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The following has been in the back of my mind during what now appears to be the whole of last year. In April 2014 Mario Monti gave an interview to Marc Peeperkorn in the Dutch newspaper Volkskrant, p10-13, “The man who saved Europe” (Dutch original: “De man die Europa redde“).

Mario Monti is not to be confused with Mario Draghi – especially where they collaborated on a rather dangerous trick.

Mario Monti was European Commissioner in 1995-2004 and Prime Minister of Italy in 2011-2013. Mario Draghi was Governor of the Bank of Italy in 2005-2011 and is President of the European Central Bank (ECB) since 2011. They performed their trick in 2012.

Mario Monti (left) and Mario Draphi (right) (Source: wikimedia commons)

Mario Monti (left) and Mario Draphi (right) (Source: wikimedia commons)

The trick is explained in the interview:

Monti: “During the European Summit in June 2012 I have used my full negotiation power – including a threat with a veto – to get approval for a seemingly boring paragraph. At four o’clock in the morning it had the signatures of all leaders, including Merkel, my good friend Rutte, and the Finish Prime Minister Katainen, you can say the monetary fire power from Northern Europe.

The paragraph mentioned curtly that countries in the Eurozone who did their homework, like Italy, were ensured of support from the European Central Bank. That statement – at the highest political level – did not impress the markets, since the leaders have authority but no money. A month later ECB-president Draghi came with his famous declaration: “Within our mandate, the ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro. And believe me, it will be enough.” [verbatim, July 26 2012] That calmed the markets in one single stroke because Draghi has money. Draghi could say that because he had the political support from the leaders. Thanks to me, thanks to my position at the negotiation table. A half year sooner Draghi would have been devoured by the German monetary hawks, saying such a thing.”

Peeperkorn: “Draghi and Monti, thus it was an Italian set-up ?”

Monti (“laughing”): “See it as the Italian contribution to saving of the euro.”

As a trick, it deserves a compliment, and it would be difficult to argue convincingly that the European Summit has been misled in a significant way.

However, the trick comes with a price. This is that structural reform of the euro has not been put on the table.

The Eurozone leadership has been kept in the mental frame of muddling through, while instead it would have been useful to reconsider the monetary mechanism. The current set-up of the euro works like the gold standard, while our economies require the benefits of fiat money.

See my paper Money as gold versus money as water.

European leaders are not trained in economics and may not fully understand what has been happening. The two Marios however should understand. My proposal is that they meet again and discuss how their quick fix requires a follow up on structural reform.

Addendum March 29: Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in Venetian cunning of Draghi-Monti masterplan may save euro for now (The Telegraph August 5 2012) states what I tend to agree on:

  • “Just to be clear, I do not “support” the Draghi plan. It perpetuates a failed monetary union.”
  • “Yet it is churlish to deny that the two Marios have pulled off a feat of statecraft. They have wrested control of the ECB from Gold Standard zealots.”
  • “Europe remains a political minefield, but the risk of a global deflationary slump has dropped a notch. Hats off to the Italians.”

However, Evans-Pritchard seems to have no alternative other than a return to national currencies, and my paper suggests that the euro could survive with core national sovereignty provided that each nation adopts its own national Economic Supreme Court.

Economic paper: "Money as gold versus money as water" (RWER 2013)

Economic paper: “Money as gold versus money as water” (2013)

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Vladimir Putin called me this morning. He was his usual confidence but I sensed a tad of worry.

When Putin calls there must be a reason.

Vlad: “I did what you advised but it doesn’t work.”

Me: “Okay, I am listening.”

Vlad: “I didn’t kill Garry Kasparov yet, as you suggested, and I made sure that he was on Dutch television last Sunday. But I don’t see the headlines.”

Me: “Well, he complimented you by calling you “the most dangerous man the world has ever seen, potentially”. He even compared you to Hitler, but now with nuclear weapons. Many Dutch people are more afraid of you than ever. So you should agree that it works.”

Vlad: “Yes, of course, I watched the programme, shooting seventy tv sets to pieces. We agreed that I should experiment with democracy, so I let him have his say, so that everyone can see what idiot he is. But I don’t see a headline in The New York Times “Kasparov shows himself a great fool”. If this is democracy then I am glad that I am against it.”

Me: “But if you want people to understand that you are the most dangerous man the world has ever seen, then you need clowns like Kasparov who say so, since nobody else will dare this. Thus you cannot have the NYT to expose him as a clown, since then people will no longer listen to him, and people will no longer believe that you are the most dangerous man the world has ever seen.”

Putin went silent on the other side of the line.

Me: “Listen, democracy is a game in which you can never lose. You only have to understand its rules.”

Vlad: “I don’t play by rules. Why do you think that I am called dangerous ?”

Me: “Excuse me, I should have said “understand how it works”. You have to hand it to Kasparov: how he explained that you are no chess player since chess has rules while you are rather a poker player so that you can win even when your cards are lousy. Can’t you remember that chess game by you and me ?”

Vlad: “I thought that a silly comparison. When I play poker then I don’t have to bluff since I can always put in some nukes. But okay, I begin to understand why this interviewer Pieter Jan Hagens didn’t fall from his chair from laughter. He wanted his viewers to think that the idiot was given his freedom of speech.”

Me: “Exactly. Do also observe that Kasparov spoke with an interviewer and not with some top Dutch politicians. Kasparov could have asked them some embarrassing questions on MH17 and the Dutch Shell co-operation with Gazprom. The politicians on their part could have asked Kasparov for some real measures to hurt you. Neither happened. The trick of Dutch journalists is that they have wedged themselves into a position where they ask the questions and get paid a top income for that. Of course, such journalists are actually superfluous. People in top positions are quite capable to ask such questions themselves. They only need someone to announce who will be on the show: and anybody can do so and at a minimum wage. But this is how democracy works.”

Vlad: “And Pieter Jan Hagens thus made sure that there was no real political debate. I had to pay him for that too. I like the guy. I should invite him to Moscow to teach his tricks to my people. And they could teach him their tricks too.”

I could not suppress a shudder. I felt happy that this was a normal phone without views.

Vlad: “Still, Angela Merkel had this idiot Tsipras visiting her, and she got media coverage from all over the world, while my democratic experiment with Kasparov went unnoticed. I let the joker live ! Isn’t anybody grateful for that ?”

Me: “That is the price of being a dictator. This is a democratic world and you are the odd-man out. You will see that reaction again when Tsipras will visit you on April 8. I already wondered why you didn’t see the plight of the Greek people. If you receive and treat him while behaving as a dictator, then the world press will regard it as a non-event, but if you receive him as the inventor of democracy and a great inspiration for the European future, then the media will go berzerk.”

Vlad: “I don’t get you. You want Russia to take its example from Greece ?”

Me: “That would be a great headline ! You are doing fantastic ! Your small experiment with Kasparov on Dutch television is opening up your mind to possibilities that I hadn’t thought of myself ! Yes, look into that weird Greek system of democracy in which the largest party gets 50 seats extra. Check how Russian corruption can learn from Greek corruption in a democracy. Check how Tsipras has an inner circle with other clowns like Yannis Varoufakis, so that Kasparov’s discussion about your inner circle replacing you becomes even more silly. Check how a small determined country can wreak havoc on the world economic system, while you need a huge army and your nukes and still get expelled from the G8. I regard our discussion as very fruitful and promising. My compliments to you, the most dangerous man the world has ever known, potentially.”

Vlad, apparently pleased, but still with a tad of worry, as always when he was considering a democratic idea: “I don’t like that “potentially”. I am thinking that I will let Kasparov live a bit longer. I want him to see what I am potentially capable of.”

