Chapter 1
Diaspora Jews in the Book of Acts

This chapter discusses the problems of Jewish religious and ethnic identity. It was recently proposed that until the very end of the first century Jews were unconcerned about who of the sympathetic Gentiles were to be considered as Jews and who as outsiders. A clear sense of Jewish identity was obtained once this issue was clarified by the Roman state in the course of repudiating Domitian's abuses in collecting the Jewish tax. This theory is contested and it is argued that the extant sources are in harmony with the picture drawn by Luke in Acts. It shows that Jews were well aware of the divide that existed between them and friendly Gentiles. Apart from the religious boundary, there was the ethnic one which was of great significance for Diaspora Jews who lived in a Gentile milieu. The episode concerning the circumcision of Timothy (Acts 16:1-3) provides the earliest reference for the matrilineal principle of pedigree which became a norm in later rabbinic legislation.

I. Jewish Identity and the Jewish Tax (Fiscus Iudaicus): The Religious Boundary

In recent years the problem of Jewish identity has become the centre of a lively debate. However, the important evidence provided by Acts for this discussion is either underestimated or sceptically dismissed. Μ. Goodman sums up the prevailing attitude when he says that Acts 'should be treated as a work of theology rather than history' and this approach 'for better or worse, is now fairly standard among specialists in the study of New Testament'. On the whole the use of Acts as evidence for the first century is rather inconsistent. On the one hand, its narrative is widely used for locating Jewish communities in the first century: such places as, for instance, Iconium or Philippi appeared on the map of the first century Jewish Diaspora exclusively from the pages of Acts. On the other, the veracity of Acts' evidence for Jewish life and, in particular, for relations with surrounding Gentiles, is often questioned.

No one would deny that Luke's theological ideas influenced his choice of material and his evaluation of this material. Every historian ancient or modern is influenced by some kind of ideology—Tacitus' claim to write sine ira et studio is an expression of impracticable desiderata: to write sine ira is within human power but sine studio is not. No one historian, if he is trying to reconstruct what he believes has actually happened and is not just producing tables of events and dates, can escape selectivity with respect to his material, and either implicit or explicit judgements. Of course, Luke had his own views on the development of the Christian mission and the early church, and arranged his material in accordance with them. But his historical outlook and the reliability of the background material are different issues. Some scholars have argued to defend the credibility of Luke as an historian and especially the accurate presentation in Acts of the stage on which the events took place and suggest that a writer who is careful to get background right may be expected to tell a reliable story as well. Unfortunately these tilings do not necessarily go together. An historical novel can be dressed in a garment very appropriate for its period. However, no substantial historical work can be produced without knowledge of the background material. The previous volume in this series, The Book of Acts in its Palestinian Setting, shows that Luke displays a good knowledge of Palestinian background. Let us test his Diaspora data and if they can be shown to resonate with what we know elsewhere, see how they may affect the course of our discussion on Jewish identity.

One of the most important contributions to this discussion has been made by Μ. Goodman. In a number of articles, and in his recent book, he argues that till the very end of the first century and, even more precisely, before ad 96, the year of the reform of the exaction of the Jewish tax (fiscus ludaicus) by Nerva, there was no clarity about Jewish status; Jews were unconcerned about who of the Jewish sympathizers among the Gentiles were in fact to be considered as Jews, and who were just friendly outsiders. Nerva stopped a witch-hunt for Jewish tax-evaders and commemorated this act by minting coins with the legend: fisci Iudaici calumnia sublata—'the wrongful accusations with regard to the Jewish tax are suppressed'. Goodman suggests that the main point of Nerva's action was a new Roman definition of a Jew, not by race as before, but by religion. One of the results was that the Roman state became aware of the Jewish concept of a proselyte, since Romans started to desert the traditional Roman gods in favour of the Jewish God. Another result of his move was the clarification for Jews of their attitude towards friendly Gentiles.

It seems to me doubtful in the extreme that the Roman state had no knowledge of the concept of a proselyte at the time of the Jewish war against Rome of ad 66-70 when the Adiabeneans, whose ruling dynasty was converted to Judaism in the middle of the first century ad, took part on the Jewish side. The existence of such a phenomenon as Jewish sympathizers was well known to the Roman authorities. This is well attested by a variety of pieces of evidence, including the expulsions of Jews from Rome.

The precise nature of Nerva's reform is not known. It has been reconstructed on the basis of a combination of the account of abuses in collecting the Jewish tax under Domitian given by Suetonius, on the one hand, and from the evidence of Cassius Dio, on the other. Dio reports that some members of the Roman upper class were executed by Domitian on charges of Jewish 'atheism', and that Nerva prohibited accusations from being brought against the Jewish way of life.

According to Suetonius, under Domitian the Jewish tax was exacted with particular vigour (acerbissime) and

ad quern deferebantur qui vel[ut] inprofessi Iudaicam viverent vitam vel dissimulata origine imposita genti tributa non pependissent

those were prosecuted who, without publicly acknowledging that faith, yet lived as Jews, as well as those who concealed their origin and did not pay the tribute levied upon their people.

(trans. J.C. Rolfe, LCL)

After this statement Suetonius referred to his own recollection of an old man of ninety being stripped before the procurator and a crowded court to see whether he was circumcised. This passage is usually interpreted to mean that two groups of people were considered to be evading the tax and were subject to punishment for this: those who were not ethnic Jews but adherants of Judaism and those who were Jews by origin but gave up their way of life and concealed their origin. The collection of the Jewish tax from these groups is generally viewed as Domitian's innovation. Cassius Dio records:

The same year (ad 95) Domitian slew, along with many others, Flavius Clemens the consul, although he was a cousin and had to wife Flavia Domitilla, who was also a relative of the emperor's. The charge brought against them both was that of atheism (ἔγκλημα ἀθεό-τητος), a charge on which many others who drifted into Jewish ways (ἐς τὰ ʼΙούδαίων ἤθη ἐξοκέλλοντες) were condemned. Some of these were put to death, and the rest were at least deprived of their property.

(trans. Ε. Cary, LCL)

Nerva also released all who were on trial for treason maiestas (ἀσέβεια) and restored the exiles... and no persons were permitted to accuse anybody of maiestas or of adopting the Jewish mode of life (Ίουδαικὸς βίος).

(trans. Ε. Cary, LCL)

Comparison of Suetonius' passage with the first one by Dio leads Goodman to conclude that, since Gentiles could not be both taxed and executed for the same offence, Suetonius was referring only to ethnic Jews, 'who had given up public identification with their religion either by hiding their continued Jewish practices or by pretending that their customs had nothing to do with their Jewish ethnic origin which they dissimulated'. Thus in Goodman's view the reform of Nerva concerned only abuses towards Jews, which were treated as an extremely serious matter, as is shown by the coins. The Roman state not only stopped them, but worked out a new approach to the 'Jewish question'.

Such an interpretation does not seem convincing. Judaism was a religio licita. Roman citizens could not be prosecuted just for adding another exotic god to their pantheon, with the proviso, of course, that they did not abandon their civil duties and testified their loyalty by worshipping state gods which in this period included worship of the emperor. The refusal to do so under the Principate could be treated as treason (maiestas) and the Roman treason law had a very wide range of application.

It was maiestas to conspire against the State... but it was also maiestas to lose a battle;... to lay false claim to Roman citizenship; to visit a brothel in an official capacity; to hold court while intoxicated, or dressed in woman's clothes; to publish defamatory pamphlets, and to commit adultery with the emperor's daughter.

Under the Principate, apart from the ordinary categories for the law dealing with state security (sedition, treachery in the field, conspiracies against the magistrates of the state, misconduct in public affairs, etc.), which are attributed to a lex Julia maiestatis and went back to the Republican period it was expanded to support the charges in verbal or real injuries to the emperor. Acts of impiety offensive to the gods became capable of being dealt with as treason. Through the rulings in fa-vour of Divus Augustus the category of impietas towards the deified emperor was incorporated into the lex maiestatis. Under Caligula divina maiestas of the emperor began to be expressed in terms of crimen maiestatis. The refusal to offer sacrifices for the emperor was regarded as such a crime.

The term 'atheism' which was used by Dio is not a legal one.What legal accusations could possibly stand behind Dio's wording?It could not be crimen laesae religionis, since offences against religion had never been part of the Roman criminal law and it was only under the Severan dynasty that refusal to worship the gods was prosecuted as a crimen. Suetonius, who was a contemporary witness of the events, did not mention any charges of atheism. He briefly reported that Flavius Clemens, whose sons were officially recognised as Domitian's heirs, was suddenly put to death on the merest suspicion: repente ex tenuissima suspicione. It is evident from Suetonius' account that he considered the real reason for this execution to have been Domitian's suspicion that Clemens was plotting against his life to clear the way to power for his sons. It is also evident that he did not believe that Clemens was involved in such a plot—hence his characterization of Clem-ens as a man of 'most contemptible laziness' (contemptissimae inertiae). Suetonius said nothing about official charges against Clemens. But taking into consideration his rank, the punishment and 'an active period of the lex maiestatis' at the latter part of Domitian's reign,it is almost an inevitable conclusion that he was charged with treason. If Dio's information is correct, which, given his special interest in the phenomenon of Jewish proselytism, may well be the case, then the accusation of atheism, which could give rise to the crimen maiestatis, was used as a pretext for Clemens' execution. During the period of terror at the end of Domitian's reign, this could happen despite the fact that being the consul ordinarius for ad 95, Clemens as a supreme magistrate inevitably participated in official rituals. It looks as if for Dio the fact that atheotes was treated by Domitian in terms of treason was self-evident. It was not by accident that he mentioned the maiestas accusations and charges against the Jewish manner of life side by side in the second passage.

It is difficult to say, however, how well-grounded such charges were. On the one hand, given Domitian's claims to divinity any reservations about such claims could have been reckoned sufficient basis for accusing someone of rejecting state gods and, since such reservations were traditionally connected with Jews, of Jewish atheism. On the other hand, Judaism had become rather fashionable among the Roman upper classes. It is quite possible that Clemens was actually a Jewish sympathizer. It is also difficult to define how many victims of Domitian's terror were slaughtered on the charge of Jewish 'atheism'. Though Dio talked about 'many' victims, were there actually many other cases of alleged atheism besides those which he mentioned? As E.T. Merrill put it,

neither in Suetonius, nor in Dio, nor in any other of the pagan writers who touch upon the subject, is there the slightest intimation that Domitian's bloody jealousy was directed against any but the leading aristocrats whom he supposed he had reason to fear, or that it ravaged at all outside the narrow circle of the Court and the Parliament. There is no indication of its extension into the provinces, or among the commonality even in Rome. And if there had been such extension, it is altogether probable that some echo of it would be heard. There is absolute silence.

In view of all that has been said above, it seems reasonable to suppose that normally those who were suspected of Judaizing were forced to pay tax, but when it suited imperial purposes it was treated as atheism and punished accordingly. Domitian started the witch-hunt for Jewish tax-evaders quite probably out of fiscal considerations—Suetonius discussed it in the context of his cupiditas. The great number of Judaizers, including those who belonged to the best families, must have been exposed at times when denunciations were profitable and delators were encouraged. This could have suggested to Domitian that Jewish atheism was a very convenient charge to bring against those who were politically dangerous. It was the importance of aristocratic names involved in cases, connected in popular thought with the denunciations of Jewish tax-evaders, that made Nerva mint a coin repudiating Domitian's calumnia.

The tax continued to be collected after Domitian's abuses were abolished. Our sources give no evidence for any kind of changes in exacting the Jewish tax. It is reasonable to suppose that Nerva simply restored the normal routine which existed before Domitian's intervention and that the tax was exacted from the same category of people who had been liable before. But how was the liability to pay determined by the Roman authorities before Domitian's intervention?

According to Josephus, Vespasian 'imposed a tax on the Jews, whatever their place of residence, requiring each person to pay two drachmae annually to the Capitoline temple, just as they had previously paid this amount to the Temple of Jerusalem.' Since the Temple tax was paid by proselytes as well as by ethnic Jews, the Josephus' passage implies that proselytes were liable to fiscus Iudaicus. Dio supplements Josephus' evidence:

καὶ ὰπʼ ἐκείνου δίδραχμον ἐτάχθη τοὺς τὰ πάτρια αὐτῶν ἔθη περιστέλ-λοντας τῷ Καπιτωλίῳ Διὶ κατ̓ ἔτος ἀποφέρειν.

From that time (the day of the destruction of Jerusalem) forth it was ordered that the Jews who continued to observe their ancestral customs should pay an annual tribute of two denarii to Jupiter Capitolinus.

