picture of the psyche of Hadrian. When he took the crown he was in his prime, an accomplished man, forty one years of age. Eutropius, [3] says "He spoke with great eloquence in the Latin language, and was very learned in the Greek" Facundissimus Latino sermone, Graeco eruditissimus fuit, while Dio tells us "By nature he was loved literature in each other (Greek and Latin) languages, and left behind both poetry and composition" φύσει δὲ φιλολόγος ἐν ἑκατέρᾳ τῇ γλώσσῃ, καί τινα καὶ πεζὰ καὶ ἐν ἔπεσι ποιήματα, such that Historia Augusta says, "some called him a "Greekling" ingenio eius sic ad ea declinante ut a nonnullis Graeculus diceretur.

Hadrian was learned and accomplished, and moderate, very high minded, trying to lead by example, praising good work, and taking deep interest in the details of governance and especially military affairs. But he was also petty and at times insecure, always meddling, unable to take unflattering feedback. Such is the detailed portrait Cassius Dio gives us, showing a very modern man who would look very familiar to us as an accomplished politician, and a publicly honorable man. [4] What concerns me is his intolerance of those better and his unbending strictness and tendency to meddle in things big and small, τὸ πάνυ ἀκριβὲς τό τε περίεργον καὶ τὸ πολύπραγμον (Historiae Romanae 69.5.1), as this personality trait appears to have loomed large, as really all his traits including generosity, in the events that caused the Bar Kochba revolt, and the subsequent or concurrent birth of Christianity.

Cyrene bathhouses restored after the tumulto Iudaico
Hadrian it seems was initially favored by the Jews, as he ended the Parthian conflict (Babylonian Jews were significant in numbers and undoubtedly important business allies for Jews inside the Roman Empire). Just as important was the ending of the campaigns of Lucius Queitus (the Kitos War to the Jews; which really were more like ethnic riots) who had just put down a minor rebellion at Lydda while the governor of Judea and before that a somewhat larger revolt in Cyrene, as documented in Historiae Romanae 68.32.1,  "Meanwhile the Jews in the region of Cyrene had put a certain Andreas at their head, and were destroying both the Romans and the Greeks" καὶ ἐν τούτῳ οἱ κατὰ Κυρήνην Ἰουδαῖοι, Ἀνδρέαν τινὰ προστησάμενοί σφων, τούς τε Ῥωμαίους καὶ τοὺς Ἕλληνας ἔφθειρον. [5] Hadrian's peace campaign and promises to rebuild Jerusalem were seen by the Jews as a major improvement over the final years of Trajan, and more than a decade of quiet followed.

Circumcision's (non) Role in the Bar Kokhba Revolt: 
I had intended to directly connect the circumcision controversy in Paul's letters to the supposed imperial edict banning circumcision practiced by Arabs, Egyptians, and the Jews, immediately before the outbreak of hostilities in Judea. However the only evidence for such an edict comes from the notoriously unreliable Historia Augusta 14.14.2, which says the root cause of the war was circumcision's ban, "At this time also the Jews began war, because they were forbidden to practice circumcision" moverunt ea tempestate et Iudaei bellum, quod vetabantur mutilare genitalia. But there is no other Roman report of such a ban. Cassius Dio doesn't mention it, instead states the founding of a pagan city and temple in place of Jerusalem was the War's cause.

The actual role circumcision played, and the actual policy of the Romans is in some doubt. Antiochus Epiphanes in 168 BCE as part of a brutal effort to Hellenize the Jewish population banned circumcision (Josephus 12.254), "He also commanded them not to circumcise their sons, and threatened to punish any that should be found to have transgressed his injunction" ἐκέλευσε δὲ καὶ μὴ περιτέμνειν αὐτοὺς τὰ τέκνα, κολάσειν ἀπειλήσας εἴ τις παρὰ ταῦτα ποιῶν εὑρεθείη. What follows is a rather gruesome account of the terrifying consequences for those who disobeyed the tyrants edict.  Of course the veracity is somewhat in doubt, as Josephus appears to be loosely quoting 1 Maccabees. [6] Most probably Antiochus Ephanes did in fact erect a pagan alter in the Temple, probably did ban circumcision. Tacitus, History 5.8, confirms the Antiochus attempted to Hellenize the Jews, "When the Macedonians became supreme, King Antiochus strove to destroy the national superstition, and to introduce Greek civilization," postquam Macedones prae polluere, rex Antiochus demere superstitionem et mores Graecorum dare adnisus, quo minus taeterrimam gentem in melius mutaret. The Greeks very much thought the practice was barbaric and artwork that has come down to us shows they thought the results of circumcision were grotesque. The Romans appear also to have felt much the same. [7] However Origen indicates that no such ban on the Jews, and Roman Law inform us that were granted permission to perform circumcision, at least during the reign Antoninus Pius (138-161 CE) onward.

The inescapable conclusion is that Historia Augusta is simply wrong. There was no ban, but a myth developed in Christian circles by the middle of the 4th century that Hadrian had imposed such an edict, perhaps from confusion his banning of castrating slaves combined with Antoninus' ruling to allowing Jews to circumcise in the years after Bar Kokhba. [8] And no doubt this view derived from the Maccabees and the association of Hadrian's policies with those of Antiochus; to the point of  even claiming he thought himself the reincarnation of Antiochus. But this myth, or at least the confusion of the era, does appear in Paul's letters.

Hadrian's Eastern Tour and the Need for Jewish Revenue: 

Map Courtesy of Dr. Yaron Eliav (color enhanced)
Hadrian toured the east during his reign, visiting Syria, and Egypt where he founded cities, built or restored temples and civil structures, taking several years. Finally around 130 CE he arrived in Judea, and unveiled his plans to rebuild Jerusalem (shifted north) but otherwise on the essentially unoccupied ruins as a Roman city, to be named after himself as Aelia Capitolina ("Capital of Aelius, his family name), complete with new wide streets of stone in Roman model (mistakenly taken to be from Herod's day by modern Christian pilgrims), bathhouses, a Forum, and Temples to Aphrodite and Jupiter (Capitoline Temple) were all inside the boundary. And most likely Legio X Fretensis was stationed  outside the city to the Northwest (not the South as Dr. Eliav suggests, although there is evidence of perhaps a construction camp there,) [9] The city was thus part of Roman policy to establish one Polis per legion in the frontier
Madaba Map, Aelia Capitolina (Temple Mount not in City)
provinces. Eusibius reports also that in front of the temple of Jupiter was equestrian statue of Hadrian himself. [10] The Jewish reaction was very negative, but not for religious nationalism, rather for the expense incurred as a province expected to pay for the Emperor's visit, and also the building of Polis that they saw as only benefiting foreigners and really seemed to do nothing for the population in the Judea hill country. But the Kitos Wars made them cautious of revolt while Caesar was present with his large entourage and legions ready for his call. Hadrian for his part seems to have been oblivious to the inevitable response, believing he has bestowed one of his most magnanimous gifts to any people,
a new capitol city, fully integrated into the Roman religion and custom, the gift of civilization and so Judea was no longer merely barbarians with mean superstitions.
Nerva Coin Commemorates the easing of Fiscus Iudaicus

Hadrian's possibly had another strong motivation for building a new city, and importantly a State temple to Jupiter where Jerusalem used to be situated, which can be traced back to the easing of Fiscus Iudaicus ending the more pernicious enforcement by Nerva (96-98 CE), such that many people likely stopped paying. [11] This tax was an important replacement source of revenue put in place by Vespasian after the Jewish Temple was destroyed in 70 CE. It was meant to replace the Temple taxes that were collected before the War to restore and maintain the Temple Jupiter Capitolinus in Rome that ironically, after surviving the great fire of 64 CE was destroyed when Vespasian's army took Rome in 69 CE placing him on the throne. Even more Ironically, after being completed in 75 CE it burned down in the fire 80 CE, and was built again (the 4th Temple) by Domitian. When the tax enforcement was finally eased the lost revenue was not replaced.

