Thoughts on ancient gospels and the like

16 November 2007

Jesus’ Daddy – the candidates

Filed under: Desposynoi,folktale type,hypostasis,islam,Mary,Q — markandmore @ 14:18
  1. Joseph. The simplest suggestion. Matthew and Luke, but not Mark, claim that Maria the mother of Jesus had a husband called Joseph. The plot has joseph.jpgher pregnant before their marriage, and Joseph marrying her anyway. Later theology wanted a miraculous birth, and so the plot in Matthew and Luke removed his biological parentage. Why not assume that Joseph is actually the biological father? It is generally assumed that he was the father of Jesus’ siblings mentioned in Mark 6:3: James, Joseph, Simon, Judas and two unnamed sisters. On the other hand, Joseph is not in Q the pre-cursor of Luke and Matthew, nor Marcion an earlier version of Luke. In John there is passing reference to Jesus son of Joseph, but this could be as easily a reference to Jesus as the Messiah ben Joseph as a reference to parentage.
  2. Cleophas (Clopas)/Alphaeus (Alpheus). Cleophas is mentioned in John 19:25 as the husband of Mary, said to be the sister of Jesus’ mother, and in Luke 24:13-27 as a disciple. Alphaeus is said to be the father of James in Matthew 10:3, Mark 3:18, Luke 6:15 and Acts 1:13. He is also the father of Levi (whom some take to be another name for Matthew) at Mark 2:14. As the father of James is probably the husband of Mary, Cleophas and Alphaeus are usually taken to be the same person, and convoluted arguments have been proposed as far back as Papias that Cleophas is a Greek transliteration of the Aramaic Alphaeus. James D. Tabor in chapter 4 of his The Jesus Dynasty, 2006 argues that we should assume that Cleophas/Alphaeus is the levite brother of Joseph, that is that he is a younger brother who married his brother’s widow and in the Hebrew fashion raised future children with the widow as if they were children of Joseph. Eisenman, however, in his James, The Brother of Jesus, takes it that Cleophas/Alphaeus is the name of the husband of Mary, and that it was changed to Joseph by association with the Messiah ben Joseph tradition in Galilee/Samaria.
  3. Antipater (46 – 4 bce), eldest son of Herod and his first wife, Doris. We discussed this earlier. As proposed by Robert Graves, and taken over by Graham Phillips without credit, if Jesus were the son of Antipater, he would be a Roman citizen and be recognized by the Romans, and especially Pilate, as a rightful king of the Jews. This would explain Pilate’s granting of a private audience, see John 18:29-38. Incidentally, Antipater, like Jesus, was a son sacrificed by his father. As Herod was dying, he accused his son of planning his murder and had him executed. Some writers have seen this as a magical sacrifice. If it was, it failed, in that Herod died soon after the execution.
  4. Tiberius Julius Abdes Pantera (22 bce – 40 ce). Celsus, the 2nd century philosopher, in his On the True Doctrine, says of Jesus: “His mother had been turned out of doors by her husband, who was a carpenter by trade, on being convicted of adultery with a soldier named Panthera”. Furthermore the Tosefta, also 2nd century, refers to one Yeshua ben-Pandera, whom some take to be the Christ Jesus. These suggestions took on extra life when in 1859 a tombstone of this name dating to the early 1st century was discovered in Bingerbrück on the Rhine (map). Abdes was from Sidon in Phoenicia and of the same generation that Maria would have been. The suggestion that we have the grave of Jesus’ father was first made by Marcello Craveri in his La vita di Gesu, 1966. It has been adopted by James D. Tabor and is discussed in detail in chapter 3 of his The Jesus Dynasty, 2006.
  5. Parthenogenesis. The idea that there is no father. Reptiles can reproduce by parthenogenesis, so why not mammals, so why not humans? Anthony Harris ran with this idea in his The Sacred Virgin and the Holy Whore, 1988. A parthenogenic child could not have XY chromosomes and therefore cannot be male. Furthermore it cannot even be XX as it has only one parent. It would have X0 chromosomes, which is Turner’s Syndrome. Such children, about 1 in 2500 female births, have undeveloped female sexual organs. 98% of X0 fetuses spontaneously abort, and the condition accounts for about 10% of all spontaneous abortions.
  6. Yahweh. If Jesus is the ‘son of God’ in the Christian rather than the Jewish (Benei Elohim) or the Roman (divi filius) sense, the god meant is Yahweh. The Nicene Creed says: “begotten of the Father”. Presumably such a god could provide the Y chromosome to produce a male child. Philo tells us that Isaac was not the son of Abraham, but was the son of Yahweh himself who created Isaac directly in the womb of Sarah. See “God Begat Isaac” in Howard Schwartz, Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism p336.
  7. Allah. If, as some maintain, Allah is Yahweh by another name, then Allah is the father of Jesus. Most Christians are uncomfortable with the equation of Allah and Yahweh; most Moslems are uncomfortable with the idea of Allah as a father. However Surah 3:45-49 maintains that Mary became semele.jpgpregnant at the will of Allah, and without sexual intercourse. On the otherhand, Surah 37:151 says “Surely they lie when they declare: “Allah has begotten children”.
  8. Zeus. Zeus admits to many children: Athena, Aphrodite, Dionysos, Apollo, Artemis and more. He frequently resorted to disguise to seduce mortal women. In fact, it was fatal for Semele, mother of Dionysos, to demand that Zeus appear as his real self, and so we can understand that he did dissimulate. Several ancient authors saw Jesus as another form of Dionysos.
  9. The Holy Spirit. Regarded by Christians as the third person on the Godhead. It is not clear how the statement that Jesus was fathered by the Holy Spirit has a different meaning from the statement that he was fathered by God the Father(Yahweh). Matthew 1:25 states that Mary’s conception “is of the Holy Spirit”
  10. Gabriel. In Luke only, Gabriel announces the pregnancies of both Elizabeth and Mary, with a suggestion that he might in fact be the father. The Kingannunciation.jpg James Bible has it that: “the angel came in unto her (Luke 1:28). It is often commented that Muhammad confused the Holy Spirit and Gabriel (Gibril), but such confusion is understandable. The Quran calls Gibril ‘Ruhhil Qudus'(=Holy Spirit). It was also Gabriel that gave Muhammad the Quran. The Midrash Elah Ezkerah tells us with regard to the birth of Rabbi Ishmael that Gabriel took the form of his father to meet the mother at the bathhouse, and took her home, and that night Rabbi Ishmael was conceived. That is why Rabbi Ishmael was so handsome: he resembled his father, Gabriel. See “How Rabbi Ishmael was conceived” in Howard Schwartz, Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism p201.

