The international language of astrology: a legend quoted by Luke in Acts states that when the Holy Spirit was
poured out at Pentecost, all Jews from the diaspora could understand the Apostles speaking in their various languages.
Nowadays the phrase “international language” makes us think of art or music. In classical times, we should first think of astrology, a “language” that was understood by all nations.
The Gnostic’s statements about the astrological Age of Aries that was ending and the new Age of Pisces that had just begun were statements that everyone understood in their mother tongue.
The linguistic miracle at Pentecost, a sign of the last days, was interpreted according to contemporary understanding as annulling the Babylonian confusion of languages from the ancient Biblical story in Gen. 11:7f.
The Armenian crisis in 35 – 36 AD, a conflict between Rome
and the Parthians about the kingdom of Armenia, meant that Jesus was back in the race for political power in the Jewish territories.
The Armenian king Artaxias, linked to Rome by a friendship agreement, died in 35 AD. The Parthian king Artabanus III, anticipating the decline of Rome under the ageing emperor Tiberius, conquered the Armenian capital city Artaxata and established his eldest son Arsaces as king there.
The Armenian crisis in 35 – 36 AD led to a brief phase of weakness in Roman power in the east and fuelled hopes of independence from Rome in the Jewish provinces: Tacitus, Annals, 6.31ff; Ant. 18.4.4; Karl Christ, Das römische Kaiserreich, Munich, 3rd ed. 1995, p. 205f.
The Jewish Revolt was unsuccessful in the end, in that it did not achieve the longed-for independence. In the Old Testament accounts
of the rebellion. However, we can perceive its significance for Judaism’s search for its identity.
In the brief period of the rebellion, Judaism was able to develop autonomously while not under foreign rule, and to evolve criteria for its own religious culture that still define Jewish life even today.
The great Jewish Revolt of 66 – 70 AD is depicted in the last part of the books of Moses: in the book of Joshua it is shown as the time of Moses’ successor Joshua
(= Hebrew form of the name Jesus) and in the books of the Kings as the reign of King Josiah (name not confirmed by archaeological documents).
The rebels’ aims are discernible in the Biblical accounts of Joshua and King Josiah. Joshua conquers the land of Israel, circumcises the Israelites, celebrates the Passover, makes sacrifices and proclaims the law.
King Josiah does not have to endure foreign rule, finds the law and follows it, purifies the temple from non-Jewish gods and non-Jewish religious symbols and celebrates the Passover in its pure form (2 Kings 22f).
Ovid and other poets of the Augustan period recommended the service of courtly love to replace military service or service to the state.
In several literary works, Ovid described how the young man who had no opportunity to serve his country, or who found this service distasteful, should devote himself to the service of courtly love, dedication to his lover. The poet also gave tips on how to go about this.
The young men of Judea and Galilee were in the same position as those in Rome: the period of peace under Augustus and his successors denied them a military career; the monarchy of Herod’s successors or Roman governorships prevented them from gaining the influential political posts that had previously been available in the small independent states.
Ovid’s alternative, the service of love, was also denied to the religious young men in Judea and Galilee.
However the Augustan poets not only suggested courtly love as an alternative occupation; they also spoke out against the social and religious conditions in Rome. And the Jewish poets discovered this option as a new field of activity.