The Jewish population however did not see kindly to Hadrian's burden, no doubt felt in taxation as the building commenced, and so no benefit going to themselves. There is no indication of any building programs in the Judea Hills undertaken by Hadrian, so these people suffered only the expenses. Cassius Dio gives our clearest account of what happened next. Unfortunately his text has undergone some Christian interpolation designed to show a deliberate anti-Jewish policy of Hadrian, but that policy simply didn't exist. Removing the suspected text with a Christian agenda, makes clear the subject is the "intolerable" burden is in fact the paying taxes for Hadrian's project. (my best estimate of the interpolated text in red and struck out) [12]
12 At Jerusalem he founded a city in place of the one which had been razed to the ground, naming it Aelia Capitolina, and on the site of the temple of the god he raised a new temple to another diety. This brought on a war of no slight importance nor of brief duration, for the Jews deemed it intolerable that foreign races should be settled in their city and foreign religious rites planted there. So long, indeed, as Hadrian was close by in Egypt and again in Syria, they remained quiet, save in so far as they purposely made of poor quality such weapons as they were called upon to furnish, in order that the Romans might reject them and they themselves might thus have the use of them; but when he went farther away, they openly revolted. To be sure, they did not dare try conclusions with the Romans in the open field, but they occupied the advantageous positions in the country and strengthened them with mines and walls, in order that they might have places of refuge whenever they should be hard pressed, and might meet together unobserved under ground; and they pierced these subterranean passages from above at intervals to let in air and light.
13 At first the Romans took no account of them. Soon, however, all Judea had been stirred up, and the Jews everywhere were showing signs of disturbance, were gathering together, and giving evidence of great hostility to the Romans, partly by secret and partly by overt acts; many outside nations, too, were joining them through eagerness for gain, and the whole earth, one might almost say, was being stirred up over the matter. Then, indeed, Hadrian sent against them his best generals. First of these was Julius Severus, who was dispatched from Britain, where he was governor, against the Jews. Severus did not venture to attack his opponents in the open at any one point, in view of their numbers and their desperation, but by intercepting small groups, thanks to the number of his soldiers and his under-officers, and by depriving them of food and shutting them up, he was able, rather slowly, to be sure, but with comparatively little danger, to crush, exhaust and exterminate them. Very few of them in fact survived.
14 Fifty of their most important outposts and nine hundred and eighty-five of their most famous villages were razed to the ground. Five hundred and eighty thousand men were slain in the various raids and battles, and the number of those that perished by famine, disease and fire was past finding out. Thus nearly the whole of Judea was made desolate, a result of which the people had had forewarning before the war. For the tomb of Solomon, which the Jews regard as an object of veneration, fell to pieces of itself and collapsed, and many wolves and hyenas rushed howling into their cities. Many Romans, moreover, perished in this war. Therefore Hadrian in writing to the senate did not employ the opening phrase commonly affected by the emperors, "If you and our children are in health, it is well; I and the legions are in health." ...
15 This, then, was the end of the war with the Jews.

12 ἐς δὲ τὰ Ἱεροσόλυμα πόλιν αὐτοῦ ἀντὶ τῆς κατασκαφείσης οἰκίσαντος, ἣν καὶ Αἰλίαν Καπιτωλῖναν ὠνόμασε, καὶ ἐς τὸν τοῦ ναοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ τόπον ναὸν τῷ Διὶ ἕτερον ἀντεγείραντος πόλεμος οὔτε μικρὸς οὔτ᾽ ὀλιγοχρόνιος ἐκινήθη. Ἰουδαῖοι γὰρ δεινόν τι ποιούμενοι τὸ ἀλλοφύλους τινὰς ἐς τὴν πόλιν σφῶν οἰκισθῆναι καὶ τὸ ἱερὰ ἀλλότρια ἐν αὐτῇ ἱδρυθῆναι, παρόντος μὲν ἔν τε τῇ Αἰγύπτῳ καὶ αὖθις ἐν τῇ Συρίᾳ τοῦ Ἁδριανοῦ ἡσύχαζον, πλὴν καθ᾽ ὅσον τὰ ὅπλα τὰ ἐπιταχθέντα σφίσιν ἧττον ἐπιτήδεια ἐξεπίτηδες κατεσκεύασαν ὡς ἀποδοκιμασθεῖσιν αὐτοῖς ὑπ᾽ ἐκείνων χρήσασθαι, ἐπεὶ δὲ πόρρω ἐγένετο, φανερῶς ἀπέστησαν. καὶ παρατάξει μὲν φανερᾷ οὐκ ἐτόλμων  διακινδυνεῦσαι πρὸς τοὺς Ῥωμαίους, τὰ δὲ τῆς χώρας ἐπίκαιρα κατελάμβανον καὶ ὑπονόμοις καὶ τείχεσιν ἐκρατύνοντο, ὅπως ἀναφυγάς τε ὁπόταν βιασθῶσιν ἔχωσι καὶ παρ᾽ ἀλλήλους ὑπὸ γῆν διαφοιτῶντες λανθάνωσι, διατιτράντες ἄνω τὰς ὑπογείους ὁδοὺς ἵνα καὶ ἄνεμον καὶ φέγγος ἐσδέχοιντο.
13 καὶ τὸ μὲν πρῶτον ἐν οὐδενὶ αὐτοὺς λόγῳ οἱ Ῥωμαῖοι ἐποιοῦντο· ἐπεὶ δ᾽ ἥ τε Ἰουδαία πᾶσα ἐκεκίνητο, καὶ οἱ ἁπανταχοῦ γῆς Ἰουδαῖοι συνεταράττοντο καὶ συνῄεσαν, καὶ πολλὰ κακὰ ἐς τοὺς Ῥωμαίους τὰ μὲν λάθρᾳ τὰ δὲ καὶ  φανερῶς ἐνεδείκνυντο, πολλοί τε ἄλλοι καὶ τῶν ἀλλοφύλων ἐπιθυμίᾳ κέρδους σφίσι συνελαμβάνοντο, καὶ πάσης ὡς εἰπεῖν κινουμένης ἐπὶ τούτῳ τῆς οἰκουμένης, τότε δὴ τότε τοὺς κρατίστους τῶν στρατηγῶν ὁ Ἁδριανὸς ἐπ᾽ αὐτοὺς ἔπεμψεν, ὧν πρῶτος Ἰούλιος Σεουῆρος ὑπῆρχεν, ἀπὸ Βρεττανίας ἧς ἦρχεν ἐπὶ τοὺς Ἰουδαίους σταλείς.  ὃς ἄντικρυς μὲν οὐδαμόθεν ἐτόλμησε τοῖς ἐναντίοις συμβαλεῖν, τό τε πλῆθος καὶ τὴν ἀπόγνωσιν αὐτῶν ὁρῶν· ἀπολαμβάνων δ᾽ ὡς ἑκάστους πλήθει τῶν στρατιωτῶν καὶ τῶν ὑπάρχων, καὶ τροφῆς ἀπείργων καὶ κατακλείων, ἠδυνήθη βραδύτερον μὲν ἀκινδυνότερον δὲ κατατρῖψαι καὶ ἐκτρυχῶσαι καὶ ἐκκόψαι αὐτούς.
14 ὀλίγοι γοῦν 1 κομιδῇ περιεγένοντο. καὶ φρούρια μὲν αὐτῶν πεντήκοντα τά γε ἀξιολογώτατα, κῶμαι δὲ ἐνακόσιαι καὶ ὀγδοήκοντα καὶ πέντε ὀνομαστόταται κατεσκάφησαν, 2 ἄνδρες δὲ ὀκτὼ καὶ πεντήκοντα μυριάδες ἐσφάγησαν ἔν τε ταῖς καταδρομαῖς καὶ ταῖς μάχαις ῾τῶν τε γὰρ λιμῷ καὶ νόσῳ καὶ πυρὶ φθαρέντων τὸ πλῆθος ἀνεξερεύνητον ἦν᾽, ὥστε πᾶσαν ὀλίγου δεῖν τὴν Ἰουδαίαν ἐρημωθῆναι, καθάπερ που καὶ πρὸ τοῦ πολέμου αὐτοῖς προεδείχθη· τὸ γὰρ μνημεῖον τοῦ Σολομῶντος, ὃ ἐν τοῖς σεβασμίοις οὗτοι ἄγουσιν, ἀπὸ ταὐτομάτου διελύθη τε καὶ συνέπεσε, καὶ λύκοι ὕαιναί τε πολλαὶ ἐς τὰς πόλεις αὐτῶν ἐσέπιπτον ὠρυόμεναι. πολλοὶ μέντοι ἐν τῷ πολέμῳ τούτῳ καὶ τῶν Ῥωμαίων ἀπώλοντο· διὸ καὶ ὁ Ἁδριανὸς γράφων πρὸς τὴν βουλὴν οὐκ ἐχρήσατο τῷ προοιμίῳ τῷ συνήθει τοῖς αὐτοκράτορσιν, ὅτι ‘εἰ αὐτοί τε καὶ οἱ παῖδες ὑμῶν ὑγιαίνετε, εὖ ἂν ἔχοι· ἐγὼ καὶ τὰ στρατεύματα ὑγιαίνομεν.  ...
15 ὁ μὲν οὖν τῶν Ἰουδαίων πόλεμος ἐς τοῦτο ἐτελεύτησεν

