My new historical novel Peter and Paul is now in its final (proof) reading. Quite unwittingly, it became a natural sequel to one of my favourite bestsellers: Yeshûa—Personal Memoir of the Missing Years of Jesus. If you enjoyed Yeshûa, you’ll enjoy Peter and Paul. Guaranteed! (I don’t live in Jericho—I must blow my own trumpet!)
Seriously, I tried to be as historically correct as I could be, while delving into what, I thought, must have been the mindset of my two protagonists. Let us not forget that, with Israel under occupation, and the Roman Empire itself in a constant state of ferment, Peter and Paul were setting out against tremendous odds. In addition to obvious lack of funds, they were treated as blasphemers against the faith of Moses and the Prophets. The Jews, and pretty much everybody else, hated them. After all, Romans, Greeks, Egyptians and others had their own, well-established, religions. The priesthood of each group was willing to fight for their personal convictions and interests—to the death. Not their own death, of course. And, as you will learn, the priests fight dirty.
There was a lot at stake.
We must not forget that the upkeep of the Temple in Jerusalem, and the countless magnificent temples of other various religions, took money. Lots of money. And other than in Israel, there were no official tithes. And even in Israel, the tithes had to support not only the upkeep of the temple. While there were many different tithes, or taxes, essentially the Hebrew law demands a 10% tithe to be paid to the Levites, who didn’t contribute anything to the economy. Rather like the overwhelming majority of the priesthood and the politicians of today.
When all is said and done, the new Christians, who initially had been considered as nothing more than yet another Jewish sect (there were a few), yet were unwilling to pay tithes. Also, those in power claimed that only they, who had the monopoly on the established, ‘traditional’ interpretation of the Torah, were right. Again, rather like the Vatican or the fundamentalist sects today. Add the same aggressive rebellion of all the other religions of the day, and you have a beehive in which the new coverts had to navigate in order to survive. Many didn’t.
And we think we have it tough?
Today, our ‘governments’ will still put us in jail for not paying taxes (tithes imposed without our acquiescence), but at least we are unlikely to be stoned to death by a disgruntled group of politicians or civil servants. At least… not for now.