"from the East"

Kushan seal depicting the Zoroastrian god Adsho/Athsho, (ΑΘϷΟ legend in Greek letters) fire god ( (Persian: Atash)), with triratana symbol left, and Kanishka's dynastic mark right.; mounted and using an early platform-style stirrup; circa 150 CE; British Museum. 
In the mid-third century, Goths - then termed Scythian - poured out of Scythia and into the Eastern Roman Empire, where they became an important part of the Roman army, starting with the Roman invasion of the Sassanid empire Iran) in 244. We described this in Part III: Gothic Roman Armies.

The Christian textual tradition claimed how the Goths became Arian Christians, the same as the imperial court in Constantinople. I don't believe this and instead, describe Arianism as a later, mythic cover for Chrestianity - Part II: Arian as Chrestianity. Also, I think this conversion took place as the Goths became Roman, not over a century later.

In Part 1: Proto-Christian Gothic Bible. we saw that in the sixth-century, Gothic bible, the divine man of the canonical gospels is not "Jesus Christ", but the same as in the early codices Vaticanus, and Sinaiticus, and in all the various fragments - "IS XP" - "Is Chrest". Later, we will examine the Christian textual tradition for Justinian I the Great, to see what - if anything - belongs to his cultural layer and if so, what it actually tells us.

Now, we will briefly look at the forces - military and theological - of Central Asia and how they invaded, and impacted, the Roman Empire.
Huvishka (155-189 CE) gold coin with Mithra Solar deity
Post Achaemenian East-West Division of Iran-Shahr 
"The traditional lands of the Iranian-Aryans, Iran-Shahr, came to be divided into an East and West group of nations after the demise of Greek-Macedonian rule established by Alexander of Macedonia. The western group of kingdoms came under the leadership of first the Parthians and then the Sassanians. The leadership of the eastern group was based primarily in Balkh (Bactria), the legendary seat of the Iranian-Aryan king-of-kings. This eastern group was from time-to-time brought under the banners of the Parthians and the Sassanians. At other times, they formed an independent block known in the literature as the Hephthalites, Chionites and the Kushans."
"Beside acknowledging Zoroastrianism, acknowledging other faiths - in this case Greek, Buddhist, and Hindu - was a common practice amongst Zoroastrian kings as exemplified by Cyrus. While earlier coinage had fourteen or fifteen different images on the reverse, later coinage had only two: those with the legend Athsho (Ashi, Asha or Athra) and Miiro (Mithra)."

Part IV

According to the Christian textual tradition, Arianism is named for its founder, a bishop Arius, but when one finds no evidence for him in the proposed cultural layer, it is right to look for where else that name may have originated. In what had been Greek in Central Asia, later taken by the Kushans, there is Aria:

Reconstruction of Ptolemy's map (2nd century CE) of Aria and neighbouring states by the 15th century German cartographer Nicolaus Germanus.
Aria is the name of an Achaemenid region centered on the Herat city of present-day western Afghanistan. Aria later became a province within the kust of Khorasan in the Sassanid Empire.

Could there be a link between Aria and Arianism? Chrestianity is largely Greek and, of course, Greco-India - including Bactria and Aria - was Greek (of course). The Silk Road ran across these Greek colonies in Greco-India and Central Asia, to cities in the Roman Empire such as Edessa and Tartous.This route carried not just silk and gold, but many other products, including ideas, some of which were theological.

As a small example, The Three Hares:

The earliest occurrences appear to be in cave temples in China, dated to the Sui dynasty (6th to 7th centuries). The iconography spread along the Silk Road, and was a symbol associated with Buddhism.
Although the prevailing culture wherever the Greeks colonised after Alexander seems to have been Greek, even in the early-modern era (Central Asian nomads adopted Greek when they conquered this region), it had long been Iranian and became so again in the Parthian and Sassanid empires. When we look at the murals of Dura Europos, imperial Roman at times in the second and third centuries as it guarded their eastern border, we see that the people appearing in even the synagogue are dressed as Iranians:

Triumph of Mordechai - Dura Europos synagogue 245 CE. Mordechai, clad in regal Persian garb is seen astride a white horse, his eyes later scratched out because of his Persian attire.

Left: The Good Shepherd/kriophoros (Greek: κριοφόρος); right: Adam and Eve; mural in the baptistery of Dura Europos. Kriophoros is a figure that commemorates the solemn sacrifice of a ram and becomes an epithet of Hermes: Hermes Kriophoros.

