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"The Mt. Vesuvius volcano took their lives in 79 A.D., unleashing its fury and burying the ancient port city of Pompeii under layers of lava and ashes. The sight was so horrific, that Pompeians thought the gods had grown angry — and that the end of the world was near."


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Ambrose, Pseudo
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King Jesus
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Maurus Rabanus
St. Symeon

(Minor Fulfillment of Matt. 24/25 or Revelation in Past)

Joseph Addison
Oswald T. Allis
Thomas Aquinas
Karl Auberlen
Albert Barnes
Karl Barth
G.K. Beale
John Bengel
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David Brown
"Haddington Brown"
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William W. Patton
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Edward Robinson
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Rudolph E. Stier
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Noah Webster
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(Major Fulfillment of Matt. 24/25 or Revelation in Past)

Firmin Abauzit
Jay Adams
Luis Alcazar
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Henry Alford
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Norman Snaith
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The Significance of A.D. 79

The Significance of AD30 | AD70 | AD79 | AD135 | AD312 | Christian History's Preterist Assumption

Bible predicted drought after Roman dispersion Jerusalem Connection Regular Columns | Scientists question accepted wisdom on what killed Pompeiians in AD79

(AND DON'T FORGET AD 312 or 135 or 79)

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones "Christ is fulfilling the law on the cross, and unless you interpret the cross, and Christ's death upon it, in strict terms of the fulfilling of the law you have not the scriptural view of the death upon the cross."  (Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p. 168)

"The reign of Vespasian, extending over one decade, passed away in uneventful tranquility, ruffled only for a moment at the termination of the Jewish war, by one or two arbitrary attempts at usurpation, which were firmly quelled but with no excessive or feverish violence" (Merivale, Vol. 7, Chapter 60, p. 289)

"Providence - it might be urged with no mean show of truth - was reserving its wrath until the imperial mantle should fall upon his whose barbarity had drenched Jerusalem in an ocean of blood and whose vandal hand had laid in ruins the majestic Temple of the Jews.  It is a remarkable circumstance that during a scant reign of two years and two months the empire of Titus was visited by a succession of disasters graver than ever befell a people before or since in so brief a period - one of these, at least, without a parallel in all previous history.  Vesuvius had slept since the dawn of recorded time.  Cities had gathered at its foor and the people, if they suspected the volcanic nature of the mountain towering near them, deemed its fires long since spent.   On the 24th day of August, however, AD79 - but one month and eleven days after the sceptre of Rome had passed into the hands of Titus - the great catastrophe occurred which buried three Roman cities under a deluge of fire. " (Kassell, Dogma, p. 5-6)

AD79 and vesuvius has been seen as a good example of this conquest, as Lyn Schuldt pointed out in 1996.  As with all warfare, this march naturally leads to a climax.  This would be either the failure of the Gospel to conquer, or His subduing all nations and religions beneath Him.  As the last holdout falls (in Jerusalem, probably), this would bestow an unprecedented peace on Earth and goodwill towards man.   Even full preterism seems to necessitate some form of futurist consummation in this case.   Sam is way out in front of the pack... although I wonder if there will ever be a time when there aren't competitors to the throne.  Every generation brings a new crop of would-be religious or political autocrats. 


The Destruction of Pompeii—God’s Revenge?

By Hershel Shanks


Nine years, almost to the day, after Roman legionaries destroyed God’s house in Jerusalem, God destroyed the luxurious watering holes of the Roman elite.

Was this God’s revenge?

That’s not exactly the question I want to raise, however. Rather, did anyone at the time see it that way? Did anyone connect the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 C.E. with the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70?

First the dates: The Romans destroyed the Second Temple (Herod’s Temple) on the same date that the Babylonians had destroyed the First Temple (Solomon’s Temple) in 586 B.C.E. But the exact date of the Babylonian destruction is uncertain. Two different dates are given in the Hebrew Bible for the destruction of the First Temple. In 2 Kings 25:8 the date is the 7th of the Hebrew month of Av; Jeremiah 52:12 says it occurred on the 10th of Av. The rabbis compromised and chose the 9th of Av (Tisha b’Av). That is the date on which observant Jews, sitting on the floor of their synagogues, still mourn the destruction of the First Temple, Solomon’s Temple, in 586 B.C.E. and the Second Temple, Herod’s Temple, in 70 C.E.

The exact corresponding date in the Gregorian calendar is also a bit uncertain. According to the translator of the authoritative translation of Josephus, the ancient historian who gives us our most detailed (if sometimes unreliable; see sidebar) account of the Roman destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E., it occurred on August 29 or 30. [Jewish War, 6.244, 250, notes, tr. H. St. J. Thackeray.] Others place it earlier in the month.

The eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii, Herculaneum, Stabia and other nearby sites occurred, according to most commentators, on August 24 or 25 in 79 C.E. According to Seneca, the quakes lasted for several days.

But the dates are close enough to raise the question: Were these two catastrophic events connected, at least in the mind of some observers?


The volcanic eruption of Vesuvius has been graphically described by Dio Cassius in his Roman History:

The whole plain round about [Vesuvius] seethed and the summits leaped into the air. There were frequent rumblings, some of them subterranean, that resembled thunder, and some on the surface, that sounded like bellowings; the sea also joined in the roar and the sky re-echoed it. Then suddenly a portentous crash was heard, as if the mountains were tumbling in ruins; and first huge stones were hurled aloft, rising as high as the very summits, then came a great quantity of fire and endless smoke, so that the whole atmosphere was obscured and the sun was entirely hidden, as if eclipsed. Thus day was turned into night and light into darkness … [Some] believed that the whole universe was being resolved into chaos or fire .… While this was going on, an inconceivable quantity of ashes was blown out, which covered both sea and land and filled all the air … It buried two entire cities, Herculaneum and Pompeii … Indeed, the amount of dust, taken all together was so great that some of it reached Africa and Syria and Egypt, and it also reached Rome, filling the air overhead and darkening the sun. There, too, no little fear was occasioned, that lasted for several days, since the people did not know and could not imagine what had happened, but, like those close at hand, believed that the whole world was being turned upside down, that the sun was disappearing into the earth and that the earth was being lifted to the sky. [Dio Cassius, Roman History, 66.22.3–23.5.]

The tone is plainly apocalyptic. And indeed Dio seems to have had this in mind. In the next paragraph he notes that the eruption consumed the temples of Serapis and Isis and Neptune and Jupiter Capitolinus, among others. It is almost as if some supreme God was at work.

Seventeen-year-old Pliny the Younger was an eyewitness to the eruption and described it in terms similar to Dio’s. In two surviving letters to Tacitus, Pliny also gives an account of the death of his famous uncle Pliny the Elder, author of the renowned Historia Naturalis. Pliny the Elder was at Misenum in his capacity as commander of the Roman fleet when the eruption began. He set sail to save some boatloads of people nearer Vesuvius and headed toward Stabia—to no avail. All perished, including Pliny, as his nephew recounts:

Ash was falling onto the ships, darker and denser the closer they went. Now it rains bits of pumice, and rocks that were burned and shattered by the fire … Broad sheets of flame were lighting up many parts of Vesuvius; their light and brightness were the more vivid for the darkness of the night … Buildings were being rocked by a series of strong tremors and appeared to have come loose from their foundations and to be sliding this way and that. Outside, however, there was danger from the rocks that were coming down …

It was daylight now elsewhere in the world, but there the darkness was darker and thicker than any night … Then came the smell of sulfur, announcing the flames, and the flames themselves …onto the ships, darker and denser the closer they went. Now it rains bits of pumice, and rocks that were burned and shattered by the fire … Broad sheets of flame were lighting up many parts of Vesuvius; their light and brightness were the more vivid for the darkness of the night … Buildings were being rocked by a series of strong tremors and appeared to have come loose from their foundations and to be sliding this way and that. Outside, however, there was danger from the rocks that were coming down …

[Then] came the dust, though still lightly. I looked back [from his flight from Misenum] … We had scarcely sat down when a darkness came that was not like a moonless or cloudy night, but more like the black of closed and unlighted rooms. You could hear women lamenting, children crying, men shouting. [Pliny the Younger, Letters, 6.16, 6.20.]

Then comes the same apocalyptic tone that we saw in Dio:

There were some so afraid of death that they prayed for death. Many raised their hands to the gods, and even more believed that there were no gods any longer and that this was the one last unending night for the world … I believed that I was perishing with the world, and the world with me, which was a great consolation for death. [Pliny the Younger, Letters, 6.20.]

Did anyone connect all this to the Jewish God? To the Roman destruction of the Jerusalem Temple?

In a conversation with Harvard’s Shaye Cohen about something else, I offhandedly asked him if he knew of any ancient source that made the connection between the Vesuvius eruption and the destruction of the Temple. I had already asked this of several other scholars, but none had any sources for me, although they said there must be some. Shaye, however, immediately replied, “Try Book 4 of the Sibylline Oracles.” He was right on.

Book 4 of the Sibylline Oracles is thought to be mostly Jewish oracles by a so-called sibyl (in Greek legend an aged woman who uttered ecstatic prophecies) that were composed shortly after the eruption of Vesuvius in 79. The oracles were preserved by Christians who believed they gave pagan testimony to the true religion and to Christ.[See John J. Collins, “Sibylline Oracles,” Anchor Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1992).]

Although composed after the event, it is written as a prediction:

An evil storm of war will also come upon Jerusalem

from Italy, and it will sack the great Temple of God …

A leader of Rome [Titus] will come … who will burn

the Temple of Jerusalem with fire [and] at the same time slaughter

many men and destroy the great land of the Jews.

When a firebrand, turned away from a cleft in the earth [Vesuvius]

in the land of Italy, reaches to broad heaven

it will burn many cities and destroy men.

Much smoking ashes will fill the great sky

and showers will fall from heaven like red earth.

Know then the wrath of the heavenly God. [vv. 115–116, 125–127, 130–135] John J. Collins, “Sibylline Oracles—A New Translation and Introduction,” in James H. Charlesworth, ed., The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (New York: Doubleday, 1983), p. 387. Collins makes explicit in a footnote the clearly implied connection between the two events.]

There is more—from Pompeii itself:

After the destruction, the site was subject to looting. And people who had managed to flee came back to see whether they could retrieve some of their possessions.



One such person came back to a house in an area of Pompeii designated today as Region 9, Insula 1, House 26. After having walked through the desolation of the city, he (unlikely to be a “she”) looked about and saw nothing but destruction where once there had been buildings and beautifully frescoed walls. Disconsolate and aghast, he picked up a piece of charcoal and scratched on the wall in large black Latin letters:

SODOM GOMOR[RAH]. [See Carlo Giordano and Isidoro Kahn, The Jews in Pompeii Heculaneum, Stabiae and in the Cities of Campania Felix 3rd ed., Wilhelmina F. Jashemski, trans. (Rome: Bardi Editore, 2003), pp. 75–76.]

As he saw it, the divine punishment of these two cursed Biblical cities was echoed in the rain of fire on Pompeii. [Another more ambiguous inscription was also found in the destruction of Pompeii, in Region 9, Insula 11, House 14, reading in Latin letters “Poinium Cherem.” Cherem could mean “excommunication” or “destruction” if the first letter is a het in Hebrew. But even cherem with a het could also mean consecrated to God, or holy. If the first meaning of cherem with a het was intended, this inscription, too, could refer to the destruction of Pompeii as God’s absolute condemnation of Pompeii for the prior Roman destruction of his Temple. The preceding Poinium presents a problem, however. Poinium could be the Latin form of a Greek noun ending in -nion, that is, poimnion, meaning “flock.” And the ch in cherem could also be a Latin transcription of Hebrew chaf as well as het, in which case cherem would mean “vineyard.” The writer of the inscription may have been using the imagery of the prophet Isaiah: Israel is “the flock of the Lord” (Isaiah 40:11); similarly, “the vineyard (cherem) of the Lord of Hosts is the House of Israel” (Isaiah 5:7). “In this sense the cherem of the inscription could be understood as the name of the Jewish community at Pompeii …” (Giordano and Kahn, The Jews in Pompeii, Herculaneum, Stabiae and in the Cities of Campania Felix, p. 99). On the other hand, poinium could also be understood as Greek poine, similar in meaning to the Latin poena; that is, punishment, which would fit nicely with the meaning of cherem as “destruction” or “excommunication.” See Giordano and Kahn, pp. 89–103, for an extended discussion of these issues.



The inscription was found in a 19th-century excavation at the site. I went to Pompeii to see the place where it was discovered. (The inscription itself is in the stores of the Naples Archaeological Museum; it is nearly illegible at this time.) In the center of the insula (a kind of city block) where it was found is a beautifully preserved columned atrium. House 26 is like the others in the insula—dark, destroyed, with vestiges of paintings on the walls, but mostly nothing.


It would seem that this inscriptional reference to Sodom and Gomorrah was the work of a Jew, which leads to the question whether there were Jews living in Pompeii. An indication that the answer is yes is a painting found in excellent condition on the walls of another, more elegant house. It is a painting of the Judgment of Solomon, deciding which of two women is the mother of the baby (1 Kings 3:16–28). The painting is the earliest known depiction of a Biblical scene and was the subject of a BAR article a couple of years ago. [Theodore H. Feder, “Solomon, Socrates and Aristotle,” BAR 34:05.]


But there may also be other evidence that a community of Jews lived at Pompeii.

Garum was a very popular Roman delicacy, a fish sauce variously composed of different kinds of often-decomposed or fermented marine life and herbs and spices. Indeed, Pompeii was famous for its garum. According to Pliny the Elder, Pompeii “has a good reputation for its garum.” [Natural History, Book XXXI, pp. 931ff.] As if in confirmation of this observation, at least one store selling garum has been excavated in Pompeii. On the floor of the owner’s house (one Aulus Umbricius Scaurus) is a mosaic featuring labeled jars containing different kinds of garum.


Garum presented a problem for Jews, however—at least for those who kept the laws of kashrut (kosher laws). These Jews could not use garum that was made from fish without scales or from shellfish (see Deuteronomy 14:10 and Leviticus 11:10). Garum made from these products would not be kosher. Was there special kosher garumgarum made only from fish with scales?

The answer is yes, according to Pliny the Elder, who tells us that “another kind [of garum] is devoted to … Jewish rites, and is made from fish without scales.” Pliny obviously made a slip of the tongue here; he meant to say “fish with scales.” But it is clear that special garum, kosher garum, was indeed available to Jews.


And jars of kosher garum appear to have been found at Pompeii, although the matter is not without controversy. Among the garum amphorae from Pompeii several bear a label said to be kosher garum. The painted inscription on these jars consists of two Latin words, both incomplete:

GAR [or MUR]


The first word could be completed as GAR[um] or MUR[ia]. Muria is also a kind of fish sauce, so it really doesn’t matter which it is.

The second word could be completed CAST[um] or CAST[imoniale]. Castum means “pure” or “chaste” or “innocent” or “spotless.” It could well refer to the purity of garum prepared for observant Jews. Castimoniale refers to bodily purity. 10 But the inscription is on a jar of garum, so even if this is the correct reconstruction, it would seem to refer to a kind of special or pure garum.

In a recent, highly praised book on Pompeii, Cambridge University scholar Mary Beard concludes without qualification that this inscription was a designation for kosher garum. Beard refers to “a painted label advertising its contents as ‘Kosher Garum.’”11 There are some doubters, however.

The chief doubter is Hannah Cotton, a prominent scholar at the Hebrew University. In her publication of a garum jar excavated at Masada in Israel, she cites supposedly “grave arguments” against the notion that garum castum was intended for Jews. [Masada II, The Latin and Greek Documents, (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1989), p. 166.] Pure garum, which is all that garum castum means, could be intended for other religious groups with food restrictions as well—the worshipers of Apis, Isis and Magna Mater, for instance. In this connection she cites an article by another distinguished scholar, Robert I. Curtis, professor of classics, now retired, at the University of Georgia and an authority both on Pompeii and garum.

I wondered about this. Did these pagan groups really have food laws similar to the Jews’? I contacted Professor Curtis, who wrote me: “[Professor Cotton] apparently misinterpreted what I had written. Perhaps I wasn’t very clear.” Curtis continued: “The ancient sources on the cult practices of these pagan mystery cults are not very forthcoming, and the information that we do have is primarily from authors hostile to them. So, 100% certainty on matters regarding fasting and abstinence is impossible … I am not aware that followers of Isis, Magna Mater, etc. exercised restrictions of this kind [i.e., similar to the Jews]. They did, however, have abstinences of particular foods for limited periods of time, usually during recurring festivals … Recognizing a sauce as castum, therefore takes on more importance for [Jews]. Fish sauce producers, if they cared at all about catering to a specific clientele, even a small one, could, I think, have directed a specific product to them …”