(trans. Ε. Cary, LCL).

This passage implies that the imposition of this tax was determined by religion and only practising Jews were liable. The wording of the phrase suggests that in Dio's view those who abandoned their 'ancestral customs' were exempted from the lists of payers. Such Jewish apostates, exemplified by Tiberius Julius Alexander, a nephew of Philo who had an outstanding career (governor of Judaea, prefect of Egypt), were among targets of Domitian's tax innovations.

The comparison of Dio's testimony with the passage in Josephus shows that, since the Roman state determined Jewishness by religion from the very beginning of the collection of the Jewish tax, and since the tax was paid by the households who had paid the Temple tax, the religious boundary of the Jewish communities was established long before the destruction of the Temple. As Cohen argues, adding a Jewish religious self-definition to an ethnic self-definition and establishing a dual identity in Palestine, goes back to the Maccabean period:

... in the third and second centuries bce... common blood remained important, common language became much less important, and common mode of worship and common way of life became much more important, in the new definition of Ioudaios.

It seems that this observation is also relevant to the first century Jewish Diaspora. By this time Jews were well aware both of their religious identity and of the status of friendly Gentiles.

The question which still remains is to what extent we can rely on Dio who is known to colour 'his history by his own views and experience' and not 'lose sight of contemporary situations and implications'. Could the contemporary situation affect his report of the past events? It seems that Acts can help answer this question.

The picture which emerges from the pages of Acts shows that there was no way that Jews as they were depicted by Luke would have any uncertainty about who were Jews and who were Gentiles, for the boundary between them was fixed. This boundary for men was circumcision. Luke like Paul uses oἱ ἐκ περιτομῆς ('they of the circumcision') as a synonym for 'Jews'. Even the model God-fearer Cornelius, who feared God with all his house, was a benefactor of the Jewish community, prayed to God non-stop and gained a good reputation among the whole Jewish nation, was nevertheless, in Jewish eyes undoubtedly a Gentile.

Acts also shows that there were no doubts about the Gentile status of sympathetic women. A purple-seller, Lydia from Thyatira, who was a God-fearer, invited Paul and his companions to stay with her after being baptized with her household (Acts 16:15). Even Paul, who at this stage of the mission had to think about Jewish reaction to his sharing a house with a Gentile, did not feel able to accept her invitation readily. Lydia had to 'constrain' them (παρεβιασάτο is an expressive word with the root 'force'), using powerful arguments which Luke found necessary to cite: 'If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and abide there'. Later in Corinth Paul moved to the house of a Gentile, the God-fearer Justus, after he met strong opposition in the local synagogue. It was a gesture of great symbolic importance and expressed in very strong words: τἁ αί͂μα ὑμῶν ἐπὶ τὴν κεφαλὴν ὑμῶν καθαρὸς ἐγὼ ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν εἰς τὰ ἔθνη πορεύσομαι—'your blood be upon your own heads, I am clean: from henceforth I will go to the Gentiles' (Acts 18:16).

One can argue that while the divide between Jews and sympathetic Gentiles was fixed in Palestine which predetermined the position of the Jerusalem church towards circumcision, Diaspora Jews were much less strict in this respect and were actually unaware of 'which friendly Gentiles were Jewish.' This contradicts, however, Luke's account of the episodes with Lydia. It is beyond doubt that in the Diaspora, Jewish relations with the surrounding Gentile world were much closer than in Palestine. At the same time the danger of being absorbed by this world made the issue of Jewish identity more urgent. Apart from religious self-definition, common blood, i.e. ethnic self-definition, given the fact that mixed marriages were practically inevitable, retained its significance among Diaspora Jews. And Acts supplies us with evidence for this facet of Jewish identity as well.

II. Jewish Identity and the Circumcision of Timothy: The Ethnic Boundary

In Acts 16:1-3 Luke records that Paul did what no one would have expected him to do—he circumcised a disciple. The whole story and Luke's explanation of Paul's extraordinary action reads as follows:

And he came also to Derbe and Lystra. And, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman, who was a believer, and a Greek father. He was well reported of by the brethren at Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews that were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.

