Thursday, June 21, 2018

On "Teenage Punk" by Lucia Berlin (611 words) ***

This short piece centers on one of Berlin's recurring characters--Carlotta, a woman who drinks and drugs her way through much of life and whose several marriages are a testimony to her care-free life style. One of her great loves is this, Jesse, the drugged-out friend of one of her sons. Read the story here.

On "Paganism in the Roman Empire" by Ramsay MacMullen ***


This is a good survey of the pagan religions as they existed between about 100 B.C. and 400 A.D. in the Roman Empire, with an emphasis on the first two centuries of the Christian era. MacMullen notes many of the seeming contradictions that exist when we look at paganism as a whole in the empire and how it is quite impossible to talk of its rise and demise on any kind of decade-long cycle. But mostly MacMullen looks at how Roman society functioned with its wide array of gods pulled in from its various conquered domains.

Pagan religions were part of daily life. They were the means by which social functions happened. The poor, without recourse to large homes in which to host parties, hosted them in temple dining rooms. Festivals, put on by supporters of a particular god, invited people to come celebrate with them--there were parades and other fun activities.

Particular gods became popular, it appears, largely through sponsorship of rich patrons or government officials. They could change with the change of the local legate. People's personal gods--the local gods, the ones of each conquered nation--had more sticking power in the local area. And it, was more than trade or military service, largely slavery that accounted for the spread of a god in new locales, as slave families adhered to the ancient customs.

The rich and educated may have paid for and advocated a particular god. Philosophy may have leaned more and more on the idea of one god--or more properly, the superiority of one god, of which all the gods were manifestations. But the common people remained largely unmoved by such ideas.

As such, there wasn't a lot of missionizing in the sense that we would account for in religious conversion today. The most dominant argument for a deity was generally based around miracles--healings and the like. This was likely the appeal of Christianity, along with the martyrdoms to Christians endured, which were a kind of wonder in themselves.

Gods gained and lost popularity. At the time that Constantine came to power, the Sun was in the ascendant. But had he not converted to Christianity, the process of various other pagan gods gaining popularity for a time would have continued.

If this summary seems somewhat disjointed, that is probably partly because MacMullen's text at times seems this way. There is a clear organization underneath that flows along easily as one reads, but when one goes back to outline the thoughts included, it is a bit difficult, so fluid is the discussion.

Monday, June 11, 2018

On "Personal Foundations of Self-Forming through Auto-Identifications with Otherness" by Nelly Reifler (3041 words) ***

This story discusses philosophical ideas about identity in the form a squirrel who thinks she's a rat, which made me wonder whether I've ever enjoyed a work before written from the point of view of an animal. Read the story here at Barcelona Review

On "Cynics, Paul, and the Pauline Churches" by F. Gerald Downing ***

This is the second volume of Downing's work on early Christians and Greek Cynicism. In the first volume, he did not see much of Cynicism in Paul's works, but here, he corrects himself, now tying Paul to the Cynicism he sees in Jesus himself and his other disciples.

Methinks Downing overplays his hand here a bit, often repeating the same few facts about Paul that he says show he would have been taking for a Cynic: his state of dress, his public preaching, his scars. Downing says he is not claiming that Paul was a Cynic, but he comes very near to saying so, though he also denotes the Paul pulls back from such ideas in his later letters, as his readers claim too much freedom in misinterpreting his Cynical points. Hence, in Galatians Paul can deny the law. The Thessalonians take Cynic freedom to mean they can give up working; the Corinthians take it to mean they can engage in wanton sexual practices. Paul corrects them, and then by the time he writes Romans and Philippians, he focuses more on Stoic ideas.

Downing does draw out some differences between Cynics and Stoics that are useful. The former tend to act on their "virtue," while the latter tend to internalize it. It's okay to be poor or wealthy, the Stoics would believe, so long as one is happy in the former as well as in the latter; the Cynics, by contrast, would actually do something like make themselves poor.

He also shows that there were different types of Cynics. Not all of them were, or looked like, beggars; not all of them lacked for tact--some were gentle. This ability to metamorphose gives Downing the space to lay claim to the existence of Christian Cynicism. So what if they don't appear the stereotypical Cynic? Cynicism came in many varieties.