Bar Kosiba Shekel
Aelia Capitolina Temple
What is clear is the temple complete with a statue of Jupiter. Coins minted in 130 CE depict Aelia Capitolina, so it is clear the city construction and the key erection of buildings and temple were probably finished by the time the outbreak of War; Roman concrete allowed much faster construction. Compare the Temple in the Roman coin to the left from the reign of Antoninus Pius with the shekel minted by Bar Koziba (right) that  shows the temple, complete with Greek Columns: Some Zionists have suggested this shows that the rebels initially took Aelia Capitolina, but this is farfetched. The coin shows the idealized temple, very much borrowing a typical model from the Roman coins they were re-stamping. [13] When the Romans did come and crush the rebellion, Bar Kosiba certainly did not defend Jerusalem (hard to do if you never occupy it). The archeological evidence is pretty overwhelming that the rebellion never actually reached that far north. Instead Bar Kosiba made his stand in fortified town of Bethar, [14] where he was headquartered. The archeology supports Dio's account that  Bar Kosiba largely carried a guerrilla war against Rome, rather than one of pitched battle. The Romans for their part,  while their response was initially ineffective, developed and carried out a variation, with small unit action, of the effective scorched earth policy to subdue hostile populations they had employed since the Gallic Wars, systematically destroying Jewish towns and fortified villages.

Christian accounts from later centuries add a few details but they are wildly unreliable, [15] and likely more useful at understanding internal Christian polemics, than they are to shed any light on what happened. Rather questionable statements such as Eusubius, History of the Church 4.6.2 adds the dubious claim that "Hadrian then commanded that by a legal decree and ordinances the whole nation should be absolutely prevented from entering from thenceforth even the district round Jerusalem, so that it could not even see from a distance its ancestral home." But there really isn't any evidence of this. It seems more likely that the impact of multiple wars thinned the population, combined with Rome marching off with slaves, and the settlement in confiscated land holdings by more reliable Greco-Roman peoples and the destruction of local religious sites, -much as they did to the Druids in Brittan-  and the reorganization of the province such that Judea was no longer an entity absorbed into Syria-Palestine, effectively exhausted and extinguished the ability to revolt. By 200 CE the formerly Jewish town of Lydda, which had been destroyed at the end of the Kitos War in 118CE, was elevated to a pagan Polis and renamed Colonia Lucia Septimia Severa Diospolis by Severus (the "city of Zeus" possibly designated such as early as Hadrian), an action which attests that the Jewish population of Judea had been greatly reduced, even decimated, in the scorched earth total war Rome brought against them (Dio 14). Likely many of those peasants that remained largely succumbed to Roman influence in the decades to follow, simply melting in with the new immigrants and their customs. [16]  

Circumcision's  Role in the Rise of Christianity:

In the Marcionite Apostolikon, the circumcision controversy is front and center. Colossians 2:11 advances a new concept, where Christians are explicitly not circumcised physically in the flesh (περιτομῇ ἀχειροποιήτῳ ἐν τῇ ἀπεκδύσει τοῦ σώματος τῆς σαρκός). And in Laodiceans/Ephesians 2:11 it says that  Christians are uncircumcised gentiles in flesh (τὰ ἔθνη ἐν σαρκὶ οἱ λεγόμενοι ἀκροβυστία) and they are called that by "those of the circumcision" (per Romans 2:25-29). In Philippians 3:3 the idea  is further clarified, saying Christian have the true "spiritual" circumcision (ἡμεῖς γάρ ἐσμεν ἡ περιτομή). This must be juxtaposed with Romans 2:25-29 where physical circumcision is associated specifically with upholding Torah Law, something which no longer in force it seems, and instead substitutes the concept of circumcision of the heart in place of it, with Deuteronomy 30:6 in mind (see Luke 10:27  ἀγαπήσεις κύριον τὸν θεόν σου εχ ὅλης [τῆς] καρδίας  καὶ ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ ψυχῇ σου). This notion is less developed than we find it in Colossians, Loadiceans, and Philippians, where Christian spiritual circumcision has replaced physical circumcision and separated from the LXX and  already.

The Apostolikon's interest in circumcision [17] seems to relate to when Antoninus Pius (divi Pii) added a ruling in Roman Law allowing Jews to circumcise their children.
11. Modestinus, Rules, Book VI.
By a Rescript of the Divine Pius, Jews are permitted to circumcise only their own children, and anyone who performs this operation upon persons of a different religion will incur the penalty for castration.
48.8.11 Modestinus libro sexto regularum
pr. Circumcidere iudaeis filios suos tantum rescripto divi Pii permittitur
: in non eiusdem religionis qui hoc fecerit, castrantis poena irrogatur.
The obvious question is why was this Law even required? The answer is self evident in the edict itself. First the ruling implies that circumcision is not allowed to be practiced in general in the Roman Empire without an edict. Romans however allowed provinces to follow their own laws and traditions, so in the province of Judea, including Samaria would have followed Torah Law of Genesis 17:12
And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants

וּבֶן־שְׁמֹנַ֣ת יָמִ֗ים יִמֹּ֥ול לָכֶ֛ם כָּל־זָכָ֖ר לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶ֑ם יְלִ֣יד בָּ֔יִת וּמִקְנַת־כֶּ֙סֶף֙ מִכֹּ֣ל בֶּן־נֵכָ֔ר אֲשֶׁ֛ר לֹ֥א מִֽזַּרְעֲךָ֖ הֽוּא׃
 (LXX) καί παιδίον ὀκτώ ἡμέρα περιτέμνω σύ πᾶς ἀρσενικός εἰς ὁ γενεά σύ ὁ οἰκογενής ὁ οἰκία σύ καί ὁ ἀργυρώνητος ἀπό πᾶς υἱός ἀλλότριος ὅς οὐ εἰμί ἐκ ὁ σπέρμα σύ
But after the Bar Kokhba War concluded in 135 CE, Judea was absorbed into the newly dubbed Syria-Palestine province, ending Torah Law as a force. [18] After the war Jews of the region (no there was no diaspora), those who survived the war, perhaps switching sides, still would have had children and the wealthy still would have owned slaves (who also would have children) and still would buy slaves. But no longer living in a province with Torah Law, they had to petition the Emperor.

