A proper basis for studying the first century

The Gabriel Revelation is an apocalyptic text, inscribed in
Hebrew on a stone. It was first published by B. Elitzur and A.
Yardeni in April 2007. Dated to the earliest days of the Common Era, it was probably uncovered in Jordan.

The Gabriel Revelation is divided into two parts, each focusing on a different subject.

The first part describes an eschatological war: the nations of the world besiege Jerusalem, and the residents are expelled from the city in groups. This description is followed by a passage in which God sends “my servant David” to ask “Ephraim” – the Messiah Son of Joseph – to deliver a “sign.” From the context, it appears that this sign heralds the coming redemption.

The second part of the Gabriel Revelation focuses on death and resurrection – and the blood of the slain. The last paragraph cites the words of the Archangel Gabriel who commands a person to return to life after three days: “By three days, live.”

In my lecture I will deal with the possible connection between the figure of Ephraim, the Messiah Son of Joseph, and the image of Jesus in the New Testament. I will also explore the possible link between the resurrection “by three days” commanded by Gabriel in the Gabriel Revelation and the resurrection of Jesus “on the third day.”

(The Dead Sea Scrolls and Contemporary Culture, Jerusalem 6- 8 July 2008 contribution by Prof. Israel Knohl, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Antonia Minor in procession, Rome
Having made what is virtually a directory of Chrestians in the first century and observed how they came quickly to behave like the organised crime syndicate known today as the mafia, this series of posts is now available in a single (pdf) file: Chrestians in the First Century

The Roman lady first identified in the archaeological record as a Chrestian is Antonia Minor and I have a page on her here. (It isn't very good and I will probably rewrite it at some, convenient point.)
Antonia Minor (PIR2 A 885), also known as Julia Antonia Minor, Antonia the Younger or simply Antonia (31 January 36 BC - September/October AD 37) was the younger of two daughters of Mark Antony and Octavia Minor. She was a niece of the Emperor Augustus, sister-in-law of the Emperor Tiberius, paternal grandmother of the Emperor Caligula and Empress Agrippina the Younger, mother of the Emperor Claudius, and both maternal great-grandmother and paternal great-aunt of the Emperor Nero. She was additionally the maternal great-aunt of the Empress Valeria Messalina and Faustus Cornelius Sulla Felix, the paternal grandmother of Claudia Antonia, Claudia Octavia, and Britannicus, the grandmother of Caligula and the maternal grandmother of Julia Livia and Tiberius Gemellus.
Today, I will try to put them into their context vis-à-vis Judea and messianic Judaism.

Alexander I of Macedon - the Great - had conquered the whole region in the mid-4th century BCE and thereafter, it was settled by Greeks (including, or course, Macedonians). He claimed divinity for himself and arranged that oracles both local and Egyptian supported both his divine and territorial claims.

Augustus as Pontifex Maximus, Pope
As Greeks conquered and colonised from India, across Asia, to Egypt, they syncretised local religions with their own. In Egypt, this resulted in Greek Magic being used to re-interpret the Book of the Dead and through the famous Cleopatra - who became Isis - this theology entered the Roman Empire; this is how Hadrian resurrected Antinous.

There is a point to the work of Antonia Minor; whereas her mother, Octavia Minor, merely raised good Romans for her brother, Octavian/Augustus, Antonia went further, holding child hostages and making them Chrestian. Most were from the Roman provinces and there, Roman Clients began to fear the growth of Judean power under Herod Agrippa I, as he allied with regional kingdoms and the xenophobic, nationalist, religious community at Qumran.

The War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness, known also as the War Scroll, found in Qumran Cave 1
It is possible that The War of the Messiah is the conclusion to this document. (The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation by  Michael O. Wise, Martin G., Jr. Abegg, Edward M. Cook, 2005):
The War of the Messiah is a series of Dead Sea scroll fragments describing the conclusion of a battle led by the Leader of the Congregation. The fragments that make up this document include 4Q285, also known as The Pierced Messiah Text, and 11Q14 with which it was found to coincide. It is possible that it also represents the conclusion of the War Scroll, as the two read coherently and discuss related thematic issues.

The Pierced Messiah Text (4Q285)

This six-line fragment, commonly referred to as the "Pierced Messiah" text, is written in a Herodian script of the first half of the 1st Century and refers to the "stump of Jesse"—the Messiah—from the Branch of David, to a judgement, killing, and cleansing of the land of the dead by the Messiah's soldiers.


11Q14 describes a Leader of the Congregation, that is, a messianic figure known from other Dead Sea Scrolls. References to Kittim refer to an opposing force, and scholars agree that it most likely refers to the Romans. The stump of Jesse and Branch of David in Frag. 1 Col. 1 refer to the coming of a Messiah from the line of King David.
Both Josephus and Saul had penetrated Qumran and two (at least) of its more-famous leaders - John the Baptiser and James the Righteous Teacher - were killed.

The Chrestian elite across the Levant and even in Egypt were deeply concerned at what they saw as an incipient rebellion in Judea, supported by allies across the region. Through Saul, they knew of the War Scroll and missions to gather support - Saul had even acted in the guise of such a missionary - and as the Second Jewish-Roman War (Kitos) would demonstrate, a regional, Jewish rebellion would kill Greco-Romans in very large numbers:
Their revolt started in Cyrene, where one Lukuas -sometimes called Andreas - ordered the Jews to destroy the pagan temples of Apollo, Artemis, Hecate, Demeter, Isis and Pluto, and to assail the worshippers. The latter fled to Alexandria, where they captured and killed many Jews. (With a population of some 150,000 Jews, Alexandria was Judaism's largest city.) In 116, the Jews organized themselves and had their revenge. The temples of gods like Nemesis, Hecate and Apollo were destroyed; the same fate befell the tomb of Pompey, the Roman general who had captured Jerusalem almost two centuries before.
And this really brings us to a conclusion.
A ritual cleansing pool (mikvah) at Qumran, for priests to fully immerse themselves.
Some have asked me: but how do you know that Jesus Christ did not exist? The original New Testament, Codex Sinaiticus - lumps first-century enemies together, Chrestians and messianic Jews, as part of the same cult, headed by an "Is XP"/"Is Chrest". The (historical) enemies of Chrestianity are portrayed as being his Chrestian apostles; both Acts of the Apostles and textual tradition describe members of the Greco-Roman elite and imperial, army officers as Chrestian; Chrestianity and Christianity take the title The Poor for themselves, whereas it belonged to their enemy, the Qumran community of observant, messianic Jews. "Parody" is hardly strong enough, black propaganda is more appropriate.
Bar Kokhba silver Shekel.Obverse: the Jewish Temple facade with the rising star, surrounded by "Shimon"
The New Testament first needs messianic Judaism to be killed off, which Hadrian achieved in the Third Jewish-Roman War, in which the Judean leader was declared a messiah, thus fulfilling the Star of David prophecy (itself parodied with the Star of Bethlehem fable (in the Gospel of Matthew) and the less known second-century Testament of Judah):
17 “I see him, but not now;
    I behold him, but not near.
A star will come out of Jacob;
    a scepter will rise out of Israel.
He will crush the foreheads of Moab,
    the skulls of all the people of Sheth.
(Numbers 24:17 New International Version (NIV))
My evidence-based history therefore provides good reason for rejecting the original New Testament as either historical, or Christian. I hope it will also provide the basis for proper study of imperial Roman history and that of messianic Judaism.

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