ABSTRACT

This chapter reviews how civil authorities, in particular Roman emperors themselves, could interact with mysterious strangers who claimed to have information in their interests or to have powers beyond their own. It is tempting to start by noting the part holy men of a variety of descriptions either played or are claimed to have played in events surrounding the revolt which brought Vespasian to power, and included his proclamation in Alexandria on 1 July AD 69. Here they have a good opportunity to notice the parameters around which perceptions can operate. The best documented encounters we have of prominent holy men being processed by Roman authority are the cases of Paul and Jesus Christ. This line of argument has the merit of trying to see how Jesus Christ would have appeared to Roman authorities, though in the handling of the temple-cleansing and its background it tends to rely on over-extended hypothesis.