Gospels and Acts devoid of history? Not a chance!

Most people dismiss Acts as worthless when determining history. What they fail to recognise is that it is a wonderful ancient document, by recognising it for what it is, real history can be determined from it.

Let’s try some higher criticism on this wonderful propaganda piece:

(This I got from Doston Jones):
Acts 16:6-8 mentions that while Paul traveled on his preaching missions, he and his traveling companions came upon Asia but the Holy Spirit did not permit them to preach while in Asia. The narrative elaborates to say that Paul attempted to specifically enter into the locale of Bithynia, Marcionite country but the “Spirit of Jesus did allow them” to go in. So they moved on to another locale.

Conspicuously, no explanation whatsoever is given for this prohibition from entering Bithynia. More striking is that there is no other instance in the entire Acts narrative where Paul was required to avoid a specific place and not make any contact with his gospel.

The author of Acts is disassociating Paul from Marcion by making expressly clear that of all the many places Paul traveled and preached, he did not even set foot in the hometown of Marcion (by order of divine guidance).

( This is my own)
Another note of interest is that Acts has no mention of Alexandria. It does not mention Christianity in Egypt, so Acts is also disassociating from Valentines Christianity. Acts does admit in a curious text about an Alexandria Jew name Apollos who visited Ephesus but Paul and others judged his Christianity to be defective.

(This is from Steve Mason):
From the following passage the Baptist movement can easily be seen as an independent separate movement: Acts19:1-5 “While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”
“John’s baptism,” they replied.
Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
But these two movements had existed separately as shown in Acts the Baptist movement had existed in Asia Minor independent to Christianity, both existed after the death of both Jesus and John the Baptist.

(This is from Tyson):
“….the extensive parallels in Acts between Peter and Paul. The two perform similar miracles,experience life changing visions, deliver apologetic and evangelistic speeches, and undergo imprisonments followed by remarkable releases. In content some of the speeches of Peter sound a lot like Paul as we know him from his letters…..Contrariwise, the speeches of Paul, with one exception, do not sound like Paul of his letters …… Luke would produce this kind of history as a first step at reconciliation.”~Tyson,Marcion and Luke-Acts, 3-4.

These were Schneckenburgers observations, (as stated in Tyson’s book), and Baur acknowledging these observations concluded that Acts “chief tendency is to represent the difference between Peter and Paul as inessential and trifling”~Baur,”Paul, the Apostle”1:6

Much much more history can be determined as I’ve posted about Eisenman writing out James as head of the Jerusalem Assembly etc etc

Caesar cults that had a huge impact on Christianity.

When a comet appeared shortly after Julius Caesar’s murder, Octavian urgently promoted and the people willingly accepted it as his father’s apotheosis, his divine spirit ascending to take his place among the heavenly gods. Octavian ubiquitously displayed that star as consolidating his power. It was engraved on ring gemstones, pressed into clay seal impressions and cheap glass beads, and minted especially on coins whose legends drew the logical conclusion that, if the father was now divine, the adopted son was therefore “Son of a Divine One” or “Son of God.” That Latin title DIVI FILIUS is on most of his coins.(Pliny, Natural History, trans. H. Rackham (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1958). Cf Suetonius, “Iulius,” 88, in The Lives of the Caesars; Dio Cassius, Roman History 45.7.1; Servius on Virgil, Eclogues 9.46.)

Cross reference this with the star prophecy in Matthew.

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The most astonishing for the study of the Gospels is a Greek inscription from Priene, a city just south of Ephesus on the western coast of what is now Turkey. The two-part inscription, copied and distributed across what was then called Asia Minor, contains the earliest and most striking instance of the term “Gospel” or “good tidings” to proclaim Caesar’s Roman imperial theology. Part one records how the Roman governor of Asia, Paulus Fabius Maximus, proposed to the Asian cities that they change their calendar so that Augustus’s birthday would be henceforth New Year’s Day.

“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ” [in Marks gospel] closely matches the formula found on a monument erected by the Provincial Assembly in Asia Minor (1st century BCE):[here is a quote from the inscription]…

“the birthday of the god has been for the whole world the beginning of the gospel (ευαγγελιον) concerning him”~Price,The Christ Myth Theory,63.

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The following extract from Litwas book, tells a common trope of a prophecy of a child’s future greatness is a well-known mythological motif.

“Nigidius Figulus was reputed to be a diviner who foretold the future. It was this Nigidius who met Augustus’s father on his way to the Senate house. When he inquired about Octavian’s tardiness, the latter explained that his son had just been delivered. When Nigidius learned the precise time of the child’s birth, he shouted out before astounded witnesses, “the ruler of the world had been born!” Octavian, afraid that his son would grow up to overthrow the Roman Republic, planned to kill the child.~ Livy, From the Foundation 2.3–4 [cf gMatthew,Herod attempting to kill the baby Jesus].

Yet Nigidius dissuaded him, remarking that it was impossible for the child to evade his imperial fate.~ Suetonius, Deified Augustus 94.5.

When Jesus’s parents are in Jerusalem, they offer the customary sacrifice at the temple. Suddenly an old man emerges from the shadows of the temple courts, scoops up the child from Mary’s arms, and delivers a prophecy. He addresses the Jewish deity in a prayer heard by all: “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace . . . for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel” (Luke 2:29–32).”

~Litwa, How the Gospels became History, ch6.

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The cult provides the context for understanding the famous Pontius Pilate inscription. Found flipped upside down and reused in the seating of the theater, the fragmentary Latin inscription reads “. . . this Tiberium, Pontius Pilate, prefect of Judea, erected. . . .” While many think that the inscription’s importance lies in proving that Pilate existed (and, by extension, that the Gospels are historically reliable), the inscription’s significance lies in showing that during Jesus’ lifetime a Tiberium, a structure dedicated to the worship of Tiberius, existed at Caesarea, and that the Latin text along with the building clearly communicated the fact that Rome ruled.

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Titles such as “Lord,” “Savior,” and “Son of God,” as well as use of the term “good news” or “good tidings” (Greek: euaggelion; English: Gospel) for the Emperors acts of public beneficence, show the inextricability of what we today would call “religious” and “political” discourse. As Peppard has shown in his book “Son of God in the Roman World”, there were only two people at that time that held the title “son of God”, that is the Emperor and Jesus. There was no “separation of church and state” in the Roman Empire, and that a human being could be seen as “divine” and could be hailed as bringing “Gospel” was by no means anomalous. This imperial cult penetrated even into Jesus’ Galilee: the fragmentary Latin inscription that records the name of Pontius Pilate comes from the Tiberium, a structure erected for the worship of the emperor Tiberius, in Caesarea.

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The adoption of the word “Parousia” by early Christians has a meaning for the coming into town of an Emperor. From the Ptolemaic period to the second century of the common era “parousia” was used in the East as a technical expression to denote the arrival or visit of a king or emperor, and celebrated the glory of the sovereign publicly. In memory of the visit of Emperor Nero to the cities of Patras and  Corinth, advent coins were struck that carried the legend Adventus Augusti Corinth. The Greek word parousia here corresponded to the Latin word advent. The numerous journeyings of the Emperor Hadrian were celebrated by many advent coins, and often new eras were reckoned from date of the parousia.

In the New Testament the word parousia came to refer to the second coming of Christ. (Matthew 24:3, 27, 37, 39; 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 8, 9; James 5:7, 8; 2 Peter 1:16; 3:4, 12; 1 John 2:28.)

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The story of the Magi in Matthews gospel may have been inspired by a visit of the Magi to Nero in worshipping Nero as a god.

“Both in Apollonius of Tyana and Matthews birth narrative were “inspired by the visit of Tiridates I [of Arminia] and his train to Nero that culminated in their reverencing him as a god. Matthew’s tale belongs to a body of material that attributes to Jesus titles and claims characteristic of the Emperors and their cults. People said that Tiridates and his magi had initiated Nero in their mysteries and secret meals. The gospel story implies that Jesus needed no initiation: he was the predestined ruler of the magi, as well as of the Jews; but unlike the ignorant Jews the magi knew this. They understood the star that signalled his coming and came themselves to meet him, make their submission, and offer the gifts due their ruler.”~ Morton Smith, Jesus the Magician,96.

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The fact that the proclamation of Vespasian was issued from Judea led Josephus to interpret an ancient oracle foretelling that a ruler from Judea should acquire dominion over the entire world as an allusion to Vespasian (Wars6.5.4; cf Tacitus,Hist.v. 13 and Suetonius, Vespasianus,§ 4). The new emperor left his son Titus in command of the army, while he himself hurried to Rome to take possession of the throne. Vespasian is greeted with “good news” in Wars4.10.6.

James Steven Vallient discusses the cult of Vespasian and its parallels to Jesus in his book Creating Christ, “Vespasian is the only Roman emperor who is reported to have actually performed miracles during his earthly existence. Vespasian performed these feats at the Temple of Serapis in Alexandria. Moreover, they were healing miracles. And they happened to be exactly the same healing miracles that Jesus performs in the New Testament.”~Creating Christ, James Stevens Valliant. (Cf Tacitus Histories book IV,81;Suetonius, Vespasian,7).

MESSIANIC LEADERS VERY LIKE JESUS!

With the shrewd rise of King David over all the tribes, a precedent was set and historical prototype for subsequent messianic movements, from bandit chieftain to King. During the time of Jesus all these tales of messiah savior “kings” gave rise to many messianic movements such as those reported by Josephus.

SIMON BAR GIORA

* The cleansing of the Temple scene in Mark preserves some faded memory of the entry of Simon bar-Gioras into the Temple to clean out the robbers (Zealots) of John of Giscala on the eve of the Temple’s destruction.(Mark11:15-19; Wars4.9.11-12).

“So they got together, and slew many of the zealots, and drove the rest before them into that royal palace…..the Idumeans [loyal to Simon] fell in with them, and drove the zealots out thence into the temple, and betook themselves to plunder John’s effects….. Accordingly, in order to overthrow John, they determined to admit Simon: and earnestly to desire the introduction of a second tyrant into the city…….. Accordingly he, in an arrogant manner, granted them his lordly protection; and came into the city, in order to deliver it from the zealots. The people also made joyful acclamations to him, as their saviour, and their preserver. “(Wars4.9.11).

(Also note of Simon Maccabee entering Jerusalem with people laying palms: 1Macc13:51 (cfZachariah9:9-10;Psalm118)

“Whereupon John, with his multitude of zealots, as being both prohibited from coming out of the temple, and having lost their power in the city: (for Simon and his party had plundered them of what they had:) were in despair of deliverance. Simon also made an assault upon the temple, with the assistance of the people; while the others stood upon the cloisters, and the battlements, and defended themselves from their assaults.”(Wars4:9:12)

We notice how Simon bar Gioras was welcomed into the temple to cleanse the sacred precinct from the “thieves” who infested it, Zealots under John of Gischala.

After this triumphant entry he commenced the cleansing of the temple, “sweep( ing) the zealots out of the city.”

* Tacitus, Hist. v. 12;

“All the most desperate characters in the country had taken refuge there[Jerusalem] which did not conduce to unity. They had three armies, each with its own general. The outermost and largest line of wall was held by Simon; the central city by John, and the temple by Eleazar.514 John and Simon were stronger than Eleazar in numbers and equipment, but he had the advantage of a strong position. Their relations mainly consisted of fighting, treachery, and arson: a large quantity of corn was burnt. Eventually, under pretext of offering a sacrifice, John sent a party of men to massacre Eleazar and his troops, and by this means gained possession of the

temple.515 Thus Jerusalem was divided into two hostile parties, but on the approach of the Romans the necessities of foreign warfare reconciled their differences.”

* Just like Jesus on his entry into Jerusalem people thought of Simon bar Giora as a king.

Simon, with “a strong body of men,” overran villages and became a threat “to the cities.” He had men of power, slaves and robbers, and “a great many of the populace” who “were obedient to him as their KING.” According to Josephus, it was no secret that he was “making preparations for the assault on Jerusalem” (Wars 4.9.4).

* Jesus movement was from the backwater of Galilee, simple country folk where Jesus told many agrarian parables. Jesus was a faith healer and teacher where he soon had thousands following him.

Simon bar Giora’s movement composed of Judean and Idumean villages and towns. He built up vast following. Eventually became one of the main leaders in the Jerusalem revolt.(Wars4.9.4).

* People venerated Jesus on his entry into Jerusalem

Yet the Jews had the highest regard for, and fear of, Simon. They were also very ready to take their own lives, if he would have given such a command: “Above all, they had a great veneration and dread of Simon; and to that degree was he regarded by every one of those that were under him, that at his command they were very ready to kill themselves with their own hands” (Wars 5.7.3).

* Simon bar Giora was the leader of the rebel faction called the sicarii, who hid their daggers underneath their cloaks. This has a parallel where one of the disciples drew his short sword (a dagger) during Christ’s arrest.(Mark14:47).

* During Christ’s march to Golgotha the Roman soldiers put a purple robe on him, but later removed it again. Simon bar Giora was also known as Simon bar Poras, the latter word a shortened version of the Latin word purpura (porpora in Italian) for the colour purple. When Simon bar Giora was arrested, he put on his purple cloak before he surrendered, probably as a declaration that he was the one they wanted most.

Toward the end of the Roman siege of Jerusalem, John Levi and many others had already been captured by the Romans, but Simon was still underground and hoping to escape. Josephus recorded his bizarre behavior when he finally emerged dressed like a king, hoping to trick the Romans, but was captured and kept for the eventual celebration in Rome.

“And now Simon, thinking he might be able to astonish and elude the Romans, put on a white frock, and buttoned upon him a purple cloak, and appeared out of the ground in the place where the temple had formerly been.”(Wars7.2.1) ;(Cf 1Macc10:20,62 for the purple robe reference.)

* The trial of Jesus with Pilate (Mark15:4-5) and his willingness to be taken as in Mark (14:21) “For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born”

…………does chiastically parallel with

“Thus did God bring this man to be punished for what bitter and savage tyranny he had exercised against his countrymen, by those who were his worst enemies: and this while he was not subdued by violence, but voluntarily delivered himself up to them to be punished”

(Wars7.2.1).

He stayed three days underground and then appeared suddenly out of the ground.

“…appeared out of the ground in the place where the temple had formerly been…..At the first indeed, those that saw him were greatly astonished, and stood still where they were.”

He appeared like an apparition would make a parallel with the resurrection.(Wars7.2.1).

* Caesar’s triumphal procession is described in Wars 7.5.1-7. Simon was called “the general of the enemy” and his execution was in “the last part of this pompous show…at the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus.” A rope was put around his head and he was tormented as he was dragged along. All the people shouted for joy when it was announced that he had been killed (Wars 7.5.6). This matches the crowd turning against Jesus as he was to be crucified.

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Source Josephus Jewish Wars

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/josephus/index.html

Simon the son of Giora (69 – 70 C.E.); (JW.2.1.2/ 521; 22.2 / 652 -4.94, 9.8 / 538 – 544; 10 / 556 – 565; 11 / 573 – 574; 4.3.1/105; 6.1/ 248 – 253; 3 / 266 – 274; 4 / 278 – 279; 13, 1 / 527- 533; 6.1; 7.2.1/25; 2 / 26 – 36; 5,1-7; 8, 1 / 265 – 267) Tacitus Hist. V 12

Also mentions by Dr Price about parallels of Simon bar Giora and Jesus prompted me to look into this.

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JESUS BEN ANANIAS

The most significant and compelling parallel is Mark14.60,

60 Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 61 But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.

Procurator Albinus actually asks Jesus Ben Ananias the exact same question and he also made no answer!

* Both came to Jerusalem during major religious festival.

(Mark14:2 , JW 6.301)

* Both enter Temple area‘s and rant against Temple.

(Mark11:15-17 , JW 6.301)

* Both quote same chapter of Jeremiah.

(Jer7:11 in Mark , Jer7:34 in JW)

* Both preach daily in the temple.

(Mark14:49 , JW6.306)

* Both declared “woe” on to Judea or the Jews.

(Mark13:17 JW6.304.306.309)

* Both predict the temple would be destroyed.

(Mark13:2. , JW 6.300.309)

* Both are for this reason arrested by the Jews.

(Mark14:43 , JW 6.302)

* Both are accused of speaking against the temple.

(Mark14:58 , JW 6.302)

* Neither makes any defence of himself against the charges.

(Mark14:60 , JW 6.302)

* Both are beaten by the Jews.

(Mark14:65 JW6.302)

* Then both are taken to the Roman Governor.

( Pilate in Mark , Albinus in JW)

* Both interrogated by the Roman Governor.

(15:2-4 , JW 6.303)

* Both asked to identify themselves.

(Mark15:2 , JW6.303)

* Neither says anything in their defense.

(Mark15:3-5 , JW6.305)

* Both beaten by the Romans.

(Mark15:15. , JW 6.304)

* Not released in Mark15:6-15 ; released in JW6.309

* Killed in Mark15:34 by execution.

Killed in JW6.308-309 by artillery.

* Both utter lament for themselves immediately before they die.

(Mark15:34 , JW6.309)

* Both die with loud cry.

(Mark15:37 , JW6.309)

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THE ‘EGYPTIAN’

The Egyptian prophet (between 52 and 58 CE)

[Sources: Flavius Josephus, Jewish War 2.259-263 ; cf Jewish Antiquities 20.169-171; Acts of the apostles 21.38.]

Story: According to Flavius Josephus, there were many people during the governorship of Festus

who deceived and deluded the people under pretense of Divine inspiration, but were in fact for procuring innovations and changes of the government. These men prevailed with the multitude to act like madmen, and went before them into the wilderness, pretending that God would there show them the signals of liberty.[Flavius Josephus, Jewish War 2.259.]

He continues with the following story.

There was an Egyptian false prophet that did the Jews more mischief than the former; for he was a cheat, and pretended to be a prophet also, and got together thirty thousand men that were deluded by him; these he led round about from the wilderness to the mount which was called the Mount of Olives. He was ready to break into Jerusalem by force from that place; and if he could but once conquer the Roman garrison and the people, he intended to rule them by the assistance of those guards of his that were to break into the city with him.[Flavius Josephus, Jewish War 2.261-262.]

