Let me state right now that I am not 'religious'. I may be spiritual but i certainly don't believe that the Bible or any other religious text is the 'gospel' truth. I accept the texts for what they are, tribal traditions from ancient times, written down by our ancestors as they made their way through life trying to make sense of the world around them and to understand it. I happen to think that there is some value in learning from their striving in this respect. Very often these texts are revised to suit the 21st century anyway.
Being brought up in England means that my religious teaching and any interest i had revolved around Christianity. I realised that i could not believe that the protagonist of that religion was resurrected after three days of being clinically dead. Feeding me this fodder when i was a child was insulting and, like Dickens wrote, teaching this religious mumbo-jumbo to children was equal to Herod's 'massacre of the innocents'. That said, i still feel today that getting at the truth about events that happened 2000 years ago in Jerusalem, reading the texts and ascertaining what really happened is important for our modern times, mainly because atrocities are being committed in the name of this religion, and i may add, other religions also.
To that end i have always wondered what the big cover up was regarding the paternity of the historical Jesus in the Bible. What a farce it all was. Obviously thats what it was, a huge cover up and Jesus was definitely not 'born of a Virgin'! If, like me, you don't believe in the Resurrection you certainly aren't going to believe the 'virgin birth'. This cover-up made me wonder if there really was something suspicious about who his real father was. As you dig further, and learn for yourself there is another question to be asked. "Why did Jesus use the 'Son of God' title, during the time of the Romans, when the Roman Emperor used this exact same title alone?" Jesus was reported to have used other titles which were reserved for Augustus only, so it was tantamount to treason for Jesus to lay claim to them! I had also wondered about the Hasmonean Jews .... Romanised & Greek - powerful and in place due to the Roman Emperors at the time of Jesus. Why did Herod the Great go all out to kill this Jesus when he was born? Why was Herod a King of the Jews as well as Jesus?
I wasn't quite sure why these ideas continually bugged me ...
I was thinking like the famous Einstein quote of " the important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing". I was curious about Jesus. I did keep questioning. Who were these people two thousand years ago that still have such an impact on our society today? I took further metaphorical advice from Einstein and his quotes. He said "Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world". Keep questioning, use imagination, think outside of the box. Await that inspired leap in thought - the one's scientists make when they are trying to solve a problem and the 'answer just comes to them'. Like Newtons proverbial apple defining moment which gave him the inspired leap about gravity! We've all heard the story. A young Isaac Newton is sitting beneath an apple tree contemplating the mysterious universe. ."boink! - then an apple hits him on the head. Why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground, thought he to himself..." "Aha!" he shouts, or perhaps, "Eureka!" In a flash he understands that the very same force that brought the apple crashing towards the ground also keeps the moon falling towards the Earth and the Earth fallings toward the sun: gravity.
I have not yet had a eureka moment regarding Jesus. An insight regarding his family, parents, his purpose in life. But it seems others may already have done! I discovered that the poet Robert Graves had written a book called King Jesus. Graves' book was one of many in that genre supposedly looking fictionally at the life of Jesus. The shocking idea in King Jesus was that '... Jesus [was] not ... the Son of God, but rather ... a philosopher with a legitimate claim to the Judaean throne through Herod the Great. It [the story] begins with the reign of Herod before Jesus is born and explains the dynastical, quasi-secular roots of Jesus both from his mother's and his father's side, establishing a temporal and historical right to the throne of Israel. The second part starts with the Nativity and Jesus's youth. Finally, the third part chronicles Jesus's work in adulthood as a prophet, his death on the cross, and his resurrection.
In a "Historical Commentary" published at the end of the book Robert Graves remarks, concerning the book's historical basis, "A detailed commentary written to justify the unorthodox views contained in this book would be two or three times as long as the book itself, and would take years to complete; I beg to be excused the task ...[but]...I undertake to my readers that every important element in my story is based on some tradition, however tenuous, and that I have taken more than ordinary pains to verify my historical background".
