Published May 1, 2018 by amaic
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Famous Roman Republicans

beginning to loom as spectral

 

 

Part Five:

Roman anomalies associated with Francesco Petrarch

 

 

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

“Apollo was rumoured to have been an astrologer, the devil, and the god of the Saracens! Plato was considered to have been a doctor, Cicero a knight and a troubadour, Virgil a mage who blocked the crater of the Vesuvius, etc”.

 

Could some of the following, at least, be true?

(I do not necessarily accept the dates given below):

http://chronologia.org/en/seven/1N07-EN-410-445.pdf

 

…. How Petrarch created the legend of the

glory of Italian Rome out of nothing

 

…. In 1974 the world celebrated 600 years since the death of Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374), the first prominent writer of the Middle Ages who, according to Leonardo Bruni, “had been the first who… could understand and bring into light the ancient elegance of the style that had been forlorn and forgotten before” ([927]).

 

The actual persona of Petrarch is nowadays perceived as mysterious, vague and largely unclear, and reality often becomes rather obfuscated. But we are talking about the events of the XIV century here! The true dating of the texts ascribed to Petrarch often remains thoroughly unclear.

Already an eminent poet, Petrarch entered the second period of his life – the period of wandering. In the alleged year of 1333 he travelled around France, Flanders and Germany. “During his European travels, Petrarch became directly acquainted with scientists, searching the libraries of various monasteries trying to find forgotten ancient manuscripts and studying the monuments to the past glory of Rome” ([644], page 59). Nowadays it is assumed that Petrarch became one of the first and most vehement advocates of the “ancient” authors who, as we are beginning to understand, were either his contemporaries, or preceded him by 100-200 years at the most.

 

Mackey’s comment: Or, some of these were – as according to this present series – fictitious, and based on real characters of the Hellenistic era.

The article continues:

 

In 1337 he visited the Italian Rome for the first time ([644], page 59).What did he see there? Petrarch writes (if these are indeed his real letters, and not the result of subsequent editing),“Rome seemed even greater to me than I could have imagined – especially the greatness of her ruins” ([644]).Rome in particular and XIV century Italy in general had met Petrarch with an utter chaos of legends, from which the poet had selected the ones he considered to fit his a priori opinion of “the greatness of Italian Rome.” Apparently, Petrarch had been among those who initiated the legend of “the great ancient Italian Rome” without any solid basis. A significant amount of real mediaeval evidence of the correct history of Italy in the Middle Ages was rejected as “erroneous.” It would be of the utmost interest to study these “mediaeval anachronisms” considered preposterous nowadays, if only briefly.

According to mediaeval legends, “Anthenor’s sepulchre” was located in Padua ([644]). In Milan, the statue of Hercules was worshipped. The inhabitants of Pisa claimed their town to have been founded by Pelopsus. The Venetians claimed Venice to have been built of the stones of the destroyed Troy! Achilles was supposed to have ruled in Abruzza, Diomedes in Apulia, Agamemnon in Sicily, Euandres in Piemont, Hercules in Calabria. Apollo was rumoured to have been an astrologer, the devil, and the god of the Saracens!

Plato was considered to have been a doctor, Cicero a knight and a troubadour, Virgil a mage who blocked the crater of the Vesuvius, etc.

All of this is supposed to have taken place in the XIV century or even later! This chaos of information obviously irritated Petrarch, who had come to Rome already having an a priori concept of the “antiquity” of the Italian Rome. It is noteworthy that Petrarch left

us no proof of the “antiquity of Rome” that he postulates. On the contrary, his letters – if they are indeed his real letters, and not later edited copies – paint an altogether different picture. Roughly speaking, it is as follows: Petrarch is convinced that there should be many “great buildings of ancient times” in Rome. He really finds none of those. He is confused and writes this about it:

Where are the thermae of Diocletian and Caracallus? Where is the Timbrium of Marius, the Septizonium and the thermae of Severus? Where is the forum of Augustus and the temple of Mars the Avenger?

 

Mackey’s comment: These various, supposedly Republican Roman, characters, Marius, Cicero, Augustus, are (tentatively) given Hellenistic real identities in this series.

The article continues:

 

Where are the holy places of Jupiter the Thunder-Bearer on the Capitol and Apollo on the Palatine? Where is the portico of Apollo and the basilica of Caius and Lucius, where is the portico of Libya and the theatre of Marcellus? Where are the temple of Hercules and the Muses built by Marius Philip, and the temple of Diana built by Lucius Cornifacius? Where is the temple of the Free Arts of Avinius Pollio, where is the theatre of Balbus, the Amphitheatre of Statilius Taurus? Where are the numerous constructions erected by Agrippa, of which only the Pantheon remains? Where are the splendorous palaces of the emperors? One finds everything in the books; when one tries to find them in the city, one

discovers that they either disappeared [sic!] or that only the vaguest of their traces remain”. ([644])

These countless inquiries of “where” this or the other object might be, especially the final phrase, are amazing. They indicate clearly that Petrarch came to the Italian Rome with an a priori certainty that the great Rome as described in the old books is the Italian Rome. As we are now beginning to understand, these books most probably were referring to the Rome on the Bosporus. However, in the early XIV century or even later, it was ordered to assume that the ancient manuscripts referred to the Italian Rome. Petrarch had to find “field traces” of the “great Roman past” in Italy; he searched vigorously, found nothing, and was nervous about this fact.

However, the letters attributed to Petrarch contain traces of a Roman history that differs considerably from the history we are taught nowadays. For instance, Petrarch insists that the pyramid that is now considered to be “the Pyramid of Cestius” is really the sepulchre

of Remus ….

The real parochial Italian Rome of the XIV century surprised the poet greatly, since it strangely failed to concur with his a priori impressions based on the interpretation of the ancient texts which he considered correct. This most probably means that he had rejected

other evidence contradicting this “novel” opinion. The gigantic Coliseum, for instance, proved to be the castle and the fortress of a mediaeval feudal clan, and the same fate befell such “ancient” constructions as the mausoleum of Adrian, the theatre of Marcellus, the arch of Septimius Severus, etc. Plainly speaking, all of the “ancient” buildings turned out to be mediaeval. This presents no contradiction to us; however, for Petrarch, who apparently already perceived Rome through the distorting prism of the erroneous chronology, this must have been extremely odd.

Apparently, we have thus managed to pick out the moment in the Middle Ages when the creation of the consensual erroneous version of the history of Italian Rome began. This couldn’t have preceded the first half of the XIV century – although we should add that it is possible that all of these events occurred significantly later, namely, in the XVI-XVII century.

According to Jan Parandowski, “Petrarch’s arrival marks a new era in the assessment of the state of the great city’s decline. Petrarch had been the first person of the new era whose eyes filled with tears at the very sight of the destroyed columns, and at the very memory of the forgotten names” ([644]). Having wiped off the tears, Petrarch became quite industrious in what concerned the creation of the “true history” of the Italian Rome. He searched for statues, collected Roman medals, and tried to recreate the topography of Rome. Most of Petrarch’s energy was however directed at finding and commenting on the oeuvres of the “ancient” authors. The list of books that he allegedly owned survived until our days, the list that he compiled himself in the alleged year of 1336 a.d., on the last page of the Latin codex that is now kept in the National Library of Paris. Whether or not Petrarch had been in the possession of the original works of the authors, remains unknown. The following names are mentioned in the list:

Horace, Ovid, Catullus, Propercius, Tibullus, Percius, Juvenal, Claudian, Ovid, the comedians Plautus and Terentius; the historians Titus Livy, Sallustius, Suetonius, Florus, Eutropius, Justin, Orosius, Valerius Maximus; the orators and philosophers Quintillian, Varro, Pliny, Apuleius, Aulus Gellius, Macrobius, Vitruvius, Marcian Capella, Pomponius Mela, Cassiodorus, Boetius. As well, the names of a large number of holy fathers are listed.

We ask the following questions:

Can we trust in Petrarch’s ownership of these volumes?

How was the list dated?

Did Petrarch actually hold any of the oeuvres written by the abovementioned authors in his hands, or did he just collect the names?

Do we interpret Petrarch’s statements correctly nowadays? After all, they reach us via a filter of the Scaligerian editors of the XVI-XVII century. We perceive them through the glass of a distorted chronology. Petrarch’s letters are to be studied again, if they really are his and haven’t been written or edited on his behalf a great while later. One also has to emphasize that Petrarch didn’t specifically occupy himself with the dating of the texts he found. He was looking for the “works of the ancients” – apparently without questioning whether they preceded him by a hundred years, two hundred, or a thousand. Let’s not forget that a hundred years, let alone three hundred, is a long period of time.