In his Jewish antiquities, Josephus retold the story. The number of followers seems to be less exaggerated and the prophet’s threat to use violence are ignored.

about this time, someone came out of Egypt to Jerusalem, claiming to be a prophet. He advised the crowd to go along with him to the Mount of Olives, as it was called, which lay over against the city, and at the distance of a kilometer. He added that he would show them from hence how the walls of Jerusalem would fall down at his command, and he promised them that he would procure them an entrance into the city through those collapsed walls. Now when Felix was informed of these things, he ordered his soldiers to take their weapons, and came against them with a great number of horsemen and footmen from Jerusalem, and attacked the Egyptian and the people that were with him. He slew four hundred of them, and took two hundred alive. The Egyptian himself escaped out of the fight, but did not appear any more. And again the robbers stirred up the people to make war with the Romans, and said they ought not to obey them at all; and when any persons would not comply with them, they set fire to their villages, and plundered them. [Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 20.169-171.]

Comment: Like Theudas, the Egyptian prophet took Joshua (the man who made the walls of Jericho fall;Joshua 6.20) as an example. The Roman governor was rightly alarmed: like Joshua and Moses, the Egyptian claimed to lead the Jews to a promised land without enemies. This was clearly a messianic claim, even though Josephus does not mention it. The nameless Egyptian may have called himself “king Messiah”, because Josephus uses the Greek verb tyrannein (“to be sole ruler”) in the first quotation. It should be noted that the Mount of Olives was regarded as the place where God would stand on the Day of Judgment, fighting the battle against Israel’s enemies.[Zechariah 14.4.]

The commander (chiliarch) of the Roman garrison in Jerusalem, Claudius Lysias, makes mention of the Egyptian to Paul in Acts 21:38.

In conclusion, there seems to be a pattern, where a number of episodes described in the New Testament display significant similarities to events described by Josephus, but with a fairly consistent delay of fifteen to twenty years

* Like Jesus, the Egyptian had lingered in “the wilderness” or “desert” (ἐρημία).

* Both speak of tearing down the walls of Jerusalem (cf. Luke 19:43-44).

* Both had lived in Egypt.

* Both are described as messianic leaders with a great following.

* Both are perceived as major threats by the authorities.

* “The Egyptian” is defeated on the Mount of Olives, where Jesus was arrested.

Jesus and the Egyptian are the circumstances surrounding their defeat: Jesus is arrested on the Mount of Olives, crucified, resurrected, and then vanishes. The Egyptian is defeated in a battle on the Mount of Olives, and then vanishes.

THE EVENTS ON THE MOUNT OF OLIVES

Mark 15:7 states that “a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection”. The author uses the definite form, as if we should already know which insurrection is intended. The fact is, however, that Mark describes no insurrection, nor do the other gospel authors. The only reported disturbances are the ones occurring when Jesus is arrested on the Mount of Olives (meeting his adversaries with the words: “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a robber?”). But the conflict seems predominately religious, and it is the Sanhedrin which sends out people to arrest Jesus, as indeed Mark, Matthew and Luke all write.

One Gospel, however, differs. In John 18:12, we read that “the Jewish police” are accompanied by “the soldiers” and “their officer” (NRSV). But it is when we go to the Greek original of John that we get the full picture: The word for “soldiers” is σπεῖρα, speira. A σπεῖρα is a Roman cohort with a paper strength of one thousand soldiers. So as to confirm that this is indeed what John describes, he uses the word χιλίαρχος for their commander (“the commander of one thousand”).

If John’s account is correct, then what occurred on the Mount of Olives must have been some sort of battle. It is difficult to imagine that the Romans would send out hundreds of soldiers to arrest one resting man. It is also worth noting that prior to the departure for the Mount of Olives, Luke 22:36 has Jesus admonishing his disciples that “the one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one”. Thus, judging by John, the events preceding the arrest of Jesus bear distinct similarities to the events surrounding the defeat of the Egyptian. And the location is the same.

Assuming that John is correct, and that Josephus’ narrative on the fate of the Egyptian is accurate, the one clear remaining difference between the Egyptian and Jesus is the crucifixion. Although this may be a decisive distinction, one event in the gospel accounts deserves to be mentioned in this context: the release of Barabbas. Unlike Jesus, Barabbas (or, as he is called in Matt. 27:16-17, Jesus Barabbas, meaning “Jesus, Son of the Father”) escapes crucifixion. That Jesus from Nazareth and Jesus Barabbas could be one and the same person is a proposition that has been made previously, by scholars as well as in fictional accounts. The peculiar resemblance of the names, as well as a failure to find either a biblical or an extra-biblical precedent for the described custom of releasing a prisoner at the feast, are generally cited as reasons for the hypothesis.

The word for “soldiers” is σπεῖρα, speira. ( John 18:12 )A σπεῖρα is a Roman cohort with a paper strength of one thousand soldiers. So as to confirm that this is indeed what John describes, he uses the word χιλίαρχος for their commander (“the commander of one thousand”).

Unlike the Synoptic Gospels, John 18:3 and 18:12 state that Jesus on the Mount of Olives was confronted by a speira – a Roman cohort of 500 to 1,000 soldiers.

[The word for “soldiers” is σπεῖρα, speira. A σπεῖρα is a Roman cohort with a paper strength of one thousand soldiers. So as to confirm that this is indeed what John describes, he uses the word χιλίαρχος for their commander (“the commander of one thousand”)]

This suggestion of a battle preceding Jesus’ arrest is reminiscent of an event described by Josephus in the 50s (A.J. 20.169-172; J.W.2.261-263), involving the so called ‘Egyptian Prophet’ (or simply ‘the Egyptian’). This messianic leader – who had previously spent time “in the wilderness” – had “advised the multitude … to go along with him to the Mount of Olives”, where he “would show them from hence how, at his command, the walls of Jerusalem would fall down”. Procurator Felix, however, sent a cohort of soldiers to the Mount of Olives, where they defeated ‘the Egyptian’.

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PROCURATOR FELIX(52-ca. 59 C.E.)

Pontius Pilate is not really Pilate at all in the gospels:

Changing the names of authority figures in the gospel texts, in order to detect (or disguise) parallels in the historical sources, would at the same time be a simple and a radical intervention. It would with one stroke of the pen move the narrative to a different era, but it would also likely bestow upon these authority figures characteristics and circumstances which are not in reality theirs. When comparing the gospel descriptions of various dignitaries with those from Josephus, not only does such a pattern indeed seem to emerge; in addition, there is some consistency with regard to which dignitaries would change names, and when they are active. Procurator Felix (52-ca. 59 C.E.), as he is depicted in Josephus’ texts, in several ways appears to bear stronger similarities to the Pilate described in the Gospels, than Pilate himself. In Josephus’ accounts of Pilate we find no co-reigning high priests, or open conflict between Galileans and Samaritans. Under Felix, and under Cumanus, we do.

There are other examples. Luke 13:1 reads: ”At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.” This statement fits poorly with Pilate. To begin with, Pilate was not the ruler of Galilee, Herod Antipas was. Secondly, the only registered violent encounter between Pilate and the Jews occurred in Jerusalem – thus in Judea – when non-violent protests against the aqueduct prompted Pilate to instruct his soldiers “with their staves to beat those that made the clamour” (JW.2.175-177).

This stands in stark contrast to what occurred under Felix. Felix, unlike Pilate, was the ruler not only of Judea, but also of “Samaria, Galilee, and Peraea” (JW.2.247; the western part of Galilee after 54 C.E.). At this point, “the country was again filled with robbers and impostors”, a disproportionate amount of whom were Galileans, and Felix was exceptionally cruel in dealing with these insurgents. As Josephus writes: “But as to the number of the robbers whom he caused to be crucified, and of those who were caught among them, and whom he brought to punishment, they were a multitude not to be enumerated” (JW.2.253).

Tacitus, in turn, puts much of the blame for the emerging rebellion on Felix and Cumanus (Annuls 12.54).

There are other, more personal, examples: the Gospels attribute great influence to Pilate’s wife (Matt. 27:19: “While he was sitting on the judgement seat, his wife sent word to him, ‘Have nothing to do with that innocent man …’”). The Gospels also mention a feud between Pilate and the Jewish king (Luke 23:12: “That same day Herod and Pilate became friends with each other; before this they had been enemies.”)

In contrast, Josephus does not mention Pilate’s wife, and, more significantly, fails to mention any animosity between Pilate and Herod Antipas (Philo does mention one possible occasion of disagreement – when “the four sons of the king” [Herod] are asked by the people to implore Pilate to remove the guilt shields, or ensigns, from Jerusalem).

Josephus does, however, describe a significant – and very personal – disagreement between Felix and Herod Agrippa II. The conflict concerns the procurator’s wife. Felix had fallen in love with Agrippa’s sister, princess Drusilla (A.J. 20.141-144). But Drusilla was not only married; Agrippa had forced her first husband, king Azizus, to convert to Judaism. Now Felix “endeavored to persuade her to forsake her present husband, and marry him”, which Drusilla did, thus “transgressing the laws of her forefathers” (A.J. 20.137-144; cf. Acts 24:24).

Hence, a prominent wife, and a personal disagreement with a Jewish ruler, are aspects of Felix’ life; not, as far as is known, of Pilate’s.

In fact Pilate as depicted in Philo’s writing and Josephus does not bear any resemblance on Pilate of the gospels.

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MENAHEM

Menahem was leader of the sacarii till 66AD till he got assassinated. (2.17.8-9)

Menahem’s procession from Masada to Jerusalem “like a king” and his messianic posturing in the Temple appear as striking comparative material for interpretation of Jesus’ “triumphal entry” and “cleansing of the Temple”.

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JUDAS THE GALILEAN

Judas the Galilean, or Judas of Gamala, was a Jewish leader who led resistance to the census imposed for Roman tax purposes by Quirinius in Judea Province around 6 CE. Luke has his Jesus born around the tax revolt. Later on the tax issue is used to entrap Jesus. Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be sincere.

Luke20:20 “They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said, so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. 21So the spies questioned him: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. 22 Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not? 23 He saw through their duplicity and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. 25 He said to them, “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” 26 They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.”

Judas the Galilean encouraged Jews not to register and those that did had their houses burnt and their cattle stolen by his followers. He ended up getting crucified.

Josephus described Judas the Galilean as a sophist, in Jewish terms that would be somebody very learned in the Torah, somebody like that would be exalted by his peers, something that could have happened to Jesus, the start of his exaltation could have been from his peers.

As a coincidence he had two sons with the same names as Jesus’s brothers

Ant20.102 In addition to this, James and Simon, sons of Judas the Galilean, were put on trial and by order of Alexander were crucified; this was the Judas who – as explained above – had incited the popular revolt against the Romans, while Quirinius was carrying out the census in Judea”.

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TITUS

Titus won the battle of Tarichaeae by crossing over the Sea of Galilee. This set Titus up for glory in the Jewish War.

The Roman army was “fishing for men” after Titus had figuratively driven the demons into the water. (CfMark5:13 and JW3.10.5-10).

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RUFUS

Gospel of Mark calls ‘Simon of “Cyrene’, ‘the father of Alexander and Rufus’, who, ‘coming from a field, carried the cross of Jesus’ (15:21). The way Mark refers to ‘Alexander and Rufus’ they are known in some Gentile Christian Community – presumably Rome, from which Mark is often thought to originate.

In Josephus, coincidental or otherwise, there is another ‘Rufus’, a Roman soldier again, who at the end of the War does somewhat parallel things. What he does is make a daring foray, again across Jordan near Machaeros, where John the Baptist met his end, and ‘carry off’ one of the local Jewish partisans. This man is then crucified before his own town and because of his pitiful cries many surrendered, and those who did not “were butchered and the women and children enslaved – this the ‘carrying off’ and ‘cross’ themes associated with one ‘Rufus’ in Josephus. Wars7.199-209.

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Simon the son of Giora (69 – 70 C.E.); (BJ, II, 19, 2 / 521; 22, 2 / 652 – 654; IV, 9,4;

9, 8 / 538 – 544; 10 / 556 – 565; 11 / 573 – 574; V, 3, 1 / 105; 6, 1 / 248 – 253; 3 / 266 – 274; 4 / 278 – 279; 13, 1 / 527- 533; VI, 1, 7 / 72; VII, 2, 1 / 25; 2 / 26 – 36; 5,1-7; 8, 1 / 265 – 267) Tacitus Hist. V 12

The Egyptian prophet (between 52 and 58 CE)

[Sources: Flavius Josephus, Jewish War 2.259-263 ; cf Jewish Antiquities 20.169-171; Acts of the apostles 21.38.]

Jesus Ben Ananias (JW6.301-309)

Procurator Felix (JW.2.247; JW.2.253

Tacitus Hist. Annuls 12.54;

Pontas Pilate (JW.2.175-177)

Menahem (JW.2.17.8-9)

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It’s hard to tell which traditions actually belong to a historical character, easier to see which traditions that were attributed to him.

It seems to me to use the messianic hopefuls as reported in Josephus works as archetypes for Jesus.

Ch2 in Brandon’s book “Jesus and the Zealots” was about comparing Judas the Galilean described as a sophist in Josephus, in Jewish terms that would be somebody very learned in the Torah, somebody like that would be exalted by his peers, something that could have happened to Jesus, the start of his exaltation could have been from his peers.

Then you could take Lena Einhorn who thought a Jesus was the ‘Egyptian’. Obviously the ‘Egyptian’ would make a good archetype also.

Then you have Eisenman in his “James, the brother of Jesus” book who has said the Jesus movements were suspiciously like the ‘Samaritan’ passage in Ant 18.4.1.

Reza Aslan in his Zealot book says “One of the most fearsome of all the bandits, the charismatic bandit chief Hezekiah, openly declared himself to be the messiah, the promised one who would restore the Jews to glory.”(Jewish War 1.204-205).

As the Testamonian Flavian (Ant 28.3.3) is an obvious overwritten, all of it rubbed out and overwritten piece, then all you can do is reconstruct what could have been originally written there. That is all you can possibly know about Jesus.

LAYERS OF INTERPOLATION IN THE TESTAMONIAN FLAVIAN o

KEN OLSON has done a thesis showing the Testamonian Flavian (TF) being more Eusebian than Josephean, [1] Eusebius was the first church father to introduce it and therefore has come under suspicion of being the interpolater.

Yet it is unlikely that Eusebius created the entire text ex nihilo. It is too short to read like a Christian apocrypha. It is more likely that Eusebius simply “improved” the wording of the available manu­scripts. In fact we can track the evolution of this passage!

A significant advance in understanding the evolutionary his­tory of the Testimonium came in 1971 when the Jewish scholar Shlomo Pines published “An Arabic Version of the Testimonium Flavianum and its lmplications”. [2] In a linguistic tour de force, Pines traced the translation and citation history of the Testimonium and demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that an earlier form of the piece was not as outrageously Christian as the received text.

In Arabic version it does not blame the Jews for the death of Jesus. The key phrase “at the suggestion of the principal men among us” reads instead “Pilate condemned him to be crucified”.

Pines’ monograph drew attention to a long-known tenth­ century Arabic historical work, the “Kitāb al-Únwān” a chronicle of the history of the world up to the 10th century, by Agapius, who was the Melkite bishop of Manbij (Hierapolis). In his (apparently indirect) quotation from Josephus, Agapius supplies what would appear to be the earliest form of the Testimonian.

>>>Similarly Josephus the Hebrew. For he says in the treatises that he has written on the governance of the Jews: “At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. His conduct was good, and [he] was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his cru­cifixion, and that he was alive; accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah, concerning whom the prophets have recounted won­ders.” This is what is said by Josephus and his companions of our Lord the Messiah, may he be glorified<<<

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Shlomo Pines also discovered a 12th-century Syriac version of the Testimonium in the chronicle of Michael the Syrian.

Although the Chronicle of Michael the Syrian dates to nearly three centuries later than Agapius, he too reports a version of the Testimonian that is more primitive than the received text of Eusebius, but more “evolved” than that preserved by Agapius. Michael was born in 1126 and was Patriarch of Antioch from 1166 to 1199; he thus lived more than three centuries after Agapius.

Shlomo Pines renders his version as follows:

>>>>The writer Josephus also says in his work on the institutions of the Jews: In these times there was a wise man named Jesus, if it is fitting for us to call him a man. For he was a worker of glo­rious deeds and a teacher of truth. Many from among the Jews and the nations became his disciples. He was thought to be the Messiah [or Perhaps he was the Messiah] . But not according to the testimony of the principal [men] of [our] nation. Because of this, Pilate condemned him to the cross, and he died. For those who had loved him did not cease to love him. He appeared to them alive after three days. For the prophets of God had spoken with regard to him of such marvelous things [as these]. And the people of the Christians, named after him, has not disappeared till [this] day.<<<<

Instead of “he was Christ”, the Syriac version has the phrase “he was believed to be Christ”. Drawing on these textual variations, scholars have suggested that these versions of the Testimonium more closely reflect an earlier form of the Testamonian. (This is close to Jeromes Latin attestation).

St. Jerome [c340-420] freak Latin recension of the Testimonium De Viris Illustrius [On Illustrious Men] ch13, is less developed than the received text with respect to the Messianic identity of Jesus.

>>>He [Josephus] wrote about the Lord in this way: “At about this time there was a wise man, Jesus, if it is proper to call him a man. He was the doer of marvelous deeds and teacher of those who receive truth willingly. He had many followers both among the Jews and the Gentiles, and he was believed to be the Christ [Messiah] . When, because of the envy of our principal men, Pilate had condemned him to the cross, those who at the first had come to love him persevered in faith. Living, he appeared to them on the third day. These and countless other marvels about him the prophecies of the prophets had foretold. And up until today the tribe of Christians, named after him, has not disappeared <<<

Although Jerome lived a generation later than Eusebius, his Latin version of the Testamonian is more primitive than the received Greek text preserved in the latter’s Historia Ecclesiastica [Eusebius] and in most manuscripts of Josephus. It will be noted that Jerome retains the dubitative “he was believed to be the Christ,” making it clear that the Greek text Jerome owned did not ascribe the belief in Jesus’ messiahship to Josephus himself.

[As a matter of interest the Greek translation of De Viris Illustrious has eliminated all differ­ences and reads exactly the same as the received text of Eusebius!]

The recensions of St. Jerome Latin translation and Michael version contained the sentence He was believed to be the Messiah. This sentence strikes a mildly dubitative note. It can be argued that it may have been the phrase to which Origen alluded.

It is admittedly difficult to accept the idea that a tenth-century Arabic chronicle has preserved a version of the Testimonium that comes closer to Josephus’ original text than the vulgate recension attested in the fourth century. There appears to be no valid reason why a version of the Testimonium preserved in Arabic should not have escaped Christian censorship to a greater extent than the vulgate version, or even altogether.

Agapius’ version does not stem from the vulgate recension. No Christian would have tampered with the text with a view to eliminating all the phrases that are concerned with Jesus’ superhuman nature and actions and to replacing the author’s affirmation of Jesus’ Messiahship and his appearance after death by non-committal statements that merely mention that such claims were made on behalf of Jesus.

In the recension of the twelfth-century Syriac Chronicle of Michael the Syrian we also encounter the formulation that Jesus was thought to be the Messiah. Michael’s recension is close to the vulgate recension of the Testimonium found in the Syriac translation of Eusebius’ Historia Ecclesiastica. St. Jerome’s recension is also reminiscent of the Oriental recensions (Syriac).

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Slavonic

Before the thirteenth century, in Constantinople or its environs, a mutant form of the Testi­monium found its way into the Greek text of the Wars.

Translated into Old Russian, producing the so-called ‘Slavonic Josephus.’ The material corresponding to the beginning of the Testimonium was inserted between the third and fourth paragraphs of the ninth chapter of Book 2 of the Wars.

>>> At that time there appeared a certain man, if it is meet to call him a man. His nature and form was human, but the appear­ ance of him more than (that) of a human (being): yet his works (were) divine. He wrought miracles wonderful and strong. Wherefore it is impossible for me to call him a human (being, simply). But on the other hand, if I look at (his) characteristic (human) nature, I will not call him an angel.

And all, whatsoever he wrought through an invisible power, he wrought by a word and command. Some said of him, “our first lawgiver is risen from the dead, and hath evidenced this by many cures and prodigies.” But the others thought he was (a man) sent from God. Now in many things he opposed the Law and kept not the Sabbath according to the custom of (our) forefathers. Yet again, he did nothing shameful nor underhand.

And many of the multitude followed after him and hear­ kened to his teaching. And many souls were roused, thinking that thereby the Jewish tribes could free themselves from Roman hands. But it was his custom rather to abide without the city on the Mount of Olives. There also he granted cures to the people. And there gathered to him of helpers 150, but of the crowd a multitude.

But when they saw his power, that he accomplished by a word whatsoever he would, and when they had made known to him their will, that he should enter the city and cut down the Roman tropo s and Pilate, and rule over them, he heeded it not. And when thereafter news of it was brought to the Jewish leaders, they assembled together with the high priest and said, “We are powerless and (too) weak to resist the Romans. Since howev­ er the bow is bent, we will go and communicate to .Pilate what we have heard, and we shall be free from trouble, in order that he may not hear (it) from others and we be robbed of(our) goods and ourselves slaughtered and (our) children dispersed.”

And they went and reported (it) to Pilate. And he sent and had many ofthe multitude slain. And he had that wonder-worker brought up, and after he had held an inquiry concerning him, he pronounced (this) judgment: “He is (a benefactor, but not) a male­ factor (nor) a rebel (nor) covetous of king(ship).” And he let him go, for he had healed his dying wife. And after he had gone to his wonted place, he did his wonted works. And when more people again gathered round him, he glorified himself by his action(s) more than all.

The scribes (therefore) being stung with envy gave Pilate thirty talents to kill him. And he took (it) and gave them liberty to car out their will (themselves). And they took him and cru­cified him contrary to the law of (their) fathers.<<<<

This account of Jesus found in the old Russian translation of Bellum Judaicum (Wars), is an extraordinary bloated piece.

Hugh J. Schonfield, an expert on the ancient “Jewish Christians,” has shown quite convincingly that Jewish Christian writings underlie the expansion of the text of Slavonic Josephus. The most telling part of Slavonic is the fact that it says so much about Jesus except his name. This suggests that this particular line of transmission has preserved the notion that Jesus was not named in the original TF.

ATTEMPT TO RECONSTRUCT THE ORIGINAL

Stephen C. Carlson ( see link at end of post) [3] has followed up a curious footnote in Meiers book “A Marginal Jew” Vol 1 page 101, footnote 12, where it has been studied ( by Franz Dornsieff, “Lukas der Schriftsteller. Mit einem Anhang: Josephus und Tacitus,” ZNW 35 (1936): 148-55.), that Tacitus has used Josephus as one of his sources. Because of this he may have preserved the original TF, ( before Eusibius got his dirty hands on it)!

Here is what the reconstruction may have looked like:

TESTIMONIAN FLAVIAN RECONSTRUCTION FROM TACITUS

>>>Now there was about this time a man, an innovator and deceiver of the people. Through his sorcery and innovations he drew over to him many Galileans and by them he was seen to be a King: For fear of the influence of a great many people, he suffered the extreme penalty at the hands of Pilate who condemned him to be crucified. Many of his followers, the Galileans were slain and thus checked for the moment. The movement again broke out with wild fury and mischievous superstition not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.<<<

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As can be seen from Annals15:44, the entirety of Tacitus’s information about Jesus is paralleled in Josephus, AJ 18, if not in the Testimonium, then nearby in the book. Tacitus’ use the erroneous title for Pontius Pilate as procurator would be in line with Josephus use a governor (ήγεμών) for Pilate in Ant18.3.1. This was non-specific title may be a reason why Tacitus used the wrong title. In fact both Josephus Wars and Philo’s Embassy to Giaus applied the term procurator for Pilate. ( Wars2.117,169; Legatio ad Gaius299).

[As a side note:

His title is given as procurator in Tacitus. Pontius Pilate’s title was traditionally thought to have been “procurator of Judea” since the Roman historian Tacitus (writing in the second century AD) refers to him as such. However, the Pilate stone (a fragmentary Latin inscription that records the name of ‘Pontius Pilate comes from the Tiberium’) refers to him as “prefect of Judea”. Pilate would have been a prefect at the time of Jesus. “Prefects” were governors in charge of parts of larger provinces. Pilate was removed from office because of his treatment of the Samaritan ( Ant 18.4.1) After this, as it turns out, it was not until the rule of the emperor Claudius (who governed from 41 to 54 AD) that the title of the Roman governors changed from “prefect” (ἔπαρχος) to “procurator”.(επίτροπος)]

On p.15 of Whealey’s dissertation [4] she indicates when Origen not believing Jesus as the Christ (Cel I.47) that he must have seen some version of the Testamonian. [How else would he have known that Josephus did not like to call Jesus the Christ?]. Also on p66 of Pines book [2] he says “If we admit that Origen was acquainted with a recension of the Testimonium, it follows from his remarks, as has been partly indicated, that this recension must have differed from that of the vulgate in at least two interconnected particulars:

1. It did not contain the sentence He was the Messiah.

2. It contained either a sceptical or a negative reference to the claim to Messiahship made on Jesus’ behalf.”

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I’ve built on top of Carlson’s reconstruction with the following reasons:

• On one of the four points where the TF meets the Annals, it uses the phrase “mischievous superstition”. I thought that was rather Tacitean and replaced it with ‘innovator’ and ‘deceiver’ which is more Josephean.

• I replaced the line, “He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles.” With “ He drew over to him many Galileans” as the original line sounds Paulinist. Also the early followers of Jesus were known as Galileans, as attested by Epitetus, Diss.4.7.6. Circa110-115AD (Cf Luke13.1-2; Mark14:70).

Diss. 4.7.6: “Well then, if madness can cause people to adopt such as attitude towards these things [not being scared at the swords of tyrants] and habit too, as in the case of the Galileans, can’t reason and demonstration teach people that God has made all that is in the universe, and the universe itself as a whole, to be free…”

This passage shows that Christians were known to be persecuted by the Emperor Nero, and Epictetus had been within close proximity to the Emperor’s household.

Also Epictetus opprobrious mention of the Galileans means they could just as easily been Zealots.

• As with many messianic figure followers reported in Josephus works, they usually declared the would be leader a King, this is reflected in the reconstruction.

•Agapius Arabic version does not blame the Jews for the death of Jesus. The key phrase “at the suggestion of the principal men among us” reads instead “Pilate condemned him to be crucified”. This is reflected in the reconstruction.

• The Syriac version has the phrase “he was believed to be Christ” instead of “he was the Christ”

Origen attested that Josephus did not like the term “Christ” so I left that out (Contra Celsus I.47).

• The TF could not have been neutral because of what was written before and after it. I stated the Galileans were slain because of the opening line of this Ant 18.3.4

“About the same time also another sad calamity put the Jews into disorder: ~Ant18.3.4 and also see what was written before it:- “Who laid upon them much greater blows than Pilate had commanded them; and equally punished those that were tumultuous, and those that were not. Nor did they spare them in the least.“~ Ant18.3.2

• The interpolation of the TF into Slavonic Josephus Wars also does not name Jesus in the passage but refers to him as “there appeared a certain man”~Slavonic Wars2.9.3/4. This could have been a more primitive interpolation than Eusibius’ interpolation. The most telling part about the Slavonic version is that it said everything about Jesus but his name, that very fact could have been preserved along a separate transmission line that Jesus was not named in the original. I have gone for this in the reconstruction above. This and the fact of the TF being a negative original could explain why Origen never cited this passage in all his works.

Whealey [4] (in page13 of link) makes a very astute observation that “Yet before Origen no Christian writer apparently found it worthwhile to cite Josephus as a relevant authority on anything in the New Testament; not only did they not cite Josephus on Jesus, they did not cite Josephus on James the brother of Jesus, John the Baptist, the several parallels shared by Luke-Acts and Josephus works, and perhaps most surprisingly, they did not name Josephus an authority on King Herod, a figure that dominates three and a half books of Antiquities”.

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Here is the original TF:

Ant18.64-65 ( Ant18.3.3 AKA TF)

Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

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A DIFFERENT JAMES PASSAGE

Our reconstruction does not bode well for the current James passage, Ant 20.200, as there is no mention of Jesus or an abhorant word to the Jew Josephus – the word ‘Christ’. But this is not a problem as Origen in his attestation of the James passage was on about a different James.

Was James the brother of Jesus originally in Josephus?

We all suspect interpolations, what is more interesting is what was cut out from Josephus. All James references (opposition to Paul gentile movement), derogatory Jesus references etc.

Lets examine this Christian tradition blaming the fall of Jerusalem to the death of James.

[TRACKING THE SOURCES].

Although nowhere to be found in the extant Josephus, it is quoted by Eusebius – who implies it is from Wars – in the following manner:

“And these things happened to the Jews to avenge James the Just, who was the brother of Jesus, the so-called Christ, for the Jews put him to death, notwithstanding his preeminent Righteousness.”(EH2.23.20)

On close analysis, it is clear Eusebius or the Josephus he saw means James.

Origen reproduces something of the same idea, though he claims Josephus referred to it in the Antiquities. Since Josephus’ Antiquities does not encompass a discussion of the fall of the Temple per se as Wars does, it is more likely that Eusebius is more correct in this matter. Origen gives the tradition as follows:

“So great a reputation among the people for Righteousness did this James enjoy, that Flavius Josephus, who wrote the Antiquities of the Jews in Twenty Books, when wishing to show the cause what the people suffered so great misfortunes that even the Temple was razed to the ground, said that these things happened to them in accordance with the Wrath of God in consequence of the things which they had dared to do against James the brother of Jesus who is called the Christ.”

(Contra Cel 1.47)

Then he adds:

“The wonderful thing is, that though he did not accept Jesus as Christ, he yet gave testimony that the Righteousness of James was so great; and he says that the people thought that they had suffered these things because of [what had been done to] James.” ( Commentary on Matthew 10.17)

This is extremely interesting testimony and hardly something either Origen or Eusebius would or could have dreamed up entirely by themselves, because it contradicts authoritative Church doctrine, which rather ascribed the fall of Jerusalem, as Origen “himself contends, to Jesus’ death, not James’. (Contra Cel 2.13)

Jerome too gives us a version of this tradition about James:

“This same Josephus records the tradition that this James was of such great Holiness and repute among the people that the downfall of Jerusalem was believed to be on account of his death.”

(Vir ill 2)[Lives of illustrious men].

Jerome is a careful scholar; one must assume that he saw something of what he says. Perhaps the nonsense Paulina and Fulvia episodes that follow the suspicious-sounding account of the crucifixion of Christ in Book Eighteen replaced some more extensive commentary of the kind Jerome says he saw in Book Eighteen, which included the material about Jerusalem falling ‘because of the death of James the Apostle’, not Jesus.

Epiphanius too calls James a nazorite (Panarian 29.5.7). From other sources like the Pseudoclementine Homilies and Recognitions, we shall be able to show how James is leader of the Jerusalem Church does send out Apostles and others on overseas missions. Paul confirms this when he discusses the ‘some from James’ that are sent down to check into affairs in Antioch in Galatians 2:12.

The only other early author (apart from the disputed Josephus) to mention James before the close of the second century C.E. is Hegesippus (cf. Fragments from the Acts of the Church; Concerning the Martyrdom of James, the Brother of the Lord, from Book 5), who as early as c. 165 – 175AD tells his reader in great detail that James (as brother of the Lord) was hurled from the top of the Temple and then because he survived this attempt on his life he was then summarily stoned to death. Hegesippus also tells us that this happened immediately before the destruction of the Temple by Vespasian and as such it would point to a date of c. 68 – 70AD

These argue strongly for the authenticity of Hegesippus’ detailed description of James and the existence of a much longer exegetical work on the death of James in the manner of the pesharim at Qumran, upon which this was based.

The first is the allusion to a key scriptural passage, Isaiah 3:10–11. Not only is this Zaddik passage exactly parallel to ones like those in the Habakkuk and Psalm 37 Peshers applied to the death of the Righteous Teacher at Qumran, but its vocabulary was actually absorbed into the former of these. The second feature is the application to James of this important conceptuality of the ‘Zaddik’ or ‘Righteous One’.

[As an interesting side note St. John Chrysostom [c347-407 CE], when composing his Homilies on St. John, appears to have had a manuscript of Josephus that attributed the fall of Jerusalem and destruction of the temple to the death of John the Baptist].

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So to sum up Origen in two works, Contra Celsus and his Commentary on Matthew, claims to have found in his copy of the Antiquities by Josephus a passage attributing the fall of Jerusalem to the death of James, not Jesus. Eusebius claims something similar but he claims to have seen it in WARS.

In normative Christian usage, Jesus is considered to have predicted both the downfall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple, and Origens outrage at having come upon these passages in the copy of Josephus available to him – presumably in the library at Caesarea on the Palestine coast, where Eusebius too had later been Bishop – and Eusebius’ own concern over this discrepancy, might be not a little connected to its disappearance in all extant copies about James in Josephus’ works.

CONCLUSION

It is more than likely that Origen mixed up Hegessipus and Josephus when referencing the fall of Jerusalem to James. I cannot see Josephus making a Christian assertion that Jerusalem fell due to the killing of James the Just. Later on I show what may have been originally written was “James son of Joseph”. This would certainly make Christians think that that James was their James. Origen may have interpreted Ananus’ attack on James (a rival high priest) may have worsened relations between priestly classes ( you have high priest and lower clergy grips) would have contributed to the eventual fall of Jerusalem. What we have here is high priest rivalry exacerbated by interregnum procuratorship in 62CE. All this does indicate one thing, that the James passage Origen attests to is not the current James passage that we have today.

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SO HOW DID IT HAPPEN WE HAVE THE CURRENT JAMES PASSAGE?

Allen [5] in the paper linked below (chapter 4 , p 291-328) goes one step further than Carrier in claiming that the James passage in “Antiquities of the Jews” (AJ) was not an inter linear scribal error but an actual Christian interpolation.

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ORIGEN AND THE ”JAMES THE JUSTICE” PASSAGE IN Antiquities by Josephus (Ant20.9.1)

You can see from the following two quotes by Origen that Josephus never liked to use the term ‘Christ’.

CONTRA CELSIUM Book1 ch. 47 ( Origen)

“Now this writer [i.e. Josephus], although not believing in Jesus as the Christ….”

COMMENTARY ON MATTHEW X 17 (Origen)

“And the wonderful thing is, that, though he did not accept Jesus as Christ, he yet gave testimony that the righteousness of James was so great; and he says that the people thought that they had suffered these things because of James.”

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JOSEPHUS DID NOT LIKE THE TERM ‘CHRIST’.

According to Origen (cf. COM, X.17 / 5268 – 5269; Cels, I, 47),we are able to confirm that Josephus did not accept Jesus as the “Christ”.

You can clearly see Josephus did not like to use the term ‘Christ’ in relation to Jesus.

It is interesting that Josephus would have mentioned the word “Christ” considering how quickly he denigrates any other supposed messianic upstarts in all of his other writings.

Why Josephus says “James the brother of Jesus who is called Christ” and not say “James the son of Joseph” which is the proper Jewish form of address. Origen quotes the James Passage practically verbatim – even inappropriately referring to a Jewish male as “the brother” of another individual;

I would like people to note what Allen missed->

[At the start of 20.9.1 there is a high priest Joseph mentioned who was deprived of his position by Agrippa, perhaps James is the son of Joseph.]

Instead of

“brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James”

It originally should have read

“James son of Joseph”.

This makes much more sense that Carriers explanation and it fits as there is a high priest named Joseph deposed at the start of the passage.

The assurances of many Christian scholars, it is difficult to see how the James Passage (JP) [A]* can in any way appear as an innocent text. (See relevant passages below in footnotes.)

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SUSPECTED INTERPOLATOR

If one simply reviews the actual statements made by Origen, it should be regarded as pertinent that he uses almost exactly the same wording as is contained in the current form of the JP (i.e. “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James”) to describe James, viz.:

1. COM, X, 17 / 5268: “James the brother of Jesus who is called Christ”;

2. Cels, I, 47: “James the Just, who was a brother of Jesus called Christ”; and

3. Cels, II, 13: “James the Just, the brother of Jesus who was called Christ”.

Origen mentions Josephus’ reference to James on four occasions: twice in his COM, X, 17 / 5268 – 5269, once in Cels. I, 47 and again in his Cels. II, 13

Suspected interpolation (i.e. “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ”), if foul play is speculated it is almost certain that Origen (rightly or wrongly), will be amongst the more likely suspects.

The interpolator merely used this convenient point in line 200 of Josephus’ account of Ananus’ atrocities to ensure the inclusion of the following few mission-critical words: “Jesus who was called Christ”.

The suspected Christian interpolator merely used the cursory reference to the stoned man and some compatriots as a useful device.

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CALLED CHRIST HAS GOSPEL TRADITION:

The participial phrase “(who is/who was) called Christ” (c.f. Antiquities, 20.9.1.200) does not actually include the verb “to be”. This is simply added into the English translation.

This is literally what it says in Greek:

“…and *having brought* before them (the council) the brother of Jesus, who *being called Christ*, *James – his name*…”

The participial phrase indeed matches the gospels. There is NO implication of PAST TENSE in «Ἰησοῦ τοῦ λεγομένου Χριστοῦ». And there’s no way to rephrase it to imply a present tense more explicitly.

