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.

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

30 June 2007

Qlippoths and adoptions

Filed under: hypostasis,possession — markandmore @ 18:28

I am going to wander around a few interesting concepts that centre on:

Mark 1:9  And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. 
1:10  And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: 
1:11  And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
1:12  And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness. 
1:13  And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him. 
1:14  Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,

Now, Qlippoth are shell entities, demons if you like, that have insinuated them selves into this universe from Yahweh’s previous attempts at universe building. Maybe the concept also applies to entities that come through from universes build by other gods, but ‘qlippoth’ is jargon from the qabala, and its authors do not admit of other gods. I am mainly interested here in the concept that Yahweh and his hypostases travel between universes or realities.  Alternate realities of this sort are of course commonplace in science fiction.  And the metaphor of the heavens opening is easily taken as a portal.   

A phenomenon much observed of the world of Mark’s Gospel is the large number of demons that the protagonist will encounter within a short walking distance, and while the protagonist is not recognized as a messiah by the Earthlings, he is instantly recognized as Yahweh’s hypostasis by the demons or qlippoth.  These two ‘facts’ would jive if the qlippoth had come through the portal with him.


Next I am going to consider the proposal of adoptionism.  As usual, the concept comes in flavours.

To the entry through the portal, contrast:

Mark 15:33  And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.
15:34  And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

The reading here is that Jesus was adopted (possessed) by the Yahweh hypostasis when it came through the portal, and later having put the Jesus body on a cross, it left it to suffer and die.   This is in opposition to:

  1. John’s Gospel where the Christos pre-existed as the divine Logos
  2. Paul’s Gospel where Jesus was adopted at the Resurrection
  3. Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospel where Jesus is the Messiah because of Holy Blood, because of his line of descent.

The adoptionist position is one of the earliest positions in Christianity, certainly earlier than the orthodox position that grew into Catholicism.  It was declared a heresy in the second century.  The first prominent exponent of the position was Theodotus of Byzantium.  He taught:

  1. Jesus was a man born of a virgin   (not in Mark)
  2. that he lived as a man and was most pious (the second part not in Mark)
  3. at the Jordan the Christ came down on him in the form of a dove
  4. until this happened he wrought no wonders (agrees with Mark)
  5. the Spirit (which Theodotus calls Christus) was manifested in Jesus

There is no indication in Mark that Jesus was anybody special, pious or otherwise, before the baptism.   The Spirit=Christos=the Yahweh hypostasis takes any body, and then works through it.  Also, the distinction made elsewhere in Christian writings between the Holy Spirit and the Christos is not being observed here.

(The dove is/was a symbol of Aphrodite and other goddesses;   Vespasian’s son who commanded the troops who destroyed Jerusalem in +70 and who succeeded him as emperor was called ‘Titus’ which means ‘wild dove’ and was also used as a slang term for ‘penis’  [cf ‘cock’ in English];  the Italian who opened up the new world for the Spanish in 1492 was also named for the dove.    I will return to dove symbolism in a later post.)

Latin for adopted son is Filius adoptivus, which also of course is used to describe Octavian (later Augustus) in relation to Julius Caesar.   I will return to the seepage of jargon and concepts between Christianity and Emperor Worship in another later post.

The concept of possessing another’s body has also been explored in science fiction.  A popular example was the television series Quantum Leap, where the personality of a scientist jumps into the bodies (one at a time) of individuals in the past, and has to live in their life situation.   An ethics of body jumping, or possession quickly comes into view.   Without the consent of the possessed person, can the possession be ethical in any sense at all?   Some science fiction stories have presented host who consent because they gain knowledge, health and/or longevity as part of the deal.  These considerations have been considered in the Trills, humanoid host and long-lived possessing entity found in Deep Space Nine, and the Goa’uld and the Jaffa in Stargate SG-1.  If we go beyond the problem of consent, the major dictate of jumping or possession would seem to be not to embarrass the body who has to go on living after the possessor retreats, and certainly not to leave the body in a dangerous or life-threatening situation.   Any entity that uses a body and leaves it, for example, being crucified and about to die, is at best ethically challenged.


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