The basic outline of Downing's argument is this: Paul would have been taken as a Cynic by the Greco-Roman Gentiles, based on his actions and sayings. Paul likely would have known that he was being taken as such. Paul likely did so deliberately. Gentiles likely responded to him as a Cynic. Because Paul did these things with the blessing of Jesus's apostles, the rest of the Christian movement was likely Cynic in some form also.

While I can't bring myself to think of Christianity as a Jewish Cynicism movement, Downing does make a good argument for how some aspects of the Christian movement may have been perceived, at least superficially, as Cynicism in the early going among some people.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

On "The Jockey" by Lucia Berlin (ca. 350 words) ***


Berlin focuses on the animal lust of a woman for a man in this short piece. I love how the horse gets confused with the rider. Read the story here at Publishers Weekly.

On "On Pagans, Jews, and Christians" by Arnaldo Momigliano ***

This book consists of a collection of lectures. As such, it offers various snapshots revolving around the subject of the title but not a sustained or detailed treatment. This was something of a disappointment to me, though I came to the book with a few lectures specifically in mind as being of interest.

The book starts off with a couple of lectures focused on historiography of the subject at hand, neither essay of which was of particular fascination.

The third chapter deals with the concept of universal history as it developed in the ancient world--the idea of presenting world history as a story, with the foundation of man to the climax of kingdoms. Early world history was often structured around the theme/theory of metals--rising and waining kingdoms that descend through the various qualities of metal (gold, silver, etc.). Another common structure of bodily--world empires as youths, adults, and old people. Polybius writes what he calls the first universal history because he argues that only with the rise of Rome could universal history be written, Rome being the first truly world empire (the gall of this is a bit offputting to me, since other powerful empires existed in the world at the time and since other powerful empires had preceded it).

It is in the fourth chapter that Momigliano starts to cover territory more of interest to me. Here, he focuses on Roman writing about religion--specifically about Roman religion. These writings by Varro and others have largely been lost and are only put together through quotes from others. But there is a move among such writers to bring such religion to the fore; meanwhile, Cicero, who the author spends much time on, after the death of his daughter, largely pushes religion aside.

The fifth chapter discusses how difficult it is to piece together what religious practice was like in the first century BC in Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem. Despite this, the author manages to present some cogent ideas about religious practice in these places, most especially in Rome, where to get a feel for religion, one need only take a walk and observe what festival was being celebrated at a given time.

Next, the author discusses how Roman emperors became gods and what this meant. Some writers during the World War II era argued that the emperors were not so much worshipped as simply given homage--but the distinction is unclear, as writers since they have argued. The author sees the transition as one to make up for a loss of faith in the gods of old--the emperor was a living god, who could help restore faith in the other gods. Also, the worship developed out of worship of dead heroes, which became worship of living local magistrates, which became worship of the emperor, who took on more-and-more nonkingly power.

The next chapters focus on apocalpytic writing. One is a chapter on Josephus and his seeming isolation from apocalyptists writing in his day. Another deals in how writers of the time use apocalyptic pronouncements to oppose Roman rule.

In yet another chapter, Momigliano looks for an in-depth philosophic/theologic argument for polytheism and paganism in the Roman empire akin to that made for monotheism by the Christians. He does not really find it, he denotes, though the last section on the emperor Julian seems to me to provide exactly that. That Julian grew up Christian and turned away from it does mean, however, that he was in many ways arguing as much against Christianity as for paganism. For him, the polytheistic national faiths each served the individual nations within the Roman sphere--pagan gods were in a sense servants of departments of a most high god. Such accounted for cultural differences between peoples (more than the tower of Babel accounts for, which is simply linguistic differences). The proposed rebuilding of the Jewish temple was in this context--that is, as the rebuilding of the temple of one of the national gods, who was subservient to the great god. For Christians, by contrast, Rome eventually came to be an example of the one king/empire uniting the world, just as God would depose it and become supreme. Rome offered peace and thus the ease of the spread of Christianity. And Rome destroyed the temple, because of the Jewish rejection of Jesus.

In the next chapter--and in many chapters following--Momigliano turns to study biographies in the ancient and medieval world. In one, he focuses on Diogenes Laertus, who, he denotes, wrote primarily to promote Greek and pagan ways, completely ignoring the Christian cult that must have been growing up all around him. Other chapters focus on a faux letter between Seneca and a woman named Anna, a comparison between pagan and Christian women as seen in the lives and biographies of an aristocratic family, and a discussion of an autobiography of a medieval convert from Judaism to Christianity (the last section of which discusses the start of the Bar Mitzvah tradition).