Since, in the context of the current form of the text, Jesus is assumed to have died previously, it is totally appropriate to translate it in English as “…was called…”. The Greek phrasing should be totally non-controversial.

The same expression “called Christ” is both John 4:25 and Matthew 1:16: “of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.” The phrase is found in a similar form in Matthew two more times, then in 27:17 and 27:22; and the author of the Gospel of Matthew has Pilate both times designating Jesus as that “Jesus who is called Christ”. The manner of letting a non-Christian witness identify Jesus as the one who was “called Christ” can accordingly be traced back to the Gospels. This would reasonably imply that it would not have felt unnatural for a Christian person with knowledge of the Gospel accounts to designate Jesus as the one called Christ, if he later found that Josephus ought to have mentioned Jesus.

“Called Christ” are the EXACT SAME phrase in different grammatical cases (nominative for ‘subject’, accusative for ‘direct object’ and genitive for ‘possessive’).

So what we observe in the English translations is a juxtaposition of the tense forms of “to be”, where past tense (“was”) is appropriate for Josephus and Origen (narrating events after Jesus’ death); while present tense (“is”) is appropriate for the Gospels (narrating events during Jesus’ life). English translators are forced to make a choice, while the Greek authors were not bound by such rules.

Ἰησοῦ τοῦ λεγομένου Χριστοῦ (genitive).

(Iêsou tou legomenou Christou)

Jesus who (was) called Christ

(Antiquities of the Jews 20:200).

Ἰησοῦς ὁ λεγόμενος Χριστός (nominative)

(Iêsous ho legomenos Christos)

Jesus, who (is) called Christ (Matt 1:16).

ὁ λεγόμενος Χριστός (nominative)

(ho legomenos Christos)

he] who ( is)called Christ (John 4:25).

Ἰησοῦν τὸν λεγόμενον Χριστόν (accusative)

(Iêsoun ton legomenon Christon)

Jesus who (is) called Christ (Matt 27:17).

Ἰησοῦν τὸν λεγόμενον Χριστόν (accusative)

(Iêsoun ton legomenon Christon)

with Jesus who (is) called Christ (Matt 27:22).

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WHAT’S MISSING/ WHAT’S ADDED??

(From passage)

As stated in line 199 this makes little sense. For example, was Josephus telling us that Ananus simply liked to have individuals executed without justifiable cause, and was merely waiting for the opportune moment when he was not under Roman authority to give vent to his sadistic temperament?

Or, is something now missing from the original text, immediately before line 200, which formerly gave the correct account of why Ananus needed to get rid of the unknown man or men in question?

However, in the current version, the reader is none the wiser. This is in fact quite noticeable if one has the eyes to see, because after supposedly giving his reader no clear motive for the arrests, Josephus then goes to great lengths (lines 201 – 203) to explain that the charges against the men were not justified. These three lines would only make sense if, before line 200, the reader had been told the nature of the charges and the context behind them being levelled at the men in question.

It might also be consider that originally the JP (or preceding text), was somewhat longer than it now appears, and once included the genuine reasons behind Ananus’ urgent need to make use of the opportune death of Festus to dispatch his enemies. Here, the unknown Christian interpolator may well have removed one (or possibly two), sentences that originally gave the reader the correct names of the offenders (as well as the true nature of their crime). He then inserted this most convenient of phrases: “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James”.

After supposedly giving his reader no clear motive for the arrests, Josephus then goes to great lengths (lines 201 – 203) to explain that the charges against the men were not justified. These three lines would only make sense if, before line 200, the reader had been told the nature of the charges and the context behind them being levelled at the men in question.

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CONCLUSIONS

The only other early author (apart from the disputed Josephus) to mention James before the close of the second century C.E. is Hegesippus (cf. Fragments from the Acts of the Church; Concerning the Martyrdom of James, the Brother of the Lord, from Book 5), who as early as c. 165 – 175 C.E. tells his reader in great detail that James (as brother of the Lord) was hurled from the top of the Temple and then because he survived this attempt on his life he was then summarily stoned to death. Hegesippus also tells us that this happened immediately before the destruction of the Temple by Vespasian and as such it would point to a date of c. 68 – 70 C.E.

If this account is in any way accurate it means that the JP is in direct contradiction to both the date as well as the manner and circumstances of James’ death (The JP states that James was stoned along with “others” after due trial and sentencing by a high priest).

The issue is further compounded by the fact that, by the fourth and fifth centuries it was more normal for the mainstream church to defer from referring to Jesus as having flesh and blood brothers. In this regard, it will be recalled that in his DVI, 2 Jerome (c. 347 – 420 C.E.) maintains that James was Jesus’ cousin and the biological son of Mary of Cleophas. Jerome stresses that James was not the son of Joseph by another wife.

Although, in his Cels. II, 22, Origen makes it clear that he thinks that the death of Jesus was the ultimate cause for the destruction of the Temple, he repeatedly makes mention of Josephus’ reference to James in his many writings. In these contexts, he falsely records Josephus as blaming the death of James for the destruction of Jerusalem and as has been clearly shown, Origen recurrently employs the almost identical phraseology as found in the JP today.

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MY OWN CONCLUSION:

Origen said himself that Josephus hated the term ‘Christ’ in relation to Jesus. I don’t believe the term existed in his copy. I believe the interpolater was of Origen school and simply lifted the phrase, “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ” from Origen’s writings.

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Footnotes

[A] Passage from Antiquitates Judaicae20.9.1/ 197 – 203 (James Passage)

“And now Caesar, upon hearing the death of Festus, sent Albinus into Judea, as procurator. But the king deprived Joseph of the high priesthood, and bestowed the succession to that dignity on the son of Ananus, who was also himself called Ananus. Now the report goes that this eldest Ananus proved a most fortunate man; for he had five sons who had all performed the office of a high priest to God, and who had himself enjoyed that dignity a long time formerly, which had never happened to any other of our high priests. But this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king, desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrin without his consent. Whereupon Albinus complied with what they said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which king Agrippa took the high priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest.”

[B] Passage from the Antiquitates Judaicae18.3.3/ 63 – 64.( better known as the Testimonium Flavian or TF).

“Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.”

[1] https://chs.harvard.edu/CHS/article/display/5871.5-a-eusebian-reading-of-the-testimonium-flavianum-ken-olson

[2] http://khazarzar.skeptik.net/books/pines01.pdf

[3] http://hypotyposeis.org/weblog/2004/08/a-pre-eusebian-witness-to-the-testimonium.html

[4] http://khazarzar.skeptik.net/books/whealey1.pdf

[5] https://dspace.nwu.ac.za/bitstream/handle/10394/14213/Allen_NPL.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

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P.14 from Shlomo Pines book “An Arabic Version of the Testimonium Flavianum and its lmplications”.

ASCLEPIUS, HIS CULT AND PARALLELS TO JESUS.

SUFFERING SAVIOR GOD PRECEDENT TO JESUS:

“And when he [the devil] brings forward Æsculapius as the raiser of the dead and healer of all diseases, may I not say that in this matter likewise he has imitated the prophecies about Christ?”~Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Typho 69.

Asclepius was son of Apollo. He shared with his father the title Paean (healer), but he was also the child of a mortal mother, Coronis, who died before delivering him. Apollo saved the infant Asclepius by cutting him from his mother’s womb on her funeral pyre. (Asclepius means to cut open). Apollo took the demigod child to Chiron the Centaur, who then instructed him in the art of medicine.

Asclepius became so good at the art of medicine that he was soon able to raise the dead. He brought mythological figures such as Lycurgus, Capaneus, the prophet Tyndareus, Glaucos, Orion and the hero Hippolytus ( who enjoyed his own apotheosis to become a god). At some point the god became vexed by all these resurrections. According to one source, Hades was annoyed that his subjects were being “stolen” from him by Asclepius.

So Zeus struck the demigod dead with a thunderbolt. Apollo interceded on behalf of his son and Zeus restored Asclepius to life and making him a god, thus fulfilling a prophecy that Asclepius would become a god only to be killed and return to divine status, “twice renewing” his fate.

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PARALLELS TO JESUS

* A child of both God and mortal

* A great healer

* Resurrected the dead

* Fulfilled prophecies

* Suffered death, only to be resurrected

* Worshipped for his powers to heal

* Both thought of as savior gods.

* Cults and Temples were developed in their names.

* People experienced healing “miracles” effected by their god.

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For centuries sick people went to the Temples dedicated to Asclepius.

Early Christians attacked the cult of Asclepius with venom because of rivalry.

Christians find it implausible that a person who suffered an ignominious death of crucifixion could ever be thought of as a god, but many gods were said to have suffered on earth and martyred and resurrected prior to Jesus. Asclepius being a perfect example.

The Therapuetae of Asclepius were a recognized and designated association in antiquity that included the physicians, their attendants and support staff, in the larger temples of Asclepius. These healing temples were known as Asclepeions. Examples of famous therapeutae of Asclepius between 300 BCE and 300 CE include Hippocrates, Apollonius of Tyana, Aelius Aristides and Galen. The Greek word therapeutai (θερα^π-ευτής) has the primary meaning of ‘one who serves the gods, or ‘worshipper’.

It was Asclepius on whose temple at Epidaurus the words were inscribed: “Pure must be he who enters the fragrant temple; purity means to think nothing but holy thoughts.”

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The following extract is taken from M David Latwa’s book Iesus Dues, ch5

“Asclepius (the Latin Aesculapius), son of Apollo and famous doctor, was killed by Zeus’s thunderbolt for resuscitating people from the dead. “Jupiter aimed a thunderbolt at him,” relates Ovid, “who used the resources of a too potent art” (Fasti 6.759-60). He was buried, some say, in Cynosura (Cic., Nat. d. 3.22.57), though others pointed to Epidaurus (Ps. Clem., Hom 6.21; Rec. 10.24). But Zeus raised Asclepius from the dead. The second-century Christian apologist Theophilus of Antioch affirms that Asclepius “was raised” (ἐγηγέρθαι—a word used for the resurrection of Jesus in Matt. 16: 21; Mark 14: 28; Luke 24: 6; John 21: 14) from the dead (Autol. 1.13). According to Hyginus’s Fables, Asclepius returned from the underworld (ab inferis) by the permission of the Fates (Fab. 251.2). He was one of those made immortal from mortal human beings (ex mortalibus immortales) (Fab. 224.5). Out of mercy (κατ’ ἔλεον), says Lucian, Zeus raised Asclepius not just to a normal human life, but made him participate in immortality (ἀθανασίας μεταλαμβάνω) (Dial. Mort. 13.1).[ 51] Justin Martyr apparently understands Asclepius’s resurrection to involve a simultaneous ascent to heaven (ἀνεληλυθέναι εἰς οὐρανόν) (1 Apol. 21.2).[ 52] In Pseudo-Eratosthenes, Zeus leads Asclepius up to the stars (εἰς τὰ ἄστρα ἀναγαγεῖν) and makes him a constellation (the serpent-bearer) (1.6; cf. Dan. 12: 3). That Asclepius’s resurrection/ ascension was also a deification was widely understood. Ovid addresses Apollo: “Phoebus, you complained [about Asclepius’s death]. But Aesculapius is a god (deus est); be reconciled to your parent [Zeus]” (Fasti 6.761-62). Both Minucius Felix (Oct. 23.7) and Cyprian (Quod idola dii non sint 2) describe Asclepius as rising to godhood (in deum surgat).[ 54] After his death, Asclepius eventually received worship due to a god. Indeed, during the infancy of Christianity, Asclepius’s cult was one of the most popular in the Greco-Roman world. In his cult centers, he was said to appear in full bodily presence to his votaries (usually in dream visions). According to Celsus, for instance, “a great multitude of people, Greeks and barbarians alike, confess that they have often seen and still see not a mere apparition (οὐ φάσμα) but Asclepius himself, healing, doing good and predicting the future” (Cels. 3.24; cf. Luke 24: 39). Maximus of Tyre claims that he saw Asclepius (as well as the Dioscuri and Heracles) and insists that it was not in a dream (Or. 9.7; cf. Luke 24: 39).”

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There are also some comparisons between the life of Pythagorus and the gospels, eg

Sostrata; then he cut open her belly, removed an enormous quantity of worms-two full basins; then he stitched up her belly and made the woman well; then Asclepius revealed his presence and bade her send thank offerings for the cure to Epidaurus [the main cult site]. (Epidaurus inscription, 4th century B.C.E.) Here we cannot help thinking of the famous story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35).

Also compare the nets too heavy to drag in, between the “Life of Pythagoras, 36, 60f.” And The Johannine story of the miraculous catch of fish (John 21:1-11).

Pool of Bethesda

On chapter 5 of Johns gospel, Jesus heals a paralytic at the pool of Bethesda. This pool was unknown until the same pool with 5 porticos was discovered by archaeologists in the nineteenth century. This is evidence that the evangelist knew of this pool that got destroyed in the Roman Jewish war of 70AD. This pool was used as therapeutic cure for the infirm. The pool was an asclepieion.

Chapter 5 of Johns gospel has been thought a “deliberate polemic against the Asclepius cult, an antagonism possibly partly brought on by the fact that Asclepius was worshipped as Saviour, in reference to his healing attributes. The narrative uses the Greek phrase “ὑγιὴς γενέσθαι”, hygies genesthai, (John5:6) which is not used anywhere in the Synoptic Gospels, but appears frequently in ancient testimonies to the healing powers of Asclepius; the later narrative in the Gospel of John about Jesus washing Simon Peter‘s feet at the Last Supper, (John13:5-18) similarly uses the Greek term “λούειν”, louein,(John13:10) which is a special term for washing in an Asclepieion, rather than the Greek word used elsewhere in the Johannine text to describe washing – “νίπτειν”, niptein.” ~Maureen W. Yeung, Faith in Jesus and Paul, p. 79.

In the Acts of Pilate (gospel of Nicodemus) Pilate informs the Jews that Jesus heals by the god Asclepius:

Pilate saith: And what things are they that he doeth, and would destroy the law?

The Jews say: We have a law that we should not heal any man on the sabbath: but this man of his evil deeds hath healed the lame and the bent, the withered and the blind and the paralytic, the dumb and them that were possessed, on the sabbath day!

Pilate saith unto them: By what evil deeds?

They say unto him: He is a sorcerer, and by Beelzebub the prince of the devils he casteth out devils, and they are all subject unto him.

Pilate saith unto them: This is not to cast out devils by an unclean spirit, but by the god Asclepius.

And Justin Martyr in First Apology XXXV says “And that these things did happen, you can ascertain from the Acts of Pontius Pilate.”

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The ancient Mediterranean world was hip-deep in religions centering on the death and resurrection of a savior god. Usually these religions and their rites measured the yearly renewal of nature. The imagery of death and resurrection might symbolize the withering of vegetation in autumn and winter and its restoration in spring and summer. Or it might stand for the waning of daylight light till the Winter Solstice and its gradual waxing thereafter. Or perhaps the planting (death and burial) of the seed and its sprouting (resurrection). All were variations on the one theme. But the myths of each such god supplied plied the motivation for the fate and triumph of the savior, one that made sense in the native context.

MARCION: THE JUGGERNAUT OF CHRISTIANITY.

One of the first mentions of Christians outside of Jewish sources was made in the Territory of Marcion, in Pontus and Bithynia. Pliny the younger sent a letter to Tragan in 112AD in regards to secret societies including Christian clubs and what to do with them.

“Several modern researchers have pointed to features in common between Pliny’s Christians and Marcion’s brand of Christianity. These include the absence of Jewish characteristics in the service, the direct worship of Christ as something like a deity, and the relatively high position accorded women.”~BeDuhn, The First New Testament,16.

According to the letter two women slaves held important positions as ministrae who distributed the ritual meal.

Tacitus may have also been informed by the Marcionite version of Luke. The opening line of the Evangelion, “In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar, when Pilate was governing Judea.” Is similar to Annals15.44 “Christians…..suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus,”.

Marcions book, Antitheses showed the God of the Old Testament could not be the God of Jesus. “For example, the God of the Old Testament tells the people of Israel to enter into the city of Jericho and murder every man, woman, child, and animal in the city (Joshua 6); but the God of Jesus tells his followers to love their enemies, to pray for those who persecute them, to turn the other cheek (Luke 6: 27–29). Is this the same God? When Elisha, the prophet of the Old Testament God, was being mocked by a group of young boys, God allowed him to call out two she-bears to attack and maul them (2 Kings 2: 23–24). The God of Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me” (Luke 18: 15–17). Is this the same God? The God of the Old Testament said, “Cursed is anyone who hangs on a tree” (Deut. 27: 26; 28: 58). But the God of Jesus ordered him, the one who was blessed, to be hanged on a tree. Is this the same God?

How could the wrathful, vengeful God of the Jews be the loving, merciful God of Jesus? Marcion maintained that these attributes could not belong to one God, as they stand at odds with one another: hatred and love, vengeance and mercy, judgment and grace. He concluded that there must in fact be two Gods: the God of the Jews, as found in the Old Testament, and the God of Jesus, as found in the writings of Paul.”~Ehrman, Lost Christianities, ch5.

There was precedent for Marcions theology as Plutarch writes in Isis and Oirises 46-47 (369d-370c)

“Most of the wisest men …. think there are two gods, rivals as it were, one the maker of good things, the other of bad. But others call the better power a god, the other a demon, as does Zoroaster who… called the god “Ahurs Mazda” the demon,”Ahriman”. …..Moreover, he taught [his followers the magi] to offer sacrifices….”

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The earliest date we have for Marcion is Polycarp’s comment that Marcion was teaching in 115 AD. Irenaeus said that Polycarp first refutes Marcion face to face. – Haer. 3.3.4. Writing in 138 AD, Justin Martyr said that Marcionites could be found in “every nation.” [Dialogue with Trypho, prologue; First Apology.chap26].

Marcions had a sea trade and as a religious leader was able to spread his brand of Christianity fast, ships are the fastest method of travel.

Due to various Jewish revolts, 66-70AD, the Kitos and the Bar Kokhba revolt, Marcions brand of Christianity excluding the Jewish roots became popular.

Moreover, Jesus explains in Marcions Evangelion that no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the old wineskins burst and both they and the wine are destroyed (Luke5:37-38) The gospel is a new thing that has come into the world. It cannot be put into the old wineskins of the Jewish religion.