It seems these Jews wisely waited until Hadrian had passed, fortunately a mere three years after the revolt, to petition Antoninus. Antoninus agreed to allow circumcision, but only in the narrowest sense, only to children of Jews by their parents consent. This clearly does not apply to slave nor anyone else of any other religion explicitly. This is consistent with Roman sensibilities, as slaves can be sold or become freeman, and no mutilation is allowed. It is quite likely that a suit was brought which required this ruling as appealed up to the Emperor, either to be allowed to circumcise a slave or at the bequest of a slave to prevent having to submit to circumcision, under the claim that it fell under Hadrian's earlier ban on castration, per 48.8.4  Ulpianus libro septimo de officio proconsulis
The Divine Hadrian also stated the following in a Rescript: "It is forbidden by the Imperial Constitutions that eunuchs should be made, and they provide that persons who are convicted of this crime are liable to the penalty of the Cornelian Law, and that their property shall with good reason be confiscated by the Treasury. But with reference to slaves who have made eunuchs, they should be punished capitally, and those who are liable to this public crime and do not appear, shall, even when absent, be sentenced under the Cornelian Law. It is clear that if persons who have suffered this injury demand justice, the Governor of the province should hear those who have lost their virility; for no one has a right to castrate a freeman or a slave, either against his consent or with it, and no one can voluntarily offer himself to be castrated. If anyone should violate my Edict, the physician who performed the operation shall be punished with death, as well as anyone who willingly offered himself for emasculation." [translation S.P. Scott]
Idem divus Hadrianus rescripsit: "Constitutum quidem est, ne spadones fierent, eos autem, qui hoc crimine arguerentur, Corneliae legis poena teneri eorumque bona merito fisco meo vindicari debere, sed et in servos, qui spadones fecerint, ultimo supplicio animadvertendum esse: et qui hoc crimine tenentur, si non adfuerint, de absentibus quoque, tamquam lege Cornelia teneantur, pronuntiandum esse. Plane si ipsi, qui hanc iniuriam passi sunt, proclamaverint, audire eos praeses provinciae debet, qui virilitatem amiserunt: nemo enim liberum servumve invitum sinentemve castrare debet, neve quis se sponte castrandum praebere debet. At si quis adversus edictum meum fecerit, medico quidem, qui exciderit, capitale erit, item ipsi qui se sponte excidendum praebuit".
And this legal challenge matches exactly the charge by Marcion's Apostolikon where genital mutilation in Philippians 3:2 (βλέπετε τὴν κατατομήν) and castration in Galatians 5:12 (ὄφελον καὶ ἀποκόψονται οἱ ἀναστατοῦντες ὑμᾶς, per LXX Deuteronomy 23:1 ἀποκόπτω), are associated with circumcision and Torah Law; as Philippians 3:3 speaks of Christian's having a spiritual circumcision not made with hands; and Galatians 5:2-11 is a discourse on circumcision binds one to the whole law. The next charge is curious, Marcion's Paul is puts forth Christianity as a religion separate from Judaism, and doing so in the immediate context of the post-Bar Kokhba era where the legal status of circumcision is not settled, or at least is still fresh and current, when in Galatians 5:3-4, he states that if you are circumcised not only are you obligated to the whole Torah (παντὶ ἀνθρώπῳ περιτεμνομένῳ ὅτι ὀφειλέτης ἐστὶν ὅλον τὸν νόμον ποιῆσαι), but you are also cut off from Christ (κατηργήθητε ἀπὸ Χριστοῦ οἵτινες ἐν νόμῳ δικαιοῦσθε) and hence no longer a Christian! This puts into context the charges Paul brings against Cephas in Galatians 2:14, and puts forward the opinion that opinion that his Jewish Christian opponents in Galatians 6:12-13 are hypocrites, much like Jews who now cling to the ruling of Antoninus Pius above, while "true" Christians are not Jews, and so would be breaking the Roman Law. Simply put Paul is declaring Christianity is a new religion.

It is no wonder that the Christian apologists of later era have clearly confused the timing of the issue, such that the author Historia Augusta came to the incorrect opinion that the Bar Kokhba revolt was started because of circumcision. Instead it was Christianity that was started because of circumcision (among other things).

More on the Law and Paul:

After 135 CE when Hadrian eviscerated the province of Judea and created the province of Syria Palestine in it's place, he ended Torah Law. The Statement in Romans 10:4 (Epiphanius P42, Terullian 5.14.6) the famous declaration "For Christ is the end of the law" (τέλος γὰρ νόμου Χριστὸς) can be seen now as a declaration that Torah Law is no longer, because Judea, the province where it was in force is no more! Christianity has made it's break with Judaism, as proclaimed in the Gospel (Luke 16:16, AM 4.23.7), "The law and the prophets were until John; since that time the kingdom of God is proclaimed."

This is not some abstract theological statement juxtaposed against "dead religion" but a real world fact on the ground. When Paul speaks of a new covenant not of letter but spirit in 2 Corinthians 3:6 (καινῆς διαθήκης, οὐ γράμματος ἀλλὰ πνεύματος, AM 5.11.4) he can be understood as proclaiming Christians no longer fall under the codes of Torah Law but rather the so called Law of Nations, as the Romans termed what we today might say Natural Law. This point becomes clear when we look at Romans 2:14
For when gentiles (ἔθνη 'those of the Nations') not having  the law, by nature practice that of the law, those not having law are to themselves a law
ὅταν γὰρ ἔθνη τὰ μὴ νόμον ἔχοντα φύσει τὰ τοῦ νόμου ποιῶσιν  οὗτοι νόμον μὴ ἔχοντες ἑαυτοῖς εἰσιν νόμος·
Then contrast it with Roman Law, from Gaius Commentary, Institution of the Civil Law Book two, #83 [18]
We should note, however, whether any law or enactment having the force of law, in any case changes the rule of the Law of Nations. 
Animadvertere tamen debemus, ne iuris gentium regulam vel lex aliqua vel quod legis vicem optinet, aliquo casu commutaverit
We see that this Law code is precisely what Marcion's Paul refers to when discussing the two mothers from whom Abraham fathered children in 4:22-31 (Marcionite form, leaving out Ephesians 1:21)
Abraham had two sons, one from the maidservant, but the other from the free woman
But the one from the maidservant was born according to the flesh,
and the one from the free (woman) through promise.
These things are allegorical; for these are the two covenants,

one from Mount Sinai gives birth to slavery,
but the other, gives birth far above ... who is our mother:
Therefore brothers, we are not children of the maidservant but of the free (woman)
Ἀβραὰμ δύο υἱοὺς ἔσχεν, ἕνα ἐκ τῆς παιδίσκης καὶ ἕνα ἐκ τῆς ἐλευθέρας
ἀλλ ὁ ἐκ τῆς παιδίσκης κατὰ σάρκα γεγέννηται, ὁ δὲ ἐκ τῆς ἐλευθέρας δι ἐπαγγελίας
ἅτινά ἐστιν ἀλληγορούμενα· αὗται γάρ εἰσιν δύο διαθῆκαι,

μία μὲν ἀπὸ ὄρους Σινά εἰς δουλείαν γεννῶσα,
δὲ ὑπεράνω πάσης ἀρχῆς γεννῶσα ... ἥτις ἐστὶν μήτηρ ἡμῶν·
διό, ἀδελφοί, οὐκ ἐσμὲν παιδίσκης τέκνα ἀλλὰ τῆς ἐλευθέρας.
Gaius' commentary on Law of Nations which states concerning children born of free woman and slave, but only by the decree of Emperor Hadrian, as before this that was not the Law for this condition.
81 In conformity with these provisions, the said Decree of the Senate, enacted at the instance of the Divine Hadrian, also prescribes that the issue of a Latin man and a foreign woman, as well as that of a foreign man and a Latin woman, follows the condition of the mother.
82 The result of this is that the child of a female slave and a freeman is, by the Law of Nations, born a slave; and, on the other hand, the child of a free woman and a male slave is free by birth.
81 His convenienter et illud senatus consultum divo Hadriano auctore significavit, ut ex Latino et peregrina, item contra ex peregrino et Latina qui nascitur, is matris condicionem sequatur.
82 Illud quoque his consequens est, quod ex ancilla et libero iure gentium servus nascitur, et contra ex libera et servo liber nascitur.  
This is exactly the condition of freedom and slavery described, although by allegory in Galatians 4:22-31, Marcion's Paul makes it clear, (without naming the women) that the slave represents Mount Sinai and and the Jewish laws and especially circumcision (Galatians 5:1-3ff). And by implication the other is free according to the Law of Nations. The perspective is clear, Marcion's Paul is Roman, not Jewish, he follows Roman Law as declared by Hadrian overthrowing prior rulings to give priority to the Law of Nations! A Jewish Christian following the Law of the Torah is actually breaking the Law of the Nations. Marcion's Paul makes it clear in 5:1 that Christianity is free of Judaism, Judea is no more, it is a new religion no longer subject to Torah Law. 

