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A Timeline of Second Temple Judaism and Christianity

The following dates are approximates and some are open to debate or correction.

721 BCE – Assyrian Deportation of the Northern Kingdom of Israel

586 BCE – second deportation of exiles from Southern Kingdom of Judah to Babylon, third deportation (581 BCE)

539/8 BCE – Cyrus the Great (rule 550-530 BCE) conquers Babylon and beginning of return to Jerusalem

520-515 BCE – Zerubabbel governor of Persian state of Yehud, Joshua the high priest, re-establishment of temple cult

  • 458 BCE [?] Ezra arrives in Jerusalem; 445/4 BCE Nehemiah arrives in Jerusalem

333/2 BCE – conquest of the Persian Empire by Alexander the Great (reign 356-323 BCE)

  • 344 BCE – set out on his campaign of conquest
  • 332 BCE – took control of Palestine
  • After his untimely death at 33 years old, his kingdom was divided among the Diadochoi or “successors” (rival generals and families). The four major dynasties were the Antigonid, Attalid, Seleucid, and Ptolemaic dynasties.

300-198 BCE – Palestine under control of Ptolemies of Egypt

  • Translation of the Pentateuch into Greek in the Septuagint (LXX) and later versions added Prophets and Writings.  The legend (cf. The Letter to Aristeas) is that Ptolemy II Philadelphus asked 72 elders to translate the Law into Greek to be included in the library of Alexandria (ca. 250 BCE)

198 BCE – Palestine under control of Seleucids of Syria

  • Antiochus III “the Great” (ruled 222–187 BCE)
  • 175-164 BCE – Antiochus IV “Epiphanes”
  • 162-150 BCE – Demetrius I “Soter” (Savior)
  • 150-146 BCE – Alexander Balas
  • 146-139, 129-125 BCE – Demetrius II Nicator (Victor)
  • 143-142 BCE – general Diodotus Typho sets Balas’ son Antiochus VI Dionyisus on throne in city of Antioch
  • 142-129 BCE – general Diodotus Trypho sets himself up as king, slain by Antiochus VII
  • 138-129 BCE – Antiochus VII Euergetes (benefactor) Sidetes

167 BCE – profanation of the temple under Antiochus IV

166 BCE – Jewish priest Mattathias, who had fled into the wilderness with five sons (John, Simon, Judas, Eleazar, Jonathan) after he killed a fellow kinsman who was going to sacrifice to the Greek gods, dies

166-160 BCE – third son Judas the Maccabeus (“hammer”), re-dedication of the temple (164 BCE)

160-143 BCE – leadership and high priesthood of Jonathan, tricked and executed by Trypho

  • Formation of sectarian schools (e.g., Sadducees, Pharisees, Essenes) around this time (cf. Antiquities 13.171).  The “Wicked Priest” (=Jonathan?  Simon?) is opposed by the “Teacher of Righteousness” and remembered as a significant figure by a sectarian community at Khirbet Qumran (=Essenes?)

142-134 BCE – leadership of Simon and beginning of full autonomy

134-104 BCE – John “Hyrcanus”

  • 132 BCE siege of Jerusalem by Antiochus VII. Hyrcanus pays 3000 talents from the sepulcher of David, recognizes Seleucid authority, and join campaigns against the Parthians until Antiochus slain in 129 BCE
  • Expansion of Judean state in Samaria, Idumea (forced proselytism to Judaizing rites), and the Transjordan

104-103 BCE – Aristobulus I

103-76 BCE – Alexander Jannaeus

  • Wars and territorial expansion, sided with the Sadducees against the Pharisees and ruthless against his internal enemies such as butchering 6000 during the Feast of Tabernacles or crucifying 800 Jews (Ant. 13.372-383; cf. 4QpNah)

76-67 BCE – Salome Alexandra queen and eldest son Hyrcanus II high priest

  • In taking Alexander’s advice to win over the Pharisees who commanded popular support, the Pharisees effectively ruled through her and got revenge on their enemies

