The study of words and actions, written about and by people who lived many years ago in a faraway land with a different language and symbolic structure, has inherent difficulties, as has been shown by biblical hermeneutic research. To understand the origins of Christianity, I must be cognizant about first century Palestinian Jewish cultural conditions, as well as my own biases. I need to avoid projecting my own experiences and prejudices on documents written thousands of years ago. Can I ever really fully understand the men and women of the Mediterranean area who lived over two thousand years ago? I can try. Fortunately, a few of these early followers of Jesus, among the elite literate well educated of their time, left some sparse written evidence. Their cosmology, their economics, and their sociology are not mine. I must be aware of this from the start.
“In the one hundred seventieth year, the yoke of the gentiles was removed from Israel. The people began to write in their documents and contracts.
‘In the first year of Simon,
The great high priest and commander and leader of the Jews.’
Finally, in 142 BCE, the Jewish nation had independence after a 25-30 year struggle. They had a new calendar that began with the first year of Simon, the high priest and leader of the Jews, and not the first year of the Greek empire that now was in its 167th year. This was the new era that replaced the ending Seleucid era that had begun in 311 or 305 BCE under King Seleucus I.