Dealing with truth anyway

Listening to J.M. Jarre, The concerts in China,
and The Blooming of Rainy Night Flowers

Vladimir Putin called me on my fixed line and Xi Jinping was on my mobile phone. This difference already told everything.

They didn’t know that the other was calling me too- though I wonder about uncle Xi. They were negotiating and got stuck again.

See the map for their current division of Europe. The question mark gives the contested region. Neither of them wants it – so that it likely becomes an European Nature Park in which the European Bison on Wisent can roam freely again.

“Okay,” I asked Putin, “are those V.P. initials on Germany really necessary ?”

Vlad: “I lived there. Historians must know about the meaning of resentment, not just by Germans but by all people who have lived there.”

Division of Europe by Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping

Division of Europe by Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping whispered in my other ear: “Putin could have gotten all of Germany except for Bavaria, because we really want to have Bavaria. His initials now give us much of the Ruhr too. This is okay since we also get Rotterdam harbour. Do you notice that we divide Holland between the Protestant North and the Catholic South ? We presume that the Protestants will be a pain in the ass for Orthodox Christian Russia.”

Me to uncle Xi: “So you don’t get Amsterdam with the Concertgebouw Orkest and the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum. Why didn’t you draw the line at Bremen ? They only have a statue of the Bremer Stadt musicians, of a rooster on top of a cat on top of a dog on top of donkey.”

Town Musicians of Bremen (Source: wikipedia commons)

Town Musicians of Bremen (Source: wikipedia commons)

Xi Jinping: “In the negotations last December, president Putin essentially gave us Eastern Siberia, though he doesn’t know this yet. So we want him to feel as if he gets the better deal. We presume that his daughter Maria who fled Holland wants to return there again.”

Vlad: “I am happy that I could secure Serbia and Greece because of the Orthodox Church. I am a bit worried about Amsterdam however. I don’t know whether I want Vincent van Gogh and those coffee shops within my sphere of influence.”

Me to Vlad: “Amsterdam wouldn’t mind being rejected by both Russia and China. It could become some free enclave, still a city rather than an European Nature Park with the natives running around in animal skins again. Though they pretty much already do so.”

Vlad: “My problem is that I have been watching some of the video’s that Xi Jingping has been sending me. Ever since I watched Girls of Ali Mountain I have not been able to sleep well. I am afraid that I am falling in love with one of those Chinese actresses.”

Me to Vlad: “I suffer with you. But aren’t you changing the rules of diplomacy again ?”

Vlad: “Whatever. Check this out. This mystery actress at minute 1 is fabulous.”

Girls of Ali Mountain, mystery actress, minute 1

Girls of Ali Mountain, mystery actress 1, minute 1:00

Vlad: “But this other mystery actress at minute 1:30 is perhaps even more fabulous ! What is driving me crazy is that all these Chinese actresses look just the same !”

Girls of Ali Mountain, mistery actress 2, minute 1:30

Girls of Ali Mountain, mystery actress 2, minute 1:30

Me to Vlad: “Some people have all the bad luck of the world ! So your next plan is to make a film with you yourself featuring as one of the boys of Ali Mountain, so that you can get to know them better ?”

Vlad: “A great idea ! I actually tried to both show an interest in Amsterdam and use it as a bargaining chip: Xi Jinping can have Amsterdam when he tells these actresses for me apart and sets up a date for me – or two if that were needed.”

Me to Vlad: “My wikipedia tells me that Ali Mountain lies in Taiwan. Xi Jinping has nothing to say about this, yet.”

The fixed line went dead with a curse. The mobile connection ended with a polite click.

Listening to Hatzidakis – Oi Geitonies tou Fengariou

One event that falls under the boycott of Holland is the Late Rembrandt exhibition at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, February 12 – May 17.

“The Rijksmuseum presents a retrospective of Rembrandt van Rijn’s later work for the very first time. In collaboration with The National Gallery in London, the exhibition ‘Late Rembrandt’ presents a comprehensive overview of the Master’s work from around 1652 to his death in 1669.” (A glimpse at the Rijksmuseum website.)

It is great but can also be crowded.

Don’t forget the BBC documentary on the Rembrandt by Himself exhibition last year in London. Because of the boycott we cannot have the BBC make a documentary of Late Rembrandt of course.

Late Rembrandt exhibition at the Rijksmuseum (1)

Late Rembrandt exhibition at the Rijksmuseum – a quiet moment

Late Rembrandt exhibition at the Rijksmuseum - rather busy

Late Rembrandt exhibition at the Rijksmuseum – rather crowded

Listening to Theodorakis & Saleas, Weeping eyes
and Anna RF,  Weeping eyes

Some authors look at the links between Greece and the Near East in their ancient myths and literature. Apart from mythology this mainly concerns Homer with the Iliad and the Odyssee – but we should not exclude the philosophies from Pythagoras onward. For the Near East think about e.g. Gilgamesh and the Hebrew Bible (the Tenach ~ Old Testament).

Three authors caught my attention. I am no student of this realm and hesitate to read their books. However, I can roughly understand what is reported about this area of research, and then wonder what may be relevant when we consider what mathematics education can contribute to the education on Jesus and the origin of Christianity. Mathematics deals with more than numbers and space, it also deals with patterns.

These three authors are:

A comment by Ready on Louden seems to hold for all authors:

“What is more, Louden’s book continues to refine the Homeric comparative project as a whole in three ways. First, the relationship Louden detects between the Hebrew Bible and the Odyssey is for the most part genealogical, not historical. [ftnt] He imagines some sort of common source used by, not direct, purposeful contact between, Greek and Israelite cultures (see, e.g., 11 and 121). But finding numerous and close connections between the Odyssey and Genesis, Louden hypothesizes “that the Odyssey, in some form, served as a model for individual parts of Genesis (particularly the myth of Joseph)” (324). Indeed—and this is the point I wish to stress—Louden reminds us that the transmission of motifs and tales was not solely westward: “Greek myth should be seen in a dialogic relation with Near Eastern myth, with influence running in both directions, during several different eras” (12). As another example of how Louden notes the possibility of movement eastward from Greece, I cite his speculation on a Greek origin for stories about a man wrestling a god (see 121). I hasten to add, however, that, although he ponders the matter in the book’s Conclusion, Louden is not really concerned with the actual mechanisms of transmission. His exercise is a heuristic one: “the main reason I adduce OT myths is because their parallels provide a tool for our understanding and interpretation of Homeric epic” (11). Second, Louden reaffirms the value of comparing Homeric epic with non-epic literature from the ancient Near East. After all, the Hebrew Bible may contain elements associated with epic or even epic material but is not itself epic. Nonetheless, comparatists need not fear connecting the text with Homeric epic. If we insist on comparing Homeric poetry only with that which we precariously define as epic, we shall deny ourselves access to a wealth of useful data. Third, I return to a point mentioned above. Louden consistently notes when different versions of the same episode, myth, or story pattern do different things (see, e.g., 176). This flexibility in his analytical program is most welcome, for the comparatist should delve into the discrepancies along with the convergences.” (Jonathan L. Ready in this review of Louden)

A question on the Zodiac

The Zodiac is one crowning achievement of neolithical times and early history. Because of lack of cameras and lack of writing, early observations were couched in narratives. Such narratives would discuss gods and goddesses. For some, the narratives would start lives of their own. One question that arises is how the Zodiac relates to these ancient tales, like Gilgamesh or the travels by Odysseus. In my book The simple mathematics of Jesus I pointed to the use of the Zodiac as some kind of a map for the New Testament. I also observed that the NT ~ OT. (See some reasons to summarize the OT into the NT.) Hence, if OT ~ Homer then we may surmise that the Zodiac would also be relevant for understanding the Odyssee.

This argument holds in more cases. A criticism on Macdonald is that passages in Mark refer to passages in the OT, so that Macdonald is erroneous in linking Mark to Homer. However, when the OT is also based upon Homer, then the link could still be correct. The only inference that would change is that Mark might be less Hellenizing than Macdonald suggests.

A surprise on Plato’s cave

I was much surprised by this:

“And the great Hellenistic thinker, Plato, composed a tale that has epitomized the best of Hellenistic values and Western values since. His allegory of the cave tells us how a would-be saviour of a people will do all he can out of compassion to rescue others. But at the same time those he loves and would save will not recognize him or his claims. They will even scoff at him, and even eventually seek to kill him if they ever have the chance.

This is the essence of the Gospel message about the nature, reception and fate of Jesus. Jesus is very much the classic Hellenistic (cum Roman) hero of the gentiles. He is like Achilles and like the saviour in the parable of the Cave.” (Neil Godfrey,, 2011-03-17)

LXX and rabbits

A standard notion is that Ptolemy Soter (367-283 BC) introduced the syncretic god Serapis to unify the beliefs of his Greek soldiers and his Egyptian subjects. A hypothesis by Russell Gmirkin is that also the Septuagint was a deliberate creation and no mere translation of what already existed in completion – see this discussion at An argument is that Ptolemy’s actual name was Lagos – Rabbit – and that there is no explicit mention of rabbits in the Septuagint. The latter might however also be accomplished by mere editing, so we would want to consider more arguments.

A major problem is that the OT assigns full power to the priests in Jerusalem, and it is not clear why Ptolemy would create such an OT, and why he didn’t want full power to the king, who would he himself.

It depends however upon the period. The Ptolemies and Seleucids would battle about Palestine. In the period from Alexander till the arrival of the Romans, Palestine changed hands five times. Perhaps some Ptolemaic ruler wished for an independent Palestine like a buffer state ?

It is not clear whether Godfrey develops this argument himself or copies it from Gmirkin, but check the text at for the clou:

“Rather, one only has evidence as late as ca. 400 BCE or what Wellhausen called “Oral Torah,” that is, an authority vested in the Jerusalem priesthood rather than in a written code of laws.” 

“But there is one detail Aristobulus gives us that may be a more certain clue to the date the Septuagint was composed. In the fictional Letter to Aristeas (recall that Gmirkin believes this to have been written by Aristobulus) he tells us that the Septuagint was written at the time Arsinoe II was the wife of Ptolemy II. Though this datum is in a fictional letter, it is nonetheless true that this Arsinoe, who was the full sister of Ptolemy II, did marry her brother (according to Egyptian royal custom) some time between 279 and 273 BCE. She died in July 269 BCE.” (Neil Godfrey,, 2012-12-30)

Elsewhere we read:

“These documents tell us of Palestine under the rule of Ptolemy 11 [sic] Philadelphus (283‑246 B.C.E.). The country was often beset by Seleucid attacks and Bedouin incur­sions. Ptolemaic military units were stationed throughout Pal­estine, and many Greek cities were established.” (, Palestine in the Hellinistic Age)

Thus, if we concur with the notion that the Torah (Pentateuch) was written around 270 BC then Ptolemy II had control over Palestine, and:

  • either wanted to turn Palestine into a buffer state under control of Jerusalem
  • or overlooked the possibility of taking control (by creating a suitable syncretic text)
  • or did create a syncretic text – so that the original oral tradition “was much worse”.
With all this Hellenizing, Socrates (ca. 469-499 BC) can be Jesus too

All this connects with an insight that I easily recalled from a course in philosophy in 1973:

“If one only regards the little that we know about Socrates really for certain, one would be inclined to ask: How is it possible that such a man, although he was a personality with a deep moral nature, and who died for his convictions, whose proper philosophy however is hardly seizable, has had such an immeasurable influence? One would point out that the comparison of the death of a martyr by Socrates with that of Christ and those of the earliest christian martyrs – which the texts of earliest Christianity indeed point out – have sustained a passionate memory of Socrates. But the real answer rather must be, that the impact of Socrates resides in his entirely exceptional personality, which can be humanly very close to us even after more than twenty centuries, rather than on what he taught. With him, namely, something entered into the history of mankind, what hence has become an ever deeper working inner force: the unwavering, self-sustaining, autonomous moral personality. This is the ‘Socratic Gospel’ of the internally free human, who does good only for the good.” (Hans Joachim Störig, “Geschiedenis van de filosofie”, part 1, p143, Prisma 409)

Thus, when we consider the creation of a syncretic gospel that had to combine both Judaism and Greek thought, then the authors may well have been tempted to take Socrates as the most powerful story available, and put a personage like him in the lands of Palestine.

Both Socrates and Jesus were convicted by a trial. The idea of a court trial that judges on the hero is ancient enough: compare the Osiris myth.

