First-Century Chrestian nobility - servants of Antonia Minor
|This coin bears the posthumous representation of Antonia Minor, and was struck in memory of her by Claudius her son upon his ascension to the imperial throne.|
Lastly, one should consider the people involved and associated with Hermas. None are poor, wretched, uneducated, oppressed; rather, they are all part of the imperial elite - even Grapte was royalty by birth, then became owner of estates using slave labour. There was no Christ and there is no Christianity yet for centuries; what exists in the historical and archaeological records is the worship of Chrest and an imperially-sponsored Chrestian Church, a cult populated by the elite exclusively.This is not Christianity, not at all, not in the slightest; that religion later wrote its own history and rewrote Roman history to suit its purpose: that's how nearly all the records have disappeared, to be replaced with manuscripts produced by monks of the Holy Roman Empire.
We will now take a quick look at some of the Chrestian notables - other than the people detailed earlier - of the first century; a directory:
Part IIThe influence of one of the first, named Chrestians - Antonia Minor - is pervasive and felt far and wide. This section is for those who served her.
|Jucundus, donated by the freedman Felix|
1. Antonius Felix
A freedman of Antonia Minor.
24 Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in IS XP. 25 As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.” 26 At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently and talked with him.(Acts of the Apostles)
Marcus Antonius Felix (Felix in Greek: ο Φηλιξ, born between 5/10-?) was the Roman procurator of Iudaea Province 52-58Josephus describes Felix having the Roman army hunt down robbers in Jerusalem and in their desert hideout: these are the knife-wielding men of the "Essenes", the messianic Jews at Qumran and of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the enemy of the Chrestians.
Felix was the younger brother of the Greek freedman Marcus Antonius Pallas. Pallas served as a secretary of the treasury during the reign of the Emperor Claudius... According to Tacitus, Pallas and Felix descended from the Greek Kings of Arcadia. Felix became the procurator by the petition of his brother.
For its part, though, the Gospel of John accurately portrays Caiaphas as the son-in-law of Ananus (18:13), which makes the "Ananus" responsible for James' death (along with Agrippa II whom, Josephus tells us, had specifically appointed him while the Roman Governor was in transition - to accomplish this purpose?) this "Caiaphas"' brother-in-law. For this second "Ananus" personally too, doubtlessly, there was also the issue of the assassination of his brother - that "Jonathan" slain by the "Sicarii" offshoots of "Judas the Galilean"'s original "Zealot Movement".He attended the debriefing of Saul/Paul:
Josephus rails against the assassination of this Jonathan and the bloodshed that followed as "polluting" both city and Temple.
(Paul's 'Comrade-in-Arms' Epaphroditus and the First Gospels by Robert Eisenman)
That is, Paul made a conscious decision to risk his “capital” as a member of the James Church in quasi-good standing, in order to pursue larger aims. From this perspective, the Acts account thus chronicles the rapid and complete loss of this “capital”, and Paul’s transition back into an open enemy of the resistance, his original role, one that he nominally abandoned after his “conversion”. It is therefore likely that Paul’s extended conversations with Felix, Festus, and Agrippa II, whatever theological excursions they may have contained, were basically debriefing sessions that provided these authorities with invaluable intelligence on the workings of the resistance movement that was spiraling out of their control. (Robert Eisenman’s “New Testament Code” Review)2. Marcus Antonius Pallas
Marcus Antonius Pallas (died AD 62) was a prominent Greek freedman and secretary during the reigns of the Roman Emperors Claudius and Nero.His execution was probably as part of Nero's attempt to combat the Chrestian cult, discovered when Nero interrogated Saul/Paul.
Pallas was originally a slave of Antonia Minor, a daughter of Mark Antony and niece of Emperor Augustus. Pallas took her name when freed. Josephus mentions him as the slave sent by Antonia to deliver evidence to the emperor Tiberius concerning the murder of his son Julius Caesar Drusus by Sejanus. Antonia probably manumitted Pallas between the years of 31 and 37, when he would have passed the minimum age for freedom. He is listed as owning land in Egypt during that period, possibly as a reward for his servitude. When Antonia died in 37, he became the client of her son, Claudius, as tradition dictated at the death of a former master and patron.