One of the world's great religions, that of Mani - Manichaeism - moved from the East, through Syria (and thus Dura Europos) into the Eastern Roman Empire.
"Mani was born in or near Seleucia-Ctesiphon in Parthian Babylonia,[Taraporewala, I.J.S., Manichaeism, Iran Chamber Society,] at the time still part of the Parthian Empire." 
"At ages 12 and 24, Mani had visionary experiences of a "heavenly twin" of his, calling him to leave his father's sect and preach the true message of Christ. In 240–41, Mani travelled to "India" (i.e. to the Sakhas in modern-day Afghanistan), where he studied Hinduism and was probably influenced by Greco-Buddhism. Al-Biruni says Mani traveled to India after being banished from Persia.[Al-Biruni (translator:Edward Sachau) (1910). Al Beruni's India. London] Returning in 242, he joined the court of Shapur I, to whom he dedicated his only work written in Persian, known as the Shabuhragan. Shapur was not converted to Manichaeanism and remained Zoroastrian.[Marco Frenschkowski (1993). "Mani (iran. Mānī<; gr. Mανιχαῑος < ostaram. Mānī ḥayyā »der lebendige Mani«)". In Bautz, Traugott. Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL) (in German) 5. Herzberg: Bautz. cols. 669–80.]"
This heavenly twin recalls the Greek tradition:
"In Greek and Roman mythology, Castor and Pollux or Polydeuces were twin brothers, together known as the Dioskouri. Their mother was Leda, but Castor was the mortal son of Tyndareus, the king of Sparta, and Pollux the divine son of Zeus, who seduced Leda in the guise of a swan. Though accounts of their birth are varied, they are sometimes said to have been born from an egg, along with their twin sisters and half-sisters Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra.
Dioscuri, Capitol, Rome

"In Latin the twins are also known as the Gemini or Castores. When Castor was killed, Pollux asked Zeus to let him share his own immortality with his twin to keep them together, and they were transformed into the constellation Gemini. The pair were regarded as the patrons of sailors, to whom they appeared as St. Elmo's fire, and were also associated with horsemanship."
"In some instances, the twins appear to have simply been absorbed into a Christian framework; thus fourth-century AD pottery and carvings from North Africa depict the Dioskouroi alongside the Twelve Apostles, the Raising of Lazarus or with Saint Peter."
This brings us to what I recognise as a new genre of literature, involving the twin theme, miracle works in the tradition of the wandering philosopher, and the conversion of Eastern (often Greco-Indian) kings.
"Let none read the gospel according to Thomas, for it is the work, not of one of the twelve apostles, but of one of Mani's three wicked disciples."
— Cyril of Jerusalem, Cathechesis V (4th century)
"It was to a land of dark people he was sent, to clothe them by Baptism in white robes. His grateful dawn dispelled India's painful darkness. It was his mission to espouse India to the One-Begotten. The merchant is blessed for having so great a treasure. Edessa thus became the blessed city by possessing the greatest pearl India could yield. Thomas works miracles in India, and at Edessa Thomas is destined to baptize peoples perverse and steeped in darkness, and that in the land of India."
— Hymns of St. Ephrem, edited by Lamy (Ephr. Hymni et Sermones, IV).
Edessa is the home of Bardaisan, whom I identify as Source Q, from which the gospels derive, starting with Dura fragment 24..
"According to tradition, in 232 AD, the greater portion of relics of the Apostle Thomas are said to have been sent by an Indian king and brought from Mylapore to the city of Edessa, Mesopotamia, on which occasion his Syriac Acts were written.
"The Indian king is named as "Mazdai" in Syriac sources, "Misdeos" and "Misdeus" in Greek and Latin sources respectively, which has been connected to the "Bazdeo" on the Kushan coinage of Vasudeva I, the transition between "M" and "B" being a current one in Classical sources for Indian names.[Mario Bussagli, "L'Art du Gandhara", p255] "
Coin of the Kushan king Vasudeva I
The earliest version of this make no mention of "Jesus Christ", but the "Is Chrest".
Acts of Thomas
"The early 3rd-century text called Acts of Thomas...is a series of episodic Acts (Latin passio) that occurred during the evangelistic mission of Judas Thomas ("Judas the Twin") to India. It ends with his martyrdom: he dies pierced with spears, having earned the ire of the monarch Misdaeus (Vasudeva I) because of his conversion of Misdaeus' wives and a relative, Charisius. He was imprisoned while converting Indian followers won through the performing of miracles."
"Scholars detect from the Greek that its original was written in Syriac, which places the Acts of Thomas in Syria."
At the same time, Julia Domna - wife of the emperor Severus - and hereditary high priest of the (then solar) temple to Baal in Emesa (Homs), commissioned the writing of The Indian Travels of Apollonius of Tyana.
Apollonius of Tyana ( c. 15 – c. 100 AD),[Dzielska, M (1986). "On the memoirs of Damis". Apollonius of Tyana in legend and history. Rome: L'Erma di Bretschneider. pp. 19–50.] was a Greek Neopythagorean philosopher from the town of Tyana in the Roman province of Cappadocia in Anatolia.
One of the essential sources Philostratus claimed to know are the “memoirs” (or “diary”) of Damis, an acolyte and companion of Apollonius.
By "philosopher" is meant magician, miracle worker. How many others do you know for the early-first century?
"Eastward travel of Apollonius is described in Book I. Apollonius receives from the Parthian king Vardanes (40–47) a safe-conduct to the Parthian ruler Phraotes in India" 
Vardanes I silver tetradrachm; diademed and cuirassed bust of king left / King enthroned right, receiving palm branch from Tyche holding cornucopiae.
Coins of a king "Prahat" or "Prahara", thought to be Phraotes, have been found in the area of Taxila, and it has been suggested that he might be identical with the Indo-Parthian king Gondophares.[Journal of the Numismatic Society of India, 1968, vol. 30, p. 188-190. A. K. Narain]:

Coin from Gandhara region of Northwest India. Obverse - King mounted on horseback with arm raised, right; 'Gondopharan' symbol with pellet in right field. Reverse - Zeus right.
Then, of course, we have Acts of the Apostles, where the divine man of Saul is magical, appearing only in his mind: that is "Is Chrest" and Saul too performs magic, such as exorcism, and conducts conversions.

We see that not only is there little that is new in either Chrestianity, or Christianity, even their sacred texts follow an established pattern. Perhaps this was necessary, to gain some credibility, for people to recognise accepted ideas.

The Three Magi, Byzantine mosaic c. 565, Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, Italy (restored 18th century). The Magi in Persian clothing which includes breeches, capes, and Phrygian caps.
See the Greek influence in even this Eastern tradition:
"Magi (Latin plural of magus) is a term, used since at least the 6th century BCE, to denote followers of Zoroastrianism or Zoroaster."
"Pervasive throughout the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Asia until late antiquity and beyond, mágos, "Magian" or "magician", was influenced by (and eventually displaced) Greek goēs (γόης), the older word for a practitioner of magic, to include astrology, alchemy and other forms of esoteric knowledge. This association was in turn the product of the Hellenistic fascination for (Pseudo‑)Zoroaster, who was perceived by the Greeks to be the "Chaldean", "founder" of the Magi and "inventor" of both astrology and magic, a meaning that still survives in the modern-day words "magic" and "magician"."
And Phrygia is the ancient home of Chrestianity, planted there probably by Saul in his travels.
Bowl with incantation for Buktuya and household, Mandean in Mandaic language and script, Southern Mesopotamia, c. 200-600 CE - Royal Ontario Museum.
"To date only around 2000 incantation bowls have been registered as archaeological finds, but since they are widely dug up in the Middle East, there may be tens of thousands in the hands of private collectors and traders. Aramaic incantation bowls from Sasanian Mesopotamia are an important source for studying the everyday beliefs of Jews, Christians, Mandaeans, Manichaeans, Zoroastrians and pagans on the eve of the early Muslim conquests."[A Corpus of Syriac Incantation Bowls - Syriac Magical Texts from Late-Antique Mesopotamia, Marco Moriggi, Università di Catania] 

Greek conquest and colonisation of the Near East, Middle East, Central Asia and India allowed religions and cults to get mixed up and over a long period, long after Greek rule ended. So the Parthian, Sassanid, Egyptian, Syrian, Greek and even Roman mythologies syncretised and fused. Even the Dead Sea Scrolls contain much that is Zoroastrian, such as the black and white duality, and magic.

The movement of Scythian-Goths from Scythia into the Roman Empire is just one route by which Eastern theologies entered the West. From the invasion of the Iranian Empire by Alexander, and all those wars between Rome and Iran (fought mainly in Syria and Mesopotamia), and the constant stream of both trade and ideas along the Silk Road, so the West absorbed these syncretic concepts, magic and magical, divine men.

The death of Mani - crucified; illustration from the Shahnama
The empire tried at times to stop this. Early on, Goth settlers were persecuted; Diocletian tied to prevent this flow westwards.
Manichean persecution 
"Affairs quieted after the initial persecution. Diocletian remained in Antioch for the following three years. He visited Egypt once, over the winter of 301–302, where he began the grain dole in Alexandria. In Egypt, some Manicheans, followers of the prophet Mani, were denounced in the presence of the proconsul of Africa. On March 31, 302, in a rescript from Alexandria, Diocletian, after consultation with the proconsul for Egypt, ordered that the leading Manicheans be burnt alive along with their scriptures. This was the first time an Imperial persecution ever called for the destruction of sacred literature.[H.M. Gwatkin, "Notes on Some Chronological Questions Connected with the Persecution of Diocletian," English Historical Review 13:51 (1898): 499.] Low-status Manicheans were to be executed; high-status Manicheans were to be sent to work in the quarries of Proconnesus (Marmara Island) or the mines of Phaeno. All Manichean property was to be seized and deposited in the imperial treasury."
This is the historical persecution parodied in the Christian claim to be persecuted.

Next, we will look at Mithra and Mithras, without even a nod to the Goths.

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