Long before Titus, the city of the Jews had fallen to the ruler of another empire. Then too God’s temple was destroyed. That fall was predicted, for the Jews were disloyal to their God.
“So man will be brought low and mankind humbled, the eyes of the arrogant humbled. But the Lord Almighty will be exalted by his justice, and the holy God will show himself holy by his righteousness. Then sheep will graze as in their own pasture; lambs will feed among the ruins of the rich”, a prophet cried.
The shock of that first fall brought words to cover any calamity.
Some sang, “O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple, they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble. How long, O Lord ? Will you be angry forever? How long will your jealousy burn like fire?”
Others said, “Look at them! Sitting or standing, they mock me in their songs. Pay them back what they deserve, O Lord, for what their hands have done. Put a veil over their hearts, and may your curse be on them! Pursue them in anger and destroy them from under the heavens of the Lord.”
And the empire that brought that first ruin had fallen and a second temple had risen over the ruins of the old. When a follower of Jesus admired that, its buildings, its great stones, his master made a prediction.
“Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down”, he said and forty years later, Titus reduced it to rubble on the same day that took the first temple.
“Alas for us!”, cried one survivor, “the place which atoned for the sins of all the people Israel lies in ruins!”
Two hundred years before the fourth century came this clearing, key for the Church’s rise. Often it is characterized as merely cementing the Christian-Jewish split >, but it was much more. After it, no officialdom guarded access to God. None owned the stories of Israel. They were open to many new interpretations.