In the second half of Claudius' reign, Pallas chose to support Agrippina the Younger as a new empress after the fall of Empress Messalina. Tacitus notes his intent to reunite the Julian and Claudian families through the marriage, and prevent either a future husband of Agrippina or Agrippina herself from claiming the throne. But the ancient authors also state that the real reason for his choice was that Pallas and Agrippina were lovers. Modern historians suggest that their relationship was strictly business, and they helped each other with mutual goals.
...killed on Nero's orders in 63
3. Lucius Caecilius Iucundus
Lucius Caecilius Iucundus was a banker who lived in the Roman town of Pompeii around 20–62 AD. His house still stands and can be seen in the ruins of the city Pompeii. It was partially destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. This house is known for its beauty, along with some material found about bank book-keeping and wax tablets, which were receipts.That freedman and banker Felix is the Chrestian mentioned above.
The Pompeian banker Iucundus was born around the end of Augustus’s reign (c. 14 AD) to a freedman named Felix, who was also a banker.
...a relationship with the illustrious family of the Caecilii Metelli.
There is some speculation, with which I agree, that the Great Fire in Rome was a property fraud, with the arson carried out by imperial chamberlains under the direction of Epaphroditus. Jucundus as a Chrestian was in a position to finance the property dealings arising out of the conflagration.
Perhaps the modern version of Chrestianity at this time would be the Cosa Nostra, the Italian mafia.
The theologian who created the basis of Chrestianity, with a Greek version of the Jewish messiah.
Philo of Alexandria (c. 25 BCE – c. 50 CE), also called Philo Judaeus, was a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher who lived in Alexandria, in the Roman province of Egypt.
Philo used philosophical allegory to attempt to fuse and harmonize Greek philosophy with Jewish philosophy. His method followed the practices of both Jewish exegesis and Stoic philosophy. His allegorical exegesis was important for several Christian Church Fathers, but he has barely any reception history within Rabbinic Judaism.
Some scholars hold that his concept of the Logos as God's creative principle influenced early Christology.
We find a brief reference to Philo by the 1st-century Jewish historian Josephus. In Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus tells of Philo's selection by the Alexandrian Jewish community as their principal representative before the Roman emperor Gaius Caligula. He says that Philo agreed to represent the Alexandrian Jews in regard to civil disorder that had developed between the Jews and the Greeks in Alexandria, Egypt. Josephus also tells us that Philo was skilled in philosophy, and that he was brother to an official called Alexander the alabarch.I think Philo was already working with Chrestains in Rome, his family and various Herodians, at the time he went on his mission to the emperor, in the same manner as Josephus was, on his mission from Jerusalem to the emperor. That is, both had 'sold out' their Jewish clients in advance.
5. Alexander the Alabarch
Estate manager for Antonia Minor; his family provided the gateway into the riches of Egypt to Chrestian Herodians and other Roman elites.
Alexander the Alabarch (c. 10 BC – unknown AD) was an Alexandrian Jewish aristocrat. His brother was the exegete and philosopher Philo of Alexandria.He seems to have control over the trade out of Egypt, when Rome imported grain to meet its promise of free bread:
Josephus reports that Alexander "surpassed all his fellow citizens both in ancestry and in wealth." (Antiquities 20.100). Philo was Alexander's older brother.
Josephus wrote that Alexander was "an old friend of [Claudius], who had acted as guardian for his mother Antonia." (Antiquities, 19.276)
In ancient Rome, the Romans used the term Cura Annonae ("care for the grain supply"), in honour of their goddess Annona and the grain dole was distributed from the Temple of Ceres. The Aedile took care of the grain supply (Cura Annonae) as part of his duties.To support the bid by general Vespasian to become emperor, he with-held grain exports. No doubt his wealth was also useful.
The majority of her grain came from North Africa and Egypt. Several assessments have been made toward the total amount of grain that Rome imported from these two regions. Peter Garnsey combines the accounts of the author of the fourth-century Epitome that 20 million modii of wheat came from Egypt...
|Funerary marble altar of Antonia Caenis|
Antonia Caenis, a former slave and secretary of Antonia Minor (mother of the emperor Claudius), was the mistress of the Roman emperor Vespasian.