Garry Kasparov on Dutch tv, 2015-03-22 (Source: screenshot Buitenhof tv)

Garry Kasparov on Dutch tv, 2015-03-22 (Source: screenshot Buitenhof tv)

Listening to Yes – Close to the Edge

 

On occasion, circumcision can be a good medical procedure, like an appendicitis. Standard circumcision of baby boys, however, as happens in hospitals in the USA or Jewish “feasts” (a party except for the baby involved), is a sick barbaric custom. It is used by a priesthood to separate their flock from others and emphasize an “us against them” mental frame.

Medical Doctors should explain parents that circumcision is not necessary and much cheaper in terms of medical bills. Rabbi’s should explain their Jewish flock that there is no need for circumcision but that donations are accepted for a nice speech. If rabbi’s have a hang-up against baptising a baby since this looks too Christian and if they really want to see blood, then they might consider making a cut in their own body.

Psychology tells that people tend to rationalise their condition. There is a mental need to accept your body and situation. Rich people think that they deserve their wealth while it may be a fluke of nature. Poor people may tend to accept their poverty since it may make them more miserable to think otherwise. Circumcised men will not demand severance pay from their parents but may start feeling proud of being part of a “great tradition” – and then circumcise their own boys. The “us against them” mental frame is very powerful and very stable.

Banning circumcision is no good idea. The custom and mental frame are too strong and believers will go underground, and the custom might even get the appeal of resistance against the nanny state. Matter of fact and common sense and fairness are the key words.

The “us against them” mental frame might contribute to a nuclear conflict in the Middle East. Potentially the real causes are land and water, or in a good German word Lebensraum. But such issues are generally solved by mere economics. When people can work in peace and trade the proceeds then prosperity multiplies. Such an outcome apparently is not in the interest of politicians, priests and the so-called “scientists” who advise these. The real problem is not Lebensraum but mental dishonesty. See the earlier discussion of the high priests of high treason.

Thinking about the nuclear war to eliminate circumcision causes me to look at four websites.

But let us first observe that the Bible is dangerous Literature.

Circumcision (Central Asia 1870s) (Source: Wikipedia commons)

Circumcision (Central Asia 1870s) (Source: Wikipedia commons)

The Bible is dangerous Literature

The logic is as follows:

The NT is dangerous Literature.
The NT is a summary of the OT.
Thus also the OT is dangerous Literature.

Let us consider the NT, and then Acts 5.30 in both CEV, KJV (that generally follows a Hebrew translation of the original Greek) and original Greek.

“You killed Jesus by nailing him to a cross. But the God our ancestors worshiped raised him to life” (Acts 5.30 CEV)

“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree (Acts 5.30 KJV)

“ὁ θεὸς τῶν πατέρων ἡμῶν ἤγειρεν Ἰησοῦν ὃν ὑμεῖς διεχειρίσασθε κρεμάσαντες ἐπὶ ξύλου (Acts 5.30 NA28, German Bible Society)

One may check also the various Biblehub versions with “nailing to a cross” versus “hanged on a tree”, or the stepwise translation of the original Greek with only that tree and no nails.

The best interpretation of the situation is:

  • Many translators agree that it should be “nailing to a cross”. They are embarrassed by the original Greek “hanged on a tree”, and repair the error – disinforming readers about what the true text is.
  • The embarrassment is that – certainly in Acts, long after the event – it should be a mantra that Christ was nailed to a cross, so that “hanged on a tree” is incomprehensible.
  • The embarrassment is that “hanged on a tree” is comprehensible as an earlier version of the story, taken from conventional myths about dying and rising (fertility) gods who are hung on trees (or trees themselves) – check for example the Roman Hilaria (Spring festival) – so that the original editors of the Acts apparently forgot this passage when they switched to using the cross to make it a Roman punishment.
  • The verse illuminates that the NT is religious literature and no report about true events.
  • The NT is not “The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” but dangerous literature. It is a deliberate composition of narrative, propaganda and theological argumentation. The NT follows the poetic rule “to tell lies to tell the truth” – but users should beware of the dangers of the passions that are invoked.

An alternative interpretation is that the editors (“Luke”) only recorded Simon Peter’s words from memory by eye-witnesses, and that some details got lost in transmission, or that Simon Peter really used poetic liberty to evade the tiresome mantra. People who believe this may also think that circumcision is a good idea because Christ was circumcised too.

I came upon Acts 5.30 from re-reading Lena Einhorn’s paper on the time shift hypothesis, in which she also discusses who Simon Peter might be. Check pages 21-24 for the story around Acts 5.30.

Stuart G. Waugh on the Kitos War and Marcion

Stuart G. Waugh has a weblog Post Kitos War. His work on Marcion is referred to with interest by Hermann Detering’s website.  Waugh on his part refers to Detering again.

In an earlier weblog text, we found that:

  • The Einhorn (2006, 2012) and Eisenman (2006) time shift hypothesis holds that real events around 70 AD are projected onto fictitious “Biblical events” around 30 AD.
  • Earlier there were Ralph Ellis (1998) and Hermann Detering (2000). The latter writes: “the only genuinely reliable point of reference is the fact that the Synoptic Gospels look back to the destruction of Jerusalem and consequently must have been written after the year 70.” (p162)
  • Waugh wonders about the relevance of the Bar Kokhba Revolt in AD 132-136 but points more decisively to the Kitos War in AD 115-117 and the direct threat to Alexandria.
  • We also see a Basic Passion Story of around 41-44 AD.
  • The flexible time shift hypothesis is that there are layers of editing, so that indeed more time frames may be involved. The core would still be the (E & E) time shift hypothesis since the destruction of Jerusalem en Temple is such a dramatic event.

Waugh has also some observations on circumcision:

“The inescapable conclusion is that Historia Augusta is simply wrong. There was no ban, but a myth developed in Christian circles by the middle of the 4th century that Hadrian had imposed such an edict, perhaps from confusion his banning of castrating slaves combined with Antoninus’ ruling to allowing Jews to circumcise in the years after Bar Kokhba. [8] And no doubt this view derived from the Maccabees and the association of Hadrian’s policies with those of Antiochus; to the point of  even claiming he thought himself the reincarnation of Antiochus. But this myth, or at least the confusion of the era, does appear in Paul’s letters.” (Stuart Waugh, July 15 2013)

Waugh refers to an eclips around AD 118 that might be relevant for Marcion’s Paul, with a youtube series by Michael Xoroaster.

“What is most interesting to me in the series was the use of NASA data to show the night sky on the night of the two eclipses, and the positions of the stars and planets. I must admit it completely changed my view of what is meant in the New Testament by the very word revelation. (…) Was Paul’s revelation an astrological one?” (Stuart Waugh, June 27 2013)

See more on the AD 118 eclipse.

Richard Edmondson on Marcion

Richard Edmondson describes himself as: “I am a novelist, poet, journalist, and peace activist. My latest book is The Memoirs of Saint John: No Greater Love, a novel about the life of Christ as told from the perspective of John the son of Zebedee, the youngest of the twelve disciples.” This kind of religious novel is confusing, since it introduces more noise into a subject that already is rather noisy.

More relevant is his work as a journalist / commentator.  Whatever Edmondson’s political points of view and writing of religious fiction, I found his journalistic discussion of the role of Marcion on the creation of the NT and the abolition of the OT rather nice.

See his text Chuck the Old Testament? (February 17 2014).

This discussion must be seen in the context of our earlier exposition that Simon Magus was a real heretic. The gnostic / docetic version of Christianity lost from the butchershop religion with a real suffering Jesus in the flesh. What drives history here is the logic of the theological argument.

In AD 100, Judaism did not accept this theological argument. They did not believe in the existence of Jesus anyway, so his supposed death had no value.

Perhaps now though, in 2015, Israelites might accept the argument that the OT is religious fiction, just like the NT is. You are chosen by fiction, great.