There is a narrow window where this statement is poignant, the generation immediately Hadrian abolishes Judea and during the time frame Antoninus Pius was lifting the ban on circumcision. Amazingly this corresponds very closely to when Marcion is said to have ruptured from the rest of the Church. [19]

Bar Kokhba Hints from the New Testament (New added 8/22/2013):

The evidence from excavations in Judea in recent years by the Israelis have pointed to the limited geography and non-Messianic reasons for the revolt, confirming a lack of anti-Jewish agenda on the part of Hadrian and the Romans. The growing opinion in Jewish Scholarship, which I share, is that revolt was primarily economic driven. Hadrian's visit to the province was expected to be paid for by the locals, and so also the building of Aelia Capitolina. It is quite likely that the taxes had been quite high for at least two years prior to the revolt. The letters of Simon bar Kosiba testify that the large Roman estates were seized by the rebels and rented out. They also grabbed the stashes of Roman coins and over stamped them to create their own currency.

There are hints of this in the New Testament. The Wicked Tenants (Mark 12:1-9, Matthew 21:33-41, Luke 12:9-16), which significantly is missing from Marcion's Gospel, talk of a Roman Estate, a vineyard, which is similar to one of the Midrash Rabbah Eicha 2.2.4 (uncertain date, c. 400-600 CE, English from on the revolt
They slew the inhabitants until the horses waded in blood up to the nostrils, and the blood rolled along stones (with the size of 284 liters) and flowed into the sea, staining it for a distance of six kilometers. (In case you think that Bethar is close to the sea: was it not in fact sixty kilometers distant from it?)
Now Hadrian possessed a large vineyard 46 kilometers square, as far as from Tiberias to Sepphoris, and they surrounded it with a fence consisting of the slain of Bethar. And it was decreed that they should not be buried, until a certain emperor arose and ordered their interment.
Rabbi Huna said: 'On the day when the slain of Bethar were allowed burial, the benediction Who art kind and dealest kindly was instituted - Who art kind because the bodies did not putrefy, and dealest kindly because they were allowed burial.'
 כי צורם מכרם היו הורגים בהם עד ששקע הסוס בדם עד חוטמו והיה הדם מגלגל אבנים של ארבעים סאה והולך בים ארבעה מילין ואם תאמר שקרובה לים והלא רחוקה מן הים ארבעה מילין וכרם גדול היה לו לאדריאנוס שמונה עשר מיל על שמונה עשר מיל כמן טבריא לציפורי והקיפו גדר מהרוגי ביתר ולא גזר עליהם שיקברו עד שעמד מלך אחד וגזר עליהם וקברום
ר' הונא אמר יום שניתנו הרוגי ביתר לקבורה נקבעה הטוב והמטיב הטוב שלא הסריחו והמטיב שנתנו לקבורה חמשים ושתים שנה עשתה ביתר אחר חורבן הבית ולמה נחרבה על שהדליקו נרות לחורבן
Eicha suffers a bit from a gratuitously gory description, but the basic point is association of Hadrian's vineyards to the revolt, and the dead around Bethar are left unburied until Antoninus ("certain emperor").  The wicked tenants, following at each step with the simplest version of the Synoptic Gospels, starts (Luke 20:9) with a man planting a vineyard, which lets assume for the moment is Caesar
A man planted a vineyard, and lent it to tenants, and journeyed to another country
Ἄνθρωπος ἐφύτευσεν ἀμπελῶνα, καὶ ἐξέδετο αὐτὸν γεωργοῖς, καὶ ἀπεδήμησεν χρόνους ἱκανούς
The parallel works so far with Hadrian leaving to continue his grand tour beyond Judea and Syria. Mark 12:1 (and Matthew 20:33) add additional descriptive elements that we see in Midrash Rabbah Eicha about putting a fence or wall around the vineyard (καὶ περιέθηκεν φραγμὸν ). And there are two more elements in the Mark/Matthew account which make the parallel to Bar Kosiba's revolt even stronger: the building of a tower (καὶ ὤρυξεν ὑπολήνιον), which  clearly the meaning of a fortress such as Bethar, and the wine vat pit (καὶ ὤρυξεν ὑπολήνιον) seems to indicate tunnels and underground sanctuaries as have been found all over Judea from recent archeological excavations. Revistinng Dio AH 68.12 we see the inescapable parallels
To be sure, they did not dare try conclusions with the Romans in the open field, but they occupied the advantageous positions in the country and strengthened them with mines and walls, in order that they might have places of refuge whenever they should be hard pressed, and might meet together unobserved under ground; and they pierced these subterranean passages from above at intervals to let in air and light. 
καὶ παρατάξει μὲν φανερᾷ οὐκ ἐτόλμων  διακινδυνεῦσαι πρὸς τοὺς Ῥωμαίους, τὰ δὲ τῆς χώρας ἐπίκαιρα κατελάμβανον καὶ ὑπονόμοις καὶ τείχεσιν ἐκρατύνοντο, ὅπως ἀναφυγάς τε ὁπόταν βιασθῶσιν ἔχωσι καὶ παρ᾽ ἀλλήλους ὑπὸ γῆν διαφοιτῶντες λανθάνωσι, διατιτράντες ἄνω τὰς ὑπογείους ὁδοὺς ἵνα καὶ ἄνεμον καὶ φέγγος ἐσδέχοιντο
The walls (τείχεσιν), the advantageous position which is fortified and the underground rooms and passages (ὑπογείους), map closely to the vineyard description. Dio's description of how the revolt starts which is most revealing in 68.13
At first the Romans took no account of them. Soon, however, all Judea had been stirred up, and the Jews everywhere were showing signs of disturbance, were gathering together, and giving evidence of great hostility to the Romans, partly by secret and partly by overt acts; 
καὶ τὸ μὲν πρῶτον ἐν οὐδενὶ αὐτοὺς λόγῳ οἱ Ῥωμαῖοι ἐποιοῦντο· ἐπεὶ δ᾽ ἥ τε Ἰουδαία πᾶσα ἐκεκίνητο, καὶ οἱ ἁπανταχοῦ γῆς Ἰουδαῖοι συνεταράττοντο καὶ συνῄεσαν, καὶ πολλὰ κακὰ ἐς τοὺς Ῥωμαίους τὰ μὲν λάθρᾳ τὰ δὲ καὶ  φανερῶς ἐνεδείκνυντο,
This seems to describe something of an steadily rising resistance, a groundswell of discontent. This seems consistent with the evidence we found above that suggests economic factors played a part. The suggestion here of hostility and acts both secret and overt, could mean things like stealing, refusing to pay certain taxes, to banditry, all things typical of a growing insurgency and no doubt nationalism as well. This sort of resistance is suggested in Midrash Genesis Rabba, 64: 29
In the days of R. Joshua b. Hananiah the [Roman] State ordered the Temple to be rebuilt. Pappus and Lulianus set tables from Acco as far as Antioch and provided those who came up from the Exile [i.e. Parthia] with all their needs. Thereupon Samaritans went and warned [the Emperor]: ‘Be it known now unto the king, that, if this rebellious city be built and the walls finished, they will not pay tribute (mindah), impost (belo) or toll –halak’ (Ezra IV, 13): ‘mindah’ is land tax; ‘belo’ is poll-tax; ‘halak’ is androtiga. ‘Yet what can I do,’ said he, ‘seeing that I have already given the order?’ ‘Send a command to them that they must change its site or add five cubits thereto or lessen it by five cubits, and then they will with draw from it of their own accord.’ Now the Community [of Israel] was assembled in the plain of Beth Rimmon; when the [Jewish nobles] dispatches arrived, they burst out weeping, and wanted to revolt against the [Roman] power.