Ever the careful scholar, however, Curtis nevertheless concludes that “I am still not able to state unequivocally that the expression garum castum was meant exclusively for Jews.” [We have posted the full text of Professor Curtis’s response to me online at] So the matter is not free from all doubt, [Professor Cotton also cites in support of her contention J.B. Frey, “Les Juifs a Pompei,” Revue Biblique 32 (1933), p. 365. Frey makes similar arguments to that of Curtis. Moreover, he is unwilling even to admit that there were Jews in Pompeii or even that the quotation from Pliny demonstrates that the Jews had a special kosher garum. His argument decisif is that “aucune garantie donee par des paiens n’aurait suffi a des Juifs, car en pareille matiere la parole des Gentils ne pouvait faire foi” (at p. 373).
] but the presence of kosher garum at Pompeii is highly likely.

In any event, if there were Jews at Pompeii—and it seems there were—they may well have made the connection between the events of 70 and 79: God was indeed taking revenge against the Romans for destroying his Temple.


"The Fall of the Temple : a study in the history of dogma"


CHICAGO THE OPEN COURT PUBLISHING COMPANY 1921 THE FALL OF THE TEMPLE. A STUDY IN THE HISTORY OF DOGMA BY CHARLES KASSEL THERE seems deeply rooted in human nature a proneness for ascribing to the wrath of Heaven the misfortunes which befall our enemies — nay, we even attribute to the avenging lash of Deity the ills which afflict those who merely differ from us in religion. If an angry tide sweeps a city into the sea thousands are ready to deplore the calamity as a visitation of Providence; and if one who has scouted their creed be drowned or mangled, these devout souls, who see the finger of God in every one's woes except their own, readily trace a connection between the scoffer's death and his impiety. In no historic occurrence, perhaps, has the Christian world discovered so plainly the hand of Providence as in that tragic spec- tacle which has appealed so strongly to the imaginations of theo- logians — -the destruction of Jerusalem and the burning of the Tem- ple : a spectacle well calculated to inspire awe, in view of its appal- ling proportions, its dire consequences to the Israelitish people and its nearness in time to the event which has cast so deep a shadow over the whole field of theologic thought — the Crucifixion ! It would tax the deftest pen to conjure up before the mind a faithful picture of the Holy City, gleaming with the stately piles which went down in that pageant of blood and 'fire. Even the proi'd capital of the Romans— the boast of their poets and orators — shone with a luster less bright. "The whole city," observes the Reverend Charles Merivale in his Romans Under the Empire (Vol. 7, Chapter 59, pp. 229-230, Longmans, Green & Company's edition, 1896), "upon which mighty despots had lavished their wealth, as far surpassed Rome, at least before Nero's restoration, in grandeur, as it fell short of it in size and population." In the death-grapple between monotheistic Judea and polytheistic Rome all this splen- dor became a memory and a tale ! "The most soul-stirring struggle in all ancient history," exclaims the historian just quoted in describing thai mighty conflicl ; a conflict direr than any of those in which the older temples on Moriah had fallen — direr than any which, during the great Crusades i>i the Middle Ages, reddened the historic M>il of Jerusalem. During five months the remnanl of the Jewish nation, gathered from every quarter within the walls. held out against the legions of Titus. All the horrors of sword and flame were let loose upon the city and upon the people. Daily the corpses of the dead were crimsoned with the blood of the living, while about both fell ruins smoldering from the deadly brands of the besieger. At last, driven inch by inch from the outer precincts, those whom sword and tire and famine had spared took station within the courts of the Temple, resolved that the ancient kingdom should witness its last hom- upon the hill which for more than a thousand years had Teen the seat of its religion and the worship- ping place of its priesthood and its people! Here the final scenes of the great siege took place and the souls of thousands rose with the flames which levelled the noble pile to a mass of ruins. The last dread sacrifice had been enacted before the Golden Altar ! Tongue and pen and brush have vied with one another in painting the mingled grandeur and horror of the spectacle! The number of those who fell martyrs to the faith and to the traditions of their people will never be known. The imagination of Josephus, sickened by so much blood and so much suffering, raises the number to more than a million — a figure too vast for belief ; but even the conjecture of the most modest historians, who place the number of the dead at far beyond a hundred thousand, makes that disaster one of the awfullest hecatombs in all the annals of war ! Even after resistance was wholly at an end, eleven thousand perished from starvation, and of. those who remained the old. the sickly and the infirm were