All posts for the month July, 2018

Closing the big gap between Umayyads and late Hellenistic

Published July 31, 2018 by amaic
Image result for tel bet yerah


 “… misled by their stern belief in textbook chronology archaeologists have, time and again, distorted the situation laid bare by excavations to match their pre-conceived dates. Yet, the time to allow stratigraphy its say may be closer than ever”.

 Gunnar Heinsohn



In what follows, professor Heinsohn gives great import to the Nabataeans, whose cultural influence, however, appears to have bene negligible.

Thus Wikipedia:


Many examples of graffiti and inscriptions—largely of names and greetings—document the area of Nabataean culture, which extended as far north as the north end of the Dead Sea, and testify to widespread literacy; but except for a few letters[10] no Nabataean literature has survived, nor was any noted in antiquity.[11][12][13] Onomastic analysis has suggested[14] that Nabataean culture may have had multiple influences. Classical references to the Nabataeans begin with Diodorus Siculus ….


More promising, I think, would be to substitute Nabataeans with the Hellenistic Greeks of Syria, which thus enables the identification of the enigmatic Umayyads with their neo-Hellenistic architecture, out of fashion for 700 years, in and near Jerusalem in the 8th century.





The revisionist thesis (Gibson 2011) that Muhammad’s Quranic geography is better suited to the Nabataean area around Petra than the area of Mecca and Medina, enables the identification of the enigmatic Umayyads with their neo-Hellenistic architecture, out of fashion for 700 years, in and near Jerusalem in the 8th century.


By employing (with Tiberias as an example) the stratigraphy-based approach to the 1st millennium CE, early Christianity, early Islam as well as Rabbinical Tanakh-Judaism all develop side by side in the 1st/2nd c. CE, i.e. 8th/9th c. CE stratigraphically. They emerge in the competition for finding the most appropriate way to lead a righteous Jewish life. JEWISH EVIDENCE

of 1st millennium CE TIBERIAS confirms the contemporaneity of its major periods in the time-span of the 8th-10th c. CE: Between 1 and the 930s CE there are only some 230 years with stratigraphy! [from Heinsohn 2018]



II Are Nabataean and Umayyad art styles really 700 years apart?


So, who was capable to place 15 m deep cement foundations under Jerusalem’s Umayyad palaces in front of the Temple Hill? Whose Arabic realm was located close enough to the Holy City to [build] … there in such a massive way? Who were the Arabs well known for alliances with [?]


Eventually, the Israeli scholars decided to invoke a geological miracle to obey Christian chronology and, at the same time, make sense of the stratigraphy of Tiberias. That mover of a higher order was identified as a mega-earthquake of 749 CE [AD] afflicting all the lands from Damascus to Egypt. With surgical precision that [disaster] … had pushed the 1st c. BCE … Roman material upwards until it stopped precisely at the Umayyad level of the 7th/8th c. ff. CE. The Arab material, however, was kept in its position in such a wondrous manner that the Roman material was neither allowed to stop inappropriately below nor to move inappropriately above the Arab material believed to have arrived some 700 years later.


Yet, all the stratigraphic evidence does really show (for the period preceding the catastrophe that drowned the 2nd/3rd. c. CE Roman theatre of Tiberias) is the contemporaneity of 7th/8th ff. c. CE Arabs and 1st c. BCE to 2nd c. CE Romans. Thus, Early Medieval Umayyads followed as directly after Late Hellenisms (=Late Roman Republic = Late Latène of the 1st c. BCE) as Roman Imperial Antiquity (1st-3rd c. CE). However, misled by their stern belief in textbook chronology archaeologists have, time and again, distorted the situation laid bare by excavations to match their pre-conceived dates. Yet, the time to allow stratigraphy its say may be closer than ever.


A recent example for such fresh openness is provided by Bet Yerah on the southern tip of Lake Kinnereth. For decades, a large fortified enclosure on this site … was misidentified as a synagogue from Byzantine Late Antiquity (4th-6th c.). Yet fresh excavations completed in 2013 point to the Umayyad qasr (castrum) of al-Sinnabra from the Early Middle Ages (8th-10th c.). That fortress cuts through the site’s Hellenistic walls whose period is dated some 700 years earlier. Even the name of the place, Al-Sinnabra or Sinn en-Nabra (Umayyad Arabic), is still the same as in Hellenistic times (700 years earlier) when it was known as Sennabris (Greek):


“Post-Hellenistic presence on Tel Bet Yeraḥ was quite limited in extent and did not produce massive deposits. Early excavators reported Roman remains, but virtually nothing of this period can be identified in the remaining collections. Byzantine occupation appears to be limited to the church excavated and published by Delougaz and Haines” (Greenberg/Tal/Da’adli 2017, 1).


700-year period have long been seen by art historians (e.g., Avi-Jonah 1942). Indeed, there are “close relations between the art of Ahnas and the Nabataean sculptural school reflected at Khirbat et Tannur. Despite the time gap between the sites, this affinity cannot be fortuitous” (Talgam 2004,100). ….


C10th AD and C7th AD oddities

Published July 31, 2018 by amaic
Image result for magyars


 Damien F. Mackey



“Very strange it is that the author of the Chronicon Pictum manages to find the Byzantine emperor at the time of the Magyar reconquest to be an emperor living in the 600’s!”

 Gyula Tóth



That ‘something is rotten in the state of’ aspects of the text book AD history is apparent, I think, from what I wrote in my article:


Judith the Simeonite and Judith the Semienite


according to which the famed Jewish heroine, Judith, of c. 700 BC (conventional dating), has been strangely projected into a (artificial, I believe) c. 900 AD scenario, as Judith (or Gudit), complete with some Judith-like named ancestors.

The kingdom of Axum, I have concluded, appears to have been substituted for the ancient kingdom of Assyria (both in the case of Gudit and that of Mohammed).


Now Gyula Tóth, writing with reference to German historical conspiracy theorist, Heribert Illig and his Phantom Time Hypothesis, tells of apparent duplications of AD’s C10th and C7th”:


The Trap of False History


The Dark Pages of the Middle Ages



Illig also reports on the conspicuous similarities between the Byzantine state of affairs of the 7th and the 10th centuries.


“Around the year 600 AD the advancing Avars weaken the imperial realm militarily on the Balkan peninsula”, he writes.


