Talk:Aretas IV Philopatris

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Paul's citizenship[edit]

The article reads,

Because the Jews of Damascus are mentioned as lying in wait for Paul, it is very probable that Aretas made the attempt to capture Paul at the request of the Jews. From this it follows that the Jews must have been influential in the Nabataean kingdom; otherwise the Nabataeans would have been careful to avoid any interference with Paul, who was a Roman citizen.

The inference is not so simple, because according to Robert H. Gundry's A Survey of the New Testament (2nd edition, 1970), one of the possible reasons why Paul did not appeal more to his Roman citizenship was that proving such a citizenship was complicated. Claiming to be a citizen without proof would award the death penalty; and the proof process would imply the presence of witnesses and documents which Paul would not carry with him. So the only time Paul claims his citizenship was at a time when he was arrested in Caesarea (seat of Roman power in Palestine), and he knew the Jewish leaders were about to have him transported back to Jerusalem only to ambush and kill Paul on the way (see book of Acts.) So, Paul only appeals to his citizenship when he knows he will die the next day unless he reveals himself as a Roman citizen. Even so, his revelation of citizenship and subsequent appeal to Caesar earned him almost two years of imprisonment in Caesarea, a perilous winter sea voyage complete with shipwreck, and at least three years' house arrest in Rome. – Tintazul msg 15:49, 6 January 2009 (UTC)

Removed the above paragraph that speculates about Jewish motivations[edit]

This speculation is based on an uncritical reading of the Biblical text in 1906 that pre-dated much of the modern Biblical higher criticism of the New Testament. There are serious questions about the authorship of Acts and exact contents of the various Pauline Epistles, particularly in regard to the theological disputes between Early Christians and normative Judaism.

Anyway, what has this got at all to do with an article about the historical Nabatean King Aretas IV? The Nabateans produced remarkable monuments, monopolized the spice trade between Southern Arabia and the Mediterranean, and developed a sophisticated system of water-harvesting to support desert agriculture. Is Aretas IV's sole claim to fame his possible relationship to the Apostle Paul and the Jews of Damascus? Let's leave this highly speculative discussion to the articles about Paul and Early Christianity and New Testament textual source criticism.

• Archæogenetics  TALK  01:09, 7 April 2009 (UTC)


The article states at the outset:

  Aretas IV Philopatris was the King of the Nabataeans from roughly 9 BC to AD 40.

and later notes that:

   But because of the emperor's death in AD 37 this action was never carried out.

Is this discrepancy due to the actual dates of his death or his reign being unknown, or is he credited with a reign extending to the fall of the Nabatean state?

The emperor was Tiberius. On the news of his death Vitellius returned to Syria and Aretas lived another three years. -- spin|control 03:23, 28 October 2013 (UTC)

No mention of Petra?[edit]

Wasn't this the king that built the Khazneh and whose family was buried in the tombs discovered underneath it? -- œ 11:16, 17 August 2011 (UTC)

I think that the builder of the Khazneh is still quite debated, as it can only be done stylistically. It is probably quite likely to have been Aretas IV though. If you mean his close family (wife, children etc) being buried in the tombs discovered below modern ground level, that's a bit of a misnomer as archaeologically, the tombs below can't be contemporary. If you mean ancestors, then that is possible, but again, specific evidence is lacking. The Khazneh is one of those places that archaeologists love to argue over! Vastiel (talk) 13:27, 27 August 2011 (UTC)

Aretas in Damascus[edit]

The coin cited in T. E. Mionnet, Description des medailles antiques greques et romaines, V [1811], 284f. see here is certainly not of Aretas IV. It is marked King Aretas Philhellene, ie Aretas III, who had control of Damascus over a century earlier before the Romans arrived, so I have removed it from the article.

I also removed the speculation concerning Caligula giving Damascus to Aretas IV. Though the speculation can be found in literature dealing with 2 Cor 11:32, such a gift by Caligula has no evidence to support it. -- spin|control 19:23, 26 October 2013 (UTC)