With the growth of his income, Petrarch founded a special workshop with scribes and secretaries, which he often mentions in his letters. Everyone knew about his infatuation with collecting old books. He mentions it in every letter he writes to his every friend. “If you really value me, do as I tell you: find educated and trustworthy people, and let them rake through the bookcases of every scientist there is, clerical as well as secular” ([644]). He pays for the findings bounteously. And they keep coming to him from all directions. He makes some important discoveries himself – thus, in the alleged year of 1333 he finds two previously unknown speeches of Cicero’s in Liège, and in 1334, Cicero’s letters to Atticus, Quintus and Brutus in Verona ([927], [644]). Let us remind the reader that according to the mediaeval legends, Cicero was a knight and a troubadour, q.v. above.

“Petrarch had reasons for considering himself to be responsible for the revival of interest in the philosophical works and essays of the great Roman orator” ([927], pages 87-88). Petrarch wrote: “as soon as I see a monastery, I head that way in hope of finding some work by Cicero.” The history of how he “discovered” the Cicero’s lost tractate titled De Gloria is very odd indeed. Its existence became known from a letter to Atticus that is attributed to Cicero. Petrarch claimed that he had allegedly discovered this priceless manuscript, but gave it to his old friend Convenevola. Who

is supposed to have lost it.

Nowadays Petrarch’s endeavours are usually written about with great pathos:

“It had really been the first one of those glorious expeditions rich in discoveries that shall be undertaken by the humanists of the generations to follow, who have journeyed like Columbus… in their search for parchments gobbled by numerous rats” ([644]). Cicero’s letters were allegedly discovered by Petrarch in the Chapter Library of Verona, where no-one had been aware of their existence. For some reason, the original was soon lost by Petrarch, and he demonstrated a copy instead.

  1. I. Chlodowsky wrote that:

“Petrarch proved a naturally born philologist. He had been the first to study the oeuvres of the ancient Roman poets, comparing different copies and using data provided by the neighbouring historical sciences… It had been Petrarch the philologer who had destroyed the mediaeval legend of Virgil the mage and sorcerer, and accused the author of the Aeneid of a number of anachronisms; he had deprived Seneca of several works that were ascribed to him in the Middle Ages, and proved the apocryphal character of Caesar’s and Nero’s letters, which had a great political meaning in the middle of the XIV century since it gave authority to the Empire’s claims for Austria”. ([927], pp. 88-89).

This is where the really important motives become clear to us – the ones that Petrarch may have been truly guided by in his “archaeological endeavours.” These motives were political, as we have just explained. We have ourselves been witness to countless examples in contemporary history when “science” was used as basis for one political claim or another. This makes chronology largely irrelevant. However, today when the characters of that epoch have long left the stage, we must return to the issue of just how “preposterous” the letters of Caesar and Nero were, and what was “wrong” in the mediaeval legends of Virgil.

The poet’s attitude to the ancient documents was far from critical analysis. Petrarch’s declarations of “antiquity” may have been made for meeting the conditions of some political order of the Reformation epoch in Western Europe (the XVI-XVII century). The order had been made to create a dichotomy between “barbaric contemporaneity” and “beauteous antiquity”. See Chron6 for details. At any rate, one clearly sees that either Petrarch or someone else acting on his behalf was creating the mythical world of antiquity without bothering about the exact epoch when Cicero’s speeches were written, and whether it had preceded that of Petrach by 200 years, or 1400. It is possible that all of this activity really took place in the XVI-XVII century and not the XIV, during the Reformation in the Western Europe, and had archly been shifted into the XIV century and ascribed to Petrarch so that it would gain the “authority of antiquity.” The reality of the XVI-XVII century, which Petrarch cites as the antithesis of “ancient civilization,” was later baptized “feudal barbarism.” ….

 

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Solomon and Charlemagne. Part Four: Carolingians a “new Israel”

Published April 27, 2018 by amaic
Image result for charlemagne

 

 by

Damien F. Mackey

 

 

“Therefore, once Charlemagne received the imperial title, the concept of the Franks

as the “new Israel,” already circulating at court, began to intensify”.

 Constance B. Bouchard

 

 

 

So much of French regal history, Merovingian and Carolingian, smacks of the Bible.

King Chlodomer, for instance, smacks of the Elamite king, Chedorlaomer (Genesis 14:1):

 

Chedorlaomer and Chlodomer

 

https://www.academia.edu/36500160/Chedorlaomer_and_Chlodomer?campaign=upload_email

 

Whilst King Chilperic I has been likened to ‘Herod’:

 

King Chilperic I a ‘Nero and Herod’

 

https://www.academia.edu/36461050/King_Chilperic_I_a_Nero_and_Herod

 

and, again, to the wicked Old Testament king, Ahab: “Gregory, who as bishop of Tours had confrontations with Chilperic and Fredegund, implicitly likens himself in books 5 and 6 to Elijah prophesying against Ahab and Jezebel …”. (Zachary S. Schiffman, The Birth of the Past, p. 123).

 

Along similar lines we find:

 

Queen Brunhild [as] the ‘second Jezebel’

 

https://www.academia.edu/35178294/Queen_Brunhild_the_second_Jezebel

 

And, in a supposedly later era, there is this classic:

 

Isabella of France, ‘iron virago’, ‘Jezebel’

 

https://www.academia.edu/35177416/Isabella_of_France_iron_virago_Jezebel_

 

To name just a few.

 

Perhaps even more apparent are the striking Davidic and Solomonic likenesses of the Carolingian kings. See e.g. my:

 

Solomon and Charlemagne. Part One: Life of Charlemagne

 

https://www.academia.edu/32815340/Solomon_and_Charlemagne._Part_One_Life_of_Charlemagne

 

“Emperor Charlemagne’s life bears some uncanny likenesses to
that of the ancient King Solomon of Israel and his family”.

 

and:

 

Solomon and Charlemagne. Part Two: Archaeology of Charlemagne

 

https://www.academia.edu/32815459/Solomon_and_Charlemagne._Part_Two_Archaeology_of_Charlemagne

 

“For AD history to be fully convincing and to be made to rest on firm foundations, it will need to undergo a rigorous revision similar to the one that scholars have been undertaking for BC history, with the application of a revised stratigraphy. There may be some indications that the history of Charlemagne is yet far from having been established on such firm stratigraphical foundations”.

 

No wonder that conspiracy theorists and authors, such as Dan Brown, have had so much fun with the Merovingians and Carolingians!

To give just one intriguing example of this sort of thing, we read at:

http://www.conspiracyschool.com/carolingian-empire

 

The Carolingians were partly of Merovingian descent, but more importantly, they represented the union of the once divided lineage of the several families responsible for the formation of Mithraism, mainly, the House of Herod, of Commagene, the Julio-Claudian Emperors of Rome, and the Priest-Kings of Emesa. This lineage had survived in two branches. Julia, the heiress of the Edomite royal bloodline, was the daughter of Herod Phollio King of Chalcis, whose grandfather was Herod the Great, and whose mother was the daughter of Salome. Julia married Tigranes King of Armenia, the son of Alexander of Judea. Their son Alexander married Iotape of Commagene, the daughter of Antiochus IV, from whom was descended St. Arnulf, was a Frankish noble who had great influence in the Merovingian kingdoms as Bishop of Metz, and who was later canonized as a saint, and who lived from 582 to 640 AD.[2]

 

Always tracing it all back to biblical kings.

I find it most interesting that there is a connection made here between an Antiochus IV and the biblical king Herod the Great, since, recently, I have actually made so bold as to identify the latter, Herod, as Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’ of the Maccabean era:

 

Jesus Christ born in Maccabean era

 

https://www.academia.edu/36472536/Jesus_Christ_born_in_Maccabean_era

 

And I suspect that the “Antiochus IV” named in the above quote is simply, as I have written:

 

Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’ Doubled

 

https://www.academia.edu/32784704/Antiochus_IV_Epiphanes_Doubled

 

 

Anyway, Constance B. Bouchard has, in “Images of the Merovingians and Carolingians”, provided extra support for the Israel-like-ness of the enigmatic Carolingians and Charlemagne:

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1478-0542.2006.00315.x

 

Although historians do not denigrate the quite real Carolingian achievements, they are now analyzing the many models, from the kings of ancient Israel to the Caesars, to which the emperors were compared by their publicists.

….

The Carolingians themselves appear to have been very sensitive to the possibility that they would be considered rulers who enjoyed divine favor only at the pleasure of the pope. Therefore, once Charlemagne received the imperial title, the concept of the Franks as the “new Israel,” already circulating at court, began to intensify. The choice of the ancient Hebrew kings provided a model which would not be based on a connection to the papacy.42 The kings of Israel had stood halfway between their people and God, without needing the mediation of priests and certainly not of popes. As the new David and the new Solomon, Charlemagne and his heir could take on a similar position: one that required great responsibility, certainly, but one in which no one stood between them and God.

 

Not surprisingly, too, we find books and articles with titles like “The Franks as the New Israel? Education for an Identity from Pippin to Charlemagne,” by M. Garrison (in Hen and Innes (eds.), Uses of the Past).