2 October 2007

Salome: goddess, saint, disciple, herodian

Filed under: Desposynoi,Female characters,Herodians,hypostasis,Mark — markandmore @ 19:05
  1. There are two Salomes in Josephus: Salome, the sister of Herod, called the Great; and Salome daughter of Herod son of Herod “the Great” and Mariamne daughter of Boethus. On her mother’s side, this second Salome was daughter of Herodias, daughter of Aristobulus who was son of Herod “the Great” and his other wife also called Mariamne who was one of the last survivors of the Maccabean dynasty. Also note that the second Salome was first cousin to Berenice, wife to two kings, to the Alabarch of Alexandria, and lover of the Roman emperor Titus.salome1.jpg
  2. In Mark 6.22 or Matthew 14:6-8, an unnamed daughter of Herodias dances for the brother of her father, her step-father, King Herod (not be confused with Herod “the Great” although neither Mark nor Matthew make this clear) in exchange for the head of John the Baptist. Given that the second Salome in Josephus is the daughter of Herodias and Herod, it is not unreasonable that the dancer is widely assumed to be Salome.
  3. The execution of John the Baptist as described by Josephus in Jewish Antiquities, 18, 5,2 mentions neither Herodias, nor Salome nor any other daughter.
  4. If there is a historical basis to the Mark/Matthew story perhaps it is found in Cassius Dio, Roman History, 66.15.3-5: “[Berenice] dwelt in the palace, cohabiting with Titus. She expected to marry him and was already behaving in every respect as if she wee his wife.; but when he perceived that the Romans were displeased with the situation, he sent her away. For, in addition to all the other talk that there was, certain sophists of the Cynic school managed somehow to slip into the city at this time, too; and first Diogenes, entering the theatre when it was full, denounced the pair in along abusive speech; for which he was flogged; and after him Heras, expecting no harsher punishment, gave vent to to many senseless yelpings in true Cynic fashion, and for this was beheaded”.
  5. The dance that Salome performed is often taken – again with no Biblical basis – to be the dance of the Seven Veils. While in modern striptease and belly-dancing the concept of the Seven Veils has become a cliché, it is associated with the ancient sacred dance by Ishtar as she descended into the underworld.salome2.jpg
  6. The Seven Veils of Ishtar concept is promoted by Barbara Walker in The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, 1983 and Wendy Buonaventura in her book Serpent of the Nile, 1989. However two belly dancers, DeAnna Putman (here) and Shira (here) make a persuasive argument that a) the daughter is described as a korasion which is a small girl, and the word for dance is orkheomai which means jumping as well as dance, and therefore we should assume that Salome was pre-pubic at the time; the earliest translation of the myth of Ishtar into a modern European language was in 1872; the number 7 is not even mentioned in Mark or Matthew with relation to the death of John; the first association of Salome and the Dance of the Seven Veils is probably Oscar Wilde’s play Salome, 1891; the things that Ishtar surrendered were not veils but symbols of kingship, such as crown, measuring rod, breastplate and robe.
  7. In Mark (15:40, 16:1), and only in Mark, Salome is is one of three women, the other two both being called Maria, who were present at the Crucifixion of Jesus and visited his tomb the next day. Nothing else is said about this woman, and nothing is said which would justify assuming that she is the dancing daughter of Herodias. If the Salome at the death of John is a little girl, then she could not be an adult woman at the death of Jesus – not if she is mortal