Edmondson referring to Robert Parry

Edmondson explains his weblog as follows:

“In this blog much of my focus is on the Middle East, particularly the occupation of Palestine and events as they are now playing out in Syria. While I am a Christian, I am not a Christian Zionist. The founding of Israel in 1948 was not the fulfillment of God’s prophecy Christian Zionists believe it to be (apartheid and endless occupation are not part of the divine plan), but if you read the second chapter of II Thessalonians you will notice Saint Paul foretelling the coming of a “powerful delusion”–and certainly Israel and its supporters in the mainstream media, to the extent that Paul’s prediction applies here, have practiced the art of deception to a rather stunning degree.” (Richard Edmondson, About, March 16 2015)

Edmondson holds that the USA isn’t critical enough on Israel, likely for fear of sounding anti-semitic. Here is an example of his protest against propaganda for a war with Russia.

There is a useful reference to this article by Robert Parry of March 11 2015 on such war propaganda.

“Robert Parry (born June 24, 1949) is an American investigative journalist best known for his role in covering the Iran-Contra affair for the Associated Press (AP) and Newsweek, including breaking the Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare (CIA manual provided to the Nicaraguan contras) and the CIA and Contras cocaine trafficking in the US scandal in 1985. He was awarded the George Polk Award for National Reporting in 1984. He has been the editor of Consortium News since 1995.” ( Wikipedia on Parry March 16 2015 – not as a source but as a portal)

The Christian Solution ?

Looking on the internet for this kind of view that struggles with propaganda and psychological framing e.g. about anti-semitism, we also find The Christian Solution. The nice element of this TCS website is that the author looks for constitutional reform, and suggests that the USA devolves into more power for the States. This is an issue that we can discuss in Political Economy.

However, the author holds that Christianity is more peaceful than Judaism or Islam. This is a dubious claim, both historically but also theologically since Jesus was both priest and warrior. The view neglects the information that the Bible is dangerous Literature. Who choses this position quickly falls in the “us against them” trap. The author claims – but the claim is actually rather defensive:

“Truth is that this website is neither anti-Semitic nor religiously fanatical. This website is merely reporting what is not being reporting. It is re-slanting, in the opposite direction, that which has already been slanted away from the Jews by the media-Scribe monopoly. (…)  They can call me anti-Semitic. Fair enough. And, I will call most of their leaders Satanic Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians and media-Scribes. I will call them anti-Christian and Jesus-deniers.
You see, I think the average Jew is neither a Neo-con Jew nor an ultra-communist leftist Jew. I think they are just average people like anyone else. Same as not all black men are Louis Farrakhans and not all black women are Maya Angelous. And if you get my drift, not all Germans were like Hitler.” (website The Christian Solution)

Yes, we reach the point that Hitler is mentioned. The TCS term solution remains awkward in the context of the Endlösung. Check youtube on Fawlty Towers, Don’t Mention The War.

Fawlty Towers, "Don't Mention The War" (Source: BBC screenshot)

Fawlty Towers, “Don’t Mention The War” (Source: BBC screenshot)

A concluding suggestion

My suggestion is to first deconstruct Christianity, and only later look at Judaism and Islam. Europe and the USA have democracies with professional education and a free press. They are also historically mostly Christian and should be able to overcome the religious disinformation from the past. A more enlightened and prosperous Western society should be a beacon for the rest of world.

The risk of a nuclear war in the Middle East rises. We might see it as a way to eliminate circumcision. It would be wiser to eliminate circumcision by better education and a free press, and thereby reduce the “us against them” mental frame that increases this risk of nuclear war.

For the relevance for education, see here.

Listening to Thomas TallisSpem In Alium
and this playlist

 The best quote by Terry Pratchett may well be:

“I would like to die peacefully with Thomas Tallis on my iPod before the disease takes me over,” he continued, “and I hope that will not be for quite some time to come, because if I knew that I could die at any time I wanted, then suddenly every day would be as ­precious as a million pounds. If I knew that I could die, I would live. My life, my death, my choice.” (Terry Pratchett, quoted by Lea & Davies in the Guardian , March 12 2015 – see also this obituary by Priest)

 

Terry Pratchett 2012, photo by (c) Luigi Novi, see the licence

Terry Pratchett 2012, photo by (c) Luigi Novi / wikimedia commons, see the licence statement at wikipedia

I saw Pratchett only once, around 1985, at a SF Con in the Atlanta Hotel in Rotterdam – organised by NCSF and Holland SF. The Colour of Magic had been published and it was obvious that he was a marvelous author. The convention was mostly in Dutch and he spent most time on his laptop – and most fans dared not interfere afraid of interrupting the flow of creation. I had taken along young X – whom I could later introduce to Pratchett’s work, who remembered and then appreciated him much too. Later, when Z got into the SF reading stage, Pratchett’s books became something precious to share too.

I discovered two ideas in Pratchett’s novels that I had thought about myself too – and thus zillions of others I hadn’t. The one is how dragons can fly even while being too heavy to fly. This is by micro teleportation. For, once you accept the idea of teleportation, then you can apply it everywhere, and why shouldn’t dragons use it to move through the sky atom by atom ? The other notion is that a god is born as a tiny idea and grows by acquiring followers. No doubt others will have thought about this latter notion too but I felt some satisfaction that I had done so before reading Pratchett. Whenever I notice a silly idea growing in attention I tend to think: “Oh, there is yet again another little god” – and I also think of my independent agreement with Pratchett on this.

The Science of Discworld has already received attention by Pratchett in collaboration with mathematician Ian Stewart and biologist Jack Cohen. It is difficult to determine whether the magic and religion has received similar attention. Even for a fan it is quite a task to keep up with some 70 of Pratchett’s works and the commentaries. I now notice a book on The Folklore of Discworld but that need not be the same as what I intend here.

Frazer, The Golden Bough (1922, 1978), makes these distinctions, that can usefully be put into a table.  Magic is close to science, since it is based upon laws, like those of similarity and contagion. Magic is close to religion since there are spells and prayer. Magic itself is an odd mixture of science and religion. Most magical, in the view of Pratchett, is the use of words, that may effect an entire change of perspective. One example are the words printed on pieces of paper called money.

Personal god

Magic

Science

Based upon laws ?

no

yes

yes

Human influence ?

pray, sacrifice

spells, rituals

no, only application

In Discworld there is Death with some persona but with a curious mythology – and even a granddaughter. Chaos is represented by accountants who try to turn human life into maximal entropy. One key notion about Discworld is that it has been created by superior aliens: and after creating Discworld they hid themselves in the subconsciousnesses of their created human beings. We can only guess what their purpose was. This is a tiny idea that may grow into a full religion.

Damascus is considered as a code word for Qumran. Let us look into the possibility that Antioch might stand for a faction in a Council of War.

Antioch has 29 hits in 28 verses in the King James Version. There are more Antiochs, like on the Orontes and in Pisidia. Some references may be to real cities. A reference might also be more metaphorical.

Apparently high priest Jason / Jesus (175 BC) wanted to turn Jerusalem into a Greek polis like Antioch on the Orontes, with perhaps Greek citizen rights:

“Beside this, he promised to assign an hundred and fifty [talents] more, if he might have licence to set him up a place for exercise [gymnasium], and for the training up of youth in the fashions of the heathen, and to write them of Jerusalem by the name of Antiochians.” (2 Maccabees 4.9 KJV) (cf. “let the children come to me”)

It is in Antioch that the word Christian is coined – though it is not specified which Antioch. In Acts 11, the gospel to the gentiles starts, with permission by Simon Peter.

“1 And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. (…18…) Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life. (..25…)  And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” (Acts 11.(25) KJV)

Acts 13.1-3 seems like a War Council with a schism

Acts 13.1-3 seems to refer to Antioch on the Orontes since Saul & Barnabas later continue to Antioch in Pisidia. But the verses provide us with a somewhat surprising list of names.

