THOU ART PETER
pedlars and palm readers. Their religion was unique. It had noth- ing in common with an overpopulated Olympus where so mockers said the gods quarrelled about places at the table, and where the price of ambrosian nectar went up by reason of the increasing demand. They served the One Invisible God without the help of temple or images. In their houses of prayer, He was proclaimed the Creator of Heaven and Earth, the Author of the true moral law according to which He would judge all men. This was the heart of the Jewish religion: all else, customs and cult, retreated into the background. For the Jews in the diaspora, though they still sent their moneys to Jerusalem for the temple, had loosened many an ancient tie as the result of living in the midst of a world fashioned by Greek influences. They were far more receptive to the cosmopolitan spirit of the great Empire than were their brethren in the Holy City. But what phi- losophers and wandering rhetoricians taught them could not shake their faith in Jahwe and their hope that His Anointed would come. With the oldest Book of the world in their hands, they confronted the ride of new and old religions with their own mission. By reason of this they felt strong enough, and success justified their confidence* Though the Romans might point out the alien, dark and sinister aspects of this despised people, they could not prevent the crowds from going from the metropolis to the synagogues.
Moreover since the days o Augustus an unobtrusive conquest had been in progress. It was not curiosity merely, it was chc seething human heart, which drew more and more Romans and their women to the Jewish houses of prayer. They heard o Moses and the proph- ets. They grew interested in the Bible, which had long before been translated into Greek and was also read by pagans, Roman families, too, practised fasting, burning oil lamps on the eve of the Sabbath day; and chc strict rest which Jewish businesses and bank* observed on the Sabbath reminded the whole city each week of this people and its faith. The attraction of Judaism was felt by all classes Unqualified conversion, which would have necessitated circumcision, was probably rare; but the number of "God-fearing* 1 who professed the One God Jahwe and who observed both Sabbath and dietary law* was very large. In these circles there were many forms and grada- tions of adherence to the teachings and customs of the synagogue;