Imperial Cult and Honorary Terms in the New Testament by Dominique Cuss

By Dominique Cuss

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SUET. » T A C . Hist. I 4 9 , 5 : «amicorum libertorumque... » T A C . Ann. » SUET. Vesp. » We hear earlier (ibid. 1 3 , 1 ) how Vespasian showed great indulgence towards the liberties of his friends: «Amicorum libertatem... » Ibid. Dom. » 1 2 3 4 5 4 49 III. R E F E R E N C E S IN TO T H E IMPERIAL CULT T H E APOCALYPSE 1. » T h i s first beast is i n t r o d u c e d as « t h e beast that c o m e s up the abyss» 2 from a n d t h e details o f its appearance are entirely symbolical. T h e beast c o m e s up o u t o f t h e sea, w h i c h is t h e traditional source 3 o f evil, a n d it has t e n h o r n s and seven heads .

239-245. Also, E. B E V A N , Hist, des Lagides, pp. 311-316. For 'amicus', cf. Thesaurus Linguae Latinae I cols. 1902-1913. Leipzig, 1900. 1 2 45 t h e royal p e r s o n f r o m t h e early m o r n i n g o n w a r d s - at t h e murder o f H e r m i a s , A n t i o c h u s I I I w e n t f o r his early m o r n i n g w a l k w h i c h had been prescribed for h i m b y his doctors, accompanied b y «those o f t h e k i n g ' s friends w h o w e r e p r i v y t o t h e p l o t » ; P o l y b i u s , w h o r e c o u n t s this e p i s o d e , states carefully that it w a s at a far earlier h o u r t h a n usual, a n d f o r this reason, t h e rest o f t h e k i n g ' s retinue w a s x n o t w i t h h i m .

And boastfully shall h e c h a l l e n g e t h e M o s t H i g h » . T h e R o m a n E m p i r e as such was n o t e v i l a n d it c o u l d o n l y b e so r e c o g n i z e d in its abuses. T h e m o s t widespread and m a l i g n a n t a b u s e , as far as the Christians w e r e c o n c e r n e d , was t h e o r g a n i z a t i o n o f t h e imperial cult in such a w a y as t o g i v e t o m e n t h o s e h o n o u r s w h i c h should b e reserved f o r G o d a l o n e . T h e r e f o r e , t h e first beast is a s y m b o l o f the R o m a n E m p i r e insofar as it abuses its r i g h t s ; it is that aspect o f life i n t h e R o m a n E m p i r e w h i c h , b y its e x a g g e r a t i o n s 3 had taken o v e r t h e p r e r o g a t i v e s o f G o d .

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