Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Trajan's Demonization of the Jews

The Roman emperor Trajan was mucking about in Mesopotamia trying to annex Armenia. Then, like now, trying to win an impossible winnable land war in Asia. His army garrisoned in small numbers, left behind to protect his conquests, got attacked by Jewish rebels, remnants of the diaspora after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E.. No doubt Trajan was trying like Alexander to find an easy profitable land route to India and China. Greed is responsible for more human misery than can calculated in heaven or on earth.

Word got through the grapevine about the Romans stretched out too thin in the vastness of the middle east. Other discontent spilled over into rebellion in places such as Cyrene (in Libya), Cyprus, Egypt, Mesopotamia (parts of present day Syria, Turkey, Iraq) and Lod in present day Israel.

Recorded history (by the Romans) puts a name on this people's social revolution across north Africa and the middle east as the Kitos (Quietus) war (115-117 C.E.) after the Roman general Lusious Quietus who successful put down these various revolts with much death and bloodshed. Quietus (Kitos) in essence got stuck cleaning up the mess Trajan brought about by his mismanagement. Hadrian, Trajan's successor, executed Quietus. Assasinate the assasin is the number one rule of power.

The revolt spread from Libya to Alexandria and toward Judea. Jews were no doubt part of this social upheaval. They get the blame both in Roman and later Christian histories. Demonization propaganda that got quoted over and over again by later historians.

In my own opinion perhaps some Jews were ringleaders or on the vanguard of revolt against the Romans. I do think that the populations in general in these far flung Roman colonies rose up, not in solidarity with any Jewish agenda but rather rose up, against official corruption and desperate living conditions. In other words mismanagement and corruption were probably the cause of Trajan's f*ck up war in the middle east.

The Jews got the lion's share of blame in these histories. Things quieted down after the Roman slaughters to enforce Roman law and order. It is remarkable that a people with such a minority position in population outside of Palestine throughout history have been able to acquire such a bad rep for starting trouble. Convenient scapegoats through the ages no doubt framed through some other point of view or agenda.

No doubt the demonization of the Jews in early second century Pax Romana in the Mediterranean world was fresh on the minds of the writing committees that pieced together the four gospels from 120 through 150 C.E..

The gospels of the small Christian sect had to distinguish itself from the Jewish community in general given that Jesus was a Jew and his original teachings and connotations were extremely Jewish beside being revolutionarily human and humane.

“What me Jewish? No way! I am Christian. Not Jewish. Let me explain the difference. Read this.”

Indeed the four gospels were no doubt part of a paper propaganda war of gentile Christians to separate themselves from the source of their faith with is Judaism. Survival of Christianity in light of the recent failures of the Roman state blamed on the Jewish troublemakers made a separation between Judaism and Christianity a priority in the newly revised Christian agenda.

Once that break occurred, the Myth of Jesus, which was the story of a human Jesus got morphed into mainstream pagan Roman culture. If you want respect as a religion you need a god and eventually that is what happened to Jesus in the next phase of Christianity which I label the Christ Myth.

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