Let us not forget: with the correction of the 300 years the time of the advancement of the Avars coincides with the advancement of the Magyars. Since Byzantium will need to involve itself in another conflict with yet another strong northern enemy, this time in the beginning of the 900’s and the Magyars, there is a strong suspicion that the entire Avar era is nothing but a chronologically predated duplicate of the Magyar reconquest. Illig refers to Manfred Zeller, who in his work about the steppe peoples points out: “the number of these horse peoples doubles in the 1st millennium, filling up the empty centuries!” Hence the Avars are simply just a duplicate. They are nothing other than a nation created from one of the adjectives used to describe the Hun-Magyars and its only purpose was to fill out the empty centuries. The rich archaeological finds admired under the Avar name might as well be the legacy of the Huns of Attila.


But let us return to Byzantium: in 602 a frightening and talentless figure sits on the Byzantine throne in the person of Phokas, who can only come to power by regicide. Husrau II, the Persian king takes advantage of the favouring moment and attacks Byzantium, allegedly to avenge the death of the emperor. Although in 610 Heracleitos topples the terror reign of Phokas, the relentless advance of the Persians continues: they conquer East Anatolia, Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and via the shores of North Africa march all the way to Tripoli. The taking of Jerusalem and the capture of the Holy Cross takes place on May 22, 614 AD, after three weeks of siege. It is interesting to note, that Heracleitos has a co-ruler, his own son, who is crowned already at two years of age, but who lives in the shadow of his father for a long time without any real executive powers. When he finally and belatedly comes to genuine power, suddenly his wasting existence ends. The person in question is none other than Constantine III. On top of it all, this is the very same Constantine III also mentioned in the Chronicon Pictum in connection with the dating of the Magyar reconquest:


“… hundred and four years after the death of the Hungarian king Attila, in the time of emperor Constantinus III and pope Zachary – as it is written in the chronicles of the Romans – the Magyars emerged a second time out of Scythia…”


Very strange it is that the author of the Chronicon Pictum manages to find the Byzantine emperor at the time of the Magyar reconquest to be an emperor living in the 600’s!

As we know, according to the theory of Illig the fictitious centuries start the year 614, that is, not long after the capturing of the Holy Cross. Constantine III is already crowned co-ruler, yet he is only three years old. The time when he comes to genuine power, actually already takes place in the phantom era. If Illig’s theory is correct, then Constantine III has to appear in some form also in the 10th century. And lo and behold, the miracle of miracles, in the 10th century we again meet a Constantine – true, this time not III but VII! Indeed, it is the very Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus who in all likelihood was one of the creators of the fictitious centuries. After all this, Illig starts to examine the 10th century life history of Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus. The story begins somewhere at the start of the 10th century, when pope Leo is widowed three times within four years, before Zoe gives birth to an illegitimate son. After crowning this boy co-ruler the year before, Leo dies in 912. (It is worthwhile to point out that according to the theory of Illig history starts again in 911, therefore, at the time of the crowning of his illegitimate son in 912, we are again witnessing genuine history take its course!) This boy rises to real power very late, 24 years after his coronation, meaning that up until then others were managing the affairs of the realm, which obviously must have stung in the eyes of the young emperor. In this regard he resembled very much Constantine III, who also got his hands on the governmental reins rather late, and who also was crowned co-ruler by his daddy, the emperor. At this point who do you think was the illegitimate son of emperor Leo of the 10th century? Indeed, none other than Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus himself! So there is a conspicuous similarity between the lives of the Constantine (III) of the 7th century and the Constantine (VII) of the 10th century. It is interesting to note, that Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus gives the credit for repossessing the Holy Cross from the Persians not coincidentally to Heracleitos, since by this act he honoured his own (7th century) father, paying homage to his memory. Due to the fact that Heracleitos, by being the father of Constantine III of the 7th century, was in fact also the father of Constantine VII of the 10th century! On top of it all, Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus manages things in such a way, that the genuine history more or less starts again from the time of his own coronation!


But not only do the persons of the two Constantines show conspicuous similarities, but also the foreign political affairs of 7th century and 10th century Byzantium. In the 7th century, as I have already mentioned, the Avar advance from the north was afflicting the empire, while the Persian conquests in the east were multiplying the worries of “Constantines” of all ages. In the 10th century it is as if history would repeat itself: from the north the Magyars are disturbing the peace of the empire, while from the southeast the Arab advance is doing the same. This is the point at which a feeling of apprehension starts to boil up inside: is it not possible, that looking at the Avars of the 7th century we actually see the 10th century Magyars? And is it not possible, that the advance of the 10th century Arabs in actual fact is identical with the 7th century Persian advance? If the Byzantine empire in the 7th century had to face the opposition of the Persians and Avars, then these peoples turn into Magyars and Arabs in the 10th century! In connection with the Arab-Persian problem Illig writes the following:


“A certain mystery of art history becomes clear, which asks why there are to be found many more Persian-Syrian than Arab elements in Spain. (…) We no longer have to wonder how a small number of Arabs from oases could succeed in attacking all nations of their time from Spain to the Indus river with such favourable results; this is more to be expected from the Persian armies.”


Holofernes and Judith, Attila and Ildico

Published July 30, 2018 by amaic
Image result for ildico and attila


 “The tradition that Attila died in a wedding-night may be true.

But Attila is so much like Holofernes and Ildico so much like Judith…

that we suspect the tradition, even in its most sober version”.

 Otto Maenchen-Helfen




Taken from:


[Attila’s] spectacular demise, on one of his many wedding nights, is memorably described by Gibbon:


Before the king of the Huns evacuated Italy, he threatened to return more dreadful, and more implacable, if his bride, the princess Honoria, were not delivered to his ambassadors…. Yet, in the mean while Attila relieved his tender anxiety, by adding a beautiful maid, whose name was Ildico, to the list of his innumerable wives. Their marriage was celebrated with barbaric pomp and festivity, at his wooden palace beyond the Danube; and the monarch, oppressed with wine and sleep, retired, at a late hour, from the banquet to the nuptial bed.


His attendants continued to respect his pleasures, or his repose, the greatest part of the ensuing day, till the unusual silence alarmed their fears and suspicions; and, after attempting to awaken Attila by loud and repeated cries, they at length broke into the royal apartment. They found the trembling bride sitting by the bedside, hiding her face with her veil…. The king…had expired during the night. An artery had suddenly burst; and as Attila lay in a supine posture, he was suffocated by a torrent of blood, which instead of finding a passage through his nostrils, regurgitated into the lungs and stomach. ….

