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In the Year of our LORD Jesus Christ
2017
-- As of January 20, 2017
A Sigh Of Relief With The Inauguration Of Donald John Trump as President of the United States of America, And Hope For A Prosperous Future For All United States Citizens (we who are a nation called "the melting pot of the world"). We shall be great and exceptionally great again.




Peace and Liberty. Semper Fidelis.





Saturday, October 8, 2016

Why Did Nero Blame The Christians For The Fires Of Rome?

Clement, the 3rd bishop of Rome:  who, in 62 A.D., following the Fire of Rome and the subsequent persecutions and massacres of the Christians in Rome by Nero, wrote to one of his former parishes in Corinth.  The Christians of Corinth had sponsored the evangelization of Asia, and the founding of the Churches there. They had also sent Clement and others from Corinth to evangelize and found the Churches of Rome in late 53 A.D., and were active participants with the Roman Church while Peter and Paul were evangelizing Rome from May 55 A.D. until their deaths on June 29, 57 A.D.  Even during these two years, Linus and Anencletus (each while in office serving as Bishop over the Christian synagogues or Christian Churches in Rome)  died in office, both having been ordained by Peter and Paul.  Sometime prior to their deaths, they ordained Clement, possibly March/April 57 A.D.  

Because of the relationship between the two cities, Corinth and Rome, in missions and in the co-founding of both cities Churches by Peter and Paul, when news reached Rome about the huge dissension that had flared up in Corinth, only 5 years from the death of the Apostles, Clement then wrote his letter to the Corinthians, as Irenaeus explains:


           “In the time of this Clement, no small dissention having occurred among
             the brethren at Corinth, the Church in Rome dispatched a most powerful
             letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace, renewing their
             Faith, and declaring the tradition which it had lately received from
           

             The Apostles, proclaiming the One GOD, omnipotent, the Maker of Heaven
             And Earth, the Creator of man, who…set forth the Law, sent forth the
             Prophets, and who has prepared fire for the devil and his angels.
             From this document, whosoever chooses to do so, may learn that He,
             The Father of our LORD Jesus Christ, was preached by the Churches, and
             May also understand the apostolical tradition of the Church,
             since this Epistle is of older date
             than these men who are now propagating Falsehood,
             and who conjure into existence another GOD beyond the Creator
             and Maker of all existing things.”
                                                            (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.3.3.)

Irenaeus makes it clear, that Clement did not “Lord” himself over the Corinthians, or any other Church (or group of Churches).  Rather, Clement wrote a powerful letter that simply exhorted the Corinthians to follow that tradition and teaching that they themselves had been handed down from the Apostles (some 11 to 13 years earlier).  

Further, says Irenaeus in that 3.3.3. of Against Heresies, Clement wrote at a time when “there were still many remaining who had received instructions from the Apostles.”  And in fact, there were still those alive who had been eyewitnesses and disciples of Christ, though not among the original 12.  And in 62 A.D., when Clement’s letter to the Corinthians was written, under what conditions was that letter written?  

Let’s look to the historical record, as the Carthaginian and Roman lawyer and Church elder Tertullian would say:

                       “Consult your histories, you will there find that
                         Nero was the first who assailed with the Imperial
                         Sword – the Christian sect – making progress
                          especially then at Rome.”
                                                (Apology, .5)


So what happened especially then at Rome, when Nero persecuted the Christian sect?  Recorded in the Annals of Tacitus, a Roman historian of the period, Tacitus writes:


                            “Nero, in order to stifle the rumor –
                                [that he personally ordered Rome set on fire to make
                                     way for his ambitious rebuilding and development
                                     project, which the Senate had recently rejected]
     
    ascribed [the fire] to those people who were
     hated for their [rumored] wicked practices, and
     called by the vulgar [literally, ‘Common’],
     Christians;  these he punished exquisitely.  The
     author of this name was Christ, who in the reign
     of Tiberius was brought to punishment by Pontius
     Pilate, the procurator. 