Within all this, a chapter on the use of religion in Rome during the Imperial period proves quite valuable, though it is hard to summarize as it is not a terribly thesis-driven essay. Momigliano talks of Rome's adoption of others' pagan faiths, of the return to religious concerns under Augustus, and the foundation of the imperial cult.

The last few chapters of the book appear to be reviews and other ephemera. There is a chapter on Max Weber's use of the term "pariah-religion" to describe Judaism (how it really wasn't appropriate and what Weber's views really were) and a chapter on Jews in Italy (mostly in the twentieth century, before and after World War II). A chapter about how the Romans posed their origins in relation to the Greeks is rather interesting, especially if one has an interest in the Aeneid. The supposition is essentially that the Greeks see themselves as superior insofar as they were immigrants to the land as opposed to emigrants from a land; for the Romans, this distinction was unimportant. But it was important that somehow they relate to the Greeks; this is done through the story in the Aeneid, but that story in part involves a person who deserts the battle of Troy, who is something of an enemy to the Greeks but has to be somehow transformed into something of a friend. The last chapter is a long critique of the work of the linguist Georges Dumezil and his historical sociological work that claimed Indo-European cultures were split in a tripartate function: production, priesthood, and soldiers--Momigliano finds this idea preposterous.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

On "The Men and Women Like Him" by Amber Sparks (1772 words) ****

In "The Men and Women Like Him" the secret to time travel has been found. However, going back into the past would destroy the space-time continuum, so it's forbidden. This doesn't stop people from sneaking in to try to fix things and save lives. It is the job of another set of characters, called cleaners, to go back in time and stop these "do-gooders." Potentially a story about ethics, it remains too short to be anything more than a novel idea, but I suppose Sparks's goal here is more emotional--how restoring bad for "greater good" hurts. Read the story here at Guernica.

On "The 'Hellenization' of Judaea in the First Century after Christ" by Martin Hengel ***

This short follow-up to Hengel's earlier book on Judaism and Hellenism treads familiar ground but also provides a few new tidbits of information that relate directly to the New Testament--and Christianity.

As in the other book, Hengel discusses the importance of the Greek language and education, particularly to attaining social class. In the end, Hengel comes to the conclusion that what is "Greek" and what is "Jewish" is not easily separated. Indeed, as Hengel writes, "Not only Christianity but also rabbinic Judaism, which is different in so many other ways, basically rests on a synthesis."

Monday, May 14, 2018

On "Unmanageable" by Lucia Berlin (6 minutes) ****

The perils of a drunk (mother) are the subject of this story--how to get a drink so one can function and then get the kids off to school, all this before most liquor stores are open for the day. Listen to the story here at Soundcloud.

On "Judaism and Hellenism" by Martin Hengel ***


This technical book goes to great lengths to discuss just how Greek civilization affected Jewish culture and beliefs in the centuries before Rome's advance.

Hengel discusses how Greek culture impacted Jewish society before it even became an empire--largely through Greek mercenaries. Then he notes how Jewish mercenaries also brought into Jewish culture Greek ideas.

Then there was the language, which became essential to know if you were to be one of the upper class, as it became the lingua franca of the day.

Finally, there was education, which affected Jewish studies as well, even in ways in which Jewish thinkers tried to resist Greek influence. That resistance--the strength of it--was one effect. But even in that resistance, sometimes Greek ideas snuck in, in the form, for example, of formal education or in the idea that anyone could ascend to be a teacher through study and knowledge (as opposed to inherited familial limitations).

A large portion of the book devotes itself to how Greek thought affected Jewish writing. The author takes the position that Ecclesiastes, as well as some other wisdom books, was written after Greece took hold of the Promised Land and then traces the parallels in Greek philosophy to those books. I found this material less intriguing and, at times, ponderous. But the first half of the book provides a lot of information that I found very useful.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

On "Sugar" by Nelly Reifler (2220 words) ***

"Sugar" is the name of a girl's pet that she keeps locked inside a box, a box that her parents want her to get rid of. The trick here is that we never really learn what is in the box. Read the story here at Post Road.

