6. HEROD — book reviews of 2 Archaeological links with Rome, & Jesus   Leave a comment

ImageHerod’s Temple in Jerusalem (model)

‘Roman Arabia’ by G.W. Bowersock, Harvard University Press, 1983

Image Herod

‘The Roman Near East 31 BC-AD 337, Fergus Millar, Harvard University Press, 1993

The missing link in the search for an historical model of Jesus Christ, from Rome in 44 bce, to Jerusalem in 33 ce, can be found in only one proven Name at the time and place.

Herod of course is not a name at all, but a title Heroides meaning “Song of a Hero”, and ERODOS BASILLEUS is how a basilleus king is written on a few coins of the time which have survived. It is a questionable family surname that is found almost nowhere else except 50 years later in the unreliable pages of a Jewish writer named Josephus (more of whom will be said later), and pages of the “New Testament, Bible” which did not appear in their present form until hundreds of years after the events it describes.

To find a real-life model for the fictional character of Jesus Christ (who is not found anywhere else in mss. or coins or inscriptions whatsoever), it is essential to look for hard evidence – literally in stone, as even manuscripts are unreliable and subject to editing – in the alleged time and place he was supposed to have lived, that is, from around 4 bce to @ 30 ce in Judaea, Galilee and the immediate environs of what has come to be known to scholars as Roman Arabia.

Princeton Professor of Ancient History Dr. G.W. Bowersock wrote the standard text on the subject ‘Roman Arabia’, which he said encompassed what is now Jordan, southern Syria, northwest Saudi Arabia, and the Negev of Israel. In the preface he says:

“I have occupied myself principally with the Roman presence in the Nabataean kingdom and the Roman province which was subsequently created out of that kingdom. . .

“When the emperor Trajan established the province by annexation in the early second century A.D., a little less than half of the imperial frontiers looked out upon the desert.. .

Pompey had already annexed Greater Syria (including all of modern Lebanon, as well as Antioch and its environs). Accordingly, when Augustus added to his realm the former kingdom of Judaea as a province under equestrian procurators, there remained in the circuit of imperial provinces along the desert’s edge only the space extending across the Sinai from Egypt into and encompassing the Negev, together with the entire territory of Transjordan, from the Syrian Hawran to the Gulf of Aqaba.”

Bowersock’s pioneer work was greatly expanded upon 10 years later, after extensive archaelogical expeditions throughout the entire ancient province, in Oxford’s Dr. Fergus Millar, Camden Professor of Ancient History, in the 580 page definitive text ‘The Roman Near East: 31 BC – AD 337’.  Expanding upon Bowersock’s studies of the Nabataean culture at the time of Caesar and Cleopatra, Millar found many inscriptions in stone of ‘Tetrarchic Land-Surveyors’ in the areas of the Golan Heights mentioned in the Bible and Josephus, referring to ‘Herod’. As with all orthodox historians he relies almost entirely on Josephus for his chronological narrative of the Christian time period in question; although the dates do not correspond at all with the Biblical time-frame. Quoting Josephus, he writes on page 37:

“The area concerned is described by Josephus as Trachonitis (the lava plate), Auranitis (the Hauran), and Batanea, which borders on the Hauran to the north-west. After the police-action by Varro, it was now, in 23 BC, added to Herod’s territory, which already included Galilee and, as we have seen, Hippos and Gadara to the east and south-east of the Sea of Galilee. Three years later, as Josephus records, Augustus paid a visit to Syria, in fact in 20 BC, and is described as granting to Herod Trachonitis (again), Ulatha (the area around Lake Huleh) and Paneas, which belonged to Zenodorus and lay on the southern slope of Mount Hermon above the Golan Heights.”