This act of Paul seems to be in striking contradiction with Galatians 2:3-4. There Paul tells about his visit to Jerusalem to discuss with the Jerusalem leaders his mission to the Gentiles, one of whom, an uncircumcised Greek, Titus, accompanied him. The appearance of Titus occasioned a fierce debate, but in the end Paul won his case and Titus was not forced to submit to circumcision at least by the leaders (oἱ δοκουν͂τες and οἱ δοκοῦντες στύλοι εἶναι, as Paul calls them) of the church in Jerusalem: ἀλλ' ’ὐδὲ Τίτος ὁ σὺν ἐμοί, Ἕλλην ὤν, ἠναγκάσθη περιτμ-ηθῆναι. Thus the circumcision of Timothy seems not only to have been against Paul's teaching but also not to have been demanded by the chief apostles in Jerusalem whose position was far from being as radical as Paul's. The easiest way to solve this contradiction seems to be through the difference in the ethnicity of Titus and Timothy—the former was a Greek and thus was exempted from circumcision while the latter was a Jew and thus was not. Such an interpretation would be in harmony with the previous chapter of Acts in which an account of the Jerusalem conference is given and its ruling is quoted which related only to Christians of Gentile origin. The decision, exempting Gentile Christians from circumcision, was revolutionary and marked a significant victory for Paul, but of course, it implied that children born into Jewish Christian families were obliged to be circumcised.

However, this simple explanation has seemed to many scholars to be unsatisfactory, or at least insufficient. The radicalism of Paul's position and contradiction of this action to his basic teaching (1 Cor. 7:18; Gal. 5:6; 6:15 and especially Gal. 5:2-4—'if you be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing', cf. also Rom. 2:25-29) make them emphasize the difference between Paul as we know him from his epistles and the Lucan vision of the apostle. An extreme solution has been to declare Timothy's circumcision a fiction, as those who belonged to the Tübingen school did, or in a slightly milder way to treat Luke as the 'victim of an unreliable tradition'. Many of those who trusted Luke's account nevertheless considered that a simple reference to a different ethnic setting was not enough. They sought to find additional explanations for this contradiction, referring to a practical reason for Paul's action: a wish to shield the mission from troubles.

The problem of Timothy's ethnicity is discussed in full in an important article by Cohen. He reasonably suggests that it involves two specific questions: first, did Luke himself regard Timothy as a Jew or a Gentile, and second, how was Timothy regarded by the first-century Jews and Paul? Cohen gives one and the same answer to both of these questions—Timothy was viewed as a Gentile. Lüdemann approaches the problem in similar way. He also distinguishes between Luke's understanding of the situation and the Jewish attitude. But his answer is different. He considers Timothy in Luke's view to be a Gentile and claims that he does not reflect the matter correctly: as the son of a Jewish woman Timothy in Jewish eyes must have been a Jew. Both answers, in my view, can be challenged.

Let us commence with the first question: whose circumcision—that of a Jew or a Gentile—did Luke think he was recounting? Our understanding of Luke's text, apart from an analysis of the specific passage (Acts 16:1-3), very much depends upon whether we admit that Luke's narrative has a certain logic, or whether we should view it as a combination of different sources not always well coordinated. The latter supposition gives licence to any kind of interpretation which ignores the broader context. But if we allow that Luke's account has a narrative logic (an assumption which any writer deserves before he is shown to have been an illogical eclectic), then his explanation of Paul's action must be viewed against the background of the Jerusalem conference and its decisions.

The position of Jews and Jewish Christians on circumcision was the same: it was a sign of Covenant, a feature which divided the people of God from the surrounding pagan world. Jewish Christians persuaded by Paul changed their position and agreed not to lay upon Gentile Christians the burden (βάρος) of circumcision. Circumcision thereby ceased to be a characteristic which distinguished Christians from the pagan world, but it retained its importance for Jews.

Paul, as Luke explains, circumcised Timothy because of the Jews who knew that his father was a Gentile. From the Christian position which had just been formulated in Jerusalem and had been discussed in detail by Luke in a previous chapter, this was an unnecessary action unless Timothy was a Jew. This seems to imply that Luke considered him to be Jewish in accordance with a matrilineal lineage of pedigree. But in this case it looks, at first glance, as though logically it would be better if Luke referred to his mother and not to his father, as Conzelmann suggested, 'a reference to the mother—instead of the father—would have been better... Apparently Luke does not have precise understanding of Jewish law.' But what if he had this understanding (I shall leave aside for some time the problem of the existence of this law in the first century) and for him the Jewishness of Timothy was self-evident after he had mentioned the ethnicity of his mother? That Timothy was not circumcised was not self-evident from the fact that his father was a Greek. That is why it was necessary to refer to his father for a second time: the Jews in that vicinity knew that he was not circumcised (which was improper) because of his father.