The best book on the trial is likely by I.F. Stone (1907-1989). Beware of hero worship however, not only w.r.t. Jesus but also w.r.t. Störig on Socrates:

“Actually, in spite of the journalistic pose, [Stone] is in Greece on a mission, having had a clear view of what he wants to do before he went. He wants to cleanse Athens of the Socratic blood guilt. Athens is a tragic protagonist, having itself violated what it holds most dear, its sacred principle of free speech. Socrates and his propagandists, Plato and Xenophon, succeeded in making Athens look bad to all later times. Socrates poses as the disinterested seeker for the truth, the man trying to turn from the darkness of the cave to the light of the sun, brought down by the prejudice of the city. Stone turns this around: Athens sought the truth and was tricked by the duplicitous Socrates. He really did engage in a conspiracy to discredit democratic openness and succeeded in getting Athens to betray itself. Lesson: philosophic detachment is inauthentic, a snare and a delusion. The thinker must be a participant in the progressive struggle of the people against the dark forces of reaction. History is the triumph of reason; distancing oneself from it in order to be reasonable is unreasonable and merely disguises old class interests. The true philosopher is éngage or committed. Thus Stone is Socrates’ accuser, the voice of Athens now become fully self-conscious and philosophic.” (Allan Bloom, review of I.F. Stone on Socrates, 1988)

I.F. Stone 1988

I.F. Stone 1988

Addendum April 8:

(1) While the Church destroyed documents with alternative views, or stopped others from copying them, the same has been done in philosophy by followers of Plato, see Michel Onfray, Les sagesses antiques

(2) In religion, there is the distinction between the theology and the daily practice (mass, births, weddings, funerals). My essay SMOJ suggests that Plato’s philosophy didn’t develop into a religion since he forgot to develop a liturgy and to train priests who would do the rituals. It may however well be that Plato did develop such a religion, namely what became known as Christianity.

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



Based upon laws ?




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 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)


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.


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)

To find the historical Jesus, we apply the time shift hypothesis by Lena Einhorn (2006, 2012) and Robert Eisenman (2006), and Ralph Ellis (1998). The New Testament (NT) describes events around the destruction of Jerusalem and Temple in 70 AD, but these events are projected one generation back into time to 30 AD, in order not to alert the Romans and to allow Jesus the prediction of that downfall.

To find the historical Jesus, we also observe that he has at least two aspects: priest and warrior.

We already met Simon bar Giora, who after the fall of Jerusalem hid in the tunnels below the city, but after some days, when his food resources ran out, resurrected into the sunlight, dressed like a king, and proclaiming himself to be king of the Jews. He was captured, paraded in Rome, and executed. He may have been thrown from the Tarpeian Rock – whence perhaps his name Simon the Rock – Simon Petra – Simon Kephas. See Appendix 1 on the rock. (I didn’t check Richard A Horsley 1999.) The violent nature of this side of Jesus is emphasized in these points by Riaan Booysen – but see some criticism too. Overall, we see that properties of Simon bar Giora may be allocated to both Jesus (King of the Jews) and Simon Peter. This is a way for the writers of the NT to create a somewhat new story and still remain somewhat realistic w.r.t. the period.

Simon however is a warrior and cannot provide for the parables and theological points.

Jesus thus is too much to be true. The two aspects are too complex to fit one historical person. As a priest and theologian his teachings are too complex for a warrior. As a warrior his deeds that lead to the destruction of Jerusalem and Temple are too much for a priest and theologian. If Jesus had been a single historical figure then he would have broken down from internal tensions and we would have never heard from him. Jesus must be a composition of at least two historical persons – and perhaps two might be sufficient.

For comparison, consider Gaius Julius Caesar, who was both Pontifex Maximus of Rome and brutal in his military conquests (Alesia) but forgiving for his enemies when they submitted to his rule, and after his death was deified as Divus Julius. Caesar already combines the two aspects to some degree but apparently his own writings mostly deal with mundane affairs and not theology. Even Caesar is not enough to become Jesus, apart from that he wasn’t circumcised either.

The figure of Jesus must also be based upon someone with an awareness of the finer issues of theology. There are good reasons that this would be James the Just, a.k.a. James the brother of Jesus, most likely the leader of the Qumran sect.

Thus, we hypothesize that the historical Jesus ~ (James the Just & Simon bar Giora). For the divine dimension we can still look at the Ascension of Isaiah or Gnosis or the Samaritans. (For modern times, see Appendix 3.)

The present discussion looks at those reasons for James.

Horsley 1999

Horsley 1999

What is known about James the Just ?

Two important books are Eisenman James the Brother of Jesus (JBJ) (1997) and The New Testament Code (NTC) (2006). However, JBJ was written before Eisenman’s acceptance in NTC that key Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) are relevant for 70 AD. For now, we will only use what is available online. See a note in Appendix 2 below.

Information about James is somewhat dispersed. The murder of James may be mentioned by Flavius Josephus (FJ). There is only brief mention in Acts. However, Acts also contains a longer discussion of the murder of Stephen, and there are reasons to assume that Stephen ~James:

  • Both Jesus and James / Stephen claimed to see the Son of Man at the right hand of God – which theologically means the dismissal of the Jerusalem priesthood. See the theological argument here.
  • Both got killed for that same reason.
  • Both were killed under the responsibility of the Jerusalem priesthood, fulfilling the scheme of the Epistle to the Hebrews.

The only difference is that Acts turn James into Stephen who is stoned without permission by the Romans, and that the gospels have Jesus crucified with complicity by the Romans. Compare this with the murder of high priest Jonathan in 58 AD under instigation of Festus.

There may be some layers of editing here.

  • The insurgents could combine the priests and the Romans into joint culprits.
  • Roman Christian editors turn it into an argument for Jewish submission to Rome.
  • The (generations of) editors of the NT divide James’s death in three ways: (i) as Jesus to prove the NT point that the priests of Jerusalem are finished, (ii) as Stephen to cover up that James is used for Jesus (in a combination with Simon), and (iii) as himself but more in the background since the NT cannot avoid mentioning James as himself.

Eisenman (1997) observes that James is a cardboard figure like the other figures in the NT, but still, given his prominence, remarkably vague. However, this may be the result of above decomposition of his real role, required for the creation of the NT, rather than from suppression by Church editors. Though James seems a cardboard figure, he still would be historical, since the Dead Sea Scrolls clearly speak about a teacher of righteousness.

JBJ sees a link between Jesus, James and Stephen. We pursue that link, and insert the military aspect of Simon bar Giora. The NT hides the events of 70 AD and thus we need that military commander with the INRI crown too.

“Mentioned in various contexts in the New Testament, James the Just has been systematically downplayed or written out of tradition. When he suddenly emerges as a principal personality and leader of ‘the Jerusalem Church’ or ‘Community’ in Acts 12:17, there is no introduction as to who he is or how he has arrived at the position he is occupying. Acts’ subsequent silence about his fate, which can be pieced together only from extra-biblical sources and to some extent seems to have been absorbed into the accounts both about the character we now call ‘Stephen’ and even Jesus himself, obscures the situation still further.” (Robert Eisenman, in James the brother of Jesus, 1997, Introduction).

Eisenman 1997

Eisenman 1997

The role of Alexandrian logic

We don’t quite know what James ~ Jesus originally preached, though. The various Dead Sea Scrolls need not be consistent. The Sadducees had more room to collaborate with the Romans than the Pharisees, and James might have been like the latter, or have his own theological points to oppose both Sadducees and Pharisees.

I follow Roger Parvus that Paul originally was law abiding and only later turned against circumcision. The NT reverses his Paul / Saul role, and we reverse it back. Thus there is the distinction between a young Paul & a group abiding to the Torah / Tanakh versus the later Paul who abolishes the Torah / Tanakh, with also the curious distinction between the preachings of Jesus and the believing in Jesus.

Most likely:

  • Jesus ~ James ~ Stephen was killed for being more Torah-abiding than the Sadducees could live with. The reference to Melchizedek is in the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the removal of the Levi priesthood still fits a fundamentalist who abides to the core of the Torah.
  • The argument of the removal of the Levi priesthood was later improved upon with Alexandrian logic by using the human sacrifice, and then used to abolish the Torah and create a gospel for the gentiles.
From man to myth versus Men are pasted onto myths

While James & Simon bar Giora thus form the historical backbone for the figure of Jesus, there is of course the divine element that is provided by Melchizedek (supposedly a king but rather an angel of righteousness) and the ancient myths about a dying and resurrecting god. We can compare the situation with Santa Claus. Provided that the bishop of Myra existed, then he would be a historically selected counterpart that the Church pasted upon the neolithical myth of Wodan flying in the sky on his horse Sleipnir. When historical persons are pasted upon an already existing myth then this is different from a myth that develops out of a historical person. This may be called the issue of the origin of the myth.

Jesus would be not only the Davidic messiah or King of the Jews but also the new high priest in the order of Melchizedek. We found that the Epistle to the Hebrews argues in Alexandrian logical fashion that the priesthood in Jerusalem is theologically finished. Checking whether others had thought about the same lines, we found that this text at Crandall argues the same. (It may be wise to adjust a browser view option for readability.) A bonus is that it discusses the Qumran text 11QMelchizedek (11Q13) on Melchizedek and the Jubilees. Jesus’s arrival would be celebrated with the 10th Jubilee and a great liberation of all slaves – including the Jews who felt like slaves of the Romans.


We put the conclusions up front, and refer to the discussion below and some grounds from elsewhere.

The interpretation becomes:

(1) The myth of a dying and resurrecting god has neolithical origins. Historical figures can be imprinted on that myth. It would be unreasonable to argue the converse. Jesus as a historical person cannot resurrect anyway.

(2) James the Just would be historical as the leader of the Qumran community, and dies in 63 AD. His death is described by Flavius Josephus (FJ), and represented in Acts as the stoning of Stephen. James would be the priest-aspect in the figure of Jesus – with the reference to Melchizedek.

(3) The translation of Son of Man might be problematic, but not for the key occurrence in the confession(s) to the high priest that got both Jesus and James ~ Stephen killed.

(4) Simon bar Giora would be historical as one of the leading revolutionaries, eventually claiming to be their final leader, and dies in 70 AD. His death is described by FJ. He would be Simon Peter. He would be the military-aspect of Jesus – with the reference to King David.

(5) Jesus combines both aspects, but too much to be true. We find interpolations that are not convincing.

(6) It is more reasonable to assume that the figure of Jesus was created from both James the Just and Simon bar Giora. This creation by copying causes some problems in the stories where those historical figures occur themselves. But we may be able to trace how the editors handled those situations.

(7) The situation has become more complex because of the different objectives of generations of editors. Untangling the Jameses and Simons we can determine also a Basic Passion Story (BPS) about an event in 41-46 AD.

(8) The core is that James died in 63 AD and Simon bar Giora in 70 AD, and that their persons were combined in the story of a preacher annex liberator Jesus, who was executed on the Roman cross but resurrected in the euangelion of the New Covenant.

(9) The phrase Jesus is Santa Claus for grown-ups is warranted. For Santa Claus there is the bishop of Myra as the historical excuse, and for Jesus there are James and Simon bar Giora as the historical pegs. In these cases, historical figures are pasted upon already existing myths. There was no preacher Jesus who set an example that inspired a world religion of two millennia.

The main point remains that we will never know. Too much has been lost in history. The main relevance of this discussion is for education. See the bedrock certainties indicated before.






Let us consider the steps of the argument, starting with the Jubilee.

Numerical versus theological difference: 70 + 7 = 77 or 70 * 7 = 490

StackExchange has also a beta on Biblical Hermeutics. One of the questions is not really beta but rather old and worn. It is why Matthew 18:21-22 gives a translation difference between 70 + 7 = 77 and 70 * 7 = 490.

The answer uses that 7 * 7 = 49. The 50th year is a Jubilee. Thus we are speaking about 10 Jubilees – or a cycle of 500 years. As the Biblical texts on the Jubilee speak about the liberation of slaves, then Jews who would regard themselves as slaves of the Romans would want liberation too. The answer by Frank Luke “it is not an important theological difference” does not convince.

Let us first look at prophet Daniel who gives this clue, using a week for a year-week or 7 years – and who rather describes a past but is taken by apocalypters to be a real prophet (or creating a self-fulfilling prophecy):

“24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.  25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.” (Daniel 9.24-25, KJV) (7 + 3 * 20 + 2 = 69)

The stack exchange question on Jesus in Matthew 18:21: Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?” 

The question by El’endia Starman: “The NIV has 77 whereas the NLT has 490. Interestingly enough, the footnotes for each on BibleGateway say that it could also be translated the other way. So, in this case, the difference between 77 and 490 seems to be purely the translator’s decision. This suggests that the Greek is ambiguous somehow…and I’m curious as to why.”

NIV: 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

NLT: “22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!

KJV: 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”

NA28: “22 λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· οὐ λέγω σοι ἕως ἑπτάκις ἀλλ’ ἕως ἑβδομηκοντάκις ἑπτά.

Frank Luke deserves a hat-tip for explaining how the problem arises:

“The ambiguity comes from a difference between the Hebrew Old Testament and the Septuagint (a Greek translation). Jesus is teaching to forgive by reversing the statement of Lamech in Genesis 4.

Gen 4:24 “If Cain is avenged sevenfold, Then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.” (NASB)

The NASB follows the Hebrew which has שִׁבְעִים וְשִׁבְעָֽה (shib’iym wshib’ah), which means “seventy-seven.”

Instead the Septuagint has ἑβδομηκοντάκις, (hebdomekontakis), which means “seventy times seven.”

If Jesus quoted the Septuagint, then He said “seventy times seven.” If He quoted the Hebrew, then He said “seventy seven (times).” A case could be made for either as both the Hebrew Scriptures and Greek translations of the same were in use in the Land.” (Frank Luke, on StackExchange, 2012-09-20)

But translation matters.

Peter’s question isn’t a mere correction on Gen 4.24 but induces a calculation that the end of submission to foreigners is near. LXX would take precedence over NASB.

When Alexander’s general Ptolemy Lagides – son of Lago, mr. Rabbit – took Egypt , he got Canaan included. Ptolemy created the syncretic god Serapis for both Greeks and Egyptians. For the Jews, the septuagint (LXX) was created. There is an argument by Russell Gmirkin that the Hebrew version was actually based upon LXX – check that rabbits aren’t mentioned. In addition, the Hebrew translators perhaps didn’t want to wait another 500 years.

Son of Many

It is sobering to read in wikipedia (a portal and no source) that the researchers cannot agree on son of man, like they didn’t on nazoraios:

“Son of man is an expression in the sayings of Jesus in Christian writings, including the Gospels. The meaning of the expression is controversial. Interpretation of the use of “the Son of man” in the New Testament has remained challenging and after 150 years of debate no consensus on the issue has emerged among scholars.” (Wikipedia)

Mogens Mueller  (2014, p321-322) lists the options given by Douglas Hare 1999, commenting “Of the six, the first three are easily excluded”:

  1. It was a well-known apocalyptic title.
  2. It was easily perceived as a title, even by those who may have been ignorant of its meaning.
  3. It was genuinely ambiguous, so that hearers/readers would not be immediately certain whether it was titular or nontitular
  4. It was a special idiom that was used only for general statements in which a speaker could refer to himself indirectly but not exclusively.
  5. It was an everyday expression meaning ‘a man’ or ‘someone’.
  6. It was an easily recognizable circumlocation for ‘I”. [ftnt]

Maurice Casey (1942-2014) would agree that translation matters. He may be best known for his attention for the translation of Aramaic br ‘nash(a) and what this son of man would mean. He reasons that if we can recover statements by Jesus – which would be in Aramaic – then Jesus would exist as a historical person. Jesus might also be a modest preacher and healer and no religious fanatic. The son of man expression in Aramaic could just be a figure of speech for “someone” or a reference to himself as “this person, me, myself”. Thus Casey would take the position that the myth would originate from a person. His view might fit the Dennis Potter film “Son of Man” (1969).

In this nice interview Casey declares himself a non-believer since 1962 and only interested in proper history.

“Jesus, his family, his disciples—his entire world—spoke Aramaic, while the New Testament was written in Greek. And therein lies a huge problem. Separating later and less trustworthy material from older, more plausible writing is greatly helped by teasing out the Aramaic originals behind Greek Gospel accounts. For centuries this was almost impossible, because there wasn’t enough Aramaic writing, especially idiomatic writing, available. “Before the Dead Sea Scrolls were found after the war, you just couldn’t do it,” Casey says. “And though most are in Hebrew, the Aramaic scrolls—the Book of Enoch for one—are written in a more popular style, full of stories and idioms.” With numerous examples (…) Casey makes a compelling case that Mark’s Aramaic underlay makes it both old and genuine in its storytelling: “one short step away from eyewitness testimony.” “ (Interview by Brian Bethune with Maurice Casey, Macleans 2010-12-23)

One wonders. Jesus might not have existed, been created in Greek, and then parts have been translated into Aramaic. That Jesus spoke Aramaic is an assumption.

(I suppose that the Epistle by James would require even more attention now. Has it been written in Aramaic ? NA28 gives his proper name Jacob – a fitting reference to the patriarch who cunningly took the birthright from Esau. One question is whether James wrote that Epistle by James indeed. The above creates the hypothesis that Jesus ~ (James & Simon bar Giora). What are consequences that might be tested ? For example, it would be somewhat strange if James would really write the Epistle by James and therein refer to Jesus, if that would be himself. Indeed, we find only two occurrences of “Jesus” or “Christ”, both in “Jesus Christ”, and these could be interpolations.)

Rembrandt: Jacob wrestling with the angel (Source: Wikimedia commons)

Rembrandt: Jacob wrestling with the angel (Source: Wikimedia commons)

Indeed, son of man sounds somewhat strange for a concept in Greek uios tou anthropou. But once the reference to Daniel 7.13 and Psalm 110.1 has been given, using the Greek septuagint, then its use should no longer surprise.

13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.” (Daniel 7.13)

“1 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” (Psalm 110.1, KJV) NB. The psalm gives words that are spoken by David. King David’s lord is Melchizedek, who is being seated on the right hand of Yahweh. See this earlier discussion of Melchizedek. There is also Thomas Aquinas on the right hand of God.

Mogens Mueller (2014) also discusses Casey’s work here, but I can only read some parts, don’t know Aramaic, and wonder what would be the use, given the logic of the case.

No doubt: Aramaic obviously is an important source. The Leon Levy DSS site explains: “While the majority of Dead Sea Scrolls [DSS] were written in Hebrew, the collection also includes many Aramaic and Greek texts, as well as some Arabic texts and a small number of Latin fragments.” See Appendix 1 for translation problems, and Stephan Huller’s suggestion that Paul ~ po’olo.

The hiding of the DSS can be dated to 70 AD with the destruction of Jerusalem and Qumran. Thus, it is remarkable that some passages can be found there already, and in Aramaic. But the discussion about passages indicates that we don’t have the main part of the gospel of Mark yet. This is the real issue. Passages can get into texts in various ways.

A search on “Son of Man” in Mark (KJV) gives 15 instances. They fit Christology of course. If I understand Casey correctly then much is not by the original preacher but added by the later Church. We might follow Casey’s suggestion and replace with “this person, me, myself”.

But would we do so also for the key confession that got Jesus and James / Stephen killed ?

Mueller 2014

Mueller 2014

The key statement that got Jesus killed

There is the crucial confession for the high priest that got Jesus killed. Jesus only acknowledges being the son of god – like King David, which differs from Trinity, see here. He only quotes Daniel and Psalms on the son of man. It is only the inference of others whether he claims such himself.

As far as I understand, Casey has not argued that Jesus’s statement for the high priest was a result of translating wrong from Aramaic …

61 But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? 62 And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” ( Mark 14.61 KJV)
The “I am” concerns kingship only. The text after “I am” only cites Daniel and the Psalm (above).

Overall, my suggestion is that it is important that Jesus gives a quote about the Son of Man here. It is a citation, so that a listener or reader may only draw a conclusion by inference. But why cite it at all, in answer to a question ? Only to suggest such an inference, one would think. One is invited to make at least the inference that the endtime has come.

An assumption is that the high priest was aware of the argument in 11QMelchizedek (11Q13). It may well be that Ptolemy, once LXX had been written, had started to deduce the logical ways to undo the Levi monopoly.

The other son of man occurrences in the NT would be less important. I cannot judge whether Casey’s work on those other translations is important for other reasons but they drop to the background because of the value of this key case, about which seems to be little disagreement.

For completeness, I refer to this text by Stephanie Fisher 2012 on Richard Carrier’s critique on Casey. See my earlier review of Casey’s failed book against mythicism. See my first response on Carrier’s book OHJ.

The same statement got Stephen killed

Let us first look at the death of Stephen, then secondly at the death of James, and thirdly about James ~ Stephen.

Stephen has 7 occurrences in Acts, KJV. The murder of Stephen is described in Acts 7, when he is speaking to the high priest (and others). Acts describes, as an all-knowing writer, what Stephen sees. But his verbal statement is the same as Jesus’s.

1 Then said the high priest, Are these things so? 2 And he [Stephen] said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, (…)  52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: 53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. 54 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. 57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. 59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 7, KJV)

March 10: FJ on Stephen

FJ reports about Cumanus (48-52 AD) who beheaded a Roman soldier who tore up the Torah. The writers of the NT would have kept the idea that the Torah is finished, and that the OT must be replaced by the NT. The Roman soldier remains anonymous. FJ mentions some Stephen, but he is only the victim of robbers who started the sequence of events. The NT nevertheless turns Stephen into the saint who preaches the same as Christ and who gets killed for it. All this is a fine example how the editors of the NT have used bits and pieces from FJ to compose a new story. In addition, the Christian interpolator in the works of FJ creates a link to a death of some James ten years later.

“Now there followed after this another calamity, which arose from a tumult made by robbers; for at the public road at Beth-boron, one Stephen, a servant of Caesar, carried some furniture, which the robbers fell upon and seized. Upon this Cureanus sent men to go round about to the neighboring villages, and to bring their inhabitants to him bound, as laying it to their charge that they had not pursued after the thieves, and caught them. Now here it was that a certain soldier, finding the sacred book of the law, tore it to pieces, and threw it into the fire.  Hereupon the Jews were in great disorder, as if their whole country were in a flame, and assembled themselves so many of them by their zeal for their religion, as by an engine, and ran together with united clamor to Cesarea, to Cumanus, and made supplication to him that he would not overlook this man, who had offered such an affront to God, and to his law; but punish him for what he had done. Accordingly, he, perceiving that the multitude would not be quiet unless they had a comfortable answer from him, gave order that the soldier should be brought, and drawn through those that required to have him punished, to execution, which being done, the Jews went their ways.” (FJ War 2.12.2)

“Now before this their first mourning was over, another mischief befell them also; for some of those that raised the foregoing tumult, when they were traveling along the public road, about a hundred furlongs from the city, robbed Stephanus, a servant of Caesar, as he was journeying, and plundered him of all that he had with him; which things when Cureanus heard of, he sent soldiers immediately, and ordered them to plunder the neighboring villages, and to bring the most eminent persons among them in bonds to him. Now as this devastation was making, one of the soldiers seized the laws of Moses that lay in one of those villages, and brought them out before the eyes of all present, and tore them to pieces; and this was done with reproachful language, and much scurrility; which things when the Jews heard of, they ran together, and that in great numbers, and came down to Cesarea, where Cumanus then was, and besought him that he would avenge, not themselves, but God himself, whose laws had been affronted; for that they could not bear to live any longer, if the laws of their forefathers must be affronted after this manner. Accordingly Cumanus, out of fear lest the multitude should go into a sedition, and by the advice of his friends also, took care that the soldier who had offered the affront to the laws should be beheaded, and thereby put a stop to the sedition which was ready to be kindled a second time.” (FJ Antiquities 20.5.4)

Three Jameses

In those days the calendar was important, for agriculture and the religious sacrifices and celebrations. Julius Caesar imposed a new calendar on the empire.  The Sadducees were willing to go along with this Sun calendar, while the Pharisees wishes to maintain the Lunar calendar. Who says calendar says astronomy and in those days astrology. See my essay The simple mathematics of Jesus (SMOJ) (2012).

Mark has 15 occurrences of “James”, mostly with John or Peter, giving Jesus’s 3 main leaders apart from the 12 apostles. (1) James and John are sons of Zebedee, called “boanerges” – “the sons of thunder”, see Mark 3.17 KJV. (2) Mark 6.3. has Jesus as the “brother of James”. (3) There is of course James, son of Alphaeus. For now, we neglect the latter.

To understand these names, it may help to think about the zodiac with the 12 houses, and the four cardinal points. One possible allocation is: North ~ Polar Star ~ Simon Peter with the key to paradise, that is the region in the sky with stars that never set (or die), with also the sign of Draco as the snake. West ~ John / Mark (Mars). East ~ James (Venus). South ~ Judas Thomas (Theudas) (Thomas means twin.) Jesus would be in the middle as the sun (or sometimes in the South position). The clear layout of the zodiac becomes fuzzy as James is split into three facets.

“First, since Judas Thomas/Thaddaeus is also called “Lebbaeus,” an apparent variant of James’ title “Oblias” (the Bulwark = the Pillar), we must suppose that the Heirs of Jesus and the Pillars were synonymous, which in turn makes the Pillar John a brother of Jesus. (Eisenman supposes there must have been a Pillar named John; it is his connection with the cipher “James son of Zebedee” that presents the difficulty.) Thus there is no problem accepting the Pillar John as the real brother of James the Just and of Judas Thomas and Simeon bar Cleophas. All were counted as Pillars or Bulwarks whose presence in Jerusalem kept the city safe. And remember the curious business with James and John being christened “Boanerges,” taken to mean “sons of thunder,” but (with John Allegro) more likely representing the Sumerian Geshpuanur (the prefix becoming a suffix as is common in Near Eastern names), meaning “upholder of the vault of heaven,” a title of one of the Dioscuri [Castor and Pollux] or heavenly twins (Acts 28:11). This is to make James and John at once both brothers and cosmic pillars. And since the two cosmic pillars upholding the roof of Solomon’s Temple (symbolic of the firmament of the heavens, as in all ancient temples) were called Boaz and Jachin, one may wonder whether Boanerges has something to do with Boaz, James/Jacob with Jachin. Like James, John is said (by Polycrates) to have worn the priestly ephod, and this would fit the Zealot-like rebel priesthood ideology of James and Judas Thomas (Theudas).” (Robert M. Price 1998, reviewing Robert Eisenman, James, the brother of Jesus)

Acts has 7 occurrences of “James”. The puzzle becomes ever intricate.

The Zebedee brothers James and Simon. Basic Passion Story (BPS)

In 6 AD there was a census, Judas of Galilee revolted and was likely crucified. In 46 AD his sons James and Simon were crucified.

“Then came Tiberius Alexander as successor to Fadus; he was the son of Alexander the alabarch of Alexandria, which Alexander was a principal person among all his contemporaries, both for his family and wealth: he was also more eminent for his piety than this his son Alexander, for he did not continue in the religion of his country. Under these procurators that great famine happened in Judea, in which queen Helena bought corn in Egypt at a great expense, and distributed it to those that were in want, as I have related already. And besides this, the sons of Judas of Galilee were now slain; I mean of that Judas who caused the people to revolt, when Cyrenius came to take an account of the estates of the Jews, as we have showed in a foregoing book. The names of those sons were James and Simon, whom Alexander commanded to be crucified.” (FJ, Antiquities, 20.5.2)

Acts 12 let James be killed simply.

“1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. 2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.” (Acts 12.2 KJV)

His brother Simon should be John/ Mark, the other Boanerges. However, the editor of Acts partly transforms him into Simon Peter who would be Simon bar Giora. Simon of Zebedee is killed, since he is “going into another place” but he might also live on, since Simon Peter bar Giora continues till 70 AD.

“3 And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)  (…) 6 And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. 7 And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. 8 And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. (…) 17 But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place.” (Acts 12.3-17, KJV) (In this verse Simon Peter may not know that James has been killed.)

SMOJ (2012:93-94) discusses this scene – partly following Hanhart – as a precursor to the NT story. Some of the clearest points apart from calendar intricacies:

  • It is Passover.
  • The sandals and girding refer to Exodus.
  • The guards refer to the three days between death and resurrection.
  • The sleeping guards refer to the other crucified and/or those sleeping at the grave.
  • There is a door to a new week.

The story itself may come from Agrippa’s earlier kind treatment of Simon of Zebedee in 41-44 AD when he wanted Agrippa blocked from the Temple.

“4. However, there was a certain male of the Jewish nation at Jerusalem, who appeared to be very accurate in the knowledge of the law. His name was Simon. This man got together an assembly, while the king was absent at Cesarea, and had the insolence to accuse him as not living holily, and that he might justly be excluded out of the temple, since it belonged only to native Jews. But the general of Agrippa’s army informed him that Simon had made such a speech to the people. So the king sent for him; and as he was sitting in the theater, he bid him sit down by him, and said to him with a low and gentle voice, “What is there done in this place that is contrary to the law?” But he had nothing to say for himself, but begged his pardon. So the king was more easily reconciled to him than one could have imagined, as esteeming mildness a better quality in a king than anger, and knowing that moderation is more becoming in great men than passion. So he made Simon a small present, and dismissed him.” (FJ, Antiquities, 19.7.4)

It may be called the Basic Passion Story (BPS) of ca. 41-44 AD, that codifies the miracle that Simon wasn’t killed. Simon of Zebedee still was killed by Tiberius Alexander anyhow in 46 AD. This BPS was later got reworked after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, but was not discarded and kept as a substory. Of course, we are still hypothesizing.

This should explain both the Boanerges and the potential confusion with Simon Peter bar Giora.

James the Just, brother of Jesus, may live till 63 AD

One reason why James ~ Stephen is that James the Just doesn’t die in Acts.

The key role for James in Acts is that he gives a verdict to allow Paul his gospel to the gentiles, without circumcision:

“12 Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. 13 And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: (…) 19 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:  20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. (..) 22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: (..) 24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:” (Acts 15.12-24, KJV)

Then later again:

18 And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present. (…) 21 And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. (…) 27 And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him,” (Acts 21.18-27, KJV)

In the Epistle to the Galaten, Paul claims that James gave permission for his gospel to the gentiles, replacing circumcision with baptism. His phrase “whatsoever they were” might refer to his seeing their spirits – which suggests that James the Just already had died.

1 Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. (…) 6 But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: 7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; 8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) 9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. 10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.” (Epistle to the Galaten 2.1-10, KJV)

This assumes that the writer of Acts knew about understatement. Paul’s “going to Jerusalem with Titus” might refer to the siege of Jerusalem. And “who seemed to be somewhat in conference” would refer to the uprising and defence of the city. This would fit the other hypothesis that Paul is Matthias, brother of FJ, and Barnabas is FJ (“son of the same father”).

Agrippa II and Tiberius Alexander were also at the Siege with Titus. A hypothesis that they would be Paul doesn’t look strong since they were educated as rulers, and we have no indication that they were preaching as much as Paul, while Matthias was raised to be a priest and is otherwise a clean slate.

FJ on the death of James the Just

Remember the list of high priests. It may have been based also upon the following data. In 63 AD Ananus ben Ananus is replaced by Joshua (Jesus) ben Damneus. Ananus executed James, was terminated in office and his fast replacement Joshua (Jesus) ben Damneus held the office for less than a year.

“But this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, [ftnt] who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity [to exercise his authority]. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king [Agrippa], desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrim without his consent. [ftnt] Whereupon Albinus complied with what they said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which king Agrippa took the high priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest.”  (FJ, Antiquities 20.9.1)

The text “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James” might be an interpolation. We don’t know what the original text was. Apparently he was important enough for people to protest and for Albinus and Agrippa to act like that. The opposition between Ananus and Damneus may give a clue, but there is no information about Damneus. One can quickly think of all kinds of scenario’s but those are useless without more information.

For our scenario to work: (1) It is unlikely that FJ would have referred to Christ, for reasons discussed elsewehere. (2) FJ could have referred to James in such a manner that a later Roman Christian interpolater could recognize James the Just, and inserted this reference. (3) Even if this James is merely the brother of Jesus, son of Damneus, and not linked to James the Just, then we might point to the historical occurrence of some Teacher of Righteousness and the NT report on the death of Stephen.

March 10: Doherty on James

Earl Doherty suggests, following R.G. Price (not to be confused with R.M. Price), and I tend to follow both, that the original passage may have been “the brother of Jesus, son of Damneus, whose name was James, and some others”. Since Jesus, son of Damneus, becomes high priest after this incident, he would be the more important person for this passage, and FJ then provides proper identification. The replacement of Ananus is at issue, not why he killed James.

The interpolator then changed “son of Damneus” into “who was called Christ” (or check the original Greek construction). Thus, there need not be any relation to James the Just, leader of Qumran, the Teacher of Righteousness. The only clue we might have is that an interpolator thought that such a link might exist, sufficiently strong to do the interpolation. Then see point (3) at the end of the former section.

Relation to Stephen: Robert Eisenman versus Ralph Ellis

We can take clues from Eisenman JBJ (1997) but he has no time shift yet. He points to parallels nevertheless. Ralph Ellis, King Jesus (2008), uses these parallels and applies a time shift. Eisenman’s parallels:

  • the trial is by the whole Sanhedrin (for Jesus, Paul and Stephen)
  • the accusation is blasphemy (for James we must guess)
  • Paul and Stephen have a long speech to an angry mob
  • “Of course there is a 20-year gap between them (…) It is almost as if the two documents are totally remaking each other’s chronology.” (Eisenman quoted by Ellis, King Jesus, p 42-43).

Eisenman’s conclusion:

“The ‘Stephen’ in Acts is a fictitious stand-in … for the attack by Saul on James … which was evidently considered so embarrassing by the early Church writers that it was unmentionable – but not forgotten. This is basically the only difference (between the two attacks).” (Eisenman quoted by Ellis, King Jesus p41-42)

Ellis must be taken more seriously as a student of the period. Earlier, I discovered that the Greek “translation” nazoraios has to do with the Hebrew nezer for the crown of a high priest. I had not seen this in online texts by academics, and was surprised to see it mentioned by Ralph Ellis in King Jesus. I was even more surprised when Ellis mentioned that the Greek word tarsos means basket – which thus indicates that Paul would be like a new Moses. Ellis also proposed the time shift hypothesis in 1998. These are not random hits by Ellis, and my suggestion to the academia is to consider and discuss his points and scenarios, and then provide proper reference.

Ellis makes an point that becomes obvious only when you start thinking about it. Judas Iscariot is vilified as the murderer of Jesus – who never existed – and it would be awkward for the story to let Judas be the hero who teaches the gospel of Jesus. Similary, when Saul / Paul murders James the Just – half the historical Jesus – then it is awkward when Paul becomes the main preacher of Jesus (with adaptation of the gospel). Hence, it is better to let Saul / Paul murder some Stephen.

Ellis’s next question: Why the choice of the name Stephen ? We only need a Greek dictionary. We find that Stephen simply refers to nazoraios.

“στέφᾰνος, , (στέφω) that which surrounds or encompasses, πάντῃ γάρ σε περὶ σ. πολέμοιο δέδηεν the circling fight, Il. 13.736; of the wall round a town, Pi.O.8.32; σ. πόλεος Anacr.72, cf. Orph.A.761,897; cf. στεφάνη I.2; καλλίπαις σ. circle of fair children, E.HF839. II. crown, wreath, chaplet, h.Hom.7.42″ (Liddell-Scott-Jones 99490)

James apparently was crowned as a high priest – either once in the Temple, or within the sect of Qumran, or perhaps we also have to think about the temple in Leontopolis / Alexandria. There would be the dissent between the Boethusians who Herod appointed from Alexandria (“Egyptians”) and the original priests in Jerusalem. See Antigonus of Sokho. Whence James got his alleged crown may remain a mystery.

Ellis 2008

Ellis 2008

PM. Ellis also argues that Jesus would have been a real king and descendent of Cleopatra. I wonder about the lack of theology. Ellis also proposes Paul ~ FJ, and, while I have considered that scenario myself independently too, I currently find it safer to try Paul ~ Matthias brother of FJ, since Matthias is a blank canvas.


Appendix 1: Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic. Rock vs stone. Paul ~ po’olo
1.1 An interesting suggestion

Stephan Huller has the interesting suggestion that the authors of the NT used Deuteronomy 32.4 for two names: Simon Peter and Paul, and we can now include James the Just.

“Mark must have taken the title ‘Paulos’ owing to his interpretation of tamym po’olo (Deut 32:4) in Book Four Chapter Two of this work. The basic point being that at the end of time God will reform the man created after Adam into a ‘perfect work’ through the agency of his glory.” (Stephan Huller)

KJV follows the Hebrew text with Rock, while LXX has no such thing. 

“He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” (Deuteronomy 32.4, KJV)

“θεός, ἀληθινὰ τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ, καὶ πᾶσαι αἱ ὁδοὶ αὐτοῦ κρίσεις· θεὸς πιστός, καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν ἀδικία, δίκαιος καὶ ὅσιος κύριος.” (Deuteronomy 32.4, LXX, German Bible Society)

For Deuteronomy, the online explanation with CEV has: “The Hebrew text has “rock,” which is sometimes used in poetry to compare the Lord to a mountain where his people can run for protection from their enemies.”

Thus there are some problems in translations between Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic, which causes the question whether Simon Peter the Rock is really a rock or a stumbling stone or even non-existent. Stephan Huller suggests that Peter is only kephas, a mere stone, and that the true leader is Paul, or in Aramaic tamym po’olo or in English his work is perfect (Deutoronomy 32.4).

1.2 Aramaic

A problem with this suggestion is that Huller plunges his readers into Aramaic, while his readers generally will not know Aramaic. We have seen Maurice Casey getting busy with all occurrences of son of man while he lost focus on the most important occurrence (which is without doubt). We have seen above curious problem between LXX and Hebrew. It is very frustrating for a reader to be exposed to tamym po’olo without any reference, for there might be snakes in the grass.

When we google and check some sites, then we find the CAL Aramaic lexicon, and it appears that tamym = D to make perfect (and we may guess what the D stands for). Subsequently, work = p’l’. Or with copy-paste: pˁl, pˁlˀ   (pˁāl, pˁālā)   v.n.  labor, work.

Other meanings are, however, wage, reward, and possessions. We find for Hebrew Sa’ul = “asked for, prayed for” and Matthew = Matityahu = “gift of Yahweh”. W.r.t. the name there might be a link to Matthew, the brother of FJ.

1.3 A rock in Greek LXX

Above, the Hebrew inserted a rock where LXX has none. We thus wonder whether this holds for all rocks. However, there is at least a rock in Exodus – and some authors regard Mount Sinai as a reference to the great pyramid.

Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb [ Mount Sinai ]; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.” (Exodus, 17.6, KJV)

“ὅδε ἐγὼ ἕστηκα πρὸ τοῦ σὲ ἐκεῖ ἐπὶ τῆς πέτρας ἐν Χωρηβ· καὶ πατάξεις τὴν πέτραν, καὶ ἐξελεύσεται ἐξ αὐτῆς ὕδωρ, καὶ πίεται ὁ λαός μου. ἐποίησεν δὲ Μωυσῆς οὕτως ἐναντίον τῶν υἱῶν Ισραηλ.” (Exodus, 17.6, LXX, Germain Bible Society)

Moses has also the rock of meribah – strife:

“And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.” (Numbers 20.11, KJV)

1.4 Other strange translation differences

Another example is Shiloh. Yahweh’s covenant that gives kingship to the tribe of Judah need not be eternal, for there is always Shiloh. This term is not used in LXX. There is some discussion whether Greek LXX or Hebrew was earlier, and which is the translation.

“The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” (Genesis 49.10, KJV) (Using the Hebrew version)

“οὐκ ἐκλείψει ἄρχων ἐξ Ιουδα καὶ ἡγούμενος ἐκ τῶν μηρῶν αὐτοῦ, ἕως ἂν ἔλθῃ τὰ ἀποκείμενα αὐτῷ, καὶ αὐτὸς προσδοκία ἐθνῶν.” (Genesis 49.10, LXX, German Bible Society)

Shiloh: perhaps “he whose it is,” a Messianic title”  (Strong, Biblehub 7886. Shiloh)

We may wonder whether the writers of the NT intended a link between Sa’ul and Shiloh.

1.5 There are disputed rocks in Greek vs Hebrew

In that same Gen. 49 the Hebrew refers to a rock or stone, but the Greek original has κατισχύσας, which means overpowerer. There is also reference to a shepherd, so one presumes that the shepherd throws stones to get the flock going.

But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:)” (Genesis 49.24, KJV)

καὶ συνετρίβη μετὰ κράτους τὰ τόξα αὐτῶν, καὶ ἐξελύθη τὰ νεῦρα βραχιόνων χειρῶν αὐτῶν διὰ χεῖρα δυνάστου Ιακωβ, ἐκεῖθεν ὁ κατισχύσας Ισραηλ·” (Genesis 49.24, LXX, German Bible Society)

Online, we find this discussion by an exasperated reader, who tries to learn the languages and translations. We may  wonders why God had made his message so unclear.

1.6 Stephan Huller on rock vs stone

Let us return to Stephan Huller’s suggestion that Simon Peter is called Kephas, which is a mere stone, and which differs from a foundation rock. Peter would even be a stumbling stone. The proper translation issue may have to do little with Hebrew is rather between Aramaic kephas and Greek petra or lithos.

See the earlier discussion in Appendix 1 of the weblog entry on bedrock certainties.

Appendix 2: Eisenman on James the Just

My contribution in these weblog texts lies merely in logic and common sense. The above was basically written with reading only small online sections of Eisenman “James the Brother of Jesus” (JBJ) (1997). Perhaps I should read it, but I am no historian and biblical scholar, and it is not clear what I should do with all those details. My purpose is to arrive at an outline for education, and not test the nitty gritty details in Biblical scholarship. For my purposes it currently seems to suffice to take main points from summaries and book reviews by others, and check the overall logic in those. If some detail would upset the framework for education, reviewers trained in history apparently missed its importance too. But Eisenman’s book on James at least should be mentioned – like also his book The New Testament Code (NTC) (2006).

While I am challenged to read JBJ and NTC, I find: JBJ and NTC are not available at the Royal Library in The Hague, and neither at the library of Leiden University, nor at protestant Free University. The library of Groningen University that has the Qumran institute has copies of JBJ but not of NTC. The library of Amsterdam University has JBJ and a book review of NTC.

Appendix 3: Modern times

For completeness: It may be that the Samaritans have a role in this, and once we discuss bereshit then the modern Sofi Tsedaka cannot be avoided.

Listening to Markopoulos / Solomos – Eleutheroi Poliorkemenoi


A river meanders from source to destination, swimmers dive in midstream.

Most readers of this blog have not read The simple mathematics of Jesus (SMOJ) (2012). It is all in the game. Be warned though: there is more upstream.

Richard Carrier – in his test on the mythical vs historical Jesus in his book OHJ – relied on a more or less traditional Paul of the Acts. I am wondering whether that is consistent.  A mythical Jesus but a traditional Paul ? Perhaps a realistic Paul might throw light on a historical Jesus ? The question under discussion – for already one month – is what that alternative for Paul would look like. (My first reaction to Carrier’s OHJ was on January 16.)

Categories for truth and falsehood

The Origin of Christianity is a mer à boire. Eventually when technology progresses all data en hypotheses will be in a database and then computer programs can create stories depending upon your preferred probability priors – with different pooled estimates for the different communities. The following is also intended to convey some of the problems.

Information in the works by Flavius Josephus (FJ) and the New Testament (NT) and Other sources might overlap or not. Since True information will be inside or outside of a source, there are 2 x 2 x 2 = 8 categories of overlap or not. The 8th option would be something that would be true but for which there is no source. This might be expert intuition or phantasy – but it would still be true within this universe of assumed truth. Check the Venn Diagram on the right.

In addition we might have False “information”. Thus in total there are 16 categories. Logically there would be only 8 categories, since a negation of false again is true. For a database it might make more sense however to store a direct falsehood rather than rework it. For example, if the NT were to hold that “Jesus died in 30 AD” (as an estimate date) then it is more efficient to record it in category -7, rather than turn this into “It is false that Jesus died in 30 AD” in category 7.

We would use number 0 for statements that have not been allocated, say in purgatory in the middle. Believers might shift them all to 8 and disbelievers might shift them all to -8, but that would somewhat reduce the value of those categories. The problem is rather the ranking of the statements for processing. The believers and disbelievers might actually agree on the ranking itself but only disagree where to start: at the beginning or the end. (Always at the beginning, but where that is depends upon the chosen perspective.)

FJ = works by Flavius Josephus, NT = New Testament

FJ = works by Flavius Josephus, NT = New Testament

I have assigned the numbers so that :

  • 1 would be supported by all sources
  • 1-4 cover the whole of FJ, our most important source (with the NT copying FJ in 1 & 3)
  • 5-7 reflect decreasing reliability.

Obviously, subcategories are possible. FJ and NT can be split into the various works, creating a finer grid, but also moot questions like whether the NT overall supports something that is in one gospel but not another (like the Star of Bethlehem). One can use higher numbers to create such a finer grid, and a database could handle the associated negative numbers for the falsehoods (another example of the use of negative numbers).

We would have double entry bookkeeping. “Archeology shows that there is no Nazareth in the year 30 AD” in 6 is an archeological qualifier for “Jesus came from Nazareth” in -7. There is also a risk of The battle of the databases because of disagreements on those valuations.

A remarkable point arises when we would succeed in decoding the NT so that all that seems false suddenly appears to be only a coded message. Like Eisenman in his New Testament Code we would have a Gestalt-switch in which pieces of the puzzle fall into their places, and the database would need to be re-valued. Note that Eisenman doesn’t quite fully subscribe to the time shift hypothesis yet.

Categories 1 – 4: Beware of FJ

Christian editors might have fully re-edited the works of FJ to eliminate gross inconsistencies with the NT.

While 1 & 2 find support in Other sources, 3 & 4 are tricky:

  • Category 4 is tricky since we must rely on the internal consistency of FJ itself.
  • Since the NT is not independent but derivative upon FJ, the former point actually also holds for 3.
  • The FJ ~ NT parallels mentioned by Goldberg might not quite distinguish between 1 and 3.

For example in Category 2, Halley’s comet of 66 AD might be identified: “Thus there was a star resembling a sword, which stood over the city, and a comet, that continued a whole year.”  (War 6.5.3 288-309). And perhaps there is a parallel in the NT – when we decode with the time shift hypothesis.

Remember the pro-Roman view in the NT and the pro-Jewish view in FJ – apart from various otherr angles – so that it might be difficult to speak about matching of data. There is Steve Mason’s warning:

“If perspective is unavoidable even where we have video cameras and satellite relays, how much more does it figure in any text from the Greco-Roman world?” (Mason, “Josephus and the New Testament“, p301)

Remarkable is also Mason’s discussion of John the Baptist by FJ:

“(…) he was a good man and had exhorted the Jews to lead righteous lives, to practice justice [dikaioyne] towards their fellows and piety [eusebeia] towards God, and so doing to join in baptism. (…) Notice also that Josephus reduces the content of John’s preaching to the maxim “piety toward God and justice toward one’s fellow’s”. This is Josephus’s usual way of describing Jewish ethical responsibility. [ftnt] (…) He even claims that the first two oaths sworn by Essene novices were “to behave with piety toward God and with justice toward their fellows” (War 2.139) This terminology, which summarizes the popular morality of the Greco-Roman world, is part of Josephus’s apologetic arsenal: he wants to present Judaism as a philosophical tradition that embraces the world’s highest values. [ftnt]” (Mason, p214-215)

The latter reminds of Jesus in Matthew 22:36-40 with the two maxims: to honour God and love one’s neighbour as oneself – which isn’t quite justice. See the discussion in The simple mathematics of Jesus p62 that refers to Euclid’s axiomatic development of geometry. Hellenizing influence on Judaism might be shown in that Jesus axiomatically reduced Moses’s Ten Commandments to those two maxims.

Category 7: What might be true in the NT just by itself?

The NT is a theological tract, intended to induce worship of God and obedience to his (not her) priests. It is not supposed to be historical. It might invoke an air of history, as one of the ways to buy into people’s awe for ancient knowledge and respect for scholarship.

To be most effective, a good religious parable has two layers: the induced message alongside the surface appearance of a “true story”. Grown-ups no longer accept the story of Santa Claus, but they may accept another story that looks more like serious history,  like the story of Jesus as Santa Claus for grown-ups.

The creators of the NT were only human and ran against limitations in their capacity at phantasy. You cannot make up everything. Even the Wizard of Oz is a parable about the gold standard (yellow brick road) versus greenback money (emerald city). The creators of the NT used existing stories to work with. The works by FJ were plundered. Thus, most of the “history” in the NT is in categories 1 & 3 above.

Subsequently, what might be truths in the NT itself – category 7 ? If we are very strict then this category might be entirely empty. It is useful to allow for general external information about human behaviour that would not be too dependent upon that particular period of time.

  • We can derive the theology. For example, we have determined that the Epistle to the Hebrews formulates a logically closed argument to take away the power of the priests in Jerusalem.
  • We might recover the literary models, say the use of Homer (see Dennis Macdonald).
  • We can try to recover what the creators tried to hide, to recover their purposes.
  • There may be small bits that follow from internal consistency.

This kind of analysis is related to the distinction between Halakha (The Way) en Aggadah (Understandings), with PaRDeS methods – and Sod in Category 8 or -8. Paul might be a pre-rabbinic supporter of aggadah with a rejection of halakha. Thus, when the NT is called a source here, then it is only as a literary product with religious intentions, and we can use mathematics to check on patterns.

An example of the last is that Charles Vergeer found – in this entry – that Paul is called “Saul” in Acts before Acts 13.9 and thereafter is called “Paul” (Category 7). This tiny piece of evidence suggests that the association with governor Sergius Paulus on Cyprus, conventionally around 45 AD, might be meaningful in some sense (Category 7 in terms of “may be”). Charles Vergeer suggested that Paul’s name derived from receiving patronage by Sergius Paulus. Compare how Josephus got patronage from the Flavians (Hypothesis: category 8 or -8). Check this caveat on name conventions and why Saul might not need become Sergius Saulus. The label “patronus Pauli” will be useful for analysis till we determine who this patron might be. Vergeer also pointed to events in Rome around 58 AD (category 6) that would have implied a loss of power of Paul’s patrons, so that they could no longer protect Paul: which caused his beheading. But we don’t really know whether he died then and there (Hypothesis: category 8 or -8).

Vergeer has a strong point in a possible link to Philippi and Corinth, cf. the Epistles in the NT. In the Epistle to the Philippians there is mention of Epaphroditus, which is a name that we also find mentioned by Josephus.

Our objective is to find out more about the alternative Paul. Let us see whether we can push this idea of patronage closer to Category 1.

Time shift of Paul’s patronage by a patronus Pauli

Vergeer used the time-scale of the NT, so that he referred to Sergius Paulus around 45 AD. However, there is the time shift hypothesis by Eisenstein and Einhorn, holding that the NT basically deals with the events around the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, and that those are projected onto one generation earlier in 30 AD. Eisenstein looks at the Dead Sea Scrolls and internal consistency (Category 1), and Einhorn uses elementary statistics on FJ and NT (Category 3 and 4).

Thus, Paul would have been present around 70 AD, and we should look for a potential patronus Pauli around that time, which the writers of the gospels projected back into time to a meeting with Lucius Sergius Paulus on Cyprus.

We already saw that 58 AD is a crucial year. Not just because of the beheading of a largely fictional Paul but also because Felix, procurator of Judea, is recalled to Rome and replaced by Festus. We know quite a bit about the situation in Rome in this period.

We may wonder why Festus got selected. We already observed before that Pompeius Paulinus returned in 58 AD from his command in Germania Inferior. He might be another candidate to succeed Felix, and be supported by his son in law Seneca. If Paulinus would become patron of Saul, then we would have the gens Pompeii and Pompeius Saulus, or on a smaller scale patronus Palinus. However, we use the term patronus Pauli only as a technical term. There may be other candidates too.

FJ is only 21 years of age in 58 AD.

In this period we encounter the freedmen brothers Marcus Antonius Pallas in Rome and Marcus Antonius Felix as procurator in Judea. Their background is available in the Appendix. There is no known connection between the names Pallas and Paulus.

Something completely different – Life of Matthias alongside Life of Brian

Below I will quote from FJ and NT to support some arguments. There are different readers:

  • Established students of the Origin of Christianity will become bored since they already have seen those quotes many times before.
  • New readers will be overwhelmed.

It will be useful to keep this discussion interesting and to have a key to hold on to.

In earlier weblogs I already wondered about these key points – and not add some other ones:

  1. Paul of Tarsus reminds of tarsos = basket, hence Moses, hence an Egyptian.
  2. What if FJ’s elder brother Matthias actually became Paul ? See this earlier discussion.
  3. What if Matthias ~ Saul ~ Egyptian ~ Paul ~ presented in the Acts as a new Moses ?
  4. We cannot use identity signs since there has been too much editing later on. If the fit becomes convincing then we would be able to identify the editing.
  5. FJ writes in his books that the Egyptian disappears and is never heard from again. Actually, the Egyptian might have been arrested, and taken by Felix to Rome, with 21-year old FJ coming along to save the life of his elder brother (age unknown).
  6. Spoil-sports of this scenario will hold that Saul escaped in a basket and henceforth was nicknamed tarsos, which he then used to argue that he was from Tarsus. But this doesn’t sound quite convincing (certainly not in terms of literary composition of a tract in theology).

Why is this not ludicrous from the start ? Why might this even be an interesting idea ?

We know hardly anything about Matthias.

Well, that is good. He is a clean canvas and we can paint almost any picture. What we paint is bound to remain in category 8 or -8, unless we might be able to appeal to some internal consistency for the whole puzzle. (That we know so little about M might make him suspect, but he might also have been a bore – thus suspicion is no real argument.)

This new hypothesis should allow experienced students to read the same old quotes with fresh inspiration, while new readers have a key to hang on to. Both readerships can link the information to a Life of Matthias rather than Life of Brian.

Core points are – with some repetition to see how the pieces fit together:

  • The simple mathematics of Jesus p 128 mentions some loose ends, and one is: “(4) We see surprising elements. When FJ becomes a member of the Sanhedrin around 64 (for the F [Pharisees]): what is the situation for his father (S [Sadducees]) and brother Matthias ? Perhaps Matthew ? There is also a tax collector with that name, and a text editor might not assign names to persons by chance. See also that successor of Judas [ – Matthias]. Suppose that Josephus is silent about his brother, who then writes a story about Jesus using the life of his brother Josephus as a model. It is fun to speculate about this infinity of possibilities.”
  • In this space of possibilities we can now drop the possible patronage by some patronus Pauli.
  • Assume that FJ’s elder brother Matthias was The Egyptian, was captured in 58 AD by Felix, and dispatched to Rome, with FJ at age 21 coming along to plea for his freedom.
  • Matthias saves his life by accepting the patronage by some patronus Pauli.
  • That FJ calls M “Egyptian” might be a reference for a longer stay and education in Alexandria, as the eldest son. Perhaps even a family nickname.
  • The paragraph in the Acts in which is asked Paul whether he is the Egyptian, would merely copy some information from FJ: Category 3 for the question and -3 for the answer.
  • (That the denial is a give-away confirmation causes problems of classification. Potentially the NT becomes a fully true book again once everything is decoded, as we observed above.)
  • The invention of Tarsus is required to be able to deny being the Egyptian but still claim citizen rights.
  • The tarsos = basket would refer to Moses from Egypt – with also the theological suggestion that Matthias as Paul is the New Moses.

Acts 21.30-40 relay about Paul and the Egyptian. When the Chief Captain makes a link between speaking Greek and a provenance from Egypt, the idea is that people in Alexandria speak Greek.

30 And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut. 31 And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32 Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul. 33 Then the chief captain came near, and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and demanded who he was, and what he had done. 34 And some cried one thing, some another, among the multitude: and when he could not know the certainty for the tumult, he commanded him to be carried into the castle. 35 And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of the people. 36 For the multitude of the people followed after, crying, Away with him. 37 And as Paul was to be led into the castle, he said unto the chief captain, May I speak unto thee? Who said, Canst thou speak Greek? 38 Art not thou that Egyptian, which before these days madest an uproar, and leddest out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers? 39 But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people. 40 And when he had given him licence, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying,” (Acts 21.30-40, KJV)


The further testing of this compound hypothesis is moved to the separate section below.

In summary, conclusions are:

  1. The murder of high priest Jonathan in 58 AD put Matthias in violent protest on the Mount of Olives as the Egyptian. The events caused a recall of Felix to Rome. Matthias was brought along as a captive, and FJ came along to save his life.
  2. There can be conceptual & psychological & religious consistency between being Matthias, the Egyptian, and Paul (with eventual the gospel to the gentiles).
  3. Elsewhere, Roger Parvus has described that the Acts give an inverted description of Saul and Paul.
  4. There would be two trips of FJ to Rome, while PACE and Goldberg’s timeline would have one (and do not recognise the inconsistency).
  5. Matthias’s patronage by a patronus Pauli is likelier on the first trip in 58 AD then the second in 62 AD.
  6. The patronage need not amount to very much, merely a restoration of earlier appeasement.
  7. The scenario explains some explanatory gaps in PACE.
  8. PACE does’t mention that FJ might want to hide the identity of the Egyptian. There now is a good motive.
  9. The prospect of fitting with later developments look good.
  10. There are still ample alternative connections for some patronus Pauli, e.g. via Rome-Alexandria.
  11. The scenario puts more credibility on Paul than the vague “Paul of Tarsus” (with a curious “nickname”), while it would not be clear who else might be Paul.







Consistency of being the Egyptian and accepting Roman patronage

FJ and his brother M are from Sadducee stock. If we want that Matthias is the Egyptian and later accepts a patronus Pauli, then the psychological gap should not be too big. (Though stories about remarkable conversions abound – psychologists should be able to tell more about these likelihoods.)

At bottom:

High priest Jonathan seems to have had a policy of appeasement with the Romans. If Matthias is angered by the murder, then it is because Felix betrayed this moderation. Once Felix would be punished and the Romans promise improvement, then Matthias might be realistic enough to return to the policy of appeasement. When he wants his father en himself to become high priests, then he would have to deal with the Romans in that position too. Thus, patronage by some Romans would not seem like a bridge too far.

Consistency with Paul’s gospel to the gentiles (with hypotheses)

The next question is whether Matthias might even have ideas about a gospel to the gentiles.

Judaism isn’t monolithic:

  • The Sadducee elite does Temple service and adheres to Mosaic law with the Ten Commandments and basic issues like circumcision. They don’t recognise an immortal soul. They have most room to collaborate with the Greeks and Romans.
  • Pharisees are closer to the common people: they perform at circumcision, bar mitzvah, marriage and burials. They adhere to the Halakha with eating laws and such. They preach an immortal soul, perhaps also to keep discipline amongst their sheep. They hardly can collaborate with Greeks and Romans.
  • Sadducees look down upon Halakha as “not from God and Moses, but man made”.
  • The Essenes seem to be a bag of mixtures.

The link to Egypt is important. Education in Alexandria would have turned Matthias skeptic about Judaism and its divisions.

  • Philo of Alexandria developed a syncretic philosophy himself, that in various ways fits somewhat with later Christendom and in other ways with Gnosticism.
  • See our discussion about Torah and Gnosis, with elements that many seem to miss.
  • Philo also reports about Therapeutae in Egypt, likely influenced by Pythagoras, Plato and the syncretic Greek-Egyptian god Serapis, also influenced by Asclepius.
  • Those Therapeutae could link up to some Essenes.
  • An (advanced) education in Alexandria puts more emphasis on logic.

Matthias might have had a basic education with the Essenes in Qumran, but moved on the Alexandria, and the event of 58 would indicate the split from Qumran to a more Hellenized and likely somewhat gnostic Paul, laying the foundations for later and wiser Christian editors. (Category 8 or -8.)

A good education in Aristotelian logic in Alexandria might have shown Matthias that the Sadducees are rather hypocritical. They depend for their income (sacrifices, taxes) upon the common people, but they let the people believe other things than what they believe themselves. It would be more harmonious if people paid taxes for what they believe in. It reduces criticism when people find out.

See also Goldberg on the class conflict. Sadducee Matthias could remain Sadducee and not switch to Qumran, but oppose hypocrisy out of initial conviction and a better trained feeling for logic. FJ says that he himself joined the Pharisees, but this may be out of calculation – either the doing or the saying so.

PM. If FJ himself was law-observing then the war would cause him to emphasize religious tolerance: say with fighting on the Sabbath and not requiring circumcision from gentile allies. This isn’t quite the same as Paul’s position to abolish Halakha anyhow. FJ, in looking back on his life:

“23. At this time it was that two great men, who were under the jurisdiction of the king [Agrippa] came to me out of the region of Trachonius, bringing their horses and their arms, and carrying with them their money also; and when the Jews would force them to be circumcised, if they would stay among them, I would not permit them to have any force put upon them, but said to them, “Every one ought to worship God according to his own inclinations, and not to be constrained by force; and that these men, who had fled to us for protection, ought not to be so treated as to repent of their coming hither.” And when I had pacified the multitude, I provided for the men that were come to us whatsoever it was they wanted, according to their usual way of living, and that in great plenty also.” (Vita, quoted in the FJ ~ NT parallels by Kenneth Humphreys) (See also Goldberg‘s parallel, and that my earlier discussion that Jewish women aren’t circumcised.)

FJ’s meeting of Poppaea in 58 AD – inconsistency about his two trips to Rome

To understand the following we first need some data.

There are some crucial periods for the procurators, and there is FJ’s inconsistency on Rome. For FJ I use Whiston at Project Gutenberg, PACE, and Gary Goldberg’s with a timeline and such.

Steve Mason analyses the composition Vita, FJ’s autobiography or Life, and concludes:

“Further, the interpretation of the Life that I have proposed here integrates it fully with the Antiquities, to which it is attached. The Life also becomes broadly consistent with the War. When Josephus now changes the details, it is not because, having shifted political allegiances, he wishes to make subtle new points, as scholars have often thought. Such motives would not explain the general sloppiness of detail in this book. Rather, Josephus exploits his brief period of command in Galilee to make some claims about his aristocratic virtue in support of his magnum opus. In the spirit of his age, which we find also among the gospel writers, he shows not the slightest hesitation in changing details or disregarding precision altogether in the interest of making his present rhetorical points.” (Steve Mason, Josephus and the New Testament, p131).

Mason seems to hold that there was only one trip to Rome, and that FJ used data from Antiquities to creatively retell his Vita. In Antiquities we find a trip under Festus with priests not in bonds, without mention of FJ partaking at age 26. Later in Vita there is a trip under Felix with priests in bonds, and FJ (“at age 26” while he would be 21) partaking and meeting Poppaea, wife of Nero. Perhaps the 62-63 trip is embellished in Vita, but FJ in Antiquities might have had a reason to cover up the first trip.

The data and considerations:

  • Procurators of Judea: Felix (52 – 58),  Festus (59 – 62), Albinus (62-64), Gessius Florus (64-66)
  • FJ is born in 37 AD. In 58 AD he is 21 years of age.
  • Nero is just as old: “Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus Germanicus, born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus in December 37 CE, Josephus’ nearly exact contemporary.” (Steve Mason in PACE, footnote 100)
  • FJ mentions in Vita (published around 99 AD) that he took a trip to Rome in the period of Felix with Jewish priests in bonds. This must be in 58 AD at the latest, and likely in this year when Felix is called back to Rome because of the murder of high priest Jonathan.
  • I will presume that the ship departing in 58 also arrives in 59 AD.
  • FJ meets Poppaea, the future wife of Nero. Since Nero and Seneca were still close, it should not be unlikely that FJ also met Seneca.
  • FJ mentions in Antiquities (published around 94 AD) another travel by priests to Rome in 62-63 AD under Festus. These priests are not in bonds. FJ doesn’t mention whether he partakes or not. FJ claims: Poppaea helps the priests.
  • About the first trip in 58, FJ says that he is 26 years of age which would hold for the second trip.
  • Given the role that FJ assigns to Poppaea for that second trip (wishful thinking, boasting ?) it may well be that FJ was on that second trip too (so that he could witness that). Who would miss the opportunity to cement relations in Rome ? (But then, it was Nero, who had already murdered his mother in 59 AD.)

Given the later publication of Vita, it might be that FJ confused the dates and procurators, and that there was only one trip. However, it would concern his own life. The binding of priests, shipwreck, meeting Poppaea, and reference to “small and trifling occasion” should make for proper distinction between the two trips. It is more likely that he made a single error of putting in the wrong age. Which error indicates that he was on that second trip too. On the other hand, Mason makes a strong case for rhetorical motives.

Some quotes – with wikipedia a portal and no source:

54 – 65 AD: “On October 13, 54 A.D., Nero became the emperor of Rome. For five years Burrus and Seneca were able to control Nero and Agrippina. Under Poppaea‘s influence, Nero had his mother [Agrippina the Younger, 15-59 AD] killed, and this meant trouble for Seneca as well. In 62 A.D., Seneca retired and Burrus died. After this happened, Nero lost all control. Finally in 65 A.D., Nero accused Seneca of being involved in a conspiracy to kill him. Nero ordered Seneca to commit suicide, which he did with his faithful wife by his side. Nero prevented Paulina from dying, but Seneca went ahead as ordered.” (

58 AD: “Poppaea then married Otho, a good friend of the new Emperor Nero, who was seven years younger than she was. Nero fell in love with Poppaea and she became Nero’s mistress. According to Tacitus, Poppaea divorced Otho in 58 and focused her attentions solely on becoming empress of Rome and Nero’s new wife. (…) Tacitus claims that Poppaea was the reason that Nero murdered his mother. Poppaea induced Nero to murder Agrippina in 59 so that she could marry him. Modern scholars, though, question the reliability of this story as Nero did not marry Poppaea until 62. (…) The historian [ ! ] Josephus, on the other hand, tells us of a very different Poppaea. He calls her a deeply religious woman (perhaps privately a Jewish proselyte) who urged Nero to show compassion, namely to the Jewish people. However, in 64, she secured the position of procurator of Judaea for her friend’s husband, Gessius Florus, who was harmful to the Jews.” (Wikipedia on Poppaea)

On the procurators:

59-62 AD: “Now when Porcius Festus was sent as successor to Felix by Nero, the principal of the Jewish inhabitants of Cesarea went up to Rome to accuse Felix; and he had certainly been brought to punishment, unless Nero had yielded to the importunate solicitations of his brother Pallas, who was at that time had in the greatest honor by him. Two of the principal Syrians in Cesarea persuaded Burrhus, who was Nero’s tutor, and secretary for his Greek epistles, by giving him a great sum of money, to disannul that equality of the Jewish privileges of citizens which they hitherto enjoyed. So Burrhus, by his solicitations, obtained leave of the emperor that an epistle should be written to that purpose. This epistle became the occasion of the following miseries that befell our nation; for when the Jews of Cesarea were informed of the contents of this epistle to the Syrians, they were more disorderly than before, till a war was kindled.” (Antiquities, 20.8.9)

The murder of high priest Jonathan in Judea 58 AD

Gary Goldberg provides us key information.

Felix Arranges the Assassination of High Priest Jonathan 
A 20.8.5 162-4 
Felix also bore an ill-will to Jonathan, the high priest, because of his frequent admonitions to improve the administration of Jewish affairs; for Jonathan feared that he himself would have complaints made of him by the multitude, since he it was who had requested Caesar to send Felix as procurator of Judea. So Felix contrived a method whereby he might get rid of one who had become so continually troublesome to him; for such continual rebukes are annoying to those who are disposed to do wrong. For such reasons Felix persuaded one of Jonathan’s most trusted friends, a citizen of Jerusalem named Doras, to bring the robbers upon Jonathan, in order to kill him; and this he did by promising to pay a great deal of money. Doras complied with the proposal, and contrived for the robbers to murder him in the following way. 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. 

  The account written earlier, in War 2.18.3 [must be 2.13.3], does not implicate Felix in the assassination. 
   Josephus states that it was Jonathan who had originally requested Felix be sent as governor, which was done by Emperor Claudius, who was friendly with the Jewish royal family. As Felix and his brother Pallas were freed slaves who rose high in Claudius’ administration, Jonathan may have thought Felix would be a gentle administrator. However, after only two years  Nero succeeded Claudius, and under the new administration that the governor’s corruption accelerated.. 

Quoted from

PACE assigns FJ’s first trip to his second trip

Curiously, the discussion at PACE – managed by Steve Mason – does not discuss the inconsistency of FJ’s claims of a trip at age 26 under Felix, and the estimated tenure of Felix (52-58).

PACE gives a majority view of a recall of Felix in 59 or 60 AD, but the coinage of Kokkinos fits with the murder of high priest Jonathan. PACE says that Jonathan was a former high priest – which is true because he was so on occasion before 58 too –  but should he not be better be the high priest when he was murdered ? In Wikipedia’s list of high priests, Jonathan ben Ananus of 58 is not documented yet.

Footnote 95: “Antonius Felix according to Tacitus ( Hist. 5.9), Claudius Felix according to the mss. of Josephus at Ant. 20.137. The Epitome there has “Claudius sent Felix” (see Schürer-Vermes 1.460 n. 19; but Kokkinos 1990). Felix was the brother of Marcus Antonius Pallas, the influential freedman of Claudius’ mother Antonia. Pallas served as the emperor Claudius’ financial secretary ( a rationibus) and seems to have played a major role in the affairs of the imperial court (Suetonius, Claud. 28-9; Tacitus, Ann. 12.53). Although—and because—he was granted the exceptional honor for a freedman of receiving the insignia of a senior magistrate (praetor: Pliny, Ep. 8.6), Pallas created many aristocratic enemies: Pliny called him a “dirty rotten scoundrel” ( Ep. 7.29). He was later put to death by Nero. Near the end of the Antiquities Josephus has introduced Felix as the brother of this notorious official, evidently assuming an audience who know the name of Pallas: Ant. 20.137. Matching Tacitus’ description of Felix as a man who, “practicing every kind of cruelty and lust, wielded royal power with the instincts of a slave” ( Hist. 5.9), Josephus first describes the successful freedman’s lust for the already-married but still teen-aged Judean princess Drusilla (daughter of Agrippa I and sister of Agrippa II), which led her to “violate the ancestral laws” and marry this gentile ( Ant. 20.143-44). It was under Felix’ watch, according to Josephus, that Judean political life deteriorated sharply. The governor’s determination to do wrong drove him to introduce knife-wielding assassins ( sicarii) into the city and to murder the former high priest Jonathan (20.162-64). He thus opened a Pandora’s box, which he could not close even though he aggressively tried to stamp out militant and religious radicals (20.167-72). He also sided arbitrarily with the Syrian inhabitants of Caesarea Maritima against the Judeans there (20.173-78), creating further tensions. Cf. War 2.247-70 and Krieger 1994:141-71. The dates of Felix’ tenure as procurator are uncertain and depend on a large number of variables (see Schürer-Vermes 1.460 n. 17, 465-66 n. 42). Most scholars posit either 52 or 53 CE as his first year, though the matter is complicated by Tacitus’ confident description ( Ann. 12.54), not paralleled in Josephus, of an earlier sharing of power in Samaria and Judea by Cumanus and Felix. Estimates for the year of his recall range from 54 through 61 CE, with the majority view favoring 59 or 60. Kokkinos (1998:385-86) makes a case from the coinage for 58 CE.” (Life, Translation Mason, Whiston Section 1.1.3, PACE footnote 95)

Footnote 93: “After Josephus’ 26th birthday. Since he was born in Gaius’ first year (cf. § 5: March 18, 37 – March 17, 38), his 26th birthday fell between March 18, 63, and March 17, 64 CE. Josephus’ departure for Rome was, therefore, probably in the sailing season (spring to autumn) of either 63 or 64.

The murder of Jonathan in 58 put the Egyptian on the Mount of Olives

When we look at War 2.13.3, we find that the slaying of Jonathan ben Ananus [Ionathes] is linked to Felix’s recall to Rome and replacement by Festus.

We also see The Egyptian, who responds by wanting to attack the Roman garrisons in Jerusalem. It is a long quote but crucial for our purposes to discover who Paul is and who changed his name into Paul.

“3. When the country was purged of these, there sprang up another sort of robbers in Jerusalem, which were called Sicarii, who slew men in the day time, and in the midst of the city; this they did chiefly at the festivals, when they mingled themselves among the multitude, and concealed daggers under their garments, with which they stabbed those that were their enemies; and when any fell down dead, the murderers became a part of those that had indignation against them; by which means they appeared persons of such reputation, that they could by no means be discovered. The first man who was slain by them was Jonathan the high priest, after whose death many were slain every day, while the fear men were in of being so served was more afflicting than the calamity itself; and while every body expected death every hour, as men do in war, so men were obliged to look before them, and to take notice of their enemies at a great distance; nor, if their friends were coming to them, durst they trust them any longer; but, in the midst of their suspicions and guarding of themselves, they were slain. Such was the celerity of the plotters against them, and so cunning was their contrivance.

4. There was also another body of wicked men gotten together, not so impure in their actions, but more wicked in their intentions, which laid waste the happy state of the city no less than did these murderers. These were such men as deceived and deluded the people under pretense of Divine inspiration, but were for procuring innovations and changes of the government; and these prevailed with the multitude to act like madmen, and went before them into the wilderness, as pretending that God would there show them the signals of liberty. But Felix thought this procedure was to be the beginning of a revolt; so he sent some horsemen and footmen both armed, who destroyed a great number of them.

5. But there was an Egyptian false prophet that did the Jews more mischief than the former; for he was a cheat, and pretended to be a prophet also, and got together thirty thousand men that were deluded by him; these he led round about from the wilderness to the mount which was called the Mount of Olives, and was ready to break into Jerusalem by force from that place; and if he could but once conquer the Roman garrison and the people, he intended to domineer over them by the assistance of those guards of his that were to break into the city with him. But Felix prevented his attempt, and met him with his Roman soldiers, while all the people assisted him in his attack upon them, insomuch that when it came to a battle, the Egyptian ran away, with a few others, while the greatest part of those that were with him were either destroyed or taken alive; but the rest of the multitude were dispersed every one to their own homes, and there concealed themselves.

6. Now when these were quieted, it happened, as it does in a diseased body, that another part was subject to an inflammation; for a company of deceivers and robbers got together, and persuaded the Jews to revolt, and exhorted them to assert their liberty, inflicting death on those that continued in obedience to the Roman government, and saying, that such as willingly chose slavery ought to be forced from such their desired inclinations; for they parted themselves into different bodies, and lay in wait up and down the country, and plundered the houses of the great men, and slew the men themselves, and set the villages on fire; and this till all Judea was filled with the effects of their madness. And thus the flame was every day more and more blown up, till it came to a direct war.

7. There was also another disturbance at Cesarea,—those Jews who were mixed with the Syrians that lived there rising a tumult against them. The Jews pretended that the city was theirs, and said that he who built it was a Jew, meaning king Herod. The Syrians confessed also that its builder was a Jew; but they still said, however, that the city was a Grecian city; for that he who set up statues and temples in it could not design it for Jews. On which account both parties had a contest with one another; and this contest increased so much, that it came at last to arms, and the bolder sort of them marched out to fight; for the elders of the Jews were not able to put a stop to their own people that were disposed to be tumultuous, and the Greeks thought it a shame for them to be overcome by the Jews. Now these Jews exceeded the others in riches and strength of body; but the Grecian part had the advantage of assistance from the soldiery; for the greatest part of the Roman garrison was raised out of Syria; and being thus related to the Syrian part, they were ready to assist it. However, the governors of the city were concerned to keep all quiet, and whenever they caught those that were most for fighting on either side, they punished them with stripes and bands. Yet did not the sufferings of those that were caught affright the remainder, or make them desist; but they were still more and more exasperated, and deeper engaged in the sedition. And as Felix came once into the market-place, and commanded the Jews, when they had beaten the Syrians, to go their ways, and threatened them if they would not, and they would not obey him, he sent his soldiers out upon them, and slew a great many of them, upon which it fell out that what they had was plundered. And as the sedition still continued, he chose out the most eminent men on both sides as ambassadors to Nero, to argue about their several privileges.” (War 2.13.3)

PACE has question marks – plug in Matthias the Egyptian

Let us consider the hypothesis that the Egyptian is Matthias, elder brother of FJ. An essential part of the hypothesis is that M had studied in Alexandria and had returned to the Temple, and became livid that Felix murdered Jonathan.

FJ in his later report for Vespasian needed to hide Matthias’s name, and used a general label, which was copied by the author of the NT. (A false phantasy is category -8, but if true it would be category 3.)

PACE doesn’t mention that FJ might want to hide the identity of the Egyptian. They point to some curious things about this Egyptian that however fit the hypothesis about Matthias. The label Egyptian is not ethnic but derives from other considerations, which the writer of the NT is well aware of by including the information about speaking Greek which FJ doesn’t mention:

Footnote 1640: “On this figure see also Ant. 20.169-72; Acts 21:38. It is striking that the man should be known by this ethnic label—rather than by his name, and not by his Judean identity: for Josephus he was an Egyptian who harmed the Judeans. But was he not also a Ioudaios? (If not, how did he attract such a following, and why did he have such an interest in Jerusalem?) In Alexandrian politics the label “Egyptian” was a slur: Egyptians of native ancestry were sharply distinguished from Alexandrians, whose ancestry (though thoroughly mixed by the 1st cent. CE) and culture derived from Greco-Macedonian roots, as also from the Judeans, who continually angled for equality with the Alexandrians. In the Apion Josephus is keen to disassociate Judeans from their widely presumed Egyptian ancestry (e.g., 2.8); most revealing is his attack on Apion for asserting the Egyptian ancestry of the Judeans while denying his own Egyptian identity (“he falsely claimed to be an Alexandrian”; Apion 2.28-30; see Barclay ad loc. in BJP 10).

That Josephus identifies this man only as “the Egyptian” could mean either that this was the only way the man was known (odd, given that there must have been many Judeans from Egypt and Alexandria passing through Jerusalem; it is hard to imagine someone being known as “the American” in London), that he does not know his name (curious, given that he claims to know the names of even obscure troublemakers), or that he intends disparagement by this label.

Most remarkable is Acts’ use of the same epithet in place of a name—and apparent misuse of it, by having the Egyptian leading sicarii into the desert (Acts 21:38). That might suggest the author’s dependence upon Josephus.(War, 2.13.5, Niese Section 261)

FJ’s first trip to Rome in 58 AD: The Egyptian

The Egyptian doesn’t get a name, which is curious for Josephus who knows so much. But in 58 FJ is only 21 years, and likely not so interested in writing his history.

However, in Antiquities we find another detail: the tumbling of walls remind of Jericho, with Joshua, the Saviour. Now FJ is silent about the context of the murder on Jonathan and the planned attack on the Roman garrison.

This must be in or before 58 AD: “6. These works, that were done by the robbers, filled the city with all sorts of impiety. And now these impostors and deceivers persuaded the multitude to follow them into the wilderness, and pretended that they would exhibit manifest wonders and signs, that should be performed by the providence of God. And many that were prevailed on by them suffered the punishments of their folly; for Felix brought them back, and then punished them.

Moreover, there came out of Egypt about this time to Jerusalem one that said he was a prophet, and advised the multitude of the common people to go along with him to the Mount of Olives, as it was called, which lay over against the city, and at the distance of five furlongs. He said further, that he would show them from hence how, at his command, the walls of Jerusalem would fall down; and he promised them that he would procure them an entrance into the city through those walls, when they were fallen down.

Now when Felix was informed of these things, he ordered his soldiers to take their weapons, and came against them with a great number of horsemen and footmen from Jerusalem, and attacked the Egyptian and the people that were with him. He also slew four hundred of them, and took two hundred alive. But the Egyptian himself escaped out of the fight, but did not appear any more. And again the robbers stirred up the people to make war with the Romans, and said they ought not to obey them at all; and when any persons would not comply with them, they set fire to their villages, and plundered them.” (Antiquities 20.8.6, The Egyptian)

That the Egyptian “disappeared” is a sweet lie, sweet, since the label indeed isn’t mentioned anymore. (It may be a literary thing. The Gospel according to Mark had an empty grave too.)

FJ’s first trip to Rome in 58 AD: Felix recalled to Rome

Since FJ is born in 37 AD he would be 21 years of age in 58 AD when Felix still reigned.

“3. But when I was in the twenty-sixth [Category -4, not seen by PACE] year of my age, it happened that I took a voyage to Rome, and this on the occasion which I shall now describe. At the time when Felix was procurator of Judea there were certain priests of my acquaintance, and very excellent persons they were, whom on a small and trifling occasion he had put into bonds, and sent to Rome to plead their cause before Caesar.

These I was desirous to procure deliverance for, and that especially because I was informed that they were not unmindful of piety towards God, even under their afflictions, but supported themselves with figs and nuts. [This might be zealots – nazirites who have to stay away from death]. Accordingly I came to Rome, though it were through a great number of hazards by sea; for as our ship was drowned in the Adriatic Sea, we that were in it, being about six hundred in number, swam for our lives all the night; when, upon the first appearance of the day, and upon our sight of a ship of Cyrene, I and some others, eighty in all, by God’s providence, prevented the rest, and were taken up into the other ship.

And when I had thus escaped, and was come to Dieearchia, which the Italians call Puteoli, I became acquainted with Aliturius, an actor of plays, and much beloved by Nero, but a Jew by birth; and through his interest became known to Poppea, Caesar’s wife, and took care, as soon as possible, to entreat her to procure that the priests might be set at liberty. And when, besides this favor, I had obtained many presents from Poppea, I returned home again.” (Vita, 3)


  • Poppaea would indeed already be the mistress of Nero, though not yet his official spouse (in 62 AD).
  • There would be no need for FJ to meet Seneca but it might still be feasible that FJ and / or some of the priests including Matthias accept patronage by some Romans in order to get their liberty.
  • If FJ himself accepted the patronage by the Pauli, then he would call himself Paulus Josephus. Then he would later change his patronage to the Flavians, unless the Church redacted this too.
  • For the priests who were in bounds, it depends upon why they were in bounds, for them to accept patronage by the Pauli.
  • If FJ’s brother Matthias would be The Egyptian and now switch to Paulus Matteus, then we might assume tough discussions between the brothers on the boat trip. (For the film: FJ causes the shipwreck to get rid of witnesses.)
  • It has been suggested e.g. by Ralph Ellis, King Jesus, that Poppaea liked young men and that FJ was an exotic, witty and seductive young man, so that the true persuasion derived from charm and such. It depends upon FJ’s religious convictions whether he would use such tactics. But of course he was young, and Poppaea might have tainted him. As Ellis remarks: the willingness to eat and drink with the Romans without insistence on special food might already be quite a feat.

The most peculiar is that the priests are bound because of a small and trifling affair. Well, for a small affair people might not want to go to Nero, and would have to be bound of course. It is more likely that it wasn’t a small affair though.

We are also invited to believe that Felix was so incompetent and impatient to put people in bonds and dispatch them to Rome on a “small and trifling” reason . Alternatively, these were real important priests, like Matthias.

Felix is recalled to Rome in 58. It is conceivable that he wants to bring along some evidence. Matthias is an important captive.

FJ’s second trip to Rome 62-65 AD

PACE has no comment that FJ would be on this trip. But he could be, if the reference to 26 years of age is an indication.

62-65 AD: “11. About the same time king Agrippa built himself a very large dining-room in the royal palace at Jerusalem, near to the portico. Now this palace had been erected of old by the children of Asamoneus and was situate upon an elevation, and afforded a most delightful prospect to those that had a mind to take a view of the city, which prospect was desired by the king; and there he could lie down, and eat, and thence observe what was done in the temple;

which thing, when the chief men of Jerusalem saw they were very much displeased at it; for it was not agreeable to the institutions of our country or law that what was done in the temple should be viewed by others, especially what belonged to the sacrifices. They therefore erected a wall upon the uppermost building which belonged to the inner court of the temple towards the west, which wall when it was built, did not only intercept the prospect of the dining-room in the palace, but also of the western cloisters that belonged to the outer court of the temple also, where it was that the Romans kept guards for the temple at the festivals.

At these doings both king Agrippa, and principally Festus the procurator, were much displeased; and Festus ordered them to pull the wall down again: but the Jews petitioned him to give them leave to send an embassage about this matter to Nero; for they said they could not endure to live if any part of the temple should be demolished; and when Festus had given them leave so to do, they sent ten of their principal men to Nero, as also Ismael the high priest, and Helcias, the keeper of the sacred treasure.

And when Nero had heard what they had to say, he not only forgave them what they had already done, but also gave them leave to let the wall they had built stand. This was granted them in order to gratify Poppea, Nero’s wife, who was a religious woman, and had requested these favors of Nero, and who gave order to the ten ambassadors to go their way home; but retained Helcias and Ismael as hostages with herself. As soon as the king heard this news, he gave the high priesthood to Joseph, who was called Cabi, the son of Simon, formerly high priest.” (Antiquities, 20. 8.11 at PACE)

Comments would be:

  1. Agrippa’s ability to look into the Temple courtyard has military implications, and similarly the wall that would block his view again. It is strange that FJ assumes that his readers would not be aware of this.
  2. The fire in Rome of 64 is curiously absent from his report. (For the film: FJ started that fire too.)
  3. FJ is back in time in Jerusalem in 65-66 when the uprising starts so that he can take a command post. His brother’s reputation will have helped. But Matthias has changed to the moderates now (Category 8 or -8).
  4. Apparently FJ leaves when Poppaea and Seneca (4 BC – 65 AD) fall out of favour and have to die.
  5. In 66 there is Halley’s comet – not unexpected in some circles that kept records.
  6. Around 62 Seneca the Younger is forced to retire. It is unlikely that there would be a link now. If Pompeius Paulinus is the patronus Pauli (with a need to explain the difference between “Pauli” and “Paulini”) then the patronage would have been established in the first trip.
Appendix: The freedman brothers M.A. Pallas and M.A. Felix

Check the names of the two freedman brothers:

FJ reports:

Around 31 AD: “Now Sejanus [20 BC – 31 AD] had certainly gained his point, had not Antonia’s boldness been more wisely conducted than Sejanus’s malice; for when she had discovered his designs against Tiberius, she wrote him an exact account of the whole, and gave the letter to Pallas, the most faithful of her servants, and sent him to Caprere [Capri] to Tiberius, who, when he understood it, slew Sejanus and his confederates; so that Tiberius, who had her in great esteem before, now looked upon her with still greater respect, and depended upon her in all things.” (Antiquities 18.6.6.)

52-58 AD: “Then Claudius sent Felix, the brother of Pallas, to manage the affairs of Judea. After completing the twelfth year of his reign, Claudius granted to Agrippa the tetrarchy of Philp, and Batanea.(…)” (Antiquities 20.7.1 quoted on

According to Tacitus Annals xii 53-54 the brothers are descendent from kings of Arcadia – and note that this does not lay far from Corinthe, which town is related to the gens Aemilii Pauli. Potentially some of these Pauli were involved ? Marcus Antonius Pallas may have chosen his name from Pallas Athena however.

Our problem is solved since it is used as an example:

“Names of Freedpeople: When slaves were freed, they occupied a middle status between the freeborn and the enslaved; they were referred to as liberti or libertini, which we translate as “freedpeople.” While they were still enslaved, they had a single name, either a part of the name they had carried before they were enslaved or a name given to them by their master, often coming from mythology, referring to their country of origin, or referring to a personal characteristic. The slave’s name, like everything else, was completely at the discretion of his/her owner. However, there were specific conventions that governed the names of freedpeople. A freedman took the praenomen and nomen of his former master, who was now his patron, plus his slave name as a cognomen; if he had been freed by a woman, he took her father’s praenomen and nomen plus his slave name (e.g., Marcus Antonius’ daughter Antonia freed a slave named Pallas, who was then called M. Antonius Pallas).” (

Apparently, his brother Felix became a free man in the same manner.

Mark Anthony had three daughters Antonia. Claudius’s mother Antonia Minor (36 BC – 37 AD) would make more sense, given the important position of Pallas within the government. See this Dict. of the Bible.

Thus, based upon only these data, the involvement of the gens Pauli seems unlikely for Pallas.

However, there is a route from FJ to Felix to Pallas to some potential patronus Pauli at the court.

PM 1. Another key is that Caesar Augustus’s niece Antonia Minor (36 BC – 37 AD) (see also here) was great-aunt of Nero, and by marriage and adoption was his grandmother (link via Claudius), while Alexander the Alabarch in Egypt looked after her estates.

PM 2. There is Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus who died around 47 AD from the natural cause of a knife in his chest. One of Claudius’s wifes Messalina’s half-brother was Faustus Cornelius Sulla Felix (22-62 AD):

  • “[After Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus died, Claudia Antonia, daughter of Claudius & Aelia Paetina, the precursor of Messalina] married Faustus Cornelius Sulla Felix, Messalina’s half-brother, in order to strengthen the bloodline of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Pompeius had no children with Antonia.”
  • “In 56 two years after the accession of Roman emperor Nero, the imperial freedman Pallas and the Praetorian prefect Sextus Afranius Burrus were accused of conspiring to have Felix declared emperor. The conspirators were put on trial, but Felix does not appear to have been implicated. Nero however, began to watch his brother-in-law closely, afraid of his connection to the imperial family.” (wikipedia)