The Church of Apostles and Martyrs - Vol. 1

The Church of Apostles and Martyrs - Vol. 1

The Church of Apostles and Martyrs - Vol. 1

The Church of Apostles and Martyrs - Vol. 1

Excerpt

As the reign of the Emperor Tiberius was drawing to its close, that is to say around A.D. 36 or 37 according to our calendar, a certain rumour gained currency among the Jewish communities scattered throughout the length and breadth of the Empire, and fanned them to a feverish pitch of excitement.

At the time all was at peace in the Mediterranean world which Rome had refashioned according to her own particular principles over the past three hundred years. Everything within the massive Empire gave an impression of ordered well- being and of permanence. It was true, of course, that the emperor, who was now more than seventy years of age, was living a life of voluntary seclusion among the rocks of Capri, where he had had a dozen or so luxurious villas built to suit his fancy. There he frittered away the autumn of his life in debaucheries and sadistic diversions, while, weary of his base dealings and his denunciations, the senatorial aristocracy looked anxiously towards the island whence little ever came save sentences of death. But the bloody whims of the elderly misanthrope had no effect whatsoever on the State's equilibrium; Rome was quiet, the subjection of the provinces was complete, and trade was prospering wonderfully on the high seas and along the great imperial roads.

It was exactly the same in Palestine, the smallest of the imperial provinces. There too nothing out of the ordinary seemed to be taking place. Law and order held sway at Jerusalem, thanks to the authority of the suspicious and sporadically brutal imperial procurator, Pontius Pilate. Part of the Jewish community accepted the Roman protectorate willingly, and force compelled the rest to acknowledge it. The Jews continued to lead the same lives that they had led for five hundred . . .

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