בימי ר' יהושע בן חנניה גזרה מלכות שיבנה בית המקדש, הושיבו פפוס ולוליאנוס טרפיזין מעכו ועד אנטיוכיה והיו מספיקים לעולי גולה, אזלין אילין כותאי ואמרין ליה ידיע ליהוי למלכא דיהן קריתא דך תתבנא ושוריא ישתכללון מנדה בלו והלך לא ינתנון [עזרא ד יג] מנדה זו מידת הארץ, בלו זה פרוביגרון, והלך לאדרוטינה, אמר להון מה נעביד וגזרית , אמרין ליה שלח אמר להון ישנוניה מן אתריה אי יוספון עלוי חמש אמין או יבצרון מיניה חמש אמין ומן גרמון אינון חזרין בהון.
 הוין קהלייא מצמתין בהדא בקעתא בית רמון ,כיוון דאתון כתביא שורון בייכין בעיין ממ רד על מלכותא, אמרין יעול חד בר נש חכים וישרך ציבורא,
The Midrash shows that the Samaritans warned the Romans that the Jews will not pay land taxes, or census tax (poll tax), or toll (road/bridge tax). This is consistent with the revolt starting as an ecomomic tax rebellion against the building of a city of Aelia Capitolina. The reference to the temple is curious, as is the advise of the Samaritan's to Hadrian to lesson its size or move its location, as in fact we know no temple was ever built on the mount, and it seems secondary element to the building of the city and the taxation that resulted. (Note, Beth Rimmon is south of Jerusalem.)  The arrival of the Jewish nobility is interesting, as it suggests something of a formal break by the Judaean membership of the Sanhedrin that administered the province. This sounds very much like a spontaneous reaction that drew in the leadership. This suggests Bar Kosiba was not selected by accident, and explains the organization of the revolt. Be that as it may the steady build up and the halting Roman reaction is reflected further in the vineyard story, as like the Romans various efforts to collect taxes and regain control short of a full out assault are paralleled with the vineyard owner sending his emissaries to try and collect the dues from the land, with Matthew 21:34-36 the most basic account,
When the season of fruit drew near, 
he sent his servants to the tenants, to get his fruit;
and the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another.
Again he sent other servants, more than the first; and they did the same to them.
ὅτε δὲ ἤγγισεν ὁ καιρὸς τῶν καρπῶν
ἀπέστειλεν τοὺς δούλους αὐτοῦ πρὸς τοὺς γεωργοὺς λαβεῖν τοὺς καρποὺς αὐτοῦ.
καὶ λαβόντες οἱ γεωργοὶ τοὺς δούλους αὐτοῦ ὃν μὲν ἔδειραν, ὃν δὲ ἀπέκτειναν, ὃν δὲ ἐλιθοβόλησαν.
πάλιν ἀπέστειλεν ἄλλους δούλους πλείονας τῶν πρώτων, καὶ ἐποίησαν αὐτοῖς ὡσαύτως.
This very much describes the small actions of an insurrection brewing, with banditry and refusal to pay taxes. What happens next is the decision to formalize the rebellion, as with the meeting in Beth Rimmon above, as the vineyard owner decides to send his son, which if we strip the Christian overtone, suggests the parallel of Hadrian decides to send a legion into Judea and reassert control over the land. And the Jewish leadership meets, like the tenants, and determines to resist. Initially they are successful and the legion is forced to retreat back out of Judea, perhaps one legion even effectively destroyed, as we see in Matthew 21:37-39 where the vineyard owner sends his son, the tenants determine to resist and take the land for themselves, toss out the son and kill him
Afterward he sent his son to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.'
But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves,
'This is the heir; come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.'
And they took him and cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
ὕστερον δὲ ἀπέστειλεν πρὸς αὐτοὺς τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ λέγων, Ἐντραπήσονται τὸν υἱόν μου.
οἱ δὲ γεωργοὶ ἰδόντες τὸν υἱὸν εἶπον ἐν ἑαυτοῖς,
Οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ κληρονόμος· δεῦτε ἀποκτείνωμεν. αὐτὸν καὶ σχῶμεν τὴν κληρονομίαν αὐτοῦ.
καὶ λαβόντες αὐτὸν ἐξέβαλον ἔξω τοῦ ἀμπελῶνος καὶ ἀπέκτειναν.
The last words "and killed him" (καὶ ἀπέκτειναν) could well be a reference to the destruction of a legion and not just an afterthought. In Matthew this happens after the son is expelled, which suggests the unit was disbanded (surviving cohorts reassigned to other legions) as a result of no longer being an effective unit. For an emperor, losing a legion is like losing a son. The seizing of the land for themselves has the clear meaning of claiming their of Kingdom, and also by claiming the land they can then leasing it just as Caesar does. An example from one of the letters of Simon Bar Kosiba, Mur24E from Wadi Murabba, shows all these characteristics; the claiming a new Kingdom, where Simon is prince regent, and the renting out of land which was seized from Caeser  for the benefit of the Simon and his Kingdom.
[On the twentieth of She]vat of the year tw[o] of the Redemption of
[I]srael by Shimeon ben K[os]ba, the prince of
[Is]rael. In the camp which is located in Herodium,
[Ye]hudah ben Raba’ said to Hillel ben Grys:
“I of my free will have [re]nted from you today the
land which is my re[n]tal in ’Ir
Nahash which I hold as a tenant from Shimeon, the Prince of Israel,
This land I have rented from you today
until the end of the eve of Shemitah, which are years
full, [fi]scal years, five, of tenancy;
[that I wi]ll deliver to you in [Her]odium: wheat,
[of good and pure quality,] th[ree kor]s and a lethekh,
[of which a tenth part of the tithe] of these
[you will deliver to the silo of the treasury.] And [I am obli]gated
[in regard of this matter thusly  ]
[Yehudah ben Raba’, in person]
[Shim’on ben Kosba’, by dictation.]
So in fact the vineyard is seized and the inheritance is claimed, and Caesar's land, the vineyard owner, is rented out by Bar Kosiba as if he were the legal and proper heir. There is of course no messianic claim here that would be an element added after the fact by the detractors of the revolt, both Jewish and Christian. The parable of the Wicked Tenants ends precisely as the revolt itself, Mark 12:9 puts it thus
What will the owner of the vineyard do? 
He will come and destroy the tenants, and give the vineyard to others.
τί [οὖν] ποιήσει ὁ κύριος τοῦ ἀμπελῶνος;
ἐλεύσεται καὶ ἀπολέσει τοὺς γεωργούς, καὶ δώσει τὸν ἀμπελῶνα ἄλλοις
Matthew has the colorful addition "He will put those wretches to a miserable death" (αὐτῷ κακοὺς κακῶς ἀπολέσει) which aptly describes what happened to the Jews of Judea, echoed in the Mishnah Rabba Eicha above. Caesar was able to lease to non-Jewish "Aliens" (ἄλλοις) after a bitterly brutal campaign to effectively slaughter the people of Judea, and the archeological evidence shows many settlements were no longer occupied, and new ones that sprang up had distinctly gentile characteristics.


I wound up delving far more into the Bar Kokhba Revolt and its causes than I expected. The recent work of Jewish Scholars has been a tremendous help in identifying the real causes of the revolt, and the actual scope, as well as the actual layout of Aelia Capitolina. It is quite amazing how myth even to this day colors this story.