The real story goes as follows (Judith 13:1-10):


“When evening came, his slaves quickly withdrew. Bagoas closed the tent from outside and shut out the attendants from his master’s presence. They went to bed, for they all were weary because the banquet had lasted so long. But Judith was left alone in the tent, with Holofernes stretched out on his bed, for he was dead drunk.

Now Judith had told her maid to stand outside the bedchamber and to wait for her to come out, as she did on the other days; for she said she would be going out for her prayers. She had said the same thing to Bagoas. So everyone went out, and no one, either small or great, was left in the bedchamber. Then Judith, standing beside his bed, said in her heart, “O Lord God of all might, look in this hour on the work of my hands for the exaltation of Jerusalem. Now indeed is the time to help your heritage and to carry out my design to destroy the enemies who have risen up against us.”

She went up to the bedpost near Holofernes’ head, and took down his sword that hung there. She came close to his bed, took hold of the hair of his head, and said, “Give me strength today, O Lord God of Israel!” Then she struck his neck twice with all her might, and cut off his head. Next she rolled his body off the bed and pulled down the canopy from the posts. Soon afterward she went out and gave Holofernes’ head to her maid, who placed it in her food bag”.


Holofernes and Judith, Attila and Odabella

Published July 30, 2018 by amaic


“Odabella implores him to kill her, but not to curse her. She reminds his fiancé the story of the Hebrew Judith, who saved Israel from the Babylonians [sic] by beheading their leader Holofernes. Odabella has sworn to revenge …”.

 “Attila” by Giuseppe Verdi



Taken from:



Scene 1


Square in Aquileia – a Roman town, ruined and burnt down by the Huns. Attila’s warriors are celebrating their victory. In a chariot, pulled by slaves, arrives their leader and sits on a throne made of shields and spears. Attila is struck by the beauty and courage of the captivated Roman Odabella, who was not afraid to talk in front of him about the incredible women in Italy, always ready to fight against the enemies, and then she insisted to have her sword back. The impressed Attila gives Odabella his own sword as present, and she sees in this gesture a sign of destiny: soon will come her time.

The young woman wants to take revenge for the death of her father, the Lord of Aquileia, and for her fiancé Foresto, also deceased in the battle with the Huns. From Rome arrive messengers, led by the Roman General Ezio – an old enemy of Attila, who, however, the King of the Huns respects deeply as his worthy adversary. The Roman proposes a peace agreement: let Attila rule the whole world, but let him leave Italy to Ezio. The King of the Huns rejects the proposal and threatens that soon he would conquer the arrogant Rome and punish the Emperor.

Scene 2

Desert island on the Alto river. After a stormy night the clouds get cleared, the fog lifts and the rising sun illuminates the horizon. Several hermits are glorifying the power of God, which has put down the night sea storm. Refugees from Aquileia arrive, led by Foresto – Odabella’s fiancé. He didn’t perish by the siege and is at the head of the Romans, who have saved themselves from Attila, ready to fight for the revival of his fatherland and take revenge on the Huns.

Act I

Scene 1

Attila’s camp near Rome. Moon night. The crying Odabella sees in a cloud passing by the images of her dear perished ones – her father and her fiancé. All of a sudden in front of her springs Foresto. The young girl falls into her arms with joy, but he rejects her. The young officer thinks that his beloved was unfaithful to him, if she has voluntarily come in the camp of the enemies. Odabella implores him to kill her, but not to curse her. She reminds his fiancé the story of the Hebrew Judith, who saved Israel from the Babylonians by beheading their leader Holofernes. Odabella has sworn to revenge, and the oppressor has given her by his own his sword in the hands. Foresto begs her beloved pardon and both of them, embraced, vow to die for their fatherland.

Scene 2

Attila‘s tent. The King of the Huns is sleeping, wrapped in a tiger fur, but all of a sudden he jumps out of his bed. In front of him arises a gigantic figure of a white-haired Roman, who stops him in front of the gates of Rome and warns him: for barbarians and pagans there‘s no place in the Eternal city, because this blessed land belongs to God. Attila calls the priests, the leaders and his army – he is ready to defeat the ghost, and the whole world! The battle trumpets answer quite different sounds. Undino lists the tent‘s canopy and Attila sees how from the near-by hills descend Roman children, young women and old men, dressed in white and with palm branches in their hands. Led by the old man Leone, whom Attila saw in his dream, the Roman women and children have risen to defend their city. And from Leone‘s mouth Attila hears once again the fatal warning. Scared to death, the King of the Huns loses consciousness. The Huns are struck – what is this force, which made the powerful Attila for the first time to beg for mercy?

Act II

Scene 1

Ezio‘s camp near Rome. The general reminds himself the glory of his city, which now is humiliated, governed by weak and incompetent Emperor – the young Valentinian. A group of Attila‘s slaves arrive with an invitation for a big feast. Among them is also Foresto, who warns Ezio, that tonight the King of the Huns will be killed, and when the Romans see the signal sign – fires lit on the hills, everyone must rise as one to win their freedom. Ezio is rejoicing. Even if he falls dead in this battle, the whole Italy will lament for him – the last great Roman general.

Scene 2

Attila‘s camp in the wood. Everything is ready for the rich feast. The Huns glorify his great General. Attila appears, accompanied by priests and warriors and takes the place of honour. Next to him is Odabella. Under the sounds of trumpets arrive the Romans with Ezio at the head, and Attila greets his noble enemy. Before the beginning of the feast, the druids warn the King to beware of his Roman guests. The priests of the Gauls have seen bad omens in the sky, but Attila doesn‘t pay attention to the prophesies and orders the priestesses to dance and sing. In the height of the celebrations, Foresto discovers Odabella and asks her weather she has succeeded to pour poison into Attila‘s cup. All of a sudden a strong wind sweeps away the fires. Everyone is terrified, but not Attila – the element of nature has only angered him and he orders to light the torches again and the feast to continue. Heated and thirsty, Attila decides to drink to the health of the Highest God of the Huns – Wodan, but in the last moment Odabella stops him and reveals, that there is poison in the cup. Foresto boldly takes upon himself the blame for the attempt and takes out his sword. Of course, he immediately gets arrested, but Odabella begs Attila to deliver the evil-doer to her. She personally would have it out with him! Attila agrees. Moved by Odabella‘s action, he declares in front of everyone, that tomorrow she would become his legal wife. And Rome has to prepare for battle – “the scourge of God” has awaken again. In the turmoil Odabella helps Foresto to escape. The young man swears to take revenge on Attila and on his unfaithful fiancée.