put to death and ninety thou- sand were sent as slaves to labor in the imperial mines or to battle with the wild beasts in the amphitheaters. "The overthrow oi Judea, with all the monuments of ancient but still living civilization, was the greatest crime of the conquering republic. It was com- menced in wanton aggression and was effected with a barbarity of which no other example occurs in the records of civilization." ( Merivale, Rotnaiis Under the Empire, Vol. 7, Chapter 59, p. 251.) Thus, as the theologians insist, went out in gloom as a punish- ment from on high the nation which had held aloft for centuries the torch of religious truth ! Even Schaff, in his monumental History of the Christian Church, though observing that "history records no other instance of such ohstinate resistance, such desperate bravery and contempt of death," (Vol. 1, p. 397) can not refrain the opinion that the fall of the City and of the Temple, and the extinction of the Jewish nation, was but the revenge of an angry God for the rejec- tion of the Christian faith and its founder. ''Thus, therefore," he says, "must one of the best Roman emperors execute the long- threatened judgment of God, and the most learned Jew of his time describe it and thereby, w thout willing or knowing it, bear testi- mony to the truth of the prophecy and the divinity of Jesus Christ, the rejection of whom brought all this and the subsequent misfor- tunes upon the apostate race." (Vol. 1, p. 379.) It is as pleasing to fancy that the afflictions of our enem'es spring from the judgments of God as it is disagreeable to reflect that our own may flow from the same cause ; and the pious theo- logian may easily fall into the thought that so grave a catastrophe as the destruction of Jerusalem was but a mark of Heaven's anger at the rejection by the Jews of their noblest teacher, even though to reach this conclusion he be forced to assume that the Almighty wrought through a nation which scarcely six years before was regaling its populace with the spectacle of Christian martyrs pitch- smeared and burned by scores to light the gardens" of Nero! From the viewpoint, however, of the less sectarian thinker who strives to trace in that epoch the finger of Providence, the events fol- lowing the holocaust at Jerusalem, far from lending strength to the dogma of the theologians, might well be construed as start- ling indications of Divine displeasure at the razing of the Holy City and the desecration of the Temple — unless, indeed, we indulge the belief that God punished the Jews through the Romans and then visited dire penalties upon the Romans for punishing the Jews ! For ten years following the destruction of Jerusalem, during which Vespasian wielded the rod of state, Rome enjoyed a period of almost unbroken quiet. "The reign of Vespasian, extending over one decade, passed away in uneventful tranquility, ruffled only for a moment at the termination of the Jewish war, by one or two arbitrary attempts at usurpation, which were firmly quelled but with no excessive or feverish violence." (Merivale, Vol. 7, Chapter 60, p. 289.) Providence — it might be urged with no mean show of truth — was reserving its wrath until the imperial mantle should fall upon him whose barbarity had drenched Jerusalem in an ocean of blood and whose vandal hand had laid in ruins the majestic Temple of the Jews. It is a remarkable circumstance that during a scant reign of two years and two months the empire of Titus was visited by uecession of disasters graver than ever befell a people before or since in so brief .1 period one of these, at least, withoul a parallel in all previous history. Vesusvius had slepl since the dawn of recorded time. Cities had gathered at its foot, and the people, if they suspected the volcanic nature of the mountain towering near them deemed it fires long since spent. On the 24th day of August, however, A. D. 79 bul one month and eleven days after the sceptre qf Rome had passed into the hands of Titus -the greal catas- trophe occurred which buried three Roman cities under a deluge of fire. From out the grm crater, during the eruption, vast columns of lava belched forth, and, fan-like across the sky, fell in deadly showers upon the heads of the fleeing thousands, already maddened with the terror of the spectacle. The awful roar of the angry mountain, the fearful rocking of the earth, the seething and his ing of the sea as the burning skies poured th mselves into its depths, must have smitten the doomed multitude with the belief that universal conflagration was at hand! For three days darkness hung like a pall owr the desolated cities, broken only by the fierce lightnings that still played about the cone from which all that death and ruin had poured, and the fine volcanic dust which accompanied the eruption and spread over the hemisphere in each direction red- dened for months the sunsets of the world. This huge disaster, which fills so somber a page in history, would alone have made the brief reign of Titus the gloomiest in all the chronicles of Rome ; but others little less terrible and even more deadly were yet to come. At the capitol