According to Suetonius, after the death of Vespasian's wife Flavia Domitilla, Vespasian and Caenis, now a freedwoman, resumed their relationship; she was his wife "in all but name" until her death in AD 74. She had a remarkable memory and considerable influence on the emperor's administration, carried out official business on his behalf, and apparently made a lot of money from her position.
In 2015, independent researchers P.J. Gott and Logan Licht presented compelling evidence that identifies "Caenis" as Vespasian's chief advisor, not his mistress, and the same woman who assumed the name "Antonia Pallas" during the time Claudius was Emperor (41-54).
For she received vast sums from many sources, sometimes selling governorships, sometimes procuratorships, generalships and priesthoods, and in some instance even imperial decisions. (Cassius Dio, Roman History 65.14)7. Marcus Julius Alexander
Marcus Julius Alexander (16 - 44 CE), the son of Alexander the Alabarch and brother of Tiberius Julius Alexander, was a distinguished and wealthy Alexandrian Jewish merchant.Archaeological evidence has revealed his trade by sea with India.
Marcus’ father and Herodian King Agrippa I were long time friends. Agrippa I as an elegant way to give something back to Alexander the Alabarch, who supported Agrippa I in the past, arranged for his daughter princess Berenice to marry Marcus. In 41, Marcus married Berenice as her first husband. This marriage shows that there were good relations between Marcus’ family and the Herodian Dynasty.
8. Tiberius Julius Alexander
Tiberius Julius Alexander (fl. 1st century) was an equestrian governor and general in the Roman Empire. Born into a wealthy Jewish family of Alexandria but abandoning or neglecting the Jewish religion, he rose to become procurator of Judea (c. 46 – 48) under Claudius. While Prefect of Egypt (66 – 69), he employed his legions against the Alexandrian Jews in a brutal response to ethnic violence, and was instrumental in the Emperor Vespasian's rise to power. In 70, he participated in the Siege of Jerusalem as Titus' second-in-command.9. Epaphroditus
Alexander...served as a staff officer under the prominent general Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo during campaigns against Parthia. In 63 he was dispatched along with Corbulo's son-in-law to escort the Armenian king Tiridates to the Roman camp, on the first stage of his journey to receive the status of client king from Nero.
A damaged papyrus refers to Alexander as holding the position of "Praetorian Prefect", which is open to two interpretations. It could indicate his rank during Titus' campaign in 70, which would mean that he held his own independent imperium (commanding authority). According to another view, it means that he became Prefect of the Praetorian Guard at Rome, which in later years became a common position for former Prefects of Egypt. In either case, Alexander attained a position in the Roman Empire that was unparalleled for a man of Jewish birth, not to mention one who suffered from the further stigma of an Egyptian origin.
|Funerary inscription for Epaphroditos, Museo Epigrafico, Rome|
But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, because he almost died for the work of Chrest. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.
(Philippians 2:25-30New International Version (NIV))
Epaphroditos, Tiberios Klaudios Epaphroditos or Tiberius Claudius Epaphroditus or Epaphroditus (Greek: Ἐπαφρόδιτος; born c. 20–25 – died c. 95), was a freedman and secretary of the Roman Emperor Nero. He was later executed by Domitian for failing to prevent Nero's suicide.It is unclear that he merely failed in that regard; I think Domitian believed that he assassinated Nero. Josephus dedicated his Antiquity of the Jews to him and Josephus disappeared at about the same time.
In conclusion for this section, let us note the tremendous influence Chrestians were able to exert on imperial policy, trade, finance and politics - tactical and strategic.
Antonia Minor placed her servants in both the imperial court - one became, in effect, prime minister of the empire - and others in command of Judea. They controlled and exploited foreign trade and commercial banking. Having instigated the First Jewish Roman War, in which Vespasian and Titus crushed messianic Judaism and enslaved many thousands of surviving Jews, they also brought the Flavian dynasty to overt power over the empire. Then, they remodelled Judaism, having destroyed Second Temple Judaism (as well as the temple itself), into Rabbinic Judaism.
Next, we'll take a look at the Chrestians within the Herodian dynasty.