Timeline of events in Judea a century before and after the birth of a Historical
Much of this material was gathered together for a discussion of Dating
Controversy about the
Crucifixion on an email discussion list called "Belief-L" and was placed here in about 2003. It is by no means intended to criticize anyone's beliefs either
way on this topic, simply look at the basic documentation in a linear format.
- Date of the first coins found at Qumran.
- Date of first major activity at Qumran (based on coinage).
- Conquest of Judea by Pompey.
- Hyrcanus II High Priest and Ethnarch
- Herod is Governor of Galilee?
- Antigonus High Priest and King. The rise in status is likely to the Jewish assistance to
Rome during the Parthian
- Herod may have been named by Octavian and Antony as "king of Judea" assuming
he could conquer it.
- Herod has the last Maccabean High Priest (age 13?) Jonothon put to death.
- The Battle of Actium. Octavian/Augustus becomes de facto Ruler of the Roman Empire.
- The Qumran community is destroyed by an earthquake and fire.
- Augustus toured Palestine?
- Earliest plausible date for Jesus' birth.
- The Chinese record a nova that might have been Jesus' star.
- Herod the Great dies. His kingdom is divided between his sons.
- Possible date of Jesus's birth (Luke [n.b; at this point Quirinius
is not Legate of Syria. Varus is])
- A revolt begins in the Galilee under Judas the Galilean.
4 BCE-6 CE
- "Herod" Archelaus, ethnarch, ruler of Judea (including Samaria, Idumaea).
Caesarea is in Samaria.
4 BCE-34 CE
- Philip Tetrarch of Gaulantis, Trachonitis, Batanaean, and Auranitis.
4 BCE-39 CE
- "Herod" Antipas Tetrarch, ruler of Galilee and Peraea.
- Archelaus is removed as ethnarch of Judea by the request of the populace. Rome annexes
Judea (including Samaria, and Idumea). In Judea, Rome installs a Prefecture under the
authority of the Legate of Syria. The Prefect is given as a residence Caesarea and a
Cohort sized personal guard; in Jerusalem, the Antonia fortress overlooking the Temple.
There may have been soldiers at Capernaum and other trade and customs points, but these
- Quirinius orders a Census (Luke -- making this a possible date of
- Annas (Ananus I) - High Priest of Jerusalem.
- Date of second period of activity at Qumran, based on coinage.
- Augustus dies. Tiberius succeeds him as Emperor.
- Josephus' discussion of Jesus would suggest that his ministry occurred about this time.
- Valerius Gratus - Prefect of Judea.
- Joseph Caiaphas - High Priest of Jerusalem (appointed by Valerius Gratus)
- Germanicus dies in Germany.
- There is a scandal involving Jews in Rome (as well as one involving an Isis Cult, (Josephus)).
- The earliest suggested date of the Crucifixion of Jesus (One
of the contradictory references in the Gospel of Nicodemus, i.e. the 19th
year of Herod's reign).
- Pontius Pilate - Prefect of Judea.
- John the Baptist begins his ministry (Luke)
- Baptism of Jesus.
- Jesus begins his ministry shortly thereafter. [n.b. The Synoptics suggest that the
events occur in less than a year, while John seems to take place over 2-3 years (he
refers to three separate Passovers).] .The Apostle Matthew is purported to have made a
list of the Sayings of Jesus (which may, or may not have been the actual counterpart of
- Spring. The Consulship of Gaius Fufius Geminus and Lucius
Rubellius Geminus (who are listed in the Book of Nicodemus as
Fufius or Fugus and Rubellius).
- The 15th year of Tiberius's reign as Caesar (The Book of Nicodemus).
- (14 or 15 Nisan) The traditional date of the Crucifixion of Jesus [n.b. the range of
possible dates reaches from 16-36. It should be noted that the earlier these dates occur,
the better Paul's chronology will fit].
- (30-60) possible date of Matthew's writing, according to some scholars and their
analysis of the Magdalene papyrus (aka the "Jesus papyrus")
- The "fourth year of the two hundred and second Olympiad" (The Book
- Saul/Paul's conversion experience.
- [John the Baptist's execution, according to some interpretations of Josephus]
- Pilate is recalled to Rome.
