Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Suetonius regarding the expulsion of Jews under Claudius:

"Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome."

Chrestus is another form of Christ, and thus this seems to be a reference to Christians. This is from section 25 in the chapter on Claudius. At the end of this chapter:

"But these and other acts, and in fact almost the whole conduct of his reign, were dictated not so much by his own judgment as that of his wives and freedman, since he nearly always acted in accordance with their interests and desires."

This compares with a little verse from the book of Acts:

"After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome." - Acts 18:1-2

Certainly these refer to the same event, although Suetonius seems a bit confused about Christianity compared to Tacitus. Taking a wild guess at things, I would imagine that Christians had already been to Rome and taught in the synagogues, but there was a similar pattern of conflict between the Jews and Christians in Rome as elsewhere. Perhaps the Jews successfully labeled the Christians as trouble makers, but then both Jews and Christians were expelled from Rome - and this long before Paul arrived.

The book of Romans is believed to have been written by Paul to this Jewish-Christian community in Rome prior to the expulsion. The admonitions in Romans chapter 13, however, indicate that at least some of the Christians may not have wanted to pay taxes and do other things required by the government.

No comments: