Jesus wouldn’t be the Egyptian

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.


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)


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