It is a funny thing about the history of Judaism and Christianity in antiquity: there’s been much written about this subject, but the direct supporting evidence is rather thin. For example, consider the question of whether Jesus of Nazareth was a real historical person. Despite the recent controversy surrounding Bart Ehrman’s Did Jesus Exist? – Ehrman answers this question with an emphatic yes, Jesus did exist – there is precious little written about Jesus within 100 years of his death outside of Christian sources, and much of what was written is both disputed and tantalizingly brief. To be clear, there’s no doubt in my mind that Jesus really existed. But it’s unlikely that we’d know anything about Jesus if Christianity had not survived to create and perpetuate its own historical record.
When it comes to the history of first Century Christianity and Judaism, we never have as much information as we’d like. This is certainly the case when it comes to the topic of my last post here, the fiscus Judaicus tax imposed on Jews by the Roman Empire after the destruction of the second Temple in 70 C.E. The sad truth is, we know a lot less about this tax than we wish we knew.