Tertullian claims “For it is evident that those men lived [Valentinus and Marcion] not so long ago,–in the reign of Antoninus for the most part,–and that they at first were believers in the doctrine of the Catholic Church, in the church of Rome under the episcopate of the blessed Eleutherus, until on account of their ever restless curiosity,with which they even infected the brethren, they were more than once expelled. Marcion, indeed, [went] with the two hundred sesterces which which he had brought into the church, and, when banished at last to a permanent excommunication, they scattered abroad the poisons of their doctrines.”~On the Prescriptions of Heresies, chXXX.

The proto Orthodox rejected Marcion because ““Christianity and Judaism “co-evolved,” and the degree to which the “orthodox” Christianity might even be said to represent a historical “convergence” with Jewish religious views and values, in contrast to other forms of Christianity, such as Marcionite and Manichaean Christianity, where such a convergence never occurred.”~BeDuhn,The First New Testament, 59-60.

As seen from Pliny’s letters, “Marcion came from a Gentile Christian community already substantially seperated from a Jewish religious background.” Ibid,60

Marcion identified certain texts as authoritative, Paul suited Marcions type of Christianity and Marcions canon gave his movement an authoritative air.

Harnack believes Marcion ( in his book called Marcion) was the first to use the term Evangelion to tell a narrative of Jesus’ life. Before this an Evangelion was a proclamation or manifesto of a powerful individual (whether divine or human). It was adopted by the early Christians.

The use of the word “gospel” by Christians in Marcions day referred primarily to a body of teaching such as the gospel mentioned in Pauls letters, and did not refer to a text.

With all the writings against Marcion we know that he was the juggernaut of Christianity:

Writings by Justin Martyr, Ireaneus, Tertullian, Origen, Eusibius and Jerome still survive.

Also here is a list of the lost works:

•Justin Martyr,Syntagma against Marcion ( mentioned Ireaneus, Haer4.6.2)

•Rhodo (Eusibius,Hist.eccl.5.13)

•Dionysus Of Corinth( Eusibius, Hist.eccl.4.23)

•Theophilus of Antioch(Eusibius, Hist. eccl. 4.24)

•Hippolytus Of Rome, Syntagma( Jerome, Vir. ill.61)

•Philip Of Gortyna(Eusibius,Hist.eccl.4.25)

•Modestus(Eusibius,Hist.eccl.4.25).

These were probably not preserved because they went too far against Pauls epistles that had come back into fashion after Marcion.

(It goes without saying that Marcions own work Antithesis (Meaning Oppositions) was destroyed but is reconstructed.)

We only know of Marcion through his detractors, and his first mention by a contemporary Justin Martyr (Apol.26.5) “already in this, the earliest reference to Marcion ( and apparently while still active) [Martyr says ‘even now’ in the quote], he is being ‘mythologized’ – reconstructed to serve the interests of his portrayer, on whose description any account must rely.”~Lieu,Marcion and the making of a heretic,15

Also in Lieu’s book, the polemics means everything is thrown against Marcion, most of which he was accused of had nothing to do with Marcion. Example Tertullian wrote a book against the Jews and just transferred what he wrote there onto Marcion, ie throw enough mud and see what sticks. That is why Marcions seems to be different to every opponent writing against him. Tertullian makes the case for a strongly dualistic – almost Manichaean – understanding of Marcionite theology. Whereas Ireaneus Marcionite godhead was tripartite (or at least that the two principle powers of God were ‘just’ and ‘merciful’ rather than ‘good’ and ‘evil’). Writings at first attributed to Hippolytus but now modern scholars treat the texts by an unknown author, compares Marcion to Empodocles whose governing principles love and discord is like Marcions good and evil.( Refutation VII.29-31).

The vigour with which Clement and Origen have combatted Marcion, shows Marcionites were a force to be reckoned with in Alexandria late 2nd century. Also a gnosticing Christianity preceded the proto- Orthodoxy in Egypt so Marcion, Valentine and Basilides were all written against. Bauer could detect no trace of orthodoxy in Egypt until the third-century bishop Demetrius.

Tyson claims that Luke Acts was written in reaction to Marcion.

Acts 16:6-8 mentions that while Paul traveled on his preaching missions, he and his traveling companions came upon Asia but the Holy Spirit did not permit them to preach while in Asia. The narrative elaborates to say that Paul attempted to specifically enter into the locale of Bithynia, Marcionite country but the “Spirit of Jesus did allow them” to go in. So they moved on to another locale.

Conspicuously, no explanation whatsoever is given for this prohibition from entering Bithynia. More striking is that there is no other instance in the entire Acts narrative where Paul was required to avoid a specific place and not make any contact with his gospel.

The author of Acts is disassociating Paul from Marcion by making expressly clear that of all the many places Paul traveled and preached, he did not even set foot in the hometown of Marcion (by order of divine guidance).

Another note of interest is that Acts has no mention of Alexandria. It does not mention Christianity in Egypt, so Acts is also disassociating from Valentines Christianity. Acts does admit in a curious text about an Alexandria Jew name Apollos who visited Ephesus but Paul and others judged his Christianity to be defective.

SOME FASCINATING FACTS in this dissertation:

*One of the first non Jewish source for Christians is from Marcion territory.

*He was responsible for the first New Testament in 144AD, it took the orthodox over 200 years to catch up.

*Was in the ascendancy, before the orthodox.

*Even Marcions history written by a contemporary is ‘mythologized’ and Marcion is demonised!

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DID MARCION GIVE ‘GOOD’ A BAD NAME?

“Tertullian knows that Marcion attributes to this deity the supreme quality of goodness ( bonitas). This, too, provokes a litany of dissent, not least the objection of goodness is only imaginary if it does not exhibit anger and retribution against that which disobeys its precepts.(Against Marcion I.27).”~Lieu,Marcion and the making of a heretic,65.

Marcion explained about the demiurge, the jealous creator god of the OT who dishes out retribution was not the same as the loving god, father of Jesus in his own book the Antithesis.

“alongside the ‘solely kind and supreme good’ God there is also another one whom, according to Tertullian, Marcion also insists on calling ‘God’ presumably because so did his source, the Scriptures. This deity is most persistently the ‘Creator’; he is a ‘judge, fierce and warlike (iudex, ferus, bellipotents)’. Against Marcion I.6. More than this, he is proven to lack goodness, prescience and omnipotence, and even to be actively responsible for evil to be inconsistent and unreliable in his demands and to be forever changing his mind. (Against Marcion II.5.2;21;23-4).”~ ibid,66.

Marcion’s Jesus appeared full grown on earth during the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius. For Marcion, Jesus simply appeared on earth one day, already an adult and with a celestial body. Marcion’s Jesus had no human family and only appeared to be a human being. Marcion’s Jesus only “appeared” to be crucified. Marcion’s Jesus only appeared to die. Marcion’s Jesus only appeared to be resurrected. Marcion’s Jesus was a god totally separate from the evil Yahweh, whom Marcion referred to as the “demi-urge”. This is reconstructed from church fathers writing against Marcion. [eg Tertullian, Adversus Marcionem1; Martyr, I Apology26.189-190; Ireneaus, Against Heresies 1.27; Epiphanius, Panarion 42.3.3]

name marcionite heavenly Savior (Jesus) was:

ISU CHRESTOS

The inscription “Isu Chrestos” can still be seen on the oldest surviving Christian “Synagogue” in Syria. Dated 318AD, the inscription reads, “The meeting-house of the Marcionists, in the village of Lebaba of the Lord and Saviour Jesus CHRESTOS.

In most of the earliest manuscripts the term ‘Chrestian’ is used instead of ‘Christian’. The earliest form of the term “Christian” does not occur until Codex Alexandrinus, at least the 5th century. Modern scholars put this down to the fact that the terms were interchangeable. Some cite Tertullian for this:

“Now then, if this hatred is directed against the name, what is the guilt attaching to names? What accusation can be brought against words, except that a certain pronunciation of a name sounds barbarous, or is unlucky or abusive or obscene? But ‘Christian,’ as far as its etymology goes, is derived from ‘anointing.’ And even when it is incorrectly pronounced by you ‘Chrestian’ (for not even is your acquaintance with the name accurate), it is formed from ‘sweetness’ or ‘kindness.’ In innocent men, therefore, even an innocent name is hated.”~ Apology3.

Also Justin aware of the difference.

Justin makes a pun off of it, because nonChristians commonly confused the iota and eta due to the similar phonological pronunciations.

1 Apology chpt 4 “And those among yourselves who are accused you do not punish before they are convicted; but in our case you receive the name as proof against us, and this although, so far as the name goes, you ought rather to punish our accusers. For we are accused of being Christians, and to hate what is excellent (Chrestian) is unjust. Again, if any of the accused deny the name, and say that he is not a Christian, you acquit him, as having no evidence against him as a wrong-doer; but if any one acknowledge that he is a Christian, you punish him on account of this acknowledgment.”~Martyr, 1Apology4.

But if the terms were so interchangeable why the determined rub outs in manuscripts.

*In Tacitus Annuls it has been shown under UV light the ‘e’ was changed to ‘i’

*Why did Later Christian scribes literally erased the “e” from “Chrestos” and “Chrestianous” and replaced it with an “i”. And, as we know, later editions of the Bible replaced “Chrestus” with “Christos” and “Chrestianous” with “Christianous”.

It originally was written ‘Chrestianous’ in all three places in the NT codex Siniaticus [χρηϲτιανουϲ corrected to: χριϲτιανουϲ ](Acts11:26,Acts26:27,1Peter4:16). See in picture with this post. Equally interesting is the fact that in all three cases, the right vertical stroke and the horizontal stroke of the ETA have been erased to produce an IOTA (yielding the traditional spelling). This is very unusual. Sinaiticus was corrected many times, and each generation of correctors had their own discernible “tics”. But simple erasure without further comment seems to be unprecedented. Moreover, the empty space left by the erasure is, in all three cases, not filled up. This shows that without any question the scribe of Sinaiticus deliberately meant to write “Chrestian” in all three instances; it was not a mistake and in all three instances it was rubbed out. Why?

I believe it was an anti Marcionite reaction.

Have a look at the following interesting link:

http://www.mountainman.com.au/essenes/chrestians%20christians.htm

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Why is the identification of Marcion as the first collector of the Pauline epistles so unbelievable?

When Ignatius, Polycarp, and 1 Clement make reference to Pauline letters, as Bauer noted, they sound like ill-prepared students faking their way through a discussion of a book they neglected to read. None of the writers are aware of Paul’s reputation as a great epistolarian, and each makes strange statements implying an utter lack of familiarity with the Pauline corpus. Obviously the Pauline collection does not seem to be assembled yet.

•Clement seems to know of only one Corinthian epistle, First Clement47:1 appears to have thought there was but a single Pauline letter to Corinth.

•Ignatius, in his letter to the Ephesians, somehow imagined that Paul had eulogized the Ephesians in every one of his epistles. (Ignatius, To the Ephesians 12:2).

•Polycarp thinks Paul brags on the Philippians in his letters to “all churches” , ie That all Paul’s letters mentioned the Philippian congregation ( Polycarp, To the Philippians 11:3) and that he wrote several letters to the Philippians, he thought there were several letters to the church at Philippi (To the Philippians 3:2).

However Polycarp, Ignatius, and 1 Clement can be shown to make allusions to the letters to the Corinthians.

According to Bauer starting at least with 1 Clement, the Roman hierarchy found 1 Corinthians to be useful as a weapon against heresy and sectarianism. Because of this utility, 1 Corinthians was widely circulated, even as other Pauline letters were shunned and suppressed in the Roman-leaning circles.[1]

Tertullian called Paul “the apostle of Marcion and the apostle of the heretics,” and both Irenaeus and Tertullian noted how much the heretics cherished Paul’s writings.

Justin Martyr never mentioned Paul ( by name) but must have known of him. What he knew was that Paul was sacred to Marcion, whose legacy Justin despised. This period of neglecting Paul ended with late second-century apologists Irenaeus, bishop of Lugdunum (Lyons) in Gaul, and Tertullian of Carthage. They both sought to rehabilitate the fascinating Pauline epistles that Polycarp and others had tried to sanitize to win Marcionite and Gnostic (that is, Pauline) Christians over to Catholicism.

Legend has it that Onesimus (the slave mentioned in Philemon) was the first collector, (like a treasure hunt) going around to the various churches, delighted that the interest in Paul has reignited with the writings of Acts.

It is a lot more real that Marcion would have the means and interest in putting the Pauline corpus together.

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[1] Walter Bauer, Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity, eds. Robert A. Kraft and Gerhard Kroedel (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971), 219ff.

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Evangelion

Harnack believes Marcion ( in his book called Marcion) was the first to use the term Evangelion as a title to tell a narrative of Jesus’ life. Before this an Evangelion was a proclamation or manifesto of a powerful individual (whether divine or human). It was adopted by the early Christians.

The use of the word “gospel” by Christians in Marcions day referred primarily to a body of teaching such as the gospel mentioned in Pauls letters, and did not refer to a text.

Marcions gospel followed the same distinctive shape and sequence as our gospel Luke leaving out a number of passages leading the early church fathers from Ireaneus onwards to think that Marcion ‘mutilated’ the scriptures. “He mutilates the gospel according to Luke…(Ireaneus Against Heresies I.27.2)

They claim the motivation of Marcion to do this was to suit his own ideological theology, but through a number of examples this is shown not to be the case.

The Evangelon aligns with Marcionite theology no better or no worse than orthodox theology.

Only one example shown in this OP to ensure brevity, many more given in Lieu’s book cited:

In Jesus’ sudden appearance in Luke24:37-39, Tertullian and Epiphanius are both perplexed that Marcions gospel had the following:

37 They thought they were seeing a phantom.38 So he said to them, “Why are you troubled and why are doubts arising in your heart?39 Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself because a spirit does not have bones just as you see that I have.”

(Tertullian Against Marcion4.43.6-8; Epiphanius Pan64.64.7)

This goes against Marcions docetism.(Jesus having bones). This also is close to a variant seen in codex Bazae and Ignatius. The Greek and Latin Codex Bezae variant of Luke 24 also uses “phantasma” or “ghost” in Luke 24:37 (“they thought they had seen a ghost”) in place of the Alexandrian “pneuma” or “spirit”.

Cf Ignatius,Smyrnaeans 3:2 has striking resemblances to Luke 24:39 Bazae variant.

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Given the textual evidence it is now thought that Marcion took up a gospel in circulation, Marcionite communities had multiple exemplars which would explain the different sets of harmonisations between Tertullian and Epiphanius.

John Knox-Tyson theory have Luke/Acts in its final redaction composed in 110-120AD in agreement with Pervos dates. They see Acts as domesticating Paul in an anti-Marcionite intent. By adding Luke 1-2 you get a more physical Jesus and by making a more Torah loving Paul in Acts ( mirroring Peter) all helps to combat Marcionism.

The Evangelon and Luke look like pre-existing gospels that were changed respectively for Gentile audience and Luke primarily for the Jewish audience. (ie these changes came about due to mission related purposes as opposed to ideological). In Marcions day it looks like there were already TWO versions of Proto Luke in circulation, with Marcions version having certain affinities with Western tradition, and more precisely it presupposes an earlier text form from the western text (example codex Bezae) and particularly the old Syrian text known to Ephram and Aphraat are also descended.

“As BeDuhn puts it Marcions “omissions” actually were “non interpolations”; that is the text known to him lacked material found in the alternative version of the gospel that came to be known as the gospel of Luke.”~BeDuhn,The New Testament,88.

The Evangelon is another witness in the understanding and build up, split up and reaction of certain NT literature.

Celsus has summed this up before and would explain two variant Lukes in circulation to suit Jews and Gentiles ( Marcion representing one such variant)

Were the changes the results of OBJECTERS or DISBELIEVERS, from Jewish and gentile orientated stances, Contra Celsium II.27

Chapter 27

[What Celsus said] …After this he says, that certain of the Christian believers, like persons who in a fit of drunkenness lay violent hands upon themselves, have corrupted the Gospel from its original integrity, to a threefold, and fourfold, and many-fold degree, and have remodelled it, so that they might be able to answer objections. [End of what Celsus said]…..

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SOURCES

BeDuhn, The First New Testament.

Lieu, Marcion and the making of a heretic.

Tyson, Marcion and Luke Acts.

Dr RM Price, Amazing Colossal Apostle.

Ehrman, Lost Christianities.

Legends and Christianity.

The stories of the many were thrown onto the stories of the few.

These few are legends.

The legends do reflect real history though!

Discuss.

Some examples:-

Take Josephus, his story of falling into favour with Vespasian sounds very similar to Rabbi Yohanan Ben Zacchai.( Credited with founding Rabbinic Judaism Mishnah).

Take “Paul”. Many of his stories were very similar to Simon Magus, perhaps Magus was used as a polemic about Paul. Simon Magus trying to buy his apostleship in Acts reminds us of Pauls famine relief aid and being rejected. It also reminds us of Marcions contribution to the Roman church and being rejected.

Take “Jesus Christ”, heaps of sayings including the golden rule were very similar to Hillel the elder and other sages.

All these “legends” represent the struggles of real sects, take the Jesus movements, all stemmed ultimately from the sects that existed near the Jordan River, surviving later on as Mandaeans and Nasoreans, that baptized acolytes.[Notice even here the early competing sects of John the Baptist and those of Jesus the Nazorean ]. These struggles were magnified with Roman occupation including the melt down with the Roman Jewish War. Throw Nazoreans and Roman Propaganda in the melting pot, you get a baked Christianity!

Other “legends” represented the struggles of Diaspora Jews, Pauls epistles are a rich tapestry of competing movements redacted and updated giving out seemingly contradictory messages. Do you follow the Torah or not.

When you do a deep dive into this period you find the same stories were being used, ( eg in Acts between overwrites and rewrites), just change the names and off you go.

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LITERATURE OF FEAR in face of Rome.

Paul and Rabbi Yohanan ben Zacchai, the founder of Rabbinic Judaism, parallel Josephus behavior. All considered themselves Pharisees. Where Roman power was at issue, do the constraints under which each operated differ much from each other? Josephus tells those stories about popular Messianic leaders in a bad light who had been crucified by Roman administrators.

Rabbi Yohanan ben Zacchai, the founder of Rabbinic Judaism, as making the same opportunistic interpretation as Josephus the prophecy Vespasian would be Emperor, presumably to save his skin.

With Paul it is because of the Romans we have the Christianity of today.

With Rabbi Yohanan ben Zacchai we have the accommodating Pharisic Judaism of today.

All this literature post 70AD turned out to be pro Roman simply because it was the literature of fear. You were pro Roman or your writings would not survive and possibly you would not survive too!

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APOCALYPTIC LEADERS VERY LIKE JESUS:

With the shrewd rise of King David over all the tribes, a precedent was set and historical prototype for subsequent messianic movements, from bandit chieftain to King. During the time of Jesus all these tales of messiah savior “kings” gave rise to many messianic movements such as those reported by Josephus.

Jewish Wars was out by 75AD, first written in Aramaic, later rewritten. Were the messianic characters stories were used as narratives to re tell Jesus’ story.

SIMON BAR GIORA

* The cleansing of the Temple scene in Mark preserves some faded memory of the entry of Simon bar-Gioras into the Temple to clean out the robbers (Zealots) of John of Giscala on the eve of the Temple’s destruction.(Mark11:15-19; Wars4.9.11-12).

“So they got together, and slew many of the zealots, and drove the rest before them into that royal palace…..the Idumeans [loyal to Simon] fell in with them, and drove the zealots out thence into the temple, and betook themselves to plunder John’s effects….. Accordingly, in order to overthrow John, they determined to admit Simon: and earnestly to desire the introduction of a second tyrant into the city…….. Accordingly he, in an arrogant manner, granted them his lordly protection; and came into the city, in order to deliver it from the zealots. The people also made joyful acclamations to him, as their saviour, and their preserver. “(Wars4.9.11).

This reminds us of Simon Maccabee entering Jerusalem with people laying palms: 1Macc13:51 (cfZachariah9:9-10;Psalm118)

“Whereupon John, with his multitude of zealots, as being both prohibited from coming out of the temple, and having lost their power in the city: (for Simon and his party had plundered them of what they had:) were in despair of deliverance. Simon also made an assault upon the temple, with the assistance of the people; while the others stood upon the cloisters, and the battlements, and defended themselves from their assaults.”(Wars4:9:12)

We notice how Simon bar Gioras was welcomed into the temple to cleanse the sacred precinct from the “thieves” who infested it, Zealots under John of Gischala.

After this triumphant entry he commenced the cleansing of the temple, “sweep( ing) the zealots out of the city.”

* Just like Jesus on his entry into Jerusalem people thought of Simon bar Giora as a king.

Simon, with “a strong body of men,” overran villages and became a threat “to the cities.” He had men of power, slaves and robbers, and “a great many of the populace” who “were obedient to him as their KING.” According to Josephus, it was no secret that he was “making preparations for the assault on Jerusalem” (Wars 4.9.4).

* Jesus movement was from the backwater of Galilee, simple country folk where Jesus told many agrarian parables. Jesus was a faith healer and teacher where he soon had thousands following him.

Simon bar Giora’s movement composed of Judean and Idumean villages and towns. He built up vast following. Eventually became one of the main leaders in the Jerusalem revolt.(Wars4.9.4).

* People venerated Jesus on his entry into Jerusalem

Yet the Jews had the highest regard for, and fear of, Simon. They were also very ready to take their own lives, if he would have given such a command: “Above all, they had a great veneration and dread of Simon; and to that degree was he regarded by every one of those that were under him, that at his command they were very ready to kill themselves with their own hands” (Wars 5.7.3).

* Simon bar Giora was the leader of the rebel faction called the sicarii, who hid their daggers underneath their cloaks. This has a parallel where one of the disciples drew his short sword (a dagger) during Christ’s arrest.(Mark14:47).

* During Christ’s march to Golgotha the Roman soldiers put a purple robe on him, but later removed it again. Simon bar Giora was also known as Simon bar Poras, the latter word a shortened version of the Latin word purpura (porpora in Italian) for the colour purple. When Simon bar Giora was arrested, he put on his purple cloak before he surrendered, probably as a declaration that he was the one they wanted most.

Toward the end of the Roman siege of Jerusalem, John Levi and many others had already been captured by the Romans, but Simon was still underground and hoping to escape. Josephus recorded his bizarre behavior when he finally emerged dressed like a king, hoping to trick the Romans, but was captured and kept for the eventual celebration in Rome.

“And now Simon, thinking he might be able to astonish and elude the Romans, put on a white frock, and buttoned upon him a purple cloak, and appeared out of the ground in the place where the temple had formerly been.”(Wars7.2.1)

* The trial of Jesus with Pilate (Mark15:4-5) and his willingness to be taken as in Mark (14:21) “For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born” does chiastically parallel with

“Thus did God bring this man to be punished for what bitter and savage tyranny he had exercised against his countrymen, by those who were his worst enemies: and this while he was not subdued by violence, but voluntarily delivered himself up to them to be punished”

(Wars7.2.1).

He stayed three days underground and then appeared suddenly out of the ground.

“…appeared out of the ground in the place where the temple had formerly been…..At the first indeed, those that saw him were greatly astonished, and stood still where they were.”

He appeared like an apparition would make a parallel with the resurrection.(Wars7.2.1).

* Caesar’s triumphal procession is described in Wars 7.5.1-7. Simon was called “the general of the enemy” and his execution was in “the last part of this pompous show…at the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus.” A rope was put around his head and he was tormented as he was dragged along. All the people shouted for joy when it was announced that he had been killed (Wars 7.5.6). This matches the crowd turning against Jesus as he was to be crucified.

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Source Josephus Jewish Wars

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/josephus/index.html

Simon the son of Giora (69 – 70 C.E.); (JW, II, 19, 2 / 521; 22, 2 / 652 – 654; IV, 9,4;

9, 8 / 538 – 544; 10 / 556 – 565; 11 / 573 – 574; V, 3, 1 / 105; 6, 1 / 248 – 253; 3 / 266 – 274; 4 / 278 – 279; 13, 1 / 527- 533; VI, 1, 7 / 72; VII, 2, 1 / 25; 2 / 26 – 36; 5,1-7; 8, 1 / 265 – 267) Tacitus Hist. V 12

Also mentions by Dr Price about parallels of Simon bar Giora and Jesus prompted me to look into this.

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JESUS BEN ANANIAS

The most significant and compelling parallel is Mark14.60,

60 Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 61 But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.

Procurator Albinus actually asks Jesus Ben Ananias the exact same question and he also made no answer!

* Both came to Jerusalem during major religious festival.

(Mark14:2 , JW 6.301)

* Both enter Temple area‘s and rant against Temple.

(Mark11:15-17 , JW 6.301)

* Both quote same chapter of Jeremiah.

(Jer7:11 in Mark , Jer7:34 in JW)

* Both preach daily in the temple.

(Mark14:49 , JW6.306)

* Both declared “woe” on to Judea or the Jews.

(Mark13:17 JW6.304.306.309)

* Both predict the temple would be destroyed.

(Mark13:2. , JW 6.300.309)

* Both are for this reason arrested by the Jews.

(Mark14:43 , JW 6.302)

* Both are accused of speaking against the temple.

(Mark14:58 , JW 6.302)

* Neither makes any defence of himself against the charges.

(Mark14:60 , JW 6.302)

* Both are beaten by the Jews.

(Mark14:65 JW6.302)

* Then both are taken to the Roman Governor.

( Pilate in Mark , Albinus in JW)

* Both interrogated by the Roman Governor.

(15:2-4 , JW 6.303)

* Both asked to identify themselves.

(Mark15:2 , JW6.303)

* Neither says anything in their defense.

(Mark15:3-5 , JW6.305)

* Both beaten by the Romans.

(Mark15:15. , JW 6.304)

* Not released in Mark15:6-15 ; released in JW6.309

* Killed in Mark15:34 by execution.

Killed in JW6.308-309 by artillery.

* Both utter lament for themselves immediately before they die.

(Mark15:34 , JW6.309)

* Both die with loud cry.

(Mark15:37 , JW6.309)

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THE ‘EGYPTIAN’

The Egyptian prophet (between 52 and 58 CE)

[Sources: Flavius Josephus, Jewish War 2.259-263 ; cf Jewish Antiquities 20.169-171; Acts of the apostles 21.38.]

Story: According to Flavius Josephus, there were many people during the governorship of Festus

who deceived and deluded the people under pretense of Divine inspiration, but were in fact for procuring innovations and changes of the government. These men prevailed with the multitude to act like madmen, and went before them into the wilderness, pretending that God would there show them the signals of liberty.[Flavius Josephus, Jewish War 2.259.]

He continues with the following story.

There was an Egyptian false prophet that did the Jews more mischief than the former; for he was a cheat, and pretended to be a prophet also, and got together thirty thousand men that were deluded by him; these he led round about from the wilderness to the mount which was called the Mount of Olives. He was ready to break into Jerusalem by force from that place; and if he could but once conquer the Roman garrison and the people, he intended to rule them by the assistance of those guards of his that were to break into the city with him.[Flavius Josephus, Jewish War 2.261-262.]

In his Jewish antiquities, Josephus retold the story. The number of followers seems to be less exaggerated and the prophet’s threat to use violence are ignored.

about this time, someone came out of Egypt to Jerusalem, claiming to be a prophet. He advised the crowd to go along with him to the Mount of Olives, as it was called, which lay over against the city, and at the distance of a kilometer. He added that he would show them from hence how the walls of Jerusalem would fall down at his command, and he promised them that he would procure them an entrance into the city through those collapsed walls. Now when Felix was informed of these things, he ordered his soldiers to take their weapons, and came against them with a great number of horsemen and footmen from Jerusalem, and attacked the Egyptian and the people that were with him. He slew four hundred of them, and took two hundred alive. The Egyptian himself escaped out of the fight, but did not appear any more. And again the robbers stirred up the people to make war with the Romans, and said they ought not to obey them at all; and when any persons would not comply with them, they set fire to their villages, and plundered them. [Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 20.169-171.]

Comment: Like Theudas, the Egyptian prophet took Joshua (the man who made the walls of Jericho fall;Joshua 6.20) as an example. The Roman governor was rightly alarmed: like Joshua and Moses, the Egyptian claimed to lead the Jews to a promised land without enemies. This was clearly a messianic claim, even though Josephus does not mention it. The nameless Egyptian may have called himself “king Messiah”, because Josephus uses the Greek verb tyrannein (“to be sole ruler”) in the first quotation. It should be noted that the Mount of Olives was regarded as the place where God would stand on the Day of Judgment, fighting the battle against Israel’s enemies.[Zechariah 14.4.]

The commander (chiliarch) of the Roman garrison in Jerusalem, Claudius Lysias, makes mention of the Egyptian to Paul in Acts 21:38.

In conclusion, there seems to be a pattern, where a number of episodes described in the New Testament display significant similarities to events described by Josephus, but with a fairly consistent delay of fifteen to twenty years

* Like Jesus, the Egyptian had lingered in “the wilderness” or “desert” (ἐρημία).

* Both speak of tearing down the walls of Jerusalem (cf. Luke 19:43-44).

* Both had lived in Egypt.

* Both are described as messianic leaders with a great following.

* Both are perceived as major threats by the authorities.

* “The Egyptian” is defeated on the Mount of Olives, where Jesus was arrested.

Jesus and the Egyptian are the circumstances surrounding their defeat: Jesus is arrested on the Mount of Olives, crucified, resurrected, and then vanishes. The Egyptian is defeated in a battle on the Mount of Olives, and then vanishes.

THE EVENTS ON THE MOUNT OF OLIVES

Mark 15:7 states that “a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection”. The author uses the definite form, as if we should already know which insurrection is intended. The fact is, however, that Mark describes no insurrection, nor do the other gospel authors. The only reported disturbances are the ones occurring when Jesus is arrested on the Mount of Olives (meeting his adversaries with the words: “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a robber?”). But the conflict seems predominately religious, and it is the Sanhedrin which sends out people to arrest Jesus, as indeed Mark, Matthew and Luke all write.

One Gospel, however, differs. In John 18:12, we read that “the Jewish police” are accompanied by “the soldiers” and “their officer” (NRSV). But it is when we go to the Greek original of John that we get the full picture: The word for “soldiers” is σπεῖρα, speira. A σπεῖρα is a Roman cohort with a paper strength of one thousand soldiers. So as to confirm that this is indeed what John describes, he uses the word χιλίαρχος for their commander (“the commander of one thousand”).

If John’s account is correct, then what occurred on the Mount of Olives must have been some sort of battle. It is difficult to imagine that the Romans would send out hundreds of soldiers to arrest one resting man. It is also worth noting that prior to the departure for the Mount of Olives, Luke 22:36 has Jesus admonishing his disciples that “the one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one”. Thus, judging by John, the events preceding the arrest of Jesus bear distinct similarities to the events surrounding the defeat of the Egyptian. And the location is the same.

Assuming that John is correct, and that Josephus’ narrative on the fate of the Egyptian is accurate, the one clear remaining difference between the Egyptian and Jesus is the crucifixion. Although this may be a decisive distinction, one event in the gospel accounts deserves to be mentioned in this context: the release of Barabbas. Unlike Jesus, Barabbas (or, as he is called in Matt. 27:16-17, Jesus Barabbas, meaning “Jesus, Son of the Father”) escapes crucifixion. That Jesus from Nazareth and Jesus Barabbas could be one and the same person is a proposition that has been made previously, by scholars as well as in fictional accounts. The peculiar resemblance of the names, as well as a failure to find either a biblical or an extra-biblical precedent for the described custom of releasing a prisoner at the feast, are generally cited as reasons for the hypothesis.

The word for “soldiers” is σπεῖρα, speira. ( John 18:12 )A σπεῖρα is a Roman cohort with a paper strength of one thousand soldiers. So as to confirm that this is indeed what John describes, he uses the word χιλίαρχος for their commander (“the commander of one thousand”).

Unlike the Synoptic Gospels, John 18:3 and 18:12 state that Jesus on the Mount of Olives was confronted by a speira – a Roman cohort of 500 to 1,000 soldiers.

[The word for “soldiers” is σπεῖρα, speira. A σπεῖρα is a Roman cohort with a paper strength of one thousand soldiers. So as to confirm that this is indeed what John describes, he uses the word χιλίαρχος for their commander (“the commander of one thousand”)]

This suggestion of a battle preceding Jesus’ arrest is reminiscent of an event described by Josephus in the 50s (A.J. 20.169-172; J.W.2.261-263), involving the so called ‘Egyptian Prophet’ (or simply ‘the Egyptian’). This messianic leader – who had previously spent time “in the wilderness” – had “advised the multitude … to go along with him to the Mount of Olives”, where he “would show them from hence how, at his command, the walls of Jerusalem would fall down”. Procurator Felix, however, sent a cohort of soldiers to the Mount of Olives, where they defeated ‘the Egyptian’.

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PROCURATOR FELIX(52-ca. 59 C.E.)

Pontius Pilate is not really Pilate at all in the gospels:

Changing the names of authority figures in the gospel texts, in order to detect (or disguise) parallels in the historical sources, would at the same time be a simple and a radical intervention. It would with one stroke of the pen move the narrative to a different era, but it would also likely bestow upon these authority figures characteristics and circumstances which are not in reality theirs. When comparing the gospel descriptions of various dignitaries with those from Josephus, not only does such a pattern indeed seem to emerge; in addition, there is some consistency with regard to which dignitaries would change names, and when they are active. Procurator Felix (52-ca. 59 C.E.), as he is depicted in Josephus’ texts, in several ways appears to bear stronger similarities to the Pilate described in the Gospels, than Pilate himself. As noted above, in Josephus’ accounts of Pilate’s reign we find no descriptions of robbers,

nor of crucifixions of Jews, or co-reigning high priests, or open conflict between Galileans and Samaritans. Under Felix, and under Cumanus, we do.

There are other examples. Luke 13:1 reads: ”At that very time there were some

present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.” This statement fits poorly with Pilate. To begin with, Pilate was not the ruler of Galilee, Herod Antipas was. Secondly, the only registered violent encounter between Pilate and the Jews occurred in Jerusalem – thus in Judea – when non-violent protests against the aqueduct prompted Pilate to instruct his soldiers “with their staves to beat those that made the clamour” (JW.2.175-177).

This stands in stark contrast to what occurred under Felix, in particular. Felix,

unlike Pilate, was the ruler not only of Judea, but also of “Samaria, Galilee, and Peraea” (JW.2.247; the western part of Galilee after 54 C.E.). At this point, “the country was again filled with robbers and impostors”, a disproportionate amount of whom were Galileans,30 and Felix was exceptionally cruel in dealing with these insurgents. As Josephus writes: “But as to the number of the robbers whom he caused to be crucified, and of those who were caught among them, and whom he brought to punishment, they were a multitude not to be enumerated” (JW.2.253).

Tacitus, in turn, puts much of the blame for the emerging rebellion on Felix and Cumanus (Ann. 12.54).

There are other, more personal, examples: the Gospels attribute great influence to Pilate’s wife (Matt. 27:19: “While he was sitting on the judgement seat, his wife sent word to him, ‘Have nothing to do with that innocent man …’”). The Gospels also mention a feud between Pilate and the Jewish king (Luke 23:12: “That same day Herod and Pilate became friends with each other; before this they had been enemies.”)

In contrast, Josephus does not mention Pilate’s wife, and, more significantly, fails

to mention any animosity between Pilate and Herod Antipas (Philo does mention one possible occasion of disagreement – when “the four sons of the king” [Herod] are asked by the people to implore Pilate to remove the guilt shields, or ensigns, from Jerusalem).

Josephus does, however, describe a significant – and very personal – disagreement

between Felix and Herod Agrippa II. The conflict concerns the procurator’s wife. Felix had fallen in love with Agrippa’s sister, princess Drusilla (A.J. 20.141-144). But Drusilla was not only married; Agrippa had forced her first husband, king Azizus, to convert to Judaism. Now Felix “endeavored to persuade her to forsake her present husband, and marry him”, which Drusilla did, thus “transgressing the laws of her forefathers” (A.J. 20.137-144; cf. Acts 24:24).

Hence, a prominent wife, and a personal disagreement with a Jewish ruler, are

aspects of Felix’ life; not, as far as is known, of Pilate’s.”

In fact Pilate as depicted in Philo’s writing and Josephus does not bear any resemblance on Pilate of the gospels.

[ This extract on Procurator Felix is taken from Lena Einhorns paper named in the sources].

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MENAHEM

Menahem is the leader of the sacarii till 66AD till he got assassinated. (2.17.8-9)

Menahem’s procession from Masada to Jerusalem “like a king” and his messianic posturing in the Temple appear as striking comparative material for interpretation of Jesus’ “triumphal entry” and “cleansing of the Temple”.

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JUDAS THE GALILEAN

Judas the Galilean is another messianic figure who cleanses the Temple, tears down the golden Eagle and ends up getting crucfied. He was leader of the tax revolt, (just what Jesus was accused of in Luke23:2 “And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a king.” ) Judas the Galilean was the founder of the Zealots and had two sons with the same names as Jesus’ brothers.