  8. In the parallel passage of Matthew (27:56), the third woman is described as “the mother of the sons of Zebedee” and by a logic that some Bible readers adopt, Salome is therefore taken to be the mother of James and John Zebedee.
  9. Salome is venerated as Saint Mary Salome, also known as Irene. Feast day 22 October. After the crucifixion of Jesus she is said to have gone to Veroli, Italy and stayed there as an apostle.
  10. The English of Mark 15:40 in the King James translation is “There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome”. Robert Eisenman in his James, The Brother of Jesus, p 772 and 845 reads this to say that Salome is ‘explicitly identified as the sister of James the Less and Joses’. He also reads Mark 16:1 “Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices” in the same way. The problem with the English of 15:40 is that ‘of’ is not repeated before the name Salome. Let us look at the Greek: In 15:40 Salome is written Σαλωμη which is nominative not genitive. Where English uses a preposition to mean possession, Greek uses a different word ending. In the Latin: “Maria Magdalene et Maria Iacobi minoris et Ioseph mater et Salome”, the word mater (=mother) follows Iacobi and Ioseph but precedes Salome, meaning that Maria is the mother of the two men, but not of Salome.
  11. In the Gospel of the Egyptians, Salome is again a disciple of Jesus. She asks him how long death would hold sway, and he says to her, “So long as women bring forth, for I come to end the works of the female.” To this Salome replies, “Then I have done well in not bringing forth.”
  12. In the Gospel of Thomas, Salome and Mary Magdelene are listed among the disciples of Jesus. Jesus shares Salome’s couch at the meal. ‘Who are you sir,’ she asks him, ‘that you have taken your place on my couch and eaten from my table?’ And Jesus says, “I am he who is from the One, and the things that belong to the Father have been given to me.” Salome replies, “But I am your disciple”, and Jesus answers, “When the disciple is united he will be filled with light, but if he is divided he will be filled with darkness.”
  13. In the Protevengelion of James, 14, we find:
    “14 And the midwife went out from the cave, and Salome met her. 15 And the midwife said to her, “Salome, Salome, I will tell you a most surprising thing, which I saw. 16 A virgin has brought forth, which is a thing contrary to nature.” 17 To which Salome replied, “As the Lord my God lives, unless I receive particular proof of this matter, I will not believe that a virgin has brought forth.”
    18 Then Salome went in, and the midwife said, “Mary, show yourself, for a great controversy has arisen about you.” 19 And Salome tested her with her finger. 20 But her hand was withered, and she groaned bitterly, 21 and said, “Woe to me, because of my iniquity! For I have tempted the living God, and my hand is ready to drop off.”horae8930.jpg
  14. Salome = ‘peace’ (Hebrew Shalom). Greek for peace is Eirene. Eirene is one of the second generation of Horae(=hours), goddesses who controlled orderly life. Eirene is third as Salome is third in Mark 15:40. The Horae had the task of closing and opening the gates of heaven. Such goddesses would be present at the sacrificial deaths of divine kings, as they had been at the birth of Aphrodite. Eirene had been the nurse of Demeter.
  15. In Robert Graves’ The White Goddess, he analyses the riddle poem Hanes Taliesin. Line 26 is, in the English translation, “I have been in the firmament with Mary Magdelene’. Graves proposed ‘Salome’ as the answer to that line.
  16. In his same book, p 372-3, Graves discusses the ancient goddess, Salma-ona, a name associated with easterlyness in contrast to the goddess Tar-Annis who had a name associated with westerlyness. Solomon, Salmon, Absalon and Salome are derived form the theonym Salma. Salma was the deity to whom the hill of Jerusalem was originally dedicated as Uru-Salim.

