In the concluding remarks on his Rome and Jerusalem chapter devoted to the destruction of Jerusalem, Prof. Goodman sums up rather bluntly the catalysts:
The destruction of Jerusalem in 70 was the product of no long-term policy on either side. It had come about through a combination of accidents, most of them unrelated in origin to the conflict: the death of Nero, leading to Vespasian’s bid for power in Rome and Titus’ quest for the propaganda coup of a rapid conquest of Jerusalem, and the devastating effect in the summer hear of a firebrand thrown by a soldier into the Temple of God.
Rome and Jerusalem, 423
I’m reminded of the Kennedy assassination, and here’s why. The conspiracy theories that followed Kennedy’s assassination and persist still today derive, and my opinion, primarily from a reluctance to accept that insignificant, flippant, and even accidental people and events can culminate to destroy someone as important as JFK. Many consider it almost an affront to his memory to accept that someone as inconsequential and unsuccessful as Lee Harvey Oswald could really bring down, completely on his own initiative, one of the most popular presidents of all time.
In like manner, the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple has often been viewed as the intentional machinations of a megalomaniacal Roman emperor, perhaps even rooted in the righteous indignation of the God of the Universe. That Jerusalem was a pawn in one man’s powerplay, and the destruction of the temple the accidental result of one soldier’s bigoted zeal, may seem hard to swallow for some. Thoughts?