There is no mention of Judas the Galilean’s death in Josephus, could it have been hidden in the suspicious overwrite of the TF (Ant18.3.3)?

Judas of Galilee, or Judas of Gamala, was a Jewish leader who led resistance to the census imposed for Roman tax purposes by Quirinius in Judea Province around 6 CE. He encouraged Jews not to register and those that did had their houses burnt and their cattle stolen by his followers.

Ant20.102 In addition to this, James and Simon, sons of Judas the Galilean, were put on trial and by order of Alexander were crucified; this was the Judas who – as explained above – had incited the popular revolt against the Romans, while Quirinius was carrying out the census in Judea.

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TITUS

Titus won the battle of Tarichaeae by crossing over the Sea of Galilee. This set Titus up for glory in the Jewish War.

The Roman army was “fishing for men” after Titus had figuratively driven the demons into the water. (CfMark5:13 and JW3.10.5-10).

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SOURCES:

Josephus Jewish Wars.

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/josephus/index.html

Simon the son of Giora (69 – 70 C.E.); (BJ, II, 19, 2 / 521; 22, 2 / 652 – 654; IV, 9,4;

9, 8 / 538 – 544; 10 / 556 – 565; 11 / 573 – 574; V, 3, 1 / 105; 6, 1 / 248 – 253; 3 / 266 – 274; 4 / 278 – 279; 13, 1 / 527- 533; VI, 1, 7 / 72; VII, 2, 1 / 25; 2 / 26 – 36; 5,1-7; 8, 1 / 265 – 267) Tacitus Hist. V 12

The Egyptian prophet (between 52 and 58 CE)

[Sources: Flavius Josephus, Jewish War 2.259-263 ; cf Jewish Antiquities 20.169-171; Acts of the apostles 21.38.]

Jesus Ben Ananias (JW6.301-309)

Procurator Felix (JW.2.247; JW.2.253

Tacitus Hist. Annuls 12.54;

Pontas Pilate (JW.2.175-177)

Menahem (JW.2.17.8-9)

TITUS (JW.3.10.5-10)

JESUS AND THE “EGYPTIAN PROPHET”, Lena Einhorn, PhD(Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, Chicago, Nov.17-20, 2012

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“Mark cast his story of Jesus’ trial and condemnation before the Sahendrin on the trial of Zacharias, the son of Baris, by a Zealot Sanhedrin. Josephus, War 4.5.4.”

“The mad prophet named Jesus ben Ananias caused a disturbance in Jerusalem at the Temple during the great feasts and festivals, prophesying woes to come, being arrested by Jewish leaders, flogged, and brought before the Roman procurator. Josephus War 6.5.3.”

“Three crucified men, one who survives, but two revolutionaries who perish, taken down at the behest of Joseph/Josephus by appeal to the Roman authority in charge. The Life of Flavius Josephus, 75. This is the origin of two revolutionaries crucified with Jesus.”

“Perhaps (and this is debatable) the name Joseph of Arimathea is based on Josephus bar Matthias. There is a phonetic similarity between Joseph of Arimathea and Josephus bar Matthias. There is by no means a proven derivation, but it is suggestive when added with the other evidence.”

Josephus states that the siege of Jerusalem happened on Passover. (Wars5.3.1 98-105). The people inside Jerusalem were starving to death. There was a woman named Mary who calls her son, ” a myth for the world.” She slays her son and eats him thus making him a Passover Lamb.(Wars6.3).

Jesus states that he is that sacrifice too. Matthew 26:26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

PROPAGANDA AND THE RISE OF CHRISTIANITY

Jesus proclaims that the Messiah, the “Son of Man” in “great power and glory” would return within the lives of some of the people listening to him. They “would not taste death.”

He links the blessed event of his second coming with the destruction of a Jerusalem and it’s famous Temple.(Mark13:1-37).

The verbal description of war mirrors that of Josephus telling of the Jewish War, actual events 40 years later.

Titus fulfilled Jesus’s prophecy right down to the “armies in the clouds” that would appear before brutal war’s final seige and Temple destruction.

“….chariots and troops of soldiers in their armour were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities.” JW 6.5.3.

As most ancient literature imitated other works both the gospels and Josephus can be both seen imitating Jeremiah and Isaiah.

“Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as the whirlwind”

Jeremiah4:1

“For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.”

Isaiah66:15 cf. 19:1

As a side note Vespasian was the only person Josephus has called the messiah.

Vespasian and Titus openly proclaimed they were Jewish messiah’s as part of their Imperial cults.

Is it possible that Jesus’s prophecy was written while these Flavian Emperors ruled in order to prove their messianic intentions after they conquered Judea?

PRO ROMAN GOSPELS:

Jesus advocates peace with Rome in an age of rebellion, even calling for the payment of taxes.

Acknowledges faith of Roman centurion with lavish praise.(Mtt8:5-13;Lk7:1-10; ie early tradition saying from Q)

Jesus calls “Not even in Israel have I found such faith!” (Matt. 8:10/Luke 7:9). The Roman centurion to whom Jesus refers is a model portrait of a Gentile God-fearer.

And for an end to impurity laws that alienate Jews from Romans.(Mk7:15-16)

Jesus criticizes traditional Jewish practice from strict Sabbath observance to Kosher diet.

Pontius Pilate vividly washes his hands of any culpability of Jesus’ crucifixion.

Really when the gospels were written they seemed to say to the Jews, “ Here is your messiah and YOU crucified him!”

Jesus was the passionate ambassador of the same universal peace, so desired by the Roman Empire.

The transnational scope of Jesus’ words ( eg “love your enemy”, “turn the other cheek”), are in perfect harmony with the imperial agenda of Rome.

All of these are almost always directed against the people of Palestine and are, therefore, anti-Jewish and pro Roman.

For instance, ‘the First shall be last and the Last shall be first”

(“Matt 19:30 and 20:16/Mark 10:31/ Luke 13:30),

“a Prophet is never accepted in his own land and in his own house’,”

(“Matt 13:57/Mark 6:4/Luke 4:24)

“who are my brothers and mother to me?”

(Matt 12:46–50/Mark 3:31–5/Luke 8:19–21.)

“Woe unto you, Choraizin and Bethseida, had the miracles that were done here been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have converted long ago and put on sackcloth and ashes’,

(Matt 11:21/Luke 10:13.)

“sayings on behalf of ‘publicans’ (tax collectors), ‘prostitutes’, ‘sinners’ (often meaning Gentiles), ‘wine-bibbers’, ‘the good Samaritan’, ‘these Little Ones’, ‘the one lost sheep’, ‘gluttons’ (people who do not keep dietary regulations), ‘the Phoenician woman’, etc – all more or less connected to Roman ways and the admission of Gentiles into the early Church and related matters.

The Gospels redefine the mission of the Jewish Messiah as one of servitude and sacrifice rather than conquest and rule. It changes the role of the chosen people to one of humble subjugation.

Did the Flavians utilize a foreign religion to demonstrate their divine favor and legitimacy as rulers over a conquered people?

Obvious cartoonish propaganda like Pilate washing his hands of the guilt of crucifying Jesus.

Jesus betrayed by his own disciple “Judas”, who shares the name of the patriarch who gave his name to the whole nation of Judea ie the Jews.

A failed prophecy of Jesus’ second coming is put into Jesus mouth, at the time of WRITING the gospels ( after the event has passed) would make NO SENSE unless Vespasian is seen as the Messiah.

To see early Christians symbols that were used by Christians buried in the catacombs

www.jesuswalk.com/christian-symbols/anchor.htm

Caesar cults that had a huge impact on Christianity.

When a comet appeared shortly after Julius Caesar’s murder, Octavian urgently promoted and the people willingly accepted it as his father’s apotheosis, his divine spirit ascending to take his place among the heavenly gods. Octavian ubiquitously displayed that star as consolidating his power. It was engraved on ring gemstones, pressed into clay seal impressions and cheap glass beads, and minted especially on coins whose legends drew the logical conclusion that, if the father was now divine, the adopted son was therefore “Son of a Divine One” or “Son of God.” That Latin title DIVI FILIUS is on most of his coins.

In the year 44 bce Julius Caesar was murdered. In order to glorify Caesar’s memory, Octavian organized games in his honor in July of 44 bce. At the time of the games a comet appeared in the sky for seven nights in a row. This caused a great stir among the Roman populace. The comet, called Caesaris astrum or sidus Iulium, was regarded by the Romans as the soul of Caesar, which had ascended to heaven and become a god. The episode is described in Octavian’s memoirs:

“On the very days of my games a comet was visible for seven days in the northern part of the sky. It was rising about an hour before sunset and was bright. . . . The common people believed that this star signified the soul of Caesar received among the spirits of the immortal gods, and on this account the emblem of star was added to the bust of Caesar that we shortly afterwards dedicated in the forum.”~Pliny, Natural History, trans. H. Rackham (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1958). Cf Suetonius, “Iulius,” 88, in The Lives of the Caesars; Dio Cassius, Roman History 45.7.1; Servius on Virgil, Eclogues 9.46.

Cross reference this with the star prophecy in Matthew.

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Both in Apollonius of Tyana and Matthews birth narrative were “inspired by the visit of Tiridates I [of Arminia] and his train to Nero that culminated in their reverencing him as a god. Matthew’s tale belongs to a body of material that attributes to Jesus titles and claims characteristic of the Emperors and their cults. People said that Tiridates and his magi had initiated Nero in their mysteries and secret meals. The gospel story implies that Jesus needed no initiation: he was the predestined ruler of the magi, as well as of the Jews; but unlike the ignorant Jews the magi knew this. They understood the star that signalled his coming and came themselves to meet him, make their submission, and offer the gifts due their ruler.”~ Morton Smith, Jesus the Magician,96.

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The most astonishing for the study of the Gospels is a Greek inscription from Priene, a city just south of Ephesus on the western coast of what is now Turkey. The two-part inscription, copied and distributed across what was then called Asia Minor, contains the earliest and most striking instance of the term “Gospel” or “good tidings” to proclaim Caesar’s Roman imperial theology. Part one records how the Roman governor of Asia, Paulus Fabius Maximus, proposed to the Asian cities that they change their calendar so that Augustus’s birthday would be henceforth New Year’s Day.

“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ” [in Marks gospel] closely matches the formula found on a monument erected by the Provincial Assembly in Asia Minor (1st century BCE):[here is a quote from the inscription]…

“the birthday of the god has been for the whole world the beginning of the gospel (ευαγγελιον) concerning him”~The Christ Myth Theory,Price,63.

The cult provides the context for understanding the famous Pontius Pilate inscription. Found flipped upside down and reused in the seating of the theater, the fragmentary Latin inscription reads “. . . this Tiberium, Pontius Pilate, prefect of Judea, erected. . . .” While many think that the inscription’s importance lies in proving that Pilate existed (and, by extension, that the Gospels are historically reliable), the inscription’s significance lies in showing that during Jesus’ lifetime a Tiberium, a structure dedicated to the worship of Tiberius, existed at Caesarea, and that the Latin text along with the building clearly communicated the fact that Rome ruled.

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Titles such as “Lord,” “Savior,” and “Son of God,” as well as use of the term “good news” or “good tidings” (Greek: euaggelion; English: Gospel) for the Emperors acts of public beneficence, show the inextricability of what we today would call “religious” and “political” discourse. There was no “separation of church and state” in the Roman Empire, and that a human being could be seen as “divine” and could be hailed as bringing “Gospel” was by no means anomalous. This imperial cult penetrated even into Jesus’ Galilee: the fragmentary Latin inscription that records the name of Pontius Pilate comes from the Tiberium, a structure erected for the worship of the emperor Tiberius, in Caesarea.

The fact that the proclamation of Vespasian was issued from Judea led Josephus to interpret an ancient oracle foretelling that a ruler from Judea should acquire dominion over the entire world as an allusion to Vespasian (Wars6.5.4; cf Tacitus,Hist.v. 13 and Suetonius, Vespasianus,§ 4). The new emperor left his son Titus in command of the army, while he himself hurried to Rome to take possession of the throne. Vespasian is greeted with “good news” in Wars4.10.6.

James Steven Vallient discusses the cult of Vespasian and its parallels to Jesus in his book Creating Christ, “Vespasian is the only Roman emperor who is reported to have actually performed miracles during his earthly existence. Vespasian performed these feats at the Temple of Serapis in Alexandria. Moreover, they were healing miracles. And they happened to be exactly the same healing miracles that Jesus performs in the New Testament.”~Creating Christ, James Stevens Valliant. (Cf Tacitus Histories book IV,81;Suetonius, Vespasian,7).

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POLITICS AND PARODY

(The real history preserved in the gospels).

There is some reason to think the Gospel of Mark was written in Rome. For one thing, it uses a number of Latin loan-words (like “praetorium” in 15:16 and “centurion” in 15:39).[1]

Not only written in Rome but pro Roman and in parody to nationalistic messianic Jews:

TAX COLLECTION:

The Herodians in this period were the Roman tax collectors in Palestine. Their usefulness to Rome in part rested on their effective collection and transmission of revenues. If some spilled off into their own pockets, so much the better.

The Gospel refurbishments of these various materials are, once again, clearly directed against those looking to build earthly ‘Kingdoms’ and challenge Caesar’s Dominion in this world. But this is exactly the point about the polemic over the tax issue accompanying the description of Jesus as ‘not deferring to anyone nor regarding the person of men’ in the series of questions put to Jesus by the Establishment Parties, directly followed in Matthew and Mark (Luke puts this elsewhere) by the citation of the Righteousness/Piety dichotomy, in particular, ‘you should love “your neighbour as yourself’.

Paul in Romans 13, citing the Righteousness Commandment as a reason for ‘paying taxes’ to Rome and ‘giving all their due’ (Romans13:6–9; cfMatthew22:23 ;Luke23:2)

Matthew17:24-27 where a coin is taken from the fishes mouth, is a political commentary to pay your earnings to Caesar.

The ‘Galilean’ or ‘Sicarii Movement’ founded by Judas and Saddok is pictured in Josephus as beginning on just the note of opposition to paying the tax to Rome.

PUT AWAY THE SWORD

When Peter draws one of the swords a few hours later at Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, slashing the ear of Malchus, one of the priests’ servants, and Jesus rebukes him saying: “Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.”(Matthew 26:52).

This makes sense when put into first century Jewish context. Those that take up arms against Rome will perish, therefore Jesus says to put away your sword Peter.

This all fits in with ‘turn the other cheek’ (Matt5:38-42)and ‘love your enemy’ (Luke6:27-31) passages found in the sermon on the mount.

PRAISING THE ROMAN CENTURIAN:

Acknowledges faith of Roman centurion with lavish praise.(Mtt8:5-13;Lk7:1-10; ie early tradition saying from Q)

Jesus calls “Not even in Israel have I found such faith!” (Matt. 8:10/Luke 7:9). The Roman centurion to whom Jesus refers is a model portrait of a Gentile God-fearer.

ANTI JEWISH MESSIANIC NATIONALISM

The Temptation episode in the Synoptics is nothing but a negative “parody of Josephus’ ‘Deceivers and false prophets, who lead the people out in the wilderness, there to show them the signs and wonders of their impending freedom’. In Matthew 4:3 and Luke 4:3, ‘the Devil’ even tells Jesus that, if he is ‘the Son of God’, he should ‘command these stones to become bread’, precisely the kind of miraculous ‘signs or wonders’ Josephus condemned. In later Gospel episodes, Jesus does do such miracles, even this very multiplication of loaves in the wilderness this ‘Temptation by the Devil’ episode denies he is willing to do (Matt 15:33 and Mark 8:34).

HARLOTS:

But of course the Herodian Princesses we “have thus far encountered were also ‘harlots’, none more so than Bernice. (orthodox Wiki tells us st. Veronica (Bernice), a woman healed by Christ Mt9:20) Bernices ‘Riches’ even Josephus admits were prodigious. There is little doubt that her sister Drusilla – Felix’s ‘Jewish’ wife in the scenes in Acts – was Rich, too. The ‘Temple Wall Affair’, directed against Agrippa II’s viewing of the Temple sacrifices while reclining on his balcony and eating. This is sometime after 60 CE, around the time he and his sister, Bernice, appear in Acts (25:13–26:32) interviewing Paul.

Otherwise, apart from her royalty, what would Felix’s interest have been in her?

FOOD REGULATIONS:

When Jesus is portrayed as ‘eating and drinking … a glutton and a wine-bibber, a friend of tax collectors and Sinners’ (Matt 11:19 and Luke 7:34) – this right after John the Baptist is portrayed as ‘neither eating bread, nor drinking wine’. Marks gospel gets the John the Baptist scene over in one paragraph. The gospel finds it very important to tag Christianity onto a very popular Baptist cult – Suddenly Scripture is saying that Jesus approved of such persons such as the tax collectors and gentile bibbing wine. Nor did Jesus make a fuss over purity regulations regarding food, nor make distinctions between people

“or nations regarding table fellowship on such a basis – meaning Jesus was a ‘Paulinist’.

MINI APOCALYPSE PROPHECY:

A failed prophecy of Jesus’ second coming is put into Jesus mouth, at the time of WRITING the gospels ( after the event has passed) would make NO SENSE unless Vespasian is seen as the Messiah.

(Mark13:1-37)

JUDAS ISCARIOT

Jesus betrayed by his own disciple “Judas”, who shares the name of the patriarch who gave his name to the whole nation of Judea ie the Jews. Iscariot also denotes the sicarii.

The parody Judas Iscariot suicide embodies of that carried out by the ‘Sicarii’ followers of Judas the Galilean movement on Masada three years after the fall of Jerusalem and the implied

“condemnation of this earlier Judas. What these extreme ‘Sicarii’ did on Masada and ‘Zealot’ practice generally, might have been seen as the ideological licence for such a ‘suicide’ or ‘Sanctification of the Name’ (Kiddush ha-Shem)/martyrdom. This account of Judas’ ‘Treachery’, and that of ‘blasphemy’.

PETER AND THE CENTURION

Peter is then portrayed as greeting a Roman Centurion from Caesarea and returning with him to visit his household there (Acts10-11:11)– a Roman Legionnaire who is portrayed as caring intensely about Judaism and all things Jewish, when over and over again Josephus makes it clear that it was these same legionnaires from Caesarea who exacerbated the problems in the country, no governor ever feeling confident enough over a 20-year period to exercise control over them – finally goading the Jews to revolt against Rome!

(Ant 20.173–8 and War 2.266–70.)

Acts’ portrayal of Peter’s visit to Cornelius’ household is just the opposite of the account in Josephus upon which it is based – the visit by Simon to Agrippa’s household in Caesarea.(Ant19.7.4).