12 June 2007

Desposynoi – Part 2

Filed under: Desposynoi,Herodians — markandmore @ 22:31

I am going to bring together two quite different observations from different authors. As far as I am aware, these two have never been brought together like this.

The family of Saulus.

Robert Eisenman in his paper ‘Paul as Herodian’, which he wrote 11 years ago, and which is available in his book,The Dead Sea Scrolls and the First Christians: Essays and Translations , and also online here, proposes that Paulus aka Saulus is the same person as the Saulus found in Josephus. He supports this with a close reading of the Pauline epistles where there are a surprising number of quick references that Paul knew and was related to members of the Herodian clan, the Jewish royal family who of course were not Judeans but Edomites. Edomites had been incorporated into Judea by the expansions of the Maccabees. Therefore an Edomite clan was as legitimate a ruling dynasty in Judea as the Scottish Stuarts were as rulers of England. Were they Jews? You can argue it both ways.

Certainly Herod the so-called Great was insecure about his Jewishness, which explains his rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple, his destruction of the genealogy scrolls of the old Jerusalem families, and his marrying into the Maccabean clan which was by then a decadent dynasty and after Herod had finished marrying and executing them, there were almost none left. There have been proposals from different writers that Herodians were involved in writing the various New Testament books – I will return to these proposals in later postings. However for the purpose of this posting I am provisionally assuming that both Jesus and Paul were historical.

Of course the Herodians were client kings reigning at the will of Rome. The Jewish view of their legitimacy and the Roman view of it were quite different. In one way and another the clan managed to stay on one throne or another until the Roman-Jewish war that terminated Nero’s reign in Rome.

Robert Eisenman provides a genealogical chart of the Herodians at the end of his James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Here is the important part that shows the ancestry of Saulus. Salome was the sister of Herod called the ‘Great’. With one of her husbands, Costobarus, she had a son Antipater (there are other Antipaters in the Herodian clan so we must be careful), and the second son to this Antipator was Saulus. So Saulus is a great-nephew to Herod called the ‘Great’. The Herodians were Roman citizens, and Saulus being one of them, the mystery of his Roman citizenship as used in Acts 22:25-29 is cleared up.


The father of Jesus.

Here we turn to Robert Graves. In his King Jesus, 1946 and his Nazarene Gospel Restored, 1954, he proposes the following using the Jesus story in John’s gospel (18:29-38):

Pilate grants a private audience to Jesus, which he would have done only for a Roman citizen.

Pilate decides that Jesus is indeed king of the Jews. For a Roman like Pilate, this must mean that Jesus is king as per Roman law. Now Augustus had recognized Herod’s will nominating his son by Doris, Antipater, as his heir. If Jesus had explained that his father was Antipater secretly married to Mariam, and that his mother had remarried after Herod had changed his mind and put Antipater to death, then Pilate would indeed see Jesus as the rightful king of the Jews.

The Herod-Antipator-Jesus family was revived in Graham Phillips’ The Marian Conspiracy, 2000 (later reissued as The Virgin Mary Conspiracy, 2005). He gives no credit or even mention to Robert Graves (although Nazarene Gospel Restored is in his bibliography). Instead he gives credit for the idea of Antipater as father of Jesus to The Laws of The Jews by Joseph Schreiber, New York, 1956 (no publisher given). 1956 is later than the dates on Graves’ books and maybe Schreiber took the idea from Graves. If he came to the idea independently that is worth documenting. However there is something funny, or at least obscure, about Schreiber’s book. It is totally unknown to WorldCat, to Amazon, to the British Library and to the Library of Congress. Google finds only one reference to it: an italian site on ‘una possibile antistoria del cristianesimo‘ that as likely as not is using Phillips as a source.
Here is the genealogical chart for Herod-Antipator-Jesus.


Now let us put the two charts together:


Lo! Herod and Salome are siblings; Antipater and Antipater are cousins; Yeshua/Jesus and Saulus/Paulus are second cousins.

If we return to Luke’s Jesus Story (but not Marcion’s ), we are told that Miriamne (Mary) and Elisheba (Elizabeth) are cousins, and therefore Yohanon the Baptist and Yeshua are second cousins.

Yohanon the Baptist to Yeshua to Saulus.

John the Baptist to Jesus to Paul.

Second cousin to second cousin to second cousin.

Yohanon is not a descendant of Herod called the Great, but Yeshua and Saulus are.

Desposynoi – the family of the lord, the family of the great despot, Herod!!

These bible strands surely can be unwound in strange ways.

