The making of a divine man in the second century CE

This sculpture portrays Antinous/Antinoos, the youth from Bithynia whom Emperor Hadrian loved passionately and then sacrificed in the Nile. His long hair was crowned by a bronze, laurel wreath. Erected within the sanctuary of Delphi;  the statue was discovered upright on its pedestal, next to the wall of a brick chamber, alongside the holy Temple; originally placed at the entrance of the sanctuary.
The above statue reminds me how Plutarch served the last thirty years of his life as priest at Delphi: "He thus connected part of his work with the sanctuary of Apollo, the processes of oracle giving and the personalities which lived or traveled there." Why is this important? Simply because I think Plutarch is one of the sources used for the gospels and Chrestianity - the cult faith which produced the New Testament - was closely associated with (the commercialisation of) oracles.
Delphic Temple of Apollo; Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in classical Greek and Roman religion and Greek and Roman mythology. The ideal of the kouros (a beardless, athletic youth), Apollo has been variously recognized as a god of music, truth and prophecy, healing, the sun and light, plague, poetry, and more. Apollo is a son of Zeus, who ruled as king of the gods of Mount Olympus and whose name is cognate with the first element of his Roman equivalent Jupiter.
Perhaps I should apologise for talking so much about Hadrian and his resurrection of Antinous, but I cannot, for the deeper I delve, the more relevant he appears to our enquiry. To know from where "Jesus Christ" appears eventually, we must look at the stone-dead Antinous full on.

From "Zeus" we get "Deus", Latin for "god", "deity" and Apollo is thus "Son of God".

Antinous was Hadrian's Apollo. From my last, Hadrian's catamite at Bethlehem: “We lament Adonis under the earth (chthonios), / Whom we formerly called Antinous.” (The Citharoedic Hymn of Curium, written in the doorway of the temple of Apollon on the island of Cyprus.)
Antinous as Osiris, wearing the nemes and the uraeus (marble); the nose, mouth, left part of the face and major part of the bust are modern restorations. From the villa of Hadrian in Tivoli.
The resurrection of Antinous is an important, intermediary step along the path from Isis Chrest, to the resurrection of the living Cleopatra VII as Isis, and the resurrection of IS XP/Is Chrest in the gospel tales. The origin is in the pharaonic Isis Myth.
Emperor Augustus as pharaoh making offerings at Dendur.

The Emperor Augustus built a temple at Dendur (50 miles south of Aswan) to commemorate two deified Nubian brothers - Pediese ("he whom Isis has given") and Pihor ("he who belongs to Horus") - chosen by the Nile god Hapy for deification by drowning. (Two brothers, to follow the twin motif, starting with Castor and Pollux.) Hadrian's deification of Antinous follows this religious concept.

Some historians have tried to weave a mythology around both Hadrian as emperor, and his sacrifice of Antinous; I will not bother to repeat them - just read any respectable history book and there they are - so let me add some facts.

> Though we are told how emperors were deified after death, this is not a rule. Hadrian was deified whilst emperor; temples were dedicated to the living Hadrian in 91 cities.

> On his second grand tour of his eastern empire during 128-132, Hadrian tied his own name to Zeus when he built a temple to Jupiter in his new city of Aelia Capitolina, atop the ruins of Jerusalem.

>Midway through 130, Hadrian entered Egypt via the River Nile; according to Thorsten Opper, based on good sources, on 22 October the traditional annual festival of the Nile was being held at Hermopolis; part of this festival commemorated the death and rebirth of Osiris in the Nile on 24 October; Antinous died on this day in October 130 CE.

> Though Roman sources suggest the sacrifice, modern historians need to equivocate; we need not do this, for the sacrifice of Antinous and his resurrection as Osiris-Antinous (Osirantinoo) is obvious.

Churches, cathedrals and monasteries began appearing soon after, within and atop these 'pagan' sites in Egypt. They are assumed to be Christian, based on their Ptolemaic symbols, whereas we now know that when such early places of worship name their divine man, it is never "Jesus Christ", but "Is Chrest". They are all Chrestian.

Decoration was carved of local stone specifically for the church and have been dated to the 5th century. Excavations revealed pottery of the mid-4th-5th century and coins from the 5th.
One of the greatest puzzles of the gospel stories is why? They are not - cannot be - historical, but are literary and thus must be seen in their contemporary, literary context.

Though I identify Bardaisan, named for the Daisan river in Edessa (now in southern Turkey), as the probable Source Q, the overwhelming character of the gospels as parody must be explained. (They are parody because they are replete with parodies of Messianic Jews and Messianic Judaism of the Second Temple period, especially of the messiahs of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the messiah who led the Jews in the Third (and final) Jewish-Roman War.)

