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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Tiberius

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(Τιβέριος ), in full, TIBERIUS CLAUDIUS NERO CASESAR, the Roman emperor, successor of Augustus, who began to reign A.D. 14, and reigned until 37. He was the son of Tiberius Claudius Nero and Livia, and hence a stepson of Augustus. He was born at Rome Nov. 16, B.C. 45. He became emperor in his fifty-fifth year, after having distinguished himself as a commander in various wars, and having evinced talents of a high order as an orator and an administrator of civil affairs; His military exploits and those of Drusus, his brother, were sung by Horace (Carm. 4:4,14). He even gained the reputation of possessing the sterner virtues of the Roman character, and was regarded as entirely worthy of the -imperial honors to which his birth and supposed personal merits at length opened the way. Yet on being raised to the supreme power, he suddenly became, or showed himself to be, a very different man. His subsequent life was one of inactivity, sloth, and self-indulgence. He was despotic in his government, cruel and vindictive in his disposition. He gave up the affairs of the State to the vilest favorites, while he himself wallowed in the very kennel of all that was low and debasing. The only palliation of his monstrous crime and vices which can be offered is that his disgust of life, occasioned by his early domestic troubles, may have driven him at last to despair and insanity. Tiberius died at the age of seventy-eight, after a reign of twenty-three years. The ancient writers who supply most -of our knowledge respecting him are Suetonius, Tacitus (who describes his character as one of studied dissimulation and hypocrisy from the beginning), Annal. ch. 1-vi; Veil. Paterc. 2, 94, etc.; and Dion Cass.; ch. 46-48. See Smith, Dict. of Gr. and Romans Biog. s.v.; and the monographs on Tiberius in German by Freytag (Berl. 1870) and Stahr (ibid. 1873), and in English by Beesley (Lond. 1878).

It will be seen that the Savior's public life, and some of the introductory events of the apostolic age, must have fallen within the limits of his administration. The memorable passage in Tacitus (Annal. 15; 44) respecting the origin of the Christian sect places the crucifixion of the Redeemer under Tiberius: "Ergo abolendo rumori (that of his having set fire to Rome) Nero subdidit reos, et qusesitissimis pcenis affecit, quos per flagitia invisos vulgus Christianos appellabat. Auctor nominis ejus Christus Tiberio imperitante per procuratorem Pontium Pilatum supplicio affectus erat" (see the monographs cited by Volbeding, Index Programmatum, p. 95; (See CHRESTUS) ).

In Luke 3:1 he is termed Tiberius Caesar; John the Baptist, it is there said, began his ministry in the fifteenth year of his reign (ἡγεμονία ). This chronological notation is an important one in determining the year of Christ's birth and entrance on his public work. SEE JESUS CHRIST. Augustus admitted Tiberius to a share in the empire two or three years before his own death; and it is a question, therefore, whether the fifteenth year of which Luke speaks should be reckoned from the time of the co-partnership or from that when Tiberius began to reign alone. The former is the computation justified by other data. (See CHRONOLOGY). The other passages in which he is mentioned under the title of Caesar offer no points of personal allusion, and refer to him simply as the emperor (Matthew 22:17 sq..; Mark 12:14.sq.; Luke 20:22 sq.; Luke 23:2 sq.; John 19:12 sq.). (See CESAR).


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Tiberius'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/t/tiberius.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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