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.

28 August 2007

Tower Maidens

Filed under: folktale type,hypostasis,parallels,Paul,tarot — markandmore @ 22:58

That there is some kind of relationship, perhaps a shared identity, between Paul the evangelist and Simon the magus, has been proposed by several writers. However that is a topic for another day. Correspondingly one would therefore expect some kind of relationship between Thecla and Helena, the two women who followed them.

Simon found Helena in a brothel in Tyre and purchased her freedom. He recognized her as the current hypothesis of the Holy Spirit, and she followed him on his travels.

Thecla was a young aristocrat who abandoned her family and fiancee to follow Paul. This is told in The Acts of Paul. Thecla is not mentioned at all in the Pauline epistles nor in The Acts of the Apostles. In the Eastern Churches, she was considered to be an apostle, equal to the major apostles.

The common item that we are interested in is that both women observed from towers:

Clementine Recognitions 2,12: ?Once, when this Luna of his was in a certain tower, a great multitude had assembled to see her, and were standing around the tower on all sides; but she was seen by all the people to lean forward, and to look out through all the windows of that tower. Many other wonderful things he did and does, so that men, being astonished at them, think that he himself is the great God?

Acts of Paul and Thecla, 2,1: … Thecla sat at a certain window in her house. 2:2 From whence, by the advantage of a window in the house where Paul was, she both night and day heard Paul’s sermons concerning God, concerning charity, concerning faith in Christ, and concerning prayer; 2:3 Nor would she depart from the window, till with exceeding joy she was subdued to the doctrines of faith.

There are of course other Tower Maidens. It is in fact Aarne=Thompson folktale type #310.

  1. Some writers try to derive Mary Magdalene from a town in Galilee, but neither archeology nor ancient texts document such a town of Magdala. More likely, magdalene is from the Aramaic, ‘migdal’ which means tower or fortress (here). Like Thecla, Mary Magdalene was an apostle, in fact she was the apostle to the apostles. It is often assumed, without any Biblical foundation, that she was a prostitute — like Helena.
  2. Asenath, the heroine in the +6th century Jewish romance, Joseph and Asenath , who was locked by her father the Egyptian High Priest in a tower away from men. The biblical Joseph, aware that she has converted to the Adonai cult, finally marries her.
  3. Valeda, a seeress of the Bructeri tribe, who prophesied victories against the Romans during the Batavian Revolt of 69-70 (whilst the Romans were a) fighting the Jews b) having a war of succession). She dwelt in a high tower and sent her prophecies by messengers. (Tacitus Histories 4, 61)
  4. Rapunzel is trapped in a high tower by a witch who took her at birth in exchange for vegetables taken by her parents. The tower has no entrance, and Rapunzel must let down her hair for the witch, and later the prince, to climb up. Other folktale versions tell similarly of Petrosella and Persinette.barbara.jpg
  5. Barbara, a fourth century maiden from Nicomedia, Bithynia, was locked in a tower by her father to keep her from suitors. He was infuriated to find that she had converted to Christianity, but her prayers enabled her to escape. Finally he was ordered to kill his daughter, after which he was himself killed by lightening. She became a popular Christian saint who is identified with lightning and cannons, and in the Santeria religion she appears as the male god Shango.
  6. Ethniu. Daughter of Balor of the Fomorians, who was prophesied to be killed by his grandson. He locked her in a crystal tower, but Cian helped by the druidess Birog managed to enter and seduced her. She gave birth to triplets, but Balor threw them into the ocean. Birog saved one child and he became the god Lugh, who like Jesus was a tekton, a craftsman.
  7. Cleito. Plato’s Critias tells how the god Poseidon loved a mortal called Cleitas. He built a tower on an island and surrounded it by three moats. Their first son was Atlas, and the island became known as Atlantis.maidenstower.jpg
  8. Istanbul actually has an ancient structure called the Maiden’s Tower. The major story associated with it is that of Hero and Leander. Hero was a priestess of Aphrodite who was visited by Leander who swam across the strait every night, until the night of a storm when her candles were blown out and he drowned.
  9. Later the story became that sultan’s daughter had been locked away so that the prophecy that she was to die of a snake bite on her 18th birthday, but the effort was in vain.
  10. There is also a Maiden’s Tower in Baku, seemingly of Parsee origin. The only story is that a maiden jumped to her death in the waves below (as did Hero).
  11. There are Magdelene Towers in Budapest, and in Rennes-le-Chateau, and at Magdelene College, Cambridge, and in Drogheda, County Louth (where the Ulster chiefs submitted to Richard II of England.

So what does this series mean?tarottower.jpg

Quispel sees the maiden in the tower as a hypostatis of the cosmological potency standing on the towering house of the world.

Detering sees her as the human soul shut up in the body (the tower), who is set free by the (a) saviour.

There is also the Tower card in the Tarot. This card can symbolize ruin and catastrophe. But it can also imply illumination and epiphany, when false conceptions are left behind.


Edwin Johnson. Antiqua Mater: A Study of Christian Origins. London: Tr�bner & Co., Ludgate Hill 1887 p 106 (pdf). Online at

Gilles Quispel. Gnosis als Weltreligion. Zurich: Origo 1951 p65

Herman Detering. Der Gefälschte Paulus. Patmos 2000. Translated as “The Falsified Paul: Early Christianity in the Twilight”. The Journal of Higher Criticism, 10, 2 Fall 2003. p 169-171(pdf). Online at

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