OMG–this is where survival gets very, very difficult. The Jews are besieged from without and within. Without, they are a tiny nation of highly divergent beliefs within the massive, powerful Roman Empire. Within, they are fractured by internal dissent, with multiple ideological movements clamoring for the attention of the larger Jewish population. Some of those movements would be extremely consequential in later Jewish history, such as the early Christian movement.
How will the Jews survive the Roman period, up until the moment of exile in the late first first century? Don’t forget that you can earn points in several ways: 1) by answering the question, 2) by responding to other students’ thoughts on the question, 3) by comparing the situation to today’s society. and 4) commenting on other student’s thoughts. AND–there’s always the possibility of earning Scholarly and Creative Contribution Points, which will become essential life-savers if you have difficulty surviving later Existential Challenges.
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For those of you who survived the Greek Empire, well done. Now the challenge becomes much greater, as the Jewish people fractionate into competing religious and political movements, the Temple in Jerusalem becomes the center of controversy, and they ultimately lose their sovereignty to the Romans. A disastrous exile follows, and an attempted rebellion by the surviving remnant results in horrific persecution. How will the Jews survive this existential challenge?
Instructions: You know the drill–review the Required Survival Gear and peruse the Recommended Survival Gear. I’ve also included a few Survival Artifacts that may come in handy when you proceed to address SURVIVAL CHALLENGE 2: THE ROMAN EMPIRE.
Required Survival Gear
McKechnie on Judaean embassies.pdf
Recommended Survival Gear
This has been too long in composing, but I will make it right today.
The Jews in Roman times were split into factions that argued regarding various accommodation strategies. In brief, the ones that pressed for political independence were wiped out. Brave souls, no question, but they were wiped out. In consequence of the Jewish rebellions, the Romans destroyed the Second Temple – and Tisha B’av developed its painful history all too deeply in this period.
It was not a well-reasoned argument that saved the remnant of the Jews: it was their legs. Those that could walk away, did, and in their colonies around the Mediterranean, they were able to continue forward as a people. I never thought I would invoke Kenny Rogers after mentioning Tisha B’av, but here we are, thanks to Professor Abramson’s memory device for recalling the seventh survival strategy.
With this “know when to walk away” strategy, the undercurrent was the fourth strategy, the community authority. It was the Pharisaic tradition that filled the lacuna of leadership left behind after the annihilation of the Zealots. With no temple, the Sadducee tradition faded. The separatist Essenes could not prosper or grow, only dwindle. It was the Pharisees that walked away and it was the Pharisees that gave leadership to the Jewish communities scattered through the Roman Empire.