News Letter 5856-033
The 4th Year of the 4th Sabbatical Cycle
The 25th year of the 120th Jubilee Cycle
The 22nd day of the 8th month 5856 years after the creation of Adam
The 4th Sabbatical Cycle after the 119th Jubilee Cycle
The Middle of the 70th Jubilee Since Yehovah told Moses To go Get His People
The Sabbatical Cycle of Sword, Famines, and Pestilence
October 10, 2020
Shabbat Shalom to the Royal Family of Yehovah,
This will be the last Newsletter written from my home computer. My things will be packed up this coming Tuesday and sent to the Philippines. It will take about 3 months for them to arrive there. In two weeks’ time, I will be out of my home and basically homeless. Yes, I have places to go but I have no place to call home or to go home to each night. We have arrangements made for the video teachings and I hope all is going to work out over the next few weeks and months. I just wanted to give you a warning to expect interruptions to our regularly scheduled events.
Shabbat Zoom Meeting
Sabbath Oct 10, 2020, will be a 1 PM Eastern.
Joseph Dumond is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Joseph Dumond’s Personal Meeting Room
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Last week I received this notice from Pauline about our other Facebook site she has been running ever since Facebook closed down our main Facebook page. I have lost all confidence in being able to use this platform to warn the people. But Pauline persevered until last week. The things we posted in both cases were not even controversial. I posted a couple of videos of Donald Trump and Pauline does not even know why her site was taken down.
Our rights to have freedom of religion and freedom of speech are seriously being taken away. Step by step as I mentioned last week.
Hello friends of Sighted Moon. FB has removed us once again. AND they locked me out of my own personal FB account!! B’stards! (Obviously I’m back in now. Or should I say; for now). If you would like to stay up to date with all the latest Prophecy news please sign up for our weekly newsletter at www.sightedmoon.com… or follow us on MeWe.
We do have another platform that we have been using on MEWE. Look up sightedmoon.com on MEWE and you can join the conversation there. But even these other venues are being forced to comply with speaking only what the majority says you can speak. Time is running out.
Current Events and Prophecy
After we posted the Newsletter last week, there was this blood moon that was seen by many people across the USA. NASA had no blood moons for this time period. They are calling for a Dark moon on November 30 but nothing for October. And yet we have a blood moon as seen by a number of our brethren.
Above picture by Holly Ruocco South Carolina
Above picture by Hananya Naftali over Jerusalem
I apologize. I forgot to record who sent me this picture.
Again this was Thursday evening the day before many of the brethren were about to keep Sukkot starting that Friday afternoon. But before that, we were all given the news of Donald Trump and Melania Trump contacting COVID 19. That took place on October 2, 2020. along with this blood moon. You are aware that Donald Trump was born on Friday the 14th of June 1946, and on that night there happened to be a blood moon.
We then had Blood Moons at Passover and Sukkot in 2014 and 2015 and dark moons at Passover and Sukkot in 2016.
June 15, 2015, Donald Trump announced he was running for President.
Then on the 2nd anniversary of his inauguration, to the very day, there was again a full blood moon. So what does this now mean that on the day Donald Trump announces he has COVID 19, there is again a blood moon, but this one was not expected by NASA. I do not have the answer. I am merely pointing out a pattern I see. On November 30, 2020, there is to be another blood moon. What is going to happen on that day? Stay tuned, as 2020 twists and turns and keeps the whole world on the edge of our seats.
Also right now on Tuesday, October 13th, Mars will be in opposition. What this means is that Mars is directly opposite the sun with the earth in between the two. It is also the closest the earth is to Mars. Which means it is now very bright to see in the evening sky. It is in the ribbons of Pisces. Pisces are the two fish known as Israel to the going to the north and Judah going to the east. The ribbons are attached to Cetus the great sea monster that is going to try and destroy Israel. Mars again is the star of war and has remained in this constellation Cetus and the Ribbons since about June 17 and will leave about Jan 20, 2021. Mars has remained on the ribbons that lead to Judah since about August 1 and will leave about December 15, 2020. These ribbons that bind Israel and Judah are connected to the monster Leviathan also known as Cetus who seeks to destroy Israel.
We are in the 4th Sabbatical Cycle of sword, plague and famine. We are also in the middle of the 70th Jubilee Cycle of Daniel 9:24-27 when Israel, all 12 tribes will be cut off and be as if they never were.
Again this week on Tuesday, Oct 6, 2020, PBS ran a new story about the growing number of Americans that are becoming more hungry. 18 million have said they did not have enough to eat this past week. And this on top of the announcement that same day by President Trump to cancel the negotiations with Pelosi about another economic relief bill. You are watching prophecy being fulfilled before your eyes.
Lev 26:23 And if you will not be reformed by Me by these things, but will still walk contrary to Me,
Lev 26:24 then I will walk contrary to you and will punish you seven times more for your sins.
Lev 26:25 And I will bring a sword on you that shall execute the vengeance of the covenant. And when you are gathered inside your cities, I will send the plague among you. And you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.
Lev 26:26 When I have broken the staff of your bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver you your bread again by weight. And you shall eat and not be satisfied.
Lev 26:27 And if you will not for all of this listen to Me, but will walk contrary to Me,
Lev 26:28 then I will walk contrary to you also in fury. And I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.
Lev 26:29 And you shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters you shall eat.
Open thou mine eyes – גל עיני gal eynai, reveal my eyes, illuminate my understanding, take away the veil that is on my heart, and then shall I see wonders in thy law.
Psa 119:18 Open my eyes, so that I may behold wonderful things out of Your Law.
Something else that is being shown more and more. Our book The 2300 Days of Hell is built around the start of this period of time in Daniel 8. When does this time begin and how will it be shown to us. We have said since 2005 that May 31st, 2020 in the midst of the year, in the midst of the Sabbatical cycle, in the midst of the Jubilee Cycle the destruction of Israel would begin. ISrael being all twelve tribes with the USA and UK being the lead nations along with the State of ISrael. Even though this year of 2020 saw our Holy Days moved ahead by one full month we held on to the May 31st date as the start. On May 25th George Floyd was murdered and by May 31st, that weekend over 200 US cites were in riots and looting. This grew each week and spread around the world. It is still going on even now.
We are the only Ministry who called this date as the start of the 2300 Day countdown.
We based the start of the Two Witnesses on the fact that they would be the ones to vindicate the Saints. That word sanctuary can also mean Saints and we maintain that this is the proper meaning of the word used here from the HEbrew word Qodesh.
From H6942; a sacred place or thing; rarely abstractly sanctity: – consecrated (thing), dedicated (thing), hallowed (thing), holiness, (X most) holy (X day, portion, thing), saint, sanctuary.
Dan 8:13 Then I heard a certain holy one speaking, and another holy one said to that one who spoke, Until when shall the vision last, concerning the daily sacrifice and the transgression that astounds, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled?
Dan 8:14 And he said to me, For two thousand, three hundred evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be vindicated.
We have connected the vindication of the Saints by the wording in Revelation 6 and that word is avenged.
Rev 6:9 And when He had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held.
Rev 6:10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, Until when, Master, holy and true, do You not judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?
1) to vindicate one’s right, do one justice
1a) to protect, defend, one person from another
2) to avenge a thing
2a) to punish a person for a thing
There is another very interesting point to be noted from this prophecy in Daniel 8.
Dan 8:13 Then I heard a certain holy one speaking, and another holy one said to that one who spoke, Until when shall the vision last, concerning the daily sacrifice and the transgression that astounds, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled?
Dan 8:14 And he said to me, For two thousand, three hundred evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be vindicated.
We have claimed in our book that the “:Until when shall the vision last, concerning the daily sacrifice ” is referring to the prayers of our lips. Even when I wrote it I thought this was so strange to say. How can that even happen? I wrote this before 2014 when it was then published. And yet I did put it in the book. Beginning on page 478 we begin to unravel the Minchah offering. I will let you go to the book and read from 478 up to about 500.
This Minchah offering is the prayers of our lips. Hebrew 13:15 and Hosea 14:1-2.
I went back and looked up when the orders were given for the Churches to close due to the COVID 19 Pandemic that is happening around the world in 2020. The plague of Leviticus 26:25 noted above. Notice the date of the articles.
These Churches Refuse To Close Over COVID-19. Does the Constitution Protect Their Right To Remain Open?
Religious liberty, public health, and the police powers of the states
DAMON ROOT | 3.20.2020 12:30 PM
State governments have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by ordering residents to avoid gathering together in large groups, including gatherings held for the purpose of religious worship. Some churches are reportedly refusing to comply with such edicts and holding in-person religious services anyway. As the Associated Press reports:
Rodney Howard-Browne, a Florida-based charismatic Christian pastor who prayed over Trump in the Oval Office in 2017, vowed not to stop services and encouraged worshipers to shake hands despite experts identifying that behavior as an easy way to spread the virus.
In Louisiana, pastor Tony Spell was warned by police Tuesday after holding a service that attracted hundreds and flouted a state ban on mass gatherings. Spell, who has claimed that his services also heal cancer and HIV, said that he would not permit “any dictator law” to stop worship.
Does the Constitution’s guarantee of religious liberty protect the right of such churches to keep their doors open during a pandemic?
The First Amendment protects “the free exercise” of religion and “the right of the people peaceably to assemble.” These are bedrock constitutional principles, deeply enshrined in American law and repeatedly affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court. But the Supreme Court has also said that religious liberty does not trump all forms of government regulation, even when the regulation clearly impacts a specific religious practice.
‘A dangerous environment‘: As churches reopen, outbreaks sprout and some keep doors shut
Jorge L. Ortiz – USA TODAY
July 18, 2020
At a church in Sacramento, California, that has been closed for in-person services since March, congregants occasionally still stop by to pray outside and try to capture a sense of fellowship they dearly miss.
In Nashville, Tennessee, the pastor of an Anglican church has been handing out Communion in the parking lot for weeks.
South of Atlanta, the animated pastor of a 3,000-member congregation tries to summon every ounce of enthusiasm in his body to deliver a lively, music-filled service in front of a live audience of no one, hoping his message and spirit come through on various technology platforms.
None of those are ideal options, but they beat becoming the source of an outbreak of COVID-19.
Almost 40 places of worship and religious events have been linked to more than 650 cases of the coronavirus since the pandemic began, according to tracking by The New York Times. Along with the nationwide surge in infections that has followed the loosening of restrictions aimed at combating the virus, outbreaks connected to churches have sprouted at several spots.
Wednesday October 7, 2020 Twitter
Gov. Mike Huckabee @GovMikeHuckabee
NY Gov Cuomo threatening to close Orthodox synagogues if they fail to obey his limits on public gatherings, & Mayor DeBlabbio is threatening to arrest Jews if they worship, but ok for masses of violent, black-clad protesters. Now, let me think, who else did that?
Cuomo threatens to shutter synagogues ahead of meeting with Chassidim on COVID spike
Whether synagogues or “whether talking about black churches or Roman Catholic Churches, the community must agree to the rules,” insisted New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
(October 5, 2020 / JNS) New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that he will meet with leaders of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community on Tuesday in the hopes of getting them to agree to the enforcement of regulations aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19. The meeting comes as Cuomo has ordered all New York City schools, public and private, in areas with significant upticks in the numbers of coronavirus cases to close for the time being.
Cases of infection in New York state, according to government officials, are primarily localized to Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens, along with isolated spots in Nassau County. Numbers are also increasing in ultra-Orthodox Jewish populations in Rockland and Orange counties.
Officials say that people in those areas have reportedly not been wearing masks in public, or if they are, then they are wearing them incorrectly. They have also dismissed social distancing and been holding large events that cause the virus to spread.
Whether synagogues “or whether talking about black churches or Roman Catholic Churches, the community must agree to the rules,” insisted Cuomo.
Israel Tightens Lockdown, Closes Synagogues as Coronavirus Cases Surge
Increased restrictions shut down nearly all businesses and come as the country observes the Jewish holidays
By Dov Lieber
Sept. 24, 2020 11:35 am ET
The lockdown comes during the Jewish holidays that began last Friday with Rosh Hashana and will extend through Yom Kippur and Sukkot. These holidays typically involve millions of Jewish worshipers attending synagogues and gathering for prayer services.
Synagogues will be closed for the entirety of the lockdown, except on Yom Kippur, during which they will be subject to yet unpublished directives from the Health Ministry. Regulations will force the majority of worshipers to pray outdoors during the day’s long services and fast, but only up to 20 people per prayer group.
Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn Burn Masks During Massive Protest Against New York’s New COVID Rules
During the protests, community leaders vowed to resist the new rules through litigation and civil disobedience
Published on October 7, .2020
Protests by Orthodox Jews against New York’s crackdown on gatherings in their neighborhoods turned tense Tuesday night as throngs of young men demonstrated in the streets of Borough Park, setting fire to a pile of masks and at one point running a reporter out of the area.
The late-night protest in a heavily Orthodox area of Brooklyn took aim at new restrictions that would close schools, limit attendance at synagogues services and close nonessential businesses in areas with upticks in COVID-19.
As we watch these world events take place I keep thinking about the Daniel 8 prophecy and then I am also connecting it to the Daniel 12 prophecy.
Dan 12:11 And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the desolating abomination set up, a thousand two hundred and ninety days shall occur.
I have had a difficult time understanding when this 1290 day period of time was to begin. I suspected it was part of the provocation for the two witnesses to begin to speak out because it was 30 days before the time for the Two Witnesses.
While I am not 100% sure about the start of the 1290 day time period, I continue to watch. Are we watching the lead up to the complete stoppage of religious worship due to the pandemic?
1 in 5 Churches Expected to Close Permanently Due to COVID-19 Restrictions
by Caitlin Bassett | Aug 28, 2020
New research predicts that within 18 months of the COVID-19 nationwide restrictions, 1 in 5 churches will be forced to close their doors permanently.
Church attendance and donations have greatly decreased since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, due in large part to government-ordered closures of church services.
Government mandates against large, indoor gatherings forced most churches to switch their services to online forums at the beginning of the pandemic. Months later, many churches are still struggling against government mandates to open their doors again.
David Kinnaman – president of Barna Group, a Christian research organization – told NPR on Monday that even as churches re-open, they are still facing great hardship in attendance and donations.
“…more and more churches are re-opening,” Kinnaman told NPR, “but they’re opening up with a lot less people coming, and they’re recognizing that the relationships that they thought were much deeper with people were actually not as deep as they expected.”
Kinnaman has been calling pastors nationwide every week to gauge their hope for the future and the current state of their congregations. At the beginning of the pandemic, around 70% of the pastors he spoke with were “very confident” that their church would outlast the pandemic.
Now, that number has dropped to 58%.
“…simply re-opening a church doesn’t fix the underlying economic challenges,” Kinnaman said.
According to Kinnaman, there are over 300,000 Protestant and 14,000 Catholic congregations in America. The vast majority of these churches rely on donations from their congregants to keep the churches running, to pay their pastors, and to run charities and other outreaches in their communities.
NPR also interviewed Robert Turner, the pastor of Vernon AME Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, who reported that their tithe donations dropped significantly since the beginning of the pandemic.
“Most of the members we have joined during the heyday. They’re now old – they’re senior citizens,” said Pastor Turner. The church live streams their services every Sunday, but older populations are not as quick to engage in online communities. “So our finances have taken a huge blow,” he explained.
Barna Group also released findings that 1 in 3 practicing Christians have stopped attending church altogether since the beginning of the pandemic.
Kinnaman told NPR, “We’ll look back at this pandemic as a fundamental change to the ways Americans both attend church…and I think it’s also going to change the way people think about their donation relationship with local churches as well…”
“The digital church is here to stay.”
One of my most favourite stories is the one no one tells about all the information surrounding the life of Yehshua. Both before and during and then after His death. So much rich information and yet so many remain ignorant of it. I want to share with you as much of it as I can in one place so that you have it all at your fingertips. It is my hope to actually go to all of these places and share them with you all in the near future. But we wait for Yehovah to show us what He has planned for.
Yahshua and Joseph of Arimathea
The Messiah and the Decurio
A study into the Kahal (Hebrew) Nazarene Ecclesia (Congregation) of Yisra’el (Israel), called by Christians ‘The Jerusalem Church’
Commentary by Robert D. Mock M.D.
February 6, 1999
Rewritten August 2003
Reedited October 2005
The Passover Death and Resurrection of Yahshua ben Joseph ben David
It all ended on Calvary and began in the Garden Tomb. Without this event, neither you and I would not be here today as friends and believers in Jesus. Christianity and the Moslem faith alike also would not exist today. It all occurred because it is the only known time the Universal God put a part of Its existence into three-dimensional human time and the “Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1)
We can try to understand what comprehend what happened that Resurrection morning, but don’t create too much expectation that you will be able to understand it, for it is part of the mystery of God.
That it actually occurred is testimony of the faith of those early believers that proclaimed it. They didn’t spend their lives in hardship, deprivation, and martyrdom just to believe in an intellectual cause, they believed in an ‘event’, and they believed it with all their hearts, minds and soul.
Let us turn our attention to the events which led up to the crucifixion. Galilee and Judea was astir, for it was a Sabbatical Passover that occurred every seven years. During this time, the land stood at rest, and the population was on a year long Sabbatical and eager followers of any messianic or Hasmonean aspirant to the throne found a hosts of followers to follow them on their mission. These were peak years for the Zealots cause with their obsessed goal to free Judea from Roman rule, and the Sicarii were always available to promote the cause of freedom even if it meant a quick assassination of an opponent.
We see Jesus heading to Jerusalem and for the first time He cautions his disciples to arm themselves, if nothing more than self-defense. Peter takes on the stance of a personal bodyguard. Prior to Jesus’ arrival word reaches him of the death of several Zealot patriots which give every appearance that the perimeters of Jerusalem, or at least the Old Town of Jerusalem, had been secured by a general uprising. Then the battering rams were brought into the Kidron Valley and soon toppled the strong tower of Siloam and with it the death of eighteen Zealot defenders.
There was always swift retribution to any aspirant to throne of David by the Romans, yet Jesus, recently anointed in Bethany, makes a peaceful yet highly visible entrance as a new claimant to the throne of David. There amidst the throngs and multitudes in Jerusalem. He immediately goes to the Temple, in a provocative show of force, throws out the money exchangers and the commerce in the temple courts suddenly ceases. For two days, the sacrificial system ceases and it appears that Jesus has full control of the Temple compound. He spends the time preaching, healing and in legal dialogue with the Pharisees, scribes and attorneys. With an estimated million attendees to the Passover, a two day shutdown was a major financial blow to the High Priest and Sadducee authorities. Yet the Sadducean Temple guards and the Roman cohort of troops (about 500) made no attempt to arrest him because they feared the people who were in sympathetic support of the ministry of Jesus.
Was Jesus an armed revolutionary? No He was not, though anti-Christian literature later would depict him as such. Understanding the political and seething cauldron that Jerusalem was in that day, the zealots as can be suspected (Luke 23:19) took advantage of the political environment to seal the perimeters of the city and stage a coup, hoping to force Jesus to make a rightful claim to the throne of David. Knowing his allegiance with the multitudes, his powers over nature, his ability to heal and raise the dead to life, there was every expectation that this claimant, Jesus, would succeed and lay full claim to the messianic legacy. Everything appears to go as planned by the zealots, yet Jesus, when He took control of the Temple complex, instead of making an armed political coup against the Sadducean temple guard and the Roman garrison in the Antonia Tower, he instead begins to heal the sick and minister to the spiritual and physical needs of the people. A live demonstration of the true “Kingdom of God” was demonstrated those two days prior to the Passover feast in the courtyard of the Temple.
That a revolt was thwarted is known by the legal swap of Bar-Abbes (Bar-Rabbin) (Son of the (Rabbi) Master) with Jesus and also due to two brigands “thieves” that were crucified with Jesus. The Zealot forces went into retreat without the full support of Jesus and the thousands of the supporters of His cause. Jesus had come as the “Prince of Peace” not as a fiery messianic war lord, like David. The revolt in the making fizzled out.
Caiaphas, the High Priest of the House of Annas
One of the most important characters in the life of Jesus and the early years of the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia was the high priest Caiaphas. Caiaphas was appointed High Priest by the Roman procurator Valerius Gratus (15-26 CE), the predecessor of Pontius Pilate about 18 CE. (Josephus, Antiquities, XVIII, iv, 3) This appointment came after a tumultuous few years of annual appointees of new high priests, which for reasons unstated by Joseph were not compatible with the Roman government.
During this era the famous High Priest Annas (6-15 CE), the founder of the House of Annas, was still the primary controlling power broker in political and religious politics in Jewish affairs. It was in his position of brokering the power structure that he kept putting in his own sons and sons-in-law in the office of the high priest.
Annas, the son of Seth was appointed high priest in 6 or 7 CE following Joazar by the Roman legate Quirinius who came down to Judea to incorporate the territory of Herod Archelaus, the son of Herod the Great into the Roman province of Syria (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, XVIII, ii, 1)
As High Priest, Anna was later deposed from the office of the high priest by the Syrian legate Valorous Gratus in 15 CE in which a rapid succession of high priests were appointed over the next three years:
Ismael, son of Phabi (XVIII. i, 2)
Eleazar (Alexander), son of Ananus (XVIII. ii, 2, Acts 4:6
Simon, son of Camithus (XVIII. ii, 2)
Joseph called “Caiaphas” (XVIII. ii, 2; iv, 3; Matt. 26: 3, 57)
Jonathan, son of Ananus (XVIII. iv, 3; “B. J.” II. xii, 5-6; xiii, 3)
Theophilus, son of Ananus (XVIII. 5, § 3)
So we see between 6-30 CE, a period of thirty years, the office of the high priest was controlled by Anna, the founding father of the House of Annas for at least 28 of those years. Power, greed and control were being bred in high places in the leadership of the Jews. Yet that was not all, the office of the high priest was then under the control of two other sons of Anna during the tenure of the Syrian legate, Vitellius between 36-41 CE when King Agrippa I came to the throne of Judea which gave a sum total of thirty-nine out of forty-one years as the leading family in public and religious office.
Though Caiaphas was the titular High Priest at the time of the crucifixion of Jesus, the power behind the throne was his father-in-law, Annas as seen in the following texts.
Luke 3:1-3 – “Now in the fifteenth year (29 CE) of the reign of Tiberius Caesar (14-37 CE), Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea (26-36 CE), Herod being tetrarch of Galilee (4 BCE-39 CE), his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea (4 BCE-34 CE) and the region of Trachonites, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, while Annas and Caiaphas (18-36 CE) were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zachariah in the wilderness. And he went into all the regions around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins…”
Acts 4:5 – “And it came to pass, on the next day, that their rulers, elders, and scribes, as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, ‘By what power or by what name have you done this?”
It is the Bible Searcher’s goal to find the literal historical story in the scriptures. The passage in Luke 3:1-3 appears to be a difficult passage to defend and still keep the 30 CE date for the crucifixion and death of Jesus. In classical history, the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar would be 29 CE as his official reign was from 14-37 CE. According to the lives of the Imperial rulers of Rome by de Imperatoribus Romanis, Tiberius became clearly the official successor of Augustus Caesar in 4 CE, when he was adopted and received the powers of the proconsular and the tribunician office. Yet in 13 CE, his proconsular power was made co-extensive with Augustus and he in fact became co-regent with the Emperor of Rome. By the time Augustus Caesar died on August 19, 14 CE, the Principate of Rome was secure and Tiberius’ assumption of the imperial title to Rome assured
To accept this date, the beginning of the ministry of John the Baptist and probably the ministry of Jesus would have been 28 CE the traditional start of the three and a half year ministry.
The seat of the power politics in the final days of Jesus’ ministry when he was arrested and finally taken into custody of the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem is seen in the following:
John 18:12-14 – “Then the detachment of troops and the captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound Him. And they led Him away to Annas first, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas who was high priest that year. Now it was Caiaphas who advised the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.”
It is fascinating that as the text progresses in John 18, we see Peter secretly entering the “courtyard of the high priest” (John 18:15) while John, the “other disciple” moved freely around the courtyard because he was “known to the High Priest”. There Jesus was interrogated in the middle of the night by the “high priest” (John 18:19) about “His disciples and His doctrine”. “Then Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.” (John 18:24)
Here we have an interesting scenario in which the author, John, who was intimately known by the House of Annas states that Jesus was sent to “Annas first” and the place of questioning was in the ‘courtyard of the high priest” and there he was interrogated by the ‘high priest” and then Annas sent Jesus bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
It was after the raising of Lazarus in Bethany, the palace of the High Priest Caiaphas was the meeting room where the “chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people assembled” (Matthew 26:3-4) to plot the fate of Jesus. This palace according to tradition was located on the hill south of Jerusalem which was called the “Hill of Evil Counsel”. It was a Syrian traveler Theodosius Archidiaconus in 530 CE, who stated that the distance between the house of Caiaphas and the Hall of Judgment was 100 paces. (“Nuovo Bull. di Arch. Crist.” vi. 184, Rome, 1900 cited in the Catholic Encyclopedia, “Caiaphas)
If the scribes were the Doctors of the Law and the elders were the members of the Sanhedrin, who then were the chief priests? In the religious and political governance of the Jewish people, there were seventy representatives called ‘elders’ with a cabinet of fifteen which included a Council of Twelve and the three chief priests, the High Priest called the Nasi, the Deputy High Priest called the Sagan and the Chief Officer of the Religious Court called the Ab Beth Din. According to other traditions, the Sanhedrin had seventy-one members and others twenty three members. (‘Caiaphas’, Catholic Encyclopedia)
At this time, the High Priest (Nasi) was Caiphas and the Chief Officer of the Religious Court (Ab Beth-Din) was Gamaliel, the famed founder of the Pharisaic School of Gamaliel. The question, we then ask, did Annas retain the office of the Deputy High Priest called the Sagan? If Annas could keep one of his family in the Roman appointed office of the High Priest, he could retain the power of authority by having his family appoint him as the permanent Sagan. There is another interesting twist in history. After being deposed, according to the Syrian Christian Church, Caiaphas was converted to Christianity and identified as the historian known as Josephus Flavius. (Assemani, “Bibl. Orient.” ii. 156, iii. 522; Solomon of Bassora, “The Book of the Bee,” ed. Budge, tr. p. 94 cited in the Jewish Encyclopedia, “Caiaphas)
The Secret Disciple, Joseph of Arimathea
The trial of Yahshua was a drama of high stakes for the Sanhedrin and the Sadducean controlled priesthood. Caiaphas the high priest initiated the charges of treason against Jesus in order to drag the Roman procurator, Pontius Pilate into the plot to destroy Jesus. Under Roman law, treason against the Roman government was punishable only by death and the death warrant could only be decree by the legal Roman authority in the land. It was this price that Caiaphas demanded, but the demand also came with a price, blackmail by silence.
According to the Memoirs of Pontius Pilate by Carlos Franzen, Caiaphas was in the receipt of secret intelligence that Pilate had been a member of a secret plot to assassinate Tiberius Caesar. (Jowett, George F, The Drama of the Lost Disciples, Covenant Publishing Co. LTD, 8 Blades Court, Deodar Road, London SW15 2NU, 1993, p. 20.) The coercion of the Roman Procurator by the High Priest sent fear in the heart of Pilate of his possible exposure to the long arm of the intelligence agents of the Caesar, a man ruthless in his own right. Pilate rise to fame came only through his wife, Claudia Procula, who was the illegitimate daughter of Claudia, the third wife of Tiberius Caesar, and the granddaughter of Augustus Caesar. (Jowett, George F, The Drama of the Lost Disciples, Covenant Publishing Co. LTD, 8 Blades Court, Deodar Road, London SW15 2NU, 1993, p. 20.) To ignore the urgent pleas of his wife, who through a dream foretold that disaster would be his end if he judged Jesus, speaks significantly of the severe political pressure that Pilate was in and the political Machiavellian maneuverings of Ananus or Caiaphas.
Within hours of the capture and dual trials of Jesus on the eve of the Passover, the city of Jerusalem was smouldering in unrest and seething discontent. The Roman guards were in high alert, the Temple garrison guards were on full dispatch and all the known associates of Jesus including nine of the twelve disciples had fled the city. Judas the Sicarii was hanging from a tree, either in suicide or murder. Nicodemus and Joseph alone had diplomatic immunity from the Sanhedrin and Roman protection. Peter had also fled when he discovered that he also turned traitor to Yahshua. Only John, the latter a relative of the family of the high priest stayed around. It is our first inclination that we give the Apostle Peter a lot of grief for his three denials of being an associate of Jesus, yet we must recognize the courage of this Galilean fishing businessman; he stuck around to observe in the crowded courtyard of the Sanhedrin in spite of the fear and omens that were spreading throughout the city.
There crucified on the tree on the Mount of Olives, only John and the three Marys; the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and Mary Salome observed from a distance.
Nicodemus 8:11 – “But all those who were the acquaintance of Christ, stood at a distance, as did the women who had followed Jesus from Galilee, observing all these things.”
These other acquaintances of Jesus no doubt included Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, the Bethany siblings plus many others. Mary the mother of Jesus may very well have been spared the last torturous moments of Jesus’ life, as after he gave his mother to be under the custody of John the Beloved, the text states that “John led her away.” Nine out of ten whoever encountered the Roman flogging never lived to tell their story. Add to this the dehydration, the hypoglycemia with no nutrition, the mental torment, the crown of thorns piercing his head, his back sliced like ribbons of meat from the flogging led one Christian historian, George Jowett to write,
George Jowett – “Weighing all this as we must, we are not left in doubt that Jesus was as physically superb as He was mentally and spiritually.” (Jowett, George F, The Drama of the Lost Disciples, Covenant Publishing Co. LTD, 8 Blades Court, Deodar Road, London SW15 2NU, 1993, p. 22.)
Jesus was not all alone while he was hanging on the tree. Unless his body, the body of an executed criminal, was claimed by the next of kin, according to Jewish and Roman law, his body would be tossed into a common pit and the memory his Him would be obliterated from all memory. That a member of the Sanhedrin and a Roman Senator, also a known member of the Jesus’ Jewish family could walk without fear of molestation into the court of Pilate and request the body of Yahshua suggests the providence of the Almighty of placing prominent men in high places to service the Will of the Lord. Yet was Joseph of Arimathea totally immune to the power of the Sanhedrin? At this moment, he probably did make one consideration, his request to take possession of the body of Jesus would best be made in a private audience with his friend, the Roman procurator, and bypass the intentions of Annas and Caiaphas, not only to kill Yahshua, but to destroy his body, and make his memory totally extinct.
The Bishop of Antioch writing in 180 AD quoted from the Apocryphal ‘Gospel of Peter’ stated this fact that Joseph of Arimathea was a close friend of Pontius Pilate and he requested that the body of one put to death had to be buried.
Gospel of Peter 2:2-5a – “Now there stood there Joseph, the friend of Pilate and the Lord, and knowing that they were about to crucify him he came to Pilate and begged the body of the Lord for Burial. And Pilate sent to Herod and begged his body. And Herod said, ‘Brother Pilate, even if no one had begged him, we should bury him, since the Sabbath is drawing on. For it stands written in the law: the sun should not set on one that has been put to death.”
The hours of the High Sabbath of the Passover had already begun on the eve of Abib 14. The families were gathering together to eat of the lamb shanks and bitter herbs as they celebrated that fateful day when their ancestors fled from Egypt. At this time the news of the burial of Jesus in a new tomb cut out of stone and fit for royalty struck the inner circle of the temple priests like lightning. As the uncle to Mary, Joseph of Arimathea ‘boldly’ went to Pilate to claim the remains of his great nephew, he denied the Sanhedrin the privilege of destroying the body of Jesus in an unmarked grave and to their shock, there now marked the tomb for all ages, a memorial, a place of pilgrimage and a holy spot for generations to revere.
Who was this man of mystery? The gospel story is so short and cryptic that without history of the Nazarenes and the Christians outside the history of Acts, the story of Joseph of Arimathea would never be known.
Joseph the Roman Decurio
Very soon after the death of Jesus, we find Joseph of Arimathea, called the “nobilis decurio” by Gildas “the Wise” Badonicus, arriving back to Britain and the land called Avalon. (quoted by John of Glastonbury, in his Acts of the Illustrious King Arthur, small edition, p. 55, quoted by Lionel Smithett Lewis, late Vicar of Glastonbury, St. Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury or the Apostolic Church of Britain, James Clarke & Co. Ltd, Cambridge, PO Box 60, Cambridge, CBI 2NT, 1922, 1955, 1988.pg. 73)
A Decurio of Rome was an officer in the Roman army who was also appointed to the position as minister of the mines. It was his responsibility to supply the needed metals for the vast empire of the Romans. In Joseph’s case, he managed the lead and tin mining regions in southern and western Britain which included extraction, production, and shipping these metals until they reached the vast storehouses of the military and business interest of the empire. As such he was identified as a ‘Carnegie’ or an industrialist of the Roman world
According to Dr. C.R. Davey Biggs, states in his book Ictis and Avallo, that in the province of Spain that
Dr. C.R. Davey Biggs – “A decurio was established in every little mining centre, being charged with the care of the farms, the water supply, the sanitary arrangements, and the local fortifications.” (Dr. C.R. Davey Biggs, Ictis and Avallo quoted by Lionel Smithett Lewis, late Vicar of Glastonbury, St. Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury or the Apostolic Church of Britain, James Clarke & Co. Ltd, Cambridge, PO Box 60, Cambridge, CBI 2NT, 1922, 1955, 1988.pg. 73)
Joseph of Arimathea was a man of refinement, culture, education and with the business acumen to vault him to the highest levels of political and social life. In the Latin Vulgate, he was called a ‘Roman Decurio’. Jerome in his translation of the New Testament called Joseph the “Nobilis Decurio”. He was a man esteemed in society, a nobleman, member of the aristocracy and a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, the religious body which controlled the religious and political life of the first-century Jews, a legislative member of the provincial Roman Senate, plus a political confidant of the governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate.
If there is any doubt of this statement about the importance of the office of the Roman Decurio in Roman society, consider the testimony of Cicero, who owned a villa near the city of Pompeii before the mighty blast of the volcano Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE. Cicero claimed that the local city council of Pompeii was controlled by Decurios, who were recognized as ex-magistrates and important government officials of Rome. Their position was so esteemed that he stated “that it was easier to become a Senator of Rome than a Decurio in Pompeii.” Lionel Smithett Lewes, late Vicar of Glastonbury, St. Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury or the Apostolic Church of Britain, James Clarke & Co. Ltd, Cambridge, PO Box 60, Cambridge, CBI 2NT, 1922, 1955, 1988.pg. 56). In Roman society, Joseph of Arimathea would have taken the position of Town Counselor and a member of the Provincial Roman Senate of the Municipium or Colonia.
Joseph’s wealth was legendary. His estates were known to be vast including a palatial home in Jerusalem, a country villa outside Jerusalem, another estate at Arimathea. It could be said that he was probably the head leader of the whole region at Onomasticon, identified in the ancient records of place names as Ramathaim-Zophim, or Rama. This was the home of Elkanah and Samuel in the hills of Ephraim. In 145 BCE it was transferred to Judea. Today Arimathea is known as Ramallah, where Arafat kept his half-bombed out Palestinian headquarters. Arimathea was located on the main caravan route between Jerusalem and Capernaeum in Galilee. (Jowett, George F. The Drama of the Lost Disciples, Covenant Publ., Co, 8 Blades Court, Deodar Road, London SW15 2NU, 1961, 1993 pg. 17-18 and Lionel Smithett Lewis, late Vicar of Glastonbury, St. Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury or the Apostolic Church of Britain, James Clarke & Co. Ltd, Cambridge, PO Box 60, Cambridge, CBI 2NT, 1922, 1955, 1988.pg. 73)
With this in mind, then the appointment of Joseph as a Decurio in Rome giving him additional authority the mining district called the Mendips and the peninsula of Cornwall, by a King Arviragus of the British Silurian royalty in which he was intimately acquainted and may have been actually related. Joseph very well may have been an officer under Pontius Pilate in Judea and as such, his rank and prestigious honor in Jewish society may have led to a close relationship between the two.
For the British and the Romans to engage in ancient commerce is well documented. As early as 1500 BCE, around the time of the exodus by the Israelites to Canaan, we also find a migration of Semitic people to the islands of the west. It was the 5th century historian, Herodotus who referred to Britain as ‘the Cassiterides” as the source of the international tin trade.
Herodotus – “Of that part of Europe nearest to the west, I am not able to speak with decision….Neither am I better acquainted with the islands called the Cassiterides, from which we are said to have our tin…..It is nevertheless certain that both our tin and our amber are brought from those extreme regions.” (Herodotus Bk 3, 115)
Even the British Princes were brought up in the Court of Augustus Caesar and many of the Roman nobles were trained in the druidic universities of the Brits which were well known for their knowledge of the natural sciences. It was on the lands of the Silurian possession and under their control along the western Mendips region of Wales and Britain and the central part of Cornwall in ancient Britain that some of the richest tin mines in the whole world were found.
The Ancient Jewish Miners of Cornwall
Here was the land of the Celtics or Cymrics, a people of antiquity that scholars today still dispute their origin. All along the central region of Cornwall are ancient rude pits containing smelted tin. The most famous of these ancient mines is the Ding Dong Mine in West Cornwall. This mine along with the others is called by the locals, ‘Jews houses’ and legends of the ‘old men’, the ancient Jewish or Phoenician miners. In the region, one hears the words, “Jews tin”, “Jews’ leavings”, “attall” and “attall Saracen” identifying these mines. (Hunt, Romances of the West, cited by Taylor, John w. The Coming of the Saints, Imagination and studies in Early Church History and Tradition, Methuen & Co. Ltd, 1909, 1985 reprint by Artisan Sales, PO Box 1529, Muskogee, OK 74402, 1995, p. 146)
The Ding Dong Mine Cornwall
That the word Saracen and Jew were intermixed with this population is well attested by all British historians. Even the names places in Cornwall give an undeniable presence of these ancient people – names such as ‘Bojewyan’ (abode of the Jews), “Trejewas’ (Jew’s village) and ‘Market Jew” and the historical “Jewish windows’ in St. Neot’s church.
It was in the reign of King John of England who signed the Magna Charta in 1215 in which, the Camden’s Britannia stated,
Camden’s Britannia – “In the time of King John, the tin mines (were) farmed by the Jews for 100 marks,’ and later, ‘the Jews being banished they’ (the tin mines) ‘were neglected’. (Camden’s Britannia, vol. I, p. 9, cited by Taylor, John W. The Coming of the Saints, Imagination and studies in Early Church History and Tradition, Methuen & Co. Ltd, 1909, 1985 reprint by Artisan Sales, PO Box 1529, Muskogee, OK 74402, 1995, p. 146)
Herodotus stated that according to the Greeks, tin came from the ‘Cassiterides’ and the source of this tin came from islands ‘situated in the extremes of Europe toward the West.’ These people were known not to be the ancient Brits and at the same time they were not the sea-bearing commercial middlemen, the Phoenicians.
J.B. Cornish – “The oldest graves” according to the British historian of Cornwall, Mr. J.B. Cornish, “that have been found – those of the Harlyn Bay discoveries, near Padstow – are remarkable as showing that the earliest settlers in Cornwall and, as some think, the first tin workers, were buried exactly like the prehistoric Egyptians, in a crouching position on the left side with the knees almost touching the chin.” (Cited by Taylor, John W. The Coming of the Saints, Imagination and studies in Early Church History and Tradition, Methuen & Co. Ltd, 1909, 1985 reprint by Artisan Sales, PO Box 1529, Muskogee, OK 74402, 1995, p. 146)
It was a William Camden (1551-1623) who published a book, written in Latin in 1586 and translated to English in 1610 that was called, “Britannia”. It was here he stated,
William Camden – “The merchants of Asher worked the tin mines of Cornwall, not as slaves, but as masters and exporters.”
The investigation even goes deeper. It was the Cassiterides, whom Strabo living in 44 BCE wrote, as
Strabo – “bartering their tin, lead and skins for pottery, salt and brazen manufactures’. (Strabo cited by Taylor, John W. The Coming of the Saints, Imagination and studies in Early Church History and Tradition, Methuen & Co. Ltd, 1909, 1985 reprint by Artisan Sales, PO Box 1529, Muskogee, OK 74402, 1995, p. 147)
These tin miners called Jews or Saracens used a very distinctive pick-axes of ‘holm, box and hartshorn’. The scholar of antiquarian studies, Mr. Bellows of Gloucester, travelled to the Trans-Caucasus finding that the miners of the Kedabek mines in the Caucasus and at Tiflis were exactly like the shovel or spade and pick used by the Jewish miners in Cornwall. According to this antiquarian
John Bellows – “some of the Caucasian Jews claim to be descendants of the tribes which were taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar, while others equally claim of their descent from the Israelites who were taken from Palestine by Shalmaneser.” (John Bellows, Kegan Paul, 1904, p. 210 cited by Taylor, John W. The Coming of the Saints, Imagination and studies in Early Church History and Tradition, Methuen & Co. Ltd, 1909, 1985 reprint by Artisan Sales, PO Box 1529, Muskogee, OK 74402, 1995, p. 146)
Modern historians of the Lost Tribes of Israel claim that the descent of the Jew-Saracen of Cornwall goes back to the Exodus, when under the cataclysmic conditions surrounding the Exodus a large number of Israelites scattered to other regions of the world including many who headed towards the west, around Spain and up the European coastline to the Isles of the West. These were called the Milesians, who went with a Scythian prince who was acquainted with Moses and healed by the rod of Moses when bitten by a viper, later migrated to Ireland and the British Isles.
Modern archeologists many times do not give credit to the extent of the wanderings of the ancient peoples of the world.
What was known is that bronze was a valuable commodity in the Roman Empire. Whereas copper was in easy supply across the empire, there were only a very few mines known that supplied tin and lead. Tin was extracted and dug from the ground in this western Cornwall peninsula in southwestern Britain and in the regions of the Mendips region near Glastonbury lead was mined.
Being of kindred blood, Joseph was able to represent the interests of the Romans as well as the (Celtic or Cymric) political interests in the process of mining lead and tin from these lands. He would have had control of mining and shipping which would include access to shipping fleets to move the tin from Ictis (St. Michael’s Mount) on the southeast tip of the peninsula, and then across to France, where it was carried by animal pack to Narbonne, to the south of Marseilles, France and from there to Rome. In fact, it was in Ostio, the seaport of Rome that beneath an ancient chariot road, a Roman lead pipe was uncovered. A professor Russell Forbes cut off a section and sent it back to Britain for metallurgy analysis. Yes, this lead was from the Mendip mines near Glastonbury. Lead bars exhibited in the British museum coming from Mendip Hill near Glastonbury, were inscribed with the dates 49 AD and also inscribed with Britanicus, son of the Emperor Claudius and another dated 60 AD, is inscribed “British lead, the property of the Emperor Nero.” (Lionel Smithett Lewes, late Vicar of Glastonbury, St. Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury or the Apostolic Church of Britain, James Clarke & Co. Ltd, Cambridge, PO Box 60, Cambridge, CBI 2NT, 1922, 1955, 1988.pg. 51)
St. Michael’s Mount
From the ancient of days even past the era of the combined monarchy of David and Solomon, the land was inhabited by the Hebrews, called then as even today, Saracens. It was reported that archeologists have identified that the aqueduct in Jerusalem, attributed in the1920’s to King Solomon is lined by lead that has been spectrographically identified as being extracted from the tin mines in the Mendips Hills of Somerset. (Lionel Smithett Lewes, late Vicar of Glastonbury, St. Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury or the Apostolic Church of Britain, James Clarke & Co. Ltd, Cambridge, PO Box 60, Cambridge, CBI 2NT, 1922, 1955, 1988.pg. 50)
Sir Edward Creasy in his “History of England” stated that,” The British mines mainly supplied the glorious adornment of Solomon’s Temple.”…. “In those days the mines of south-western Britain were the source of the world’s supply of tin, and its export to Phoenicia provided the most suitable outlet for its use in the civilized Greek world.”
It is known that most of the tin trade between Cornwall and the Mediterranean lands was carried on by Jewish traders in Phoenician vessels. There are existing descriptions of this trade dating back from the sixth century BC. Was it not the Prophet Ezekiel who stated?
Ezekiel 27:12 – “Tarshish was thy merchant by reason of the multitude of all kinds of riches; with silver, iron, tin, and lead, they traded in thy fairs.”
By the first century AD, the reach of Roman power had made it necessary for traders to protect their sources. Jewish dealers were reduced to carrying ingots from Cornwall to Brittany by ship, then by horseback across France to the southern ports. It was the only alternative to travel by sea through Gibraltar, where every cargo would have been subject to tracing by the Roman authorities.
It was Julius Caesar himself, while with his troops at Bologna, Calais and Dover, wrote in 40 BCE about Britain, in his book called ‘Wars”
Julius Caesar – “The inland parts of Britain are inhabited by those, whose fame reports to be the natives of the soil…The island is well peopled, full of houses, built after the manner of the Gauls, and abounds in cattle. They use brass money, and iron rings of a certain weight. The provinces remote from the sea produce tin, and those upon the coast, iron, but the latter in no great quantity.”
It was Timaeus, who wrote the essay about 400 BCE, called the “Islands in the Ocean”
Timaeus – “Opposite to Celtiberia are a number of islands, by the Greeks called Cassiterides, in consequence of their abounding in tin, and facing the promontory of the Arrotrebae, are the six islands of the gods, which some persons have called the Fortunate Islands.”
Pliny writing in ‘Natural History” talks about the tin of Cornwall.
Pliny – “It (tin) is extracted with great labour in Spain and throughout all the Gallic provinces, but in Britannia, it is found in the upper stratum of the earth in such abundance, that a law has been spontaneously made prohibiting anyone from working more than a certain quantity of it.”
The Isles of Avalon and Ictis
The Island of Avalon and Ictis – On the western coast of Britain south of Bath in the present city of Glastonbury, the land was covered with small islands or mounds. Both Pliny and Diodorus Siculus give a description of this region.
Pliny – According to Pliny quotations of Timaeus, “Six days sail inland from Britain there is an island called Mictis in which white lead is found, and to this island, the Britons come in boats of osier covered with sewn hides”. (Timaeus quoted by Pliny, IV, 30, cited by Lionel Smithett Lewes, late Vicar of Glastonbury, St. Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury or the Apostolic Church of Britain, James Clarke & Co. Ltd, Cambridge, PO Box 60, Cambridge, CBI 2NT, 1922, 1955, 1988.pg. 73)
Diodorus Siculus – And then we have the quote of Posidonius (80 BCE) who when travelling to this region of Britain states that the tin miners from Balerion, the ancient name for Cornwall, carried their tin “to a certain island lying off the coast of Britain, called Ictis; for as the ground between is left dry at low tide they carry tin there in great abundance in their waggons.” (Posidonius quoted by Diodurus Siculus , V. 21, 22-31, cited by Lionel Smithett Lewes, late Vicar of Glastonbury, St. Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury or the Apostolic Church of Britain, James Clarke & Co. Ltd, Cambridge, PO Box 60, Cambridge, CBI 2NT, 1922, 1955, 1988.pg. 73)
Diodorus Siculus – “They that inhabit the British promontory of Belerium, by reason of their converse with merchants, are more civilized and courteous to strangers than the rest, These are the people that make the tin, which with a great deal of care and labour they dig out of the ground; and that being rocky, the metal is mixed with some veins of earth, out of which they melt the metal and then refine it. Then they beat it into four square pieced like a die and carry it to a British isle, near at hand, called Ictis. For at low tide, all being dry between them and the island, they convey over in carts abundance of tin.
“But there is one thing that is peculiar to these islands which lie between Britain and Europe: for at full sea they appear to be islands, but at low water for a long way they look like so many peninsulas. Hence the merchants transport the tin they buy of the inhabitants of Gaul, and for thirty days’ journey they carry it in packs upon horses’ backs through Gaul to the mouth of the river Rhone.” (Diodorus Siculus, bk, v, 1-4, 35, cited by Taylor, John W., The Coming of the Saints, Artisan Sales/Hoffman Printing, POB 1529, Muskogee, OK 74402. 1985, pg 143
It was at Ictis, now known as St. Michael’s Mount lying offshore from Marazion in Cornwall, that a Phoenician stone bowl was found by divers and identified by the archeologists at the British Museum. Here when the tides ran out, a sandy promontory went out to the island and the tin would be taken to that harbour and there placed in boats for transport to the coast of Gaul in western France today.
The Glastonbury Tor
Here in the land of King Arthurian fame, not far from the later exotic bath houses of Bath, England, is a small town called Glastonbury revered as the most sacred site in Britain. Associated with a high mound that is visible for miles around, the Glastonbury Tor near the site of the later Glastonbury Abbey, the most famed cathedral in medieval England was surrounded by the Somerset Levels, some of the flattest lands in Britain. Due to massive drainage and a lower sea level today, these marshlands two thousand years ago hosted around ten islands that the ancients in skiffs would travel around from island to island. Glastonbury was called the Celtic name, Ynys Witrin, meaning the “Island of Glass” or the “Island of St. Gwytherin”.
Here in this beautiful, safe and secluded area far away from the growing dissension in Judea and the building animosity between the Romans and the Jews, the secret disciple of Yahshua the Nazarene, His uncle, Joseph of Arimathea was to send the first message of “The Good News” to the farthest reaches of the then known world.
This was not the first time that Joseph of Arimathea had gone to Britain. There was considerable evidence in the genealogies of the British Menologies that Joseph not only lived in Britain but that his wife was probably of British descent. With all the known knowledge of this aristocratic uncle and foster-father of Jesus, we begin to find a thread to weave a tapestry of the life and times of this amazing apostle of God. As a Roman Decurio, he was in fact a tin merchant. According to traditions, he initially was in charge of the tin mines in Britain and when these mines began to fail, he travelled up to Britain to trade in tin that was mined along the central highlands of Cornwall. Was he a pure merchant or did he actually own his own fleet of ships is not known? That he was travelling along the ancient route of the Phoenicians through the Rocks of Gibraltar, up the coast of Spain and then on to Britain.
The central base of the tin merchants was the city of Massilia now called Marseilles, France on the Mediterranean Sea. Joseph no doubt was a frequent visitor to this city before travelling up the Rhone and then taking the overland route across Gaul (central France) to Morlaix in Brittany (Armorica) where off the coast is an island suitable for loading and unloading ships to traverse the English Channel to Cornwall. Good landing sites would have been St. Just in Roseland, St. Michael’s Mount off Marazion or taking the classic Celtic hide boats around Land’s End and sailing up to Glastonbury by the route of the Brue and Parrot Rivers. Here in a land that was never conquered by the Romans; the Lord of hosts was preparing a sanctuary and a retreat for the apostles and disciples of the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia of Israel.
Glastonbury, the Isle of Avalon
Jesus in Glastonbury
Joseph of Arimathea, being a Jewish merchant, would have made easy relations with his lost brethren of the tribe of Asher that had been working the tin mines for centuries. The ancient chroniclers testified that the Celts and the Israelites, who were able to converse in Hebrew and Greek, lived a highly sophisticated life. They were natural traders and in contact with many parts of the civilized then known world.
A legend quoted by S. Baring-Gould in his book, Cornwall, stated that “Joseph of Arimathea came in a boat to Cornwall and brought the child Jesus with him, who taught him how to extract tin and purge it of its wolfram. When tin is flashed the tinner shouts, “Joseph was in the tin trade”’ (Cornwall, S. Baring-Gould, p. 57 quoted by Taylor, John W. The Coming of the Saints, Imagination and studies in Early Church History and Tradition, Methuen & Co. Ltd, 1909, 1985 reprint by Artisan Sales, PO Box 1529, Muskogee, OK 74402, 1995, p. 144)
Yet according to the late Vicar of Glastonbury, Lionel Smithett Lewis, “The well known Cornish ones (legends), such as the Marazion one, always referred to Our Lord coming as a child with the Blessed Virgin Mary; the Somerset ones, to his coming as a lad with St. Joseph of Arimathea.” (Lionel Smithett Lewis, late Vicar of Glastonbury, St. Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury or the Apostolic Church of Britain, James Clarke & Co. Ltd, Cambridge, PO Box 60, Cambridge, CBI 2NT, 1922, 1955, 1988.pg. 53)
Even the word Glastonbury means the “The secret of the Lord” and the area called a “Secretum” which means a place of retirement. It was Reverend C.C. Dobson, Vicar of St. Mary in the Castle, Hastings, who compiled a lot of the common names to the area of Glastonbury in his book, Did Our Lord visit Britain? According to one tradition, Jesus and Joseph arrived in an area called the summer-land on a ship of Tarshish and lived in a place called Paradise. He continued when he stated, that Jesus “actually stayed some time in Glastonbury and built a wattle building.” (Dobson, Rev. C.C., Did Our Lord visit Britain? pg. 24, cited by Lionel Smithett Lewis, late Vicar of Glastonbury, St. Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury or the Apostolic Church of Britain, James Clarke & Co. Ltd, Cambridge, PO Box 60, Cambridge, CBI 2NT, 1922, 1955, 1988.pg. 52-54)
Even to this day, the area of Somerset is called ‘Summerland’. Within seventeen miles from the seaside town of Burnham is a farm called Paradise Farms in an area called Paradise on old ordinance maps in western Britain. According to Lewis in the north-east part of Glastonbury Tor is a spot called ‘Paradise’ and the ancient road leading to this area is called Paradise Lane.
The fact that Jesus did visit Britain and the region of Avalon is attested by non-other than Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo and the notable doctor of the Roman Catholic Church when writing to Pope Gregory about 600 CE called the Epistolae ad Gregorium Papam, stated:
Augustine the Great – “In the western confines of Britain, there is a certain royal island of large extent, surrounded by water, abounding in all the beauties of nature and necessaries of life. In it the first neophytes of Catholic Law, God beforehand acquainting them, found a Church constructed by no human art, but by the Hands of Christ Himself, for the salvation of His people. The Almighty has made it manifest by many miracles and mysterious visitations that He continues to watch over it as sacred to Himself, and to Mary, the Mother of God” (cited by Lionel Smithett Lewis, late Vicar of Glastonbury, St. Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury or the Apostolic Church of Britain, James Clarke & Co. Ltd, Cambridge, PO Box 60, Cambridge, CBI 2NT, 1922, 1955, 1988.pg. 86)
The Wattle Ecclesia built by Jesus and Twelve Anchorite Huts built by Joseph of Arimathea
That there would be built a later Ecclesia in the size and form of the Wilderness Sanctuary of Moses will be talked about later. The early historians are unclear of which ecclesia, the one built by Jesus or the later one built by Joseph and the twelve disciples who came to Britain about 36-37 CE. The former was more likely built like a solitary anchorite hut for meditation; the later one was built like a temple of worship. The former was built more likely near the Chalice Well where the later disciples called Anchorites lived, each with their own dwelling place called anchorite huts; the latter was built where the present ruins of the Glastonbury Abbey and the Chapel of Mary are located.
This ‘wattle and mud’ church or ‘wattle and daub’ ecclesia is verified by many ancient historians. They include William of Malmesbury (12th century) and his De Antiquities Glastoniae (The Antiquities of Glastonbury), Elvan of Avalon, who was a British scholar who was educated at the school at Avalon about 180 CE, and wrote, De origine Ecclesiae Britannicae (The Original Ecclesia of Britain, and Pitsaeus who wrote: Relat Hist. de rebus Anglicis Act., Capgrave writing: De Sancto Joseph at Aramathia, Haworth Castle writing The Magna Tabula of Glastonbury, Hearne writing John of Glastonbury and the British historians Gildas and Geoffrey. These all verify the stories of the mud and wattle places of worship by Jesus and Joseph.
The hints on the life of Christ in Britain are few yet profound. It is Reverend Dobson who has suggested that having been taken as a lad by Joseph to Britain, Yahshua later came here in his youth and young manhood to visit Glastonbury as a place of retreat. The area was quiet, secluded and with a subdued beauty. Here was a place He could allow His mind to be filled with the images of His Father and commune in quietness. It was at this time, He erected his own small hermitage of mud and wattles and there he prayed and meditated in preparation for His ministry in Galilee and then to Jerusalem.
The Chalice Well at Glastonbury
In the early years before Glastonbury was named by the invading Saxon, this area was known by two names, “Secretum Domini” or The Secret of our Lord and “Domus Dei” meaning The House or Home of God”. This wattle and mud temple carried with it the sanctity that Yahshua; the Son of God lived within it. Yet the Secret of our Lord represented His dowry or gift to remembrance to His mother, Mary. (Jowett, The Drama of the Lost Disciples, pg 144)
While being raised in Galilee and Judea, Jesus was fully immersed in the Torah. As all orthodox Jewish youth, He was to commit the Torah to memory and know all the 613 commandments of the Lord. Yet as He stated later in His ministry, His mission to this earth was to come to the Lost Tribes of the House of Israel. Though they may seem lost today, the whereabouts of the lost tribes was well known to the Jewish scholars of the 1st century. Migrating from the land of Assyria between the 7th to the 1st century BCE, they were now found scattered from India to Britain with a few remnants as far away as China.
The Celtic Land of the Druids
The land of the Celts was a land of strong political and spiritual leaders. One of the first to greet Joseph of Arimathea when he returns to Britain was Bran the Blessed, who was the Arch-Druid over all Britain and Wales. With our knowledge now of Druidism, we now see a vibrant and flourishing religious environment in which Glastonbury was in the center of several of the chief druidic centers of Britain: Caerleon, Salisbury, Bristol, Bath and Dorchester.
A Reverend R.W. Morgan, in his book, “St. Paul in Britain” gives a very thoughtful look at the Druids in Celtic Britain. Recognized to be Rome’s greatest opponent, the center of Druidism was in Britain and fanned out all over the continent of Gaul (France in central Europe). As the historian, Hume said, “No religion has ever swayed the minds of men like the Druidic.”
The foundational philosophy was very similar to the Jews and the Gaelic language that they spoke was phonetically like Hebrew. Many scholars have come to believe that ancient Druidism, not the modern New Age druids, was more akin to the Hebrews of the Judges than the 1st century Jews who through their Babylonian exile, had codified their beliefs and had become an isolated sectarian religion denoted best by their separatism from the rest of the world.
What religious principles we still have of the ancient Druids have come down to us as triads such as the
“Three duties of every man: Worship God; be just to all men; die for your country.”
The central belief in Druidism was the Trinity, yet it was not polytheistic. The omnipotent God was called the Duw, and was known as the One without darkness Who pervaded the universe. This was the God-head or the world of the Divine. The emblems of Druidism depict three Golden Rays of Light that emanate from the God-head. This closely approximates the fundamentals philosophy of the Divine as seen by the mystical Jewish sages. The world of the Divine was not composed of three persons but three emanations. These Three were:
Beli, Who was the Creator of the past, Taran, Who was the providential God of the present and Yesu, the coming Saviour of the future.
The oak tree was the sacred tree of the Druidic God-head and the mistletoe was growing on the oak was symbolic of the Trinity with its three berries representing the three aspects of the Divine One. Yet the most fascinating was that the Druids were anticipating the coming of the messiah called Yesu (in Gaelic) and Yahshua (in Aramaic) and that with His coming He would be known as “All Heal”.
Was it any wonder that when Joseph of Arimathea came after the death and resurrection of Jesus, the rulers of the land were anticipating his coming? They already knew the Saviour and Maschiach (Messiah) of the Jews. They knew His name and they also knew Him in person.
During the time of Yahshua’s visit, there were forty universities of higher learning, one in each capital of the forty tribes of the Druids in Britain. At times they were teaching upwards to 60,000 students and nobility in the country. The educational system was so profound that young scholars from Rome would go to Britain to be trained. For twenty years they were taught before they had completed all the areas of higher education. These areas of study included include astronomy, arithmetic, geometry, jurisprudence, medicine, poetry and oratory.
Here in the land of Judea where the brightest scholars like Shaul and Luke studied at the feet of the greatest of Pharisaic scholars such as Gamaliel and Hillel, when Yahshua came back to Judea and Galilee, the Pharisees and Scribes had only one comment:
John 7:15 – “And the Jews marveled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?”
Were the teachings of Jesus actually a combination of the profound knowledge of the Jews and the wisdom of the Druids?
The Nazarene Mission to Druidic Britain
The first recorded message of the risen Lord given to the British Isles is recorded in the History of Gildas, which stated:
History of Gildas (6th century CE) – “These islands received the beams of light – that is, the holy precepts of Christ- the true Son, as we know, at the latter part of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, in whose time this religion was propagated without impediment and death threatened to those who interfered with its professors” (History of Gildas, section 8, 9, cited by Taylor, John W. The Coming of the Saints, Imagination and studies in Early Church History and Tradition, Methuen & Co. Ltd, 1909, 1985 reprint by Artisan Sales, PO Box 1529, Muskogee, OK 74402, 1995, p. 141)
The death of the Roman emperor Tiberius Caesar was in early 37 CE. Just prior to his death, Pilate was sent into exile. That Joseph could have returned any time after the death of Jesus in his rock-hewn tomb near Jerusalem in 31 CE, would have been reasonable due to his business interests and responsibilities. Therefore it can be assumed that Joseph had to return back Britain on business to evaluate the tin mining operations which were under his custody by the Roman government soon after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. There he took the ‘Good News” to the Arch Druid of Britain, Bran the Blessed and the royal members of the Silurian Tribe in southeastern Wales.
For many, the concept that Jesus went to visit, work and live for a few months or years during the “lost years” of Jesus’ youth is not totally out of question. The Talmud attests that Joseph of Arimathea was the son of Matthat (Mathat) ben Levi of Arimathea, and the younger brother of the Joachim/Heli, the father of Mary. If this were true, he was the uncle to Mary. By all evidence, Joseph the father of Jesus died while Jesus was a child, or at best in his teens. Under Jewish law, upon the death of a husband, the wife and children are placed in the custody of the next male kin of the husband. Therefore, Joseph of Arimathea would have become the guardian of Mary or paranymphos of Mary and her son, Yahshua, very early in His life.
The Bardic pedigrees of ancient Wales, the same King Arviragus, who is called Aballach, Avalloch or Evelake, is traced in the lineages of the Welch nobles and saints. In the ancient manuscripts, there are four royal British genealogies that trace to a King Bali and Anna, called the cousin or consobrina of Mary, the mother of Jesus. All four of these lineage link to King Arviragus. There is the Breton tradition that is told in the Hachette’s Guide Bleu Bretagne that is linked with the St. Anna, the mother of Mary and the grandmother of Jesus. According to this story, Anna was born of the royal Cornoualle bloodlines. She was the victim of wife abuse while she was carrying Mary and eventually fled by sea to Asia, landing in Jaffa and then moved up to Nazareth. It was there she gave birth to a little girl named Mary, who when she was fifteen years old was given to marry the Judaite, Joseph. At this time, she prayed that the Lord would take her back to Counouaille. The same angel took her back to Cornwall and finding her husband dead, divided the estate among the vassals working for her husband. There beside a well near the bay of Palue, she lived out her live. According to this tradition, Jesus as a youth came to visit with her. As such, St. Anna de la Palue is one of the chief patron saints in Brittany on the western coast of France. (Lionel Smithett Lewis, late Vicar of Glastonbury, St. Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury or the Apostolic Church of Britain, James Clarke & Co. Ltd, Cambridge, PO Box 60, Cambridge, CBI 2NT, 1922, 1955, 1988.pg. 62-63)
On the isle of Lammana is an ancient Priory, once part of the 12 Hides of Glastonbury. This area was divided into two regions, Parlooe and Portlooe where near a well called St. Anna’s well, is the Chapel of St. Anna by the old Looe Bridge. At least one scholar suggests that Lammana is actually Lan Anna, the Gaelic name for the Church of Anna. In the taxation rolls of Pope Nicholas IV (1288-1291 CE), Lammana was called Sancta Lamana (Holy Lamana) That the traditions of Brittany in western France and land of the Brits in western England are the same comes as no surprise that when Aurelius Ambrosias, the Roman general was defeated by British under Emperor Maximums Magnus in 387 CE
This genealogy is also attested in the genealogy of Joseph of Arimathea as compiled by Charlemagne, the Holy Roman Emperor, who was one of his descendants. The genealogy of Luke 3:23-24 would look like this:
Joseph ben Mattathias married to the daughter of Simon the Just
Janna (Janne Jannai) ben Joseph
Melchi (Melki) ben Janna
Levi ben Melchi
Matthat ben Levi of Arimathea
Joseph ben Matthat of Arimathea
Heli ben Matthat of Arimathea
Mary bat Heli ben Matthat
Yahshua ben Joseph, ben Mary
If we take the testimony of the revered Catholic Doctor of law, St. Augustine of Hippo, that a wattle church was built by the Hand of Christ Himself, then we also have the testimony of Yahshua, the son of a master craftsman called a carpenter, Joseph, who was now utilizing the trade that was taught him as an apprentice of his own adopted father, Joseph. Cornish traditions abound in the whole region. Can we now suspect that Jesus had a great affinity and attachment to his great uncle, though, by the time of his ministry in Galilee, his uncle was probably absent for long periods of time on his business as the Decurio of the tin and lead mines of Britain. That Joseph had returned in time for the Passover is attested in the gospel stories. That he was a member of the Sanhedrin that condemned his own nephew is attested in the secular historical records. That he risked everything, his wealth, power and civil and political position to fulfill his obligations as the guardian of Jesus by defying the Sanhedrin and claiming the body of his own great-nephew is attested by both the canon and secular history.
As we shall see later, the site of the church built by Jesus in dedication of his mother, Mary, was soon to be rebuilt by Joseph of Arimathea and a band of twelve who escaped from the shores of Caesarea and under severe hardship landed near Marseilles, France.
From there they travelled the route of the ancient tin miners. Fellow travellers with Joseph of Arimathea left the city of Marseilles and travelled up the Rhone as far as the city of Arles and then a thirty-day’ journey across France, the region known as Gaul. On this journey, they went through the country of the Lemovices over to the sea-coast; on to Limoges and finally arriving in the province of Brittany at Vannes or Morlaix on the coast of the British Channel. It was then a four days journey sailing across the English Channel to Cornwall to a place called Ictis by the ancients, known today as St. Michael’s Mount. The final leg of the journey inland went across Britain to the British strongholds or they took a skiff and traversed around the south end of Cornwall and up the Atlantic coastline to the island of Avalon where modern-day Glastonbury is now located.
The church that was rebuilt by Joseph of Arimathea would later be encased in lead to preserve it and then a chapel dedicated to Mary, the mother of Jesus would be built over it. On the above picture of the Abbey of Glastonbury, the small chapel to the left attached to the sanctuary proper was the reputed site of the wattle ecclesia and then the rebuilt mud and branch larger ecclesia built by Joseph of Arimathea. This story will be told in Part Two of the history of the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia of Israel.
A more significant genealogical study can be found at What Happened to the Friends and Disciples of Jesus. In this introduction, as a BibleSearcher, I will conclude with the following observations.
Joseph of Arimathea, when compiling the historical documentation of the Jews with the historical documentation of the Culdee Celtic Christian Church in Wales and Britain, gives evidence he was a wealthy Jewish descendant of the House of David, who was selected by the Caesar of Rome to be a Roman Decurio and in charge of the mining, processing and shipping of the metal tin that was extracted since the greatest of antiquity from Cornwall, England.
Joseph of Arimathea is portrayed in the ancestral genealogies of the royal and nobility of Europe as being the brother to Heli, the thereby the great uncle to Jesus.
This fact is corroborated in the Talmud that Joseph of Arimathea was the younger brother of Mary’s father.
The evidence also presented that Joseph of Arimathea was the uncle also to Joseph the father of Jesus as well as the uncle to Mary. Therefore, Joseph and Mary were at least second cousins.
The British genealogies record that Joseph of Arimathea had a daughter called Anna, who was a consobrina, that is a relative or cousin to Mary the mother of Jesus.
British genealogies are record that Anna was of British descent and had two or three husbands, one of which was a Jewish tin trader from Cornwall.
Christian tradition states that Mary was the daughter of Joachim and Hanna. Hanna in the Christian tradition could easily have been Anna in the British Celtic genealogies.
Ancient British genealogies record that after the death of Joseph, Mary married the brother of Joseph, Cleopas.
As such ancient British genealogies also record that Mary, the mother of Jesus and Mary Cleopas were the same person.
All records including the Biblical records suggest that Jesus had at least four sibling brothers and two sibling sisters. They were either full siblings, half siblings or cousins by half blood.
The Birth of the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia
From the Crucifixion to the Pentecost Revival
Scholars have tried for centuries to get in touch with the powerful dynamics that were occurring in the months that followed the resurrection of Christ. The emotional and concerted energies of hundreds of believers led to a revival of which over the centuries, many have sought to replicate but has never been duplicated. The messages of Jesus, as penetrating and life-altering as they are, were not the only catalyst which drove the primitive Nazarene Ecclesia in its great evangelical thrust.
The “primitive Christians” at that time were in the process of developing their Jewish sect within the entire economy of the Jewish life in Roman Judea. To them, they were to transform their Jewish way of life, culture and politics. This transformation was induced not only with the permission but the command to “Go ye therefore and teach all nations” was about as rapid a paradigm shift in religio-political culture as has ever been seen. The central cultural thesis in Judaism was that the world would come to them to learn of the majesty of the Hebrew God not realizing that they were about to reach out in the first and most powerful thrust in making the Hebrew monotheistic God into a Universal God for all mankind.
The participants in that Pentecostal experience had no concept that what they were about to do was far more than a major reformation of Jewish life. They were still Israelites at heart and they knew that their primary mission was to take the “good news” to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Their ancestral brethren in small tribes and groups had been separating themselves from the main body of Israelites even before the Exodus. The largest separation had been with the forced emigration of the northern ten tribes by the Assyrian warlords. The most recent had been the schism between the Samaritans and the Jews.
As we now begin our search for the lives and missions of Christ’s closest associates, almost all, except Paul would have their mental prisms colored by the fact that they were searching out their lost ancestors and to give them the ‘good news’ that the revelation of God coming in the flesh would forever change their lives as followers of ‘the Way”
The central core belief that is critical to understand is; on Pentecost, 31 CE the disciples and associates of Jesus firmly believed in their minds that Jesus had risen from the dead and had ascended up into heaven, yet in their minds, this assent was only temporarily. He would come again and in this generation.
A historian should stay closely with the religious belief systems that are a part of the cultural life of the players and participants. In spite of the attempts of ‘modern critical thinkers’ to redefine the essential elements of the resurrection story, the Jewish teachings of resurrection are not ambiguous but quite definite. To the Jew, the resurrection was nothing more than the “getting up’ of one who has been lying down as a corpse, the reanimation of a dead body, so that the individual breathes and moves and has all his physical functions restored. It is as the awakening from sleep or coma.” (Schonfield, Hugh Joseph, The Pentecost Revolution, The Story of the Jesus Party in Israel, AD 36-66, Macdonald and Janes’s, St. Giles, 49/50 Poland Street, London, W.I., 1974, p 97)
Even more so, in reference to the future Messianic Age, when the followers of Jesus will be resurrected, it was still nothing more than a restoration of life as experienced in the present world, yet with some difference, it might be a more glorious body or a life of longer duration or potential immortality.
When the disciples saw that the tomb was empty, it was one of incredulous disbelief. In spite of Jesus repeatedly telling them that He would rise again, we find the Galileans fleeing and heading back to the Sea of Galilee. To them, their life was a failure, Jesus was dead, and now his body had been stolen. Besides that, they were being blamed for stealing the body.
Then there began to occur multiple sightings of Jesus, the emphasis on confirming that he was a real body (touching his wounds, eating bread or fish with them), even though on one occasion, he materializes in front of them as though he came through the wall. Even Jesus’ own brother, Jacob (James) who becomes the central leader of the Jerusalem Church, in the Gospel of the Hebrews is described as swearing neither to eat or drink until he is able to confirm that Jesus had truly risen from the grave. So Jesus came to him personally, requesting a table and bread and after a blessing, broke the bread and gave it to Jacob, saying:
Gospel of the Hebrews – “My brother, eat thy bread, for the Son of Man is risen from among them that sleep.”
(Quoted from the Gospel of the Hebrews by Jerome, Of Illustrious Men, 2 found in The Pentecost Revolution by Hugh Joseph Schonfield, The Story of the Jesus Party in Israel, AD 36-66, Macdonald and Janes’s, St. Giles, 49/50 Poland Street, London, W.I., 1974, p 104).
What a testimony this is on the nature of the state of the dead who sleep awaiting the resurrection by their Lord.
The Pentecost Revival in Jerusalem
Apostle Peter the fiery evangelist at Pentecost when Thousands converted to “The Way”
It could not have been a more memorable moment when on the Feast of Weeks, Pentecost all the friends and disciples of Jesus were celebrating the festival of the first-fruits. That they were all Jewish and fully immerse in the life of Torah must truly be accepted to understand fully the implications of the actions and reactions that would come over the next decades. Here we see the proclamation of the literal resurrection of the Messiah was to become a literal image of a still future literal event, the resurrection of the elect or Holy Ones. Did not Paul, known as the Pharisee Rabbi Shaul say?
I Corinthians 15:20 – “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
As reported in Acts, after Peter finished exhorting the people that this was “the Last Days”, a time when God will say,
Acts 2:17-18 – “I will pour out upon everyone a portion of my spirit; and your sons and daughters shall prophesy; your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Yes, I will endue even my slaves, both men and women, with a portion of my spirit, and they shall prophesy.”
Do we have a hint or a clue that it was the downtrodden and the youth of both genders, who would receive the most noticeable portion of the spirit, for if you are to prophesy, you must also speak your prophesy in public and do so in public?
Here we see Peter as he stood and preached before thousands proclaiming the Good News about Jesus. He spoke of Jesus as the “man singled out by God and made known to you through miracles, portents, and signs,” (Acts 2:22) and now Jesus was “set free from the pangs of death.” (Acts 2:23)
From this, the New Testament’s greatest evangelistic campaign in Jerusalem, three thousand responded to Peter as he “pressed his case” with the plea, “Repent and is baptized”. The city of Jerusalem was astir, as one author said, “seething”, in anticipation and expectation. Their hearts were open, for the seed had been sown for three and a half years by the “Son of man”, and now in league with the “Spirit”, the harvest was being reaped.
It’s important to understand, the Pharisees and Sadducees as major parties could only number about seven to eight thousand adherents each, and with the Essenes, the number was slightly less. Three thousand added in one day to the new “Party of Jesus” called “The Way” was a major religious and political event. Many may have come from the general population and the Diaspora Jews, yet when we soon look at the structure of the Jerusalem Church, we will see a strong influence from the organization and polity of the Essenes.
The people in Jerusalem were very much affected and supportive of the followers of Jesus. These Nazarene believers were pro-messianic and were expecting the future redemption of Israel by their rising messiah. They were not elitist and many were directly associated with the rank and file of the ordinary Jewish population. The core believers of Jesus cared deeply for the poor, the oppressed and the down-trodden and as staunch believers in the Law of Moses, they remained apart from the appearance of contact with heathens or heathen customs.
On the other hand, the messianic message of the early Nazarenes was also attractive to the more radical zealots who had a political agenda to promote. The zealot guerrillas or the messianic ‘underground’ who could respond suddenly to the fanatical ideology of a prophet (false) or aspirant to the throne of David, would forever link the early primitive Christians to the radical fringe which eventually brought Judea to her knees and the destruction of Jerusalem.
The outpouring of fervor, zeal and ecstasy ran through the streets of the ‘Old City’ now known as the Ophel. Hundreds and thousands were wanting to join the new movement. (Acts 2:42-47) With them came their savings, their prized possessions and there they laid them at the feet of the apostles. The more affluent brought titles and deeds to their buildings to give to the congregation of the Nazarenes. The throngs crowded the streets to hear and participate in the acclamation of their new faith, while going to the temple courtyard to hear Peter and John daily preach and teach to the multitudes. It was here that the lame man was healed (Act 3 1-26), it was here that Peter and John were arrested mainly because they were causing a public commotion and it was a nuisance (much less alarming) to the chief priests and Sadducean authorities. Obviously, they objected to the preaching about the resurrection in the Temple compound, but the Sanhedrin could not deal with this issue as the Pharisees were firm believers in a resurrection. Even healing in the temple was not an offence, so they were released. (Acts 4:1-24)
The release of Peter and John from the garrison of the temple guard was a political victory to the primitive followers of Jesus. Their “approval poll ratings’ sky-rocketed. Another five thousand believers were added to the Community of Jesus, including many of the priests who lived in the Ophel, many Jews living in the Diaspora, and many Gentile Hellenistic believers. Keep in mind the potential threat this was to the leading Jewish authorities. Once again Peter and John had been arrested and these times were imprisoned until a full Sanhedrin could be convened. Before they could be brought to trial, the release of Peter and John was known throughout the city. Were these white cloaked emissaries supernatural beings or were they part of the white robed Essene underground? (Acts 5:17-21) They in turn were now escorted back to the Sanhedrin, though not in chains, for questioning. Though the Sadducean hierarchy wanted their execution, it was the defense of the great Pharisaic teacher, Rabban Gamaliel, who urged their caution, least open rebellion be incited, led the two apostles to be flogged and released, with further warnings.
Acts 4:4 – “However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.”
The Lucian account states later:
Acts 6:7 – “Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.”
With nine thousand new recruits to the Messianic Church of Jesus, the Hebrew Nazarenes were becoming the dominant sect or party in Judah.
With the large league of priests whose home was in the Ophel district of Jerusalem did truly become followers of the Jewish messiah; Yahshua was a direct testimony that the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia of Jerusalem was fully Jewish. As true orthodox Jews, they strictly obeyed all the 613 Mosaic ordinances given to Israel at Sinai. These priest continued to minister in the Temple. It was their predecessors who formed the consciousness of Jewish society. For two hundred years prior to the birth of Yahshua, they attacked the Hellenistic lifestyles of the priestly families and formed the Chasidism, who later became the Zadokites (priestly members from the family of the High Priest during King David’s rule) and Essenes, who strictly believed that the current priestly rulers from the family of Annas and the Boethe were illegitimate priests and the true Zadoks were to be the only God appointed priests.
It was here that the polarizing alignment began between the pro-Messianics and the anti-Messianics. This rift would be the central fulcrum of Jewish political life until the destruction of Jerusalem. This rift would eventually define the Jerusalem Nazarene Ecclesia, known in Acts as the Jerusalem Church.
The Birth of the Nazarene Ecclesia of Jerusalem
The date when the Jerusalem Nazarene Ecclesia was formed is unclear to modern historians. With the rapid growth of the Nazarene party and the evangelistic fervor that came with it, only suggests that an organizational structure was needed and needed immediately. What is known is that a supposed group of uneducated Galileans suddenly develop as a sophisticated religious organization and began to compete for as the dominant party of the Jews in the decades after the death and resurrection of Yahshua.
Yet who were these Nazarenes, who claimed to follow the teachings of a Jewish rabbi called Yahshua the Nazarene who preached and healed the sick in Galilee and Judea? His gentile Greek followers would later call him Iesus which would later be transliterated into English as Jesus. That these Hellenistic followers were later called Christians has been one of the most confusing facts in the growth and development of the Primitive Apostolic Ecclesia, called by many the Jerusalem Christian Church.
That the church was called ‘Christian’ in Jerusalem defies the fact that there never was a church in Jerusalem in that day, even though this fact has been declared irrelevant to most orthodox Christian scholars. Yet to blend the two; Christian and Nazarene formed a new reality that was historical, the Early Nazarene Ecclesia in Jerusalem was Jewish to its very core. Though some of the authors of the New Testament spoke and wrote in Greek, they thought in Hebrew and Aramaic. To take meaning from the Classical and Hellenistic sources of Greek and superimpose these meanings upon the New Testament begs the idea that a proper historical context is missing.
The historical context of the New Testament could not be better stated than by a Jewish born and trained scholar in Hebrew and Jewish studies, Jacques Benyamin Doukhan Th.D., now Christian theologian as professor in Hebrew Languages, Exegesis and Jewish Studies at Andrews University and Theology School, when he wrote:
Jacques Doukhan Th.D. – “Jesus was born, lived and died as a Jew. And beyond the historical fact, every moment of his earthly existence was given a highly Jewish significance. Also, the theology used to explain the events was Jewish in nature. Jesus was born under the sign of David, which meant in Jewish terms a messianic destiny. He lived as a powerful rabbi. His teachings and his miracles, his religious works and his acts of love received a profound Jewish meaning: He was identified as the one who was presented by the Hebrew prophets, to bring shalom into the heart and hope to the oppressed Jewish people. Even his death was interpreted along Jewish categories of thinking. He was associated with the sacrifice of the temple and the lamb of Passover, the very sign of deliverance from slavery. The technical Greek word “exodus,” used in Luke 9:30-31 to describe Jesus’ death, suggests the redemptive significance of his death.” (Doukhan, Jacques Th.D., Israel and the Church, Two voices for the Same God, Hendrickson Publishers, PO Box 3473, Peabody, Massachusetts 01961-3473, 2002, pg 7)
The Brothers of Jesus
The scriptural testimony is strong and clear; Jesus did have siblings. Yet the hints we recognize are meagre. We read in Acts that after the ascension of Jesus on the Mount of Olives, the friends and disciples of Jesus met again in the house with an upper room. With them were the women who had followed and supported the ministry of Jesus and also with them were the mother of Jesus and his brethren. (Acts 1:13-14) Who were these brethren and what was their relationship to Jesus? The New Testament records five times in which “the brethren” of Jesus are mentioned.
Matthew 12:46 – “While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him.”
Matthew 13:55 – “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And his brethren, James and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?
Luke 8:19 – “Then came to him his mother and his brethren, and could not come at him for the press.”
John 2:12 – “After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days.”
Acts 1:14 – “Entering the city they went to the room upstairs where they were lodging: All these were constantly at prayer together, and with them a group of women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.”
In the manuscript, What happened to the Friends and Associates of Jesus, we have looked closer to the identities of the four brothers of Jesus. These four were known as:
(1) James the Less (Short), son of Joseph, who was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus and later known as Jacob (James) the Just as the first leader of the Jerusalem Nazarene Hebrew Ecclesia,
(2) Symeon (Simon), son of Cleopas, nominated to be the replacement leaders as head of the Jerusalem Nazarene Ecclesia upon the death of Jacob the Just in 63 CE.
(3) Jude (Thaddeus), known as one of the twelve disciples and whose sons, James and Sokher, who as part of the family of Jesus, carried their genealogies during their mission travels in order to document their relationship with Jesus. It was in 96 CE, Domitian, as Emperor, hunting down all potential aspirants to the Throne of David, transported James and Sokher to Rome to be questioned by the Emperor. They were released when it became clear they were poor peasants, owning 39 acres of land, which they tilled for a living and had no political or religious aspirations.” (Schonfield, Hugh Joseph, The Pentecost Revolution, The Story of the Jesus Party in Israel, AD 36-66, Macdonald and Janes’s, St. Giles, 49/50 Poland Street, London, W.I., 1974, p 244) and lastly
(4) Joseph (Barsaba) ‘son of wisdom’, also called Justus, who probably was also a friend of the Apostle Paul along with Aristarchus and John Mark of whom Paul wrote:
Colossians 4:12 – “These are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are of the circumcision (Jewish Nazarenes); they have proved to be a comfort to me.”
James, the Just, Leader of the Nazarene Ecclesia of Jerusalem
The first clue to this organization, we have is found in the Gospel of Thomas, (Saying 8). This gospel or collection of saying of Christ is accepted to be a very early book of Jesus’ teachings attributed to the writings of the Apostle Judas Thomas. It was preserved in the library archives of the Gnostic believers at Nag Hammadi in Egypt as one of the earliest Coptic manuscripts known to this day. Portions of this book also were found in the 19th century in Egypt at Oxyrhychus.
According to the Gospel of Thomas, the disciples inquire to Yahshua before his death:
Gospel of Thomas, Saying Eight – “We know that you will go away from us. Who will be great over us? Jesus says to them, “In the place to which you have gone (Jerusalem), you will go to Jacob the Just, for whose sake heaven and earth were created.”
In the Gospel of the Hebrews gives testimony that Jesus after his resurrection, appeared personally to his brother, because he vowed to fast until he could talk directly with Jesus. Paul alluded to this event when he said:
I Corinthians 15:7 – After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.”
The Lucian account in Acts of the Apostles, confirms that the apostles and disciples in one accord placed themselves under the leadership of James the Just, known as the brother of Jesus. Who was this person, Jacob, held in such high esteem, who became the undisputed leader even over all the other disciples?
The Ossuary of James son of Joseph, Brother of Jesus
The Christian world was essentially clueless to the man called Jacob or James the Just, who was the brother of Jesus and became the first leader of the fledgling congregation of insecure believers who were still reeling over the death of their beloved rabbi. Many had become convinced that Yahshua truly was the promised messiah, but what His messianic mission was, they were unsure. The resurrection and the phenomenon that was associated with the nature of the Risen Christ was enough to convince most that they were in the presence of an other-dimensional being who He represented Himself as the Son of the God of Abraham.
And then in the fall of 2002, Biblical Archeological Review shook the Christian world when it announced that a first-century Judean ossuary or human bone box had been discovered and on the side of the simple and non-ornamented bone box was inscribed the simple yet riveting inscription in Aramaic,
Ya’akov bar Yosef akhui diYahshua, saying, “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.”
The news ricocheted around the world and immediately the scientific world was polarized as they always do when new evidence emerges of an authentic artifact of either the ancient Israeli or Jewish origins. Quickly the newsprints and airways were crying fraud and deception.
The Inscription of the Ossuary of James (Ya’akov) son of Joseph (Yosef) – NY Times Science
The ossuary is owned by an Israeli antiquities collector Oded Golan, who is the owner also of a stone tablet reputed to have been written in the reign of King Josiah of the Kingdom of Judah. Mr. Golan claimed that he purchased the ossuary, currently valued by experts to be worth about two million dollars, in the mid-1970 from an antiquities dealer whose name is now not remembered in the Old City of Jerusalem for about $200. According to Hershel Shanks, editor of BAR, “The Arab dealer told the owner it came from Silwan, a Jerusalem suburb honeycombed with ancient tombs.
The ossuary was soon after its discovery was sent to a convention of biblical scholars and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto put it on display. While in route, it developed a series of cracks. The experts on Hebrew linguistics and ancient scripts were immediately divided. The burial box was obvious to all to be genuine. It was accepted that it was part of the Judean burial customs between 20 BCE and 70 CE when Jewish remains lay in long caves for a year until the flesh decayed and fell off and then the bones were placed in a limestone ossuary bone and put in a cave.
The first part of the inscription, ‘James son of Joseph’ was felt by most to be genuine but the second half of the inscription, ‘brother of Jesus’ bore the marks of a fraudulent additions to possibly around the 3rd to the 4th centuries CE. Andre Lemaire, a specialist in ancient inscriptions at the French Practical School of Higher Studies, published his finding in the Nov/Dec 2002 BAR that the writing and script was ‘very probable’ authentic and could be dated to about 63 CE, the date of the death of James the Just when he was stoned, clubbed and then thrown over the parapet of the temple walls to the Kidron valley below. Lemaire estimates that in that era of ninety years about twenty James who could have had a father called Joseph and a brother called Jesus would have lived.
On the other hand, Robert Eisenman of California State University, author of the massive book, James the brother of Jesus, attacked the authenticity of the ossuary. Eisenman, a critical skeptic who thinks that “Jesus’ existence is a very shaky thing’, finds the find ‘just too pat. It’s just too perfect’.
Rev. Joseph Fitzmyer, an emeritus Biblical Studies expert at The Catholic University has expressed that the authentication of the inscription will ‘always be controversial’. According to Fitzmyer, one Israeli scholar studied 895 ossuaries from Judea and there were found inscriptions on about 200 of them, most of them inscribed in the Greek language
Until the archeological finding of the ossuary, the oldest artifact that has survived and has been recovered that mentions the name of Jesus is a fragment of the 18 chapters of the Gospel of John that was found in a manuscript discovered in Egypt in 1920 and dated to about 125 CE. Though most modern scholars date the earliest gospel, Gospel of Mark, to about 70 CE, yet this author feels that the Gospel of Mark was written as early as 55 CE in the city of Rome where Mark was assisting the Apostle Paul just before his execution in the circus of Nero.
Later in the 2nd century, there are numerous manuscripts of the New Testament and three pagan authors in Rome in the 2nd century and the writings of Josephus during and after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE comprise all the earliest evidence of Jesus the son of Mary. Outside of the few biblical statements in Acts, the major sources on the life of Jacob (James) the brother of Jesus, are found in The Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of the Hebrews, Hegesippus, Clements of Alexandria, Julius Africanus, Origin, Eusebius, Jerome and Epiphanius. A review of these sources gives us this image of Jacob (James) the Just, known as the brother of Jesus.
It was Eusebius, the Church Historian for Constantine the Great and who was most responsible for formulating the present canon of the New Testament, stated in his book, The Church History:
Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History – “Now Jacob the brother of the Lord, who, as there was many of this name, was termed the Just by all, from the days of our Lord until now, received the government of the Community with the apostles. This apostle was consecrated from his mother’s womb. He drank neither wine nor fermented liquors, and abstained from animal food. A razor never came upon his head; he never anointed himself with oil or used a public bath. He alone was allowed to enter the Holy place. He never wore woolen, only linen garments. He was in the habit of entering the Temple alone, and was often to be found upon his knees and interceding for the forgiveness of the people; so that his knees became as hard as a camel’s …And indeed, on account of his exceeding great piety, he was called the Just (i.e. Tzaddik) and Oblias (i.e. Ophla-am), which signifies Justice and the People’s Bulwark; as the Prophets declare concerning Him.” (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, II. i as quoted by Hugh Joseph Schonfield The Pentecost Revolution, The Story of the Jesus Party in Israel, AD 36-66, Macdonald and -Janes’s, St. Giles, 49/50 Poland Street, London, W.I., 1974, p 147-148).
James the Just has been recognized by all scholars as the brother of Jesus. Eusebius states it plainly:
Eusebius – “James was called the brother of the Lord since he too was called Joseph’s son, and Joseph, Christ’s father – though the virgin was his betrothed and before they came together she was found to have conceived by the Holy Spirit, as the inspired Gospel tells us (Matthew 1:18), The same James, whom early Christians surnamed “the Just” for his outstanding virtue, was the first to be elected to the bishop’s throne of the church in Jerusalem. Clement (of Alexandria), in Outlines, Book 6, puts it as follows: “Peter, James, and John, after the Savior’s ascension, did not contend for the honor because they had previously been favored by the Savior, but chose James the Just as Bishop of Jerusalem.”
Now Clement of Alexandria was quoted also by Eusebius that James the Just, Peter and John were part of an inner triumvirate that Jesus gave ‘higher knowledge’ before He ascended into the cloud.
Eusebius on Clement – “After the resurrection the Lord imparted the higher knowledge (gnosis) to James the Just, John, and Peter. They gave it to the other apostles, and the other apostles to the Seventy, one of whom was Barnabus. Now there were two Jameses: one, James the Just, who was thrown down from the parapet (of the temple) and beaten to death with a fuller’s club; the other, the James (the brother of John) who was beheaded. (Acts 12:2) (Clement of Alexandria, in Outlines, Book 6, quoted by Eusebius, The Church History, 2:1)
Yet the tenor of the passage suggests a man of great piety and a true tzaddik or righteous man amongst his people. That he was a Nazarite is true. This was a vow since his birth. That he was a Nazarene is also true as he and Jesus both probably came from the same childhood village that very well may have had an Essene village associated with it. Yet what is even more profound, James (Jacob) the Just was also a practicing Levite and allowed to enter the premises of the Holy Place, a room consecrated for the descendants of the House of Levi only.
It was Epiphanius, Bishop of Constantia (315-403) who stated that:
Epiphanius – “we find that he (James) was of David’s race, being the son of Joseph, and that he was a Nazarene and a Nazarite, as Joseph’s first born son, and thereafter dedicated…”
(Epiphanius, Panarion, I xxviii, quoted in Hugh Joseph Schonfield The Pentecost Revolution, The Story of the Jesus Party in Israel, AD 36-66, Macdonald and -Janes’s, St. Giles, 49/50 Poland Street, London, W.I., 1974, p 148)
According to the Mishnah, Aboth. I.2 the following statement is attributed to Jacob (James),
Mishnah, Aboth – “The world is sustained by three sayings, the Law, the Temple Service and the practice of benevolence.”
(See further the Jewish encyclopedia (Funk and Wagnalls) under Article. Simon the Just, as quoted by Hugh Joseph Schonfield The Pentecost Revolution, The Story of the Jesus Party in Israel, AD 36-66, Macdonald and -Janes’s, St. Giles, 49/50 Poland Street, London, W.I., 1974, p 147-148).
And then we have the testimony of Josephus, the priest turned Jewish historian for the Roman court stated:
Josephus – “He was surnamed the Just because of both his piety towards God and his benevolence to his countrymen.” (Josephus, Aniquities of the Jews, Xii.43)
It was Clements, the third bishop of Rome that we find these remarks that Jacob (James) was called “the supreme supervisor, who rules Jerusalem, the holy Community of the Hebrews, and the communities everywhere excellently founded by the providence of God.” and was called or addressed as “Lord Jacob” (Epistle of Clement to Jacob, preceding the Clementine Homilies., quoted by Hugh Joseph Schonfield in The Pentecost Revolution, The Story of the Jesus Party in Israel, AD 36-66, Macdonald and Janes’s, St. Giles, 49/50 Poland Street, London, W.I., 1974, p148)
Later Jerome, the doctor of Law of the Roman Church stated:
Jerome, Commentary on Galatians – “this same James, who was the first Bishop of Jerusalem and known as Justus, was considered to be so Holy by the People that they earnestly (or ‘zealously’) sought to touch the hem of his clothing.”
(Jerome, Commentary on Galatians. I.19.quoted by Robert Eisenman, James the brother of Jesus, Penguin Books, 375, Hudson Street, New York, NE, 10014, 1997, p. 239)
It is rather to Hegesippus, we can credit a lot of the facts concerning the early Nazarene Church that are not found in the record of the Acts of the Apostles and other contemporary sources on the early Nazarenes in Jerusalem. Hegesippus was recognized as one of the earliest Church historians, who travelled extensively and collected every bit of information he could on the historical roots of the Nazarene and Christian communities. Many have called him the “Father of Early Christian History”.
According to Bishop Hegesippus, Jacob (James), like John the Baptist, was dedicated as a new born to be a lifelong Nazarite and followed faithfully an ascetic way of life like the Essenes. This tradition of the Nazarite was old, coming from the days of Samuel the Prophet and was a respected tenet of Jewish life for both males and females. Being a Nazarite was in no way connected his later identity with the Nazarene Church, a name more associated with a place or area, probably Nazara on the northeastern side of Galilee. As stated:
Hegissipus, Panarion – “He was of David’s race, being the son of Joseph, and that he was a Nasoraean (Nazarite), as Joseph’s first born, and therefore dedicated.” (Hegesippus, Panarion, IXXVII, as quoted in Furneaux 163-164)
Here is the picture of James the Just as gleaned from multiple historical sources. These includes that he was the first born of Joseph and dedicated to be a Nazarite. This vow in his instance was life long, including being an ascetic, one who was very pious and benevolent to the poor. He served the role as intercessor for his people, and being so long on his knees, it was claimed his knees were like ‘camels’. His name attributes suggest that he stood for justice and was recognized as a “Tzaddik”. He was extremely popular and drew vast throngs. He was called ‘Supreme Commander” and also “Lord Jacob”. He was especially identified by the Lord as receiving the ‘Gift of Knowledge’.
Organization of the Jerusalem Nazarene Ecclesia
It soon became apparent, at least by 34-35 CE, that the central church needed an organization to deal with the conflicts such as the Greek adherents to the faith and how to provide for the Greek widows, as well as how to deal with the gentiles who wished to be admitted into the church. The models used for the organization of the Nazarene Ecclesia were apparent, the Essene structure, Jesus ministerial organization (Luke 10:1), the Mosaic model (Numbers 11:16-17) and the Sanhedrin.
There were elected 70 representatives called Elders, with an initial cabinet of fifteen, which included a Council of twelve with three Leaders. The Sanhedrin and the Essenes had a similar structure in which:
the High Priest was called the Nasi,
his Deputy High Priest was called the Sagan, and the
Chief Office of the Religious Court was called the Ab Beth-Din.
Yet this was also adapted closer to the model of Jesus’ ministry, in which the three leaders, Peter, James, son of Zebedee, and his brother, John were part of the Twelve. In the Nazarene Congregation, the “pillars” as Paul called them, were Peter, James (Jacob) the brother of Jesus, and John.
The political structure of the newly organized Nazarene Ecclesia the:
Apostle James (Jacob) the Just became the High Priest (Nasi), who is presented in Acts of the Apostles as a “wise interpreter of scriptures who presides over the Council and gives his rulings” (Schonfield, Hugh Joseph, The Pentecost Revolution, The Story of the Jesus Party in Israel, AD 36-66, Macdonald and Janes’s, St. Giles, 49/50 Poland Street, London, W.I., 1974, p 146)
The Apostle John became the Deputy (Sagan) as from his priestly background he could deal with doctrine and congregational organization issues and
The Apostle Peter became the Chief Officer of the Religious Court (Ab Beth-Din), or the general supervisor, the chief propagandist or evangelist (fame at Pentecost) and pastoral director.
The Jerusalem Nazarene Leaders in the New Testament Scripture
At about the age of thirty-one, James the Less quickly emerged as the leader of the Jerusalem Nazarene Church. This leadership was recognized most in the writing of Paul and Luke (Acts). It was to James and to Peter that on several occasions when he would return back from a mission experience; he sought private audiences with these two Apostles.
Three times James is mentioned by Paul in his letter to the Galatians. The first (39 CE) was when he returned after three years of study and initiation in the deserts of Arabia, he stayed with Peter for fifteen days and did not see any of the other apostles except for James, the Lord’s brother (Galatians 1:17-19)
On his second visit, about 46 CE, Paul wrote,
Galatians 2:9 – “Recognizing, then, the favor thus bestowed upon me, the reputed pillars of our society, James, Cephas, and John, accepted Barnabas and myself as partners, and shook hands upon it, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles while they went to the Jews. All they asked was that we should keep their poor in mind, which was the very thing I made it my business to do.”
Later, Paul mentions James (Galatians 2:12), when the ideological battle arose in the Nazarene Ecclesia on whether congregational membership (salvation) could be extended to those who were not circumcised (Acts 15:13).
Joseph of Arimathea and the Closest Friends of Jesus Flee to Caesarea
The Apostle Philip and the Apostolic Safe-Home in Caesarea
Here begins the story of Philip as told outside the New Testament canon. The Apostle Philip the Evangelist became the first bishop or leader of the Nazarene Ecclesia in Caesarea, the port city of Herod the Great. Along the docks of this thriving Mediterranean port city, Philip had set up residence with his four daughters recognized as prophetesses in a town that was more liberal, cosmopolitan and free. This city became the gateway of the Nazarenes to the rest of the Roman world. Along the landing slips were ships docked from every port of the Mediterranean. Around the coast of Spain up the Atlantic Ocean to the western isles of Britannia, the Jewish Nazarenes and soon to be gentile Christians would freely travel around the Roman Empire.
As we shall see in Part Six, “The Final Exile of Joseph of Arimathea from Israel to the Isle of Avalon”, there is historical evidence that Joseph of Arimathea did return to the British Isles. Upon his arrival now as an emissary of the Nazarenes, the first international message of the death and resurrection of Jesus reached the Arch Druids of Britain and the Royal Silurian family of Wales. The accounts are sketchy, but it appears that the evening of the trial and death of Yahshua when the elder of the Sanhedrin, Joseph of Arimathea, ‘boldly’ claimed the body of Jesus, within hours, the Temple guards took him into custody and put him into chains. There with the seal of Caiaphas, he was imprisoned.
Even though Joseph of Arimathea was protected under Roman law as a Roman Decurio, for he was an officer in the Roman army, he could not escape the fury of Caiaphas and Annas for what he had done for Jesus. He had denied them the opportunity to forever dispose of the body of Jesus. Instead he sealed Jesus in a tomb like the royal prince of David which He truly was. His position as one of the “elders” in the Jewish Sanhedrin was stripped, yet his friendship with the Roman Procurator Pontius Pilate protected him. Of all the members of the friends and disciples of Yahshua, Joseph retained the power and authority of the Roman government and his vast estates in Jerusalem and Ramallah north of Jerusalem provided a safe haven for the members of the early Nazarene Ecclesia in its days of infancy. Did Joseph of Arimathea immediately leave the city and return to Britain? The historical evidence in sketchy at best.
Records do indicate that the extensive properties of Joseph of Arimathea and the Bethany family’s hereditary properties of their Syrian governor were eventually liquidated except for the Bethany home which remained in the possession of the Jewish Nazarene Ecclesia as a house of Prayer. (Maurus, Rabanus, Archbishop of Mayence (AD 776-856 CE), copy of the Life Of St. Mary Magdalene, chapter , quoted in Taylor, The Coming of the Saints, Artisan Sales, POB 1529, Muskogee, OK 74402. 1985, pg. 87-8) As the Nazarene Party grew larger and the members of the Ecclesia grew bolder, the anger and wrath of the Sanhedrin now coming under the complete control of the House of Annas who sent Jesus to be crucified and hang on the tree and now sought to destroy Joseph of Arimathea. He would now be a hunted man, an outcast of the Sanhedrin, now seen as an enemy of the temple Sadducee authorities.
Somewhere in this time frame after 31 CE when Yahshua died on a tree, was entombed in a royal tomb and was resurrected in exact fulfillment of the typology set forth by the Pesach (Passover) Lamb, we find Joseph of Arimathea and a large group of immediate friends and family of Jesus moving to the city of Caesarea. The power of Pontus Pilate was weakening and the coordinated efforts of Pilate and Caiaphas were becoming more tenser as the two rivals to the polity of power, greed and control of Judea. This power struggle would eventually break, one or both of them would eventually go down. Time was getting short. Yet along comes another friend.
Cornelius the Centurion transferred to Caesarea
According to the early traditions, the Roman centurion in Antioch which Jesus had healed his servant appeared to have been transferred to Caesarea. When he was transferred is open to question. It was the Jewish historian Hugh Schonfield, who believed that Cornelius was transferred during the change of Roman rulers when Herod Antipas was deposed in 39 CE. With the power of authority in Galilee reverting back to total Roman hands, there was a massive change in all the Roman administrative offices. Yet this late date is not in harmony with the growing evidence of history of Joseph of Arimathea leaving the area of Judea for the rest of his life.
Acts 10:1 – “At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.” Simon Peter said of Cornelius. “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”
Ananus, Caiaphas and Pontus Pilate – the Struggle for Power over Judea
Yet the case could be made that by the year 35 and 36 CE, the stability of the Roman sovereign power and rule over Judea was in question. They were being challenged by the manipulations of the House of Annas with Caiaphas, the son-in-law as the official high priest. For sixteen years, ten of which were under the control of the Roman Procurator Pontus Pilate, the land of Judea had a local administrator or governor living in the land. Pilate’s main residence was in Herod’s palace in Caesarea where the Roman soldiers in Judea were housed in the praetorian.
Vitellius, the newly arriving legate for Rome in Antioch made a calculated and astute move and carefully set the stage to completely change the political and religion power structure in Jerusalem. As we have seen, he was making preparation to oust both Pontius Pilate as Procurator and Caiaphas as High Priest as their political power together was becoming too cozy and Tiberius Caesar was becoming more aware that this geo-political pair was unhealthy to the interests of Rome. But why?
Pontius Pilate in the eyes of Rome had made some calculated but not fatal mistakes. Early in his career he had tried to install some images of the Emperor in Rome on ensigns throughout the city which almost left thousands of Jews dead. This was not in the best interest of Rome. It was the policy of Rome to allow cultures more ancient than theirs to have a degree of independence and autonomy in the hope of keeping those cultures stable and productive. Even in those days, Judea was the breadbasket of Rome.
The fiasco of the death of a messianic claimant, Yahshua ben Yosef (Jesus son of Joseph) to the throne of David did get the attention of Rome. It was Josephus who wrote:
Josephus – “Now, there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, – a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was (the) Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and then thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him are not extinct at this day.” (Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, III, iii, 2)
This event caused significant turmoil in the land of Judea but it remained internal and the rise of the Nazarene Party appeared to stabilize the country and keep it productive, so no external action on the part of Tiberius Caesar was done.
Ananus, the Power Dejuru over the Jews
Yet over the years, the dissent and rash acts of the Jews against the Jews began to escalate. Pilate did not seem to have any control. Everything in the land of Judea had the marking of one man, the maturing and more powerful Ananus. A man of extreme talent and lust for power, the internal politics of Judea had remained under his grip for twenty eight of the thirty years since he first became high priest.
It was 6 CE and the year of the first Roman taxation in the land of Judea. A revolt was sweeping throughout all the land first with Judas. The land had been under the control of the son of Herod the Great. Born in 23 BCE, Archelaus, became the son of Herod and Malthace. Archelaus became the tetrarch of Judea when his father, Herod the Great a ruler known as a tyrant died early in 1 BCE. The people in the land rejoiced and the citizens of Judea were disposed to accept Archelaus when in his first public assembly he promised to regard the best wishes of his countrymen.
The accession of King Archelaus was met quickly with resistance and the golden Roman eagles over the entrance to the Temple was pulled down by two popular Jewish teachers, Judas and Matthias. On March 13, 1 BCE, Judas and Matthias plus their students were burned alive in Jerusalem with massive throngs of angry Jews.
Most of the people of Judea, hundreds of thousands were in Jerusalem for the spring Passover of 1 BCE, which was a Sabbatical Passover, and Jews from all over the world in the Diaspora were returning to the land of Judea. The pulse of the strident demands of the Judeans was so great that Archelaus sent a Roman detachment of soldiers to Jerusalem to quell the progressively agitating throngs, yet the Romans were not able to subdue the population. So Archelaus sent the whole garrison of Roman soldiers and in the onslaught, three thousands Jews were massacred on the pavements of the Temple.
Archelaus quickly left Caesarea by ship and headed to Rome. When he arrived, awaiting his honors to be as the newly crowned king of Judea, he found that his brother, Antipas, with a large Herodian support living in the city of Rome had already claimed that the second will of Herod had actually nominated he, Antipas, as king. Then there came a deputation of fifty influential Jews with the support of about 8,000 Jerusalem residents, who came with a petition to the Emperor, which was supported by many of the Herodian family, asking Rome to annex Judea as a province of Rome rather than have another king from the House of Herod.
Augustus Caesar chose otherwise. Judea would not be a Roman province, but was divided even more into weaker kinglets, who would pay allegiance and tribute to Rome. So the extensive kingdom of Herod the Great was divided into three smaller kingdoms. Archelaus was appointed at the Ethnarch (“national leader”) of Judea, Samaria and Idumea. They would no longer have a king. Gaza, Gadara and Hippus were to be under the control of the Syrian province. Herod Antipas, the full brother of Archelaus, was made tetrarch of Galilee and Philip, the half brother to Archelaus was made tetrarch of Perea and the lands east of the Jordan.
To understand the life of Jesus as a child, youth and as a young rabbi in the land of Judea, it is critical that the historian and any reader of Christian literature must have a fundamental awareness in the geo-politics of Judea and their relationship to their overlords, the Romans. The life of Jesus began in the days of Herod the Great. Since Herod died in 1 BCE, a date well documented in history, then the story of Jesus must begin prior to this date. Here we introduce the First Birth ceremony of Yahshua as a neonate.
Though, there is no secular historical documentation of a massacre of Jewish babies in the village of Bethlehem, the cruelty of Herod as a ruler to his family, his friends and the population of Judea at large is well documented. That Herod killed all the children two and under suggests that Yahshua could have been as old as a two-year old child. Toward the end of Herod’s life, his paranoia of loosing the kingship of Judea to any rival aspirant to the throne of the Maccabeans or the throne of David did lead Herod to murder of his favorite wife, Mariamme, and his son by her, an heir also of the Maccabean family royal dynasty.
Yes, the schizophrenic mindset of Herod as he listened to the Magi of the eastern Parthian kingdoms could easily have set off a murderous rampage through the village of Bethlehem. Yet, in an act of Providence, the Christ child was safely on his way to Egypt. Allowing another year from the Bethlehem massacre to the final agonizing death of Herod, the birth of Yahshua would be the fall of 3 BCE.
Archelaus was in Rome while the settlement for who would be the successor of Herod the Great was in progress. Augustus sent over a Roman procurator, Sabinus, who was ruthless and merciless to the Jewish people. Then more trouble in Judea occurred. The mental state of the kingdom was one of frenzy. The people were rioting across the land while the spring festivals of the Lord were approaching. During the festival of Pentecost, the city of Jerusalem was ripe with political-religious agitation and generalized commotion. Sabinus, the Roman procurator, sent over Roman troops to suppress the unrest in the precincts of the Temple. While initially successful, he gained access to the inner treasury of the Temple and robbed the Treasury of the Temple. When the Jews heard of the desecration of the Temple Treasury, riots arose all over the province and soon the Roman troops were spread too thin.
The ruthless competence of Herod the Great could only be matched by the utter incompetence of his son Archelaus. While the forces of Archelaus were desperately trying to subdue the Jewish uprising, new rebel leaders kept arising. First there was Judas the son of Hezekiah of whom Josephus wrote about.
Flavius Josephus – “There was Judas, the son of that Hezekiah who had been head of the robbers. (This Hezekiah had been a very strong man, and had with great difficulty been caught by Herod.) Judas, having gotten together a multitude of men of a profligate character about Sepphoris in Galilee, made an assault upon the palace there, and seized upon all the weapons that were laid up in it, and with them armed every one of those that were with him, and carried away what money was left there. He became terrible to all men, by tearing and rending those that came near him; and all this in order to raise himself, and out of an ambitious desire of the royal dignity, for he hoped to obtain that as the reward not of his virtuous skill in war, but of his extravagance in doing injuries. (Favius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, XVII, 271-272)
Then we have record of a second revolutionary leader in Galilee, a rebel called, Simon of Perea, who rose with a band of zealots east of Galilee.
Flavius Josephus – “There was also Simon, who had been a slave of king Herod, but in other respects a comely person, of a tall and robust body; he was one that was much superior to others of his order, and had had great things committed to his care. This man was elevated at the disorderly state of things, and was so bold as to put a diadem on his head, while a certain number of the people stood by him, and by them he was declared to be a king, and he thought himself more worthy of that dignity than any one else.
He burnt down the royal palace at Jericho, and plundered what was left in it. He also set fire to many other of the king’s houses in several places of the country, utterly destroyed them, and permitted those that were with him to take what was left in them for a prey. He would have done greater things, but care was taken to repress him immediately. [The commander of Herod’s infantry] Gratus joined himself to some Roman soldiers, took the forces he had with him, and met Simon. And after a great and a long fight, no small part of those that had come from Perea (a disordered body of men, fighting rather in a bold than in a skillful manner) was destroyed. Although Simon had saved himself by flying away through a certain valley, Gratus overtook him, and cut off his head. (Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, XVII, 273-276)
The last of the major revolutionaries was Athronges and his four brothers began a series of revolts over a decade.
Jewish Encyclopedia – “Leader of the Jews during the insurrection under Archelaus (4 B.C.—6 C. E.). A shepherd and bold adventurer, without any other claim to power but that of gigantic strength and stature, he managed, in common with his four brothers of equal size and vigor, to rally large bodies of men around him, and, after assuming the royal title, to wage war both on the Romans and on the forces of Archelaus. After a protracted and brave struggle, he and his brothers were defeated.”
Here we have three revolutionary forces running guerrilla warfare against the larger and more disciplined forces of Archelaus and eventually Roman forces themselves. For almost ten years, these zealots harassed their oppressors, but the final battles centered around the exile of the ruler they loathed and suddenly having even less freedom than before, they suddenly found themselves under direct taxation by the Roman government.
The forces of Archelaus were being cut down and his kingdom was in jeopardy. Publius Quirinius Varus, the Roman legate in Damascus, was then forced to bring into Judea several legions of soldiers, with the military assistance of Arêtes, the king of the Arabs in Nabathea, the land of Petra. Prior to that, the people did not pay taxes directly to Rome, but paid their taxes to Herod. Now, every fourteen years, they had to face an onslaught of Roman tax collectors. With the loss of their own native rulers, the Roman government officials with all their methodical and serious governmental arrived into all major homes across Judea, Samaria, Galilee and any other Jewish provinces. There they assessed the population, the industrial assets, the agricultural assets and set up a taxation schedule for all the Jews to pay.
The Jewish rebels were subsequently suppressed and were peace restored to the land of Judea. This came with the loss of several thousand Roman soldiers, not counting how many rebel or patriots, depending on which side of history you are recording. The loss of Jewish life was not recorded, but in the rabbinical literature, the rebellious uprising in Judea was ‘one of the most terrible in Jewish history.’
Into this political unrest, we can now open the Book of the Apostle Matthew and begin to understand the dilemma of Joseph and Mary as they are instructed that it is time for them to return to the land of Judea. Here they were as a family with the babe, Yahshua, and afraid to return to the land ruled by the Herod Archelaus (Matthew 2:22). Mary and Joseph finally decided to settle in the province of Galilee, which was under the rulership of Herod Antipas.
The rulership of Archelaus was so inept that both the Jews and the Samaritans appealed to Caesar. It finally took another bloody revolt this time by Judas the Galilean over the Roman taxation. This is the political fervor behind the story of the Second Birth ceremony of Jesus in 9 CE when He was twelve years old or at His Bar Mitzvoth. Archelaus was finally deposed in 6 CE. He was exiled to Vienne in Gaul, the retirement center of exiled Roman authorities located in central France. There he died twelve years later about 20 CE.
The Imperial legate to Syria made a complete overhaul of the governance in the land of Judea. Coponius, a cavalry officer under the Syrian Legate Quirinius, became the first official Roman military governor in Judea & Samaria. The lands and estates of Herod were confiscated and the wealth of the new province of Judea had to be determined. Coponius first task was to conduct a census in both Samaria and Judea to establish a tax base for Rome. Immediately there arose a tax-revolt by the radical Pharisees (Judah of Gamala & Zaddok). According to Josephus this revolt became the root of a Jewish independence party, the Zealots that were prime movers in the open revolt and war with Rome 60 years later. In the book of Luke, he claims that Judah of Gamala “perished and all who followed him were scattered” (Acts 5:37).
In the first part of the rule of Archelaus we find the return of Joseph and Mary to the land of Galilee with Jesus, probably sometime between 1 BCE to 1 CE. Eight or nine years later after the exile of Archelaus in 6 CE and the initiation of Roman rule by Publius Quinctilius Varus, we find Joseph, Mary and Jesus arriving in Jerusalem and Bethlehem for the Passover in 9 CE. Here is the political framework for the beginning of the curse of a Roman census and their first official Roman taxation.
Yahshua at this time (9 CE) was at the age of twelve years or the year of His Bar Mitzvoth. During this festival of Pesach, Yahshua was found in the Temple dialoging the chief priests and elders (Sanhedrin). Here they wondered in awe at the beauty and clarity of the Mosaic laws as He explained them in His childlike simplicity.
So in 6 CE, we have the imposition of Roman rule for the first time. The rule of Herod the Great and his son Archelaus was over. A new imperial legate to Syria, Quirinius, had been appointed and the first Procurator or Roman military governor, Coponius, was nominated. Under all this change, we find the appointment of a new High Priest in Jerusalem, Ananus the son of Seth. (Josephus, Antiquities, VIII, ii, 2) One other little known fact, Matthias ben Joseph, a Hasmonean descendant of the Maccabean kings and priests and the father of Flavius Josephus was born.
The “Jews” who killed Jesus and Persecuted the Nazarene Ecclesia in Jerusalem
Ananus (Annas) true Jewish name was Hanan, the younger. As the sixty-fourth High Priest since Aaron the High Priest, Ananus became the chief priest in charge of the services of the temple and minister of public worship. It was his duty to preside over the services of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement and usually presided over the services of Pesach, or the Feast of Passover. As civil servant, he automatically became the head of the Jewish Sanhedrin.
That Ananus was deposed in 15 CE by Valorius Gratus when he became Roman legate in Syria was only a blip in the road to the power and authority by Ananus. Ismael, son of Phabi (Josephus, Antiquities XVIII, ii, 2) was installed as the high priest, but that lasted only one year, when Eleazar, son of Ananus (Josephus, Antiquities XVIII, ii, 2) was installed.
Only one other year, when Simon, son of Camithus (Josephus, Antiquities XVIII, ii, 2) was installed as high priest did the office of the High Priest pass outside the hands of the House of Ananus between 6 CE to 41 CE when Herod Agrippa I came to rule over Judea. For thirty three out of thirty five years, Ananus, the patron and father of the dynasty of the House of Ananus was the most powerful controlling force in the political, social and religious governance in the land of Judea.
The throne behind the power of the high priest was Ananus. It was this family that was called ‘The Jews’. During the years of the ministry of Jesus in Galilee, Caiaphas was the legal high priest in Jerusalem. The party of the Sadducees was called in those days the ‘orthodox’ Jews or those obeying the legal laws of Moses, but blending them with the legal laws of Rome. To the Sadducees, Ananus was the real high priest and recognized by them as God’s high priest.
To say that Ananus, the high priest was the most powerful and the most wealthy Jewish man in Judea is an understatement. It was Ananus who received all the revenue of the temple of Herod. It was Ananus who controlled the ‘money changers’ who used switch and bait tactics in the animals used in the services of the Temple.
To also say that Joseph of Arimathea, the Jewish Roman decurio, an officer in the Roman army and minister of the tin and lead mines of Britain is also an understatement. Joseph of Arimathea with his vast estates in Jerusalem and Ramallah was not a competitor but a threat to the power and authority of Ananus with Caiaphas, his son-in-law.
Into this power arena we now set the life of Jesus, the Jewish Rabbi called Yahshua ben Joseph ben Heli, who was the great-nephew of Joseph of Arimathea. Yes, Joseph of Arimathea was the younger brother of Heli, the father of Mary. The Drama of the life, ministry, trial by the Sanhedrin, His death and resurrection and the final realization by Jesus’ followers that He truly was the Son of God incarnated into human flesh become the political and religious trappings around the life of Jesus. It is this great Drama that the playwrights and movie producers have tried to portray in part that has been created and recreated over two thousand years.
From the demise of the House of Herod to the fall of Jerusalem, Ananus controlled the office of the high priest more than any other political family in Judea. He had the satisfaction of manipulating three Roman Legates to Syria, Quirinius (6-12 CE), Calpurnius Piso (16-20 CE), and Lucius Vitellius (36-39 CE). He and his sons, son-in-law and grandsons also controlled the office of the Roman procurators, Coponius (6-9), M. Ambivius (9-12), Annius Rufus (12-15), Valerius Gratus (15-26), Pontius Pilate (26-36), and Marcellus (37-41).
Through he and five sons, Eleazar, Jonathan, Theophilus, Mattathias, Ananus, one son-in-law, Joseph Caiaphas, and one grandson, Mattathias son of Theophilus, the power of Ananus and the House of Ananus extended clear to 66 CE and the start of the revolt with Rome.
It was this family, the House of Ananus that; put Peter and John in prison, captured Peter and many apostles, imprisoned and flogged them, put Stephen the deacon to death by stoning, incited King Agrippa I to behead James the brother of John, and captured to kill the Apostle Peter and then stoned, beat and killed James the Just, the brother of Jesus and the leader over the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia in Jerusalem for thirty-two years.
Pontius Pilate and Caiaphas Deposed by Vitellius, the Roman Legate
Before Pontius Pilate could be deposed and a new procurator appointed, the Roman Legate, Vitellius, has to rearrange his entire staff under the command of a centurion that he could place his trust. The critical power base and central command center of Rome was at the former palace of Herod in Caesarea. This is where the procurator lived and the Roman military Praetorian where the Roman troops were housed.
For the time period between 36 and 37 CE, Vitellius took over the helm of politics in the Roman province of Galilee under the rulership of Herod Antipas while he was preparing to mount a Roman counter-attack against the Nabathean ruler in Petra, the Arab Arêtes, who had earlier routed the forces of Herod Antipas in 35 CE. This invasion was not to commence until 36 CE and the surrounding provinces had to be first secured.
When that occurred, Pontius Pilate was deposed as he was in the spring of 36 CE and sent back to the Isle of Capri to testify before Tiberius Caesar who lived in seclusion on the island away from Rome. Only then could Vitellius depose Caiaphas the High Priest and risk an uprising of the Jews induced by the House of Annas when their political money laundering enterprises in the Temple of Herod was threatened to be disrupted. At the same time, he was gathering together the proper forces of Roman legions to mount an invasion into the heart of the Nabatheans, the impenetrable region of Petra.
How fortunate this would be for the Nazarene apostles in protective custody in Caesarea. Under his Roman guardianship, Cornelius the centurion could now protect the Apostle Philip and his family, the Bethany family, Mary Magdalene, Martha of Bethany, and Lazarus, and the family of Jesus, including Mary, the mother of Christ, Cleopas and her sister, Mary Salome. It was also near this time that Zaccheus was appointed bishop of Caesarea by Peter.
Moving the Centurion Cornelius and his family was truly a stroke of providence as the Lord of hosts was setting up a Roman shield of protection for the mother of Jesus, Mary, the Bethany family, Joseph of Arimathea, Cleopas and many others who moved to the cosmopolitan city of Caesarea. They were now outside the power base of the Sadducees in Jerusalem. Under the protection of Cornelius, this apostolic group of friends and disciples of Yahshua, living in the residence of Philip, were cared for, shielded and protected from the growing wrath of the Ananus’ controlled Jewish Sanhedrin.
Yet on the other hand, the textual evidence suggests that the religio-political forces against the Nazarenes did not occur until after the stoning of Stephen. It appears that probably at the same time the debate over the temple and the sacrificial system between James the Just and Gamaliel, sometime about 36 CE.
In fact, the whole conflict in the Hebrew Ecclesia in Jerusalem that led to the ordination of the deacons in the first place was over the displeasure that greater provisions and supplies were given to the Hebrew women then the gentile female converts to the Nazarene party.
The women in the Hellenistic sector of the Nazarene community were jealous of the deference given to Mary, the mother of Jesus, to Mary Magdalene, Martha, Mary Salome and others that had supported the ministry of Yahshua from their estates and inherited wealth for years. Envy and jealousy do so much to disrupt the work of the Lord and it was these two seeds of discontent that brought harmony in the early Nazarene Ecclesia to a standstill.
The entire economy of the early Ecclesia was equalitarian and communistic. Every member gave all their assets to the Ecclesia and these assets were to be shared equally with all. The story of Ananias and Sapphira who deceptively kept part of their liquid assets after their property sold. They lost their lives because of their deception is only a mini-drama of this unique experiment in utopian social reform. It was this utopian society that was trying to transform the Jewish Essene social culture to a larger multi-cultural society.
Acts 4:32 – “Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.”
There was no evidence that there was any migration of the apostles to any region outside of Jerusalem until the debate between James the Just and Gamaliel in the temple and the trial and stoning of Stephen.
The Beams of Light Reach Britain in the latter Part of The Reign of Tiberius Caesar.
When we search the life of that “rich man” in Jerusalem, Joseph of Arimathea, the Roman Decurio what we have learned is that he did live in Britain and Celtic Wales while conducting his business affairs with the Caesar of Rome. As a Decurion over the Jewish tin miners on the Cornwall peninsula, we also fail to find any evidence that he quit his business affairs with the Roman government.
Somewhere between 34 and March, 37 CE, ‘in the last year of Tiberius Caesar’ according to Gildas, the message of the risen Christ did go to Britain.
Gildas the Wise, who was also called Albanicus (425-512 CE), came to Glastonbury seeking refuge in the 5th century when he was driven from the island of Steepholme by Saxon pirates. He stayed as a monk and resumed his anchorite life at the Glastonbury Abbey. It was there he wrote the following,
The History of Gildas – “Christ, the True Sun, afforded His light, the knowledge of His precepts, to our islands in the last year, as we know, of Tiberius Caesar.” (De excidio Britanniae, Sec. 8, p. 25, cited by Lionel Smithett Lewes, late Vicar of Glastonbury, St. Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury or the Apostolic Church of Britain, James Clarke & Co. Ltd, Cambridge, PO Box 60, Cambridge, CBI 2NT, 1922, 1955, 1988.pg. 86)
The translation of this text as recorded by John Taylor in The Coming of the Saints is different and the dating is a little broader.
Gildas the Wise – “These islands received the beams of light – that is, the holy precepts of Christ – the true Sun, as we know, at the latter part of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, in whose time this religion was propagated without impediment, and death threatened to those who interfered with its professors.
These rays of light were received with lukewarm minds by the inhabitants, but they nevertheless took root among some of them in a greater or less degree, until the nine-year persecution by the tyrant Diocletian, when the Churches throughout the whole world were overthrown. All the copies of the Holy Scriptures which could be found were burned in the streets, and the chosen pastors of God’s flock butchered, together with their innocent sheep, in order that (if possible) not a vestige might remain in some provinces of Christ’s religion.” (Gildas, The History of Gildas, section 8,9 quoted by John Taylor, the Coming of the Saints, Imaginations and Studies in Early Church History and Traditions, Methuen & Co Ltd, 1906, 1911, 1923, Artisan Sales, POB 1497, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360, 1985, p. 141)
Though the text does not specifically state that the ‘beams of light’ were taken by Joseph of Arimathea, there is a certainty that he was the prime candidate in his future mission as the “Apostle to the British.” Did Joseph of Arimathea go back to the British Isles after the Passover death of Jesus in 31 CE, only to return back to Judea a few years later? That is a possibility.
It appears that the authors of the early histories were looking for a national revival to the cause of Jesus in the isles of Britain. This national revival would not come until another century. The seeds were planted and the roots that did take place would be so potent that it would change the Christian Church forever.
“The Latter Part of the Reign of Tiberius Caesar”
Scholars are divided over the interpretation of Gildas statement as to whether the “Rays of Light” went to the British Isles in the ‘latter part of the reign of Tiberius’ or in the ‘last year of the reign of Tiberius’. As we shall soon see, both of these statements may be right as Joseph probably had two missions to Britain; one trip that was personal, business and intentional and the second that was non-intentional and with the company of twelve other disciples.
Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus was born on November 16, 42 BCE and died in 37 CE at the age of 80. He was emperor of Rome for twenty-three years between 14-37 CE. As the heir to the Principate of Rome upon the death of Augustus Caesar, he was a sharp contrast to the open, tactful and very approachable predecessor. Historians talk about Tiberius Caesar as an enigmatic figure who was darkly complex, intelligent, cunning, and able administrator but given to fits of depression and dark moods. Today we would say that he had Bi-polar Disease.
He came into power with extensive military experience, yet refused to expand the empire with new conquests. He had great administrative skills and put together an efficient and well-oiled bureaucracy and administration. His reputation after death would be so unfavorable because of the intrigue, deception and ruthlessness between he and other powerful figures in Rome that upon his death, the Senate refused to bestow upon him the divine honors of deity. The populous on the streets of Rome chanted, “To the Tiber for Tiberius.” As the paranoia and suspicious moods went on their roller-coaster in his life, so did the affairs of state in Rome. As de Imperatoribus Romanis states on his life,
De Imperatoribus Romanis – “Although he was not a tyrant himself, Tiberius’s reign sporadically descended into tyranny of the worst sort. In the right climate of paranoia and suspicion, widespread denunciation led to the deaths of dozens of Senators and equestrians, as well as numerous members of the imperial house. In this sense, the reign of Tiberius decisively ended the Augustan illusion of “the Republic Restored” and shone some light into the future of the Principate, revealing that which was both promising and terrifying.
Born to the houses of the Old Republicans of Rome, he was the son of Ti. Claudius Nero and Livia Drusilla. When his mother divorced his father and married C. Octavius, Tiberius’ life forever changed. The reason, C. Octavius (Octavian) would soon to be known as the future Augustus Caesar and Tiberius would be his step-son. His mother and step-father, Augustus, lived a life of mutual respect and loyalty to each other despite the fact that she could not father him any children.
Livia was truly the first lady of the Empire. It was her family, her wealth, and her confident and powerful personality and through her family all the Julio-Claudian emperors would descend. Tiberius was her son; Gaius (Caligula), was her great-grandson; Claudius, her grandson; Nero, her great-great-grandson.
During his lifetime, Tiberias saw the mighty civil war between Mark Antony and Octavian that ended in the epic battle of Actium in 31 BCE. Octavian Augustus Caesar was now secure as the head of state. During the parade in Rome, it was Tiberius who was privileged to sit to the left of his step-father in the triumphal chariot.
Born into a privileged family, his early years saw Tiberius rapidly ascend in Roman politics: assumed the toga virilis or the gown of manhood in 27 BCE and was led into the forum. Three years later he became a quaestor and was given a consulship five years in advance of Roman law. He later appeared in court as an advocate and was then sent to the east in his proudest moments to recover the golden eagles of the legions that were lost to the Parthians in the failed eastern campaigns of M. Crassus (53 B.C.), Decidius Saxa (40 B.C.), and Mark Antony (36 B.C.). In 13 BC he entered the praetorian ranks and became a consul. Later he entered into active service with his half-brother, Drusus Claudius Nero fighting the Alpine tribes in Gaul. Earlier he became governor of Gallia Comata in 19 BCE. When it came time to chose his own successor, he stayed true to Augustus’s plans for the succession and clearly favored his adopted son Germanicus over his natural son, Drusus.
The rulership of Tiberias upon the death of Augustus Caesar has been divided by historians into three eras:
1. Accession and Early Reign (14 – 23 CE),
2. Era of his Personal Advisor Praetorian Prefect, L. Aelius Sejanus (23-31 CE), and
3. The last years of isolation on the Isle of Capri. (A.D. 31-37)
It was Sejanus, his trusted advisor in whom Tiberius bestowed the keys of the kingdom. Then he withdrew to the Isle of Capri and never again did he return to Rome
As Tiberius was caught in a maze of political intrigue before he was crowned the emperor of Rome, when he became emperor, Tiberius was also caught in the bureaucratic nightmare of Roman politics. Most of this was around Augustus’ passion on having a proper number of successors to the emperor of Rome. During this time, Tiberius the one blessed moment of his life was the happiness he received in the marriage to Vipsania Agrippina, the daughter of Caesar Augustus’s friend and confidant, M. Vipsanius Agrippa. Married probably around 20 or 19 B.C., Vipsania gave birth for Tiberius a son that they called Drusus.
Augustus Caesar, was very meticulous in making arrangements for the imperial succession. It was his instinct to favor a Republican and as such favored his immediate family, especially the Julian family.
First, Augustus’ nephew Marcellus was favored, but Marcellus died a premature death in 23 B.C. Augustus then used his daughter Julia to tie his friend M. Vipsanius Agrippa into his family by marriage. The marital union in 21 B.C. was a fertile one. Out of it were produced two sons within four years, both of whom Augustus adopted in a single ceremony in 17 B.C.
These labyrinthine arrangements seeking a dynastic successor have been the fodder for Roman scholarship for centuries. Understanding Augustus’ passion for the Julian lineage for the heirs of the future Roman Caesars, it is more understandable that there was no place in his succession for his step-sons: the stepson Tiberius or step-grandson Drusus. Agrippa was evidently favored as the heir-apparent, and the boys, Gaius and Lucius Caesar, would to follow in the next or the third generation. If Tiberius did have ambitions or his mother Livia for him, these were completely subordinated to Augustus’s wish and passion that a Julian would sit at the helm of the Principate. Yet as history does, fate was on Tiberius’s side.
In 12 BCE, Agrippa died and Tiberius was now in line to be Augustus’s successor. Tiberius, feeling the pressure of his step-father, was compelled to divorce Vipsania and marry the widow of Agrippa, Julia. Though this marriage could bring heirs to the Tiberius’ household that were of the part of the Roman elite, the Julian family, there was unhappiness and no children. Tiberius as stated was happily married to Vipsania and in a politically embarrassing moment when they were found together in public, Augustus forbad Tiberius to see his ex-wife.
Suddenly in 6 B.C. Tiberius announced his retirement from public life. Though the visible heir to Augustus Caesars’ throne, he chose personal exile and went to live in Rhodes with a few friends and an astrologer called Thrasyllus. Why he did so is still the intense speculation of ancient and modern scholars. For whatever reason, the motive was more than snubbing his father-in law, Augustus.
Augustus’ was upset and as such, he refused for years to allow Tiberius to return to Rome, when Tiberius began to recognize the delicate social relations he allowed himself to get into. Even the influence and persuasion of Livia, his mother was of no avail. Then the artful cascade of imperial succession began to crumble.
It was in 2 CE, the grandson Lucius Caesar died in Massilia of an illness. Even so Augustus Caesar would not be persuaded to allow Tiberius to return until the dual pressure of both Livia and Gaius Caesar, the emperor finally relented. Tiberius did return to Rome but as stated he lived in a “political wilderness.” And then the unexpected occurred, the next grandson, Gaius Caesar was killed of a battle wound while fighting in a siege in Armenia.
Augustus now in a crisis. Turning once again to Tiberius, the outcast prince was recalled from his private life and this time he was adopted as Augustus’s son. Also adopted by Augustus was another step-son, Agrippa Postumus, who was the third son of Julia and Agrippa.
Augustus then forced his will again in the life of Tiberius his step-son. In spite of having a natural son, Drusus, Tiberius was compelled to adopt his nephew, Germanicus, the son of his half-brother Drusus Claudius Nero who was married to Mark Antony’s daughter, Antonia. Once again it was Augustus who was trying to bring the Julian family back into favored family blood line for the Roman royal purple. This route lay only through Germanicus for his children did have Augustus’s blood in their veins.
When Caesar Augustus died, the legions in the regions of Pannonia and in Germany began to voice dissent and soon the most powerful concentration of troops in the empire began a mutiny over their pay and the conditions of their lives. Immediately, Tiberius’ sons, Germanicus and Drusus were sent to quell the mutiny. The wars were bloody especially in Germany where Germanicus was sent and total chaos broke out.
In spite of the able service of his son, Drusus, Tiberius recalled Germanicus from Germany and according to the wishes of Augustus, Germanicus was celebrated in a triumphal return to the city of Rome in 17 CE while the service of Drusus was ignored. Germanicus was granted imperium maius over the East. After he was assigned as consul with Tiberius in 18 CE, he was sent to the Eastern realms of the empire like his adopted father, Tiberius. The road to the imperial succession again came to an abrupt end when one year later, Germanicus died only after accusing the Syrian governor, Cn. Calpurnius Piso of plotting his murder. Yet the stain of the murder though never substantiated resting at the door of Tiberius’ parlor.
Tiberius was now the sole ruler of the Roman Empire. All the primed successors of Augustus Caesar were now gone. With the death of Germanicus, Tiberius began to groom his own son, Drusus, to replace him as the emperor of Rome. With the strain between him and the family of Germanicus, his royal advisor, Praetorian Prefect L. Aelius Sejanus took over more and more of the administrative functions of the empire.
This trust in his advisor was almost a fatal decision on the part of Tiberius. Slowly the nine different cohorts of the Praetorian Guards that were carefully and discretely placed in separate small towns around Rome by Augustus were brought within the city in one camp and under one administrative central control. With the military under his control, Sejanus began to enhance his public profile by erecting statutes to himself in public arenas. Praised by Tiberius as “the partner of my labors,” Sejanus appeared to be establishing his own path of authority.
It was the chronicles of the Roman historian Tacitus that gave the account of the subversive acts of the trusted advisor of Tiberius, Sejanus. Livilla, the daughter-in-law of Tiberius, married to his son Drusus was soon caught up into a romantic relationship by the seductive powers of Sejanus. Drusus on the other hand was highly suspicious of his father’s advisor. Trouble was fermenting in the imperial household. The Prefect with the aid of Drusus wife, Livilla, poisoned Drusus in 23 CE.
The friends and family of Tiberius’ wife, Vipsania Agrippina soon found themselves under suspicion with the charges of treason. This was only a guise, according to Tacitus, by Sejanus to move the accusing finger away from himself.
Two years later in 25 CE, Sejanus asked Tiberius for imperial permission to marry Livilla, the widow of Drusus but Tiberius refused. And then suddenly, Tiberius retired to the Isle of Capri. There he isolated himself and sunk into bouts of depression and the plague of imperial rulers; paranoia. Never again would he set foot again into Rome. With no opponents, Sejanus now had complete control of the administrative power in the city of Rome.
While the imperial court of Rome was enmeshed in political intrigue and every political authority’s life was at risk, in the province of Judea the voice of the “Baptist” began to proclaim in the wilderness, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” Here we begin to the finger of the Almighty One of Israel embroiling the city of Rome in her own deceit and intrigue. Unbeknown to them, the young Rabbi Yahshua was quietly beginning his public ministry in Galilee, teaching the peasant population what the life in the “kingdom of God” was like. He healed the sick. He soothed the wounded emotions, gave them a concrete path of righteousness for them to tread. For the mentally deranged, he cast the demons out and freed them from the powers of the satanic forces.
With Tiberius isolated on the Isle of Capri and Sejanus in his greed to obtain final control of the Roman Empire, the ministry of God’s Son spread like wildfire throughout Galilee and into the province of Judea. Unnoticed or suspected by the Roman authorities, the ministry of the Son of God was received as with the joy of the “early rain in the fall” throughout the provinces that were under the Herodian family or the governorship of the Pontius Pilate. During this time also message of the “kingdom of God” reached into the highest echelons of the Jewish and Roman society. The secret followers of Yahshua included; members of the Herodian family, elders of the Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem and possibly even the wife of the Governor Pilate.
As Yahshua was in the final weeks of his ministry, the forces of evil were surrounding Him. Controlled by the evil machinations of the Sadducees under the authority of the high priest family of Ananus and Caiaphas and the Pharisees under the control of the Pharisaic School of Shammai, the final drama of the Passover Lamb was played out in Jerusalem between the Pesach Lamb and Yahshua HaMaschiach (Jesus the Messiah) as the Pesach “Lamb of God.”
As Yahshua was hanging on the tree outside the gates of Jerusalem in 31 CE, the fury of the power hungry Sejanus was in the final stages of usurping complete control of Roman politics. Tiberius’ wife, Agrippina, her eldest son, Nero Caesar and later her youngest son Drusus Caesar were arrested and imprisoned. At the pinnacle of power and control, the de facto emperor of Rome was now Sejanus. While the Senators of Rome were lining up to pay respects to the power center of Roman polity, the God of Israel was accomplishing His great Act of redemption for all mankind.
The year of Yahshua’s death and resurrection, Tiberius changed his mind and permitted Sejanus to marry the daughter of Livilla, the granddaughter of Tiberius. Betrothed in 30 CE, Sejanus was now destined to become a member of the imperial family. He was now the chief and only path to the ageing emperor in Capri.
In 31 CE, Sejanus became the Consul with the emperor, an honor reserved only for heirs to the throne. When this consulship was surrendered soon afterwards, he was given a share in the emperor’s proconsular power. On October 18, 31 CE, Sejanus was summoned to a meeting in the Senate with the expectations that he would be given a share of the tribunician power and become Tiberius’s Agrippa.
The letter that was written by Tiberius in Capri to the Senate started out in praise for Sejanus’ service, yet quickly changed with charges that Sejanus was a traitor and with demands for his arrest. Unknown also to Sejanus, the Praetorian Guard that was under the control of Sejanus had been secretly transferred by imperial order to the command of Q. Sutorius Macro. The Senate was in confusion and those Senators that were in closest alliance with Sejanus were quickly exiting in fear for their safety from the Senate building. The city of Rome was in total chaos.
Sejanus was arrested by the Praetorian Guard, imprisoned and soon executed. The order went out to arrest the family of Sejanus, his accomplice Livilla, Tiberius’ daughter in law plus the friends and followers of this power-hungry proconsul. For the next two years, the full arm of the political massacre continued to play out in the capital of the Roman Empire.
In the meantime, the city of Rome was being infiltrated by the followers of Yahshua. The first recorded disciple to that august city was the Apostle Barnabus. The wealthy Elder of the Jewish Sanhedrin and Roman Decurio, Joseph of Arimathea was in route to the Cornwall coast of the British Isles. There the “Good News” of the risen Messiah, Yahshua, was given to the Celtic Druids who were looking for the anointed one whom they called “Yesu.”
While the political foundations of the empire was crumbling in Rome, the organizational foundation of the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia was formed. It was modeled between the Grand Sanhedrin of the Jews in Jerusalem and the Essenic social economic structure. James the Just, a respected Tzaddik (righteous one) in Judea was nominated as its leader. The fact that he also was Yahshua’s (Jesus’) brother also suggested that the Nazarenes held the same respect for family dynasties as the Jews did in the high priestly family of Aaron and Zadok in the temple of the Lord that was later usurped by a new family dynasty of high priests, the Sadducean Family of Ananus.
The threat to the power and political control by the Family of Ananus of the Family of Joseph the father of Jesus (Yahshua) was played out also on the Roman political platform between the House of Tiberius and the family of the House of Sejanus. Both were embroiling the politics and religious hierarchy of both Rome and Jerusalem between the years of 30 – 33 CE. While the city of Rome was engulfed in a general massacre of threatened rivals of powers by the family of Sejanus, the city of Jerusalem was soon to be engulfed in a pogrom against the Nazarenes led by the Family of Joseph whose adopted son was now a recognized Jewish anointed one and messiah and his real son was the leader of the fastest-growing Jewish sect in the province of Judea. The wife of Tiberius, Vipsania Agrippina remained under house arrest, while Drusus her son was imprisoned in the basement of the Palatine. By 33 CE, both would die violent deaths. .
The fragile mental state of Tiberius sunk him into great despair and depression. His closest friend and confidant had turned traitor to him. His wife and family were dead. His plans for imperial succession were destroyed. He withdrew himself even more from any public life, running the affairs of the empire by letters while the political machine of Augustus the Great continued the imperial administrative functions in smooth succession. The full realization that the death of his son Druses was instigated by the hands of his “friend” Sejanus soon became full reality in his mind. The wrath and paranoia of this Roman emperor knew no bounds.
It was on March 16, 37 CE, Tiberius Caesar died quietly by some accounts and “smothered by a pillow” by others at his villa at Misenum at the age of 78. Though an able administrator, Tiberius when he died was so unpopular that the Senate of Rome refused to vote upon him the honors of “divinity.” As the news of his death spread throughout Rome, the mobs flooded the streets of that royal city with chants, “To the Tiber with Tiberius!” His succession would soon favor his depraved nephew, Gaius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (b. 12 CE, d. 41 CE and emperor 37-41 CE) called “Caligula” rather than his grandson, Tiberius Gemellus.
The implications of the reign of Tiberius on the life and time of Jesus are profound. While all prior emperors were outward expanding in the early years (Julius Caesar and Octavian Augustus Caesar) and those afterwards were demented (Gaius Caligula and Nero), except in the reign of Augustus Caesar when “Pax Romanus” reigned throughout the empire, the reign of Tiberius was spent in self-absorbed narcissism. The strangest working of the Divine was seen as the geopolitical Greco-Roman world would become so self-possessed with their own drama of power, greed and control that the God of Israel could send His Son to fulfill the Plan of Salvation enacted from the creation of this planet earth. Today we can see the finger of the Almighty One of Israel weaving through the nations surrounding Judea while the Nazarene Ecclesia could mature enough to spread the “Good News” of the risen Savior to the rest of the then known world.
Joseph the Paranymphos of Mary
Up until the date of the crucifixion of Yahshua, the care of Mary the mother of Jesus had been under the custody of Joseph of Arimathea, the younger brother of Heli. As we have seen in the study on the House of Joachim and Hanna, the Parents of Mary, we came to the conclusion that Heli, the father of Joseph in the account by the physician Luke, was actually the father of Mary. Further on in the study, Joachim in the Christian traditions who was the father of Mary was the same person as Heli in the gospel of Luke.
According to the rabbinic history in the Jerusalem Talmud Book of Hagigah (77, 4), the wife of Joseph was Beth-Heli, which means daughter of Heli. Actually the Christian tradition of Joachim as the father of Mary is extra-Biblical and found only in the apocryphal texts of the Book of Mary and the book, Protoevangelium of James. In the latter it states that the parents of Mary were Joachim and Anna of Bethlehem. (Protoevangelium of James, chap. I. v. i; chap II, v. i, chap. V.v. 9., Lost Books of the Bible, World Bible Publishers, reprint 1926 ed. Alpha House, Inc.)
What we do know in the history of the Judah was that good King Josiah had two sons, Jehoahaz, who was deposed by the pharaoh of Egypt (2 Chronicles 36:3) and in his place he appointed his brother, Eliakim to be king over Judah and Jerusalem and Jehoahaz was taken prisoner to Egypt.
2 Chronicles 36:4 – Then the king of Egypt made Jehoahaz’s brother Eliakim king over Judah and Jerusalem, and changed his name to Jehoiakim.
Here we see that linguistically the name Jehoiakim and Joachim are the same and Eliakim and Jehoiakim/Joachim are recognized as the same name. Later the name Eliakim would have been shortened to Eli which is the same as Heli. Therefore we have the following:
Jehoiakim/Joachim à Eliakim à Eli/Heli
So looking outside the canon to historical Jewish/Christian texts gives us historical pearls that amplify the sacred texts of the Bible. Together, many times Jewish and Christian traditions do merge with canon and provide a clearer picture of the social, political and historical surroundings of a Biblical event.
Mary truly was the daughter of Heli and born into the house of Judah of the lineage of David, king of Israel according to the Lucian genealogies. That the early church fathers attest to the validity of the apocryphal book, the Protoevangelium of James is well known. Even today, the Eastern Catholic Church, now the Eastern Orthodox Church accepted it as canonical even though it has been rejected by the Western Roman Catholic Church who still use it for historical reasons as stated and the Protestant Churches who ignore it outright.
In this official capacity, Joseph was called the ‘Paranymphos’ or the custodian of Mary. With the death of Joseph, who by tradition was much older than Mary, by Jewish Law, the nearest unmarried brother of kin to the dead brother either could marry his brother’s wife or would be responsible as the custodian or ‘paranymphos’ of his brother’s wife. The evidence that Mary and Jesus had possibly already travelled to Britain in the custodial care of Joseph of Arimathea is attested in the ancient authors as discussed in Jesus in Glastonbury.
As the political events on the week of the Passion came to their climax, Yahshua, now hanging on the tree, knew that the cascading events would be changing quickly. He was no doubt aware that Joseph of Arimathea, his uncle, was in town. Up to this time, His uncle Joseph was a ‘secret disciple’. At the illegal trial of Yahshua, Joseph became “revealed” in his open defense of his nephew Yahshua by the Sanhedrin during the hours of the night. After this moment, Joseph of Arimathea was a marked man by the House of Annas. A full scale war would soon erupt by the family of Ananus and Caiaphas the high priest against Joseph of Arimathea.
Throughout the day of trial, Yahshua was shunted back and forth across Jerusalem. Everyone wanted to grandstand and look official and important, but no one was willing to be counted and say the obvious; Jesus was innocent and should be found ‘not guilty’. First to the home of Annas/ Caiaphas, then to Pilate’s Praetorium, then on to Herod’s Palace, back to Pilate’s Praetorium and finally to the temple before he was led out the Eastern Gate and across the causeway to the Mount of Olives to the site of His hanging and crucifixion. Every party involved lacked the integrity and honor to say that Yahshua was innocent except the Roman governor, Pilate, who then capitulated to the manipulation of the high priest emeritus, Ananus.
There on the side of the Mount of Olives as the participants in the crucifixion drama looked down upon the beautiful temple of Herod, Jesus gave the custodial care of Mary to John, his cousin, the son of Zebedee. Was this an on the spot decision of Jesus as he spoke to his mother and John while He hung on the crucifixion tree on the Mount of Olives? Was this pre-arranged with his uncle Joseph of Arimathea?
We know that Yahshua knew of his impending capture, trial and death. He had forewarned his disciples to this fact, but in their denial, they remained clue-less all through the events of the Passion week as though they were walking through a fog. In their despair, they all fled, including Simon Peter, that brave bodyguard at Gethsemane, except for one, the Apostle John.
Only John stood unscathed in the courtyard of Annas and Caiaphas. Only John stood with the mother of Jesus, Mary, along with Mary Magdalene and Mary Salome. The custody of Mary was now safely in the hands of her nephew, the Beloved Disciple John, though temporary, to take her away and spare the gruesome finalty of Jesus’ final moments of life.
It would also be critical at the moment of death that no family members would be present. This was important for Joseph of Arimathea, the great uncle of Jesus could ‘boldly’ come forth to claim the body of his nephew.
With the hour being late, the sun was beginning to set. The High Shabbat (Sabbath) of the most holy day of Passover was near. Joseph could rightfully proclaim with urgency that he was the legal guardian and had been for years and the rightful custodian for the body of Yahshua.
According to one legendary account, Joseph had to pay Pilate a large bribe to assist in allowing him custody to the body of Christ. We do have an account in the Gospel of Peter that was quoted by the Bishop of Antioch in 180 CE which stated,
The Gospel of Peter 2:2-5a – “Now there stood there Joseph, the friend of Pilate and of the Lord, and knowing that they were about to crucify him he came to Pilate and begged the body of the Lord for Burial. And Pilate sent to Herod and begged his body, And Herod said, ‘Brother Pilate, even if no one had begged him, we should bury him, since the Sabbath is drawing on. For it stands written in the law: the sun should not set on one that has been put to death.”
After the death of Jesus and the blatant burial of Jesus in the family rock-hewn tomb near the Mount of Olives, Caiaphas, the high priest and his father, Anna were furious. It was their intention that Jesus’ body would be quickly dumped into an unknown grave and Jesus’ life and legacy they felt would quickly be snuffed out.
Yet here now was the body of Rabbi Yahshua entombed in a stone hewn mausoleum befitting a king where all the peasants and zealots in the land could pay homage to Him. Besides, there was also the prophecy, that in three days he would be raised up. Quickly the temple guards were posted around the tomb for security and protection.
The story of the mysterious resurrection of Yahshua is told in the article, Dissent in the Early Christian Church. During this time according to tradition, Joseph of Arimathea himself was cast into prison. Upon release he disappears from Jerusalem and who or what happened to the benefactor who gave his family tomb was never revealed in the Brit Hadassah (ReNewed Testament).
Caesarea, the Home in Exile for Joseph of Arimathea and Yahshua’s disciples
Sometime between 32 and 35 CE, we find Joseph of Arimathea back living in Judea, but not in the vicinity of Jerusalem but in the home of Philip the Evangelist with the Bethany Family in the city of Caesarea.
Here in the city of Caesarea, the Nazarene Ecclesia would quickly find that the Lord of hosts was opening the next door to the expansion of the Nazarene faith. It was an exit door from Judea to the world beyond.
From all accounts we find, Philip the Apostle and the Evangelist were living in Caesarea with his four daughters who were recognized as prophetess. It was at the home of Philip that we begin to see his influence as the official travel coordinator for Hebrew Nazarenes under the coordination of the Apostle Peter as they were exiting and arriving in the land of Israel. Here the disciples of Jesus would find a home that became the Hebrew Nazarene’s home away from the city of Jerusalem.
Again they were using the model of the Essenes of having a home which all lived with possessions held in common. This utopian model of social living would be valuable in that the disciples of Yahshua would be travelling around the world. With homes around the world, they could travel and lodge with the minimal of expense. Wherever the apostles and disciples travelled, a home place would be strategically placed whose doors of fellowship, safety and comfort would be present.
Only sixty-five miles northwest of Jerusalem, a good two to three days journey, we find the second ecclesia built around the home base of the Apostle Philip. In this cosmopolitan city where Romans and Greek of the west mixed with Jews and Syrians of the east as they blended in the politics of international commerce, Herod built what was to be the capital of the Roman province of Judea. It soon became one of the great cities of the ancient Mediterranean world.
Between 25 to 13 BCE, on land given to him by Augustus Caesar, Herod the Great would make his mark in city building. In this city, next to the Palace of Herod where the Procurators of Judea lived and the home base for the Roman legions that were housed in the Roman Praetorium, the Nazarenes could find protection under Roman law and justice.
Here was an artificial port and harbor that was built along the dangerous passageway between Rome, Athens, Syria and Alexandria. The city of Caesarea boasted of a port whose harbor was larger than the famed harbor of Athens, called the Piraeus. From Caesarea, the apostles could now travel to Rome in only ten days by ship. An animated description can be seen on how this port was constructed at Virtual Caesarea Maritima.
As stated by Geikie, The Holy Land and the Bible,
Geikie – “The shore offered no natural harbor, but here was a rocky ledge at Strabo’s Tower, and this Herod chose as the seat of his projected harbor. In twelve years a splendid city rose on the ledge and its neighborhood, with broad quays, magnificent bazaars, spacious public buildings and courts, arched sailor’s homes and long avenues of commodious streets. A double harbor had been constructed of about 200 yards each way, and also a pier over 130 yards in length, built of stones, 50 feet long, 18 broad and 9 thick. This great structure was raised out of water 20 fathoms deep, and was 300 feet wide, a wall standing on it, and several towers. It was adorned, moreover, with splendid pillars, and a terraced walk extended around the harbor.” (Geikei, “The Holy Land and the Bible, cited in John W. Taylor, The Coming of the Saints, Artisan Sales/Hoffman Printing, POB 1529, Muskogee, OK 74402. 1985, pg. 67)
It was on a prominence of the new city that a temple gleaming in polished stone could be seen from the shore and beside it a ‘colossal statue’ dedicated to Caesar Augustus as Jupiter Olympus. This statue was visible for miles out at sea as well as a second statue of Rome representing the deity Juno. Nearby was an open-air theatre that was built on the slopes of the hills some miles north of the city, as well as an amphitheatre capable of containing 38,000 spectators.
As Josephus stated,
Josephus – “Along the coast Herod discovered a city that was in decay….This he rebuilt entirely in marble and ornamented with a most splendid palace….The king conquered nature herself, constructed a harbor larger than the Piraeus, and providing deep anchorages in its innermost recesses. (Josephus, Jewish Wars, I.408-410)
Along the coastline were seen great houses or palaces built of white stone and marble, several public building including the Praetorium where the Pilate’s and Agrippa’s council room was build, areas for residential buildings and a complete underground sewage system. Public fresh water was transported by aqueduct from Mount Carmel seven miles to the north and a second aqueduct ran three miles north to the River Zerka.
The Roman amphitheater was one of the centers of Roman theatrical and public events. To a maximum of four thousand people, they could watch plays, dramas and political events. It was during the excavation in 1959-63 that two plaques in the amphitheatre were found, one with the word, “TIBERIVM” and the other “TIVS PILATUS”. This inscription stated,
“Pontius Pilate, the Prefect of Judea, has dedicated to the people of Caesarea a temple in honor of Tiberius.”
To date this is the only archeological evidence that Pontius Pilate ever did exist and resided in Caesarea and was the governor of Judea in the days of Tiberius Caesar.
Here also was site of Herod’s palace and where the home of Pontius Pilate and later King Agrippa were located. Here on this promontory overlooking the Mediterranean Sea was “the most magnificent palace” as Josephus stated. Within the ground was an Olympic size pool as shown in the picture on the right. It was filled with fresh water from the aqueduct. In the center of the pool was a statue. Here is where the Apostle Paul met with the Roman Procurator Felix, who with his wife, Drusilla lived in the palace. The Apostle Paul may have been imprisoned also on the palace grounds. (Acts 23:35)
Clementus Romanus comes to Caesarea and visits with Joseph and the Peter
Into this picture, we enter the testimony of Clementus Romanus. This historical event was recorded in the book, the Recognitions of Clements. The Apostle Barnabus apparently very early after the death of Jesus went to the city of Rome and preached the message of the risen Christ. It was there that Barnabus met Clements Romanus, of British descent, who was a convert to the Nazarenes by Joseph of Arimathea. Clements Romanus became one of Barnabus’ most prominent disciples.
Our next historical event is that Barnabus and Clements are travelling to Jerusalem to meet with the apostles and disciples of Jesus. It is the thesis of the BibleSearcher that the Sabbatical Passovers that occurred every seven years were major events in the life of the Hebrew Ecclesia of Israel in Jerusalem. As every religious institution has a supreme council of church leaders, so also the Jewish had the Sanhedrin and the Nazarenes also recreated a Sanhedrin within their sect or party. Yet it was imperative that all the apostles and disciples get together to share in the mission of the Nazarenes and to develop strategies on the future mission of the Nazarene faith. It is true that they were all Jewish orthodox believers and as such participated fully in all the festivals of the Lord in Jerusalem. Yet every seven years, for hundreds of years, pilgrims from all across the diaspora would return to Jerusalem during the festivals. The city and the surrounding countryside would be packed with thousands, yea hundreds of thousands of pilgrims flocking to that sacred site in the temple of Herod. So also the Nazarenes returned back to Jerusalem to meet in a Supreme Council with all the apostles and disciples.
With this frame of history, Barnabus and Clements return to Jerusalem, but in route to the Holy City, they disembark in the port city of Caesarea. There they meet with Philip and his daughters, Joseph of Arimathea, the Bethany trio, Lazarus, Mary and Martha, Zaccheus, Nicodemus and many other disciples that were living in Caesarea.
The reception must have been exciting because here was a convert of Joseph of Arimathea in England who had become a disciple of Barnabus within four years after the death and resurrection of Jesus. There is no doubt that Joseph and Clements shared a bond of friendship as only two, the Rabbi (teacher) and the student share in a conversion experience. Yet the person Clements was most excited to meet was the Apostle Peter. His joy is portrayed in the passages of the text as he met this charismatic fisherman who became the Nazarene’s most famous orator and public speaker. The skills of preaching were natural to Simon Peter and as such he was ‘’admired” by many new converts to the faith of Yahshua in the Nazarene Ecclesia.
Consider the fact that in this residence were some of the most powerful and rich families in all Judea. They were all in exile as the political climate in Judea was very tense. It was a fourteen year moment to dread because the third Roman census was due the following year in 34-35 CE. The Zealots and the radical fringe of Jewish society were crossing the land urging revolt against the oppressive Roman rule.
The Sadducees, seeing the tremendous growth of the Nazarene Party and their effect on urging spiritual reformation in Judea and in the sacrificial services of the temple services, were putting political pressure to exile and excommunicate their former members of the Sanhedrin, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. As such, Joseph along with the Bethany family and many others sought shelter under the protection of the Roman ruler whom Joseph still had considerable clout and Cornelius the centurion of the Italian regiment of 100 Roman soldiers, who was also called a ‘God-fearer’.
So in 34 CE, a British convert of Joseph of Arimathea from the Ynis-wytren on the Isle of Avalon and now a disciple of the Apostle Barnabus from the city of Rome, was meeting with Joseph of Arimathea in Caesarea. What a wonderful testimony that the ‘rays of light’ truly did get to the outer reaches of the British isles and reached it early right after the death of Jesus.
Yet, here on the way to the Passover celebration in the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, we find that this British convert, Clementus Romanus will soon find himself on a strange mission. Within that year, Clementus is still residing in Caesarea, while the Nazarenes in the city of Jerusalem were being threatened by a persecution of Shaul (Saul) the Pharisee who was now “entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.” (Acts 8:3)
The persecution by Shaul (Saul) raged throughout all Jerusalem and with the exception of the apostles living in the city, the rest of the Nazarenes had to flee. Word reached the ecclesia in Caesarea that James the Just was thrown down the temple stairs, and many rumors were coming that he had been killed. Then they found that James the Just with 5000 Nazarenes had fled towards Jericho in the cities of refuge by the Essenes. Many refugees continued on to Perea east of Damascus, the isolated areas of refuge by the earlier Essenes one and one-half centuries prior. The House of Annas was intent with their new “firebrand”, the Pharisee Shaul, to exterminate and imprison everyone who followed ‘The Way”.
The most prominent and the most powerful follower of Jesus was Joseph of Arimathea. To Shaul, it did not matter whether they were Roman, British, Greek or Jews. During this time Joseph of Arimathea was a fearless protector of his friends and followers that followed the message and teachings of Yahshua, the son of his niece. He had fiercely defended Yahshua in the council of the Sanhedrin and now he remained as the protector of the flock.
All Nazarenes were attacked and thousands were fleeing from the land. No doubt many were fleeing by boats that were owned or leased by Joseph in maritime business of metal shipping. James the Just was gone. Stephen had been stoned to death and now the long arm of the vicious attacks by the House of Annas reached Joseph of Arimathea in Caesarea. They had to reach to the upper echelons of the protective shield of the Nazarenes. There in Caesarea was Lazarus that they had plotted to kill months before the crucifixion of Jesus in 31 CE. There in Caesarea was Nicodemus, a wealthy “Elder of Israel” who also had been disbarred from the courts of the Sanhedrin.
How did it happen? No one really knows. Within all this chaos in Judea, the upper levels of Roman government were becoming concerned. The relationship between Pontius Pilate and Caiaphas had become too cozy. The Sadducees had virtual autonomy in the land of Judea for Pilate had become a virtual pawn at the house of Annas. They threatened to blackmail him during the arrest and trial of Jesus for his insurrection activities trying to assassinate Tiberius Caesar in Rome. This dirty little secret would continue to haunt him. He had shown himself weak and without moral character and the power of greed and control of this mighty family of Jewish politics had taken control of the Roman governance of the land. Since 6 CE when Ananus the son of Seth became High Priest the family of the House of Ananus controlled the economic, political and religious power of Judea for twenty-eight of the prior thirty years between 6 – 36 CE.
Tiberius Caesar was in his seventies and his moods were being more dark and erratic. For several years Tiberius lived in isolation on the beautiful Isle of Capri, sending instruction concerning the governance of the empire, yet avoiding all the intrigue of the imperial city. There were no aggressive nor expensive campaigns to conduct nor lands to conquer. The Roman legions remained loyal to him. Yet the new incoming Syrian Legate Vitellius was very concerned. He had three missions to accomplish. The armed forces of Herod Antipas were routed in 35 CE by the Nabathean ruler Arêtes and it was his responsibility on behalf of the emperor to take his legions to the land of Petra and settle the score with the enemy of one of Rome’s faithful client kings.
Caiaphas also was stirring up trouble with the Procurator Pontus Pilate when a messianic upstart in Samaria, Simon Magmus, was leading a group of Samaritans to the sacred mount of Mount Gerizim to unearth artifacts of the Lawgiver Moses that were supposed to be buried there. Pilate as usual overreacted and a massacre of Samaritans was stirring the Zealots in the land. Even more so, there was a growing foment of internal unrest with the ‘Jews’ in Jerusalem as the House of Ananus was trying to suppress a new party within Judaism that were following ‘Crestus’, the messianic rabbi in Galilee that the Sadducee leaders railroaded the Procurator into executing him due to treason and sedition against Rome.
One of Barnabus’ most prominent disciples actually was British, a known associate of Joseph, called Clements. British Culdic history states that Clements was a Britain and a convert of Joseph of Arimathea. Clementus Romanus became prominent in the Roman church as he became the second Bishop of Rome, nominated by Peter just before his death in Rome in 67 CE. His appointment followed the bishopric of Linus, the royal prince, who was appointed by Paul in 58 AD to be the First Bishop of Rome.
Isn’t it interesting that the real history of the beginning of the Roman Christian Church was by two British converts to Christianity, Linus, the first bishop was converted and appointed bishop by the Apostle Paul and the second bishop; Clements was a convert of Joseph of Arimathea and appointed by the Apostle Peter to be bishop of Rome.
We also find Cornelius, the centurion of the Italian band of soldiers living in Caesarea in the months after the stoning of Stephen. At this time we find the Apostle Peter staying at the two-story villa of Simon the tanner with a balcony overlooking the Mediterranean Ocean. It was there that Peter received a strange vision about a sheet coming down from heaven with a host of unclean animals and the Lord of hosts said to him, “Arise and eat.” Here Peter, that orthodox halachah observing Jew was being asked by the Lord to eat the unclean and invited at the same time to be hosted as a guest in the home of the Roman centurion, Cornelius, who would later be transferred to Caesarea and become the Roman protector of the guest living in the home of the Apostle Philip and his two daughters. When did this happen?
Up until now, we have been locked in a model of history that stated that three and a half years after the 31 CE death and resurrection of Jesus, the stoning of Stephen occurred. This historical dating was first proposed by the Roman monks who were dating the death of Jesus according to Jewish prophecies of Daniel but fitting it into a Roman calendar rather than the Jewish calendar of the Seder Olam.
The facts in history depict that the stoning of Stephen occurred after Pontius Pilate and Caiaphas had both been deposed by Vitellius in 36 CE. This is a historical fact. With the son of Annas, Jonathan, now the new high priest and the Roman legate busy making war against Arêtes for the Caesar, the evil hand of the House of Annas and the Sadducees arose to create the first martyr and the first persecution for the followers of Yahshua.
The Final Exile of Joseph of Arimathea From Israel to the Isle of Avalon
Joseph of Arimathea Cast Adrift in the Mediterranean
The Exile of Joseph of Arimathea, the Bethany Family and possibly Mary, the Mother of Jesus
According to Cardinal Baronius, appointed librarian of the Vatican in 1596 and noted historian for the Roman Catholic Church, in his magnum opus, Annales Ecclesiastica, that took him over thirty years to complete, he wrote under the year AD 35 the following:
Cardinal Baronius – “In that year the party mentioned was exposed to the sea in a vessel without sails or oars. The vessel drifted finally to Marseilles and they were saved. From Marseilles Joseph and his company passed into Britain and after preaching the Gospel there, died.” (Cited by Lionel Smithett Lewes, late Vicar of Glastonbury, St. Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury or the Apostolic Church of Britain, James Clarke & Co. Ltd, Cambridge, PO Box 60, Cambridge, CBI 2NT, 1922, 1955, 1988.pg. 92)
To this same account other sources add Zaccheus, Mary Salome, the wife of Zebedee and mother to James and John, Joanna and her son, Restitutus, the man born blind and whose sight was restored by Jesus, Simon the Cyrene and Philip the evangelist. These were all prominent disciples of Jesus and would have attracted hatred and suspicion by the ‘Jews’, the House of Ananus and the Sanhedrin.
This date of exodus from Caesarea on the coast of Judea has been a date in dispute amongst various historians of the early Christian Church. Many date the exodus after the beheading of James the Greater, the brother of the Apostle John in 41-42 CE by the newly anointed King Herod Agrippa I now living in Herod’s Palace in Caesarea. Other scholars date this exodus by boat just after the stoning of Stephen by the Sanhedrin and the assault by the rabbinic student Shaul of Tarsus on the life of James the Just in Jerusalem during his debate with the great Jewish scholar Gamaliel on the inner steps of the temple.
With a 31 CE date for the death of Jesus, two years before the more traditional date of 33 CE date for the crucifixion, most modern Christian historians date the death of Stephen in 36 CE, near the date when Pontius Pilate and Caiphas are deposed by the Roman legate. If the date for the crucifixion were to be put forward to an earlier date of 30 CE, then the early growth and development of the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia had almost six years of growth before fierce opposition came against them by the House of Annas now by the ascending “Man of the Year” in Jewish religion and politics, the Rabbi Shaul, student of Gamaliel.
With the persecution of the Hebrew Ecclesia in Jerusalem by the Pharisee student Shaul (Saul), many of the official members of the Nazarene Ecclesia fled the city. In this political drama, we find the direct assault of the ‘enemy’, which appears to be the Shaul the Pharisee against James the Just as he was in debate with Gamaliel on the steps of the temple of Herod. At this time the wounded James the Just quickly escapes from Jerusalem and flees to Jericho in the region of Qumran. Many of the Nazarene followers continue onward to Perea to the east of the Jordan River.
Also around 36 CE would be the most appropriate date for the exodus of Joseph of Arimathea from the land of Palestine. Yet the date of the exodus of James the Just to Jericho and the date of the forced exile of Joseph of Arimathea and those under his protective care off the coast of Caesarea appear to be before the death of Stephen by stoning by the members of the Sanhedrin.
The Rabanus Story of Joseph of Arimathea and Mary Magdalene
In Magdalene College Library in Oxford University in England, there is a remarkable and beautiful manuscript of the Life of Mary Magdalene, which professes to be a copy of an original manuscript written by the Rabanus Maurus, Archbishop of Mayence (776-850 AD). This copy of the text has been dated to the early 1400’s.
Its history is unknown but is written in high quality parchment style with multicolor gold embossed illuminations done by a professional scribe, similar to the Tertius Opus by Robert Bacon found in the same library. (Taylor 80-81) Scholars accept that this is probably a copy of the original or the original author followed closely the style of writing found in the Homilies of Rabanus, whose manuscript is known. The Rabanus document was also known and accepted as authentic by the well-known cataloger, William Cave in his Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Historia Literaria. (Cave, Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Historia Literaria, vol ii, p. 38 fol., Oxford, 1740-1743)
This document in fifty chapters chronicles the life of Mary Magdalene (and Martha) in a style that the late Gaskoin, in his analysis of Rabanus Maurus states,
Gaskoin – “The writings of the Fathers, on which his commentaries were based, were literally produced, the share of the compiler in the composition being designedly and almost ostentatiously reduced to the smallest possible proportions.” (Gaskoin , in Alcuin, his Life and Work, London, 1904, cited by John W. Taylor, The Coming of the Saints, Artisan Sales/Hoffman Printing, POB 1529, Muskogee, OK 74402. 1985, pg. 82)
This document can now be compared to several other manuscripts on the life of Mary Magdalene. The manuscript of Rabanus, like the following all profess to be copies of older documents which were in themselves were copies of older histories. They tend to record in literary and plain details the historical facts of life and death, without the abundance of miraculous accounts which abounded in the writings of the middle ages. Though Rabanus is a longer story, it also is literal with very little miraculous elements.
The following Lives of Mary are found in:
- 7th c. – Hymn published M. l’Abbe Narbey in supplement to the Acta Sanctorum. – cryptic – Mary and Maximinus leave Palestine after the stoning of Stephen, arrival at Marseilles, missionary labors, their death and burial at Aix.
- Lives of St. Mary – Faillon – 10th c. in Paris library – traces original to 6th c.
- Lives of St. Mary – Duchesne – 11th to 13th c.
- MS Laud 108 of Bodleian – 13th c.
- Bucheed Mair Vadlen and Buchedd martha, – Hafod Collection at Cardiff (1604).
- Fragment – Llwfyr Gwyn Rhydderch of the Hengwrt MS – British libraries.
- Devotional Life of St. Mary Magdalene – Italian unknown – 14th c. – corresponds with the Bethany family story as told in Rabanus.
In chapter 37 of the Acts of Mary Magdalene, Rabanus Maurus continues to describe this dangerous journey.
Rabanus Maurus – “Leaving the shores of Asia and favored by an east wind, they went round about, down the Tyrrhenian Sea, between Europe and Africa, leaving the city of Rome and all the land of Italy to the right. They happily turning their course to the right, they came near to the city of Marseilles, in the Viennese province of the Gauls, where the River Rhone is received by the sea. There, having called upon God, the great King of all the world, they parted; each company going to the province where the Holy Spirit had directed them, presently preaching everywhere, ‘the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.’”
Though traditions are sketchy, within this boat was a company of twelve that included: (Cardinal Baronius, Ecclesiastical Annals, quoting from Mistral, in Mireio and another Vatican document, cited by Jowett, George F. The Drama of the Lost Disciples, Covenant Pub., Co, 8 Blades Court, Deodar Road, London SW15 2NU, 1961, 1993, pg 70)
Joseph of Arimathea plus
1. Mary Cleopas was present yet Cleopas who was walking with Luke 6-7 years earlier is absent.
2. Mary Salome and Sarah handmaiden
3. Lazarus, who became bishop of Marseilles
4. Mary Magdalene
5. Martha with Marcella her handmaid
6. Maximinus – ‘Rich young Ruler’ became the paranymphos of Mary Magdalene – went to Maximinus, France
7. Trophimus – became the paranymphos of Martha’s – went to Arles, France
8. Clemon – the convert of Barnabus, Clementos Romanus visiting with Peter and Joseph in Caesarea who became the third Bishop of Rome
9. Eutropius, who later went to Orange
10. Sidonius – “Man born blind”, called St. Restitutes, who later went to Aix, France
11. Martian, who later went to Limogenes, France
12. Saturinus, who later went to Toulouse, Toulouse.
It was Gervais de Tilbury, the Marshall of the kingdom of Arles (along the Rhone in central France) wrote in his book, Otis Imperialis in the year 1212 in dedication to Otho IV, the following about the old chapel of Les Saintes Maries in the Camaroque:
Gervais de Tilbury – “on the seacoast, one sees the first of Continental churches which was founded in honour of the most blessed of our Lord, and consecrated by many of the seventy-two disciples who were driven from Judea and exposed to the sea in an oarless boat: Maximin of Aix, Lazarus of Marseilles, the brother of Martha and Mary, Eutrope of Orange, George of Velay, Saturinus of Toulouse, Martial of Limoges in the presence of Martha, Mary Magdalene and many others. (Gervais de Tolbury, Otis Imperialis, cited in Joseph of Arimathea and David’s Throne in Britain, Triumph Prophetic Ministries, Altaden CA, pg 19-20)
And then there is the testimony of Faillon in Monuments Inedits, which states,
Faillon – The tradition of Joseph of Arimathea and his companions in the oarless boat was accepted by the whole Latin Church for over a thousand years. For proof of this we have only to turn to the Breviary (book of prayers, hymns, psalms and reading used by Roman Catholic priests) at St. Martha’s Day, July 29. There we find a lection for the second nocturne (night) which tells how Mary, Martha and Lazarus, with their servant Marcella, and Maximin, one of the seventy-two disciples, were seized by the Jews, placed in a boat without sails or oars, and carried safely to the port of Marseilles. Moved by this remarkable fact, the people of the neighboring lands were speedily converted to Christianity; Lazarus became the bishop of Marseilles, Maximinus at Aix…and…Martha…died on the fourth day before the Kalends of August, and was buried with great honour at Tarascon.” (Faillon, vol. ii, pg 114, cited in Joseph of Arimathea and David’s Throne in Britain, Triumph Prophetic Ministries, Altaden CA, pg 19-20)
Raymond Capt, in The Traditions of Glastonbury quotes another source,
Raymond Capt – “without sails and oars, they drifted with the wind and the currents arriving unharmed at Cyrene, in northern Africa. After obtaining sails and oars, the little party of refugees followed the trade route of the Phoenician merchant ships as far west as Marseilles, France.” (Raymond Capt, The Traditions of Glastonbury, cited by Joseph of Arimathea and David’s Throne in Britain, Triumph Prophetic Ministries, Altaden CA, pg 21)
The Landing Place of Joseph at Ste. Marie de la Camarague near Marseilles
Near their landing site at Les St. Marie de la Camarague, the boat with the thirteen occupants and two children landed. This was about twenty miles from one of four of the greatest cities of the Roman world in the first century, the ancient city of Masilla (Marsella), and now called Marseilles, France.
The city of Marseilles on the southern coast of southern France was the capital of the province of Bouches-du-Rhone. To the west of the city, was the mouth of the mighty Rhone River and on the white sandy shores, there was a rock harbor with dry docks and an armory. The Ephesium was the prized temple dedicated to Diana of Ephesus. Also in the city was a temple dedicated to the Delphians of Apollo.
The city was controlled by a well regulated aristocracy called the Timuchi or the council of 600. It was this city that Joseph had traversed many times as it was the exit point of the tin traders as they brought the tin overland Gaul from the city of Morlaix on the Atlantic coast. The city was an ancient city at the time of Joseph, founded about 600 BCE by the Phoenician mariners and was called Massilia, meaning ‘settlement’. It became one of the great maritime cities with large natural harbor possessing dry-docks and amouries with many vessels, arms and siege machines. Not only was commerce its greatest asset, but developed into a great learning center of the west, vying for importance with Ephesus, Athens and Rome. (Taylor, John W., The Coming of the Saints, Artisan Sales/Hoffman Printing, POB 1529, Muskogee, OK, 74402. 1985. pg. 111-113)
Here along the marshy shores of the delta of the Rhone is now a nature preserve, the Camarague, where wild grey horses and native black bulls roam the marshlands of the Rhone delta along with flamingos, eagles, hawks and harriers. It was here that the disciples with Joseph disembarked and from there the earliest traditions of the church depict that France was one of the first to hear the message of the risen Christ.
While Joseph and the disciples were resting near Marseilles, the Apostle Philip was travelling with the instructions by the Apostle Peter to scout out the region of Gaul and begin to establish the mission of the Nazarenes on the European continent above province of Spain which had already been started by James the Greater, the brother to John. (Stough, Henry W., Dedicated Disciples, Artisan Sales/Hoffman Printing, POB 1529, Muskogee, OK 74402.1987. pg 78)
At this time, Lazarus took a great interest in the cosmopolitan city of Marseilles. His father was a Syrian governor, called Theophilus and his mother a Jewess. He lived most of his life as a landed gentry in Judea, was very comfortable conversing with the educated and the commercial-minded citizens in this great city. Though we have a testimony in the traditions of the Church in Lyons on the Rhine in southern France that Lazarus along with Martha and Mary Magdalene in later years returned to Marseilles, it can be assumed at this time that he passed through this city to live with his friend Joseph of Arimathea. It was to the great city of Marseilles that Lazarus eventually returned to live the last seven years of his life as the Bishop of Marseilles.
Lazarus is asserted to have accompanied Joseph. The only records we possess of him beyond the Scripture narrative is in the traditions of the Church of Lyons makes him return with Martha and Mary to Marseilles, of which town he became the first bishop, and there he died. His name is attached to a very ancient British Triad; ‘ The Triad of Lazarus’, or the ‘Three councils of Lazarus’ and as such also attaches him to the Celtic traditions of Cornwall, Glastonbury and Wales. These three triads are:
The Triad of Lazarus of Ancient Britain
“Believe in God who made thee; Love God who saved thee; Fear God who will Judge thee.”
It is difficult to explain how the name and counsel of Lazarus could find their way into these peculiarly British memorials except by his presence and teaching in Britain.
Some traditions state that when the oarless and sailless boat landed at Les Saintes Maries de la Mer, the Apostle Philip under the instruction of Peter was awaiting them, taking charge of the company. He dedicated Joseph with the apostolic commission to Britain.
The logistics of this seem impossible except that the commission to be the Apostle to the British was given to Joseph of Arimathea by Philip in his home on the eastern Mediterranean coast of Caesarea. This event must have occurred when the fires of persecution in Jerusalem sent the flaming firebrand Shaul (Paul) to Caesarea. Is this a fact? No, we do not have any testimony by name, but who else was on the warpath of persecution except Shaul under the directed orders of Ananus and Caiaphas in Jerusalem? There under the nose of the Roman centurion and the Italic troops, Shaul and his security guards rounded up Joseph and his followers and put them into a boat to be carried on western flowing currents out to the middle of the Mediterranean.
The Assault of James the Just by Shaul Triggers the Exile of Joseph of Arimathea
There is an interesting statement in the Ascent of Jacob describing the scene when the ‘enemy’, whom we identify as Shaul (Saul), attacked and assaulted James the Just. In the midst of the debate, the ‘enemy’ arrives and began to revile and harass the priests, trying to raise up a furor so that they would allow their murderous thoughts to flame into a living reality. And then the account continues:
Ascents of Jacob – “Much blood is shed; there is a confused flight, in the midst of which that enemy attacked Jacob (James the Just), and threw him headlong from the top of the steps; and supposing him to be dead, he cared not to inflict further violence upon him. But our friends lifted him up, for they were both more numerous and powerful than the others; but, from fear of God, they rather allowed themselves to be killed by an inferior force than they would kill others. But when the evening came the priest shut up the Temple and we returned to Jacob’s house, and spent the night there in prayer. Then before daylight, we went down to Jericho, to the number of five thousand men.” (Ascents of Jacob, quoted in the Recognitions of Clements liii to lxxi as quoted by Schonfield, Hugh Joseph, The Pentecost Revolution, The Story of the Jesus Party in Israel, AD 36-66, Macdonald and Janes’s, St. Giles, 49/50 Poland Street, London, W.I., 1974, p)
The young and tempestuous Shaul, who would someday become the Apostle to the Gentiles, had a rabid temper and when he lost his cool, he did not focus on details. Throwing James the Just violently down the stairs, he left James thinking that he was dead not checking to make sure. Shaul had a different ‘plan of execution’ to deal with Joseph of Arimathea. The power of Joseph in this Roman-controlled cosmopolitan city was enormous. Overt violence would not be tolerated on the streets of Caesarea. Shaul was too smart for that. Besides being a Roman citizen himself, he did not want Roman laws convicting him in the Roman courts. He knew that there was a weakness in the Romans. They did not want to stir up trouble. Though they methodically did their military duties, as a whole they were very tolerant of the people that they were to govern.
So Shaul quietly escorted the entire company of Nazarenes to a beach north of the city, according to some traditions and there they had a prearranged boat beached on the sandy beach. All the occupants were ordered in the boat and pushed out to sea. No oars and no sail. Not even a rudder. The elements would be at their mercy and their death would be an “Act of God”. There on the beach, they watch the boat drift westward until it was out of their sight. No violence and no bloodshed. If anyone inquired, they could truthfully say, “They left by ship last night going west.”
The Route of the Tin Traders
Like any detective story, the elements of the picture are all there. The traditions for over a thousand years all seem to converge that the forced exile of Joseph of Arimathea included a drifting boat without oars or sails headed out to sea and by a miracle of the Lord, they all landed safely on a beach on the opposite side of the Mediterranean.
The route of the earliest Christian missions from Jerusalem followed the path of Phoenician colonization / the tin trade, as described by Didorus Siculus.
Initially from the cities and the towns along the Phoenician / Syrian coast to Antioch (1). Then all the main Phoenician settlements Cyprus (2), Crete (3), Sicily (4), Cyrenia (5), Massilia (Marseilles) (7), Sardinia (6), Spain (8) and ultimately Southwest Britain (9).
How long Joseph of Arimathea and his company lived in the vicinity of Marseilles we do not know. That Joseph of Arimathea did have provisions, plus plenty of business friends and associates in that maritime city can be expected.
There appears to be a strong hint that a message was sent to Britain by courier to Siluria on the southern Wales coast with a request for permission to enter the country of Britain, Cornwall and Wales to live. The only clue is that we do find hints of Joseph along the path of the ancient Tin traders.
It was from here in Marseilles that Joseph with twelve companions followed this same path of the tin traders… From Marseilles, they travelled to Narbonne on the southern coast of France. They then travelled by horseback across central Celtica or France up the route through Figeac, Rocamadour, Limoges and on to Morlaix on the western coastal peninsula of France.
How long did it take from their exile from Caesarea to the landing in Marseilles? This passageway in an oarless and sailless boat to the northern coast of Africa and finally to the maritime city of Marseilles could have taken months. How long did Joseph of Arimathea and his followers live in the vicinity of Marseilles?
Did Joseph send word by a fast courier to the royal House of Siluria of the story of their exile and ask for asylum within their country? Somehow the word reached the royal court of the Celtic King of Wales and Cornwall.
Somehow Joseph knew when it was time to leave the city of Marseilles, for there at Morlaix on the Atlantic coast, so the traditions say, Joseph and his company were met by a British Druidic delegation led by Arviragus, the crown prince of the Silurian tribe in the Dukedom of Cornwall. He was the son of Cunobelinus, the Cymbeline of Shakespeare fame, and cousin to the renowned British Pendragon and warrior, Caradactus. It was this Pendragon called Caradactus, the most feared warrior by Rome, the Tudor Kings and Queens claim their descent. This tribe represented the most powerful tribal confederation on the Isle of Britain. (Stough, Henry W., Dedicated Disciples, Artisan Sales/Hoffman Printing, POB 1529, Muskogee, OK 74402.1987. pg 78)
It was on the Isle off the Brittany coast of Morlaix, France, where the ancient ships of Joseph carried the mined tin ingots from the Isle of Ictus (St. Michael’s Mount), landed after traversing across the watery strait. From ancient Britain to the ancient land of Gaul the first path of transport for this valuable commodity to Rome began.
Here again was Morlaix, a city well known to Joseph of Arimathea. As the tin and lead ingots were unloaded off his ships that were docked at the harbor, he then had them loaded unto pack animals and there taken by protective escort of Roman soldiers across the southern part of France to the city of Marseilles. The site of Morlaix was well known to the ancient Brits for it also was the site of entry by the invading Brits into French Gaul in the Middle Ages. Where they invaded they also left their name on this ancient land, the land of Brittany.
The British royal and druidic delegation was there to greet and persuade Joseph and his followers to live near their homeland in the western isles of Britain. As Freculphus said,
Freculphus – “Joseph and his company, including Lazarus, Mary, Martha, Marcella and Maximin came at the invitation of certain Druids of high rank (‘Negotium habuit cum Druidis quorum primi precipuique doctores erant in Britannia.’) from Marseilles into Britain, circa AD 38-39; were located at Yens Avalon, the seat of a Druidic cor, which was subsequently made over to them in free gift by Arviragus. Here they build the first church, which became the centre and mother of Christianity in Britain. Joseph died and was interred in 76 AD. (Freculphus, apud God., p.10 cited in Morgan, R.W., St. Paul in Britain, Artisan Sales/Hoffman Printing, POB 1529, Muskogee, OK 1984 pg 73)
Three years after being exiled from Judea, they took small ships across the English Channel to St. Michael’s Mount called Ictis. There they landed in the small wharf which was the loading dock for the tin that was shipped towards Rome to the east from the town of Marazion. As they disembarked from their boats, they waited until the tides went out and were able to walk across the dried-out bay to the small Celtic town of Marazion.
From Marazion, the company of Yahshua’s disciples along with Joseph travelled on hide-covered skiffs around Lands End in southern Cornwall and up the western coast of Cornwall. There in what was called the Severn Sea they weaved in and out of island mounds that jutted out of this mystical land. In the distance, they could see the Glastonbury Tor. Memories swelled up in their heads of the beautiful Mount Tabor jutting nineteen hundred feet from the Galilean plains southwest of the between modern-day Nazareth and Nain.
The Isle of Avalon and the Glastonbury Tor – New Home for the Nazarenes
As they floated in their skiffs nearer to that lofty green hill, the site of a sacred Druidic cor, there was a feeling that they were coming home to also a holy land. Here at the base of the famous ‘Glastonbury Tor’, they stayed. By their presence and their mission to this land of the “covenanted people”, a new holy land was consecrated to the “Good News” of their risen Lord.
The “Tor” was a sloping hill that was jutting up out of the surrounding water protective barrier shield. Smooth concentric rings flowed around its base as it rose above the marshy islands. Here was called the ‘Ynes Wyten’ or ‘Isle of Glass’
The “Holy Thorn Bush” from the Rod of Joseph of Arimathea – photo by Sarah Boait
The traditions continue that Joseph of Arimathea weary and exhausted from the long trip, stepped out of the hide covered skiff and planted his wooden staff into the ground very much like mountain climbers plant flags upon the tops of mountains that they scale and conquer. This site is called Weary-all Hill. At that site the traditions state that the staff of Joseph grew into a thorn bush with beautiful white flowers that bloom in December.
This thorn bush also by tradition lived for almost fifteen hundred years until one of Cromwell’s Christians sought to eradicate its memory by chopping it down. The tree grew again from its roots and transplanted in several sites in England, one of which is by the present-day Glastonbury Abbey Chapel.
There at Avalon, Joseph and the disciples were met by a second delegation; this time with King Guiderius of Siluria and an entourage of nobles. The first official act by Arviragus was to present to Joseph with a charter of twelve hides of land, one hide or the equivalence of 160 acres for each disciple, as a perpetual gift, free of tax. In total 1920 acres were given by the family of the Silurian royalty for them to dedicate to the first Nazarene mission in the Isles of the Celts in southern Wales and western Britain.
At this site was a special house of worship that already had been built years before. . Through the centuries this ‘Old Church’ would be called an ecclesia and the memory of the building of this ecclesia would be of the Hebrews who came to bring the news of the death and resurrection of the expectant messiah to the Druids whom they were expecting and called Jesu. The disciples of Jesus built this small and humble ecclesia almost a decade prior to the evangelistic mission to the city of Antioch where Nazarenes were first called “Christians”. This mud and wattle built church is also a testimony that the British Culdee Ecclesia was the first Nazarene mission of the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia at Jerusalem.
This charter of Arviragus is extant today and recorded in the British royal archives and visible for any historian to see. It was recorded in the Domesday Book, recorded by authority of William I the Conqueror who became first Norman king in England in 1066 CE. (Jowett, George F. The Drama of the Lost Disciples, Covenant Pub., Co, 8 Blades Court, Deodar Road, London SW15 2NU, 1961, 1993, pg. 70) Here in isolation and protection, one of the greatest mission stations of the Nazarenes was built.
Building a New Home and School on the Isle of Glass
What do missionaries do after they arrive in a foreign land and become peoples of the faith who have migrated permanently to another land? The first task is to build residential places for people to live, gardens to plant and develop a self-contained village with renewable resources for permanent habitation. As with all people who migrate from one land to another, their sites of inhabitation were built near sites where water can be found; wells, springs, lakes, creeks and rivers. So it was with the transplanted disciples of Jesus.
Here according to the best traditions, they found a small round mud and wattle hut built to the designs of Celtic architecture that Joseph and Mary testified was the site where Yahshua as a young man lived, studied and worshipped while living in this area.
This land is ripe with traditions that are very strong that Yahshua (Jesus) came to Britain as a child with his great uncle, Joseph of Arimathea a Roman Decurion, to scout for tin and lead mines so that these metals could be shipped back to Rome. The purported site where the original Josephean settlement was built was around the oratory that was built by the hands of Jesus. Twelve mud and wattle huts similar to the construction of homes in ancient Britain surrounded this place of worship near an ancient native spring now called the Chalice Well.
Here they were truly isolated from civilization as they knew it. For hundreds of years, the long arm of the Roman Empire using the best generals tried but could not penetrate the wall of the fierce resistance of the Celtic Silurian tribes. As a combined tribal force under the command of a Pendragon, their battle skills and tactics were formidable.
Here the site of the first ecclesia (church) built above ground by the disciples of Jesus the Nazarene was in an area of protection from destruction. Here they lived, worshipped and taught the principles of the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia in Jerusalem inspired by the Jewish rabbi, Yahshua who gave up His life as the Son of God. They taught that Yahshua’s death fulfilled the ‘sin sacrifices’ portrayed in the spring festivals of Pesach (Passover) as the Lamb of God. They also taught that the death of Yahshua fulfilled the ‘sin and purification sacrifice’ of the Red Heifer that was used to cleanse and purify the Temple, people and the Land.
Here on this island lived Joseph of Arimathea, the great uncle of Jesus; it was he who watched Yahshua’s birth, possibly had a hand in planning the escape of Joseph and Mary to protective custody in Egypt. It was he who may have assisted in finding them a home in the Essene villages of the Notzris near Galilee, kept Jesus in his custody when Joseph, his nephew in law died and let Yahshua travel with him to Britain on his tin and lead explorations. Here was built the first apostolic mission station in Britain that was supervised by Joseph of Arimathea and whose instructors, teachers and educators included Lazarus, Martha and Mary of Magdala, Zaccheus, the ‘Rich Young Ruler’ called Maximinus, Trophimus, the “Man born Blind” called Restitute. Here were the friends, relatives and disciples of Jesus who were the closest to or their lives were affected the most by the healing and the spiritual ministry of Yahshua. Here were the great minds of those who listened to the parables and teaching of Christ, who heard the “oral teachings of Rabbi Yahshua” as He would in private teach His disciples after a long day of teaching thousands on the hills of Galilee. They were not only privy to the spoken word of the Son of God but also the expanded teaching and the hidden meanings of the parables in which He spoke.
It has been a modern misconception that with the early Nazarene Ecclesia in Jerusalem living and sharing all their possessions that the people all lived in communes. Communal living suggests to the modern thought large dormitories or residential units where people lived and slept in an area open to all. The faithful Jewish believers in the land of Judea were not party to open commune lifestyle in mixed dormitory style residential homes. This is a modern corruption of commune lifestyle.
The first home built for Joseph of Arimathea and the twelve disciples of Jesus who was with Joseph was an enclosed and protected area built in a circle with individual huts or residential units built for each member. Here they had privacy and also a solitary place to worship and to study. Here was a proto-type of the later monastic cell used by each monk living in a monastery.
The home site was more akin to the ancient Celtic villages uncovered by the archeologist’s shovel first in the winter of 1853-54 when a lake-dwelling village was excavated near Meilen, Switzerland. This stimulated the mind of an Englishman, Arthur Bulleid who felt that the ancestors of Glastonbury also lived in similar villages. In March 1892, a mound near the village of Glastonbury was excavated on the land of Edward Bath and there they also uncovered an undisturbed Celtic village, now known as the Glastonbury Lake Village, on a ‘crannog’ or a man-made island, complete with the foundation, flooring of all the houses, the pottery, basket, wood-work and metalware. Here the timber poles were mixed with the tubs, wheels, spoons, looms, trenchers, bowls all depicting the life of the Celtic villages living near the era of Joseph of Arimathea and the friends and disciples of Jesus.
Yet the goal of the Hebrew disciples was not to live, dwell and die, but to proclaim the ‘Good News’ of the risen Christ. This Good News was encapsulated in the Hebrew imagery of the festivals of the Lord, living a life of Torah, the belief in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the belief that members of every kingdom and tribe were to learn about salvation through Yahshua, the Only Begotten Son of God.
Here in the land who people and culture prized learning and scholarship, the Hebrews with an ancestry of almost fifteen hundred years of learning and teaching Torah as given by Yahweh from Mount Sinai began to build their university, a school of higher learning in the land and competing with the institutions of higher learning by the Druids. It was a simple home and a modest school, yet soon their reputation spread. Soon the kings of the other Celtic tribes began to send their children to what was known as the Arimathaean School.
The Arimathean School at Ynis- wytren on the Isle of Avalon
It was under the instruction of Joseph and Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and others that the first British were instructed and trained as emissaries for Christ. It was to them that Mac Nessa, King of Ulster, sent his priests to Avalon to commit the Christian law and its teachings into writing, which they named ‘The Celestial Judgments’. (cf. Lewis and Old History of Ulster, Irish Tourist Bureau cited by Jowett, George F. The Drama of the Lost Disciples, Covenant Pub., Co, 8 Blades Court, Deodar Road, London SW15 2NU, 1961, 1993, pg 80)
It was also here at Avalon, that Lazarus life is identified, in the Celtic MSS, known as The Triads (Laws) of Lazarus. (Capgrave, De Sancto Joseph ab Aramathea, quoting ancient manuscript and the Book of the Holy Grail, quoted in Jowett 163) And it was from here that Lazarus, returned to Gaul, the area of Provence, France with Mary and Martha. In the ancient church records of Lyon it states, ‘Lazarus returned to Gaul from Britain to Marseilles, taking with him Mary Magdalene and Martha. He was the first appointed bishop. He died there seven years later.” (Jowett, George F. The Drama of the Lost Disciples, Covenant Publ., Co, 8 Blades Court, Deodar Road, London SW15 2NU, 1961, 1993, pg 164)
It was this, the Avalon school that the children of the Silurian Pendragon Caradactus; Gladys, Linus and Eurgain, were baptized and taught the message of our Lord. It was they, who with their father, as Roman military captive, went to Rome, and after his clemency, they lived at the Palatium Britannica. Here was the site of the first Christian church in Rome that met with the Apostle Paul. This site is preserved today in the Church of St. Pudentianna. The remains of the house of Roman Senator Rufus Pudens have been excavated and preserved there today on Viminale Hill in Rome.
We can only imagine the type of education that was taught at the Arimathean University at Avalon. The first teachers included Lazarus, the dearest friend of Yeshua, Mary Magdalene His closest female companion, Martha who was the foundation of hospitality to the numerous friends and disciples of Yahshua, and Restitute who was healed by Jesus of congenital blindness. Here they set up a yeshiva, or a Jewish school to teach the Torah as espoused and interpreted by the Jewish Rabbi Yahshua, who had lived, worshipped and studied here many years earlier. Soon converts from the Torah Yeshiva at Avalon or the Arimathean University at Avalon were being sent back as graduates to the European continent to proclaim the “Good News”.
These early Culdee graduates included: Beatus was born of noble parents in Britain and at the school of Avalon was converted and baptized. He became a missionary to the Helvi in the mountain of modern Switzerland and became the founder of the Helvetian church. His death occurred in the cell, still shown at Underseven, on the Lake of Thun, in AD 96. (Theatre. Magn. Britan., lib. vi. p. 9).
Clementus Romanus (Clement) was by tradition a Greek youth who was probably was sent to the universities in Britain as many of rich and noble youth of other countries did. He became a convert of Joseph of Arimathea and later returned back to Rome. There he met with Barnabus, the brother-in-law to the Apostle Peter who made the first evangelistic mission to the capital seat of the Roman Empire. Around 34-35 CE, we find Clement’s testimony written in the Recognitions of Clements, when Barnabus and he return to the Sabbatical Passover feast in Jerusalem. In route they stopped by Caesarea and met with Joseph of Arimathea, his spiritual mentor, and all the disciples of Jesus living there with the Apostle Philip and his family along with the Apostle Peter. We later find Clements in the boat cast out to sea with Joseph of Arimathea. Sometimes after his Gauline mission with Mansuetos, Clements is found back in Rome in the final days of Simon Peter before he is crucified in the Circus of Nero. There Clementus Romanus was appointed by the Apostle Peter to be the second official bishop of the Christian Church in Rome.
Mansuetos was born in Hibernia and in his youth was sent to the schools of Britain. There he was converted and baptized in Avalon and was later sent from Rome with Clement (Clementus Romanus) to preach the Gospel in Gaul. “He founded the Lotharingian Church, fixing his mission at Toul, where after extending his labors to Illyria. He was eventually martyred in 110 CE.” ( Pantaleon, De Viris Illus. Germaniae, pars. I; Guliel. Eisengren, cent. 2, p. 5; Petrus Mersaeus, De Sanctis German.; Franciscus Gulliman, Helvetiorum Historia, lib. i. c. 15; Petrus de Natalibus, Episcop. Regal. Tallensis.)
Marcellus, a noble Briton, was also converted at Avalon and later sent as a missionary to the region of Tongres. He was the founder of the early Christian Church in Gaul and appointed its bishop at Treves. This church and diocese for many centuries was the chief church and authority in the early Gallic church.
Linus was the prince heir to the throne of Siluria and a student and convert of the Joseph of Arimathea and the Bethany family at Avalon. He was the son of the British Pendragon Caradactus. When Caradoc was captured by the Romans, his entire family was taken to Rome which included his children Linus and Gladys.
Linus remained in Rome when his family returned seven years later after Caradoc’s pardon and clemency by the Roman Senate. Linus, the British prince, was appointed to be the first bishop of the Christian Church in Rome by the Apostle Paul.
This ecclesia in Rome was not really a church but was the home ecclesia after the Jewish Sector Party of the Nazarenes and the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia in Jerusalem led by the brother of Jesus, James the Just. The first and only home ecclesia for the Nazarene and Christian followers of Jesus in the city of Rome until the day of Constantine the Great was the palatial home of the Roman Rufus Pudens, the half brother to the Apostle Paul.
Rufus’ home was called the Palatium Britannica. This was so because Rufus’ wife was Gladys, the daughter to the British Pendragon Caradoc who was living in exile in Rome. It was this home that became the first Ecclesia or Gentile Christian Church of Rome. The faith of this family of believers was not like the faith of the subsequent orthodox Christian faith of the Roman Christian Church but more akin to the beliefs and worship styles of the Hebrew Nazarenes in Jerusalem. ( Marcellus Britannus, Tungrorum episcopus postea Trevirorum Archiepiscopus,’ &c.- Mersaeus, De Archiepiscopis Trevirensium)
Apostolic Missionaries to Britain
Apostle Simon Zelotes – The next missionary to Britain after Joseph of Arimathea and his followers was the Apostle Simon Zelotes. One Menology assigns the martyrologies of Zelotes to Persia in Asia, but others agree in stating he was martyred in Britain. Of these the principal authority is Dorotheus, Bishop of Tyre during the reigns of Diocletian and Constantia (300 CE).
Dorotheus, Bishop of Tyre – “Simon Zelotes traversed all Mauritania, and the regions of the Africans, preaching. He was at last crucified, slain, and buried in Britain.” ( Dorotheus, Synod. de Apostol.; Synopsis ad Simon Zelot. )
Crucifixion was a Roman penalty for runaway slaves, deserters and rebels; but it was not a form of punishment under Druidic, Celtic or ancient British laws. It appears that Simon Zelotes visited and stayed awhile at Avalon and was later martyred in the eastern part of Britain where he went to evangelize that part of the island. As tradition affirms, in the vicinity of Caistor, he was martyred in the area of Britain which was under the prefecture of Caius Decius, the Roman officer whose atrocities were the immediate cause of the Boudicean war.
Celtic Druids, as inheritors of the Ancient Hebrew Faith
Within the Celtic culture, the religious, spiritual leadership and education was entrusted into the hands of the Druidic priests. Druidism was introduced into the British Isles more than two thousand years before the birth of Christ by Hu Gadarn, the Mighty who is recognized as the person who colonized this island. The population on the southern and the western part of the island was under the influence of the Druidic faith with the Silurian tribes. On the eastern side of the island was the tribe of Iceni, famed for its female warrior, Boudicea as she was also Druidic.
The eastern part of the islands though early came under the domination and influenced by the early Angle and Saxon invaders which formed the foundation of the modern kingdom of England. The name England came from the tribal name of ‘Angle’ yet the governance of England was influenced more by the descendants of Isaac. As the ancient prophecy said:
Genesis 21:12, Romans 9:7 – “In Isaac shall thy seed be called (or named).”
As the ‘sons of Isaac”, or the lost tribes of the Northern Nation of Israel were called over the centuries the Saki, Sacae, Sacchi, Sakasani, Beth Sak, Saxones, Sachsen, and Saxons.
The Druidical priesthood had three priestly orders;
The Druids were the guardians and the interpreters of the law. They became the religious teachers, the instructors of the sciences and controlled the judiciary which evoked the interpretation of the laws of the Druids.
The Eubates were the working priests who performed the rites in the open megalithic temples of the druids.
The Barb’s duty was to preserve on oral verse the sacred memories of the Celtic people, the stories of the heroes, their historical chronicles that were deemed worthy to put to memory, the songs of the Celts and to excite the tribal ruler and people to perform deeds of courage and heroic acts on the day of battle.
The religion of the Druids was kept by oral laws and nothing was written in parchment or stone. The Triads were committed to memory on the simple beliefs of God and the trinities of life, nature, and worship. Some of these triads have been preserved from antiquity.
There are three obligations of every man: Justice, Love and Humility.
There are three rights of every man: Life, Freedom and Achievement.
There are three duties of every man: Worship God, Be Just to all men, Die for your country.
There are three beliefs in God: Believe in God who made you; Love God Who saved you; Fear God who will judge you.
Three persons have the claims of brother and sister: The widow, the orphan and the stranger.
The educational system of the Druids was the most extensive educational system in the ancient world. There were forty known universities which were located in the forty tribal capitals of the Druids. These tribes eventually formed the boundaries of the modern counties in England and depict the ancient tribal boundaries.
It is reputed that the Druidic universities enrolled a total of sixty thousand youth which included most of the younger nobility of Britain and they attracted thousands of youth from the continent of Europe including the Senatorial families of Rome. To master the entire curriculum of knowledge taught by the druids required at least twenty years to complete. This curriculum included: natural philosophy, astronomy, arithmetic, botany, geometry, law, medicine, poetry, oratory and natural theology. Splendid mental powers of the students of the druidic institutions were attested in antiquity by those who conversed with the Greeks, Romans and citizens of other parts of the world.
In the annals of Julius Caesar he records that the students are instructed in the movement of the heavenly bodies and the grandeur of the universe. Their knowledge of mathematics excelled as they had the capacity to apply mathematics to the measurements of the earth and the distance and movements of the stars. Their knowledge of physics and mechanics as depicted in the movement of megalithic stones for hundreds of miles, transporting them over hills and across water to build their sacred sites called cors.
The most sacred of all the ‘Cors’ is Stonehenge, called hanging stones, which was built on the plain of Salisbury. Its structure consisted of 139 megalithic blocks from five to twenty two feet high, arranged in a circle. This temple and cairn is dated to about 3500 years ago at 1500 BCE or the age of the exodus of Moses and the Israelites from Egypt.
All citizens living in the lands of the druids had to have a known genealogy at least nine generations. The pedigree was essential to establish blood lines and tribal bases, one’s ancestral station in life and to own and keep property. Any person without a pedigree was an outlaw, without a family, a tribe or a nation. These genealogical records were jealously guarded and recorded with precise exactness by the herald-bards of each clan. When a child reached the age of fifteen, he underwent a public ceremony with the clan and the family genealogy was publicly proclaimed. Any challengers to the genealogies were commanded to voice their dissent. By common law, every Briton held as his birthright ten acres of lands.
To become a member of the Druids and a candidate to enter the initiation of the Order had to prove his ancestry for nine successive generations of free forefathers. No slave could be a Druid, and if he became a slave, he forfeited his Druidic Order and the privileges within the Order. Herein lay the fundamental principles of the freedom that the early British coveted and fought to preserve. Here was the reason for the long and stubborn resistance to the Roman armies seeking to subdue their island. The Island of Britain was never conquered by Rome. It was not until 120 CE that Britain signed a treaty with Rome and became a part of the dominions of Rome. Even so, the British citizens retained their own kings, their own laws and their property. In return they agreed by treaty to provide three legions of soldiers for the defense of the Roman empire.
It was the ancient British slogan that went: “Y Gwir Yn Erbyn Y Byd” “The truth against the world”
The truth against the world
Every druidic congress opened with these words: “The country is above the king”. The authority of the Druids and their influence in their social culture showed that their popularity was equal to their greatness. Of all the penalties of the Druids and the one most feared was that of ex-communication. The fear in the minds of the citizen to cast away from society and family was enough that it was rarely abused or used. If the decree of ex-communication was placed upon any person, he was no longer considered to be a human being. He had no civil rights, could not inherit any land nor could he sue to recover debt. Anyone had the right to destroy his property. No one could feed or give aid to him. Even his nearest relatives would reject and flee from him in aversion.
One year later, a public ceremony was performed: He had one year and a day to make amends for his offense. If he failed to do so, he was brought before the congress and the ‘Sword of the Tribe’ was unsheathed against the name of the offender. His name was erased from all tribal records and genealogies. His badge was taken, his sword was broken, his head was shaved and his executioner drew blood from his forehead and pouring this blood on his own head exclaimed, “The blood of this accursed man be on his own head.” His forehead was then branded and he was led by a herald, “this man hath no name nor family nor tribe. Henceforth let no man touch him nor speak to him, nor eye look upon him nor hand bury him, and let perpetual darkness be upon him.” Unable to sustain these horrors which to him were worse than death, the person excommunicated crawled away to become an unburied skeleton.
The Druids, clad in white and wearing ornaments of gold, they celebrated their mystic rites in the depths of the forest. The groves of oak were their chosen retreats. The Druids held the mistletoe with highest veneration and when growing on an oak tree it represented man, a creature totally dependant upon God for support and yet an individual existence and will of his own. Marriage to one woman was early established among the Britons. They treated their wives with a respect which could only have existed amongst a people where marriage elevated woman to a level with man, and often they were willingly governed by the widow of their kings who, in more than one instance, conducted them in battle. (Taken almost complete from John S. Wurts of Hedgefield, Germantown, Pa, “The Druids”, Magna Charta, Brookfield Publishing Co, PO Box 4933, Philadelphia, Pa., reprint March 1945 as the Crown Edition, reprinted 1964, pg 150-153,)
The knowledge of the Druidic faith, confirms that they were waiting for the coming of the messiah. In fact, in the Druidic faith, they were awaiting the anointed One, Jesu and it was with willing hearts that the message of Christ found immediate reception in the Royal Silurian family, including Bron, who was the Arch Druid of Britain, later known as Bran the Blessed.
British historians documented what they feel are legitimate migration routes of the Celtoi tribes, feel that they can trace these tribes to the lost tribes of Israel. It was these same Druids, who in their “Celtic Triads”, who wrote prior to the coming of Christ, and recorded by Procopius in De Gotthici:
‘The Lord our God is One,
Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be
ye lifted up, ye everlasting door, and the
King of Glory shall come in.
Who is the King of Glory? The Lord Jesu;
He is the King of Glory.’
(cf. Procopius, De Gothici, bk 3, cited by Jowett, George F. The Drama of the Lost Disciples, Covenant Pub., Co, 8 Blades Court, Deodar Road, London SW15 2NU, 1961, 1993, pg 78)
The Ancient Wattle Ecclesia build by Christ
The Wattle Oratory of worship “constructed by the Hands of Christ Himself” with the Twelve Anchorite Huts built by Joseph of Arimathea
The most intact and credible account of the first ecclesia built above the ground of the Arimathean mission was by William of Malmesbury, the historian of Glastonbury. The Antiquities of Glastonbury was written in 1126 CE and it states:
William of Malmesbury – “In the year of our Lord, 63, (‘from the incarnation of our Lord’ which would be about 56 CE if Jesus was born in 7 BCE) twelve holy missionaries, with Joseph of Arimathea (who had buried the Lord) at their head, came over to Britain, preaching the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.
The king of the country and his subjects refused to become proselytes to their teachings, but in consideration that they had come a long journey, and being somewhat pleased with their soberness of life and unexceptional behavior, the king, at their petition, gave them for their habitation a certain island bordering on his region, covered with trees and bramble bushes and surrounded by marshes, called Ynis-wytren (and later Glastonbury).
Afterwards two other kings, successively, although pagans, having information of their remarkable sanctity of life, each gave of them a portion of ground, and this, at their request, according to the custom of the country, was confirmed to them – from whence the ‘twelve Hides of Glastonbury’, it is believed, derive their origin.
These holy men, thus dwelling in this desert place, were in a little time admonished in a vision by the Archangel Gabriel to build a church in honor of the Blessed Virgin, in a place to which they were directed. Obedient to the Divine precept, they immediately built a chapel of the form of that which had been shown them: the walls were of osiers wattled together all round.
This was finished in the one-and-thirtieth year (62 CE) after our Lord’s Passion, and though rude and misshapen in form, was in many ways adorned with heavenly virtues; and being the first church in this region, the Son of God was pleased to grace it with particular dignity, dedicating it Himself in honor of His Mother.” (William of Malmesbury, The Antiquities of Glastonbury, Chapter 1, cited by Taylor, John W., The Coming of the Saints, Artisan Sales/Hoffman Printing, POB 1529, Muskogee, OK, 74402. 1985.pg 151-152)
Yet this was not the first house of worship. The first structures built by the disciples of Jesus with Joseph of Arimathea were in the model of a Celtic village with a spring nearby, with individual dwellings surrounding a house of worship. These homes were later called anchorite huts, which became the tradition of the anchorites and the early monastic believers of Christianity which lasted for hundred of years. Whenever one anchorite leave or die, another anchorite would be appointed in its place.
This House of Worship had a sacred memory for according to the testimony of none other than Augustine the Great, bishop of Hippo, doctor of law in the orthodox Roman Church and emissary to Britain to establish the Roman Church in the land already evangelized by the Culdee Hebrew Nazarenes who were called Christians. According to Augustine:
Augustine the Great – “In the western confines of Britain there is a certain royal island of large extent, surrounded by water, abounding in all the beauties of nature and necessaries of life. In it the first neophytes of Catholic Law, God beforehand acquainting them, found a Church constructed by no human art, but by the Hands of Christ Himself, for the salvation of His people. The Almighty has made it manifest by many miracles and mysterious visitations that He continues to watch over it as sacred to Himself, and to Mary, the Mother of God.”
Many scholars interpret this statement by Augustine that Jesus’ oratory or house of worship that He built in Britain was dedicated to his mother Mary. Yet it was that ecclesia that manifested many miracles and mysterious visitations. It was a site to be transformed to the world of the Divine. It was the site, where the ancient rites of entering in the spirit into the kebob, the cherubim or chariots of the Lord, that the Rabbi Yahshua (Jesus) and the ancient prophets of Israel used to be mystically transported in heavenly vision to the throne of God. The testimony of Augustine suggests also this site was sacred to Jesus Himself, now sitting on the right Hand of God but recognizing that this site was holy, for the presence of the Father of Yahshua was there.
This testimony of Augustine also suggests that this site was also sacred to Mary the mother of Yahshua. Was this site dedicated to Mary and was it to become the first church to be dedicated to the Notre Dame, the Virgin Mary? No! It was dedicated to the Father of Yahshua, the God of Abraham. As such it was also a site sacred to Mary as a House of Adonai and is testimony that Mary the mother of Yahshua lived and worshipped at this site.
This Hebrew Ecclesia was a novel structure in the land of the Celts. Built by the very building material native to this land, the ecclesia was 60 feet in length, 26 feet in breadth, and built with timbers pillars and framework and wattled with mud and thatched straw very much like the construction of the ancient capital of Rome and the capital of the Celts in Wales. To the Hebrews they built it as an exact model of the Wilderness Tabernacle by Moses at Mount Sinai. The site of this house of worship was a paradigm shift in the minds of the Druids.
In the Druidic faith, the triads were a foundation of their learning. To the Druid all Temples were to be built with three essential features: It was to be circular in design. It was to be hypaethral or open at the top and open at the sides. It was to be built with megalithic stones, vast huge monoliths, unhewned and untouched by iron, similar to the instruction given to David for the building the Temple of the Lord by his son Solomon.
The Armathaean Ecclesia was truly a design antagonistic to the Druidic temples. The circular design of the Druids represented the Infinite, the Druidic images of the Almighty One, the Infinite and the Hidden One depicted as the Darkless One. Nearby on the plains of Amesbury and Stonehenge, lines with miles of obelisks, the British Druid would walk to their great cors or religious sites. Here also at the base of the greatest Tor in the region, the Glastonbury Tor, was built the eglwys of the Wyr Israel (Ecclesia of the men of Israel) to the Hebrew God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that was also the Almighty One, the Ein Sof or the Hidden One, the One Who was Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient.
Go to the Megalithic Map to explore the Megalithic sites of the ancient Druids in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
Yet the Druids were a people of tolerance. They did not persecute ideas of the conscious and knowledge. They were a people that treasured new ideas and especially knowledge of the universe. As they watched the Arimathean company build this humble ecclesia, they could smile at this simple faith that could build a temple of such humble design for they knew not the temple model given to Moses the Lawgiver. This model was the model of open air temple at the Garden of Eden. It was the model of the Wilderness Sanctuary, and the model of the Temples of Solomon, Zerubabbel, the Maccabean and Herod. It was the model of the future Ezekiel temple and a model of the Heavenly Sanctuary constructed in an other-dimensional world that a human being in this three-dimensional world could not enter.
Yet they, the Druids watched and they listened to the story of the risen Christ. They recognized that Yahshua (Jesus) in Israel was the anticipated future messiah of the Druids called Jesu. It also resurrected an ancient memory of that people of antiquity when they were of one faith in the plains of Canaan and later in Gishon. It resurrected the memory of their ancestors that lived near Galilee and the fields of central Canaan, of a simple faith that built stone altars to the Unknown God for the first religious megalithic standing stones are found in the land of Israel and the wilderness of Sinai. From the Land of Israel, megalithic standing stone structures fanned out to the west reaching the isles of the west in Britain and Ireland.
This humble Hebrew Ecclesia would remain imprinted in the consciousness of the Brits long after they quit worshipping in circular, open air temple of megalithic stones. To this day, this Armathaean Ecclesia is still imprinted in the Glastonbury landscape and imbedded in stone as it was preserved for almost two thousand years. The Druidic Celts who later became the Culdees, were more akin to the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia in Jerusalem than the Christians Church in Rome. As we shall soon see the foundation of the Church in Rome came from the teachings and foundation of the Armathaean disciples of the Nazarene faith of Israel. It would be a Culdee, Linus that would be the first bishop of Rome. It would be a Greek Culdee convert, Clements, who would be the second bishop of Rome.
The testimony of the ancient historians shows the care and sacredness they felt about the Culdee Ecclesia. It would be called the Vetusta or the Vetusta Ecclesia meaning the ‘ancient church’. It would remain a sacred image of the indomitable spirit of the Celtic Brit who refused to bow the knee to the ascending corruption of the Roman orthodox church and the imperial power of Rome.
It was the testimony of the historian John Taylor in The Coming of the Saints who said,
John Taylor –“The most remarkable feature of the Glastonbury building is this continued representation of the wooden church of the Britons by the Lady Chapel or chapel of St. Joseph. For, through all the ages since the wattled church was first erected, and through all the vicissitudes affecting the later buildings of the Abbey, the approximate size and shape of the first British church to have been religiously maintained.” (Taylor, John W., The Coming of the Saints, Artisan Sales/Hoffman Printing, POB 1529, Muskogee, OK , 74402. 1985. pg 151-152)
As the Hebrew Ecclesia of Israel in Jerusalem is called the ‘Mother Ecclesia” of the Christian Church, so also the ‘Vetusta Ecclesia’ became known as the ‘Mother Church of Britain’.
Charter by Henry I (1185) for rebuilding Glastonbury – It is “The mother and burying-place of the saints, founded by the very disciples of our Lord” (Hitchins, History of Cornwall, vol. I, p. 349, cited by Taylor, John W., The Coming of the Saints, Artisan Sales/Hoffman Printing, POB 1529, Muskogee, OK, 74402. reprinted 1985. pg 151-152)
Charter of Edgar – It is said to be “the first church in the kingdom built by the disciples of Christ.” (Conybeare’s, Roman Britain, p. 254, Taylor, John W., The Coming of the Saints, Artisan Sales/Hoffman Printing, POB 1529, Muskogee, OK, 74402. 1985. pg 151-152)
Lady Chapel at Glastonbury Abbey
This wattle church stood intact for hundreds of years and was preserved as a sacred and hallowed place, revered by the ancient Culdee Brits. It would be later encased with boards and covered with lead to preserve its fragile structure. Later a stone edifice called the Chapel of Mary was built over it, when a larger chapel in the same proportions was built to the east by Dunstan.
In the interior of this chapel was housed costly gifts, one of which was recorded was an altar of sapphire presented to chapel by the Patriarch of Jerusalem. (Taylor, John W., The Coming of the Saints, Artisan Sales/Hoffman Printing, POB 1529, Muskogee, OK , 74402. 1985. pg 155)
We later hear of this altar in a manuscript in the Bodleian which records it amongst the spoils seized by King Henry VIII is “a super altare, garnished with silver and gilte, called the greate sapphire of Glasconburye.” (Footnotes to William of Malmesbury, The Antiquities of Glastonbury, trans Frank Loma, Facsimile reprint, 1992, by J.M.F. Books, Loaners, Felinfach, first published by Talbot, London, n.d., pg 53)
William of Malmesbury – “The corporeal remains of many saints are preserved, nor is there a spot on the ashes of saints, so thickly is the pavement strewn with gravestones, so richly are the sides of the altar, yea, the altar itself above and below, heaped up with the choicest reliques! Good God! How happy are the inhabitants of such a spot, whom reverence herself invited to mingle with the remains of this place.” (William of Malmesbury, The Antiquities of Glastonbury, trans Frank Lomax, Facsimile reprint, 1992, by J.M.F. Books, Llanerch, Felinfach, first published by Talbot, London, n.d., pg 53)
As the librarian and historian of the Glastonbury Abbey, William of Malmesbury, takes his authority from ‘the writings of the ancients’ and probably from the history of Melchin around 560 CE, whose writings are not intact but was quoted by John of Glastonbury in the following,
History of Melchin (560 CE) – “The disciples…died in succession and were buried in the cemetery. Among them, Joseph of Marmore, named of Arimathea, received perpetual sleep, and he lies in linea bifurcata near the south corner of the oratorio, which is built of hurdles.” (Melchin, or Melkyn is states by historians to have lived before Merlin and the story of Joseph coming in a boat recorded in a book (see Flores Historiarum, London, 1890, p. 127) cited by cited by Taylor, John W., The Coming of the Saints, Artisan Sales/Hoffman Printing, POB 1529, Muskogee, OK, 74402. 1985. pg 151-152)
In 1184, the chapel and the entire Abbey was destroyed by fire. For 1100 years the wattle chapel had been preserved as a memorial of the Hebrew Nazarene disciples of Jesus and almost all of the treasures, relics and the entire library of all the histories of antiquity were destroyed.
Within two years the Chapel was rebuilt in order to preserve the site and dimensions of the Vetusta or the Vetusta Ecclesia, called the ancient church. The memory of the disciples and apostles of the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia are imbedded in the name that was preserved in antiquity.
It was not called a church, but an ecclesia because its original founders and builders were Hebrews who lived and breathed the life as Jewish believers in their Jewish messiah called Yeshua. As British Culdee historian John W. Taylor wrote,
John W. Taylor – “Still, within two years the old church of St. Mary was rebuilt, ‘where, from the beginning the “Vetusta” has stood, with squared stones of the most perfect workmanship, profusely ornamented’; and lest there should be any later interruption or misconception of the old tradition, a brass plate was subsequently fixed to a pillar in the monk’s churchyard, and on the south side of the chapel containing a representation of the original church of wattles, its dimensions (60 ft. in length and 26 ft. in breadth), and an inscription in Latin.
The plate is still preserved. It is of an octagon form, 10 in. by 7 in.; the holes by which it was riveted to the stone still remain. The old Latin inscription which covers it in black letters is of uncertain date, but said to be not later than the fourteenth century. It records the arrival of the first missionaries with Joseph of Arimathea in the year 31, after our Lord’s Passion, and the Divine dedication of this first church to the Blessed Virgin. It records also the addition of a chancel at the east end of this church, and ‘lest the place and magnitude of the (original) church should be forgotten by this augmentation, a column was erected on a line passing through the two eastern angles of that church protracted to the south, which line divided the aforesaid chancel from it’. (Taylor, John W., The Coming of the Saints, Artisan Sales/Hoffman Printing, POB 1529, Muskogee, OK, 74402. 1985. pg 156)
Looking at the last great Abbey of Glastonbury, we see to the left of the Abbey a small chapel. The Lady Chapel was built over the site of the original Vetusta Ecclesia that was construction by Joseph of Arimathea and the disciples of Jesus. The dimensions on the interior of this chapel preserve the form of that original Mud and Wattle Chapel built to the dimension of the Wilderness Tabernacle of the Lord at Sinai after it had been enclosed with a wooden frame structure and enclosed in lead.
As John Taylor would later muse,
John Taylor – “There-reputedly build by Jewish builders-stood the original wattled church or Lady Chapel, built as the Tabernacle was set up, and as the Temple was built, with the House of God to the west of the sacred enclosure; and, opening out front, directly continuous with it, toward the east where we are standing grew the great church-or what has been the great church-of St. Peter and St. Paul, one of the greatest, or perhaps the very greatest of all English churches. (Taylor, John W., The Coming of the Saints, Artisan Sales/Hoffman Printing, POB 1529, Muskogee, OK , 74402. 1985. pg 156)
For hundreds of years, the ‘Vetusta Ecclesia’ remained as a Jewish Nazarene testimony of the witness of the first disciples and apostles of Jesus. Members of the Royal Silurian family became members of the Culdee Ecclesia which was more identical to the original Nazarene faith of the apostles. Though the evangelistic mission of the ecclesia was slow, the roots were embedded deep in the land of the ‘covenant people’ called the Brits.
Here in the side of the Lady Chapel of the Glastonbury Abbey was carved a unique Stone with the simple words, Jesvs – Maria. Many historians have speculated the meaning of this stone. Did Jesus dedicate this chapel to His mother Mary? Did Mary the mother of Jesus dedicate this site as where Jesus lived, built and worshipped as a youth with His uncle Joseph of Arimathea? Or was this stone a dedicatory memorial of the site inhabited by both Jesus and Mary during the years of His youth when He visited and stayed awhile to learn more about His Father?
Then the storms of persecution began to flame in the Gallic regions of Lyons and Vienne in 177 CE. Many of these refugees fled westward to the sanctuary of safety that was founded when the first missionaries that came to Gaul were evangelized by the Hebrew Nazarene disciples. There they found sanctuary in Britain near Glastonbury. The zeal of the refugee and the stories of persecution only flamed the Celtic minds of the Culdees to remain steadfast to the ancient druidic cry, “To the Truth against the World.” A personal identity with the message of Joseph, the Bethany three and the other original disciples of Yahshua that was first fostered by Arviragus, Caradoc and Guiniveras began to take on a regional and then a national identity with the Christian faith of the universal Nazarene believers.
One of the oldest testaments of the British Culdees came from Llewrwg or King Lucius (Light) the Great, who when he established a archbishopric in London, wrote to Eleutherius, a Greek, who was the Bishop of Rome between 177 -192 CE. He was requesting counsel and direction in the proper governance as a Christian king. Two letters of Bishop Eleutherius have been preserved in Rome (Mansi), one written to the Christians of Lyons and Vienne during the great persecution and the other to Lucius, King of Britain.
Here the relics of the ancients still testify of the life of one man, Joseph of Arimathea, his life and dedication to his great nephew Jesus the Nazarene, whom he believed as all the other apostles and disciples to be the Son of the Living God. This testimony is preserved in the relics of stone, legends, manuscripts, official records, and the biblical canon and together they form a composite picture of that dynamic mission of the friends and disciples of Jesus who were cast off from the coast of Judea to float off to obscurity in the Mediterranean Sea.
The Nazarene Ecclesia after the Stoning of Stephen Study into the Kahal (Hebrew)
Nazarene Ecclesia (Congregation) of Yisra’el (Israel) Called by Christians ‘The Jerusalem Church’
Commentary by Robert D. Mock M.D.
In the political arena of Shaul assaulting James the Just and attempting to kill him on the steps of the temple and the Gestapo mission to evict and destroy Joseph of Arimathea and the disciples that were living in semi-exile in Caesarea must now be weighed with the new crisis that occurred with the synagogue of the freemen when charges were made against a deacon of the popular Nazarene party, Stephen, a Hellenized Jew from the diaspora for charges of blasphemy. Stephen was hauled before the Sanhedrin was presided by Caiphas the High Priest. As the Beth Din of the courts, Caiphas was responsible for maintaining law and order according to the Torah. According to the Romans, he was to minister justice according to Jewish law and to appease the population in order to prevent any revolts or riots in the land.
Well the Sanhedrin trial of Stephen appeared to be going rather well, until it appears the Name of God was uttered and the entire Sanhedrin arose, crying out blasphemy while holding their hands to their ears. Without any cross examination which was the center of Roman law, they arose as the force of one man and hauled Stephen to the limits of the city of Jerusalem and stoned him to death. Things moved from bad to worse.
The Ab-Beth Din of the Sanhedrin was the leading Torah scholar in the city, the famed Gamaliel, was the chief officer of the religious court who presided over the Sanhedrin in the absence of the high priest. With the High Priest present, Gamaliel was not in charge of the proceedings. Yet one of the students of Gamaliel was observing from the sidelines. At his feet the cloaks of the members of the Sanhedrin were laid but what was more important was the impression it made on this young student’s mind.
The deacon Stephen was a member of the Synagogue of the Freemen in Jerusalem and during the week was responsible to care for the women and orphans of the diaspora Jews and the gentiles families that were becoming apart of the Nazarene party Noahide believers in the God of Israel. So when Stephen was hauled before the Sanhedrin with charges of blasphemy against the God of Israel, all the Nazarenes knew that these serious charges would bring a life or a death sentence.
We witness this Jewish deacon of the Nazarene Ecclesia being hauled to the outskirts of the city of Jerusalem where he was stoned to death by the Jewish Sanhedrin. The cloaks of his accusers and those throwing the stones were laid at the feet of a young Pharisee called Shaul. Born as a Roman citizen from Tarsus in Cilicia, Shaul’s mother was a Jewess called, Priscilla and his father was a Roman. As a protected Roman citizen, Shaul had come to Jerusalem to study Jewish Law under the famed Torah scholar Gamaliel, the eminent doctor of the Jewish law.
According to Jewish law the highest official in the land in the administration of the Mosaic Law and the ritual was the high priest who was called the Beth-Din or the Father of the Court of Justice. According to custom, the Sadducees who controlled the Sanhedrin also controlled the office of the high priest yet out of custom gave the office of the deputy to the high priest, the Ab-Beth-Din, to the leading Pharisee, who then presided over the court in the absence of the high priest. Gamaliel, the presiding Ab-Beth-Din was given the title of honor, Rabban or ‘Master’.
So here we have a young Pharisee in training under the leading Pharisee of the day, who was the third ranking Jew in the country. Why was Shaul sitting on the sidelines? As young activist, as we shall see later, with his testosterone rushing as a zealot for the Torah, it would seem Shaul should be in the midst of the Sadducean led mob that was seeking justice with the charges of blaspheming the Name of the Lord.
Acts 6:11 – “Then they secretly induced men to say, ‘We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.’”
Here was a demonstration of Jewish political and religious science all mixed in one. Here was the witnessed defiant yet fiery oratory of the Greek Nazarene deacon, Stephen. Stephen, himself, though a Greek Jew that had been living in the Diaspora, yet he was no novice in the history of the Jews or the 613 Mosaic commandments which all halachah observant Jews were commanded to keep.
The question must be entertained, what were the charges that were leveled against Stephen, the deacon? It did not appear to be centered on the keeping of the Torah or the interpretation of the Oral Law as was being defined in the Mishnah. Or was blaspheming Moses actually blaspheming the words written by Moses as given by God in the Torah? Were these blasphemy charges separate, against Moses and against God or were these charges actually blasphemy against the Name of God.
The ancient laws of Israel charged that blaspheming the king or ruler of Israel was also blasphemy against God. (Exodus 22:27, Isaiah 8:21) So the king (keter) was recognized as the official representative of the Almighty One to His people, the children of Israel. Moses was God’s representative to ancient Israel in that he not only represented the Torah before the people that was given to Him from Mount Sinai, but also because he explained and interpreted the Torah to them or became the official spokesman of the God of Abraham. Such was the beginning of the oral law. This process of interpreting the Law or Torah to the Jewish people was called the “Seat of Moses” by Jesus. Even though those that interpreted the Torah did not practice what they preached, Jesus commanded his disciples that they must ‘do as they say’ and were to obey and respect the interpretation of the law by the Sanhedrin.
The Jewish case law on blasphemy is found in Leviticus 24:10-23. This case is based on a blasphemer, who was one of the ‘mixed multitudes’ that escaped from Egypt with the children of Israel and blasphemed the “Name of the Lord” and cursed. He was taken outside the camp and all who heard him were to lay their hands upon his head as testimony that they did hear him and then “all the congregation should stone him.” The actual formulation of the general law against blaspheming is found in Leviticus 24:15-16.
Leviticus 24:15-16 – “Then you shall speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin. And whoever blasphemes the Name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall certainly stone him the stranger as well as him who is born in the land. When he blasphemes the Name of the Lord, he shall be put to death.”
These were serious charges with serious consequences. The charges against Stephen were trumped up by certain Greek speaking Jews whose ancestors were once slaves to the Romans and were set free. They met in what was called the Synagogue of the Freedman. Here Stephen met and worshipped with them. Was Stephen also a ‘freedman’ or was he a Greek speaking Jewish proselyte, who was representing the Nazarenes by worshipping at that synagogue? Listening to his passionate defense and the depth of understanding of Jewish history and Jewish Torah law suggests that Stephen probably was also a Jewish freedman.
The false accusations against Stephen were taken to the council, or the Sanhedrin. This text of Acts states that the false accusation was because Stephen did “not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law.” Did the application of the law of Torah become expanded by the first century CE that blasphemy was a charge not only against the Name of God, against God’s chosen representative but speaking words against the temple and the law?
All through the long oratory on the history of the Lord of hosts directing and dealing with His people, from Abraham to the establishing of the tabernacle and the temple, the Sanhedrin listened respectfully. The Sanhedrin did not even raise a defense when Stephen stated that you cannot blaspheme a temple of God because ‘the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands” (vs. 48). The ire and the temperament of the members of the Sanhedrin were not raised until Stephen spoke;
Acts 6:51-53 – “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.”
Though they “gnashed at him with their teeth” (Acts 55:54), they still could not charge Stephen with blaspheme. Then the text of Acts states, Stephen:
Acts 6:55-57 – “being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God and said, ‘Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”
Only then did the members of the Sanhedrin cry out ‘with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him.” (Acts 55:57-58) Let us analyze this moment in time. It was only at the Sanhedrin in which the charges of at least two witnesses could be placed against a fellow Jew; especially charges of religious law against blaspheme. The visual scene was immediate and profoundly reactive. Stephen had spoken the ineffable Name of the Lord, the name in which all Jews were not to utter, and they “cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears” and the rest is history.
The Account of Acts after the Stoning of Stephen
The death of Stephen came in the context of that hiatus of time when the Roman legate, Vitellius, came to visit Judea during the Passover of 36 CE. During this time he made several major changes in the religio-politics in Jerusalem. First he exiled the Roman Procurator Pontius Pilate and then second, he deposed the Jewish high priest, Caiaphas. Yet a major political blunder was made by the legate, by not nominating a procurator to replace Pontius Pilate. Trying not to offend the powerful dynastic family of Annas, Jonathan Ananias, a novice in Jewish politics was nominated as the new high priest and became the defacto ruler of all Judea with no Roman supervision. With no Roman supervision, the new high priest, Jonathan, the son of the powerful former high priest, Ananus, now had complete control of not only the religious but the political governance of the province of Judea. As was stated prior, This was letting the ‘fox guard the chicken house.”
In the interim, the Roman legate in Damascus was absorbed in war preparation against the Nabathean ruler in Petra, the Arab Arêtes, who had earlier routed the forces of Herod Antipas in 35 CE. Arêtes attacked the troops of Herod Antipas over the annulment of the marriage of his daughter to Herod Antipas so that he could marry Herodias, the sister to the later King of the Jews, King Agrippa I. Out of this event and the subsequent criticism of John the Baptist, the Baptist lost his head on the platter at a feast of Herod’s.
The power plays used in gaining the allegiance of the minds of the peasants was paramount in the minds of the House of Ananus. The ascendancy of the Nazarenes with the mindful charges, albeit true, that the House of Ananus was the responsible party for the death of Yahshua, made the Sadducees who were controlled by the leading family of Ananus more anxious to suppress any dissent in their political, economic and religious hegemony of power.
In the fall of 36 CE, Vitellius, the Roman legate who resided in Damascus Syria came to visit Jerusalem. During this visit, the legate came in a manner of great generosity to the Jewish peasants. The Roman census of 34-35 CE was completed and the hated taxes were paid especially upon the selling of agricultural products that were exported to the Roman world. In 36 CE, Vitellius gave the Roman order to repay to the peasants the taxes that had been collected on the agricultural products in Judea and Galilee. This would have been overwhelmingly popular with the majority of the Jewish population who lived on the fine line between wealth and poverty depending on the productivity of the agricultural industry.
The Jewish leadership was also given special appeasement to the Sadducee leadership when Vitellius agreed to allow the high priest vestments to be kept in the Temple proper instead of in the custody of the Romans in the fort of Antonia. Yet Vitellius had some serious political issues he had to accomplish. Tiberius Caesar or the well-orchestrated bureaucracy of Rome was displeased with the Machiavellian politics of the high priest Caiphas especially in his dealing with the death of the Jewish rabbi, Yahshua. The government of Rome’s overwhelming interest was to appease the population, dampen the smouldering unrest with the zealots in the land and to keep the population productive, for truly the taxes of this region were a vital asset to the treasury of Rome.
The high priest Caiphas was deposed from his office as high priest and leader of the Sanhedrin because he manipulated the office of the Roman procurator by placing the blame of the death of what they consider to be an insignificant teacher in the land of Israel and flaming the fires of insurrection against the Roman government. Jonathan Ananias, the son of the powerful Sadducean family, the House of Annas was installed, with a hefty bribe to the Roman treasury, as high priest.
So sometime between the Jewish New Years at Yom Kippur 36 CE and the Passover 37 CE Jonathan Ananias along with the Sanhedrin became the responsible agents for the death of the deacon Stephen as the first martyr of the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia. This fact would several decades later become a major factor in the death of James the Just and the subsequent fall of Rome. This fact had more immediate ramifications in the attempt on the life of James the Just during a debate with the Chief Officer of the Sanhedrin, Gamaliel.
Saul’s trip to Damascus
Shaul (Saul) a Pharisee in training and also a zealot for the law, quickly became after the death of Stephen a persecutor of the Nazarene Sect or Party of Judea. Shaul was not opposed to the messianic ideals of the Jewish Zealots, neither did he seek to eradicate the followers of Messianic idealists.
One must not forget that his mentor was Gamaliel, the Ab-Beth Din of the Sanhedrin, who was later suspected to be a secret follower and admirer of Jesus. What turned Shaul’s fury against a certain sector of the Nazarenes was that the Hellenistic branch of the Nazarenes wanted to turn the Nazarene Party of Judea away from the national Jewish religion and would make the Jewish Moshiach, the messiah of Yahshua (Jesus) not as a messiah for the Jews but into a universal Savior for all mankind.
Shaul (Saul), a passionate and fiery student, was a winning religious and political bulldog for the Sadducean leaders and especially the House of Annas, who had controlled the temple economy. This corrupt and abusive power base had been built by Annas for twenty-eight out of the past thirty years in Jewish public life. It was the House of Annas represented by Caiphas, the son-in-law of Annas and now Jonathan, the son of Annas that were the responsible agents for the death of Jesus the Nazarene. It was the House of Annas and Caiphas that black-mailed Pontius Pilate because they knew of his secret involvement in trying to assassinate the Caesar of Rome. It was they who used this information to make the Romans strange bedfellows with them to eradicate this Rabbi of Galilee who preached and portrayed in real life how the ‘kingdom of God’ was to be lived on this earth.
It was the Rabbi Jesus who drove out the money changers in the courtyards of the temple and shut down the entire corrupt system of buying and reselling the same lambs, goats and cattle to the pilgrims in the festival of Passover in 31 CE. It was the Romans who were the pawns at the hands of the House of Annas in the crucifixion and death of Yahshua. For almost two thousand years later, the anti-Semitic mantra of orthodox Christianity that the “Jews killed Jesus” would be fully exposed in history. It was not the Jewish people but the House of Annas, that Sadducean family that owned the Jewish economy, politics and temple culture for twenty-eight out of the thirty years since the Roman took over the governance of Judea in 6 CE that were the instigators of Jesus’ death. It was Annas and his family that will be eventually seen in history who had the ‘blood of Jesus’ on their hands.
By the date of 36 CE, the largest religious party in Judea was the Nazarenes. James the Just, the leader of the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia in Jerusalem was quickly becoming the most prominent, the most popular, the most sought after religious leader by the Jewish peasants, the majority of the Essenes who had been converted to the Nazarene party by this time, the Zealots and the nationalists who admired James the Just as being a zealot for the law and later the Sicarii who for political purposes of their own were really in defence of James and the Nazarene Ecclesia.
In Shaul, the destruction of the Hellenistic Nazarenes could be done by the hands of a Pharisee, not a Sadducee. The power politics of Annas and Caiphas was now to be enforced by Jonathan, the son of Annas, who was the recently appointed high priest by Vitellius, the Roman legate, when he thought that he was cleaning house by deposing both Caiphas and Pontius Pilate the same time. The House of Annas could see their power base rapidly eroding away.
He rounded up Hellenistic Nazarene believers in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1) yet with good political acumen, the Pharisee Shaul left the Jewish orthodox, Torah abiding Nazarene leadership alone. Why? Because, the leaders of the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia in Jerusalem were protected due to their popularity with the Jewish population: the peasants, many of the priests, the Zealots and the Sicarii.
When the death of Stephen and the attack on James the Just for debating the need to convert the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem into a spiritual house of prayer and abolish the sacrificial sin offerings in the spring festivals because they had been fulfilled by the death of Yahshua, now recognized by the Nazarenes as the Son of God (EHYEM), the Moschiach (messiah) of the Jews and now the whole world.
With the religious fervor running high, Shaul, the best and the elite student-scholar of Gamaliel, went on a persecution rampage hauling predominately Hellenistic born Jews who were sympathizers to the party of the Nazarenes back to Jerusalem for trial in whom would eventually be stoned for blasphemy against God. The apostolic community was alone in Jerusalem with the flight of the wounded James the Just to the region of Jericho and the safe havens of the Essene communities there and beyond.
Shaul was then diverted north-east to pursing the Nazarene exiles, others were fleeing to the north-west to Ptolemais and Antioch and on to Cyprus and Asia Minor. The historians have suggested that during this era of the persecution, the Hellenistic Nazarene believers whom the deacon Stephen was entrusted to supervise and care went to the north-west to the Hellenistic cities of Ptolemais and Antioch and then on to islands and coastline cities of the eastern Mediterranean. It is possible that exiles were also fleeing to the south-west to Alexandria and Cyrenaica.
On the other hand, the lands east of Galilee in Perea and on to Batanea and Auranitis were the classic safe havens for the Essenes and the Chasidim of the first century BCE when they fled from the Herodian or the Hasmonean powerbrokers controlling Judea.
The trip to Damascus by the Pharisee Shaul (Saul) and his henchmen, who were part of the Temple security forces that took Jesus captive in the Garden of Gethsemane, has always been a source of controversy. How did Saul receive the Roman license to travel outside the area of control of the Sadducee hegemony Judea and send a mercenary force into Syrian territory? It is true the Roman legate was preoccupied with his war-making efforts against the Nabathean ruler, Harith. Maybe the Sadducee authorities had convinced the legate they were doing him a favor for ridding the area of unwanted elements. Maybe the Legate of Syria was away with his troops in war and Jonathan, the high priest and son of Annas made a very calculated excursion into the region of Damascus in Syria, the heartland of Roman politics.
Some Essene scholars suggest that the Damascus Document from the Dead Sea Scrolls actually depict the Qumran community, which they identify as Damascus and that Paul actually went to Qumran to seek out the Essene believers of Jesus. Fida M. Hassnain, director of Museums and Antiquities for the state of Jammu and Kashmir (A Search for the Historical Jesus), feels that Saul actually was going after Jesus who was living in the flesh at the home of Ananias in Damascus in Syria. With an armed escort and warrant for the arrest of any Jew whom they portrayed as in armed revolt against Rome, Saul was able to move outside Judah into the land of Syria. He believes that Saul met Jesus personally and was blinded by his extraordinary power. What was depicted as a vision, and others as a hallucination, heatstroke, seizure, or delusional experience, was an actual personal encounter. (Hassnain, Professor Fida, A Search for the Historical Jesus, from Apocryphal, Buddhist, Islamic & Sanskrit Sources, Gateway Books, The Hollies, Wellow, Bath, Ba2 8QJ, U.K., 1994)
There is nothing in the New Testament canon, when describing the ascension of Jesus, which dictates that Jesus left completely this three-dimension world and would never again be visible in the flesh. At this point, we are working in uncharted theological waters, an area in which multiple different opinions did occur in the 1st century theology. That Jesus had “risen up into the cloud” meant in early Christian and medieval theology that Jesus had returned back to a spirit form. Yet, there is still a firm belief, especially in historic Adventism, that Jesus will forever be embodied in human material form, human flesh.
Discussing time travel, dematerialization, and inter-dimensional travel is beyond the scope of this study. Yet, we can only refer back to Abraham, on the Hebron plains where extraterrestrial (heavenly) visitors presented themselves to him and informed him of the soon arrival of a son, and the demise of Sodom and Gomorrah. The fact that they ate with Abraham suggests material existence. It could be safe to say, in like manner, Saul met Jesus in person on the Damascus road. Maybe Jesus did come back to meet Paul, this time, the Divine returns and intersects the human dimensions of man. It was due to this event that Rabbi Shaul became the devoted follower of Yahshua, and would later become the Paulus (Paul), the Apostle to the gentiles.
Remember now, to be an ‘Apostle’ signified that you were an eyewitness to Jesus in person. It could be assumed that Paul either knew or met Jesus prior to his death, was an observer of the death and resurrection of Yahshua only three and one-half years earlier while he was still a student in the Pharisaic school of Gamaliel, or he met him personally on the road to Damascus or any combination of the above. In any way, the mystic, Shaul, begins to develop into the real and very complex character of the powerful Apostle to the Gentiles, Paul.
Within the Ebionite and Mandean traditions, there are accounts of a mass migration of about five to six thousand people seeking safety within the communities of the north-east. This company crossed over Jordan near Jericho, travelling up through Perea to Batanea and Auranitis. (Schonfield, Hugh Joseph, The Pentecost Revolution, The Story of the Jesus Party in Israel, AD 36-66, Macdonald and Janes’s, St. Giles, 49/50 Poland Street, London, W.I., 1974, p 140) It would be reasonable to assume that Shaul, heading to Damascus was in pursuit of these Nazorean followers of James the Just. This is turn would correlate with the account attributed to the Ascent of Jacob, where Jacob was taken to Jericho and possibly even beyond to get beyond the arm’s reach of the Sadducean Gestapo. It was the influence of the man called Annas, who controlled the House of Annas and the Jewish temple political and religious economy for twenty-eight years on the life of Shaul that led him to Damascus. It was the influence of that a man called Ananias upon the radical zealot Shaul who would now spend the next three years (36-39 AD) in Arabia (Galatians 1:17) as some speculate with a Zadok-Essene community in the territory of the Nabatheans in eastern Auranitits.
Galatians 1:13-17 – “For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries (student in the School of Gamaliel) in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.
But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb (Nazarite from birth) and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me that I might preach Him among the gentiles. I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.”
Even though it appears that James the Just may have been taken to a safe haven, the texts of Acts suggests that the rest of the Jewish Torah observant apostles in the Nazarene Ecclesia were not harmed or even hunted in this first persecution. Was this a Hellenistic persecution and those who were still ‘zealous for the law’ left unharmed? While James the Just appears to early be the center of controversy over whether the sacrificial system was still valid, the legend of James in the Jewish populous continued to grow. What were the apostles and the rest of the disciples doing?
Philip the evangelical Nazarene in Samaria
Immediately after the stoning of Stephen in the Book of Acts with the subsequent persecution of the Nazarene believers by Rabbi Shaul, we find Philip heading to Samaria according to the mandate to carry the gospel first to Jerusalem, then Samaria and then to the utmost parts of the world. In Samaria, or possibly Sebaste, the Old Testament city called Samaria, known as Shechem, Stephen found people eager to listen to the resurrection story. It was not just a story, but Stephen, filled with the Spirit began to fulfill Jesus words when He said that greater works would follow His departure (John 14:12-14). Here his ministry became one like Christ’s with unclean spirits leaving people and the paralyze and the lame were healed. Here also in the city was Simon Magnus, the leader of what would soon be known as the Simonites, who praised his ‘greatness’ because “This man is the great power of God.” (Acts 8:10) He was a sorcerer by profession and a follower of John the Baptist by tradition. Seeing though that Philip was able to perform real miracles, Simon Magnus aligned himself with Philip and even submitted to baptism and he had done years prior with John in the Jordan River.
Peter and John went down to Samaria and suddenly found something. The people had accepted the ‘word of God’ but as for the Holy Spirit, “as yet He had fallen upon none of them.” (Acts 18:13) They all had been baptized by in a mikvaot by the immersion of purification of pure water and also in the name of the Lord, but they did not receive the Holy Spirit. It was the Apostles Simon Peter and John who with the laying on of hands, the power of the Holy Spirit came upon these people. Simon the Sorcerer tried to purchase the ability to heal and impart the power of the Holy Spirit, yet was accursed by Peter with this response.
Acts 8:21 – “You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps thought of your heart may be forgiven you.”
The Christian Gnostics & the Simonites (Cult of Simon Magmus)
Many early Christian historians have thought that both John the Baptist and Jesus ben Joseph, the messiah of the Jews, were born and raised under the influence of Essene Judaism. Both historical figures adopted many of the apocalyptic and social-political views of the Essene Party. The teachings and philosophy as taught to their talmidim (disciples) included these unique institutions of the Essenes such as the mikvoth immersion by baptism, future eschatology, the apocalyptic ending of the world, and strong concepts of Jewish messianic ideology.
At least five of the twelve disciples of Jesus were former disciples of the Baptizer, John. Remembering the time when the followers of John, the Essene Baptists, came to Jesus asking whether Jesus was “he that should come, or do we look for another.” In the eyes of these disciples, John the Baptist had renounced all aspirations of being the messiah and had he formally designated Jesus the Nazorean as the future Messiah.
There is now strong extra-biblical evidence that some of the disciples of John the Baptist who would not accept Yahshua as the Moschiach of the Jews formed various cults, one within the Nazorean Community, called the Gnostics and a cult outside of the messianic followers of Jesus called the Simonites. These followers for centuries were virulent foes of the Jewish Nazarene and the Gentile Roman Christians.
The latter group called the Simonites, were disciples of the same Simon Magnus that was accepted as a Nazarene in Antioch and tried to buy the power of the Holy Spirit from the Apostle Peter. (Acts 8:9-24) The Simonites became an independent cult founded in Samaria as early as 35 CE, who according to Tertullian (2nd and 3rd century) along with the followers of Dositheus rejected the Torah, the Jewish scriptures, along with the writings and the prophets, including a rejection of the Old Testament God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Tertullian stated that Simon had the “hardihood to call himself… the Supreme God”; and that Jesus was “a phantasmal semblance of God, he had not suffered among the Jews, but was as if he had suffered.” (Tertullian, Against all Heresies, quoted in Larson p. 138) This in essence was the Gnostic view of Jesus and the crucifixion. Here began the conflict of the Gnostic Christians and the emerging Roman orthodox Christians in the Dissent in the Early Christian Church against the Hebrew Nazarenes. The religious battleground took a separate pathway away from the ancient Jewish culture and pitted the Messianic Jewish Nazarene Sect against the non-Messianic Pharisees of the School of Shammai and the Sadducees under the control of the House of Ananus.
However, it was in the Clementine Homilies, written about 200 CE that reconstructed about 300 CE the unfolding story of Simon Magmus. It reveals that Simon and Dositheus became the chief disciples of John the Baptist. Dositheus died prematurely and his followers were absorbed within the Simonites. According to Simon, he was the Supreme God, the “Standing One” who was sent to the Samaritans, Jesus, the Christ was the Word sent to the Jews, the Holy Spirit, Helena, Simons consort was sent to the Gentiles. It was this same Simon Magmus, whom Peter had an additional confrontation in Rome in the era of Nero as Simon flew through the air and upon the prayers of the Apostle Peter, fell to the ground, broke his legs and therein his power and influence was broken. For centuries his followers were implacable foes of the Christians and later his followers believed that Jesus son of Joseph was an imposter, a sorcerer, an outright fraud.
The heritage of the Essenes was found in the ministry of John the Baptist and Jesus. The heritage of Jesus was left with the Jewish Nazarenes and the Gentile Christians. The heritage left by John the Baptist, partly through his disciple, Simon Magmus can be found to coexist with the Ebionite Essene-Nazarenes, and in the Simonites, and the Gnostic Christians. The cross-fertilization of ideas was fluid during this era. The early followers of Jesus were dealing with complex theological issues. The perplexing part to modern scholars is not that there was a diversity of ideas in a time when people are searching for answers to relationships that are in a sense “out of this world”, that is God-man relationships. Rather, why did these differences create such virulent hatred and animosity, to the point of creating genocide to whole groups and tribes of believers?
As Peter and John were leaving Samaria they continued to preach in the villages of Samaria on their way back to Jerusalem. What is of interest in spite of the long history of the Samaritans rejecting the halachah of the Jews and even rejected Jesus Himself as He travelled through Samaria to Jerusalem, now great multitude were eager and receptive to accept the Maschiach (messiah) of the Jews. Something literally was happening. The power of the Spirit was being revealed and a literal transformation and a literal acceptance of that most profound literal event in history, the death and resurrection of God’s only Son.
The Apostle Philip and the Eunuch of Ethiopia
Philip the evangelist was now moving towards a new experience. Travelling now south on the desert road to Gaza, Philip meets up with a eunuch who was the treasurer of Candace, the Queen of Ethiopia. As a converted proselyte Jew, the eunuch had gone to Jerusalem to participate in the feasts of the Lord and was now returning to Ethiopia. Here we find an individual who was carrying a copy of the Book of Isaiah and was reading from the LXX version of Isaiah 53. A prince or a man of high office, was he carrying back a copy of Isaiah for the queen? Did individuals of great financial means have the ability to buy the scriptures on the open market in Jerusalem? A moment in time, a proper placed text, and open mind and a sensitive teacher of the Word, all were part of the conversion of the eunuch to Yahshua and a mikvoth baptism by immersion in the manner of the orthodox Jews.
Acts 8:38-39 – “And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went away rejoicing.”
What an experience! Can you imagine meeting the Lord in a chance encounter of a teacher on an isolated road, entertain a biblical discussion, find conviction in Jesus, baptized by an isolated oasis and when you come up out of the water, the person baptizing you disappears.”
If I were the eunuch, I would believe that an angel had met me on the road to Gaza. Yet the angel was Philip, a deacon in the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia in Jerusalem. What about the angel that led Peter out of prison? (Acts 12:11) What about the angel as we shall see later that killed King Agrippa I when he was giving a great oration and accepting the flattery of the people? (Acts 12:23)
It is now 37-38 CE and after a fruitful mission to Samaria, then down on the road to Gaza, at the end of this trip, we find Philip the evangelist preaching in all the cities, Azotus, Jamnia, Lydda, Antipatris until he came to Caesarea, the ancient city of Ashdod on the Mediterranean coast. (Acts 8:40) Here the biblical canon becomes silent until we find the Apostle Paul, returning from his third missionary journey in 59 CE and was returning back to Jerusalem, once again to celebrate at the feasts of the Lord and this time to perform his Nazarite vows in the temple. In route, Paul from Tyre and Ptolemais, the ancient seaport of Acco (modern Acre, which was named after Ptolemy of Egypt), Paul and his companions stopped by Caesarea and stayed many days in the house of Philip the evangelist.
Acts 21:8-9 – “On the next day we who were Paul’s companions departed and came to Caesarea and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven (deacons), and stayed with him. Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied.”
The Acts of the Apostles from 36-43 CE
During the immediate years after the stoning of Stephen what were the other apostles doing? The best records we have so far appear to indicate the following.
The Apostle James the Just, Jacob, brother of Jesus and the first leader of the Nazarene Ecclesia in Jerusalem, was living in Jerusalem. He was rapidly becoming a religious and political force in the Roman province of Judea. He was known as an ascetic, a Nazarite since birth and all those attributes in Jewish culture that represented a true Jewish tzaddik, a truly righteous man. The party of the Nazarene quickly ascended in Jewish politics and quickly became the leading party in opposition to the Sadducees and sometimes in sympathy with the Pharisee, Levis (attorneys or scribes), the Zealots and the Sicarii.
The Apostle John the son of Zebedee as the second leader in rank in the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia in Jerusalem as the Deputy Sagan remained also in Jerusalem and maintained his contacts with the house of Caiphas, whom he was related and the other priestly families in the city.
Another brother of Jesus, the Apostle Judas of James (the brother of James) also called Lebbaeus or Thaddaeus) appeared to remain in Jerusalem with the Apostle Matthew the Levi who maintained his political contacts with the governing Sadducean priestly authorities and the other lawyer/scribes in the city.
It also appears that Simon Zealotes, the Zealot also remained close to the cause of the Zealots for the Law and the Jewish cause. As a Nazarene, he would have been a good political contact with the unstable forces of that potentially radical fringe that kept edging the Jewish population towards a total revolt against Rome.
On the heels of the great revival in Samaria, the stoning of Stephen and the quick emergency evacuation of most of the Hellenistic Nazarenes towards Antioch and many of the Essenic followers of the Nazarenes to Perea in the region of Damascus, the mission to Samaria received very little historical attention.
Samaria for many years became the stronghold of the Mandeans, the disciples who did not accept Yahshua as the Moshiach and remained followers of John the Baptist after his death.
Here in the post-Stephen era, we find the Apostle Simon Peter going north to Antioch where he makes a paradigm shift in his Jewish consciousness. With Yahshua revisiting him, this time in a dream about a sheet with unclean animals and the subsequent command of the Lord to eat, did he now realize that the greatest mission of the Nazarenes would be to open the door of the authentic Torah observing the faith of Judaism and the ministry of Yahshua to the gentiles. Into this spiritual gate, we find the Apostle Peter leading a Roman Centurion, Cornelius and his whole household to a personal confrontation with the life of Yahshua and as the first of the military forces of the Caesar that would claim a higher allegiance to the Yahshua as the Son of God.
During this interim also, the Apostle Peter, acting as the Ab Beth Din and the presiding officer of the court, commissioned Lazarus who had gone to Antioch to move over to Cyprus and become its first bishop.
After the resurrection of Yahshua, the Apostle Bartholomew headed to Rome to develop the ministry of both in both the Jews and the non-Jewish population
The life of the Apostle John is not well documented but his writing are well preserved. He followed the Apostle Paul, who founded initially the church in Ephesus. Upon leaving this mission area, Paul warned his converts that, “grievous wolves (will) enter among you, not sparing the flock.” It was up to the Apostle John to go to this area and to develop a long fruitful ministry. His life epitomized the fullness of pastoral life: personal ministry, study and teaching. His life and his works reflect the success of this, the man of ministry.
Using Ephesus as his primary base of operation, John moved about and established churches in Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea and Colossae in Asia Minor.
Asia Minor (Turkey) – Pontus Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia
The Apostle Peter first was sent to the island of Sicily. This was probably near the time when it was recorded that he was guests at the home of the Roman senator Pudens at the family estate that sat on one of the seven hills of Rome, the Vermillion Hill. Peter afterwards headed out on his eastern mission, the first of three “Feed my Sheep” missionary journeys. From the land of Turkey, he travelled to visit with the diaspora Jews in Babylonia, the probable place he wrote I Peter. To the inhabitants of these countries he wrote,
I Peter 2:9-10 – “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were no people but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
The End of the Sacrificial System – Jerusalem ( 36 AD)
Very early in the development of the Nazarene Ecclesia, they accepted the theological concept that the sacrificial system was complete and that atonement would not be achieved through the shedding of animal blood. This appeared to be a more advanced theological development. It was Epiphanius, who aware of the Ascents of Jacob, comments:
Epiphanius, Panarion Xxx.16 – “They (the Ebionites) have other Acts which they call those of the apostles, in which are many things filled with their impiety when they have incidentally furnished themselves with arms against the truth. For they set forth certain Ascents and Instructions forsooth in the Ascents of Jacob, representing him (James the Just) as holding forth against both Temple and sacrifices, and against the fire on the altar, and many other things filled with empty talk, so that they are not ashamed in them even to denounce Paul in certain invented utterances of the malignant and deceitful work of the their false apostles” (Epiphanius, Panarion Xxx.16 quoted in Schonfield, Hugh Joseph, The Pentecost Revolution, The Story of the Jesus Party in Israel, AD 36-66, Macdonald and Janes’s, St. Giles, 49/50 Poland Street, London, W.I., 1974, p 128)
In another passage from Epiphanius, he quotes Jesus:
Epiphanius, Panarion Xxx.16 – “I (Yahshua) am come to abolish the sacrifices: if ye cease not from sacrificing, the wrath (of God) will not cease from weighing upon you.” (Epiphanius, Panarion. Xxx.16 quoted in Schonfield, Hugh Joseph, The Pentecost Revolution, The Story of the Jesus Party in Israel, AD 36-66, Macdonald and Janes’s, St. Giles, 49/50 Poland Street, London, W.I., 1974, p 128)
As can be seen, the reputed assault by the Pharisee Shaul on Jacob (James the Just) possibly centered on the debate over the abolishment of the sacrificial system. The polarity was being focused on the Sadducean authorities as refusing to give up the sacrificial system, probably not because of its religious symbolism and significance but because their power and economic fortune centered on the Temple sacrificial systems. On the other hand, the Jerusalem Nazarenes under the leadership of Jacob the Just were putting significant pressure to abolish the sacrificial system and turn the Temple of Yahweh (Herod’s) into a Temple of prayer. The Recognitions of Clements recognized the potential destruction of the Temple depended upon this crucial theological difference and whether the Jewish priests would admit that the sacrificial system was over.
History well represented the Ebionite section of the Jerusalem Nazorean Church as those who maintained the strict ascetic and monastic lifestyle of the what was known as the Zadokite-Essenes, when they were called the ‘Poor’ (Ebionites). As a later sectarian split off the mother Jerusalem church, they represented the religious faction with an intense hatred towards Shaul (Paul) for abandoning his rigid Jewish Zealot philosophy of salvation for Jews alone to a more universal salvation for all mankind.
The Essenes had long abandoned the Temple sacrifices and some authors think there is evidence that they had already set up a separate non-sacrificial Temple service at Mir, in a former Maccabean palace near Qumran. (See Barbara Thiering, Jesus the Man) Even before the Messiah had arrived, they believed the sacrificial had become corrupted beyond repair. With the Essene’s Commentary of Habakkuk, where harsh words are weighed in on the priests or one called the ‘Wicked Priest’ or ‘the last Priests of Jerusalem, who amass money and wealth by plundering the peoples.” and especially the ‘Wicked Priest’ were “committed abominable deed and defiled the Temple of God. The violence was done to the land: these are the cities of Judah where he robbed the Poor of their possessions” (Commentary on Habakkuk xii quoted in Schonfield, Hugh Joseph, The Pentecost Revolution, The Story of the Jesus Party in Israel, AD 36-66, Macdonald and Janes’s, St. Giles, 49/50 Poland Street, London, W.I., 1974, p 129)
Center this account with what we know about the deacon Stephen when he was falsely accused:
Acts 6:14-15 – “This man never stops denouncing this Holy Place and the Law, for we have heard him say that Jesus the Nazarene will destroy this place, and change the customs handed down to us by Moses.”
Within the Essene book, the Community Rule, it was accepted that the Community of Holiness, known as the Very Elect, were those who performed the work of atonement without the obligations of sacrifices. As stated, they:
Community Rule by Vermes, ix – “shall establish the spirit of holiness according to everlasting truth. They shall atone for guilty rebellion and for sins of unfaithfulness that they may obtain loving kindness for the Land without the flesh of Holocausts and the fat of sacrifice. And prayer rightly offered shall be as an acceptable fragrance of righteousness, and perfection of the way as a delectable free-will offering. At that time, the men of the Community shall be set apart as a House of Holiness for Aaron for the union of supreme holiness, and a House of Community for Israel, for those who walk in perfection.” (Community Rule by Vernes, ix, quoted in Schonfield, Hugh Joseph, The Pentecost Revolution, The Story of the Jesus Party in Israel, AD 36-66, Macdonald and Janes’s, St. Giles, 49/50 Poland Street, London, W.I., 1974, p 129)
Once again Vitellius returned to Jerusalem, now as the guest of Herod Antipas, who had protected his appointed interest as King by the Roman when Arêtes had invaded his province. As guest at the palace of Herod Antipas during the Passover season in 37 CE, Vitellius once again showed his displeasure with the House of Annas over the mishandling of allowing the young Pharisee Shaul place such havoc in the Syrian provinces of Judea and Syria. It was his utmost concern that the Jewish people not be incited into rebellion. After only a few months in office, Jonathan, son of Annas was removed from office for allowing the religious and political ferment to get out of hand and giving free rein to the Zealot Shaul. Yet to appease the family of Annas again, Jonathan’s brother Theophilus was appointed the high priest.
With the firebrand, Shaul, now Shaul (Paul), now isolated in the Arabian desert and Jonathan the High Priest deposed by Vitellian, the Roman Legate, peace returned to Jerusalem. But one thing else happened, the message of the risen Christ was now being rapidly being transported by these exiles over the vast Roman highway system throughout the empire. The firebrand had ignited the torch and the fields were now aflame.
Antioch, Agrippa and then the Nazarenes Evangelize the World
Antioch and the Abomination of Tribulation (38-39 AD)
The Jerusalem Nazarenes of predominately Hellenistic leaning had fled north-west to Antioch, where the Legate of Syria had his central command center in Damascus in 36 CE. Shaul in the meantime went north-east to Damascus to track the Jerusalem Nazarenes of the Zadok-Essene learning who were fleeing to the region of Pella, the region of refuge in the days of the Hassidim. (150 BCE) Even so foreboding cloud were again arising from Rome.
Gaius Caesar, ruled in Rome with his growing mental instability, was becoming more self-obsessed and instead of seeing the Imperial Cult of emperor deification as a means of created imperial stability, he began to think of himself as being literally divine. The famed of temples of antiquity were ransacked of their gods and the head of these statues were cut off to be replaced with the head of Gaius. Also “in his temple stood a statue of gold, the exact likeness of himself, which was daily dressed in garments corresponding with those he wore. “ (Suetonius, Gaius, xxii, quoted in Schonfield, Hugh Joseph, The Pentecost Revolution, The Story of the Jesus Party in Israel, AD 36-66, Macdonald and Janes’s, St. Giles, 49/50 Poland Street, London, W.I., 1974, p 154)
Even Lucius Vitellius, the Legate of Syria got in on the act. When he returned to Rome at the end of his career, he prostrated‘ before the Emperor with his face veiled. (Suetonius, Vitellius, ii, quoted in Schonfield, Hugh Joseph, The Pentecost Revolution, The Story of the Jesus Party in Israel, AD 36-66, Macdonald and Janes’s, St. Giles, 49/50 Poland Street, London, W.I., 1974, p 154)
The new incoming Roman legate, Petronius, who succeeded Vitellius in 39 CE, came with orders to have a statue of Gaius Caligula Caesar made and transport it to Jerusalem to be placed in the Temple of Herod. The Jewish representatives were notified at a delegation meeting at Ptolemais of the statue preparation, with the inaugural presentation in the spring of 41 CE.
The reaction was swift and instantaneous throughout all Judah. Such a threat to the Jewish people had not been made since Antiochus Epiphanes, known as the ‘manifest God’, had an altar of Zeus Olympios erected in the Temple which caused the Maccabean revolt. Once again, Daniel’s dire prophetic description of the “Abomination of Desolation” was becoming a present and ominous reality. The reality was clear. Using force to put the statue in the Temple could only be accomplished by wholesale slaughter of the Jewish people. The Essenes, the Pharisees, the Nazarenes, the Zealots, the Sicarii, were in Stage One revolt mode. Even the Sadducees clearly saw the threat to their lives and fortunes.
Petronius risking position and even his own life, immediately dispatched a letter back to the Emperor at the insistence of the Herodian family the population were leaving their crops due to distress (39-40 CE) and with the coming of the Sabbatical Year (42-43 CE), the Roman tribute after two years of dearth, would be considerably smaller. Gaius would not be dissuaded, yet in stepped Agrippa, a friend of Gaius, heir of the Tetrarchies of Philip and Antipas, and recently honored with the title of king. After falling sick with shock, Agrippa wrote a letter stating that he would have to end his friendship with the Emperor because he could not be a traitor to his people. Moved, yet with reluctance, the emperor changed his mind and ordered to rescind the statue construction. Quickly, due to unknown circumstances, Gaius again changed his mind and wrote to Petronius, accusing him of taking bribes from the Jews and urged him to commit suicide. It was his intention now to build the statue himself and personally attend the transport to Alexandria and on to Jerusalem (Embassy of Gaius, 337-338, mentioned in Schonfield, Hugh Joseph, The Pentecost Revolution, The Story of the Jesus Party in Israel, AD 36-66, Macdonald and Janes’s, St. Giles, 49/50 Poland Street, London, W.I., 1974, p 157)
Yet on January 24, 41 CE, Gaius Caligula was assassinated in Rome. Word reached the court of the Legate in Antioch of Gaius’ death, before the dispatched letter of Gaius was received for Petronius to commit suicide. Judea, just prior to the Passover, was in prayerful elation. The Providence of God seemed to put his hand, especially over the Jews. Suddenly there came a revival amongst the Gentiles as they noted the providence of the God for the Jews.
At this same time, Antioch, where the news first was released to the Jewish population, the Jewish Nazarenes received a great influx of new worshippers. A message was sent to Jerusalem for help and Barnabus was sent to study the situation and send a report. There was a sudden need for a teacher who understood the Greek and Roman mind of intellectual stature to guide the teach the new believers. Quickly, Barnabus went to Tarsus and recruited Saul to come and help in this emerging ministry.
For one year (41-42 AD) they worked together and during this time the name, Christiani, a word in the lexicon of Gratin (Greek and Latin) to name the Gentile followers of Jesus.
Enter now the story of Peter, meeting and baptizing Cornelius in Caesarea, known as ‘a centurion of the cohort known as Italica, pious and God-fearing with all his family, one who gave a great deal in charity to the people and looked continually to God” (Acts 2) Here enters the conflict between Paul and the Nazarenes as to whether a Gentile who became a God-believer and accepted the messiahship of Jesus, could also become an ‘Israelite’ without embracing the complete tenets of Judaism.
Second Sabbatical Passover and Pentecost in 42 CE
After a 31 CE Death and Resurrection of Jesus
This was the second Sabbatical Passover since the death and resurrection of Jesus. The events were rapidly unfolding in the lives of the followers of Jesus. This was a season of euphoria. Persecution, trials and acts of providence had beset not only the Jewish messianic followers of Jesus but the Jewish people as a whole. Every life was at stake. The episode of the Gaius statue brought stark realities to Jews and the Jewish Nazarenes. All were affected. To the Jewish hierarchy, a warning had been sounded. Rome could not be trusted. To the followers of the Fourth Philosophy, the apocalyptic signs of the times depicted rapid moving events when Jesus would return for his followers. The radical fringe moved into high gear. The call went out that the “End of Time’ was at hand and the empire became inflamed with subversive activities among the disaffected and underground financing for weapons and guerrilla war supplies similar to the Irish Republican Army went into effect.
This Passover was to be a pivotal period in the Nazorean faith. As expected, all available apostles were called to Jerusalem for this momentous occasion.
Within the city of Jerusalem, the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia of Israel was making its first preparation for the return of apostles from the diaspora. The Sabbatical Passovers were always a major events with millions of pilgrims coming from all over the world. Here in the city, James the Just, the leader of the Nazarene congregation was constantly praying for the safe travel of all his friends and brethren. As the Nasi or the high priest of the Nazarenes, he would be officiating at the Supreme Council of the Elders and the Apostles. The Apostle John, the Sagan of the Nazarene was the deputy to James (Jacob) the Just. The Apostle Simon Peter as the Ab-Beth Din or the general supervisor of all the ministries was busy in all the preparations.
Also still residing in Jerusalem were the Apostle Andrew, the brother to Peter, Judas of James, the brother and disciples of James and Jesus was his brother’s helper. The Apostle Matthew Levi, the attorney for the Nazarene and the political liaisons to the Sadducee party. Simon Zealotes still had not left the city and remained a good contact with various factions of the Zealots and the Apostle Matthias who was selected by lots to fill the apostleship of Judas the Sicarii was also here.
From the diaspora the Apostle James the Greater, the brother to John was returning after six to seven years in his ministry in the country of Spain. The Apostle Joseph of Arimathea returned from Avalon on the Isles of Britannia with his stories of the rapid acceptance of the message of Jesus to the Druidic high priests and the royal household of Argaviras of the royal family of the tribe of Siluria in Wales. Joseph was to set up residence with the Apostle Philip the evangelist in the port city of Caesarea.
During this homecoming, the Apostle Bartholomew returned to Jerusalem from the Imperial city of Rome bringing with him the British convert from Rome, Clements to meet the other apostles and especially Simon Peter. In his book, Recognitions of Clements, he details meeting Philip the evangelist, Joseph and the Bethany family prior to 36 CE. Two decades later, Clements would be anointed as the third bishop of the ecclesia in Rome by the Apostle Peter. And then we find the Pharisee Shaul returning from a three-year spiritual retreat in the Nabotaean region of the Arabian desert, a former enemy of the Nazarenes and soon to be one their greatest evangelists.
The Death of James the Brother of John (42-43 CE)
Apostle James the Greater returns for the first time after 7 years from his mission to Spain. Herod Agrippa, the grandson of Herod the Great, was tetrarch over Galilee. Newly proclaimed King of Judea, Samaria and Caesarea in 41 AD by Tiberius Claudius Caesar, he was wary of Jewish aspirations to overthrow the Roman rule. As a Herodian, he was looked upon by the Nazarenes as a usurper to the throne of David, and a known ‘friend of Caesar’ Yet he was scrupulous in the observance of the Jewish faith and known for his piety, so was able to gain the support of the Sadducees and many Pharisees.
As early as 19 CE, it was recorded that 4000 youth who were “affected by the Jewish and Egyptian superstitions” (Tacitus, Annals, Vol. ii, c., 85) were banished from their homeland and forced to enlist as Roman soldiers and placed in Sardinia. Josephus recognized the “4000” in his Antiquities of the Jews. (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, bk., xviii, c. 3) This action was highly unpopular with the Jews and inflamed the imaginations with many on the homeland. For James, a former disciple of John the Baptist, and now disciple of the crucified Christ, to go to Sardinia and Spain and preach “The Way”, was a source of concern to Herod Agrippa. It was felt that the initial “4000” were probably remnants of the disciples of the slain Hasmonean aspirant, Judas the Galilean who led the first major revolt under direct Roman rule in 6 CE. (Acts 5:37)
What was the evidence for the mission of James the brother of John to the peninsula of Spain on the southern Mediterranean coast of Europe? Traditions stemming from at least 400 CE depicting the death of James were contained in the records of the old Spanish offices from the 7th to 9th centuries. Isidorus Hispalensis in the 600’s CE (vii, 390,392 and c. 183 in Jowett, George F. The Drama of the Lost Disciples, Covenant Pub., Co, 8 Blades Court, Deodar Road, London SW15 2NU, 1961, 1993, 58) wrote that the body of James the Greater was buried in Marmarica or Achaia. St. Julian, leader of the ecclesia of Toledo in the 7th century agreed with Isidorus. (Acta Sanctorum v. 33, p. 86 in Jowett 58) Freculphus in 850 CE – (bk, ii, cap. 4 in Jowett 58) also confirmed the tradition of the Spanish mission of James the Greater.
The Acta Sanctorum that was written by the Bollandists was in favor of the Spanish mission of James, the brother of John. It was Theodosium, Bishop of Tira in 820 CE, who claimed that the reputed body of the Apostle James was found at the site of the present famous cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in the northwest corner of Spain. There a shrine was erected and became one of the most famous site for the medieval pilgrimages of Europe. The reputed relics of James can be observed just below the high altar. The present cathedral was built 899 CE yet was destroyed by the Moor El Mansui in 997 CE, and then was later rebuilt in 1078 CE.
History of the Spanish and Irish Israelites
At the site of the cathedral, Santiago de Compostela, the historians of the ancient Israelites claim was the site that their descendants settled in the Spanish province called Brigantes. According to E. Raymond Capt. in Jacob’s Pillar, the descendants of Zarah, one of the twins, Zarah and Pharez, from the union of Tamar and Judah, left the main body of the Israelites as they were fleeing from Egypt after the plagues through the Red Sea. These fleeing proto-Israelites became known as the Milesians or the Gadelians, names after the famous Scythian prince, Milesius, who was a mercenary in the Pharaoh’s army and befriended Moses prior to the Exodus.
The colonists along the northwestern coast of Spain were known to be descendants of part of the former Egyptian slaves. Some of these proto-Israelites travelled up the Ebro River to an area called Zaragozza (named after Zarah) along with descendants of the tribes of Dan (a seafaring tribe) and Simeon, colonized the eastern coast of Spain around Marseilles and on the Atlantic coast, the Danite colony of Lisboa, Portugal.
According to the biblical story in the Torah, the son of Israel (Jacob), Judah, married Tamar and from them were born the twins, Zarah and Pharez. The Hebrew story depicts the uncertain role of who was to be the firstborn son. According to the story, Zarah was the first to reach his hand out of the womb and a scarlet thread was tied to it by the midwife. Yet Pharez moved ahead of Zarah in utero and was officially born as the first born.
According to prophecy, it was stated,
Genesis 49:10 – “The Scepter shall not depart from Judah…till Shiloh comes.”
To the Israelites, though, which lineage would Jesus officially be born was not known. The Judah – Pharez lineage became the official lines of Judaites and the official royal lineage of David, King of Israel and also Jesus’ lineage according to Matthew and Luke through his father Joseph.
The Judah – Zarah Lineage officially became untraceable in TaNaKh for Achan along with his family were destroyed after the destruction of Jericho for disobeying the word of the Lord. Achan was of the Judah-Zarah lineage. (Joshua 7:1-25) There is no other mention in Hebrew scripture made of this lineage. King Solomon later sent Adoniram, as a state official to collect taxes from these colonies in recognition of their Israelite heritage.
While ministering there to the Spanish Israelites, it can be assumed that James the brother of John was in contact with the “4000” Israelite captives at Sardinia and the also the known descendants of the ancient Zarah descendants. After seven years, the Apostle James later returned from Spanish province to the second Sabbatical Passover in Jerusalem after the first Sabbatical Passover in 35 CE.
Sometimes after the Sabbatical Passover when the Apostle James had returned now as a pilgrim from the diaspora to the Temple and attended the Jerusalem Council in 42 CE, his life was suddenly threatened. The actual date is not known, but sometimes after 41 CE and before the death of King Agrippa I in 44 CE, James the brother of John was captured and beheaded by Herod Agrippa I. (Hugo Hoever, The Lives of the Saints, c.1650 p. 282 quoted by Henry Stough, Dedicated Disciples, Artisan Sales, POB 1529, Muskogee, OK, 1987, p.18)
Noting the severity of the actions against James, that beheading was especially done for political crimes against the state, the rest of the apostles were suddenly in fear for their lives for now their preaching was now being perceived as political actions against the Caesar. James the brother of John became the first apostle to die “The Way” and the cause of his cousin, Yeshua, as establishing the kingdom of God on this earth.
Yet King Agrippa’s grip over the Nazarene ecclesia was not over.
The Imprisonment and Escape of the Apostle Simon Peter – ( 43 CE? )
The Apostle Peter was next. He was apprehended and imprisoned, quartered between four posted guards, two of which were manacled directly with the apostle. Each of four soldiers were changed every three hours. Luke states, that Peter was jailed because it pleased the Jews, yet what was left out, it pleased only the Jewish hierarchy. What made Peter such a dangerous man? Our knowledge today suggests that a majority of the population was on the side of the Apostle Peter and would have been agitated and angry. The fiery Pentecostal preacher whose words melted the consciousness of the Jewish population and thousands were convicted and baptized, would be imprisoned.
Once again, the night before his trial, white clothed ‘angels’ were sent to rescue Peter. Once again, to the Jewish hierarchy, the efficient Jewish underground was at work. While the Nazorean leadership was non-militant, the Nazorean message had many sympathizers with the Zealots and members of the Fourth Philosophy, many capable of daring rescue operations. To the Jewish hierarchy, it not only depicted a security breach within their security teams but also suggested to King Agrippa that the king himself was not secure and that an organized conspiracy was potentially in the making. The guards were interrogated and then killed and King Agrippa quickly left Jerusalem to the greater secured palace in Caesarea.
Peter quickly notifies his friends staying in the home of Mary, mother of John surnamed Mark. There he dispatches a message to ‘Give to Jacob and the brothers the news’ and then Peter escapes out of town. (Acts 12:6-17) Our next record of Peter is in Rome, visiting the Roman Senator Pudens, father-in-law to the Apostle Paul in his palatial estate in Viminal Hills in 44 CE. It would be assumed allowing travel time and other events in the life of Peter, a 43 CE date for the imprisonment of Peter would be reasonable.
The death of James the Greater, the brother to John, the sons of Zebedee, suggests two things,
(1) With James the brother of Jesus immediately exiting the Jerusalem scene in 33-34 CE, his vacancy as one of the three closest companions of Jesus was easily filled by James the Just without any political or loyalty repercussions.
(2) If the Apostle John had close ties to the priestly families than his brother James and was equally as prominent in the loyalty of many of the disaffected priests who followed the cause of Jesus. James’ return as a potential political agitator (remember the effect of John the Baptist on Herod Antipas), could best be seen as a threat to the stability of the throne of Herod Agrippa I.
The attempt to kill the Apostle Peter and the death of James the Greater sent a direct message to all the Apostles. The hand-off policy to the Nazorean leadership was gone. The death of any Apostle could be expected. Precautionary methods had to be made and immediately.
The Death of King Herod Agrippa – 41-44 CE)
Herod Agrippa I was the last of the Jewish kings who with his Roman connections was able to unite the provinces of Judea. Born in 11 BCE, he was the son of Aristobulus, the grandson of Herod the Great. Named after Caesar Augustus’ friend and confidant, Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, Herod Agrippa life was spared when Herod the Great, in one of his moments of dynastic paranoia, had his father Aristobulus, Herodian heir to the throne by Herod the Great and Hasmonean heir to the throne through his mother, Mariamme, executed by strangling in 7 BCE. At the age of three he was sent to Rome and was educated with the princes of the Roman ruling dynastic family, the Julio-Claudians. His best of friends included the mad emperor, Caligula (37-41 CE) and Caligula’s successor, Claudius Caesar (41-54 CE) of Rome.
Herod Agrippa’s life was one of the Roman-Hellenistic elite. Though of Jewish Hasmonean blood, his fame and fortunes were always tied to his friendship with the Roman princes and his fate was tied closely with their dynastic royal accession fate. Married to Cyprus, a distant relative, his family quickly grew to include: Drusus (who died in his youth), Agrippa, Bernice, Mariamme and Drusilla.
During the last years of Tiberius Caesars reign then the ageing emperor was ruling from the palace on the Isle of Capri, Herod Agrippa was newly returned to the Roman political scene in 35 CE after he fled Rome and his Roman creditors in bankruptcy near the time of Yahshua’s death in 31 CE. When he urged his friend, Caligula, to seize the power of Rome from Tiberius, the Caesar’s intelligence found out and he was imprisoned. With the death of Tiberius on March 16, 27 CE, Agrippa was restored to royal favor and habited the courts of the newly crowned emperor, Gaius Caligula.
Just prior to his death, Tiberius ordered that the Herodian realms of Agrippa would be incorporated into the Roman province of Syria, yet with the winds of fate or providence, Caligula restored these principalities and nominated his friend, Herod Agrippa to be its new king. The first king of the Jews in almost forty years since his grandfather, Herod the Great, Herod Agrippa was not eager to claim his possessions. Arriving in the summer of 38 CE, the first political challenge was to restore Roman law and order and reclaim the countryside from the Jewish Zealot bandits and Sicarii, and to defend the challenge to his rulership by his uncle, Herod Antipas who tried to steal the royal title given to Agrippa. Again with the intervention of his friend, Caligula, the emperor of Rome, Herod Antipas was exiled to Gaul and Galilee and Perea were annexed into Agrippa’s realm.
Still, Agrippa failed to return to the land of Judea. He remained with the progressively insane Caligula who was on a campaign in the Rhine Valley until Caligula was murdered back in Rome on January 24, 41 CE. With his assistance to his other Julio-Claudian friend, the newly crowned Claudius Caesar and the territories of Judea and Samaria added to his realm. It was Dion Cassius who wrote:
Dion Cassius – “He (Claudius) enlarged the domain of Agrippa (I) of Palestine, who, happening to be in Rome, had helped him to become emperor, and bestowed on him the rank of consul; and to his brother Herod he gave the rank of praetor and a principality. And he permitted them to enter the senate and to express their thanks to him in Greek. The acts I have named, now, were the acts of Claudius himself, and they were praised by everybody; but certain other things were done at this time of quite a different nature by his freedmen and by his wife Valeria Messalina ….” (Dion Cassius, L.X. vi)
The dynastic territories of Herod the Great had now been fully restored and in triumph, Herod Agrippa returned to his capital city, Jerusalem. He was now in possession of the Tetrarchies of Philip and Antipas. The Jewish King Herod Agrippa’s reign officially began in the fall of 40 CE to the Jewish New Years at Rosh Hashanah on 41 CE. It was October, 41 CE, according to the custom of the Royalty Law; passages of the Book of Deuteronomy were read of the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles. According to the Mishnah, King Agrippa read the following words and began to weep, “You are not to set a foreigner over you who is not your brother.” He knew he was of part foreign blood, but the crowds began to chant, “You are our brother, you are our brother.” (Sotah vii. 8 quoted in Schonfield, Hugh Joseph, The Pentecost Revolution, The Story of the Jesus Party in Israel, AD 36-66, Macdonald and Janes’s, St. Giles, 49/50 Poland Street, London, W.I., 1974, p 49)
Near the time of the coronation of Claudius on January 24, 41 CE in the royal city of Rome, the Emperor friend of King Herod Agrippa, Claudius Caesar, who had rewarded Agrippa well for his assistance as he was raised to the imperial purple, made his first imperial edict concerning the Jews in Rome. According to Dion Cassius, the decree of Claudius reads as follows:
Edict of Claudius – “Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, Pontifex Maximus, holding the tribunician power, proclaims: . . Therefore it is right that also the Jews, who are in all the world under us, shall maintain their ancestral customs without hindrance and to them I now also command to use this my kindness rather reasonably and not to despise the religious rites of the other nations, but to observe their own laws.” (Edict of Claudius)
It was assumed that the long arm of the intelligence services under Agrippa soon caught up with James the brother of John after the festival from the fall, 40 to the fall, 41 CE. The next two years saw swift retribution with Roman justice under Jewish authority against the Hebrew Nazarenes by first; the beheading of James the Greater and then followed by the capture and sudden release of the Apostle Peter. The escape of Peter was not done by any act of mercy but did suggest to King Agrippa that his own security services had been breached. The fingers of the House of Ananus who controlled the high priest office of the temple of Jerusalem were written all over this swift act of punitive justice. Yet Agrippa did not know He quickly returned back to his palace in Caesarea, he stayed there in a secure area.
The parallel geo-political events continued to rivet the Roman and Jewish life. With Jewish population increasing significantly and seeking ways to control their presence in the city, it was soon after his inauguration that Claudius Caesar brought legislation before the Senate forbidding the Jews to assemble in the city of Rome. The implications of this degree swept throughout the Roman Empire. As we shall see later in the rise of the Christian Church in the city of Rome, it had significant implications between the progressive divergence between the Roman Gentile Messianic Nazarenes, the non-Messianic Jews and the rise of the Christian-Pagan Crestiani that would in later decades take over the Roman Empire.
According to Dion Cassius:
Don Cassius – “”The Jews had by this time increased in numbers again and it would have been difficult to remove them from the city without a disturbance of their own people; so, he (Claudius) did not expel them, but brought in legislation forbidding them to assemble, whilst they continued to order their daily lives by their ancestral Law.” (Dion Cassius, L.X. vi)
Quickly the undercurrents of political factionalism swept across Judea. It was understood fully that Herod Agrippa did not like or approve of the message or the mission of the Nazarenes. Throughout his short reign between 41-44 CE, the fear of Roman justice was felt in every Nazarene ecclesia meeting. The forces of Satanic evil appeared to be gaining control.
Yet once again, the hand of Divine Justice was felt. It was at a public gathering, according to Josephus, when King Agrippa, draped in a robed of silver, which glistened with brilliance in the morning sun, was being hailed as a ‘god’ to a ‘pagan’ audience. Suddenly King Agrippa was seized with pain and died in agony five days later. The year was 44 CE. This account was recorded in the Acts of the Apostles.
Acts 12:21 – “So on a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them. And the people kept shouting, “The voice of a god and not of a man!” Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died.”
As the Jewish historian Hugh Schonfield said;
Hugh Schonfield – “Various natural causes have been suggested, including food poisoning. But it cannot be excluded that the long arm of the nationalistic extremists had reached to Caesarea, and that Agrippa was willfully poisoned.” (Schonfield, Hugh Joseph, The Pentecost Revolution, The Story of the Jesus Party in Israel, AD 36-66, Macdonald and Janes’s, St. Giles, 49/50 Poland Street, London, W.I., 1974, p 168)
The consequences of the death of King Agrippa, was that direct Roman rule was again instituted. Cuspius Fadus was appointed Governor of Judea by Claudius Caesar and Cassius Longinus was appointed Legate of Syria. Also at this time, Joseph son of Camei (or Mamith) was appointed High Priest by Herod, king of Chalcis.
Consequences of the Death of James the Greater and the imprisonment of Peter:
The Division of the World by the Drawing of Lots – ( 45 CE )
The precautions were initiated in 43 CE after the death of James the Greater, the brother to the Apostle John and immediate action was taken. The remaining Apostles, realizing that the time was coming when the central mission of the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia was about over They felt it was time that their mission must now go to the uttermost parts of the world. It must still be recognized that they expected their mission to be to the ‘lost tribes of the house of Israel’. Even so, their focus was now towards a worldwide imperial outreach.
It was Eusebius, in his Ecclesiastical History, that he stated;
Eusebius – “The rest of the apostles, who were harassed in innumerable ways with a view to destroy them, and driven from the land of Judea, had gone forth to preach the gospel to all nations.” (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, III.v.)
According to the ancient traditions of the Hebrews, when they sought to invoke the will of the Lord, they drew lots. Even during this time, the role of the temple priest during the ceremonies was done by lots. So all the apostles drew lots in 45 CE and according to the lots drawn they were sent to a different part of the world.
The Division of the World
Thomas and Bartholomew – lot cast to the East
Simon and Matthew – cast lots for the South.
Philip and Thaddaeus – were to go to the North.
Matthew and James were to stay in the center of the world, Jerusalem.
John and Andrew were to go to the provinces of the Mediterranean
Peter and Paul to the kingdoms of the West.
(John W. Taylor, The Coming of the Saints, Imaginations and Studies in Early Church History and Traditions, Methuen & Co, 1906, Reprinted Artisan Sales, Muskogee, OK, 1985, p. 88)
This is also correlated with an old tradition, that Jesus had instructed his disciples not to leave Jerusalem for twelve years. It is in the gospel, the Preaching of Peter, where we have a more specific quotation,
Preaching of Peter – “If anyone of Israel will repent, to believe in God through my, name, his sins shall be forgiven him. After twelve years go forth into the world, that no one may say, We have not heard.’ (Quoted by Clement of Alexandria, Strom. VI. vi. quoted by Schonfield, Hugh Joseph, The Pentecost Revolution, The Story of the Jesus Party in Israel, AD 36-66, Macdonald and Janes’s, St. Giles, 49/50 Poland Street, London, W.I., 1974, p 172)
This brings us to 46 CE.
The Famine in Judea and Sabbatical Passover and Census – ( 46 – 50 AD )
The Great Famine in Judah occurred in 46 CE and a worse time could not be imagined. The Sabbatical year of 49-50 followed when all the land would lay idle according to Jewish Law. This was followed by the fourth Roman census in 48-49 CE. Three years without income, the provisions in Judah were desperate and the agitators and fomenters of the rebellion of the Fourth Philosophy were active in Jewish society. Josephus talks about these hotbeds of revolt, which were actively suppressed by the new Governor, Cuspius Fadus.
The message of appeal was heard in the countries outside Jerusalem. Up in Antioch, where a large company of believers were now meeting, a Nazorean prophet, Agab predicted the famine and the believers in good humanitarian fashion sent ‘relief’ to the poor in Jerusalem, to be accompanied and secured by Barnabus and Saul. Here Saul meets with Jacob the Just and the church leaders (Galatians 2:9) and here he received his commission to become the “Apostle to the Gentiles”. With Barnabus, along with his nephew, John Mark, they begin their First Missionary Journey.
Jerusalem Nazarene Ecclesia and Political Activism
The messianic church had grown and was also becoming diverse in style, outlook and in religious philosophy. Many of its adherents had never met Jesus. They were second-generation Jesus followers. The central core leadership were still closely tied with the original ministry of Jesus. The fact that the blood-brother of Jesus was the central leader gave stability and credibility. As with all organizations, there were factional wings within the community. In spite of differences in ideology, the common bond between them was that they were all Jews or Jewish Proselytes. From our understanding of 1st century BCE and 1st century CE Jew, the Jewish people were use to divergence of ideology, yet their one bond with each other was that they remained true to their Jewish nationalism.
On the right-wing, were the ascetics, the monastics, the esoterics, the mystics. On the left-wing were the activists, the pragmatists, and the revolutionaries. This only highlights the important and wise decision to nominate James the Just as the first leader of the Jerusalem Nazorean Church, “since he could hold together all its diverse elements as no other could. He followed strictly the Way of the Law. His nationalism pleased the Zealots, while his extreme asceticism commended him to the Ebionite-Essene wing. He enjoyed the respect of the Pharisees, and was beloved by the Jewish Populace of Jerusalem.” (Schonfield, Hugh Joseph, The Pentecost Revolution, The Story of the Jesus Party in Israel, AD 36-66, Macdonald and Janes’s, St. Giles, 49/50 Poland Street, London, W.I., 1974, p 149)
Common to all these elements was the common messianic belief that Jesus did fulfill the Messianic aspirations and prophetic utterances of the Hebrew prophets. True to their Jewish heritage, the divinity of Jesus was neither affirmed or challenged, for ascribing deity to their King was yet another pagan notion. Yet the ‘Son of Man’, using Daniel’s imagery, could still be claimed to have been predesignated by the Almighty before the creation of the universe. He was revealed to the righteous and the elect since the beginning of mankind. Some of the more esoteric, spoke of the Light-Adam, the spiritual man in the sky, or the Primordial Adam in whose likeness, Adam, the earthling, was created. As their eschatology developed, the foundation found within the traditions of the Essenes, Jesus eventually became the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
On the sociological side, there were those, who had more Pharisaic tendencies, that personal purity was the most important elements in bringing the culmination of the End of Time. They were willing to sit and allow God to produce His will, that any political activity of their part to hasten the Last Days would potentially be counterproductive to God’s ultimate aims. On the opposite extreme, were the militants, the Zealots, who felt that the End of Time could not come without their active participation and intervention. They were to go to all the world and by concerted organized activity they would hasten the Day of the Lord. To them, this day meant the downfall of Rome and it was their faithful duty to promote that day: by acts of rebellion, by seditious literature, such as the Sibylline Oracles, by mercenary acts, by actively financing the underground in armed revolt.
Joseph of Arimathea
- Joseph of Arimathea
- Joseph of Arimathea – pt2
- Joseph of Arimathea – pt3
- Joseph of Arimathea – pt4
- Joseph of Arimathea – pt5
- Joseph of Arimathea – pt6
- Joseph of Arimathea – pt7
- Joseph of Arimathea – pt8
- Joseph of Arimathea – pt9
- Joseph of Arimathea – pt10
- Joseph of Arimathea – pt11a
- Joseph of Arimathea – pt11b
- Joseph of Arimathea – pt11c
- Appendix-12 -The Attempt to Destroy David’s Lineage
- Appendix-13 -The Nobility Also Jewish