The Roman Empire

Timeline date: 
Pre-colonial

Era 2
The Roman Empire (37 B.C – 324 A.D)  

Era 2
The Roman Empire (37 B.C – 324 A.D)  

During this important era in Nazareth’s history, the town was transformed into one of Christianity’s holiest places. According to the Bible, Nazareth was the site of the Annunciation, the place where the Archangel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary and told her that she would bear the son of God. Although Jesus was not born in Nazareth, Joseph and Mary returned to the village after his birth. Nazareth is where he was raised, educated and lived until he was 30. Today Nazareth is the most important site of pilgrimage for those who wish to see the city of the Holy Family.
 
 
Background to The Roman Empire
 
The Roman Empire, centered on Rome, ruled over many European, Asian and Middle Eastern lands. The Romans preserved many cultural and administrative traditions of the Greeks but also created many of their own.
 
 
 
The chief Roman cities, located in Italy, Spain and North Africa, were cultural, administrative and trading centers. All had administrative and public buildings, temples, bathhouses, theatres and markets. The central government provided a regular supply of food, and trade was made via sea ports, and along rivers and main roads maintained by the authorities. The empire’s scholars spoke Greek and Roman. Although Caesar was head of state, the empire was administered locally by governors, ministers and judges. Moving across the Empire, its subjects could find similar institutions, architecture and art, one currency, a common language and a shared worldview.
 
 
 
During the period of King Herod, the local Jewish governor, the people of the region enjoyed partial independence from Rome as well as spiritual and cultural prosperity. Following Herod’s rule, the Romans imposed their own commissioners, with Pontius Pilate appointed during Jesus’ lifetime.
 
 
Nazareth – Jesus and after
 
Nazareth was where Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph, lived. Enclosed by the mountains surrounding Nazareth, Jesus pondered the history of his people and God. The bloody history of the area, as well as the status of his people under foreign occupation, probably had a profound effect on his views. A visit to the city of Nazareth provides a Christian believer with an ideal chance to understand the origins of the Holy Family, see the landscape they knew, and experience their way of life.
 
 
 
After leaving Nazareth, Jesus began preaching across the country until his execution in Jerusalem by the Romans as a traitor. The rise of Christianity began in the second and third centuries after his death, spreading across the Roman Empire. However, for a long time it remained a persecuted religion that was followed only by a minority.
 
 
 
During the Jewish insurrection of 67 AD against the Roman Empire, centurions laid waste to Nazareth. However, it later revived along with the rest of the Galilee. The whereabouts of the first Christians among Jesus’ siblings and relatives are unknown, but they were probably scattered in all directions. In the third century, Nazareth was still principally a Jewish community and forbade the construction of a church.
 
 
 
Source: Nazareth and sites, Eli Schieler Editor, published by “Ariel”, 1982.