67-63 BCE – Aristobulus II king and high priest

  • A partisan for the Sadducees like his father and victorious over his brother Hyrcanus II, but Antipater the Idumaean convinced Hyrcanus II to join with Aretas king of Arabia to make war with Aristobulus II.  Continued civil war leads to Roman intervention

63 BCE – Roman conquest by Pompey

  • Hyrcanus II restored as high priest and ethnarch (63-40 BCE)
  • After Pompey was killed (48 BCE), Antipater’s support for Julius Caesar in campaign against Egypt granted him Roman citizenship and the title of Roman Procurator of Judaea (Ant. 14.8.5), forced to side with one of Caesar’s assassins Cassius against Marc Antony, poisoned in 43 BCE

44 BCE – assassination of Julius Caesar

40-37 BCE – short-lived rebellion of the king and high priest Antigonus, the son of Aristobulus II

37-4 BCE – the client-king Herod the Great, the son of Antipater

  • Appointed king of the Jews by the Romans in 39 BCE and married the grand-daughter of Hyrcanus II Mariamne, victorious in re-capturing city of Sepphoris and Antigonus executed by Marc Antony in 37 BCE.
  • Constructed cities of Caesarea Maritima and Sebaste, restoration work on the Jerusalem Temple, and extended his rule over Samaria and other territory
  • Had family members including Mariamne and sons put to death out of paranoia and burned alive Judas and Matthias for inciting a group to tear down a golden eagle erected on the temple

31 BCE – Marc Antony defeated by Octavian at the battle of Actium and afterwards Antony/Cleopatra killed themselves

27 BCE – 14 CE – Octavian “Augustus” (revered), the adopted great-nephew of Caesar and divi filius (son of god), leads transition from the Roman Republic to the Empire and starts Julio-Claudian dynasty

  • Tiberius (14-37 CE), Gaius “Caligula” (37-41 CE), Claudius (41-54 CE), and Nero (54-68 CE)

5/4 BCE – birth of Jesus of Nazareth

4 BCE – 39 CE – Herod’s son Antipas appointed tetrarch, ruling Galilee and Peraea

  • Rebuilt Sepphoris to be his main center before he later constructed his capital Tiberius in 17 CE upon a cemetary
  • Had John the Baptist executed on political charges (Josephus, Ant. 18.5.2) and perhaps objections to Antipas’ marriage to his niece and wife of his half-brother Herodias (Ant. 18.5.1; cf. Mk 6:22-28 par)

4 BCE – 6 CE – Herod’s son Archelaus named ethnarch, ruling Judea, Samaria and Idumea until it came under direct Roman rule.

6 CE – census of Publius Sulpicius Quirinius, appointed governor of Syria, for purposes of taxation of the provinces of Syria and Judea under the new arrangement of direct Roman rule, leads to the uprising of Judas the Galilee (alleged founder of Josephus’s “fourth philosophy” or zealots)

6-41 CE – Judea governed by prefects: Coponius (6-9 CE), Marcus Ambibulus (9-12 CE), Rufus Tineus (12-15 CE), Valerius Gratus (15-26 CE), Pontius Pilate (26-36 CE), Marcellus (36-37 CE), Marullus (37-41 CE)

29-34 CE – Jesus crucified under Pontius Pilate on the 14th or 15th of Nisan during one of these years (cf. Helen Bond’s article challenge to certainty of dating crucifixion)

30 – 64 CE – Jerusalem Church under the leadership of the Pillars (Cephas, the Twelve, Jesus’ brother James), Stephen and the Hellenists (?), missionary activity of Paul, other non-kerygmatic hypothetical Jesus groups (?)

  • The sources of the Gospel tradition
  • Paul’s letters (1 Thessalonians, Galatians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Romans, Philemon, Philippians), possible 2 Thessalonians and Colossians are authentic or else written shortly after Paul’s death.
  • If genuine, the epistle of James pre-date the death of Jesus’ brother and react against a (distorted?) interpretation of Paul’s teaching. It is also possible that the epistle of Jude and Hebrews date early.
  • Jesus’ brother James executed by the high priest in 62 CE in the transition between the procurators Porcius Festus and Albinus (Ant. 20.9).  In the tradition it is believed the apostle Paul was beheaded (1 Clem 5:6 [?]; Ignatius, Rom. 4.2-3; Acts Paul 11:3-6; Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. 2.22.2) and Peter crucified (cf. John 21:18-19 [?]; 1 Clem 5:4 [?]; Ignatius, Rom. 4.2-3; Dionysius of Corinth in Hist .Eccl. 2.26; Acts Pet 36-39; Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. 3.3) during Nero’s persecution of Christians in Rome.