     For the present, this pernicious superstition w
    was in part suppressed; but it broke out again
    not only over Judea, whence this mischief first
    sprang, but in the city of Rome also, whither
   [they] do run from every quarter and make a noise,
   [of] all the flagrant and shameful enormities.

  At first, therefore, those who were seized
  [allegedly] confessed; afterward a vast multitude
   were detected by them, and were convicted, not so
 much as really guilty of setting the city on fire,
 but as hating all mankind; nay, they made a mock of 
 them as they perished, and destroyed them by putting
 them into the skins of wild beasts, and setting dogs
 on them to tear them to pieces:  some were nailed to
 crosses, and others flamed to death:  they were also
 used in the night-time instead of torches for illumination.


     Nero had offered his own gardens for this spectacle.
 He also gave them Circension Games, and dressed himself
 like the driver of a chariot, sometimes appearing among
 the common people, sometimes in the Circle itself;
 whence a commiseration arose, though the punishments
 were leveled at guilty persons, and such deserved to be
 made the most flagrant examples, as if these people
 were to be destroyed, -- not for the public advantage,
 but to satisfy the barbarous humor of one man.”
                       Tacitus, Annals, Book 15.


In these times which we are now presently in, Christians once again are being persecuted by those in power...not locally in a city having an excess of one million population in antiquity, but certainly growing to a worldwide international experience in ways like those which haven't been seen so severely worldwide everywhere in several centuries, at least.  

In the Roman period, it was common for the uneducated masses to single out those whom they thought the most educated among them, and to follow their lead.  Such was the way Greeks centuries before even this period so reasoned during the Peloponnesian War.  In the case of Ancient Greece, Thucydides tells how Plataea elected two principal men among them and followed their lead to surrender to the Lacedaemonians (the Spartans), only to be destroyed by being delivered into the hands of their “master race” enemies, the “Axis powers” out of Thebes, who had previously sided with the Persians against their own homeland, and the Spartans themselves. (Thucydides, the Peloponnesian War: 2.2-6; 3.52-59).  In our own day, such is the way of the illiterate Muslim terrorist; and in the days of Rome, such was one of the reasons that education was so highly valued among the upper classes.

          In 62 A.D.,when Nero ordered the city of Rome set fire and then falsely blamed the innocent Christians, to which EVERYONE KNEW his allegation to be a lie,  let us remember that Nero is only around 25 years of age, and too immature and wicked for any position of authority, let alone Emperor of the vast Roman Empire.

  Nero as a boy, had admired Festus, the procurator of Judea who succeeded Felix, and had called him friend.  Nero was a raging deviant and vicious homosexual who engaged not only in the most lewd homosexual sex orgies with those near his age, above and below by perhaps 10 years his age, but he was also known to think it sport to throw stones of weights up to 5 and 10 pounds off rooftops onto the heads of random people below and murder them and laugh by himself or with his friends that watching their heads get smashed or explode was "sport", or words to that effect.  He was a wickedness so unique and despised by his own people, words cannot adequately convey through time and space how he was truly both simultaneously hated and feared within the city of Rome, the only location where his power to do any crime was just short absolute (the Senate and certain families having exemption and protection, even from the Caesars)...and only within those borders, within that city, according to their Empire's laws.  

It was Nero, who at the age of 16 or 17, appointed Festus to replace Felix in Judea, now being Emperor in place of Claudius – to which the Senate allowed through egregious error.  It appears that Festus may have been dispatched as early as March 54 A.D.  This is significant in that the change of governors or procurators most always fell upon June 1st of any given year.  Sailing by ship in the Mediterranean from Alexandria to the Tiber generally took 10 days if the winds were good, slightly longer (perhaps 15 days) by oar.  In effect, in about 17 days or less, the military replacements and their entourage (a legion of soldiers and almost as many civilians of  hired carpenters and others) would have been in Caesarea in Israel, gathering for assembly and inventorying their logistics.  When we see Festus and Felix together with the Apostle Paul in the book of Acts, we know that it is in May of 54 A.D., following Pentecost, and the documented campaign of Festus in the countryside, in which Festus and his Legion tracked down (in full strength) a band of 4,000 Sicarii zealots, and slew them in hand to hand combat, even as the chief captain did not get the events straight, being shut up in Jerusalem, and saying to Paul:

          “Are you not that Egyptian, which before these days made
             an uproar, and led out into the Wilderness 4,000 men
             that were murderers?”  
            (Acts 22:38)


This would have been Nero’s perspective, and the advance report he would have received of Paul by the officer, who with 9 other soldiers escorting Paul --(as 10 Roman soldiers did escort Ignatius to Rome some 52 years later); and who was not present for the events in question, being more likely under Festus’ direct chain of command (i.e., one of the incoming Legion’s officers).

 So what is the real history of the events in Judea, that the officers had not clearly relayed to Nero, invoking his wrath against Paul in A.D. 57 -- and eventually all Christians under his dominion, outside the protection of the Senate in A.D. 62?  Let’s now look to Josephus, who lived during in the period in question, in the land of Israel, and wrote of the events some 30 and 35 years later for Caesar’s libraries.


“Now when Porcius Festus was sent as successor to Felix by Nero,
 the principal of the Jewish inhabitants at Caesarea went up to
 Rome to accuse Felix; and he had certainly been brought to
 Punishment, unless Nero had yielded to the importunate
 Solicitations of his brother Pallas, who was at that time had in
 The greatest honor by him.

      Two of the principal Syrians in Caesarea persuaded Burrhus,
 Who was Nero’s tutor, and secretary for his Greek letters, by
 giving him a great sum of money,
 to disannul that equality of  the Jewish privileges of citizens 
  which they had hitherto enjoyed.
 So Burrhus, by his solicitations, obtained leave of the Emperor,
 That a letter should be written to that purpose.  This letter
 Became the occasion of the following miseries that befell our
 Nation; for when the Jews of Caesarea were informed of the
 Contents of this letter to the Syrians, they were more disorderly
 Than before, [and continued to be] until the war was kindled.”
                   (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 20.8.9)




The Syrians, in the mind of the young emperor, had the greater authority of words.  The reason was that the President of Syria, whom the Romans had appointed, was de facto the Overseer of the Procurators and Kings of the region of the Middle East.  By example, Josephus in Wars of the Jews, 2.12.5-6 cites the example of Ummidius Quadratus (also known as Numidius and Vinidius Quadratus), the President of Syria, in which he orders Cumanus – Procurator of Judea – to Rome because he allowed the escalation of violence between Jews and Samaritans to spiral out of control by his inactions.  This most probably in 48, but no later than 49 A.D.   The fact that Jerusalem on at least 3 holidays a year swelled in population presence to over 3,000,000 people, such as on the Passover (Josephus, Wars of the Jews 2.14.3), apparently was not informed Nero – or he just didn’t care.  In the mind of the Emperor, it was Syria that deserved Rome’s respect as holder of the third greatest city of the Empire, Antioch, to which past and future Roman Emperors and generals did on occasion visit.  
The greatest cities were:   
      1) Rome
      2) Alexandria, Egypt
      3) Antioch of Syria

Further, by their own admission, the Jews of Caesarea lived side by side with the Syrians peacefully after a Grecian culture and lifestyle in a city that their king (Herod) had dedicated to the Caesars.  And Nero, by birth, was L. Domitius Aenobarbus – but by adoption, became Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus Germanicus, the nephew of Claudius through Caesar’s brother.  Claudius married his widowed sister-in-law after a long space, and was poisoned by that sister-in-law turned wife after she had Claudius prefer Nero over his own son Brittanicus. (Antiquities of the Jews, 20.8.1)  Upon becoming emperor, Nero deeply resented it; and so much so, that soon after killed his own mother and wife (his cousin, and legitimate daughter of Claudius), soon became lost in the riches and authority of his power and estate (Antiquities of the Jews 20.8.2. and Wars of the Jews 2.13.1).