When I began the paper I thought the primary contact of Bar Kokhba would be the Law and Paul, but the Gospels stepped in with the mini-Apocalypse and Wicked Tenants, providing evidence that Marcion may have erupted even before the Bar Kokhba conflict had ended. While the unexpected turn makes this paper a bit wandering and not tightly focused, the discovery of the meaning of the Wicked Tenants and the mini-Apocalypse in addition to Paul was well worth it. Simon Bar Kosiba goes down as a very capable, intelligent and skilled leader. His cause was doomed from the get go, and he was vilified for political gain by Jews and Christians, who heaped false claims on him, as also we have seen with to a lesser extent Hadrian. I come away admiring both of these men more. Too bad they were on a collision course.


(a) When looking up the various source materials, especially those dealing with Roman intervention into Jewish and Christian affairs, I was again treated to another pious forgery. In this case it was Pliny's tenth book of correspondence with Trajan. In my opinion quite probably the entire book is fraudulent as it was unknown to the 5th century writer Sidonius Apollinaris (430-487 CE) who knew the only nine books, and was discovered late in the 15th century by friar Giovanni Giocondo (1433-1515) who seems to have been a forger. Michael Sympson wrote a good summary of the forgery, which I copied into a PDF. (I hope I am not violating any copyright rules). Cassius Dio being interpolated was disappointing, but thank you Meneham Mor for recognizing Xiphilinus' hand.

(b) The only Christian references before the Bar Kochba left for me to debunk are Cassius Dio 60.6.6 and Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus De Vita Caesarum XXV, which each have an inserted sentence to support the absolutely bogus claim of Acts 18:2 that the Jews were expelled from Rome by Emperor Claudius.  


[1] Historia Augusta is a fictional work, very problematic, written by multiple authors, and then later edited, which represents itself as the biographies of emperors. Absolutely no weight should be put upon it as a historical source, as it is full of errors that are impossible for a work of its purported inside knowledge. But it is fun reading, a popular book likely from the middle of the fourth century. I use it here only as a secondary witness to the more reliable Cassius Dio.
[2] Historiae Romanae in Greek is available online at
[3] Eutropius,  Breviarium historiae Romanae 8.7, dedicated to Emperor Valens (364-378 CE)
[4] Vladimir Putin comes to my mind as somebody modern who is comparably complex having both good and bad traits, but always strong, publicly virtuous, but ruthless and calculated
[5] Hadrian appears to have had Lucius Quietus killed to remove a possible rival in 118 CE. Cassius Dio mentions his presence as a significant general. The Lydda seize is recorded in Jewish sources (Pes. 50a; B. B. 10b; Eccl. R. ix. 10)
[6] Josephus' account here is suspect, he seems to be following 1 Maccabees 1.60-61 (see also 2 Maccabees 6:1-10 for the policies in Athens, and 4 Maccabees 4:15-26). Indeed much of this chapter in Antiquities appears to be a paraphrase of 1 Maccabees. (link)
[7] for background on the subject see Frederick M. Hodges' 2001 article, The Ideal Prepuce in Ancient Greece and Rome: Male Genital Aesthetics and Their Relation to Lipodermos, Circumcision, Foreskin Restoration, and the Kynodesme (there is a mouthful). This is a fantastic summary and includes links to art with depictions of male genitalia in the period as it relates to the matter. A good read.
[8] After  writing this article I came across Ra'anam Abusch's paper Negotiating the Differences: Genital Mutilation in Roman Slave Law and the History of the Bar Kokhba Revolt, Peter Schäfer’s 2003 The Bar Kokhba War Reconsidered, which goes into far greater depth to make the same points
[9] Thanks to Dr. Yaron Z. Eliav's article and the correct map he provided me from Urban Layout of Aelia Capitolina: A New View from the Perspective of the Temple Mount, Peter Schäfer’s 2003 The Bar Kokhba War Reconsidered, which demonstrates that the Roman polis did not include the Temple Mount, for whatever reasons it was outside the boundary as not suitable. The new Polis was centered north of the old city. The pre-Jewish War Jerusalem lay south of the Hadrian Gate, and the Temple Mount and remained in a state of ruins for generations. 
"LEGXF" inscription, Jerusalem
Dr. Eliav took a guess at the location of Legio X Fretensis, but 1967 archeological dig on what is now the site of the Crown Plaza Hotel, about 1.5 km north by northwest of Aelia Capitolina. "Roman  coins  unearthed  points  to  a  continuous  presence  at  the  site  from  the end of the First Jewish Revolt to the reign of Antoninus Pius."  That covers 70-138 CE. It is possible the Legio was repositioned with the building of Aelia Capitolina, but this seems unlikely to me, as it would have entailed extra work, and as it was they were only 20 minutes away from the Polis, so would have been easily available for construction duty. Fragments found in and around Aelia Capitolina are consistent with Legio X carrying out construction work on the city and roads in the region.  The unit seems to have relocated to an unknown position during the Bar Kochba revolt.