I wondered if his narrative story had been, for Graves, the best way to get a shocking idea across to a lazy public? Somehow that if you presented said ideas in a novel - the thought would be planted out there - in peoples' consciousness - without offending a whole religion and its acolytes. Did this make the ideas any less possible, because it wasn't written by a Professor in an academic Journal [i will add here though that i have great respect for learned Professors]. But what of Grave's Historical Commentary? Wasn't he really saying in that commentary that he considered most of what he had written to be true? How could you test his ideas in the way that Newton could test his inspired leap about gravity? No written archives, no Roman documents, no book written by Jesus, nothing.
Anything circumstantial? We know many characters from the court of Herod were part of Jesus' campaign. The family of Herod allowed the forerunner of Jesus - his cousin, John the Baptist to be executed. Followers of John then joined the Jesus Party. Doesn't it read like a conflict between two families?
Although Graves took ordinary pains to verify some history - it was left for someone else to pick up that mantle. That person was Joseph Raymond and what is more he had published his work. This book is called "Herodian Messiah: Case For Jesus As Grandson of Herod". The blurb is as follows:
"This work details the author's painstakingly collected evidence supporting a shocking theory, that Jesus was the grandson of both Herod the Great and the last Hasmonean king (Antigonus). The analysis begins with one loose thread in the official biography of Jesus Christ, the claim by the Sanhedrin that it lacked authority to execute him. Why didn't the Sanhedrin execute Jesus after convicting him of blasphemy? The same legal body executed Stephen and James the brother of Jesus for the same crime. During Roman times, the Sanhedrin lacked authority to execute only one class of Jew--Roman citizens. All descendants of Herod were Roman citizens. Two elements of proof for the theory are the ancestor list found in Luke, Ch. 3 (it appears to contain the names of Hasmonean kings) and Jesus' denial that he is a son of David. See Matthew 22:41-45, Mark 12:35-37 and Luke 20:41-44".
The length and depth of analysis Raymond went to is admirable.
Jesus somehow related to the Romans? I had only heard of the Jewish assertion about the mother of Jesus having an adulterous affair with a Roman soldier. This claim is based on the work of the ancient Greek philosopher Celsus, who, according to the Christian writer Origen in his Contra Celsum ("Against Celsus"), was the author of a work titled 'The True Word'. Celsus' work is lost, but in Origen's account of it Jesus was depicted as the result of an affair between his mother Mary and a Roman soldier. He said she was "convicted of adultery and had a child by a certain soldier named Pantera". Tiberius Pantera could have been serving in the region at the time of Jesus's conception. Both the ancient Talmud and medieval Jewish writings and sayings reinforced this notion, referring to Jesus as "Yeshu ben Pantera" (Jesus, son of Pantera).
Others have discussed various scenarios that involve the Romans in the Christian story.
At a website [see HERE] is the following:
"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".
So back to 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.
Here is the genealogical chart for Herod-Antipator-Jesus & Saul.
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!! [https://markandmore.wordpress.com/2007/06/12/desposynoi-part-2/]"
Others have said that Jesus, in Roman eyes at the time, when he said i am the 'Son of God', only one person would have been recognised as such [the son of god] and that was the son of Antipater. They say that his mother Mary, according to early church tradition, was raised by the Temple high priest's in Jerusalem. Just as the wife of Antipater was!
Another interesting fact for me is that this family of Herod the Great had a lot of dealings with Pompey, Ceasar and Mark Anthony. [i found this interesting in respect of an article i have just written for the Rhedesium magazine [due December].
So i will read with interest Herodian Messiah - written by Joseph Raymond, who himself was raised in a devout Roman Catholic family in St. Louis, USA and educated in Catholic schools. He received degrees from two Jesuit universities graduating law school in 1986. Thereafter, he served as a Department of Justice lawyer in Washington, DC but later left the practice of law to found an internet company. In 1988, he began a spiritual journey of study and reflection largely focused upon the origins of Christianity.
He sound like an interesting guy himself!
Welcome to the blog of Rhedesium
My name is Sandy Hamblett, inspired and passionate researcher of the mysteries at Rennes-les-Bains.