On "Simon Magus: The First Gnostic?" by Stephen Haar ***


This book attempts to answer the question, Was Simon Magus really the first gnostic? To answer the question, Haar looks at different accounts of Magus, the different meanings of the words associated with him, and the critical views with regard to the various accounts about him. As for his own opinion on the subject--it stays nicely hidden until the last few pages. As such, one doesn't get much of a feeling of Magus himself; rather, one gets a nice summary of the related literature. I'd thought this typical of such studies in the first chapter, but it more or less continues throughout the book. As such, this is a great book for getting a full range of views on Magus, but such summary also makes for rather dull, if precise, reading.

As Haar notes, major problems with defining who Magus was include the fact that all of the writing about him is from his detractors and the fact that there is a large gap between the early accounts. First mentioned in Luke, he doesn't show up again for decades until he is called the father of all heresies by Justin Martyr. From there, his reputation spirals further down, until he is blamed for all kinds of odd practices.

Simon is called "Magus"--magi--a sorcerer. Haar explores what this might mean--or rather what it would have meant at the time. We tend to think of such people as magicians and soothsayers, but Haar shows how the magi were in a sense thinkers from Persia, priests of sorts. He also shows how "magic"--telling the future and such--was not always seen in a negative light.

Finally, he explores gnosticism itself and what it is. He shows how the meaning is hard to pin down. Eventually, he evaluates Simon as a gnostic in three different manners: (1) by the Messina convention, which created a formal definition for gnosticism, problematic as it is; (2) by the early Christian writers who defined who Simon was; and (3) by how Simon may have seen himself as far as Haar can tell/imagine based on the writings about him.

Monday, April 9, 2018

On "It Can't Be This Way Everywhere" by Carla Panciera (4991 words) ****

"It Can't Be This Way Everywhere" is about a woman who is tending to a prematurely aging husband, one who has Alzheimer's, even as she tends to small children and her own work. The discovery of feral cats in their garage lends her the opportunity to teach the children about responsibility and for her to see both the ways that her husband is still strong and the ways that he no longer is. Read the story here at Huffington Post.

On "The Keepers" by Robert T. Anderson and Terry Giles ***

This short introduction to Samaritan history and culture takes its reason for being from a collection of materials available at Michigan State University. The authors spend a couple of chapters on this collection, which is likely of interest to a few very devoted to these studies but which was not the heart of why I turned to this work. The reason I turned to this work was that I wanted a relatively short synopsis of Samaritan history, religion, and culture--and that, in its middle chapters, was exactly what this book supplied.

The Samaritans we know in scripture are a people despised by the Jewish people. Josephus and Kings essentially tell us that they consist of people injected into the land of Israel, the northern kingdom, after the Assyrians deported the northern ten tribes. Those people took on Jewish customs, after begging for a priest from the land, and merged them with their own. That's the story from the Jewish perspective.

The story from the Samaritan perspective is quite different. In their view, they stem from a conflict over the high priesthood that occurred shortly after Phinehas's demise. Eli, the son of Yafni tried to usurp the sons of Phinehas (Ozzi being high priest at the time). Eli's group moved to Shiloh and then eventually Jerusalem. Ozzi's group stayed at Shechem and Mount Gerizim, the original holy place.

Historical records of the sect begin to show up around the time that the Jewish people return from captivity in Babylon. Ezra, in shaping the Jewish scriptures, allowed in books beyond the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, and he condemned marriages between Jews and Samaritans, considering the latter essentially akin to Gentiles (though this tradition is largely an interpretation of Josephus--the biblical record does not explicitly mention the Samaritans in this context). Another thing Ezra did was promote Jerusalem as the center of worship.

It is when the Greeks take over the Promised Land that Samaritan consciousness really takes hold, and the sect enters history in its own light. Their separation from Judaism also becomes plain, as for example, the Maccabees rebel but the Samaritans do not, the latter not being considered of the same religion as the Maccabees. John Hyrcanus's attack on the group cemented their separation.

While the Jews and Samaritans did not get along during much of the early Roman period, the condition of the sect appears to have been one of general persecution throughout history, no matter which set of people were in charge. In the Christian era (after Constantine made Christianity the favored religion), Samaritans briefly had a respite in how they were treated because of Christian ideas about the "good Samaritan," but eventually they were blamed for gnosticism and persecuted by the Byzantines. When the Muslims took over, once again, there was a brief respite, until the Muslims decided that Samaritans did not qualify as "people of the book," unlike Jews and Christians, at which time they were taxed extra.