Morning in the wood, which separates the camps of Attila and Ezio. Here Foresto is waiting for Undino, who is also ready to take revenge on the King of the Huns. The young slave will give a signal to Ezio and the Romans will attack, when Attila retires in his tent with his young wife. Foresto suffers for his lost love and curses Odabella, who looks like an angel, but in her heart harbours evil. From Attila‘s camp is heard a festive song – Odabella is being led towards the King‘s tent. She is trying to run away, persecuted by the ghost of her father and all of a sudden she appears in front of Foresto in her magnificent wedding dress and with a crown on her head. The girl begs her beloved to forgive her, but he refuses to believe her. Then Ezio appeals them to forget about jealousy and pain – the time has come to fight. Attila appears. He is amazed to see his beloved among the enemies, with who he was so generous. Her – the slave, he has made his wife; to Foresto – the traitor, he has granted the life; and Ezio – the treacherous Roman, he has saved because of Rome! And all of them are in the plot against him! But Odabella sees next to the nupital bed the stained with blood ghost of her father; Foresto doesn‘t want his life without his fatherland and without his beloved woman; and even Ezio‘s city to be saved, Rome is being despised by the whole world, because it has deserved Attila‘s blood massacre.

Hearing the victorious cries of the nearing Roman soldiers, Odabella throws the crown away, she steps in front of Attila and sticks her sword right into his breast. Everybody is rejoicing – at last the Huns are defeated. The Eternal city is saved, and the conquered by Attila tribes and nations are revenged. ….


Those well familiar with the Book of Judith can easily join all the requisite dots here.

Joanna and Junia

Published July 30, 2018 by amaic
Image result for joanna of luke's gospel'


 Damien F. Mackey


 “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me.

They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was”.

Romans 16:7



Some have suggested that the otherwise unknown “Junia” referred to in this verse could only have been a female, and may have been the “Joanna” of Luke’s Gospel.

For example, Marg has written:


Junia: The Jewish Woman who was Imprisoned with Paul


A Female Missionary


Junia, mentioned by the apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans, is a woman whose identity and whose ministry has been much discussed in the past few decades. It was first debated whether she was a woman or a man. But the overwhelming evidence from inscriptions and other ancient sources indicates that “Junia” was a common name for a woman, whereas the masculine equivalent, “Junias”, is non-existent. Practically all early Christian writers took Junia to be a woman, and the consensus among present scholars is the same: Junia was a woman. So this debate has been resolved.


The debate then shifted as to whether Junia was an apostle or not. The word “apostle” is translated from the Greek word apostolos and refers to a person sent on a mission.


The debate about whether Junia was “outstanding among the apostles” or, as some argue, that she was “well-known to the apostles” and not an apostle herself, has not been resolved…. But either way, Junia was a prominent figure in the apostolic church. …. Junia and her partner Andronicus were not part of the Twelve, but they were, most likely, well-known and respected Christian missionaries.


Mackey’s comment: According to an interesting hypothesis, Andronicus could have been the apostle Andrew, under the Greek form of his name. Thus we read at:


The Jewish palace insider and benefactor Junia (Romans 16:6)


Biblical scholars have puzzled over the years about Paul’s reference in Romans 16:6: “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.” Who were these folks? Paul was clear that they were related to him, that they had shared prison time with him, they were prominent apostles, and they had become believers before he had. Who could fill that bill?


That points to someone who was Jewish, had known Jesus in his earthly ministry (the requirement for the title apostle), and had signed on as a Jesus-follower before Paul himself. Now they were in Rome.


In his book Gospel Women, noted biblical scholar Richard Bauckham untangles the knots in this mystery for us, starting with one of the women healed by Jesus, mentioned in Luke 8:3. She was Joanna, the wife of Chuza, the business manager for king Herod Antipas. It turns out that the name Joanna is the Hebrew equivalent of the Roman name Junia. Could Joanna in the gospels be the same person as the apostle Junia? Look at some of the possible clues leading to that conclusion.


The name Chuza is not a Jewish name, and he is thought to have been Nabatean (King Herod Antipas had other connections to the Nabatean royal family). But as the king’s finance minister living in the new Roman-style palace in the royal city of Tiberias, he needed a Jewish wife connected to a wealthy Jewish family. Enter young Joanna (probably just entering puberty when she was married to the much older, mature man, Chuza). While king Herod Antipas had some Jewish blood, his kingship depended on Rome, so palace life in Tiberias followed Roman practices. Joanna would likely have been given a Roman name (Junia) and would have been formed in Roman ways of acting and thinking.


We first meet Joanna in the Bible, however, not as part of the royal household, but as a woman in need of healing. Luke tells us that after Jesus healed her, she became part of his traveling band of women caring for the physical needs of the Savior. In short, she became one of his benefactors, providing funds for the support of his group.


What the Bible does not tell us is whether or not Chuza had died and Joanna was widowed, but scholars surmise this likely was the case (given the probable disparity in their ages). Nor does the Bible tell us that in traveling with Jesus’ band, she might eventually have remarried, becoming the wife of Andrew, one of Jesus’s disciples. If, however, this was the case, it would answer to all of the clues given in Paul’s greeting to this couple in Romans 16:6. We know that Peter first carried the Gospel to Rome, and to bring along his brother and fellow disciple, Andrew, is logical. So as Paul’s letter to the Romans was read to the assembled Christians, he addressed this apostolic pair by their Roman names – Andronicus and Junia.


Paul doesn’t tell us that back in Palestine they had been Andrew and Joanna, but all of his clues fit that possibility.


Mackey’s comment: Back to Marg, she, too, will arrive at the conclusion that Junia was Joanna


A Jewess and Jesus’ Follower


What hasn’t been discussed as much is Paul’s description of Andronicus and Junia as suggeneis.[3] This Greek word can mean “relative/relation” or “compatriot” and it is translated with either meaning in various English translations of Roman 16:7. But which meaning is correct?


The couple were among the first people to become Jesus followers, and all the first Christians were Jewish. So it is safe to assume that Andronicus and Junia were Jews, as Paul was. If they were family relations of Paul (and we don’t know if they were) this would also make them Jewish. All in all, “fellow Jews”, or “compatriots”, is the safest rendering of suggeneis in Romans 16:7.


Paul states that Andronicus and Junia were “in Christ” before him, and Paul was converted sometime during the years 33-36 AD. I wonder if the couple had travelled to Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost that is the setting of Acts 2. Did they hear Peter preach at that time? Did they accept Jesus as Messiah, and then return to Rome?[4] Or did Junia become a follower of Jesus even earlier?


Are Junia and Joanna the same person?


Some scholars, notably Richard Bauckham and Ben Witherington III, argue that Junia may be one and the same as Joanna, a female disciple of Jesus who is mentioned in Luke 8:3 and Luke 24:10.[5] Luke tells us that Joanna was the wife of Chuza, the steward of Herod Antipas.


As part of Herod’s court, Joanna would have known Latin and been familiar with Roman customs, making her a suitable missionary, or founding apostle, of the church at Rome. And she may have changed her Hebrew/Aramaic name to the Latin “Junia” to suit her new surroundings in Rome.


Another part of this Joanna/Junia scenario is the understanding that her husband Chuza died at some point, and that Andronicus became her new husband and ministry partner.



Biblical Nehemiah and Nehemiah ben Hushiel

Published July 20, 2018 by amaic
Image result for nehemiah building jerusalem


Part One:

A very “poor” history indeed




 Damien F. Mackey




“The historical records from this period are poor. Nehemiah ben Hushiel is thought

to be an historical figure and leader of the Jewish revolt against Heraclius”.





The “historical records … are poor” because there never was any historical C7th AD Jewish leader Nehemiah ben Hushiel. The whole reconstruction is a weird projection into supposed AD time of a real history that had occurred way back in BC time, during the Persian empire.

I have shown this abundantly in my series:


Two Supposed Nehemiahs: BC time and AD time


Two Supposed Nehemiahs: BC time and AD time. Part Two: The Nahum Factor


Two Supposed Nehemiahs: BC time and AD time. Part Three (i): A Late, Fake Persian Empire


and (continued):


It therefore follows that this fake (supposedly second) “Nehemiah” could not have been the leader of the Jewish revolt against Heraclius”.

Not only, though, because the AD Nehemiah did not exist, but also because of some very serious historical anachronisms associated with “Heraclius”.

See e.g. my multi-part series, beginning with (Part One):


Heraclius and the Battle of Nineveh


See also the related and extensive:


Ghosts of Assyria’s Past Haunting ‘Middle Ages’


All of this terrible, pseudo-historical mish-mash has resulted in a duplication of:


  • officials Nehemiah; of
  • Sanballats; possibly of
  • priests Jaddua; of
  • Sheshbazzar (the AD version of him being Shahrbarāz); of
  • Persian-Sassanian Cyrus-Chosroes; of
  • Persian into Parthian (Sassanian) empires.


Part Two:

Mixing Persian and Maccabean eras


“Nehemiah ben Hushiel and his “council of the righteous” were killed along with many other Jews, some throwing themselves off the city walls. The surviving Jews fled to Shahrbaraz’s encampment at Caesarea”.


This episode concerning Nehemiah ben Hushiel and his “council”, albeit un-historical, seems to me to conflate the Persian era – biblically the time of Cyrus and Sheshbazzar (cf. Ezra 1:8), who here becomes (as already noted in (Part One) Shahrbaraz” – with the Maccabean era and the demise of the elder, Razis, who did indeed jump off a wall (2 Maccabees 14:43-46):


[Razis] … rushed to the wall and jumped off like a brave hero into the crowd below. The crowd quickly moved back, and he fell in the space they left. Still alive, and burning with courage, he got up, and with blood gushing from his wounds, he ran through the crowd and finally climbed a steep rock. Now completely drained of blood, he tore out his intestines with both hands and threw them at the crowd, and as he did so, he prayed for the Lord of life and breath to give them back to him. That was how he died.


Now, what makes the description of Nehemiah’s council of the righteous … [throwing] themselves off the city walls” is the fact that I have identified Razis above, from 2 Maccabees, with Ezra himself:


Death of Ezra the Scribe


whom, in turn, I have identified (albeit tentatively) with Nehemiah:


Ezra the Scribe Identified as Nehemiah the Governor


Although the Persian empire period would not actually be perfectly contemporaneous with the Maccabean and Hellenistic period, as the above mish-mash might suggest, the two periods are far closer in time (by centuries) than the conventional history would have it.

And the biblical Nehemiah may perhaps be the link:


Nehemiah bridges Persia and Greece


And even more so now would this apply if Nehemiah were also to be identified with the Maccabean Razis, a connection I would not want to force at this early stage.


However, if this connection does apply, then the conventional Persian-Greek history will need to be shrunk even more radically still.

Part Three:

“No contemporary accounts” of Nehemiah ben Hushiel


“… Nehemiah ben Hushiel was appointed governor of Jerusalem. There are reports that he was a strong young man, handsome and adorned in royal robes, but actually we know very little about his reign because no contemporary accounts have survived”.

Meir Loewenberg





There are “no contemporary accounts” of Nehemiah ben Hushiel because he was not a real AD personage, but was a phantom based upon the biblical Nehemiah of BC time.


That is why the character is variously described as “enigmatic”, as ‘poorly attested historically’, or “thought to be a historical figure”.


According to what we read of “Nehemiah ben Hushiel” at The Free Social Encyclopedia:


Nehemiah ben Hushiel is an enigmatic figure. He is thought to be a historical figure and leader of the Jewish revolt against Heraclius. Nehemiah ben Hushiel is best known as a figure who appears in many medieval Jewish apocalyptic writings. In these writings he is cast as the Messiah ben Joseph who is an Ephraimite.




In 590-591 CE according to Karaite sources the Exilarch Haninai was put to death by Khosrau II for supporting Bahram VI


Mackey’s comment: I have already discussed in various articles the historical anomalies associated with Heraclius (e.g. Nineveh).

The name “Haninai” here is suspiciously like the “Hanani” and “Hananiah” connected with the biblical Nehemiah (7:2): “I put in charge of Jerusalem my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah the commander of the citadel, because he was a man of integrity and feared God more than most people do”.


The next Exilarch Haninais’ son Bostanai would not reign until around 640 CE. Bostanai would be the first Exilarch under Arab rule. This would leave a fifty-year gap where no Exilarch would have reigned.


It is thought that after Haninai was put to death, Khosrau II suspended all forms of Jewish self-governance and created many difficulties for rabbinical academies. By 609 CE, both of the major academies Sura and Pumbedita are known to have been holding classes and led by a Geonim.




