Is Jesus Christ a Roman citizen?

Jan 2013
1,207
Anywhere
#1
I know I'll get criticize for this and taking heat. But since Jesus was born and raised in the Roman Empire. Politically speaking. Should he be considered....Roman?

Look I'm not being blasphemous or heretical. Just a curious question. Also I don't know if there's another thread like this.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,927
Dispargum
#2
Roman citizen has a specific definition that is more widely understood by non-historians than a lot of historical facts are. Jesus was not a Roman citizen. (St. Paul was a Roman citizen.) It would be more correct to describe Jesus as a subject of the Roman Empire.

He lived in the Roman world but as with most other Roman subjects His culture was not Roman but local. He did not speak Latin. He did not practice any Roman religion. He had not received a Roman education, etc. His region, Judea, had only recently been brought into the Roman Empire, and he and other Judeans were still being Romanized. The Jews were to prove highly resistant to Romanization. Forty years after Jesus died, the Jews rose up in rebellion against the Romans.
 
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Jan 2015
2,902
MD, USA
#3
No, certainly not. It's a perfectly reasonable question, though! Being born in the Empire did not give automatic citizenship. You had to be the legitimate child of citizen parents. And Jesus was by definition illegitimate, so even if his worldly father (no real point in debating that issue!) had been a citizen (and I don't believe there is any suggestion that he was), Jesus would not have been. Both of them were simply *subjects*, provincial non-citizens, like most people in the Empire.

You could also earn citizenship. St. Paul *was* a Roman citizen, since his father had been awarded citizenship for making tents for the army.

Matthew
 
Likes: Kotromanic

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,992
US
#4
There is certainly nothing to indicate that Jesus saw himself as a Roman, although he acknowledged the temporal power of Rome when he said, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's."
 
Apr 2017
697
Lemuria
#5
Almost everything we know about Jesus is mythical. He was possibly a carpenter or a STONEMASON. He might have been a Roman agent because he seemed to favour non-resistance to Roman occupation by promoting passivity and non-violence. The most disturbing part about Jesus is the story of the Roman coin.
Do not underestimate the power of Roman propaganda, the power of the Eagle of war. Remember that Christianity was propagated by the Romans themselves as a useful mechanism of control for the mass.
 
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Sep 2013
610
Ontario, Canada
#6
Jesus was a Jewish native of Judea, an occupied province of the Roman Empire, and one who was subject to the laws of Judea. He was a vassal of Rome but not a Roman citizen.

You can tell by the way he was executed, since as a Roman citizen he had the right to appeal his sentence to the Emperor and be taken to Rome to stand trial and face decapitation. As was what happened with Paul, who actually was a Roman citizen.
 
Mar 2015
853
Europe
#7
No, certainly not. It's a perfectly reasonable question, though! Being born in the Empire did not give automatic citizenship. You had to be the legitimate child of citizen parents. And Jesus was by definition illegitimate, so even if his worldly father (no real point in debating that issue!) had been a citizen (and I don't believe there is any suggestion that he was), Jesus would not have been.
No. Jesus was officially legitimate by the Christian accounts. The non-Christian accounts that deny Jesus´ official legitimacy are so clearly later and derivative as denials of the Christian accounts that they are probably not of much relevance.

By all public appearances, Joseph decided to stand by Mary, pretend that he had had sex with Mary, which he had not, and treated Jesus as his child. True, Mary was still called a "pregnant fiancee", not "wife" of Joseph during their visit to Bethlehem to give birth - did this officially brand Jesus as a bastard even after Mary did get the title of "wife"?

Had Joseph been a Roman citizen like Paul was (but Joseph was not), would this have made Jesus a citizen?
 
Sep 2013
610
Ontario, Canada
#8
Had Joseph been a Roman citizen like Paul was (but Joseph was not), would this have made Jesus a citizen?
That did occur to me, that in Luke it says that Caesar Augustus made a decree that all the world be taxed. And Joseph and Mary indeed did travel to the nearest major town to be registered in the Census. But yes, technically if he had been a citizen, then his son would've been too. But they were considered citizens of Judea itself.

Only Roman citizens would've been counted in the lustrum, and Augustus did his in 8 BCE, counting some 4.2 million Roman citizens (men AND women) as he says himself in his Res Gestae. The whole population of the Roman Empire was around 45-50 million at the time. It's unlikely that a native jewish man of Joseph's standing (sleeping in a barn) and connections (like the royal family of Judea who were granted roman citizenship) would've had the citizenship at this early point in the Empire.

edit: I wrote all this before I realized you already conceded the point in your brackets, oh well, I'll leave this written, should've had my coffee first.
 
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Jan 2015
2,902
MD, USA
#10
No. Jesus was officially legitimate by the Christian accounts. The non-Christian accounts that deny Jesus´ official legitimacy are so clearly later and derivative as denials of the Christian accounts that they are probably not of much relevance.

By all public appearances, Joseph decided to stand by Mary, pretend that he had had sex with Mary, which he had not, and treated Jesus as his child. True, Mary was still called a "pregnant fiancee", not "wife" of Joseph during their visit to Bethlehem to give birth - did this officially brand Jesus as a bastard even after Mary did get the title of "wife"?

Had Joseph been a Roman citizen like Paul was (but Joseph was not), would this have made Jesus a citizen?
That's a good point about Joseph sticking with Mary, and I have no idea how that might have been seen or legally treated under Jewish law and local custom at that time. (There were certainly other places in history where if a man and woman moved in together and said, "We are married", they were!) BUT I suspect little of that mattered under *Roman* law. Since Roman citizenship was not an issue, it was likely all irrelevant to any Roman official.

Just how citizenship could be passed on to children is a very tangled subject, and it changed over time. Lots of cases of mixed parentage went to court. There were also laws about what constituted a legal Roman marriage, that is between a Roman man and non-Roman woman, etc. Certainly that would devolve down to the status of children as well. I honestly don't know all the particulars, but it's a mess!

Matthew
 

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