Where did this titular, unnamed Hero come from, to be so gifted and honored by the undisputed Roman Princeps Augustus himself? We have seen in the previous reviews of this series, that Nicolaus of Damascus is commonly credited as a first-hand source not only in Julius Caesar’s court in Rome, but Nicolaus was also the tutor of Cleopatra’s children by Caesar and Mark Antony, and then Nicolaus went on from there to be Herod’s court historian as well. He is a proven evidentiary link between Caesar, Cleopatra, and Herod, telling their simultaneous, and consecutive, stories in lively detail.

But then we are assured by respected academic historians like Bowersock and Millar, and Michael Grant and Robert Graves, to name only a few of the great majority, Josephus is unreliable – while at the same time, all the time, he is their only contemporary source.

“How and to what extent (if indeed at all), Roman authority was exercised here in the early Imperial period is a mystery.” [Millar, p. 39]

It was a secret Augustus had to keep from the murdering Senate, and his poisonous wife Livia, who would allow no threats to her power and the succession of her son Tiberius to the Princeps. {see ‘King Jesus’ and ‘I, Claudius’] It all goes back to Alexandria, and the events there in 31 bce after the so-called Battle Of Actium in which Cleopatra and Mark Antony apparently were defeated by Octavian Augustus, with the help of Caesar’s old trusted admiral Agrippa. Histories are ambivalent, to say the least, about whether Cleopatra and Antony died, or Caesar Ptolemy, nicknamed ‘Caesarion’ really was put to death at the age of 17 {as reported in rumor only a century later by Plutarch}. Velleius Paterculus, for instance, writing at the time, makes no mention that he was put to death.

What if Caesar Ptolemy did survive to manhood, in the south of Egypt and Arabia, emerging as a Erodos Basilleus highly favored and protected by the greatest Imperial Design as the Divi Filius of Gaius Julius Caesar? Octavian really had no need to kill him. A genius of architecture and politics emerges at exactly that same time and place to build the Jerusalem Temple in 23 BC – he would have been about 24 years old then, born in 47 bce as Cleopatra said – and royally protected and funded by Augustus. He was a man of peace, a builder or carpenter {‘architectron’ in Greek for carpenter, architect, mason}, Messiah who rebuilt “His Father’s House’ and reunited the kingdoms of David and Solomon as prophesied. For 100 years Pax Romana reigned during those years after Actium, during the enlightenment of Augustus and the Herodian dynasty. It was one of the rarest times of literature and devotion in human history.

“The great Egyptian kingdom of the Ptolemies would fall in its entirety to the first emperor of Rome.” (Bowersock, p. 42)

Or did it? Roman Arabia in name only, Cleopatra’ successor was Ptolmey XV Caesar and he loyally built up the entire southern and eastern half of the Roman Imperium, controlling all of North Africa and Transjordan under the aliases of Aretas IV in Petra – whose exquisite architecture he also designed and built – as well as marrying his sister Selene in good African tradition in Libya, Mauretania, and Numidia as King Juba II (also rumored as a son of Julius Caesar). It all had to be kept secret from history and the Senate/Sanhedrin so Divi Filius {on coins he is shown with a beard} would not meet the same treacherous murderers as his father did, in the conservative “republic’.

“Arabs appealed to Herod to become their patron.” [Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 15.159]

Image Herodion, near Bethlehem, where Herod was buried mythically, and Jesus born

Aretas, as we have seen,was an important figure in the region and may plausibly be identified with the mysterious Arab king Herotimus in Justin’s ‘Epitome’ of Pompeius Trogus. This king is said to have presided over a race of Arabs who had been peaceable hitherto (one is reminded of the Nabataeans in the Books of the Maccabees), but who now were threatening both Egypt and Syria with armies. It is customary and entirely reasonable to identify King Herotimus with Aretas II. Herotimus represents a possible Greek equivalent of the king’s Aramaic name (Haritat), and his distinction as an expansionist is adequately borne out by what we know about him.” [Bowersock, p. 23]

– – – to be continued – – –


Posted April 11, 2012 by dionoia in Uncategorized

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