- Caiaphus is deposed by the Syrian Legate Vitellius.
- Latest possible date for the Crucifixion.
- Tiberius dies. Gaius (Caligula) succeeds him.
- Pilate returns to Rome.
- Josephus son of Mattathias/Flavius Josephus is born (est.)
- The Gospel of John is thought by some to have been written about this time [in
part to its strong stylistic similarities to some of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Note:
the dates of composition are unknown, and the subsequent guesses cover a large amount of
- Matthew -- anywhere from 40-60 or 80-100
- Mark -- 50-60 or 65-75
- Luke -- 55-60 or 70-90 or 100 or later.
- John -- 35-65 or 90-100 or later (a copy WAS in use in Egypt by 125, though).
- Gaius (Caligula) dies. Claudius succeeds him.
- Aggripa I is named King, ruling over Herod's former kingdom.
- Paul's journey to Antioch.
- Aggripa I dies. He is suceeded by Herod, King of Chalsis.
- Judea, Samaria and portions of Galilee are governed by a Roman Procurator.
- Tiberius Alexander, Procurator of Palestine
- Paul returns to Jerusalem from Antioch and meets with James and the leaders of the
Jerusalem Community. The "Council of Jerusalem" (Acts).
- Agrippa II is given piecemeal portions of his father's Kingdom.
- Paul evangelizes Phillipi. Paul writes his letter to the Thessalonians.
- Claudius banishes the Jews from Rome for making propaganda for for "Chrestus"
about this time (Suetonius).
- Qumrun 7Q5 (a fragment of Mark) may have been written according to some scholars.
- Antonius Felix, Procurator.
- Agrippa II becomes king of Galilee.
- Claudius dies. (Nero) suceedes him.
- Paul writes his letters to the Phillipians.
- Paul write his letter to the Galatians (probably while in Ephesus or Macedon).
Paul writes his letters to the Corinthians (there was an earlier, first letter, which has
- Paul writes his letter to the Romans, while at Corinth.
- Paul returns to Jerusalem to answer for his preaching to Jews living abroad, encouraging
them to forsake the Laws of Moses.
- Paul is threatened by Jews sworn to kill him, and Paul is escorted by a large number of
Roman troops to Caesaria. There he meets with the Governor, Antonius Felix) and Agrippa.
He is held in Caesaria.
- Paul sails for Rome. Onisimus becomes Paul's companion about this time.
- Range of dates for Paul to write Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon.
- James the Just (or "The Righteous) and certain companions are tried for breaking
the Law and are stoned to death. He is succeeded as the comunity's head by his cousin
Simeon bar Cleopas.
- Paul vanishes to history.
- Nero blames the burning of Rome on the Christians.
- Traditional dating of 1 Timothy and Titus, while Paul is on a journey to
- The Gospel of Mark is thought to have been written about this time. This work is
based on oral traditions.
- Jewish Revolt against Rome.
- The Legio XII Fulminata is defeated (though not destroyed), by the rebels.
- Vespasian enters Judea with the Legia V Macedon, and X Fretensis, XV Apollinarus.
- Possible writing of 2d Timothy, as well as the traditional date of the martyerdom
- Josephus defected to the Romans
- Destruction of the Qumran site. Last Judaic coins found at Qumran, suggesting that the
scrolls were in place by this time.
- Qumrun 7Q5 would then have to be in place by this time.
- Possible dating of the writing of the Revelation of St. John
- Josephus defects to Vespasian.
- Possible date of the Letter to the Hebrews [possibly by Apollus the Alexandrian,
a companion of Paul's].
- Fall of Jerusalem to the Romans.
- Destruction of the Temple. [n.b. this is THE key point in the balance between Pauls'
"Gentile" Christians, and the Jewish Christians. There is also some question
about *who* burned the temple. Although it was likely the Romans, Josephus
says the Jews did it].
- The Beginning of the Diaspora. Judea vanishes from any importance in Flavian politics.
- Range of dates assumed for the writing of Acts of the Apostles.
- Vespasian dies. He is succeeded by Titus.
- Vesuvius erupts, wiping out Pompeii and Herculanium. There are indications that a few
Christians lived there.