Chedorlaomer and Chlodomer

Published April 25, 2018 by amaic

 

Image result for the five foolish kings

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

 

“… Chlodomer shared in the fourfold partition of his father’s kingdom in 511 …”.

Encyclopaedia Britannica

 

 

 

The name of the supposed C6th AD Frankish king, Chlodomer (Clodomir or Clodomer, c. 495 – 524 AD), immediately hit me – on first hearing of it (only recently) – as being almost identical to the biblical name, Chedorlaomer.

 

And the belief that the kingdom which Chlodomer “shared” involved, as in the above quote, a “fourfold partition”, has not done anything to diminish this first impression.

For Chedorlaomer, too, was part of a fourfold coalition of kings (Genesis 14:1-11):

 

At the time when Amraphel was king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goyim, these kings went to war against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboyim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). All these latter kings joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Dead Sea Valley). For twelve years they had been subject to Kedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled.

In the fourteenth year, Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him went out and defeated the Rephaites in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzites in Ham, the Emites in Shaveh Kiriathaim and the Horites in the hill country of Seir, as far as El Paran near the desert. Then they turned back and went to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and they conquered the whole territory of the Amalekites, as well as the Amorites who were living in Hazezon Tamar.

Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboyim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) marched out and drew up their battle lines in the Valley of Siddim against Kedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goyim, Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar—four kings against five. Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits, and when the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some of the men fell into them and the rest fled to the hills. The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away.

 

Dr. John Osgood was able, from this historically detailed text, to begin to determine a solid foundation for the archaeology of Abram (later Abraham). See my article:

 

Better archaeological model for Abraham

https://www.academia.edu/31214563/Better_archaeological_model_for_Abraham

 

Chlodomer, like Chedorlaomer, attacked in an easterly direction, with the assistance of three other kings (Chlotar I, Childebert I and Theodoric I):

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Chlodomer

 

…. In 523, with his two full brothers, Chlotar I and Childebert I, as allies, he attacked his eastern neighbours, the Burgundians; their king, Sigismund, was captured and put to death together with his family. In the following year, Chlodomer resumed the attack, this time with his half-brother, Theodoric I ….

 

But it was Chlodomer who, like Chedorlaomer (“For twelve years they had been subject to Chedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled”), appears to have been the leading king of the four-man coalition (Britannica, emphasis added):

 

The eldest son of Clovis I by Clotilda, Chlodomer shared in the fourfold partition of his father’s kingdom in 511, receiving lands in western and central France; his was the only one of the four kingdoms to form a single geographical unit on both sides of the Loire River.

King Chilperic I a ‘Nero and Herod’

Published April 22, 2018 by amaic

Image result for chilperic I

by

Damien F. Mackey

 

 

“Gregory calls him “the Nero and Herod of our time,” and loads him with abuse. He ridicules his poems, and according to his own story overwhelms him with an avalanche of contempt …”.

Ernest Brehaut

 

 

King Chilperic I lived (according to the conventional view) from c. 539 – 584 AD, and was said to have been a Merovingian king of Soissons.

Gregory of Tours (considered to have been the king’s contemporary), called Chilperic the Nero and the Herod of his age.

 

And according to the following site, King Chilperic was an early ‘gangster’:

http://medievalchroniclers.blogspot.com.au/2010/10/chilperic-original-gangsta.html

 

Chilperic: The Original Gangsta’

 

Chilperic, the “Nero and Herod of our time” as quoted by Gregory of Tours, was the king of Soissons from 561 until his assassination in 584, an event Gregory seems to cherish, as it ended the reign of “this wicked man”. Gregory’s description of him is very unfavourable throughout the book. From the onset, Chilperic is described as a greedy man who inherited his late father’s treasury, and bribed all the prominent Franks to his side. (IV. 21) He also lusted after women, as he asked for the hand of Galswinth, the sister of his brother’s wife, even though he had a number of wives. He told his messengers to inform the people that he had gotten rid of the other wives, in order for him to marry someone with his own ranking, and with a large dowry. He went back and forth between Galswinth and his other trophy wife Fredegund, before ultimately choosing Galswinth. Ultimately, Galswinth died and within a couple of days, he was asking Fredegund to sleep with him again, and there was strong suspicion he killed Galswinth. (IV 27-8) He charged outrageous taxes for people under his control, and felt no contempt for the poor, rather burdened them with more debt, and banned them from the churches. (VI.46)

Chilperic was also described by Gregory of Tours as being a man of uncontrollable rage and violence. He burned much of the districts around Tours, and marched on Rheims burning and destroying almost everything in his path. (IV. 47) When his brother Sigibert was killed, Sigila, who was associated with Sigibert’s death was captured by King Chilperic was burned by red hot pincers, and had his limbs torn limb by limb. (IV. 51) Obviously not trying to win a father of the year award, Chilperic had his son Clovis stabbed to death, had his wife Fredegund brutally murdered, and had his daughter thrown into a monastery. (V.1 ) And the woman who testified against Clovis was burnt alive. People who attempted to desert his city would be cut down and slaughtered by the thousands, and he even poked out people’s eyes for disobedience. In an exceedingly cruel act, Leudast, a man who had fallen on the King’s bad side, and was not allowed to take residence in the city, had his scalp chopped off. Still alive, Chilperic ordered that he receive medical attention until he healed, and then would be tortured to death, done by having a block of wood wedged behind his back while being bludgeoned to death by being repeatedly hit in the throat by another block of wood. (V1.32)

Chilperic was also described as an intolerant man, as he forbade his son Merovich from seeing Sigibert’s widowed wife, whom the King had banished to the city of Rouen and stole her treasure. When they refused to come out of church, Chilperic lied to them in order for them to come out, and took his son home with him, refusing the two to coalesce. When he still chose to defile his fathers wishes, Chilperic had his son held in exile in a narrow, roofless tower for two years. After these two years, Merovich was forced to become a priest and sent to live in a monastery. Merovich decided to take his life rather than allow his father to constantly dominate his life, so he had his friend Gailen kill him. In retaliation, Gailen was taken by Chilperic and had his hands, feet, ears and nose cut off, and was tortured to death. Anyone who was associated with Merovich were also tortured to death. (V1-18)

One aspect of judgement that Gregory of Tours holds against Chilperic is in regards to religion. Chilperic attacked and destroyed churches along the way, and made a mockery of the Lord. He even argued Gregory’s religious views by stating to him that there should be no distinctions of Persons in the Holy Trinity. For him, they should all be referred to as God, as if he was a Person, and the Holy Ghost, Father, and Son were one. Gregory of Tours viciously debated his assertion, stating that anyone who agreed with Chilperic would be a fool. Chilperic even begged to the Bishop of Albi to believe his views. (V.44) Gregory of Tours dislike of Chilperic also stems from the fact that the King accused him of levelling wild accusations about his wife. Gregory shows that his judgements of Chilperic are due to the fact that he has been a victim of the Kings outrage. (V.49) Chilperic eventually turned towards Gregory and asked for a blessing to be performed on him. This newfound religious aspect, moved Chilperic to convert a great number of Jews to be baptized, and even carried out a number of baptisms. However, many “converted” Jews resorted to their old faith. He even gave to the churches, and the poor in an effort to show good grace. (V.34)

Overall, by bestowing the unfortunate name of “Nero and Herod” of our time, Gregory of Tours is claiming that King Chilperic was an evil, demonic tyrant, who lusted for power, and reviled in torturing others. His standard of judgement is being a victim himself of Chilperic’s outrage, and having witnessed grave atrocities. Personally, I see a direct link between Chilperic and a later tyrant, and the first tsar of Russia, Ivan Grozny. Ivan IV was a man similar in many ways, in that he had numerous wives, some whom strangely disappeared, but lusted after one in specific, Anastasia Romanov. More than that, he was a man who disliked the woman whom his son was dating, beat her until she had a miscarriage, and murdered his own son “accidentally”. He even set up the “oprichnina” and had thousands of fleeing citizens to Novgorod cut down and massacred. He was fascinated by torture, and seeing others in grave pain. Much like Chilperic, he would remove people’s eyes, much like he did with the two architects who made a beautiful church monument that outshone all others, and Ivan even found religion later on in life. Aside from my ramblings about similarities, overall I think Chilperic was a brutal man, who committed many acts of greed, gluttony and death, in order to elevate his status, and force obedience from other people. Too call him Nero is a very harsh comparison, but by looking at many of his acts, including the murder of Leudast, it may be deserved, as he was a man not afraid to torture, maim, and kill for his own personal enjoyment. Overall, Gregory is correct in looking down upon Chilperic, as he was a bad man.

 

Finally, Ernest Brehaut (1916) has designated king Chilperic I “the forerunner of the secular state in France”:

….

Gregory calls him “the Nero and Herod of our time,” and loads him with abuse. He ridicules his poems, and according to his own story overwhelms him with an avalanche of contempt when he ventures to state some new opinions on the Trinity. The significant thing about Chilperic was this, that he had at this time the independence of mind to make such a criticism, as well as the hard temper necessary to fight the bishops successfully. “In his reign,” Gregory tells us, “very few of the clergy reached the office of bishop.” Chilperic used often to say: “Behold our treasury has remained poor, our wealth has been transferred to the churches; there is no king but the bishops; my office has perished and passed over to the bishops of the cities.” [note: see p. 166 (Book VI: 46)] Chilperic was thus the forerunner of the secular state in France. ….

 

Part Two:

His bad wife, Fredegund

 

“Gregory credited himself with this last role – admittedly more a paradigm than biography – so that he could demonstrate what Marc Reydellet has observed: ‘Gregory of Tours covers himself in the robe of the prophet in order to cast anathema on the diabolical couple Chilperic and Fredegund, the new Ahab and Jezebel’.”

Martin Heinzelmann

  

It is amazing how many kings of the (supposedly) AD era have been described as Ahab-like, or as Nero-like, or as Herod-like, whilst any number of queens, especially those named Isabelle, have been likened to Jezebel or Herodias – so much so that I was prompted to ask:

 

Isabelle (is a belle) inevitably a Jezebel?

https://www.academia.edu/35191514/Isabelle_is_a_belle_inevitably_a_Jezebel

 

Now, the wife of king Chilperic I, whilst not actually named Isabelle, but Fredegund, has been described in Martin Heinzelmann’ book, Gregory of Tours: History and Society in the Sixth Century (p. 43), as one of a “diabolical” pair with her husband, Chilperic, and also as “the new … Jezebel”.

According to the following, she was: http://www.rejectedprincesses.com/princesses/fredegund

 

Fredegund

(mid 500s – 597)

Assassination-obsessed Queen

 

…. Here is the most cartoonishly evil woman I have ever come across: Fredegund. This woman was a 6th-century Merovingian queen consort with a penchant for killing people. Her notable life went roughly as follows:

 

  • She works her way into the palace of Chilperic I as a serving woman for the queen, Audovera.
  • Chilperic I, although married to Audovera, takes Fredegund as a concubine.
  • Fredegund convinces him to divorce Audovera and send her to a nunnery.
  • Fredegund then quietly kills Audovera.
  • Chilperic then marries another woman, Galswintha.
  • Galswintha turns up strangled in her own bed.
  • Chilperic marries Fredegund a couple days later, presumably getting the hint.
  • Fredegund kills Chilperic’s brother Sigebert (the two brothers had been fighting). She also tries to kill Sigebert’s son.
  • Chilperic turns up mysteriously dead.
  • Immediately thereafter, Fredegund takes all his money, skips town, and starts living in Notre Dame Cathedral (sanctuary, indeed!) under the protection of Chilperic’s brother, Guntram.
  • Three years later she tries to assassinate Guntram.
  • Ten years later, Fredegund dies (how, I do not know).

 

If Fredegund had a foil, it was Galswintha’s sister (and Sigebert’s widow), Brunhild. For forty years, the two of them fought — resulting in endless warfare and, you can be sure, at least one assassination attempt. In the end, Brunhild outlived Fredegund, but even from beyond the grave, Fredegund had the last word.

 

Mackey’s comment: Brunhild has, too, for her part, been described as a ‘Jezebel”:

 

Queen Brunhild the ‘second Jezebel’

 

https://www.academia.edu/35178294/Queen_Brunhild_the_second_Jezebel

 

The article continues:

 

Sixteen years after Fredegund’s death, with Brunhild now a sixty-something woman, Fredegund’s son killed her in as brutal a manner as I’ve ever heard. First, torture on the rack. Next, each of her extremities was tied to a different horse, and they were all set to run in different directions, tearing her apart. Lastly, they burnt her body.

But none of these are the craziest thing Fredegund ever did.

“Hey Rigunth, go pick out some jewelry from that treasure chest.”

So what is the craziest thing she ever did? Well, you see, she had a daughter, Rigunth. Rigunth, as princesses do, was looking forward to one day being queen herself. One day, exasperated by her daughter’s “I want to be queen nowww” whining, Fredegund told her to go look inside Chilperic’s treasure chest and pick out some jewelry for herself.

When Rigunth poked her head in the treasure chest, Fredegund slammed it shut on her neck. Had servants not stopped her, she would have killed her own daughter.

 

“Vengeance” is also well to the fore in the following lively account of queen Fredegund:

http://www.badassoftheweek.com/fredegund.html

 

…. The Frankish Queen Fredegund is a rare exception to this rule – and, oddly enough, it’s not because historians portray her in a positive light. No, with this chick it’s because she truly was an utterly-bloodthirsty vengeance machine who rested at nothing short of the completely over-the-top torture deaths of all who stood in her path, obliterating dumbasses across the continent of Europe until every single human being – from King to Bishop to Peasant – who stupidly wound up on her bad side immediately found themselves face-down in a pool of their own blood surrounded by knife-wielding assassins, poisonous beverages, and/or well-sharpened instruments of painful torture and horrible mutilation.

She is one of history’s most violent and bloodthirsty queens, and her entire life was centered around the one primary tenet of unquestionable badassitude – Live for Revenge.

 

We don’t know much about where one of the world’s most epic vengeance-mongers actually came from. We’re pretty sure Fredegund (also known as Fredegond, Fredegunda, or simply Freddie) was Frankish, meaning that she was simultaneously French, German, and Belgian without actually being any of those things, and that when she was in her late teens she was sold as a slave to the wife of King Chilperic of Souissons – a guy who at the time sort-of ruled a piece of the Frankish Kingdom (when Chilperic’s dad died, he’d divided his empire up among his sons rather than putting one kid in charge of the entire kingdom…

….

Well Fredegund wasn’t all that particularly interested in being a servant-girl to the Queen, so instead … she seduced King Chilperic, hooked up with him, then convinced him to divorce the Queen and send that annoying primadonna off to live a life of celibacy in a convent somewhere. Unfortunately for Freddie, once the king was divorced he decided to marry some annoying Visigoth Princess instead, so once again Fredegund worked her magic and had that bitch strangled to death in her sleep. After all the competition was dead or nunnified, Chilperic decided it was in the best interest of self-preservation to marry Fredegund, a woman who had now somehow awesomely gone from slave-girl to Queen of the Franks in the span of like a year and a half.

 

Well, naturally being the Queen was great and everything, but now Fredegund had a new problem to worry about – the hardcore sister of the recently-strangulated Visigoth Queen just so happened to be a … warrior-babe named Brunhilde, and Brunhilde was not a very happy girl. Brunhilde also just so happened to be a Queen in her own right, married to Chilperic’s brother Siegebert, a guy who was in charge of another part of the recently-divided Frankish Kingdom (still with me here?), and before long the two factions were in the process of stabbing each other in the face repeatedly and without mercy in an all-out war that stretched from Paris to Berlin.

 

Frankish troops like Fredegund would have routinely led into battle.

 

Long story short, Chilperic/Fredegund fought an epic seven-year war with Siegebert/Brunhilde, with either side sending their mailed knights charging spears-first into combat …. After a hard-fought campaign, Fredegund defeated her rivals, crushed them in battle, then had King Siegebert whacked by stabbing him in the kidneys by a pair of assassins while he was in the process of giving a speech about how he was going to get revenge … [on] Fredegund once and for all (I’m not sure if she planned the timing to work out like that, but it’s badass either way). With the rival King dead, Fredegund overran the rest of Siegebert’s men, captured Brunhilde, destroyed her cities, and then had Siegebert’s top government official (who was admittedly a greedy evil bastard known as “The Breaker of Wills”) executed by being systematically dismembered joint-by-joint with white-hot pokers and knives ….

Fredegund also planned to have Brunhilde whacked as well, but while she was trying to figure out some sort of awesome new cruel and unusual punishment to carry out some … [one] … broke Brunhilde out of prison and snuck her out of the realm. …. Fredegund eventually tracked that guy down and had him stabbed to death by his own servants, then had his kid poisoned to death by an evil chef just for good measure.

 

With Brunhilde sort-of out of the way, Fredegund continued her mad rampage to consolidate power for her, her husband, and their now-newborn son. First she went after the sons of Chilperic’s first wife (you know, the poor girl Fredegund had already exiled to a monastery), killing them by infecting them with dysentery until they died of their own explosive diarrhea. Then she went after some alleged conspirators and other people that talked trash about her, having them executed on torture racks and then throwing their broken bodies to wolves or lions. After that she attacked the clergy, most of whom weren’t all that cool with things like torture-related deaths and were stupid enough to say something like that out loud – first she whacked a dude named Mummolus the Perfect (who, let’s face it, couldn’t have been all that bad), then she publicly yelled at a Catholic Saint (and then silently watched the guy get stabbed and slowly bleed to death in his own cathedral), and, as if that’s not enough, she then tried to ice the Bishop of Bayeux for investigating the murder and sticking his stupid face where it didn’t belong (snitches get stitches).

 

…. Fredegund’s primary method of disposing of her enemies was by hiring easily-bribeable men to poison or shiv her enemies for her. Thanks to her own personal charm, a collection of dirty secrets that would make Nick Fury want to high-five her, and a nearly-limitless amount of gold at her disposal, the Queen of the Franks routinely hired everyone from Dukes and Priests to slaves and brigands to take up oleander-coated daggers and shank douchebags in her name. Her personal favorite method of execution was to hire a band of thugs armed with heavily-poisoned Swedish eating utensils known as scramsaxes (it even sounds like an IKEA thing) to fall upon her target in the woods … rob them, and leave them to die slow, agonizingly-painful deaths. Then, when the brigands would return to report the kill, Fredegund would have those …. whacked as well, regardless of whether they completed their mission or not (though it’s worth mentioning she’d just behead them with axes at dinner parties if they succeeded, whereas if they failed it was much worse… one poor cleric who failed to execute Brunhilde was punished by having his hands and feet cut off and then being thrown in a hole).

 

A scramsaxe.

 

Eventually Fredegund’s enemies got a little fed up with all this nonsense and had her husband Chilperic assassinated (some people thing this was Fredegund’s doing as well, but this seems unlikely). With her husband dead and her son still too young to rule, Fredegund fled Soissons to Paris, moved into the cathedral of Notre Dame, and took on the role of Queen Regent, where she controlled the day-to-day operations of the realm. Now officially in charge of the Kingdom, she ruled with an iron fist, forging alliances, sending armies into the field, and utterly crushing anyone who she considered a threat to either herself or her son.

 

For the most part, things were pretty successful – she ruled solo for a decade, captured several cities near Paris, allied with the powerful Kingdom of Burgundy, won the throne for her son, and beat … Theodebert who was acting up and causing all sorts of trouble – all of which are notable achievements for anybody, let alone a woman ruling undisputed in the … Middle Ages. She did have a little trouble with her daughter though… Fredegund unwisely tried to marry that poor girl off to the Visigoths, but instead of accepting her into their tribe they just robbed her of her dowry and sent her back to Paris empty-handed. The girl lived at home for a while, and, as can tend to happen with teenaged daughters and their mothers, they didn’t really get along. The highlight of this feud was one time when the daughter came out and said she should be the Queen Regent and Fredegund should retire – Fredegund, who was in the treasure room picking out jewels at the time, asked the daughter to grab something for her out of a particularly-huge treasure chest. When the daughter reached in, Fredegund closed the chest on her head and choked her … until she got her act together. As if you needed more … about this woman, this story was so popular during the Middle Ages that Fredegund is sometimes cited as a possible inspiration for the Wicked Stepmother in Cinderella.

 

Fredegund eventually sorted [things] out with her kid, handed the reins off once her son was old enough to take over as King, and then died peacefully in her bed in Paris in 597 AD. She’d ruled for 40 years, killed everyone who opposed her, and lived for revenge in a way most action movie heroes could only dream about. The only person who’d successfully eluded her wrath was that annoying do-gooder Brunhilde, but Fredegund’s son eventually settled that … once and for all as well – he captured the 60 year-old queen, put her on the rack for three days, then had her drawn and quartered by horses. His mom would have been proud. ….

 

 

Gamaliel and Nicodemus

Published April 18, 2018 by amaic
Image result for sts gamaliel and nicodemus

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

 

“According to tradition, Gamaliel and Nicodemus

buried Saint Stephen outside … Jerusalem”.

 Dr Taylor Marshall

  

 

According to Orthodox tradition, Nicodemus and Gamaliel were saints, and were very closely connected. Thus, for example, we read at: https://oca.org/saints/lives/2009/08/02/102182-finding-of-the-relics-of-the-righteous-st-nicodemus

 

Finding of the relics of the Righteous St Nicodemus

Commemorated on August 2

 

Saint Nicodemus was a prominent Pharisee who believed in Christ. The Savior explained to him how man is regenerated through Baptism, but he did not understand how a man could be born again. When the Lord reproved him for his ignorance, he accepted it with humility (John 3:1-21).

 

Nicodemus came back to Christ from time to time, defended Him to the Pharisees (John 7:50-52), and brought spices to anoint His body (John 19:39). After being cast out of the synagogue for his belief in Christ, Saint Nicodemus went to live with Saint Gamaliel at his country house, remaining there until his death.

 

The relics of Saints Stephen, Gamaliel, Abibas, and Nicodemus were transferred from Jerusalem to Constantinople in 428 and placed in the church of the holy deacon Laurence (August 10). ….

 

“Saint Nicodemus went to live with Saint Gamaliel at his country house, remaining there until his death”.

 

I want to suggest now the possibility that Gamaliel was Nicodemus.

In common here was:

 

  • a perfect contemporaneity;
  • strict Pharisaïsm;
  • membership of Sanhedrin;
  • upholder of law and legal method;
  • being a teacher in Israel;
  • somewhat secretive or cautious;
  • a degree of sympathy to the Way of Christ;
  • a burier of the (Christian) dead.

 

The scripturally better-known Nicodemus emerges as a secretive follower of Jesus Christ, whose body he helps bury. Gamaliel, “an advocate of the nascent congregation of Jesus’ disciples in Jerusalem and is called “a Pharisee, a teacher of the Law, held in honor by all the people”” (see below), comes across as being extremely cautious and measured, he having given the Sanhedrin an account of (i) John the Baptist (according to my):

 

Gamaliel’s ‘Theudas’ as John the Baptist

https://www.academia.edu/36424851/Gamaliels_Theudas_as_John_the_Baptist?campaign=upload_email

an account of (ii) Judas Maccabeus (according to my):

 

Merging Maccabean and Herodian ages. Part Two: Gamaliel’s feeble account of Judas

 

https://www.academia.edu/36314477/Merging_Maccabean_and_Herodian_ages._Part_Two_Gamaliels_feeble_account_of_Judas

each of which descriptions I personally would describe as being a feeble and uninspiring understatement.

 

Dr Taylor Marshall has also written about Gamaliel and Nicodemus together:

http://taylormarshall.com/2010/08/discovery-of-st-stephens-relics-and.html

 

….

In my new book The Catholic Perspective on Paul, I discuss the Catholic tradition that Gamaliel of the Jewish Sanhedrin in the book of Acts is accounted by the Catholic Church as a Catholic saint. He is listed in the Roman Martyrology as a saint to be exact. ….

Let me just say that this Catholic tradition is important when study Saint Paul since Paul studied under Gamaliel.

Related to this topic is today’s forgotten memorial of the discovery of Saint Stephen’s relics. Our wonderful parish priest Father Phil Wolfe, FSSP discussed this tradition in his homily at Holy Mass.

According to tradition, Gamaliel and Nicodemus buried Saint Stephen outside of Jerusalem. The soul of Saint Gamaliel appeared to the presbyter Lucian in AD 415 and told him where to find the relics of Stephen and those of his own body. The relics were found on 3 August AD 415. The relics of Saint Stephen were translated several months later to Jerusalem proper on 26 December AD 415 – which is why we celebrate the feast of Stephen on the day after Christmas.

Just in case you think I’m crazy, it’s even attested to by Saint Augustine, who lived at this time.

Here’s the traditional account:

 

THIS SECOND festival (August 3), in honour of the holy protomartyr St. Stephen, was instituted by the church on the occasion of the discovery of his precious remains.

In the year 415, in the tenth consulship of Honorius, and the sixth of Theodosius the Younger, on Friday the 3d of December, about nine o’ clock at night, Lucian was sleeping in his bed, in the baptistery, where he commonly lay, in order to guard the sacred vessels of the church. Being half awake, he saw a tall comely old man of a venerable aspect, with a long white beard, clothed in a white garment, edged with small plates of gold, marked with crosses, and holding a golden wand in his hand. This person approached Lucian, and calling him thrice by his name, bid him go to Jerusalem, and tell bishop John to come and open the tombs in which his remains, and those of certain other servants of Christ lay, that through their means God might open to many the gates of his clemency. Lucian asked his name? “I am,” said he, “Gamaliel, who instructed Paul the apostle in the law; and on the east side of the monument lieth Stephen who was stoned by the Jews without the north gate. His body was left there exposed one day and one night; but was not touched by birds or beasts. I exhorted the faithful to carry it off in the night-time, which when they had done, I caused it to be carried secretly to my house in the country, where I celebrated his funeral rites forty days, and then caused his body to be laid in my own tomb to the eastward. Nicodemus, who came to Jesus by night, lieth there in another coffin. He was excommunicated by the Jews for following Christ, and banished out of Jerusalem. Whereupon I received him into my house in the country, and there maintained him to the end of his life; after his death I buried him honourably near Stephen. I likewise buried there my son Abibas, who died before me at the age of twenty years. His body is in the third coffin which stands higher up, where I myself was also interred after my death. My wife Ethna, and my eldest son Semelias, who were not willing to embrace the faith of Christ, were buried in another ground, called Capharsemalia.” Lucian, fearing to pass for an impostor if he was too credulous, prayed, that if the vision was from God, he might be favoured with it a second and a third time; and he continued to fast on bread and water. On the Friday following Gamaliel appeared again to him in the same form as before, and commanded him to obey. As emblems of the relics he brought and showed Lucian four baskets, three of gold and one of silver. The golden baskets were full of roses; two of white and one of red roses; the silver basket was full of saffron of a most delicious smell. Lucian asked what these were? Gamaliel said: “They are our relics. The red roses represent Stephen, who lieth at the entrance of the sepulchre; the second basket Nicodemus, who is near the door; the silver basket represents my son Abibas, who departed this life without stain; his basket is contiguous to mine.” Having said this he disappeared. Lucian then awaked, gave thanks to God, and continued his fasts. In the third week, on the same day, and at the same hour, Gamaliel appeared again to him, and with threats upbraided him with his neglect, adding, that the drought which then afflicted the world, would be removed only by his obedience, and the discovery of their relics. Lucian being now terrified, promised he would no longer defer it.

After this last vision, he repaired to Jerusalem, and laid the whole affair before bishop John, who wept for joy, and bid him go and search for the relics, which the bishop concluded would be found under a heap of small stones, which lay in a field near his church. Lucian said he imagined the same thing, and returning to his borough, summoned the inhabitants to meet the next day in the morning, in order to search under the heap of stones. As Lucian was going the morning following to see the place dug up, he was met by Migetius, a monk of a pure and holy life, who told him, that Gamaliel had appeared to him, and bade him inform Lucian that they laboured in vain in that place. “We were laid there,” said he, “at the time of our funeral obsequies, according to the ancient custom; and that heap of stones was a mark of the mourning of our friends. Search elsewhere, in a place called Debatalia. In effect,” said Migetius, continuing the relation of his vision, “I found myself on a sudden in the same field, where I saw a neglected ruinous tomb, and in it three beds adorned with gold; in one of them more elevated than the others, lay two men, an old man and a young one, and one in each of the other beds.” Lucian having heard Migetius’s report, praised God for having another witness of his revelation, and having removed to no purpose the heap of stones, went to the other place. In digging up the earth here three coffins or chests were found, as above mentioned, whereon were engraved these words in very large characters: Cheliel, Nasuam, Gamaliel, Abibas. The two first are the Syriac names of Stephen, or crowned, and Nicodemus, or victory of the people. Lucian sent immediately to acquaint bishop John with this. He was then at the council of Diospolis, and taking along with him Eutonius, bishop of Sebaste, and Eleutherius, bishop of Jericho, came to the place. Upon the opening of St. Stephen’s coffin the earth shook, and there came out of the coffin such an agreeable odour, that no one remembered to have ever smelt any thing like it. There was a vast multitude of people assembled in that place, among whom were many persons afflicted with divers distempers; of whom seventy-three recovered their health upon the spot. Some were freed from evil spirits, others cured of scrophulous tumours of various kinds, others of fevers, fistulas, the bloody flux, the falling sickness, head-aches, and pains in the bowels. They kissed the holy relics, and then shut them up. The bishop claimed those of St. Stephen for the church of Jerusalem, of which he had been deacon; the rest were left at Caphargamala. The protomartyr’s body was reduced to dust, excepting the bones, which were whole, and in their natural situation. The bishop consented to leave a small portion of them at Caphargamala; the rest were carried in the coffin with singing of psalms and hymns to the church of Sion at Jerusalem. At the time of this translation there fell a great deal of rain, which refreshed the country after a long drought. The translation was performed on the 26th of December, on which day the church hath ever since honoured the memory of St. Stephen, commemorating the discovery of his relics on the 3rd of August, probably on account of the dedication of some church in honour of St. Stephen, perhaps that of Ancona. 1 The history of this miraculous discovery and translation, written by Lucian himself, and translated into Latin by Avitus, a Spanish priest, (native of Braga, then living at Jerusalem, an intimate friend of St. Jerom,) is published by the Benedictin monks in the appendix to the seventh tome of the works of St. Austin. This account is also attested by Chrysippus, an eminent and holy priest of the church of Jerusalem; (whose virtue is highly commended by the judicious author of the life of St. Euthymius;) by Idatius and Marcellinus in their chronicles; by Basil bishop of Seleucia, St. Austin, 2 Bede, &c. It is mentioned by most of the historians, and in the sermons of the principal fathers of that age. St. Stephen’s body remained in the church of Sion till the empress Eudocia, wife of Theodosius the Younger, going a second time to Jerusalem in 444, built a stately church to God in his honour, about a furlong from the city, near the spot where he was stoned to death, into which she procured his body to be translated, and in which she was buried herself after her death, in 461. St. Austin 3 speaking of the miracles of St. Stephen, addresses himself to his flock as follows: “Let us so desire to obtain temporal blessings by his intercession, that we may merit in imitating him those which are eternal.”

Our corporal necessities were not the motive which drew our omnipotent Physician down from heaven, but the spiritual miseries of our souls. In his mortal life he restored many sick to their health, and delivered demoniacs, to give men a sensible proof of his divine power, and for an emblem that he came to relieve the spiritual miseries of our souls, and to put an end to the empire of the devil over them. In like manner, when through his servants he has bestowed corporal blessings on men, he excites our confidence in his mercy to ask through their intercession his invisible graces. We ought to pray for our daily bread, or all necessary supplies of our bodily necessities; but should make these petitions subordinate to the great end of our sanctification, and his divine honour, offering them under this condition, as we know not in temporal blessings what is most expedient for us. God offers us his grace, his love, himself: him we must make the great and ultimate end of all our requests to him. If some rich prince should engage himself to grant us whatever we should ask, it would be putting an affront upon him, if we confined our petition to pins or such trifles, as St. Teresa remarks.

 

 

David Flusser also links: https://www.jerusalemperspective.com/11476/

Gamaliel and Nicodemus

 

The Pharisee Gamaliel is mentioned twice in the New Testament (Acts 5:34; 22:3). In Acts 5:34 he appears as an advocate of the nascent congregation of Jesus’ disciples in Jerusalem and is called “a Pharisee, a teacher of the Law, held in honor by all the people.” Then, in Acts 22:3, Paul says that he was “brought up in this city [Jerusalem] at the feet of Gamaliel.” Indeed, Gamaliel was an important spiritual leader of the Pharisees and a Jewish scholar. He also is well known from Jewish sources.

 

The Pharisees were one of the three main Jewish parties in the first century: the Pharisees (the Jewish sages); the Sadducees (a small but mighty party of high priests, rationalists who “say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit,” Acts 23:8); and the Essenes (a sect whose writings are the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered beginning in 1947).

If we want to understand Gamaliel’s defense of the Apostles, we have to know the political implications of Jesus’ trial. The Apostles were arrested by the “high priest and all who were with him, that is, the party of the Sadducees” (Acts 5:17-18). The Temple guard brought the Apostles before the Sanhedrin “without violence, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people” (Acts 5:26). Evidently the Sadducees knew that the sympathy of the Jewish people in Jerusalem was on the side of Jesus’ movement of disciples. When finally the Apostles were brought before the council, the high priest questioned them, saying: “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us” (Acts 5:27-28).

 

The Apostles, preaching the gospel in Jerusalem, could not avoid mentioning the active role of the Sadducean high priest in the trial of Jesus, which led to Jesus’ crucifixion. Indeed, when we read the Gospels, we see that the high priests were the main instigators of Jesus’ death. One of the aims of Jesus’ last visit to Jerusalem was to sound a note of warning about the future destruction of the Temple: Jesus did not accuse the Romans, but the Sadducees, whose source of power was their rule over the Temple. The Sadducean high priests were not loved by the people. They were a small, aristocratic and wealthy party of high priests. Therefore, they were very nervous about Jesus’ prophecy of doom, since the people, who did not love them, were in this point on Jesus’ side: “all the people hung upon his words” (Luke 19:48). ….

 

 

It is unlikely, I think, that there were actually two contemporary Sanhedrin teachers of Israel of such similar descriptions, and so I would look to fuse Gamaliel and Nicodemus into one.

Gamaliel’s ‘Theudas’ as John the Baptist

Published April 18, 2018 by amaic
Display cccfba30 57ec 42ac b124 8d121f70838b


by

Damien F. Mackey

 

‘For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and nothing came of it’.

Acts 5:36

 

How to fit in this “Theudas”?

Rabbi Gamaliel refers in quick succession, in Acts 5:36 and 5:37, to two people in the past who had risen up in Israel and had attracted a significant following, but each of whom were killed, and their followers dispersed.

The second mentioned of these two was “Judas the Galilean” – whom I have identified with the great Judas Maccabee, thus giving me cause to refer to what I considered to be “Gamaliel’s feeble account of Judas”.

The first mentioned by Gamaliel was one “Theudas”, who had emerged supposedly earlier than “Judas the Galilean”. The Greek of Acts 5:37 leads in with μετὰ τοῦτον, which is reasonably translated as “after him”, “after this man” (namely, after Theudas).

This would place Theudas historically before the “census” at the time of Judas.

The problem is that the only known Theudas who had caused a stir in Israel was located by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus to a time significantly later than that of Judas the Galilean. Tim Claason describes what he calls:

https://timsteppingout.wordpress.com/2017/02/20/theudas-and-his-problem/

Theudas And His Problem

According to the 1st century Jewish-Roman historian Josephus, Theudas was a messianic claimant who instructed his “deluded” followers to take all their possessions and follow him to the Jordan River, where he would divide the River, presumably to provide passage across it; one might speculate that there was a ritual attached to this process, particularly considering Josephus’ characterization of Theudas, namely that he was a magician and charlatan (Antiquities 20).

Theudas’ following must have been large enough, or his message poignant enough, to attract the attention of the governor at the time, Cuspius Fadus, because Fadus ordered a group of soldiers to attack and kill Theudas’ followers. As for Theudas, he was beheaded, and his remains were paraded around Jerusalem, further amplifying his significance – after all, the decapitated head of an insignificant nobody serves no purpose except to stink up the room, but the decapitated head of an important adversary would have more impact, especially in Jerusalem – the Jewish social, economic, and religious epicenter of the day.

….

When Theudas came on the scene, sometime within 2 years of Fadus’ crackdown in 44CE, it was in the aftermath, or at least the context, of this reform. It would have been clear to citizens that violent swindle would not be taken lightly under Fadus; perhaps it was in this context that Theudas’ scam was born. Instead of armed robbery, Theudas made promises to his followers, or employed sum magic trick to make it seem he was dividing the Jordan River (my personal speculation is that it was the dry season, and Theudas had an elaborate scheme to temporarily dam water flow). The prerequisite for Theudas’ followers was probably monetary, as he convinced them to bring their possessions with them.

Consider this detail in light of Matthew 19:21:

Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give

to the poor,and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come,follow Me.”

Josephus is vague about what explicit crime Theudas committed, except to say that he implied Theudas was scamming people. The religious undertones, notably the mention of dividing the river, coupled with his congregation of followers and the mystical associations must have concerned Fadus, given increasing tensions between Rome and the area Jews; a messiah would have been problematic for the Romans, because it would have given people a rallying point. Clearly, Theudas was a threat. ….

….

To Jesus defenders (which is to say, practically everyone), assuming they know anything at all about this Jordanian charlatan (they probably don’t), Theudas is an anomaly – a one-off parallel who means nothing to anyone except those combing through obscure Josephus passages looking for kinks in the impervious Jesus armor. Nothing to see here folks.

Yet, if one is so emboldened to pursue this insignificant, irrelevant anomaly, one finds much curiosity.  For example, Acts of the Apostles 5:36 resurrects Josephus’ anecdote in order to castigate Theudas, who post-dated the supposed narrator Gamaliel in Acts 5 (Acts 5 was supposedly based 7 years prior to Theudas).

Once Acts’ author, via his re-crafted version of Gamaliel, completed the polemic against Theudas, he turned his attention to the subsequent radical, Judas of Galilee, who in reality died nearly 40 years earlier than Theudas, thus creating the infamous Theudas Problem.

Some time ago Theudas appeared…After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt.

The choice consumers have regarding this timeline dilemma is to either admit Acts copied Josephus’ Antiquities (Josephus mentioned Judas after Theudas in Antiquities 20, despite acknowledging Judas preceded Theudas), or to invent another lie, that Acts was referring to a different Theudas … or a different Judas. Considering the author locked himself into Judas being active around the time of the census (which he was), the more economical lie is that there must have been some other Theudas.

Honest traversal of this data compels one to admit the most self-evident conclusion is that Acts indeed copied Josephus, and this was simply a quality assurance failure on the part of Acts’ author(s).

Life would be simpler if, at this point, we could simply stick a fork in Theudas, and call the matter done; however, this Theudas shows up again, in the same timeframe, in Clement of Alexandria’s Stromateis 7.17:

Likewise they allege that Valentinus was a hearer of Theudas. And he was the pupil of Paul. For Marcion, who arose in the same age with them, lived as an old man with the younger [heretics]. And after him Simon heard for a little the preaching of Peter

I puzzled over this passage for some time, because it implied that Paul’s Theudas was nearly contemporary to Josephus’ Theudas. Of course, these two men could be completely different people, but given Acts’ need to specifically call out Theudas as some two-bit impostor, I don’t think so. The fact that Clement built an explicit bridge between Theudas and the heretics is also noteworthy.

My original point of curiosity here is that Clement places Simon Magus after Marcion.  No other tradition creates such a chronology.

There are many possibilities here for why (or whether) Clement believed this chronology, but the most economical solution is that Clement committed a simple error in his reconstruction of chronology.

But how incorrect was Clement?  My speculation is that Clement committed more than one error here.

Specifically, I believe Theudas was not a hearer of Paul; Paul was a hearer of Theudas! ….

 

What to make of all this?

Did the writer of Acts 5 get his history all wrong and upside down?

And who exactly was this enigmatic Theudas?

***************

“The parallel between this story and the New Testament is obvious; Theudas resembles John the Baptist in consequential ways – not just in geography, prophesy, or the notable reference to dividing of the Jordan River (perhaps a reference to Joshua 3:15-17), but also in the celebration accompanying his beheading”.

Tim Claason

Whilst Flavius Josephus has made a mess of the subject of Theudas, in my opinion – (we read earlier: “Josephus is vague about what explicit crime Theudas committed …”) – I do not think that the author of Acts 5 has confused the issue.

But I do believe that Acts 5:37 needs an amended translation.

Instead of Judas the Galilean coming “after him [Theudas]”, the μετὰ in μετὰ τοῦτον can be amended to read the equally permissible (if perhaps less common), “besides”.

Thus, “besides him”, or, “as well as [Theudas]”, there was “Judas the Galilean”.

That way, Theudas does not have to have pre-dated “Judas the Galilean”.

There is nothing to indicate from Acts 5:36 that this Theudas was a revolutionary.

All that we know about Theudas from the taciturn (in the cases of vv. 36 and 37, at least) Gamaliel is that:

a while back;

a Theudas;

who claimed to be somebody;

drew 400 followers;

but was killed.

Now this description, overall, could apply to John the Baptist.

He was of recent memory.

He may have had, like other Jews, a Greek name as well – in this case, Theodotus (= Theudas).

Though John never big-noted himself, he did claim to be a one whom Isaiah had foretold (John 1:23): “John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.'””

Though we learn that (Matthew 3:5): “People went out to [John] from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan”, the Baptist would have had his own smaller band of disciples as well – 400 seems to be a reasonable figure for this.

He “was killed” (by beheading).

Josephus confirms that Theudas was a “prophet”, but also calls him a “magician”.

Tim Claason has made a connection between Theudas and the dubious (for him) Baptist:

https://timsteppingout.wordpress.com/2017/02/20/theudas-and-his-problem/

The parallel between this story and the New Testament is obvious; Theudas resembles John the Baptist in consequential ways – not just in geography, prophesy, or the notable reference to dividing of the Jordan River (perhaps a reference to Joshua 3:15-17), but also in the celebration accompanying his beheading.

Could Theudas be part of the inspiration for a more fictionalized Gospel character? Or does he provide insight into a raw and unsanitized version of pre-Orthodox Christianity? ….

Regarding the name, “Theudas”, we read at: http://christianthinktank.com/qtheudy.html

At the time there was a prevalence for having both a Greek AND a Hebrew name, with the Greek name having the same or very similar meaning as the Hebrew. This pattern shows up in the Jerusalem ossuaries and the ‘Goliath’ family in Jericho [e.g. ‘Theodorus’ (gk) for ‘Nathanel’ (hb)]. With this in mind, ‘Theudas’ could be Greek for a wide range of Hebrew names: Jonathan, Nathanael, Mattathias, Hananias, Jehohanan, etc. In one case, the synagogue ruler in Ophel was listed under his alternate Greek name “Theodotus”. ….

“’Theudas’ could be Greek for a wide range of Hebrew names: … Jehohanan”.

Now Jehohanan (var. Johanan) is Hebrew for John.