“1 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. 3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” (Acts 13.1-3 KJV)

The surprising names are:

  • Apparently the Bible has only one occurrence of that name Niger. FJ has a Niger of Peraea involved in War Councils, see Goldberg’s chronology 3, November 66-March 67.
  • For Manaen, Manahem, Menahem, Menachem (conventionally “comforter, consoler, mediator, advocate, Holy Ghost, paraclete” – but see below) here is the hypothesis by Lena Einhorn that he would be Simon Peter, using her time shift hypothesis.
  • Allow for a flexible time shift: There is Lukuas of Cyrene who was one of the leading rebels in the Kitos war 115-117 AD. As Lukuas ransacked Alexandria, the intellectuals there had a good reason to finally get rid of these rebelling Jews. They may have answered by the means that they commanded, their pen, to rewrite the OT into the NT. Remember also Simon of Cyrene who carried Jesus’s cross, as some final helping hand. Editors of the NT in 120 AD may well have borrowed Lukuas’s name to express the continued rebellion – and perhaps this is where the evangelist Luke got his name too.
  • For Saul / Paul & Barnabas we discussed the hypothesis that Barnabas ~ Flavius Josephus and that Saul / Paul ~ his brother Matthias.

Let us consider some of these characters and roles.

A key event for Paul in Antioch

Some have little doubt that Acts 13.1-3 is a key event in the gospel by Paul. We already saw the start of the gospel to the gentiles in Acts 11 and thus Acts 13 only indicates that Paul takes the leadership. When Paul writes letters about an (additional) female companionship, we are reminded that a high priest has two wives in order to remain pure and be able to stay away from blood.

Maria Pascuzzi in a review of Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, ‘Paul: His Story’ writes:

“(…Paul…) emerges as anything but an endearing character. (…) This unflattering characterization of Paul is, at times, exaggerated. So too is the author’s assessment of the impact of the Antioch incident on Paul, cited as the most decisive moment in his life after his conversion. Murphy-O’Connor claims that the incident resulted in a total rupture between Paul and the Antiochene community, after which Paul, isolated and lacking Antioch’s authoritative backing, unfolds a ministry mired in polemic. Conflict is not just a component part of Paul’s story. As Murphy-O’Connor presents it, it is Paul’s story! Paul is in conflict with subverters of his law-free gospel, detractors discrediting his apostolic legitimacy, or defectors enticed by more rhetorically eloquent preachers. Was the Antioch incident the watershed in Paul’s life that the author alleges? Unfortunately, there are few clues in Paul’s letters to suggest that this incident was viewed by Paul as decisive for his ministry and thought about the law. Murphy-O’Connor treats this as an all-decisive event, but the evidence does not support the claim, even if Paul did see Antioch as significant.” (Maria Pascuzzi, H-Catholic July 2005)

Translations matter. The “Separate me” required by the Holy Ghost might be interpretated in various ways. In another case a person’s ears are cut off so that he no longer is pure enough to become a high priest. The modern Google Translate gives excommunicated for ἀφορίσατε (aforisate), and Bible Hub gives “set apart”.

Non-academic writer Joseph Atwill suggests that in Antioch at least Saul is castrated for becoming lax on circumcision and causing the murder of Stephen (James the Just). See the Appendix. I don’t think that this argument is so strong. A castrated Paul could no longer be a high priest so one can imagine that he concentrates on the gentiles. Atwill overall suggestion is that the NT is black comedy written by Romans to subdue the Judeans and at the same time make fun of them. It seems that this may cause more questions than that it solves.

The NA28 original and CEV translation are, and check the verses by terms 13.2 and 13.3.

“1 The church at Antioch had several prophets and teachers. They were Barnabas, Simeon, also called Niger, Lucius from Cyrene, Manaen, who was Herod’s close friend, and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and going without eating, the Holy Spirit told them, “Appoint Barnabas and Saul to do the work for which I have chosen them.” 3 Everyone prayed and went without eating for a while longer. Next, they placed their hands on Barnabas and Saul to show that they had been appointed to do this work. Then everyone sent them on their way.” (Acts 13.3 CEV)

1 Ἦσαν δὲ ἐν Ἀντιοχείᾳ κατὰ τὴν οὖσαν ἐκκλησίαν προφῆται καὶ διδάσκαλοι ὅ τε Βαρναβᾶς καὶ Συμεὼν ὁ καλούμενος Νίγερ καὶ Λούκιος ὁ Κυρηναῖος, Μαναήν τε Ἡρῴδου τοῦ τετραάρχου σύντροφος καὶ Σαῦλος. 2 Λειτουργούντων δὲ αὐτῶν τῷ κυρίῳ καὶ νηστευόντων εἶπεν τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον· ἀφορίσατε δή μοι τὸν Βαρναβᾶν καὶ Σαῦλον εἰς τὸ ἔργον ὃ προσκέκλημαι αὐτούς. 3 τότε νηστεύσαντες καὶ προσευξάμενοι καὶ ἐπιθέντες τὰς χεῖρας αὐτοῖς ἀπέλυσαν. (Acts 13.1-2 NA28, German Bible Society)

In Liddell_Scott-Jones we find ἀφορ-ίζω for both positive and negative separation: ordain or banish. Also, to put or lay hands on someone may be interpreted in various ways. One can bless a person or beat him – check epithentes and the verb ἐπιτίθημι. Thus, we have little information, other than:

  • the separation itself
  • the persons involved
  • the events before and after.

Thus rather than thinking about a congregation in the city of Antioch on the Orontes, we may think about different views, philosophies or tendencies, and perhaps even the moods in a War Council.

What connections to Cyrene ?

A search on Josephus.org on Cyrene gives only this discussion on Masada and Eleazar (the Lazarus of the NT):

“Finally, in late 73 CE Flavius Silva approached Masada. The Sicarii were still awaiting the End, which they thought would be presaged by heavenly chariots, not Roman legions. It is likely that some Sicarii fled from Masada and the countryside to Egypt when Silva approached, for it is remarkable that immediately after the fall of Masada Josephus tells of Sicarii in Egypt and Cyrene, although he had given no hint of any such agitation there previously.” (Goldberg website)

Checking at Project Gutenberg and PACE, there is a surprise sicarius Jonathan who would have fled from Masada and who accuses FJ himself:

“Nay, indeed, lest any Jews that lived elsewhere should convict him of his villainy, he extended his false accusations further, and persuaded Jonathan, and certain others that were caught with him, to bring an accusation of attempts for innovation against the Jews that were of the best character both at Alexandria and at Rome. One of these, against whom this treacherous accusation was laid, was Josephus, the writer of these books. However, this plot, thus contrived by Catullus, did not succeed according to his hopes; for though he came himself to Rome, and brought Jonathan and his companions along with him in bonds, and thought he should have had no further inquisition made as to those lies that were forged under his government, or by his means; yet did Vespasian suspect the matter and made an inquiry how far it was true. And when he understood that the accusation laid against the Jews was an unjust one, he cleared them of the crimes charged upon them, and this on account of Titus’s concern about the matter, and brought a deserved punishment upon Jonathan; for he was first tormented, and then burnt alive.” (FJ War 8.11.3)

Thus there are various elements that a writer of the Acts can use to create verse 13.1-3, with an opponent of FJ ~ Barnabas and a separation of ways with such various characters involved.

March 15: A flexible time shift hypothesis

Up to now, I used the term time shift hypothesis for the idea that events in the NT supposedly from the time of Pontius Pilate around 30 AD actually code for real events around 70 AD and the destruction of Jerusalem. Let us now use the phrase flexible time shift hypothesis for the phenomenon that passages may apply to various events in time. The NT was composed over a longer period of time, with layer over layer, and portions were added and deleted (depending upon the effect on the readership or audience). We for example saw a Basic Passion Story for the release by Agrippa of Simon of Zebedee in 41-44 AD. Perhaps at that time it was a major story, but eventually it dropped to a lower level of interest.