The historical records from this period are poor. Nehemiah ben Hushiel is thought to be an historical figure and leader of the Jewish revolt against Heraclius.

Jacob Neusner guesses that Jews of the west supported Khosrau II against the Byzantines either not knowing or not caring about his persecution of the Exilarchs and suppression of Jews in the east. Frank Meir Loewenberg speculates that in order to gain Jewish support Khosrau II appointed an Exilarch of his choosing. Named Hushiel, this Exilarch had a son named Nehemiah – hence Nehemiah ben Hushiel. According to this guess Nehemiah was placed as the symbolic leader of the Jewish forces.

The Persian Sassanians, commanded by Shahrbaraz, were joined by Nehemiah


Mackey’s comment: As also previously discussed, this is an appropriation of the era of Ezra-Nehemiah, the ancient Persian era, with “Khosrau” replacing Cyrus; Shahrbaraz replacing Sheshbazzar; and Nehemiah ben Hushiel replacing Nehemiah ben Helcias.


… and the wealthy Jewish leader Benjamin of Tiberias, who had mustered a force of Tiberian Jews. The combined force captured Jerusalem in 614 CE without resistance. Nehemiah was then appointed the ruler of Jerusalem. He began the work of making arrangements for the building of the Third [sic] Temple, and sorting out genealogies to establish a new High Priesthood.


Mackey’s comment: Is this not basically what the biblical Nehemiah did?


After only a few months, a Christian revolt occurred. Nehemiah ben Hushiel and his “council of the righteous” were killed along with many other Jews, some throwing themselves off the city walls. The surviving Jews fled to Shahrbaraz’s encampment at Caesarea. The Christians were able to briefly retake the city for 19 days before the walls were breached by Shahrbaraz’s forces.

In 617 CE, the Persians reversed their policy and sided with the Christians, probably because of pressure from Mesopotamian Christians. It has been suggested that Nehemiah ben Hushiel was killed then. However, it does not appear that Jews were violently expelled from Jerusalem as Sebeos thought. Instead, Modestos’ letter seems to imply that further Jewish settlers were banned from settling in or around Jerusalem. A small synagogue on the Temple Mount was also demolished.


Otot ha-Mašiah (Signs of the Messiah)


Another medieval Hebrew apocalypse the Otot ha-Mašiah also casts Nehemiah ben Hushiel as a Messianic leader. It gives a less detailed account but is also thought to be dated to this period.

The following texts also mention Nehemiah and they are all similar to ’Otot ha-Mašiah (Signs of the Messiah). For example, Nehemiah will confront Armilos with a Torah scroll in all of them and in some cases the text is almost identical. The texts are Tefillat (Prayer of) R. Shimon b. Yohai, ’Otot of R. Shimon b. Yohai and Ten Signs ….


Mackey’s comment: “Messianic”?

If I am correct with my radical revision of the Infancy of Jesus Christ, as set out in my article:


A New Timetable for the Nativity of Jesus Christ


then the life (very long, I believe) of the biblical Nehemiah may just have overlapped with the beginnings of Jesus Christ as a child on earth.


Nehemiah and Martin Luther  

Published July 19, 2018 by amaic
Image result for martin luther and nehemiah


“Martin Luther might blanch at the comparison, but the exemplary attitude of a Jewish political lobbyist named Nehemiah might be a model of how we should handle our complicated history and murky future”.

 Titus Willis


Who was this Martin Luther?

A complex character indeed, Luther does bear some comparison with reforming Old Testament prophets and holy men.

He was somewhat, too, like Girolamo Savonarola whom Luther is thought to have admired.

See my article:


Prophet Jeremiah and “Savonarola”. Part Three: Savonarola “another Luther”


In the above series I have likened Savonarola, for his part, to the Portuguese Jewish Abravanel (or Abarbanel), thought to have been a Bible commentator and philosopher of c. 1500 AD, and also to the prophet Jeremiah.


Protestant writer Titus Willis has suggested a further biblical comparison with Martin Luther:


Martin Luther and Nehemiah

How should we reform the American Protestant Church?


Tuesday, October 31, 2017, marks 500 years to the day since a pious, vicious, inspired, anti-Semitic monk named Martin Luther penned his Ninety-Five Theses and forever altered the constitution of Christianity. All over the world, curmudgeonly Catholics are still rolling their eyes. I, for one, am thankful that we have resolved our holy wars and turned our swords into tweets.


While we don’t need to spend much time parsing the many horrific things Catholicism has gotten us over the years, Douthat has a point: Protestants have not been much better. We aligned with the Catholics on chattel slavery, rewrote the book on church dysfunction, and allowed an anti-Christian heresy called the prosperity gospel to somehow get grandfathered in with us; not to mention the fact that Luther’s fingerprints are all over the Holocaust, an unparalleled crime that spat in the face of God Himself. Modern Protestants, particularly in the United States, may not be responsible for these enormous grievances— and our accomplishments, which have improved both the Churches and States of the world, should not be overlooked — but there is still a great deal of reformation-work to be done.


Today, the ideological descendants of Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli fall under two common labels: Mainline Protestantism and Evangelicalism. The former group, which primarily consists of theological liberals and liturgy enthusiasts, has consistently hemorrhaged attendance for decades. My Upper West Side neighborhood here in New York is chock full of Mainline churches, but few of them are better-attended than they were in 1960. That these congregations struggle to maintain their membership is not surprising, as Christians from Mainline denominations are far less likely to share their faith with others, or pass it down to their children. And why should they? After all, according to a recent Pew Research Center study, only about 1 in 5 Mainline Protestants believe the Bible is God’s literal word. No need to tell your kids or coworkers about a belief system that’s based on a book you don’t actually trust. Your guess seems to be as good as theirs.


What Mainline Protestants lack in proselytizing, however, they attempt to make up for with their social agenda. Every Mainline denomination proudly supports abortion rights, LGBT clergy, and a host of other polemical stances that most Christian sects have historically opposed. In other words, Mainline Protestants are more likely than anyone else to distance themselves from your perceptions of Christianity — the type that tell you they’re not those kinds of Christians, and they don’t go to that kind of church. Given the aforementioned realities of Church history, perhaps this is not the most problematic stance, but Mainline Protestant pews are getting emptier and emptier every Sunday, and that counts for something.