According to 2 Tim. 3:15, Timothy had been instructed in the Holy Scriptures from childhood: ἀπὸ βρέφους τὰ ἱερὰ γράμματα οί͂δας. I doubt very much that Timothy was a teenager at the time when Paul decided to take him as a travelling companion. In this case it seems reasonable to suppose that his mother brought him up as a Jew and did not break with the Jewish community after her marriage. This made the status of Timothy among Jews, which was ambiguous as it stands, even more confusing. He was at the same time Jewish because of his mother (an ethnic definition of Jewishness) and non-Jewish because he was not circumcised (a religious definition). These two principles of Jewish self-identification were in conflict in the person of Timothy.

Cohen argues that 'the phrase "because of the Jews in that vicinity" implies that, were it not for them, Paul would have left Timothy uncircumcised'. He stresses that 'this implication confirms the charge that the Lucan Paul tries to deny in Acts 21:21', i.e. the charge of teaching Jews not to circumcise their children'. He considers both passages to be consistent only if Luke viewed Timothy as a Gentile. I do not think that there is a contradiction between these passages if, for Luke, Timothy was Jewish. Paul would not have circumcised Timothy were it not for the local Jews, because for 'the Lucan Paul', as well as for the Paul of the epistles, circumcision had no relation to salvation. For him 'circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing' (I Cor 7:19). But this indifference does not imply active teaching against the circumcision of Jews, which was an accusation recorded in Acts 21:21. 'Is any man called being circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised' (I Cor 7:18). Circumcision is an act symbolic of becoming a part of the chosen people, a sign of Jewishness. Timothy was called formally uncircumcised, but if he was Jewish in Luke's eyes, then the circumcision only confirms the status which he had before as a son of a Jewish mother. This act was not impossible for the Paul of Acts, with his respect for the law. What was absolutely impossible was to circumcise a Gentile.

This answer to the first question—Luke believed Timothy to be Jewish—in fact predetermines the answer to the second. If the matrilineal principle did not exist in the first century how could Luke know about it? It can hardly be a possible coincidence. Cohen points out that this law is not registered by any premishnaic text with 'the only possible exception of Acts 16:1-3'. It is a quite common thing, unfortunately, that in the field of ancient history, Christianity included, certain information appears only in one isolated source. We know only from Acts that Paul was a Roman citizen. It is only from Cassius Dio that we know that Roman soldiers who took part in the siege of Jerusalem, suspecting that the city was impregnable, defected to the Jewish side.We know only from Josephus the details of conversion of the royal house of Adiabene. But if Luke's evidence for the acknowledgement of the matrilineal principle is supported by later rabbinic law, then in accordance with the routine practice of ancient historians, we have to treat it as a terminus post quern.

Cohen does not exclude completely the possibility that the matrilineal principle was of first century origin, but claims that even if it 'existed in the proto-rabbinic circles of the first-century Palestine, we cannot assume that it reached and won the acceptance of the Jews of Asia Minor'. I wholly agree that rabbinic (or proto-rabbinic) legislation was not in operation in the first century Diaspora. But in this particular case I think that the movement was the other way round. Rabbinic legislation did not come out of the blue nor from purely theoretical discussions of unimportant issues. Though it mostly reflects the Palestinian agenda, Palestinian Jews were not separated by an iron curtain from the Diaspora world. Rabbinic laws absorbed what was gradually developing in the Jewish world and gave answers to the questions that had already been posed by life.

The problems of intermarriage and the status of the offspring of such marriages were for the most part Diaspora issues where Jews lived in a Gentile milieu. It is reasonable to suppose that it was in the Diaspora that the matrilineal principle first emerged and became widespread, probably not without some influence from Roman legislation. According to Roman law, children follow the status of the mother in case of marriage between a citizen and noncitizen, a marriage which was treated as valid but not legal. This principle of defining ethnic Jewish identity along matrilineal lines was registered by Luke in his story of Timothy's circumcision.