Stuart Waugh has this observation on the Kitos war (from Lusius Quietus) and Lukuas (a.k.a. Andreas) 115-117 AD;

“(…) the Bar Kochba revolt (…) simply wasn’t as big a deal as it has been made up to be. While it was a long nasty brutal guerrilla war which inflicted some horrific casualties, it was also extremely localized and had little impact on the larger Empire. Although many modern zealous Zionists want to paint the picture of a bigger war, the archeology simply doesn’t support it. In fact much about the War and the build up, and even the Roman construction of Aelia Capitolina, is misreported or simply wrong. And the more I examine the Marcionite text, the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, Romans Law and the various Historical reports, the less of a big deal this revolt seems to be in the big picture.

On the other hand the Parthian War and the Jewish insurrections in the Ptolemaic regions of the Roman empire appears to have been a very big deal. The Arch of Titus is testimony to that, even if it was Hadrian who completed it. There were so many conflicts in those few years that the Arch of Titus depicts more than just the Parthian conflict, as witness the relief to the left of Lusius Quietus’ battles in Dacia. The Jewish ethnic riots in Cyrene were so severe that the Roman baths had to be rebuilt afterwards – a plaque was discovered of Hadrian rededicating the bath house in the aftermath of tumulto Iudaico sometime after 120 CE. (Note, Quietus was send to “quiet” the rebellions in Cyprus and then Egypt, and it was his name that gave us the English word ‘to quiet’.)” (Stuart Waugh, 2013-09-22)

Lusius Quietus' Moorish Cavalry in Dacia, on Column of Trajan (Source: wikimedia commons)

Lusius Quietus’ Moorish Cavalry in Dacia, on the Column of Trajan (Source: wikimedia commons)

Thus we should allow that Lukuas has been written into the New Testament, both as helping Jesus carrying the cross and partaking in that Council of War.

March 16: More on Manaen, Manahem, Menahem, Menachem

The most important point w.r.t. Manahem perhaps should be that Bible translators and researchers should write his name in consistent manner, for it is silly and irritating how much time can be lost simply in checking all versions.

Wikipedia has an article “Menahem” with a picture of a “Manahem” which shows the idiocy – and it appears to concern a king of Israel in the Old Testament (Northern Israel to be distinguished from Southern Judea) – while the Manahem who started the Jewish rebellion in 66 AD is not important for an article on himself.

Currently I follow Josephus, in the Whiston translation, who introduces Manahem as the person who started the violent rebellion around 66 AD that led to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

As said, Einhorn ventures the hypothesis that Manahem is Simon Peter, and she writes “Menahem”. I agree with Einhorn that portions of Manahem have been used by the NT editors to create Simon Peter. However, he need not be fully him.

It seems that portions of Manahem have also been used to create Jesus, King of the Jews. For FJ describes in two passages in War 2.17.8-9 how Manahem started the rebellion, took the state and attire of a king, and was eventually slain by his compatriots, all in 66 AD. Later in 70 AD we see Simon bar Giora in the attire of a king, being captured by the Romans and executed in Rome. It is nice to see how the responsibility shifts from Jews to Romans. Thus at least these two characters have been used to create Jesus, King of the Jews. Since Manahem was slain so early in the rebellion my impression is that Simon bar Giora had a longer impact.

FJ calls Manahem the son of Judas of Galilee but he may also be a grandson. Judas started the rebellion in 6 AD because of the population census and tax plans by Quirinius (“Cyrenius”). “Jesus” may only be a code word for the start of the Jewish rebellion at that time. FJ reports about 60 years later – and check Einhorn for links in the NT:

“[433] In the mean time, one Manahem, the son of Judas, that was called the Galilean, (who was a very cunning sophister, and had formerly reproached the Jews under Cyrenius, that after God they were subject to the Romans,) took some of the men of note with him, and retired to Masada, where he broke open king Herod’s armory, and gave arms not only to his own people, but to other robbers also. These he made use of for a guard, and returned in the state of a king to Jerusalem; he became the leader of the sedition, and gave orders for continuing the siege; but they wanted proper instruments, and it was not practicable to undermine the wall, because the darts came down upon them from above. But still they dug a mine from a great distance under one of the towers, and made it totter; and having done that, they set on fire what was combustible, and left it; and when the foundations were burnt below, the tower fell down suddenly. Yet did they then meet with another wall that had been built within, for the besieged were sensible beforehand of what they were doing, and probably the tower shook as it was undermining; so they provided themselves of another fortification; which when the besiegers unexpectedly saw, while they thought they had already gained the place, they were under some consternation. However, those that were within sent to Manahem, and to the other leaders of the sedition, and desired they might go out upon a capitulation: this was granted to the king’s soldiers [Agrippa / TC] and their own countrymen only, who went out accordingly; but the Romans that were left alone were greatly dejected, for they were not able to force their way through such a multitude; and to desire them to give them their right hand for their security, they thought it would be a reproach to them; and besides, if they should give it them, they durst not depend upon it; so they deserted their camp, as easily taken, and ran away to the royal towers, – that called Hippicus, that called Phasaelus, and that called Mariamne. But Manahem and his party fell upon the place whence the soldiers were fled, and slew as many of them as they could catch, before they got up to the towers, and plundered what they left behind them, and set fire to their camp. This was executed on the sixth day of the month Gorpieus [Elul].” (FJ, War 2.17.8)

“[441] But on the next day the high priest was caught where he had concealed himself in an aqueduct; he was slain, together with Hezekiah his brother, by the robbers: hereupon the seditious besieged the towers, and kept them guarded, lest any one of the soldiers should escape. Now the overthrow of the places of strength, and the death of the high priest Ananias, so puffed up Manahem, that he became barbarously cruel; and as he thought he had no antagonist to dispute the management of affairs with him, he was no better than an insupportable tyrant; but Eleazar and his party, when words had passed between them, how it was not proper when they revolted from the Romans, out of the desire of liberty, to betray that liberty to any of their own people, and to bear a lord, who, though he should be guilty of no violence, was yet meaner than themselves; as also, that in case they were obliged to set some one over their public affairs, it was fitter they should give that privilege to any one rather than to him; they made an assault upon him in the temple; for he went up thither to worship in a pompous manner, and adorned with royal garments, and had his followers with him in their armor. But Eleazar and his party fell violently upon him, as did also the rest of the people; and taking up stones to attack him withal, they threw them at the sophister, and thought, that if he were once ruined, the entire sedition would fall to the ground. Now Manahem and his party made resistance for a while; but when they perceived that the whole multitude were falling upon them, they fled which way every one was able; those that were caught were slain, and those that hid themselves were searched for. A few there were of them who privately escaped to Masada, among whom was Eleazar, the son of Jairus, who was of kin to Manahem, and acted the part of a tyrant at Masada afterward. As for Manahem himself, he ran away to the place called Ophla, and there lay skulking in private; but they took him alive, and drew him out before them all; they then tortured him with many sorts of torments, and after all slew him, as they did by those that were captains under him also, and particularly by the principal instrument of his tyranny, whose name was Apsalom.” (FJ, War 2.17.9)

Ralph Ellis on Manahem as a treasurer or tax farmer

Non-academic author Ralph Ellis – who academic researchers should take more seriously – suggests that Manahem might rather be a title rather than a personal name – see King Jesus page 80-81. While the conventional explanation for “Menahem” is comforter or paraclete – see said wikipedia article – Ellis suggests a better explanation:

“One suspects that ‘Manahem’ is probably a title, for this important person does not get many mentions in the texts of Josephus and the name appears to have been derived from the Hebrew maneh (…) meaning ‘counting’ or ‘money’ (from which the English term is also derived. Remember that the entire dispute between the Galilean Sect and the Jerusalem authorities revolved around taxation, which is why Jesus was ridiculed for associating with ‘tax-collectors and sinners’. [ftnt] (Some Bibles translate ‘tax-collector’ as ‘publican’, but the primary meaning of telones (…) and publicanus is the former.) Therefore, a good nickname for the Galilean Sect might be the ‘Bankers’, which is why the character called Manahem was given this particular nickname. But this means that Manahem could actually be any of the sons of Judas-Zamaris of Gamala, including Jesus, James and Simon. It is also worth noting that an earlier Manahem, who lived during the reign of King Herod, was explictly called an Essene, by Josephus. [ftnt]” (Ellis, King Jesus page 81)

Indeed, see biblehub on maneh (also translated as pound).

