Tag Archives: emperor worship

PROBLEMS WITH REVELATION’S EARLY DATE (1)

Emperor worship 5PMT 2015-048 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Preteristic postmillennialists hold that Revelation was written prior to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70. We argue this on historical and exegetical grounds. We do not argue for an early date for Revelation on purely theological grounds in order to defend our long-range hope against John’s enormous judgment scenes.. I have argued the case of the early date of Revelation in several places, most especially in my doctoral dissertation published as Before Jerusalem Fell. In this brief series of articles I will respond to four leading arguments against the early date.

The modern case for the late date of Revelation concentrates upon four basic arguments. These have been ably and succinctly summarized by noted evangelical scholar and late-date advocate Leon Morris in his commentary, The Revelation of St. John (2d. ed.: Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987). I choose to investigate Morris’s approach for three basic reasons. Continue reading

JEWISH TEMPLE = EMPEROR WORSHIP (4)

PMT 2014-122 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.Emperor worship temple 4
In this fourth entry in an 8-part series I am arguing that the Jewish Temple in the first-century effectively functioned as tool of emperor worship, when understood spiritually.

Along with pride in their national shrine the Jews boast of their physical descent from Abraham, as Paul strongly indicates: “Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I” (2Co 11:22). This involves a trusting in the flesh (Gal 4:23, 39; 1Co 10:18 [Gk]). They pride themselves in physical circumcision (Ro 2:25-29; Gal 5:11; 6:12-13; Php 3:2-3; Tit 1:10). Indeed, they trust in all their ritual traditions as Paul’s testimony shows: “I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions” (Gal 1:14). When he defends his apostleship against his opponents he writes: “Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I” (2Co 11:22).

We see Judaism’s strong ritual concern early in the post-Pentecost Christian witness. In Ac 6:14 Stephen is charged with an attempt to “alter the customs which Moses handed down to us.” Scharlemann (102) observes that “the word translated as ‘customs’ reads eth in Greek; and this, in turn, is a translation of the Hebrew minh got. It was used to cover the whole complex set of ritual prescriptions and religious obligations assumed by the Jew when he took upon himself the yoke of the kingdom. It was the word used to refer to carrying out the requirements of the oral tradition.” Continue reading

JEWISH TEMPLE = EMPEROR WORSHIP (3)

Emperor worship temple 3PMT 2014-121 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

In this third entry in an 8-part series I am arguing that the Jewish Temple in the first-century effectively functioned as tool of emperor worship, when understood spiritually.

The temple authorities, including especially the high priests, were irrevocably corrupt long before the Jewish War. Indeed, the high priest in Jesus’ day was Anna, of whom Brown (Jn 1:121) notes: “the corruption of the priestly house of Annas was notorious.” According to Josephus: “The principal high-priestly families, with their hired gangs of thugs, not only were feuding among themselves, but had become predatory, seizing by force from the threshing floors the tithes intended for the ordinary priests” (Ant.. 20.180, 206-7). The Babylonian Talmud laments: “Woe is me because of the house of Boethus; woe is me because of their staves! . . . Woe is me because of the house of Ishmael the son of Phabi; woe is me because of their fists! For they are High Priests . . . and their servants beat the people with staves” (Pesah. 57a). “Starting by about 58 or 59, the high priests began surrounding themselves with gangs of ruffians, who would abuse the common priests and general populace” (Horsley HP 45). In fact, “the high priests and royalists actually contributed to the breakdown of social order through their own aggressive, even violent, predatory actions” (Horsley HP 24). Continue reading

JEWISH TEMPLE = EMPEROR WORSHIP (2)

PMT 2014-120 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.Emperor worship temple 2

In this second entry in an 8-part series I am arguing that the Jewish Temple in the first-century effectively functioned as tool of emperor worship, when understood spiritually.

Temple Abuse; Temple Transience

Over and over again the temple cult is disparaged by the OT prophets when Israel falls into sin: Isa 1:10-17; 29:13; 43:23-24; Jer 6:20; 7:1-6, 21-22; 11:15; Eze 20:25; Hos 6:5-6; Am 4:4-5; 5:21-25; 9:1; Mic 6:1-8; Mal 1:10. Jeremiah even presents God as dramatically denying he ever directed Israel to sacrifice: “For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you’ ” (Jer 7:22-23). Continue reading

JEWISH TEMPLE = EMPEROR WORSHIP (1)

Emperor worship temple 1PMT 2014-119 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

In this 8-part series I will be arguing that the Jewish Temple in the first-century effectively functioned as tool of emperor worship, when understood spiritually. Let’s begin (it’s almost time for breakfast).

As John writes, Israel has been a part of the Roman regime for almost a century. As such she enjoyed special leagues of “friendship and mutual alliance” which began with Julius Caesar (Jos. Ant. 14:10:1 §185; cf. Leon 8-11). Her love for Caesar was so great that after he was murdered, Jews wept for many nights at the site of his cremation (Suetonius, Jul. 84:5). Josephus, a priestly member of the Jewish aristocracy, praises Julius and records many of the treaties with the Jews which were established by Caesar and later Roman authorities (Ant. 14:10:2-25 §190-267). He then declares: “there are many such decrees of the senate and imperators of the Romans and those different from these before us” (Ant. 14:10:26). Israel engages these alignments despite her OT prophets condemning unholy alliances as harlotry (e.g., Hos 7:11; cf. Rev 5 Excursus). As noted above, the exercise of the Land beast’s authority is “in his [the Roman emperor’s] presence” (13:1a). Later in Rev 17 we will see Israel’s alliance symbolized by a harlot engaged in a drunken sexual orgy with the sea beast. Continue reading