As their name — from the Greek term for Good News — implies, Evangelicals pay greater attention than their Mainline counterparts to numerical growth, and they generally believe in their holy book. But this faction of the Church is not without its issues. In our hyper-politicized age, if Mainline Protestant platforms have fallen largely in line with the Democratic Party, Evangelicals have sided with the Republicans.

Famous Evangelical leaders like Jerry Falwell, Jr., and Robert Jeffress practically campaigned for President Trump while Southern Baptist luminary Russell Moore faced resistance for speaking out against the morals of a thrice-married philanderer who now runs our country. White Evangelicals voted for Trump at an 81% clip in 2016. On the other hand, black and brown Evangelicals have gone unaccounted for in modern political analysis, and they may be poised to migrate from Evangelicalism entirely. Chart-topping rapper Lecrae, a seminary graduate who frequently broaches Jesus on his records, explains the ethos for an exodus on his new song “Facts.”


I will not oblige to your colonized way of faith
My Messiah died for the world, not just USA
They say, “Jesus was Conservative”
Tell ’em, “That’s a lie”
No, He not a Liberal either if you think I’ll choose a side
They say, “‘Crae, you so divisive, shouldn’t be a Black church”
I say, “Do the math, segregation started that first!”


The goal of these bars is not to paint the entirety of white Evangelicalism as inherently racist — there is a difference between individuals who miss the good ol’ days and full-on white nationalists (though plenty of both will be worshiping in Evangelical services this weekend). However, like Trump and the modern GOP, white Evangelicals are more than eager to dismiss any culpability they have in the continued presence of racial tensions in this country.


Lecrae speaks for many racial and ethnic minorities who feel completely excluded from white churches, where the worship band plays white music and white pastors keep talk of diversity and police brutality out of their pulpits entirely. True God-fearing Christians should never respond to injustice or inequity by sticking their heads in the sand — they must openly rebuke it, even if that means occasionally adopting the talking-points of the political left. While the Mainline Protestant is quick to remind you that he is different from the 19th-century Southern Baptists or bigoted reformers like Luther, the white Evangelical feels little remorse for the sins of his forebears, or even the cultural sins of omission he is committing himself.


How should Mainline Protestants and Evangelicals reform their churches to make them better for the next 500 years? Martin Luther might blanch at the comparison, but the exemplary attitude of a Jewish political lobbyist named Nehemiah might be a model of how we should handle our complicated history and murky future. Nehemiah is a Hebrew exile in the Persian Empire; the Babylonians had sacked his homeland more than a century before and he now serves at the pleasure of a foreign king. God had long promised Israel that He would bless them when they were faithful to Him and punish them when they weren’t; Nehemiah knows this was one of the dry times, especially when some friends from back home tell him that even the broken-down remnant of Jerusalem is in peril. The man of God took this matter immediately to heart, fasting and praying for days, pleading that God would restore the people he loved:


“Let your ear now be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer of your servant … confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have sinned against you; I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which you commanded your servant Moses.”


Nehemiah was not born when Jerusalem fell, not even close; and he had spent his adult life faithfully working for the King of Persia. He has sinned at times, certainly, but his sins are not directly connected to his people’s suffering. Modern Evangelicals might be tempted to say that Nehemiah is “being too politically correct” by asking God forgiveness for the sins of his family and the sins of his tribe. Yet we see this man, whom God blesses with all kinds of favor throughout his biblical biography, penitent because the ones who came before him had made major mistakes. Perhaps he also feels some personal responsibility for not doing enough for other Jews in captivity; but regardless, Nehemiah fasted and prayed for days — have you ever felt that kind of remorse in your entire life?— in the hopes that God would forgive his people for 150-year-old sins, because their effects were still prevalent. White Americans (especially Protestants) have a very obvious 150-year-old sin that still has disastrous effects, along with centuries of other prejudices and vitriols that were propagated by Luther and his legion of converts. Maybe God wants us to repent of these offenses even today — He certainly doesn’t want us standing idly by while the national wounds continue to fester.


With divine blessing and royal edict in hand, Nehemiah marches to Jerusalem to rebuild the city’s encircling wall, an expensive project miraculously funded by Persian taxpayers. It becomes apparent very quickly in the narrative that Nehemiah is not suffering from his B.C. version of white guilt; he has an invigorating pride in his tribe. He whips the builders into shape and keeps a watchful eye while Israel’s enemies sneer at them from afar. Ultimately, in chapter 9, he leads his people in another fast, this time with sackcloth and ashes, and together they “stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.” The people recite a poem, glorifying God for their past and promising to do better in the future. Nehemiah is not afraid of his people’s history, nor does he want to run from it, as a Mainline Protestant might. He knows that God can work through even the most broken people, and that He has before.


This is the self-aware optimism that should mark the modern Protestant Church. Martin Luther was a deeply flawed man who also helped free Europe from a choke-hold administered by money-laundering indulgence salesmen and power-hungry clerics. Misinterpretations of the Bible have been the root of all kinds of evil, but the book is still the inspired word of God, a powerful weapon when used properly. In fact, the prayer of the people in the book of Nehemiah remains relevant for us today:


But they, our fathers, acted arrogantly; they became stubborn and would not listen to your commandments. They refused to listen, and did not remember your wondrous deeds which you had performed among them. … But you are a God of forgiveness, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness; and you did not forsake them. ….

[End of quotes]


Even more emphatically, we read at:


Saint Martin Luther was a latter day Nehemiah!!


In the book of Nehemiah in the Old Testament, Nehemiah was the prophet who led the Jews back from Babylon to Jerusalem. Nehemiah re-built the ruined Temple and re-established the worship of JEHOVAH after the Babylonian Captivity.

Saint Martin preaching the Word by German artist Schorr. Luther is known as the “Prince of Preachers.” He knew how to keep the hell bound spellbound. His sermons alone total over 100 volumes. Luther was another Nehemiah who rebuilt the Jewish Temple after the Babylonian Captivity. The two men are almost carbon copies of each other. You can read about him in the Old Testament. Nehemiah punched one of the Jews in the face because he refused to leave his heathen wife. Luther never punched anybody . . . but he sure laid the Papacy low with his preaching and pen!!

Luther threw plenty of ink at the devil. During his brief lifetime as a Reformer; he published over 100 volumes and thousands of sermons. His translation of the Old Testament into German was a Homer task.






Judith of Bethulia and Judith of Bavaria

Published July 16, 2018 by amaic
Image result for judith of bavaria

Judith of Bavaria

‘second Judith’ or ‘Jezebel’?



