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[John Dominic Crossan points to] an especially powerful comparison between the anti-Roman legends in the Jewish Sybilline Oracles, and the final book of the Bible. The Sybilline Oracles believed the legend that Nero, far from dying, was a Once and Future King. Nero was a villain in the West but a hero in the East, where he made an honourable peace with the Parthians in AD 63. Hence the anti-Roman legend that Nero was a Once and Future King who would one day return at the head of Parthian armies to destroy the Roman Empire. In the Jewish Sybilline Oracles, Nero had become an apocalyptic figure: “He will destroy every land and conquer all . . . . He will destroy many men and great rulers and he will set fire to all men as no one ever did”. Now turn to the Book of Revelation, and we find that the Nero-like figure who is coming to destroy and kill on a cosmic scale is none other than Christ. — A.N. Wilson, “Two Horses,” Times Literary Supplement (9 December 2015): 27 [Review of Crossan’s Jesus and the Violence of Scripture].

Last modified 7 February 2016