The last reference is to Antiquities, apparently about a period BC concerning Herod the Great:

“[373] Now there was one of these Essens, whose name was Manahem, who had this testimony, that he not only conducted his life after an excellent manner, but had the foreknowledge of future events given him by God also. This man once saw Herod when he was a child, and going to school, and saluted him as king of the Jews; but he, thinking that either he did not know him, or that he was in jest, put him in mind that he was but a private man; but Manahem smiled to himself, and clapped him on his backside with his hand, and said,” However that be, thou wilt be king, and wilt begin thy reign happily, for God finds thee worthy of it. And do thou remember the blows that Manahem hath given thee, as being a signal of the change of thy fortune. And truly this will be the best reasoning for thee, that thou love justice [towards men], and piety towards God, and clemency towards thy citizens; yet do I know how thy whole conduct will be, that thou wilt not be such a one, for thou wilt excel all men in happiness, and obtain an everlasting reputation, but wilt forget piety and righteousness; and these crimes will not be concealed from God, at the conclusion of thy life, when thou wilt find that he will be mindful of them, and punish time for them.” Now at that time Herod did not at all attend to what Manahem said, as having no hopes of such advancement; but a little afterward, when he was so fortunate as to be advanced to the dignity of king, and was in the height of his dominion, he sent for Manahem, and asked him how long he should reign. Manahem did not tell him the full length of his reign; wherefore, upon that silence of his, he asked him further, whether he should reign ten years or not? He replied, “Yes, twenty, nay, thirty years;” but did not assign the just determinate limit of his reign. Herod was satisfied with these replies, and gave Manahem his hand, and dismissed him; and from that time he continued to honor all the Essens. We have thought it proper to relate these facts to our readers, how strange soever they be, and to declare what hath happened among us, because many of these Essens have, by their excellent virtue, been thought worthy of this knowledge of Divine revelations.” (FJ, Antiquities 15.10.5)

Conclusion

It leads too far to draw strong conclusions here. We scratch the surface and already find some interesting possibilities. There is a danger of reading too much into the texts but perhaps there is some illumination here.

 

Appendix: Joseph Atwill on a supposed castration of Paul

Joseph Atwill:

“The first mystery concerning Paul is why did the author of Acts change his name from ‘Saul’ to ‘Paul’, a word that means ‘tiny’. The truth behind Saul’s nickname is viscous humor that makes fun of the fact that Paul was not merely circumcised but castrated. The story of Paul’s castration is black comedy and is given in Acts 13 1-9.

Prior to the scene in Acts 13 Saul/Paul had attacked a member of the ‘way’ – Stephan – who has been preaching for ‘Jesus’, in other words, Stephan had been preaching for the Flavian Christ. Following this event Saul shows up in Antioch with a group that includes a ‘stepbrother’ of Herod. Then the ‘Holy Spirit’, for some reason, orders Saul ‘separated’ – the Greek word used can also mean ‘severed’ – and the group then “placed their hands on him” – the word used for “placed” can also mean ‘attack’. Following the event Saul becomes ‘Paul’, a word that means ‘tiny’. In other words, Paul has been ‘severed’ – or castrated – by the group led by Herod’s ‘stepbrother’ as revenge for his participation in the attack on a member of the ‘Way’ – the Caesars’ version of Judaism. This was how Saul became ‘Tiny’.

To digress, this analysis shows not only the reason why the Romans named the character ‘Paul’, but why they gave him his original name of ‘Saul’. Saul was the Jewish king that had demanded David obtain ‘a hundred Gentile foreskins’ and the Romans named their character ‘Saul’ to imply that his ‘circumcision’ involved – like the one ordered by his OT ‘forerunner’ – more than a single foreskin. The author of Acts ‘clarifies’ the relationship by actually mentioning the OT Saul in the passage where ‘Saul’ becomes ‘Tiny’ – Acts 13:21. The author also notes that the OT Saul’s reign had the space of forty years. This ‘foresees’ the forty years between the beginning of Paul’s ‘ministry’ at approximately 40 CE and the start of Domitian’s reign in 81 CE – a roughly forty year cycle parallel to the one which linked Jesus to Titus.

(Joseph Atwill, weblog April 9 2013)

Atwill’s suggestion for me at this stage creates more questions that it solves. His overall suggestion is that the NT is black comedy written by Romans to subdue the Judeans and at the same time make fun of them. It is a possibility, but one with drawbacks.

(1) There should be an explanation why the attack would be needed, and what the meaning of the Holy Spirit is. Saul would be silly to first kill James and then think that he could drink tea with his followers. Thus the story likely is different. I would like to see wider context: that Eisenman interpretes Stephen as James, so that we know that we are speaking about the same sequence of events, and why Atwill might disagree with NT and Eisenman.We should try to check again what Eisenman says about the scene.

(I tend to agree with Eisenman that Stephen ~ James ~ The Way. Paul / Saul participated in his execution. Subsequently Paul and Barnabas were expelled. The Holy Spirit indicates the new idea of the mission to the gentiles – the Flavian Christ. This seems a different reading than Atwills. With Atwill’s reading I don’t understand why the expulsion would be needed.)

(2) Castration requires much explanation. Why this measure ? Would it not kill an adult ? I found a source that somewhat took away some of my hesitations: A Brief History Of Castration: Second Edition, by Victor T. Cheney.

I suppose that “an eye for an eye” is their world, but then they would kill him instead of castration. wouldn’t they ? Merely black comedy is not enough. They might also cut off his ears, which would be more of a visible thing. I suppose that Atwill explains this in the book, but I am afraid that he has to explain this now to his audience, because now it may be a reason not to buy the book.

My impression still is that an adult who has been castrated against his will might well collapse psychologically, and not have the energy that Atwill allocates to Paul. I suppose that he discusses the issue in his book. But his website could provide the main argument.

(3) Theologians might very well understand models of black comedy. It would be important to recover their arguments why they reject it.

(4) Since we will never know what is the true story about Jesus, the main issue is what can be sensibly told in highschool so that students get a foundation to deal with a confusing world. The idea that the NT is black comedy likely leads too far. People will not understand typology and black comedy when it isn’t discussed with them first. Okay, it is in the Caesar Messiah, but every class starts with a recall of last session & where are we now, and I would like to see this on the internet too.

(5) As a final caveat: The weblog text on Atwill’s Shakespeare’s Secret Messiah requires mention of Hamlet’s Mill, by Giorgio de Santillana (a professor of the history of science at MIT) and Hertha von Dechend. An important section of our literary legacy derives from stories about astronomical events reworked into human drama. Atwill now links Shakespeare to the New Testament but there may well be a common source. But of course Atwill’s new thesis must be judged on its own arguments.

Listening to Theodorakis – Odus Eluti – Mikres Kuklades

 

For Jesus, we are so much conditioned to think about the 30 AD period that key insights threaten to be neglected. The events around 70 AD are much more important for the Origin of Christianity.

A critical reader had a question that caused me to re-read Lena Einhorn’s 2012 article on the time shift hypothesis again. I found this re-reading very valuable, and advise you to do so for refreshment too. The time shift hypothesis isn’t bread and butter in the literature. I should hope that academics check Einhorn’s results and publish confirmations so that the hypothesis gets more recognition for the study of Jesus and the origin of Christianity. But read that article, again, and apply the shift.