30 March 2007

Desposynoi – Part 1

Filed under: Desposynoi — markandmore @ 20:51

The bloodline of Jesus is referred to as “desposyni” a Latinization of the Greek “desposynoi” from “despos” (=master or lord of the household) and “-yn” (=of or belonging to).   The Greeks had two major words for “lord”: “despos” and “kyrios”, the former with a more negative connotation – from which we get the English word, “despot”.   When Jesus or Yahweh is called “lord” in Greek, the word used is usually “kyrios”, although there are exceptions: Luke 13:25 of Papyrus 75, 2nd Peter 2:1 (this may be a reference to Yahweh), Jude 1:4 (despos is used to describe Yahweh, and Kyrios to describe Jesus).  The practice of referring to Jesus or Yahweh as “kyrios”, is a translation from the Hebrew “adonai” (=”lord”), which pious Jews are to articulate whenever they encounter YHWH as per the third of the Ten Commandments, Exodus 20:7 “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain”.   The name of the Greek god, Adonis, an import from Syria, is also a Semitic word, and also means “lord”.  Although to confound simple linguistic assumptions, his Etruscan counterpart was called Atunis.   For those who prefer to find Roman Emperor-worship in the Jesus cult, we note that “Kyrios” was the Greek title of the emperors, equivalent to the Latin “dominus”.

 If the bloodline had been named from “kyrios”, it would be known as “kyriakos”.    There are two persons with “kyriakos” in their name, both with the forename of Judas.   Judas Kyriakos was, according to Epiphanius, quoted by Eusebius, the last Ebionite Jewish “bishop” of Jerusalem. It was during his term that Jerusalem fell again to the Romans in the Second Jewish War (135 CE.   A second “Judas Kyriakos” in the fourth century worked with Helena, mother of the emperor Constantine, to find the “True Cross”.  He was a Jew, said to have taken the name Kyriakos upon his conversion, and was eventually made bishop of Jerusalem.    There are also persons with “desposyni” in their name, e.g. the two Nascien I Desposyni, both aka Naasson (Nahshon); Prince of Septimania; Prefect of Narbonensis,  2nd and 5th century.

 Paul ( ) and Josephus (  ) refer, somewhat enigmatically, to “James, the brother of the lord”.  The gospels of Mark and Matthew (but not the others) expand the list of Jesus’ brothers to James, Simon, Jude and Joses.   Paul discusses James as the leading apostle in Jerusalem, and James is also discussed in the Clementias and in Eusebius’ History of the Church.   Eusebius makes Simon the successor of James, and in turn is succeeded by Judas Justus.   Most writers do not equate Judas Justas with Jude, the brother of the Lord, but Robert Eisenman has made a good case that we should regard them as the same.  Which leaves Joses as the only brother who does not get a term as “bishop of Jerusalem”.

 Of course a similar situation pertained in Islam, where Ahl al-Bayt, the family descended from Mohammed, provided the members of the Caliphate.

 Hegesippus, quoted by Eusebius, gives us the following anecdote:

 There still survived of the kindred of the Lord the grandsons of Judas, who according to the flesh was called his brother. These were informed against, as belonging to the family of David, and Evocatus brought them before Domitian Caesar: for that emperor dreaded the advent of Christ, as Herod had done.

 So he asked them whether they were of the family of David; and they confessed they were. Next he asked them what property they had, or how much money they possessed. They both replied that they had only 9000 denarii between them, each of them owning half that sum; but even this they said they did not possess in cash, but as the estimated value of some land, consisting of thirty-nine plethra only, out of which they had to pay the dues, and that they supported themselves by their own labour. And then they began to hold out their hands, exhibiting, as proof of their manual labour, the roughness of their skin, and the corns raised on their hands by constant work.

 Being then asked concerning Christ and His kingdom, what was its nature, and when and where it was to appear, they returned answer that it was not of this world, nor of the earth, but belonging to the sphere of heaven and angels, and would make its appearance at the end of time, when He shall come in glory, and judge living and dead, and render to every one according to the course of his life.7

 Thereupon Domitian passed no condemnation upon them, but treated them with contempt, as too mean for notice, and let them go free. At the same time he issued a command, and put a stop to the persecution against the Church.

 When they were released they became leaders of the churches, as was natural in the case of those who were at once martyrs and of the kindred of the Lord. And, after the establishment of peace to the Church, their lives were prolonged to the reign of Trojan.

 Note that they are asked if they are of “the family of David”, not of Jesus.    The geneologies in Matthew and Luke perport to trace the lineage of Jesus’ legal father, Joseph, back to David. 

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