[10] Hieronymus (347-419 CE ), aka Jerome,  indicates that Hadrian's statue still stood in the 5th century;  Commentariorum In Evangelium Matthaei Libri Quattuor 24:15 states: So when you see the standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation: or to the statue of the mounted Hadrian, which stands to this very day on the site of the Holy of Holies / Cum ergo uideritis abominationem desolationis ... stantem in loco sancto ... aut de Hadriani equestri statua, quae in ipso sancto sanctorum loco usque in praesentem diem sietit.
note, the statue was probably added by Antoninus Pius around 138 CE as part of his effort to deify his predecessor Hadrian. If that is the case then the Desolation Sacrilege must have been Jupiter or happened later
[11] Josephus, De bello Judaico 7.6.6, on the tax:
He (Caesar) also laid a tribute upon the Jews wheresoever they were, and enjoined every one of them to bring two drachmae every year into the Capitol, as they used to pay the same to the temple at Jerusalem. And this was the state of the Jewish affairs at this time (or "to this day").
φόρον δὲ τοῖς ὁπουδηποτοῦν οὖσιν Ἰουδαίοις ἐπέβαλεν δύο δραχμὰς ἕκαστον κελεύσας ἀνὰ πᾶν ἔτος εἰς τὸ Καπετώλιον φέρειν, ὥσπερ πρότερον εἰς τὸν ἐν Ἱεροσολύμοις νεὼν συνετέλουν. καὶ τὰ μὲν Ἰουδαίων τότε τοιαύτην εἶχε κατάστασιν
also Cassius Dio, Historiae Romanae 65.7.2, adds the detail of paying for Jupiter Capitolinus
Thus was Jerusalem destroyed on the very day of Saturn, the day which even now the Jews reverence most. From that time forth it was ordered that the Jews who continued to observe their ancestral customs should pay an annual tribute of two denarii to Jupiter Capitolinus.
οὕτω μὲν Ἰεροσόλυμα ἐν αὐτῇ τοῦ Κρόνου ἡμέρᾳ, ἣν μάλιστα ἔτι καὶ νῦν Ἰουδαῖοι σεβουσιν, ἐξώλετο. καὶ ἀπ᾽ ἐκείνου δίδραχμου ἐτάχθη τοὺς τὰ πάτρια αὐτῶν ἔθη περιστέλλοντας τῷ Καπιτωλίῳ Διὶ κατ᾽ ἔτος ἀποφέρειν. καὶ ἐπ᾽ αὐτοῖς τὸ μὲν τοῦ αὐτοκράτορος ἔσχε· καίτοι τά τε ἄλλα αὐτοῖς, ὅσα ἐπὶ τηλικαύτῃ νίκῃ εἰκὸς ἦν, καὶ ἁψῖδες τροπαιοφόροι ἐψηφίσθησαν.
Matthew 17:24-27 refers to the Fiscus Iudaicus (τελει διδραχμα). The purpose seems to be to imply that Jesus was a Jew, subject to the tax, against Marcion. Of course, this could not possibly have been written before the Bar Kochba revolt, as nobody who lived during the generation that tax was in place would not be aware it was not in place before the Temple was destroyed.
[12] Jewish scholar Dr. Menaham Mor, Are there Any New Factors Concerning the Bar Kokhba Revolt?, Studia Antiqua et Archaeologica XVIII, 2012, 161-193, points out that Joannes Xiphilinus, the 11th century epitomator of Cassius Dio, had a clear agenda for adding the phrase "for the Jews deemed it intolerable that foreign races should be settled in their city and foreign religious rites planted there" (Ἰουδαῖοι γὰρ δεινόν τι ποιούμενοι τὸ ἀλλοφύλους τινὰς ἐς τὴν πόλιν σφῶν οἰκισθῆναι καὶ τὸ ἱερὰ ἀλλότρια ἐν αὐτῇ ἱδρυθῆναι) which Mor says is not Dio's. While I mostly agree, the passage which precede need some examination. It is highly unlikely Dio would have referred to the destroyed Jewish Temple with such reverence to make the statement, "and on the site of the temple of the god he raised a new temple to another deity" (καὶ ἐς τὸν τοῦ ναοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ τόπον ναὸν τῷ Διὶ ἕτερον). So I think the phrase about the Temple must be removed, as it suggests primacy of the Jewish and Christian God, and Jupiter is referred to as merely as "another deity". Also it has been demonstrated that no Temple was built on the Temple Mount, and Dio would no that. But something had to have been said to after it started a War. I think it is the phrase "for the Jews found it intolerable" (Ἰουδαῖοι γὰρ δεινόν τι ποιούμενοι) referring obliquely to the burden of taxation to pay for the new Polis.
[13] Tacitus, History 5.9, shows the astonishment of the Romans when the conquered Judea and discovered their Temple was empty with no statues of the Gods, "Cneius Pompeius was the first of our countrymen to subdue the Jews. Availing himself of the right of conquest, he entered the temple. Thus it became commonly known that the place stood empty with no similitude of gods within, and that the shrine had nothing to reveal" Romanorum primus Cn. Pompeius Iudaeos domuit templumque iure victoriae ingressus est: inde vulgatum nulla intus deum effigie vacuam sedem et inania arcana
It should be pointed out there is no actual indication in any sources that the Jews ever took Aelia Capitolina. Bar Kochba avoided direct battle with the Romans and Legio X Fretensis was stationed there. While the coin suggests the temple was taken, and that the Romans abandoned the city for a short while, it the coin could be merely optimistic propaganda by Bar Kochba.  There is no mention anywhere of the city being involved in the revolt. Cassius Dio's report seems to support the notion that there were no pitched battles and the Romans were not forced from any position in Historia Romana 69.12.3  he says of Bar Kochba,
The rebels did not dare try to risk open confrontation against the Romans, but occupied the advantageous positions in the country and strengthened them with mines and walls, so that they would have places of refuge when hard pressed and could communicate with one another unobserved underground; and they pierced these subterranean passages from above at intervals to let in air and light.
καὶ παρατάξει μὲν φανερᾷ οὐκ ἐτόλμων διακινδυνεῦσαι πρὸς τοὺς Ῥωμαίους, τὰ δὲ τῆς χώρας ἐπίκαιρα κατελάμβανον καὶ ὑπονόμοις καὶ τείχεσιν ἐκρατύνοντο, ὅπως ἀναφυγάς τε ὁπόταν βιασθῶσιν ἔχωσι καὶ παρ᾽ ἀλλήλους ὑπὸ γῆν διαφοιτῶντες λανθάνωσι, διατιτράντες ἄνω τὰς ὑπογείους ὁδοὺς ἵνα καὶ ἄνεμον καὶ φέγγος ἐσδέχοιντο.
Boaz Zizzu and Amos Kloner Archealogical Study supports Dio's report for how the Jews faught. Further only a handful of Jewish coins (6)  have been found there, which is more consistent with a few being picked up Roman soldiers as souvenirs during the campaign. although they have been found throughout Judea were the revolt occurred. Leo Mildenberg, Bar Kokhba Coins and Documents, 1980, Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, Volume 84, p 311-331, (free partial version and also available for free on jstor) gives an excellent summary, including a pair of maps on p 321 (1), and 323 (3) that make it rather obvious the revolt reached neither the coast nor Jerusalem, and only controlled a portion of Judea. 
[14] Both Palestinian Rabbinic Midrash and Babylonian Talmud (Gittin) place the conflict in Betar, as does Eusubius, Histoory of the Church 4.6.3, "The war reached its height in the eighteenth year of Hadrian in Betar, which was a strong citadel not very far from Jerusalem. The siege lasted a long time before the rebels were driven to final destruction by famine and thirst and the instigator of their madness paid the penalty he deserved."
There is no Roman mention of any reconstruction for Aelia Capitolina, although it seems probable that new statues of Jupiter was required. Despite Cassius Dio stating the equestrian statue of Hadrian was present, it would seem more consistent with Roman sensibilities if it would have been placed there at the beginning of Antoninus Pius' reign, as part of his effort to deify his predecessor.
[15] Among the unfounded charges, is that Bar Kosiba killed Christians, Eusebius, Chronicle, Hadrian, year 17: "Cochebas, the duke of the Jewish sect, killed the Christians with all kinds of persecutions, when they refused to help him against the Roman troops."  A similar claim from Justin, First Apology 31.5-6, "For in the present war it is only the Christians whom Barchochebas, the leader of the rebellion of the Jews, commanded to be punished severely, if they did not deny Jesus as the Messiah and blaspheme him." It is rather doubtful there were any Christians at the time to persecute.
[16] The conclusion that there was no Roman diaspora very much surprised me. Obviously the destruction of the temple diaspora it is part of the psyche. As early as the 4th century the practice of visiting the wailing wall was practiced. The wars and destruction, and struggle for identity were and are very real. And it should be remembered that Samaritan, Galilean and Babylonian Judaism continued and thrived, and so also the practices of Circumcision and reading the Torah. Further Jewish evangelism must have played a far bigger role in creating the complex story of the "diaspora" populations than has been given credit.  
[17] The mention of circumcision elsewhere in Paul (1 Corinthians 7:18-19, Romans 3:1, 30, 4:9-12, 15:8, Galatians 2:7, Philippians 3:5, Colossians 3:11, 4:11; I am uncertain on Colossians 2:13) is part of the later "Catholic" redaction in the last quarter of the 2nd century . Tacitus Annals 8.7.1 also comments on this prohibition, but places it during Domition:
"He prohibited the castration of males, and kept down the price of the eunuchs that remained in the hands of the slave dealers"
castrari mares vetu it; spadonum, qui residui apud mangones erant, pretia moderatus est.

[18] Gaius' commentary is available in English on-line from Ken Pennington, Catholic University, here
In addition he has a series of audio and video lectures from his classes including Roman Jurisprudence  
[19] Tertullian Adversus Marcionem 1.19.2-3 make it very clear Marcion's new God appeared first during Antoninus Pius, Cum igitur sub Antonino primus Marcion hunc deum induxerit, about September 142 CE if it was 115 1/2 years after Tiberius, A Tiberio autem usque ad Antoninum anni fere cxv et dimidium anni cum dimidio mensis.

1 comment:

  1. After writing this article I have come to the conclusion that the original Jewish Temple was not on the so-called Temple Mount where the Muslim Dome is today. The location required running water and the description from Josephus makes it clear there were pools there. The logical placement then is to the South near Gihon Springs and the Siloam Pool, in what today is the hill known as the city of David, and it overlooked the lower city and was lower than Herod's palace on Zion which fortified the upper city. The north wall was probably about where the south wall of Aelia Capitolina was. Suburbs and hedges (smaller walls) pushed north into what is the Old City today. So neither the Romans nor the Christians, nor the Muslims built on the old temple. Today a Jewish cemetery probably occupies the spot.