I had wanted to wrap up Paul and then develop a model, but this objective shifts in time too, to later weblog entries. There are some points on Simon Peter that need attention too: see later.

First the Egyptian, today

In last weblog entry I suggested that the main inspiration for Jesus lies in neolithical myths of a dying and resurrecting sun god. On this model human characters and live events are pasted. Jesus is essentially a combination of a priest and a warrior. The main models would be James the Just for the priest and Simon bar Giora for the warrior.  There are additional layers on top. Paul turns James’s gospel into the gospel for the goy and Church editors finalize the story as it has come to us (in at least four versions).

Like Damascus might be a code word for the Essene (Taliban) community of Qumran, potentially Antioch might be a code word for a section in the War Council in Jerusalem (see Goldberg here). Are these potential codes useful or not ?

The Egyptian is one of my dear hypotheses. How does he fit into this framework ?

The Egyptian vs the combination of James the Just & Simon bar Giora

Two reasons why the Egyptian would lose from the combination of James the Just & Simon bar Giora are:

  • The Egyptian is too vague a figure for the rich content of Jesus’s teachings, and for the core of Jesus’s claims on the Son of Man (Stephen / James) and King of the Jews (Simon bar Giora).
  • The Egyptian occurs around 58 AD in relation to the murder of Jonathan, while the story of Jesus essentially is wrapped around the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD.

The Jonathan vs Jesus comparison itself causes some questions, see the Appendix.

My suggestion is:

  • Egypt is important, and not per se the Egyptian mentioned by FJ
  • That this Egyptian would rather be more useful for a hypothesis Paul ~ Matthias. If Saul / Paul is from Tarsus, with tarsos basket, and thus is the new Moses, then we recall that Moses was an Egyptian.
Strong and weak points for Jesus ~ the Egyptian

Re-reading Einhorn’s 2012 article I was struck again by her identification of the strong links between Jesus and the Egyptian. That Jesus was the Egyptian has been a dear hypothesis of mine – like the other hypothesis that Jesus is Flavius Josephus (FJ) himself.

Decisions, decisions.

Above two reasons however cause the elimination of the Egyptian as a main character for Jesus.

Elements about the Egyptian have been used by the gospel writers, nevertheless, to flesh out a story about Jesus. But lots of other elements in the writings of FJ have been used too. Thus the Egyptian is just dressing and not the core.

Remember that we will never discover the truth. Too much has been lost in history. But we can design an educational scheme that provides youngsters with some basic map. (See the bedrock certainties.)

Strong points for the Egyptian

Some strong points for the Egyptian are – compare with Einhorn p16+:

  1. The Egyptian who wants to bring down the walls of Jerusalem reminds of Jericho, and remember that Joshua is a military leader while Moses was priest and warrior.
  2. The scene on the Mount of Olives in FJ is used for the gospels, both for the multiplication of bread (knowledge) and for the betrayal by Judas. The disappearance of the Egyptian reminds of the empty grave of Mark.
  3. The Holy Family flees to Egypt. What religious ideas does Jesus bring back ? (P.M. Check War 1.33.2-4 for the Roman Eagle on the Temple, and the murder of the young men: Herod’s killing of the innocents, causing baby Jesus – as the symbol for the new born proper creed – to flee to Egypt.)
  4. Ideas about an immortal soul and resurrection are more Egyptian rather than Jewish. The Egyptian religion might be understood as Catholism with many saints and statues. The Jewish religion can be understood as a Protestant iconoclast reaction, to a single god without statue or even name. When you don’t have someone’s name and address then you cannot hold him legally accountable. Jesus brings back some issues from Egypt. (See however the inconsistencies in the Thora. So-called monotheism with all kinds of angels is also a mind-playing trick.)
  5. The Therapeutae from around Alexandria, mentioned by Philo, seem to have christian-like rituals and forms of organisation.
  6. When Jesus would proclaim to be (the son of) god, then this may also be part of the Egyptian burial ritual, in which the priest takes the role of Osiris, and argues that the deceased has lived well. Playing the role of god might be confused with the claim being one.
  7. Mark 15:7 refers to Barabbas who was involved in “the insurrection”. This reads like a reference to FJ and the Egyptian. Einhorn points to John 18:12 who gives a closer analogy to FJ, with greater numbers of soldiers, not just for an arrest but a battle. (If John has been written later, then there might be a tradition in gospel writer circles in which the analogies were known.)
  8. Einhorn states: “a failure to find either a biblical or an extra-biblical precedent for the described custom of releasing a prisoner at the feast”. But, remember that Yom Kippur has two scapegoats: one that is sacrificed and one that is set free in the wilderness. The wilderness of the Egyptian reminds of where one of the Yom Kippur scapegoats is sent to. Who puts on the google glass of symbolism reads FJ’s works with other eyes.
  9. Paul’s denial to the centurion that he isn’t the Egyptian, (a) may be a lie, which would fit the “speaker of lies”, (b) may be the truth, as a hint that it is Jesus (in time shift), (c) may be the truth, in the sense that the Acts use FJ’s information to make the story more “historical”, (d) may be a fluke of coincidence (but these texts seem to leave little to coincidence).
  10. Einhorn allows for the possibility that Jesus and Jesus Barabbas (“Son of the Father”) are the same. I agree with this possibility. But, as Paul is arrested for a disturbance in Jerusalem and shipped to Felix too, I wonder whether he is that Egyptian “who disappears”. And Barabbas then is created as that second scapegoat.
Weak points for the Egyptian

Einhorn mentions some other references, like the Sepher Toldoth Yeshu (9th century), that refer to Jesus’s Egyptian provenance. It might also be hear-say. It is easy to argue:

  • the Holy Family fled to Egypt
  • Jesus died on the cross in Jerusalem
  • thus Jesus must have come back from Egypt.

Hence I would prefer to focus on the core message of the NT – Son of Man & King of the Jews – and use this message to see what historical or historised characters are used.

Other characters used for Jesus

While the Egyptian might look like a strong inspiration for Jesus, let us not forget that the gospel writers also used other elements in the reports by FJ on Judea. It is very tempting to give the Egyptian a special place, but he may be just one of those elements.

Consider just the following two examples. There is Jesus, son of Ananus, who warns at Sukkot about the destruction of Jerusalem, who is whipped by the Romans, remains silent, but is dismissed as innocent. But the Jews persist in their error (insurgence) and cause the Romans to kill him – which is parallel to the NT. Incidently, it doesn’t require much genius to foresee that the Roman army could conquer Jerusalem. This Jesus might still be a lunatic and only needed to have become agitated by overhearing some political debates.

Jesus, son of Ananus

“(…) But, what is still more terrible, there was one Jesus, the son of Ananus, a plebeian and a husbandman, who, four years before the war began, and at a time when the city was in very great peace and prosperity, came to that feast whereon it is our custom for every one to make tabernacles to God in the temple [Sukkot], began on a sudden to cry aloud, “A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the holy house, a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides, and a voice against this whole people!” This was his cry, as he went about by day and by night, in all the lanes of the city. However, certain of the most eminent among the populace had great indignation at this dire cry of his, and took up the man, and gave him a great number of severe stripes; yet did not he either say any thing for himself, or any thing peculiar to those that chastised him, but still went on with the same words which he cried before. Hereupon our rulers, supposing, as the case proved to be, that this was a sort of divine fury in the man, brought him to the Roman procurator, where he was whipped till his bones were laid bare; yet he did not make any supplication for himself, nor shed any tears, but turning his voice to the most lamentable tone possible, at every stroke of the whip his answer was, “Woe, woe to Jerusalem!” And when Albinus (for he was then our procurator) asked him, Who he was? and whence he came? and why he uttered such words? he made no manner of reply to what he said, but still did not leave off his melancholy ditty, till Albinus took him to be a madman, and dismissed him. Now, during all the time that passed before the war began, this man did not go near any of the citizens, nor was seen by them while he said so; but he every day uttered these lamentable words, as if it were his premeditated vow, “Woe, woe to Jerusalem!” Nor did he give ill words to any of those that beat him every day, nor good words to those that gave him food; but this was his reply to all men, and indeed no other than a melancholy presage of what was to come. This cry of his was the loudest at the festivals; and he continued this ditty for seven years and five months, without growing hoarse, or being tired therewith, until the very time that he saw his presage in earnest fulfilled in our siege, when it ceased; for as he was going round upon the wall, he cried out with his utmost force, “Woe, woe to the city again, and to the people, and to the holy house!” And just as he added at the last, “Woe, woe to myself also!” there came a stone out of one of the engines, and smote him, and killed him immediately; and as he was uttering the very same presages he gave up the ghost.” (FJ War 6.5.3)

