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Phil B37: World Religions
Instructor: Michael McNellis
The Hellenistic (Greek) & Roman Periods
Hellenistic Period (331 – 63 B.C.E.)
a. Persian rule of Judah conquered by Alexander the Great (332 B.C.E)
b. After Alexander’s death, Greek empire split in two, governed by generals:
Ptolemy (Egypt) & Seleucus (Syria). Seleucus successor took Jerusalem.
i. King Antiochus IV (167 BCE):
1. Installed his own high priest in Second Temple
2. Transformed Jewish temple into cult place of Zeus
3. Forbade Jews to study Torah, practice circumcision & observe Sabbath
c. Maccabean Revolt (166-64 B.C.E.) Maccabee = word for “Hammer”
i. Jews revolt led by Maccabees 166 B.C.E.
1. Syria acknowledged Judah’s independence
2. Simon, surviving brother, appointed high priest & king by people.
3. Rededication of temple
4. Hanukkah holiday (only enough of consecrated oil to last one
day to light in the temple, ended up lasting 8 days!)
5. Hasmonean Dynasty established
6. A Jewish State emerged ruled by the Hasmonean Dynasty (their
‘state’ would expand as big as David/Solomon’s Empire)
Jews under Roman Rule & Destruction of Second Temple (63 BCE-135 C.E.)
a. Romans conquer Judah and Herod was appointed king by Roman Senate
b. Many Jewish factions: 1) Samaritans 2) Essenes 3) *Sadducees 4) *Pharisees 5)
c. Many charismatic leaders: John the Baptist (repentance & baptism); Jesus of
Nazareth (preacher/healer, whose disciples taught was Messiah and Son of God
whose death atoned for all); Theudas (c. 40 C.E.) a self-claimed prophet
believed he would split Jordan River and Jews would be free.).
d. Second Temple Destroyed: Zealots revolted against Romans, who in turn
crushed Zealots at Battle of Masada! Jerusalem was taken and 2nd Temple
destroyed. Essenes destroyed.
a. The failed Bar Kochba Revolt (132 C.E.)
i. Hadrian, the Roman Emperor from r. 117-138, erected statue of Jupiter
on sit of destroyed Temple, issued edict against circumcision.
ii. First War: led by alleged Messiah Bar Kochba, Jews defeat Romans.
Briefly we have a Jewish State again (134-135)
iii. Second War: Bar Kochba defeated and killed.
Although the failure made it clear that the temple would not soon be rebuilt, the rabbinic
commentary on temple law continued, in preparation for the eventual messianic age.
* Emerged earlier during the time of the Greek Seleucids.