Taking all this into account, we can better understand the reaction and misinterpretations that were to come on the part of the Romans.

In 54 A.D., Felix finally caught one of the arch-robbers of the country, whose bands had ravished Israel by night for some 20 years, and his many that were with him, and sent them alive to Rome.  But many thousands Felix had crucified for their crimes.  These were immediately replaced by zealots who robbed and murdered in the daytime, concealing themselves in the Festival Crowds at Jerusalem, and were often men of the upper class.  Their first victim was no less than the Temple’s high priest, Jonathan. (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 2.13.2-3). 
Then came the false prophets, who prophesied of a change in government away from Rome, and empowerment back to the Jews.  These deluded 4,000 men to go to the wilderness with them, where they would receive a sign from GOD as to how to overthrow the Romans in Jerusalem.  (Wars of the Jews, 2.13.4.).  This is where the first half of the Roman’s statement to Paul in Acts 22:38 comes from.  To which, erroneously, these deluded people who went out in numbers of over 4,000, were confused with being the Sicarii zealots.  And Felix, seizing the moment, sent his troops and slew them by the Jordan.

The second part of the Roman’s statement came from his current understanding of this following history left us by Josephus:

But there was an Egyptian false prophet that did the Jews
            more mischief than [the false prophets who were slain with
            the 4,000] (did); for he was a cheat, and pretended to be
      a prophet also, and got together 30,000 men that were deluded
      by him;
      these he led round about from the wilderness to the Mount,
      which is called the Mount of Olives,
           and was ready to break into Jerusalem by force from that
      place; and if he could but once conquer the Roman garrison and
      the people, he intended to domineer over them by the assistance
      of those guards of his who were to break into the city with him;
           but Felix prevented his attempt, and met him with his Roman
            soldiers, while all the people assisted him in his attack upon
      [the Egyptian and his 30,000], insomuch, that when it came to a
      battle, the Egyptian ran away with a few others, while the
            greatest part of those that were with him 
     were destroyed or taken alive; 
      but the rest of the multitude were dispersed – every one
      of them to their own homes, and there concealed themselves.”
                 (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 2.13.5)


This was further compounded by the death of Porcius Festus, soon after his relieving Felix of his 5 year assignment as Roman Procurator of Judea.  It is quite probable that Festus died at the hands of the Sicarii, who were the blame for most all insurrections, gang pillages, and popular discontent with the Roman government in general.  For indeed, Festus did arrive early, and by Josephus’ own historical accounts, though arriving perhaps months before his June 1 taking of office in A.D. 54; Porcius Festus died prior to the following Passover in A.D. 55, at which time Paul would be in Rome, and James the bishop of Jerusalem’s Christians was slain on the Temple Mount by the zealots. Thus, Acts 22:38 is set in May 54 A.D., when Nero is 17, and his hearing of the death of Caesar’s own hand-picked representative, and perhaps honored friend of the family (as it were), not to mention someone he may have had homosexual feelings and desires for (based on his psychological profile), that Festus  the man whom Nero perhaps especially had a crush on was killed by what to Nero was conveyed to him "a bunch of savages" when he was 18, was perhaps confused and mixed with the Christian sect, to which Paul was a leading part of.
          Therefore, we have the most likely scenario of what really happened in the mind of Nero, and perhaps some of the emotional hatred that spurred his savagery against the Christians in particular about a decade later in Rome when by the many tens of thousands he


 "...destroyed them by putting
 them into the skins of wild beasts, and setting dogs
 on them to tear them to pieces:  some were nailed to
 crosses, and others flamed to death:  they were also

 used in the night-time instead of torches for illumination.

...not for the public advantage
 but to satisfy the barbarous humor of one man.”
                           Tacitus, Annals, Book 15.




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