Today, Samaritans are often considered a sect of Judaism. Like followers of Judaism, they believe in circumcision, the keeping of the Sabbath, the biblical holy days, and the first five books of the Bible. However, they see Gerizim as the center of God's holy realm rather than Jerusalem and attach various biblical events to it just as Jews attach various biblical events to Jerusalem. They do not accept the rest of the Old Testament as scripture, and they have commentaries and other books (not considered part of their scriptures) that continue their story into Joshua's time. Their Pentateuch, while similar to the Jewish one, makes certain substitutions with regard to Gerizim as a place; it also is apparently closer to the Septuagint than to the Masoretic text. They believe in a Messiah to come, though he is seen primarily as a physical leader. They also, to this day, offer sacrifices. And the biblical holy days, finally, are on their own calendar separate from the Jewish calendar, the calculation of which only the priests know; thus Passover and the like may be celebrated at a slightly different time than it is in mainstream Judaism. They do not keep other Jewish days, such a Hanukkah or Purim.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

On "Carpe Diem" by Lucia Berlin (1268 words) ****

"Carpe Diem" makes much of a little. A woman goes to wash her clothes at the Laundromat but sticks her quarters in someone else's machines by mistake. Now she's out the money she need to dry her clothes, and the man whose laundry is now being washed twice it out an hour of his time, which leads to consternation and anger all around. Read the story here at Flavorwire.

On "The Wars of the Jews" by Josephus ***

The ancient history book still reads relatively well, though in sections I had trouble focusing on what was going on. This is in part because several parts include people with similar names, making it difficult to remember which person is which; because Josephus has a preachy agenda in places that gets away from the facts of the story; and because Josephus uses generous quotes from speeches as a rhetorical device.

The latter has its good and bad points. First among the bad, of course, is the fact that the speeches are simply a rhetorical device--not probably real. Second is that those speeches take away from the action or repeat points already made. However, one good thing about the speeches is that they provide a kind of window (even if fictionalized via Josephus himself) into the point of view of the particular historical actor. This is important when otherwise the point of view is largely Josephus's own, which can be rather skewed and biased for or against certain parties.

The story itself largely involves that of the recent war between the Romans and Jews in which Jerusalem and its temple are destroyed. For this tale, Josephus returns us back to Maccabees and the eventual rise of Herod the Great. But as the narrative continues, more and more focus is placed on the so-called "robbers"--a group of miscreants, in Josephus's view, who foment rebellion against the Romans.

What's perhaps most interesting about the history is how much of it focuses on Josephus himself and how self-serving the history appears to be. I've read around Josephus quite a bit, but actually reading his work through, I was surprised how central he becomes to the action in the second half of the book.

At first, he himself is one of these rebels, though I don't think he ever calls himself a robber. He seems somewhat central to the movement, and people in one particular town really look to him for leadership in the war against the Romans. In order not to trouble the town (as the Romans are largely after him), Josephus volunteers to leave, but the people won't have it. They want to stick by him.

But then one day, he says that he had a dream from God. In it, God tells him that he put the Romans in charge and that the Jews should surrender. The people won't hear of it. They opt to kill themselves so as not to fall under the cruelties of the Roman guard (which Josephus denotes are not cruel--that they will have mercy). The people draw lots to see who will do the killing of the community--Josephus ends up being one of them.

In the end, the community is killed, and rather than killing himself, Josephus surrenders. He is treated well by the Romans. And then he becomes their voice to try to get the rebellious Jews to see reason and to surrender. Throughout, then, Josephus talks of how terrible these various rebels are, how destructive, how they pollute the temple, how they kill their own people. He promotes the Romans as merciful, and yet he also describes crucifixions and the taking of prisoners and the use of them as gladiators and feed for wild beasts in the arena. I didn't come away feeling the Romans were all that nice. What I did feel was sorrow for those caught in the middle of all of this--likely to be killed by other Jews if not supportive enough or by Romans if caught.

The text can be read here at Project Gutenberg.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

On "Caught Up" by Jamie Quatro (964 words) ***

The lead story in Quatro's first collection is a short one about a woman whose phone affair with a stranger and advice from her mother leads to a less-than-satisfactory end. It's a startling piece in some ways, because the wife opens by talking about the many things she loves about her husband. I was left wondering why she would dally with another man--and on the phone at that. What is it that her husband lacks? Read the story here at Tin House.