a fire burst forth which raged for three days, and, spreading from quarter to quarter, destroyed the fairest structures of the city — a fire rivaling that of Nero in its proportions. Upon the heels of the fire a pestilence broke out which took off almost as great a number as had the flame and sword of Titus at Jerusalem. But still the anger of God was unappeased. The unfortunate emperor had been preserved through all these calamities that no jot or tittle of their horrors shoul/1 be lost upon him. Now, fate flung its last curse! A malady, myste- rious as it was fatal, began to undermine the health and strength of Titus. "He had tried in vain all the remedies suggested by physi- cians and afterwards by priests. With superstitious feelings kindled at the Eastern altars he sought to propitiate Heaven by strange rites and sacrifices." (Merivale, Vol. 7, Chapter 60, p. 300.) But to no avail. He died on the 13th of September, A. D. 81. Remembering the dire afflictions which Rome suffered during the interval between the elevation of Titus and his death we can scarcely wonder that the Roman people rhou-d have asked one another what crimes their nation had committed that such calamities were visited upon them. The troubled character of that short re'gn has been the comment of every historian. Even Schaff, but a few lines beyond the passage already quoted, mentions the circumstance. "He ascended the throne," this writer observes, "in 79, the year when the towns of Herculaneum, Stabiae and Pompeii were destroyed. His reign was marked by a series of terrible calamities, among which was a conflagration in Rome which lasted three days, and a plague which destroyed thousansd of victims daily." {History of the Christian Church, Vol. 1, p. 396, note 1). It did not occur to this complacent theologian, however, to even remotely attribute the "terrible calamities" of Titus' reign to the wrath of Heaven for the saturnalia of butchery and vandalism in the Jewish capital, though so ready to ascribe the fate of Jerusalem to the anger of God with the "apostate race." Merivale, however, though himself an eminent Christian divine, was more fair. "The conqueror of Jerusalem," he says in the fine narrative to which we have so often referred, "learned, perhaps from his intercourse with the Eastern spiritualists, to regard with religious awe the great events in which he had borne a part and to conceive of himself as a special minister of the Divine Judgment. As such he was hailed without hesitation by Orosius, who expounds the course of Providence in Roman affairs from the point of view of the Christians. The closing of Janus on the fall of the Jewish city appears to this writer a counter- part of the announcement of universal peace at the birth of Jesus. He passes lightly over the calamities of Titus' reign, the fire, pes- tilence and the volcanic eruption, as well as his own premature decease, all of which, had he lifted a hand against the Christians, would have been branded as manifest tokens of Divine vengeance." (History of the Romans Under the Empire, Vol. 7, Chapter 60, p. 302.) All who mingle largely with their kind know how deeply relig- ious faith colors every thought. Few, however, appreciate the powerful influence upon the mind exercised by the belief, when fanatically entertained, that a race or an individual is one against whom the hand of the Eternal is lifted. The outcast from Divine favor becomes in the eyes of the blind zealot an object of hatred and one against whom any crime may be justified ; precisely as in the cen- turies gone, the wild rabble which gathered about the blazing pyre of the heretic thought it no wrong to add to the tortures of the victim. The psychological importance, therefore, of such a belie!" is iinnu asurable. It would be beside our aim, however, either to deny that Deity hovered with arm outstretched across Jerusalem beckoning Titus onward to his work of death and ruin or to assert that the Cen- tral Power of the Universe stirred the fires of \ esuvius or let loose upon the Romans the genii of fire and pestilence. It has been our purpose merely to show how much broader a basis history affords for the latter than for the former theory, leaving the reader to deter mine whether either is in truth worthy a large and generous mind. Those whose views have been molded by theology may still cling to the belief that the Maker of all. to revenge the kindly and for- giving Galilean for the fate suffered at the hands of a corrupt priesthood whose prestige and privileges He threatened, brought low with sword and dame the great common people of Judea who "heard Mini gladly." The partisans of ancient Israel, on the other hand, who deem the acts of Titus mere wanton ruin and murder, may still see in the catastrophes of his reign unmistakable evidences of divine displeasure. The more thoughtful, however, who refuse to believe that the Creator contrives afflictions to scourge His erring children, will decline to attribute to the anger of God either the horrors that Titus wrought or the horrors that Titus suffered.


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