Unlike Peter, the Simon in Josephus, who inspects the household of Agrippa I in Caesarea, wants to bar Herodians from the Temple as unclean, not accept them.

That someone, overwriting this episode about the Jerusalem Simon’s visit to Agrippa I’s household in Caesarea and presenting it, rather, in terms of Peter visiting the house of the Roman Centurion Cornelius in Caesarea from ‘the Italica Contingent’, may or may not have intended to catch the attention of either Trajan or Hadrian to convince them of what a positive attitude their predecessors in the Italica Regiment had had to Christian leaders has to be considered.

URBANISATION

Galilee was urbanized at the time of Jesus, and the socioeconomic impact of Antipas’s two new cities (Tiberius and Sepphoris) hit Galilee right at this time.

The Lord’s Prayer asks for the repeal of debts (Luke 11:4), the courts are viewed as offering no recourse for indebtedness (Luke 12:58–59), the accountability of the tenants to their owners is well known (Mark 12:1–11), as is the practice of seasonal day laborers looking for work (Matthew 20:1–15) and the abusive steward (Matthew 24:47–51). Antipas began the ur- banization of Galilee right at the time of Jesus’ life and ministry; he thought those two cities were Good News to some in Galilee, but they certainly were not Good News to all.

PARODY OF THE NETS.

In Matthew and Mark, ‘they left their nets and followed him’, and ‘Jesus’, addressing all four, utters the even more famous, ‘I shall make you fishers of men’ (Matt 4:18 and Mark “1:17). Both clearly play on and invert the allusions in the Damascus Document about ‘Belial’ (‘Balaam’ and ‘Balak’ in Revelation) casting his ‘net’ to deceive Israel (in Revelation, this is literally ‘cast a stumbling block before the Sons of Israel’) or ‘catch’ men. The three nets of Belial are ‘fornication’, ‘riches’ and ‘pollution’. ( CD 5.7–11 and 6.17–7.9).

The writers of these Hellenized New Testament parodies could not have been unaware of this.

THE ANOINTED AND MESSIANIC

The way Jesus was being annointed in the gospels is a parody. As described he’s getting a massage from sinful women. That would make him a corrupt politician…even in the first century.

So…Jesus not really being properly annointed at all…shouldn’t we be looking in the rest of the 30s who was legitimately annointed a king? There IS one besides Jesus.

“…..those who accompanied Jesus into the city misidentified him: “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” They thought Jesus was a scion of David and a political victor who would usher in a kingdom. The reader should know, how­ever, that this scene is a parody. What king would enter a city riding on a bor­rowed colt fit only for cargo with two cloaks serving as a saddle? The mis­identification of Jesus by the crowds apparently caricatures popular Jewish messianism, which the evangelist seems to have opposed in light of the recent debacle in Judea. Jesus would reign but not as an earthly monarch. Rather, he had to “suffer many things,” die, and rise from the dead. He refuted the notion that the Messiah would be the son of David; the Messiah would not be the son of David but the Son of God. The acclamation of the crowd demonstrates their misguided enthusiasm for a political savior, expressed by their shout “Hosanna!” or “Save us, now!” Jesus is the savior, but he will not inaugurate “the coming kingdom of . . . David,” for he came “not to be served,” like a king, “but to serve, and give his life a ransom for many.”~ Homeric epic and the gospel of Mark, 106-7.

ROAD TO EMMAUS

Jesus appeared to two who ‘were going the same day to a village called Emmaus, sixty furlongs (about seven and a half miles) from Jerusalem’ (Luke 24:13).

It is interesting that the only mention of Emmaus in Josephus comes in the Jewish War (7.217-18) following the fall of the Temple. Here, in the same breath that he tells us that the two drachmas’ tax formerly paid by Jews to the Temple – the ‘two mites’ paid by the Poor widow in Gospel parody in Mark and Luke! – were now to be paid directly to Rome and that Titus was leasing out the whole country, Josephus tells us that Emmaus was only ‘thirty furlongs from Jerusalem’, not the ‘sixty’ as here in Luke. What is more, it was now to be settled by 800 Roman army veterans at Titus’ express order.

Along the way to Emmaus, Jesus castigates the two for their lack of ‘belief’ and elucidates for them the scriptural meaning of his suffering and death (Luke 24:25). They do not recognize him at first and invite him for a meal. Soon after recognizing him he disappears.

APOCALYPTIC LEADERS

One thing historical that Bart Ehrman has been able to squeeze out of the gospels through multiple attestation is the sayings of Jesus were that of an Apocalyptic leader. This can be seen in his book “Jesus Apocalyptic Leader of the new millennium”. Apocalyptic messianic leaders were all over book17 and book18 of Josephus Antiquities.

SLAUGHTER OF THE INNOCENTS:

Herod finishes the job of obliterating the Maccabean family. Those he doesn’t execute he marries. But even these he eventually butchers, including his favourite wife Mariamme, the last Maccabean princess, while he is away in Rome getting Octavius to reconfirm the crown Anthony had conferred on him (29 BC). In the end, Herod even had his two sons by her – who had been brought up in Rome – put to death, presumably because he was jealous of their Maccabean blood and “because the crowd preferred them to him. Here, Herod really did kill all the Jewish children who sought to replace him, as Matthew 2:17 would have it, but these rather were his own children with Maccabean blood!”~James the Brother of Jesus,Robert Eisenman,ch3

In view of such executions, the emperor Augustus reportedly quipped, “It is better to be Herod’s pig than son” (Macrobius, Saturnalia, 2:4:11)—the joke being that, since Herod was a Jew, he didn’t eat pork and his pig would be safe.

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There may be a kernel of truth lurking here and there like a pebble beneath the surface of a stream.

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A CHRISTIAN CONNECTION TO THE FLAVIANS:

Largest catacomb in Rome is named after Flavia Domitilla, who was a member of the Flavian family, the granddaughter of the Emperor Vespasian and the niece of the Flavian emperors Titus and Domitian. She was the owner of the catacombs.

The oldest known Christian burial site with perhaps the oldest known archeological evidence of Christianity in the world. Anchor and fishes symbol ( Original Christian symbols) were used at this catacomb.

The frescoes are done with pagan scenes but also Christian scenes from the New Testament. Some of these scenes feature the last supper, disciples and other followers of Christ. Not only because of the art, but because of who was buried here, many Christians eventually wanted their remains to be forever in this place.

Domitian ruled for 15 years and was known to have conducted a harsh purge of the upper class, even executing and banishing some of his own family members who may have been Christians—including his nephew-in-law Titus Flavius Clemens and his niece, the afore-mentioned Domitilla. He even adopted their children as his own heirs.

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[1]Benjamin W. Bacon, Is Mark a Roman Gospel? Harvard Theological Studies VII (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1919), pp. 53-59.

SOURCES FOR THIS BLOG

James, the Brother of Jesus, Eisenman

Creating Christ, Valliant and Fahy

Holy Fable II, Price

Jesus, Apocalyptic leader of the new millennium, Ehrman

Homeric Epic and the Gospel Of Mark, MacDonald.

The Historical Jesus in context, ed. Amy-Jill Levine, Dale Allison, JD Crossan.

Jesus the Magician, Morton Smith.

The Christ Myth Theory and its problems, Price.

SON OF GOD CONCEPT AND ROMAN CULT PROPAGANDA INFLUENCE ON JEWISH MESSIANISM:

In Plutarch Lives Cleomenes III body was nailed to a cross and the populace deeply affected by his tragic end and by a series of extraordinary events that occurred after his crucifixion (Mark15:38), like a large snake wound itself around his cross, the people claimed it was a miracle and proclaimed him “son of the gods”.

‘Son of God’ fragment 4Q246 from the DSS has some very interesting implications for the concept of the title ‘Son of God’ in Jewish messianism.

The text includes phrases such as “son of God” and “the Most High”, so the two references of Daniel 7:13-14 and Luke 1:32-33, 35 are considered to be related to the fragmental phrases.

In the year 44 bce Julius Caesar was murdered. In order to glorify Caesar’s memory, Octavian organized games in his honor in July of 44 bce. At the time of the games a comet appeared in the sky for seven nights in a row. This caused a great stir among the Roman populace. The comet, called Caesaris astrum or sidus Iulium, was regarded by the Romans as the soul of Caesar, which had ascended to heaven and become a god. The episode is described in Octavian’s memoirs:

“On the very days of my games a comet was visible for seven days in the northern part of the sky. It was rising about an hour before sunset and was bright. . . . The common people believed that this star signified the soul of Caesar received among the spirits of the immortal gods, and on this account the emblem of star was added to the bust of Caesar that we shortly afterwards dedicated in the forum.”~Pliny, Natural History, trans. H. Rackham (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1958). Cf Suetonius, “Iulius,” 88, in The Lives of the Caesars; Dio Cassius, Roman History 45.7.1; Servius on Virgil, Eclogues 9.46.

“Son of god” text 4Q246 col2

1.He will be called the son of God, they will call him the son of the Most High. But like the meteors (<- This is the comet reference)

2. that you saw in your vision, so will be their kingdom. They will reign only a few years over

3. the land, while people tramples people and nation tramples nation.

4. Until the people of God arise; then all will have rest from warfare.

5. Their kingdom will be an eternal kingdom, and all their paths will be righteous. They will judge

6. the land justly, and all nations will make peace. Warfare will cease from the land,

7. and all the nations shall do obeisance to them. The great God will be their help,

8. He Himself will fight for them, putting peoples into their power,

9. overthrowing them all before them. God’s rule will be an eternal rule and all the depths of

10. [the earth are His].

It is possible that the Messiah of Qumran was influenced by the Roman vision of redemption and Augustus’s propaganda.

In 40 bce, the year Virgil wrote the Fourth Eclogue, ushering in a new age.

And in thy consulship, Pollio*, yea in thine,

shall this glorious age begin . . .

under thy sway,

any lingering traces of our guilt shall become void, and release the earth from its continual dread.

~Virgil, Fourth Eclogue 1–14

*Pollio held consul in 40BC.

According to Margaret Baker in “The Great Angel” the ’son of god’ was indeed an early tradition in Christianity.

“Long before the first Gospel was written down, Paul could quote a Christian hymn, [Philippians2:6-11] presumably one which his readers would recognize, and therefore one which was widely known……

Similarly, at the beginning of Romans, Paul quotes what seems to be an early statement of Christian belief:

the gospel of God … concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead. (Rom. 1.3-4)

All the titles are there: Son of God, Lord and Messiah.” Page2.

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ROMAN WORLDVIEW OF DIVINE STATUS AND DIVINE SONSHIP.

Adoption through Roman imperial cult was a metaphor of power and exaltation.

Comparing Jesus divine sonship to the Emperors divine sonship exalts Jesus and shows his power.

It is better to understand the metaphor of adoption in early Christianity, (example gMark) by grounding it in adoptive practices of the Roman Empire.

As the gospel of Mark is read out, the son of god resonates with its audience.

To the Jewish ‘son of god’ is seen as an earthly royal title like that of the Israelite royal ideology established through line of David.

To Greaco Roman audience it was associated with sons of Zeus of Apollo and the many kings who appropriated that title.

And the most famous person in the world, the emperor, was divi filus.

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SOURCES:

Margaret Baker, The Great Angel,2

Peppard, The son of God in the Roman World.

Israel Knohl, The Messiah before Jesus.

Mattila, S. (1994). Two Contrasting Eschatologies at Qumran (4Q246 vs 1QM). Biblica, 75(4), 518-538.

Plutarch, Life of Cleomenes, ch38

MARKS USE OF PHILO

If you have a fear of “parallomania”, you should read Thomas L. Brodie in The Birthing of the New Testament . His book demonstrates that it was common practice for authors of the time to draw upon and assimilate multiple sources in their composition of new works.

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Mark15:16-20.

The mockery of Jesus as a Jewish king finds an approximate parallel in Philo Flaccus6.36-39; On the occasion of King Agrippa I’s visit to Alexandria the people seized a lunatic named Carabbas. As Agrippa was not popular the local populace staged a mock coronation on poor Carabbas.

The evangelist interest as portraying Jesus as Caesar’s rival has made him correspond this periscope more closely with Agrippa I story found in Flaccus6.36-39.

[(Cf Isaiah50:6-7; 4Macc6:1-30, for treatment of Eleazer; 1Macc10:20,62 for the purple robe reference.)

Also cf Josephus JW.6.301-309 for similarities with Jesus Ben Ananias and the scenes following.]

Quote from Philo,Flaccus6.36-39

VI. (36) There was a certain madman named Carabbas, afflicted not with a wild, savage, and dangerous madness (for that comes on in fits without being expected either by the patient or by bystanders), but with an intermittent and more gentle kind; this man spent all this days and nights naked in the roads, minding neither cold nor heat, the sport of idle children and wanton youths; (37) and they, driving the poor wretch as far as the public gymnasium, and setting him up there on high that he might be seen by everybody, flattened out a leaf of papyrus and put it on his head instead of a diadem, and clothed the rest of his body with a common door mat instead of a cloak and instead of a sceptre they put in his hand a small stick of the native papyrus which they found lying by the way side and gave to him; (38) and when, like actors in theatrical spectacles, he had received all the insignia of royal authority, and had been dressed and adorned like a king, the young men bearing sticks on their shoulders stood on each side of him instead of spear-bearers, in imitation of the bodyguards of the king, and then others came up, some as if to salute him, and others making as though they wished to plead their causes before him, and others pretending to wish to consult with him about the affairs of the state. (39) Then from the multitude of those who were standing around there arose a wonderful shout of men calling out Maris; and this is the name by which it is said that they call the kings among the Syrians; for they knew that Agrippa was by birth a Syrian, and also that he was possessed of a great district of Syria of which he was the sovereign;”

Mark 15:16-20 New International Version (NIV)

The Soldiers Mock Jesus

16 The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. 17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18 And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

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Somebody executed under Roman law had no rights, there is evidence for mainly people being left on the cross to rot after crucifixion (eg Horace, Epistle 1.16.48), but there were exceptions for feast days where the body was granted to the family. As can be seen, Philo Flaccus10.83, may have influenced the gospel narrative where sometimes family members did get the body. (Cf Plutarch,Antonius2) Here in the gospel Pilate gifts the body to Joseph.

Mark15:45

“When Pilate was informed by the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph”.

Philo, Flaccus:

10.83. I have known instances before now of men who had been crucified when this festival and holiday was at hand, being taken down and given up to their relations, in order to receive the honours of sepulture, and to enjoy such observances as are due to the dead; for it used to be considered, that even the dead ought to derive some enjoyment from the natal festival of a good emperor, and also that the sacred character of the festival ought to be regarded.

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Mark9:2-13.

The pre-Passion narrative in the Gospel of Mark has striking affinities with Philo’s first volume of On the Life of Moses.

(Cf Josephus AJ4 and AJ5; Exodus24:16-16; 34:29; Malachi3:2; 1,2Kings)

The formal parallel to the position of the transfiguration pericope in the Gospel of Mark is intriguing. Compare the numbered points in square brackets:

Prior to this scene in Mark,

[1]Jesus has had a call-vision (baptism),

[2] announced the Kingdom of God,

[3] and manifested his authority in miracles.

[4] A following has gathered

[5] but only now “confesses”

[6] and is introduced to the theme of the journey to Jerusalem and the death of the Son of Man, which is paradigmatic for his followers.

In the Vita Mos there has been

[1] a call-vision (the burning bush – the only other event in the story that receives allegorical treatment, (Vita Mos I 65-70),

[2] the announcement in secret to the elders of the imminent departure to a better country (ibid,86),

[3] and the legitimization of his authority in miracles (ibid,91-139).

[4] Through all of this, however, the Hebrews were only “spectators” of the sufferings of others [i.e. the Egyptians suffering the plagues]” (ibid,146).

[5] Only now (ibid,148-162) is the question of Moses’ authority for the Hebrews themselves raised and answered by the declaration quoted above that they willingly gave him leadership (ibid,163).

[6] A description of the way ahead with intimations of testing and death follows (ibid,164;171;183).

The mountain ascent scene draws together motifs of all four roles: kingship, lawgiver, priesthood and prophet. Moses is a perfect parallel to Jesus.

Mark9:2-13

2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. 3 His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. 4 And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5 Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6 (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.) 7 Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” 8 Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus. 9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant.

11 And they asked him, “Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”

12 Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah does come first, and restores all things. Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected? 13 But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished, just as it is written about him.”

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Mark10:46-52(cf8:22-26)

Comparing the way Plato, Philo and Mark respectively treat blindness, and its healing, as a metaphor. Philo is speaking, in one place, of Genesis 15 (LXX) and Abraham’s vision of the heavens (Heir, 76). God “led him outside” and told him to “look up” (anablepein) at the heavens. Philo proceeds to play upon the double meaning of the Greek word: it can mean both “look up” and “(re)gain sight”. Of Jacob (Gen. 28:21) Philo wrote that he was blind in his soul and only gradually was granted true sight by God until he saw a vision of God himself (On Dreams, 1.164; Rewards, 36-39.

Quote from Philo,On Dreams1.164(XXVI).

“And do not thou ever cease through weariness to anoint thy eyes until you have introduced those who are duly initiated to the secret light of the sacred scriptures, and have displayed to them the hidden things therein contained, and their reality, which is invisible to those who are uninitiated.”

Mark 10:46-52 New International Version

46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. 51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” 52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

[That he is not only blind but a beggar may come from the possible meaning of his name in Aramaic Bar-teymah, “son of poverty.” In this, the fictive nature of the story is doubly clear.]

Cf LXX Isaiah 35: 5a, 6a, 8a: “Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened … then shall the lame man leap as an hart … And there shall be there a pure way, and it shall be called a holy way”

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Mark7:1-23

General uses of hand washing is found in Philo. In Special Laws1.259-260, Philo develops on the idea of literal ritual hand washing found in the Hebrew Bible and emphasizes soul purity.

Quote from Philo,Special Laws1.259-260

“For if you observe this with your reason rather than your eyes you will proceed to wash away the sins and defilement with which you have besmeared your whole life, some voluntary and accidental, some due to your own free will…”

Mark7:1-23

7 The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus 2 and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.[a])

5 So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”

6 He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

“‘These people honor me with their lips,

but their hearts are far from me.

7 They worship me in vain;

their teachings are merely human rules.’[b] 8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”

9 And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe[c] your own traditions! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’[d] and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’[e] 11 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)— 12 then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. 13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

14 Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 15 Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” [16] [f]

17 After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. 18 “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? 19 For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)20 He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

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FIRST EXCLUSIVE PICTURE OF MARKS BEDROOM, a man of sources.