 

Pompey the Great: ‘Roman Alexander’?

Published April 7, 2018 by amaic
Image result for pompey the great

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

Conventional ancient Roman history/chronology needs to be subjected to revisionist scrutiny just as we found to have been the case with ancient Egypt and the Near East. This article will be a continuation of efforts towards trying to determine whether the seemingly impregnable fortress of conventional ancient Roman history is firmly based, or if it, too, might be susceptible to breaches when revisionist pressure is applied.

  

 

My three-part series:

 

Jesus Christ was the Model for some legends surrounding Julius Caesar

 

https://www.academia.edu/14752305/Jesus_Christ_was_the_Model_for_some_legends_surrounding_Julius_Caesar

https://www.academia.edu/14805253/Jesus_Christ_was_the_Model_for_some_legends_surrounding_Julius_Caesar._Part_Two_Hellenistic_Influence  

https://www.academia.edu/14886145/Jesus_Christ_was_the_Model_for_some_legends_surrounding_Julius_Caesar._Part_Three_Divine_Augustus

found me arriving at the conclusion that the renowned ‘Julius Caesar’ was largely – if not entirely – a composite figure, based upon, among others, Jesus Christ; Alexander the Great; and Octavius (Augustus).

 

My revision (based on the efforts of many) has already successfully undertaken some necessary folding of Egyptian and Mesopotamian history.

For respective examples of this, see my:

 

Egypt’s Old and Middle Kingdoms Far Closer in Time than Conventionally Thought

https://www.academia.edu/3690058/Egypt_s_Old_and_Middle_Kingdoms_Far_Closer_in_Time_than_Conventionally_Thought

https://www.academia.edu/21893462/Egypt_s_Old_and_Middle_Kingdoms_Far_Closer_in_Time_than_Conventionally_Thought._Part_Two_Some_Striking_Visual_Evidence

 and

 

Bringing New Order to Mesopotamian History and Chronology

https://www.academia.edu/26707668/Bringing_New_Order_to_Mesopotamian_History_and_Chronology

Apart from the inestimable benefit of getting rid of the artificial ‘Dark Ages’ – P. James et al., Centuries of Darkness, being a leader in the field here – such revisionism can serve to make more realistic certain ancient genealogies. For instance, it was found that the conventional Egyptian history, in the case of some detailed genealogies of officials serving a string of named pharaohs, ends up with a whole lot of octogenarian persons, or older, still actively functioning in office. Similarly does the received Roman Imperial chronology create aged but still active characters: e.g. John the Evangelist, in his 90’s (according to a tradition) vigorously chasing a young man on horseback; Yohanan ben Zakkai still going at 120 (highly unlikely), straddling the supposedly two Jewish Revolts.

 

Now, reverting back to the Roman Republican period again, I turn to a brief consideration of Julius Caesar’s famous contemporary and fellow triumvir, Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, or, as we know him better, Pompey ‘the Great’.

 

Is Pompey also a composite?

 

If there is any value in the conclusions that I reached about ‘Julius Caesar’ in my series, “Jesus Christ was the Model for some legends surrounding Julius Caesar”, then that, I believe, must put extreme pressure on the validity of ‘Pompey the Great’ himself, Caesar’s fellow triumvir (along with Crassus). More especially so as Pompey, too, like Julius Caesar, was – as we shall shortly learn – likened to Alexander the Great – Pompey perhaps even more explicitly so than Caesar was.

Fields tells of it in Warlords of Republican Rome. Caesar versus Pompey (2008, p. 67):

 

Meteoric Rise

 

His flatterers, so it was said, likened Pompey to Alexander the Great, and whether because of this or not, the Macedonian king would appear to have been constantly in his mind. His respect for the fairer sex is comparable with Alexander’s, and Plutarch mentions that when the concubines of Mithridates were brought to him he merely restored them to their parents and families. …. Similarly he treated the corpse of Mithridates in a kingly way, as Alexander treated the corpse of Dareios, and ‘provided for the expenses of the funeral and directed that the remains should receive royal interment’. …. Also, like Alexander, he founded many cities and repaired many damaged towns, searched for the ocean that was thought to surround the world, and rewarded his soldiers munificently. Finally, Appian adds that in his third triumph he was said to have worn ‘a cloak of Alexander the Great’. ….

 

It is interesting to learn that the original name of Antiochus IV ‘Epiphanes’, who, like Pompey, would desecrate the Temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem, was likewise “Mithridates” (http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Antiochus_IV_Epiphanes).

 

And (p. 98):

 

In a sense Pompey personified Roman imperialism, where absolute destruction was followed by the construction of stable empire and the rule of law. It also, not coincidentally, raised him to a pinnacle of glory and wealth. The client–rulers who swelled the train of Rome also swelled his own. He received extraordinary honours from the communities of the east, as ‘saviour and benefactor of the People and of all Asia, guardian of land and sea’. …. There was an obvious precedent for all this. As the elder Pliny later wrote, Pompey’s victories ‘equalled in brilliance the exploits of Alexander the Great’. Without a doubt, so Pliny continues, the proudest boast of our ‘Roman Alexander’ would be that ‘he found Asia on the rim of Rome’s possessions, and left it in the centre’. ….

 

Pompey is even supposed to have gone so far as to have tried to emulate Alexander’s distinctive appearance: http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/miscellanea/cleopatra/pompey.html

 

The marble bust of Pompey is in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek (Copenhagen). Its somewhat incongruous appearance, the round face and small lidded eyes beneath the leonine mane of hair, is because Pompey, the most powerful Roman of his day, sought a comparison with Alexander the Great, whose distinctive portraits were characterized by a thoughtful facial expression and, more iconographically, locks of hair brushed back high from the forehead, a stylistic form known as anastole, from the Greek “to put back.”

 

Did Pompey absorb – like I argued may have been the case with Julius Caesar – not only Alexander-like characteristics, but also general Hellenistic ones?

And might that mean that the famous event of Pompey’s desecration (by his presence therein) of the Temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem, supposedly in 63 BC:

http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/12264-pompey-the-great

 

The capture of the Temple mount was accompanied by great slaughter. The priests who were officiating despite the battle were massacred by the Roman soldiers, and many committed suicide; while 12,000 people besides were killed. Pompey himself entered the Temple, but he was so awed by its sanctity that he left the treasure and the costly vessels untouched (“Ant.” xiv. 4, § 4; “B. J.” i. 7, § 6; Cicero, “Pro Flacco,” § 67). The leaders of the war party were executed, and the city and country were laid under tribute. A deadly blow was struck at the Jews when Pompey separated from Judea the coast cities from Raphia to Dora, as well as all the Hellenic cities in the east-Jordan country, and the so-called Decapolis, besides Scythopolis and Samaria, all of which were incorporated in the new province of Syria. ….

 

may be in fact a muddled version of that real historical incident when Antiochus (Mithridates) ‘Epiphanes’ most infamously desecrated the Temple by erecting an image of Zeus in his own likeness on the altar?

 

 

Part Two:

Republic spilling into Empire


 

What a complete mess is conventional ancient history! Kingdoms, dynasties and rulers duplicated, or triplicated. History and culture having a “strange afterglow” centuries later. Impossible “Dark “Ages” procrusteanising time periods by extension. BC characters and events mysteriously projected into AD ‘time’. 

And, in this case, the Roman Republic flopping over into its Empire.

 

Dolly Parton put it well: It’s enough to drive you crazy if you let it” (9 to 5).

 

There is that strange re-duplication, about 60 years later, of the First Jewish Revolt against Rome. But it seems that the history books also ‘know’ of a ‘third’ bloody capture of Jerusalem in Roman history – one which is thought, however, to have preceded the other supposedly two assaults by Rome in the Neronic and Hadrianic (so-called) imperial eras. It is considered to have occurred in Republican times, in 63 BC, when Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Pompey ‘the Great’), one time ally of Julius Caesar, captured Jerusalem and killed 12,000 Jews. This is quite a massive event, to say the least, yet it is often mentioned only in passing. See my article:

 

Pompey the Great: ‘Roman Alexander’?

 

https://www.academia.edu/36342232/Pompey_the_Great_Roman_Alexander

 

Strange that it is nowhere referred to in the Bible.

Hence, I suspect that there also needs to be a folding of some Roman Republican history with early Roman Imperial history. There was, for example:

 

  • a Pompey the Great (Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus) also at the time of Caligula (see A. Barrett, Caligula – the Corruption of Power, p. 237) about a century after (presumably) the Republican Pompey. And there was then also a
  • Marcus Crassus; the same name as the ‘earlier’ Pompey’s fellow consul (see Mackay, p. 135). Moreover, Caligula may have been murdered by a
  • Cassius Longinus (Barrett, p. 162); the same name as the chief conspirator against Julius Caesar.

 

All very strange indeed and desperately needing to be explained. ….