- The Gospel of Matthew is thought to have been written about this time. It is
though to have been influenced by Mark. traditional material form Antioch, M
- Possible dating of the writing of the Revelation of St. John
- The First Epistle of Clement is sent from Rome to Corinth.
- The Gospel of Luke is thought to have been written about this time. It is thought
to have been influenced by Mark, Proto-Luke, and the unknown source of the
- Second revolt of the Jews against the Romans.
- Date of the last coins found at Qumran.
- Jerusalem is renamed Aelia Capitolina, and the Jews are forbidden to enter the city, or
even come within eyesight of it.
Contemporary accounts of Jesus' existance
(Based on Josh McDowell, Evidence that demands a verdict, Here's Life Publ.,
1979 (Rev. ed), pp.81-7, and quoted in an email by Timothy Collinson
(tc@LIBRARY.SOLENT.AC.UK) to Belief-L). "These independent accounts prove that in
ancient times even the opponents of Christianity never doubted the historicity of Jesus
(which was disputed for the first time and on inadequate grounds by several authors at the
end of the 18th, during the 19th, and at the beginning of the 20th centuries)."
- Cornelius Tacitus (born AD 52-54)
Roman historian, in 112 AD, Governor of Asia, son-in-law of Julius Agricola who was
Govenor or Britain AD 80-84. He refers to Christ in his Annals XV.44, and makes a further
reference to Christianity in his Chronicles ii.30.6
- Flavius Josephus (born AD 37)
Judean rebel and Roman historian. Many people do not accept him at face value because of
his obvious pro-Roman slant and debateable motives. Further muddying his work are 2000
years of pro-Christian editing. However, recognizing that these may taint the work's
objectivity somewhat, his work has its uses and may not be tossed out as totally useless.
Further, copies of his work that have never seen Christian pens appear to support much of
what Josephus is supposed to have written.
- Julius Africanus (200-232/45)
- Justin Martyr (110-165)
About 150 AD Justin Martyr addressing his "Defence of Christianity" to the
Emporer Antoninus Pius, referred him to the Acts of Pilate ("Apology" l.48)
- Lucian of Samosata
Satirist of the second century, spoke scornfully of Christ and the Christians in "The
Passing Peregrinus" and has further references to Christianity in "The False
Prophet", sections 25 and 29.
- Mara Bar-Serapion
[for those who wanted "a letter"!] In the British Museum there is a letter
written (later than) 73 AD by a Syrian named Mara Bar-Serapion to his son. He was in
prison and encouraging his son in the pursuit of wisdom and pointed out that those who
persecuted wise men were overthrown by misfortune. He instances the deaths of Socrates,
Pythagoras and Christ. (Athenians died of hunger, Samians overwhelmed by sea, Jews ruined
and driven from land to dispersion).
- Phelgon, a first century historian
Writings lost but also quoted by others such as Origen, Philopon and Julius Africanus
- Plinius Secundus (Pliny the Younger)
Governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor (AD 112), Pliny wrote a letter to emporer Trajan asking
how to treat the Christians. He also specifically mentions Christ. Epistles X.96
- Suetonius (AD 120)
Roman historian, court official under Hadrian, annalist of the Imperial house mentions
Christ in his Life of Claudius 25.4. He also mentions Christians in
Lives of the
- Tertullian (c150-240)
Jurist-theologian of Carthage, in a defense of Christianity (AD 197) mentions the exchange
between Tiberius and Pontius Pilate regarding Christ. ("Apology")
- Thallus, a Samaritan historian
One of the first Gentile writers who mentions Christ. (AD 52) His writings have
disappeared and he is only known from others who quote him. e.g. Julius Africanus quotes
him in his "third book of histories" regarding the death of Christ and the
darkness that fell then.
- The Boraitha and Tosefta, supplements to the Mishnah -
contain at least five references to Jesus, including that he was executed on the eve of
Passover, and the he practiced sorcery. His disciples are listed as Mattai, Nakkai,
Netzer, Buni, and Todah. His father is listed as "Pantera", a Roman soldier
(whose name means worldwide in Greek), and Miriam.
- Gospel According to John
- Gospel According to Mark
- Gospel According to Matthew
- Gospel According to Luke
- Acts of the Apostles
This page was created by Marc Carlson
It was last edited 10 February 2012