Josephus standing on the walls of Jerusalem and asking the rebels to surrender

Gary Goldberg describes how Josephus offers his life as a sacrifice to save Jerusalem and the Temple. This may be stuff for legends:

Titus, seeking to avoid the destrucion of the city, delegates Josephus to speak to the rebels in their native language and persuade them to surrender. Josephus circles the walls as he speaks to the rebels. He implores them to spare themselves, the people, the country and the Temple. The Romans, he says, have done more to protect the Temple than they. It is rational to give in to superior arms, and the Romans were masters of the world because, clearly, the will of the Deity was with them. The city’s forefathers had  surrendered to the Romans knowing this. The Romans knew that famine was raging in the city, it’s fall was inevitable, yet they would be treated well if they surrendered now, while none would be spared if all offers were rejected. The Bible demonstrates that when the Deity supports the Jews, success is obtained without warfare, while if war is waged against superior powers the result is always defeat and destruction for the Jews.  “Thus invariably have arms been refused to our nation, and warfare has been athe sure signal for defeat.” Josephus compares himself directly to Jeremiah: “For, though Jeremiah boldly proclaimed that they were hateful to God..and would be taken captive unless they surrendered the city” they did not put Jeremiah to death, but in contrast the rebels now “assail me with abuse and missiles, while I exhort you to save yourselves.” Miracles, moreover, greeted the Romans: the pool at Siloam, which had been dried up, now filled with water at Titus’ approach. In the end, Josephus makes a personal appeal: “I have a mother, a wife, a not ignoble family, and an ancient and illustrious house involved in these perils; and maybe you think it is on their account that my advice is offered. Slay them, take my blood as the price of your own salvation! I too am prepared to die, if my death will lead to your learning wisdom.” (Gary Goldberg, “Josephus appeals to the rebels to surrender“)

Einhorn on Theudas and John the Baptist

In Moses who dies and is not allowed to enter the Promised Land and subsequently Joshua who does, we already have a model of death and resurrection. Like with the scapegoat who dies and the other one who is set free in the wilderness. Like with John the Baptist and Jesus (as long as he lives). My suggestion is that the basic model is given by the two solstices in the zodiac.

The description by FJ of Theudas – John the Baptist – who divides the waters reminds of Moses, which is an announcement of a coming of a Joshua. Einhorn’s arguments that Theudas is an interpolation in FJ are strong. I am amazed that she uses the “criterion of embarrassment” that John is too important not to mention, and hence ought to be historical. I am more inclined to follow Stephan Huller that the works by FJ have been heavily edited by Christian redacteurs. There have been points in history in which they had the opportunity and the motive, and there is a corps, so that we have the three basic criteria of Sherlock Holmes.

I do agree with Einhorn that (Jesus ~ the Egyptian) and (John the Baptist ~ Theudas), at least within this small framework of comparison. Indeed for the stated reasons. But for reasons of the zodiac and storytelling and not because of history. These associations are strong on the zodiac and weak on history. For history, James the Just (present in the Dead Sea Scrolls) and Simon bar Giora (only FJ) are more important for the figure of Jesus.

It is obvious though that baptism somehow was introduced to replace circumcision, and perhaps this is associated with a historical person. Einhorn subsequently has the fine statement which is exactly is what this discussion is about:

“If indeed the NT narrative is written on different levels, it would appear that whenever the story is disguised on one level, it is opened up on another.” (Einhorn p 20)

Overall though, I would regard John the Baptist as a derivative to the core argument, and as a product of literary development, and not as a key to decode it. Baptism is of key importance for the conversion of Helen of Adiabene, as we saw before, and the gospel to the gentile. And perhaps I am one of the few persons in this universe of discussion who insists upon the importance of circumcision to understand the Origin of Christianity. If you aren’t circumcised yet, why won’t you cut off that foreskin like Jesus, who died to redeem you from Original Sin ? And why would women not claim equal rites here ? Still, John the Baptist is a cardboard character who symbolises the theological argument, who paves the way rather for Paul than for Jesus ~ James, and there is no reason to hold that he would be historical.

Conclusion

That the Egyptian is a vague figure in FJ’s reports is hardly an argument, when we follow Stephan Huller’s suggestion that FJ is strongly edited. He still might be the real historical Jesus. Nevertheless, the NT has a message, and this message would indicate that James the Just and Simon bar Giora would provide much of the flesh that is pasted upon the mythical idea of a dying and resurrecting king-god. Other episodes in the reports by FJ have been used to fill out the NT – potentially following a structure taken from Homer or directly the zodiac itself. The Egyptian is just one of those episodes, and not a crucial one.

Appendix on Jonathan

It is not likely that Jonathan is Jesus, since Jonathan would not occur in the Dead Sea Scrolls while James does as the teacher of righteousness. James is murdered by the Jews themselves, which fits the NT accusation (with the Romans only as executioners). One might of course also hold that the NT covers up the responsibility of the Romans for murdering beloved Jonathan.

Note that Josephus in War 2.13.3 explains the murder of Jonathan by sicarii, while Antiquities 20.8.5 accuses Felix, which is more likely. See also here.

In Antiquities, FJ also qualifies the murder on Jonathan as a major reason for the destruction of the Temple. (See Gary Goldberg’s longer list.)  FJ’s reasoning is rather convoluted: The murderers of Jonathan are hired by the Romans and their impiety towards the Temple causes God to send those same Romans to destroy the Temple. Perhaps FJ means to say that the Jews should have prevented the Romans from coming close to the Temple anyway.

“Felix also bore an ill-will to Jonathan, the high priest, because he frequently gave him admonitions about governing the Jewish affairs better than he did, lest he should himself have complaints made of him by the multitude, since he it was who had desired Caesar to send him as procurator of Judea. So Felix contrived a method whereby he might get rid of him, now he was become so continually troublesome to him; for such continual admonitions are grievous to those who are disposed to act unjustly. Wherefore Felix persuaded one of Jonathan’s most faithful friends, a citizen of Jerusalem, whose name was Doras, to bring the robbers upon Jonathan, in order to kill him; and this he did by promising to give him a great deal of money for so doing. Doras complied with the proposal, and contrived matters so, that the robbers might murder him after the following manner: Certain of those robbers went up to the city, as if they were going to worship God, while they had daggers under their garments, and by thus mingling themselves among the multitude they slew Jonathan and as this murder was never avenged, the robbers went up with the greatest security at the festivals after this time; and having weapons concealed in like manner as before, and mingling themselves among the multitude, they slew certain of their own enemies, and were subservient to other men for money; and slew others, not only in remote parts of the city, but in the temple itself also; for they had the boldness to murder men there, without thinking of the impiety of which they were guilty. And this seems to me to have been the reason why God, out of his hatred of these men’s wickedness, rejected our city; and as for the temple, he no longer esteemed it sufficiently pure for him to inhabit therein, but brought the Romans upon us, and threw a fire upon the city to purge it; and brought upon us, our wives, and children, slavery, as desirous to make us wiser by our calamities. (FJ, Antiquities 20.8.5)