I have noticed recently that I threw in some ellipses in the Rawlinson quotation at some points where I wish I hadn't. So here is the same passage from Rawlinson with the elided portions included. I will follow up on this with an annotated version thereof:
The political condition of Palestine at the time to which the New Testament narrative properly belongs, was one curiously complicated and anomalous; it underwent frequent changes, but retained through all of them certain peculiarities, which made the position of the country unique among the dependencies of Rome. Not having been conquered in the ordinary way, but having passed under the Roman dominion with the consent and by the assistance of a large party among the inhabitants, it was allowed to maintain for a while a species of semi-independence, not unlike that of various native states in India which are really British dependencies. A mixture, and to some extent an alternation, of Roman with native power resulted from this arrangement, and a consequent complication in the political status, which must have made it very difficult to be thoroughly understood by any one who was not a native and a contemporary. The chief representative of the Roman power in the East—the President of Syria, the local governor, whether a Herod or a Roman Procurator, and the High Priest, had each and all certain rights and a certain authority in the country. A double system of taxation, a double administration of justice, and even in some degree a double military command, were the natural consequence; while Jewish and Roman customs, Jewish and Roman words, were simultaneously in use, and a condition of things existed full of harsh contrasts, strange mixtures, and abrupt transitions. Within the space of fifty years Palestine was a single united kingdom under a native ruler, a set of principalities under native ethnarchs and tetrarchs, a country in part containing such principalities, in part reduced to the condition of a Roman province, a kingdom reunited once more under a native sovereign, and a country reduced wholly under Rome and governed by procurators dependent on the president of Syria, but still subject in certain respects to the Jewish monarch of a neighboring territory. These facts we know from Josephus and other writers, who, though less accurate, on the whole confirm his statements; they render the civil history of Judaea during the period one very difficult to master and remember; the frequent changes, supervening upon the original complication, are a fertile source of confusion, and seem to have bewildered even the sagacious and painstaking Tacitus. The New Testament narrative, however, falls into no error in treating of the period; it marks, incidentally and without effort or pretension, the various changes in the civil government—the sole kingdom of Herod the Great,—the partition of his dominions among his sons,—the reduction of Judaea to the condition of a Roman province, while Galilee, Ituraea, and Trachonitis continued under native princes,—the restoration of the old kingdom of Palestine in the person of Agrippa the First, and the final reduction of the whole under Roman rule, and reestablishment of Procurators as the civil heads, while a species of ecclesiastical superintendence was exercised by Agrippa the Second. Again, the New Testament narrative exhibits in the most remarkable way the mixture in the government—the occasional power of the president of Syria, as shown in Cyrenius’s “taxing”; the ordinary division of authority between the High Priest and the Procurator; the existence of two separate taxation—the civil and the ecclesiastical, the “census” and the “didrachm;” of two tribunals, two modes of capital punishment, two military forces, two methods of marking time; at every turn it shows, even in such little measures as verbal expressions, the coexistence of Jewish with Roman ideas and practices in the country—a coexistence which (it must be remembered) came to an end within forty years of our Lord’s crucifixion.Now, here is an annotated version of Rawlinson's allusions to the deft and accurate movement of the New Testament narrative. (Hat tip to Esteemed Husband for much of the leg-work on the annotations. The annotation on two methods of marking time was taken from Jerome Dean Davis, Handbook of Christian Evidences.)
[T]he sole kingdom of Herod the Great [Matthew 2:1 – "Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king,"],—the partition of his dominions among his sons [Matthew 2:22 – "But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod,…he turned aside into the parts of Galilee," Galilee being ruled by Herod Antipas, not by Archelaus], -- the reduction of Judaea to the condition of a Roman province, while Galilee, Ituraea, and Trachonitis continued under native princes [Luke 3:1 – "Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, …"],—the restoration of the old kingdom of Palestine in the person of Agrippa the First [Acts 12:1 – "About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church"], and the final reduction of the whole under Roman rule, and reestablishment of Procurators as the civil heads [Acts 23:24 (Antonius Felix); Acts 24:27 (Porcius Festus)], while a species of ecclesiastical superintendence was exercised by Agrippa the Second [Acts 25:13ff (Agrippa the Second invited by Porcius Festus to listen to Paul, apparently as a mere courtesy)]. Again, the New Testament narrative exhibits in the most remarkable way the mixture in the government—the occasional power of the president of Syria, as shown in Cyrenius’s “taxing” [Luke 2:1-2]; the ordinary division of authority between the High Priest and the Procurator [Luke 3:2 -- "in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiphas....", John 18:31 "Pilate therefore said to them, 'Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.' The Jews said to him, 'We are not permitted to put anyone to death.'"]; the existence of two separate taxation—the civil [Matt. 22:17--"Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar?"] and the ecclesiastical , the “census” and the “didrachm;” [Matthew 17:24--"Does not your teacher pay the two-drachma tax?"] of two tribunals [John 18-19], two modes of capital punishment [stoning, e.g., Acts 7 vs. crucifixion, as in the crucifixion of Jesus and the two thieves], two military forces [Acts 4:1 the temple guard, in contrast to the Roman forces, mentioned in multiple places in the NT], two methods of marking time [Luke 3:1-2 "...in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar...in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas..."];When we speak of historical confirmations of the accuracy of the gospels and Acts, this is the type of thing we have in mind. These incidental confirmations, as Tim points out in this lecture, are even stronger (not to mention more numerous) than direct allusions to major events in the New Testament by non-Christian authors. It is in these incidental confirmations that we see that the gospels and Acts were written by people of the time who were familiar with these facts as part of their lives. (Remember, no Google!) As Rawlinson points out, this complex sociopolitical dance between the Jews and Rome was wiped out by the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
Remember this next time someone asks you why we should think that the gospels are historically reliable.
I really appreciate you posting this, Lydia. The point is powerful and needs to be brought up a lot more in contemporary discussions of New Testament reliability.
Thank you, Blake. Pass it around!
Great stuff, Lydia. Though I had not the time, I took in all of Tim's lecture, which you referenced, simply because I could not pull myself away. He should be thrilled that you honor him by promoting his material with your blog-friends. Several times while listening, I thought I had died and gone to a D. A. Carson event--so similar is Tim's lecturing in speech mannerism and logical patterning. Without detracting from Tim's individuality, might he (also) be a fan of Carson?
Thanks, Lydia! Great stuff!
John, I don't hear Tim talk a great deal about Carson, which is not to say anything negative about him, either. But I suspect their speaking styles have developed independently.
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