On "The Zealots" by Martin Hengel ****

This excellent summation of the zealot movement from the time of Herod I to the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in 70 A.D. provides a full assessment of who the zealots were and what made them tick. 

The first point to ponder is who they were. Since Josephus rarely uses the term, we're left with some questions as to who constituted the party. More often, Josephus refers to such peoples as robbers; "zealot" is more narrowly applied to a sect of the freedom movement in the last five years before 70 A.D. But Hengel shows that there are good reasons to think of the Zealot movement as existing for much longer, going back to the time of Judas the Galilean, whose rebellion Josephus covers in detail. This group, Josephus says, adhere to the "fourth philosophy." For much of its existence, it likely consisted of small bands of guerilla fighters.

Judas the Galilean (so-called because he was likely from Galilee but did his work in Judea) was close to a radical wing of Pharisees. "Separation" for them meant accepting the "sole rule of God." The claims of all other rulers were to be shunned. The job of the Israelites was to throw off these other rulers. If they did so, God would bless them, because of their zeal, helping them to overcome the other rulers and establish a kingdom ruled by God. When Judas was killed, other family members took over his movement, which would eventually culminate in the events of 70 A.D.

Hengel covers the full history, as well as various concepts of zeal. It's a lot to take in. The book is great as a reference, if very scholarly, but it does not have a strong argument at its center. This is, in many ways refreshing, insofar as Hengel doesn't seem to make any boldly ridiculous claims, but it also makes for a slightly drier and less summarizable text.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

On "Tiger Bites" by Lucia Berlin (6512 words) ****

I found the narrator of this story--in fact, the whole family--to be irritating. She's a young woman, married too young, whose husband has run off, and she's hanging out with another family member who's done the same, in preparation for a family reunion. But in the midst of this, Berlin manages to take us to a Mexican abortion ward, a portion of the tale that is so well told and described, it makes the story well worth the effort to read. Read the story here at Literary Hub.

On "Nazarene Jewish Christianity" by Ray A. Pritz ***

This short but very much scholarly study traces the existence of the Nazarenes, a group of Jewish Christians mostly in Jerusalem who have a few mentions in various early historical works before disappearing. Often, they are mixed up with the Ebionites, but Pritz makes the case for them being a separate group--to wit, the Ebionites did not accept the divinity of Jesus, while the Nazarenes did. Making matters even more confusing is the fact that there are more than one set of Ebionites referenced in literature, some seeming to be Nazarenes.

Pritz studies out the early Christian sources and also the source of the name (Jesus was born in Nazareth; the name is used a couple times in scripture [once in Matthew and once in Acts]; the name appears to have been applied by outsiders rather than by the peoples themselves; it is possibly the fulfillment of prophecy but the fulfillment is obscure--possibly to a scripture in Isaiah, as the root of Nazarene and Nazarite, according to Pritz, appear different).

The study becomes most interesting in the chapters on Epiphanius and Jerome. The former wrote a long description of the Nazarenes in his work Panarian, not to be confused with a non-Christian Jewish sect of similar name about whom he also writes. Jerome claims to have come across Nazarenes in his journeys in Palestine, though it is uncertain whether he is referring to personal acquaintance or just coming across their works. He translated parts of the Gospel to the Hebrews, which he says they used, into Latin. Though they kept Jewish traditions, they were apparently not rejecters of Paul's writings and had much negative to say about the rabbinic Judaism.

After this, Pritz turns to later Christian writers, finding evidence that the Nazarenes likely existed into the third and maybe the fourth and fifth centuries. Most writers earlier accepted them as Christians, and thus that is one reason they are so little mentioned, but later writers considered them heretical, which is how they begin to show up in history.

Appendixes cover the supposed location of the Nazarenes and the question of whether the Pella tradition has any basis in reality. It was questioned by S. G. F. Brandon, who claimed that the Jerusalem Christians could not have escaped to Pella because Romans or Zealots would have killed them on the way, and once they got there, the inhabitants, who had been raided by Jews four years earlier, would have attacked them. Pritz notes that no one questioned the tradition before Brandon, that Josephus actually accounts for others escaping and may have had reasons to claim few did (to show up evil of zealots, power of Rome, etc.), and that no all places that were raided by the Jews reacted negatively to those Jews who lived there, who in some cases defended against the raids. Furthermore, Pella may have had Christian residents already who would have been more than willing to take in refugees.