40/41 CE – Caligula crisis: Caligula threatened to set up his statue in the temple that did not come to pass due to the persuasion of Agrippa I and then Caligula’s assassination

37-44 CE – due to his friendship with Caligula Agrippa I takes over rule of Antipas’ territory after the latter’s banishment and his support for Claudius Judea and Samaria come under his control

  •  had the apostle James, the son of Zebedee, executed according to the Book of Acts.

49/50 CE – expulsion of (some?) Jews at instigation of “Chrestus” (=Christos) (Acts 18:2; Seutonius, Divus Claudius 25)

44-66 CE – Judea, Samaria, and part of Galilee again under Roman procurators: Cuspius Fadus (44-46 CE), Tiberius Julius Alexander (46-48 CE), Ventidius Cumanus (48-52 CE), Antonius Felix (52-60 CE), Porcius Festus (60-62 CE), Albinus (62-64 CE), Gessius Florus (64-66 CE).  Meanwhile Agrippa II the last of the Herodian dynasty and ruled over less territory than his father (48-66 CE)

  • Theudas led some people out to the Jordan river and persuaded them that the water would part before the procurator Faudus crushed him and his followers (Ant. 20.97-98) (ca. 44-46 CE).  The Egyptian gathered a crowd to the Mount of Olives so that the walls of the city would fall at his command and fled when Felix ordered troops to attack (War 2.261-262; Ant. 20.169-171) (ca. 52-58 CE)

66-74 CE – the Jewish War against Rome, the fall of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 CE by the Roman general Titus, the rebels last stand at Masada (fortress) before the Romans took it in 74 CE

  • The Gospel of Mark (ca. 65-75 CE)

69 CE – after Nero’s suicide the year of the four emperor’s Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian

69-96 CE – the Flavian Dynasty of Vespasian (69-79 CE), Titus (79-81 CE), and Domitian (81-96 CE). After Domitian’s assassination, there is the start of a stable Nerva-Antonine dynasty (96-192 CE) including Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius, Lucius Verus, and Commodus.

  • Gospel of Matthew, Luke-Acts (?), Gospel of John (?), Ephesians (?), 1 Peter, Hebrews (?), James (?), Johannine Epistles (?), Jude (?), Revelation (cf. Ireneaus, Against Heresies 5.30.3), the Didache (?), 1 Clement (?), epistle of Barnabas (?)

98-117 CE – After Nerva’s short lived reign (96-98 CE), his adopted heir Trajan reigns as emperor

  • Luke-Acts (?), Gospel of John (?), Ephesians (?), James (?), Johannine Epistles (?), Jude (?), Didache (?), 1 Clement (?), Papias’ Exegesis of the Lord’s Logia (ca. 110 CE), epistles of Ignatius of Antioch, 2 Peter (?)
  • Rome reaches the height of the territorial extent of its dominion, suppressed Jewish revolts in Egypt and Cyrene, wrote the famous correspondence with Pliny the Younger which included a discussion about trials against Christians

117-138 CE – emperor Hadrian

  • 132-135 CE – The second Jewish War led by Simon bar Kochba (son of the star) resulted in the banishment of Jews from the city of Jerusalem renamed Aelia Capitolina.  The Christian apologetic strategy to treat this as a punishment for the rejection of Jesus is exploited in Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho the Jew (e.g., chapter 16).
  • The completed Gospel of Thomas (cf. logion 70)? Perhaps some of the sayings included in the collection date earlier.
  • Epistle of Barnabas?
  • 2 Peter?

144 CE – traditional date of the excommunication of Marcion by the Church of Rome

200 CE – Codification of Jewish oral traditions in the Mishnah, the first major text of Rabbinic Judaism and the source of the commentaries in the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds.

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