What, who could have inspired Bardaisan to have written in parody? I think probably here: Lucian the Syrian*:

"Lucian of Samosata (Ancient Greek: Λουκιανὸς ὁ Σαμοσατεύς, Latin: Lucianus Samosatensis; c. AD 125 – after AD 180) was a rhetorician[1] and satirist who wrote in the Greek language during the Second Sophistic. He is noted for his witty and scoffing nature. Although he wrote solely in Greek, mainly Attic Greek, he was ethnically Assyrian.[2][3] Lucian claimed to be a native speaker of a "barbarian tongue" (Double Indictment, 27) which was most likely Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic.[4]"
1. Paul of Samosata, Zenobia and Aurelian: The Church, Local Culture and Political Allegiance in Third-Century Syria Author(s): Fergus Millar Source: The Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 61 (1971), pp. 1-17.
2. Frye, Richard N. (1992). "Assyria and Syria: Synonyms" (PDF). PhD., Harvard University. First published in Journal of Near Eastern Studies 51 (1992): 281–85. Reprinted together with a “Postscript” in Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies (JAAS) 11/2 (1997): 30–36. Lucian of Samosata…says (par. 1): “I who write (this) am Assyrian.”
3. Simo Parpola, National and Ethnic Identity in the Neo-Assyrian Empire and Assyrian Identity in Post-Empire Times, Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies, 2004, p.21
4. Simon Swain, 1996, Hellenism and Empire, pg. 299

Lucian and Bardaisan match well in terms of ethnicity, culture and brilliance, and with the former writing shortly before the latter, Lucian provides the recipe and style for the New Testament tales.

Some claim cross-references for Lucian which are untrue; for example, Philostratus makes no mention of him in his catalogue of sophists:

"The precise year of Lucian’s birth is uncertain; and after all the pains that Vossius, Johnsius, Dodwell, La Croze, Du Soul, and others have employed to settle his chronology, nothing accurate or probable can be obtained, more than that he was born about the latter end of Trajan’s reign, or very early in that of Hadrian; that he flourished under both the Antonines, and that under Aurelius Commodus, or shortly after him, he ceased to live."
"There is room for surprise, that Philostratus, in his lives of the sophists, who were most of them contemporaries of Lucian, should have passed him by in total silence."
(Lucian (of Samosata by Christoph Martin Wieland, Longman 1820)
This manuscript contains ten of the dialogues of Lucianus, a second-century rhetorician and satirist who wrote in Greek, in the Latin version of Livio Guidolotto (also seen as Guidalotto or Guidalotti). Livio, a classical scholar from Urbino, was the apostolic assistant of Pope Leo X, and he dedicated his translation to the pope in an introductory epistle of 1518 ("Romae, Idibus maii MDXVIII"; folio 150v). The latest possible date for the manuscript thus is 1521, the year Leo died.
None of the manuscripts of Lucian from Classical Antiquity survived the copying process, so the earliest extant are from the Middle Ages, post-dating the copying and faking by the Carolingian monastic scriptoria. So he wrote a blistering critique of Christianity? If so this would be unique, describing a religion for which there is no other evidence. Assuming he actually did criticise the Church of Rome (or Constantinople) and its adherents, then his references to Chrest/Chrestian/Chrestianity have been either altered, or mis-transliterated, as have others of the textual tradition.

Well, whether right, or wrong, the idea of parody has its origin somewhere and it is definitely post-Antinous and post the Third Jewish-Roman War. What other east-Syrian satirist should we consider?

So endeth the first lesson: an evidence based history for the first centuries of the modern era. I will try to focus future posts on later (or even earlier) times.


* "There are more than eighty surviving works attributed to him – declamations, essays both laudatory and sarcastic, satiric epigrams, and comic dialogues and symposia with a satirical cast, studded with quotations in alarming contexts and allusions set in an unusual light, designed to be surprising and provocative. His name added lustre to any entertaining and sarcastic essay: more than 150 surviving manuscripts attest to his continued popularity. The first printed edition of a selection of his works was issued at Florence in 1499. His best known works are A True Story (a romance, patently not "true" at all, which he admits in his introduction to the story), and Dialogues of the Gods (Θεῶν διάλογοι) and Dialogues of the Dead (Νεκρικοὶ Διάλογοι)."

"There is debate over the authorship of some works transmitted under Lucian's name, such as the Amores and the Ass. These are usually not considered genuine works of Lucian and are normally cited under the name of "Pseudo-Lucian". The Ass (Λούκιος ἢ ῎Oνος) is probably a summarized version of a story by Lucian, and contains largely the same basic plot elements as The Golden Ass (or Metamorphoses) of Apuleius, but with fewer inset tales and a different ending."

"Surviving manuscripts" is misleading: none survive; we have only purported copies, the oldest post-dating the founding of Carolingian monasteries. In short, we may be sure that, in general, Lucian was a Syrian satirist who at times addressed theological, mythological and religious issues, but we cannot be sure of his authorship in particular.

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