Oct 20, 2018



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The Fiscus Judaicus and the Parting of the Ways
Mohr Siebeck
Full-text (pdf) of thesis on University of Groningen website
Summary: In this thesis, it is argued that the administration of the fiscus Judaicus under the Roman emperor Domitian (81-96) and the reform of this fiscus under the emperor Nerva (96-98), accelerated the parting of the ways between Judaism and Christianity, resulting in two separate religions. In the first part it is concluded that under Domitian, among others, also members of Christian communities became the victims of the fiscus Judaicus. The latter was the Roman financial institution that was designated to levy the Jewish tax from all Jews within the empire after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in the year 70. In court, a legal distinction was made between Jewish and non-Jewish Christians which encouraged the distancing of non-Jewish Christians from Jewish Christians. The second part of the thesis looks at three New Testament books in particular: the Book of Revelation, the Letter to the Hebrews and the Gospel of John. Both the Jewish and Roman contexts of these books are studied, paying attention to tensions and controversies in both contexts. The conclusion is drawn, that the year 96, after the reform of the fiscus Judaicus by Nerva, should be regarded as an important milestone in the process of the parting of the ways. From that moment on Roman authorities used a more pointed definition of 'Jew', which made it easier for them to distinguish between Judaism (an accepted religion within the empire) and Christianity (an illegal religious movement). It is also argued that this parting should be interpreted as a break between Jewish Christians and mainstream Judaism, both parties having claimed to be the true representatives of the continuing history of Israel. This of course exacerbated further the relations between non-Jewish Christians and Jewish Christians and when Judaism finally lost its status of 'religio licita' (legal religion), from Judaism altogether.

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