 Damien F. Mackey


“The poems depict her as “a second biblical Judith, a Mary sister of Aaron in her musical abilities, a Saphho, a prophetess, cultivated, chaste, intelligent, pious, strong in spirit, and sweet in conversation”.



We read in:


Isabelle (is a belle) inevitably a Jezebel?


of a whole list of supposedly historical queens Isabelle (or variations of that name) who have been likened to the biblical Jezebel, or have been called ‘a second Jezebel’.

One of these queens was:

Isabella of Bavaria ‘like haughty Jezebel’


Now the Bavarians do not fare too well, because apparently they also had a C9th AD queen Judith who was likened to Jezebel – though, alternately, to the pious Judith:


Scandals: Contemporary criticisms of Judith’s role and behavior ….


However, the rise of Judith’s power, influence and activity in the court sparked resentment towards her. Agobard of Lyons, a supporter of Lothar, wrote two tracts Two Books in Favor of the Sons and against Judith the Wife of Louis in 833. These tracts were meant as propaganda against Judith from the court of Lothar in order to undermine her court and influence. The tracts themselves attack her character, claiming her to be of a cunning and underhanded nature and of corrupting her husband. These attacks were predominantly anti-feminist in nature. When Louis still did not sever marital ties with Judith, Agobard claimed that Judith’s extramarital affairs were carried out “first secretly and later impudently”.[4] Paschasius Radbertus accused Judith by associating her with the engagement in debauchery and witchcraft … of filling the palace with “soothsayers… seers and mutes as well as dream interpreters and those who consult entrail, indeed all those skilled in malign craft”.


Judith of Bavaria


Characterized as a Jezebel and a Justina … Judith was accused by one of her enemies, Paschasius Radbertus, of engaging in debauchery and witchcraft with her purported lover, Count Bernard of Septimania, Louis’ chamberlain and trusted adviser. This portrayal and image stands in contrast to poems about Judith.[2] The poems depict her as “a second biblical Judith, a Mary sister of Aaron in her musical abilities, a Saphho, a prophetess, cultivated, chaste, intelligent, pious, strong in spirit, and sweet in conversation”.[2]

However, Judith also garnered devotion and respect. Hrabanus Maurus wrote a dedicatory letter to Judith, exalting her “praiseworthy intellect”[11] and for her “good works”.[11] The letter commends her in the turbulent times amidst battles, wishing that she may see victory amidst the struggles she is facing. It also implores her “to follow through with a good deed once you have begun it”[11] and “to improve yourself at all times”. Most strikingly the letter wishes Judith to look to the biblical Queen Esther, the wife of Xerxes I [sic] as inspiration and as a role model ….


St. Polycarp and Socrates  

Published July 3, 2018 by amaic
Image result for saint polycarp


Damien F. Mackey



“Thus we might ask whom Polycarp is imitating, Jesus or Socrates?

Or both?”

L. Stephanie Cobb



This was unexpected.

An article providing striking similarities between Polycarp and Socrates, L. Stephanie Cobb’s

Polycarp’s Cup: Imitatio in the Martyrdom of Polycarp (2014):


Not so unexpected is that the pagan Socrates, an un-historical figure according to my revision, could be considered in this article to have been the prototype.


The author, Cobb, firstly compares, and contrasts, the martyrdom of Polycarp with the death of Jesus Christ (p. 226):


While the Gospels are the most obvious texts on which this author [Michael W. Holmes] draws, they may not be the only texts this author used to illuminate Polycarp’s character. It is striking—and, given the tendency toward imitatio Christi in this text, perhaps troubling — that Polycarp stands by his own power as he is burned to death. Those in charge of the execution bound him to the pyre and then sought to nail him — surely bringing Jesus’ crucifixion to the audience’s minds — but Polycarp stopped them: “Leave me thus; for the one who allows me to endure the fire will allow me — without the security of your nails — to remain in the pyre unmoved” (13.3).5 This is an extraordinary statement. Throughout his narrative, the author has shown how Polycarp’s actions imitated Jesus’, but here, at the death scene, we see not pious imitation but, perhaps, one-upmanship: Polycarp does not need to be nailed the way Jesus was.6


This is not the only place a negative comparison could be drawn between Polycarp’s and Jesus’ actions. After Polycarp is placed on the pyre, he offers a prayer to God, in which he thanks God for granting him “a share, among the number of martyrs, in the cup [poterioi] of your Christ” (14.2). There are at least two possible referents for Polycarp’s cup. On the one hand, in John 18:11, Jesus asks, “Am I not to drink the cup [poterion] that has been given to me by the Father?” If Polycarp’s cup is an allusion to John 18, then we have here one more positive example of imitatio Christi. But the parallels to Jesus’ life in this text are not drawn exclusively from John, so we cannot assume the author — much less the audience — has this passage in mind. According to the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus begs God to remove the cup [poterion] … from him.7 The author’s use of the identical term in Polycarp’s prayer, [poterion] … could imply a negative contrast: Polycarp, unlike the Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels, was willing to drink from the cup given by God.8 Since Polycarp’s cup comes immediately after the emphatic statement that he does not need to be nailed, this may be another instance of the author distancing Polycarp from a problematic Jesus tradition. ….


and she then (pp. 227-228) proceeds to draw some strong comparisons between Polycarp and Socrates:


On the other hand, an ancient audience might recall another death scene in which a cup figures prominently: Socrates took the cup [kylix] … “without dread, without changing colour, or his countenance” (Phaed. 117B). The different Greek term notwithstanding, Polycarp’s desire for the metaphorical cup of martyrdom is much more like Socrates’ act than that of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels.9 Thus we might ask whom Polycarp is imitating, Jesus or Socrates? Or both? A close reading of the Martyrdom of Polycarp reveals that allusions to the death of Socrates may play a role in the theological and social meaning of this text.10 Thus the reader who is not bound by the Christian canon may find in the Martyrdom of Polycarp not only imitatio Christi but also imitatio Socratis.


Many comparisons may be drawn between Socrates and Polycarp.11 Both men, for instance, were described as “noble” (Phaed. 58D; Mart. Pol. 2.1), and they were both charged with atheism (Euth. 3B; Mart. Pol. 3.2; 12.2). Socrates refused to flee Athens in order to save his life (Phaed. 98E–99A).

Similarly, after receiving the vision that he must die, Polycarp refused to flee (Mart. Pol.

7.1). Neither man was willing to use persuasion to save his life (Apol. 35D; Mart. Pol. 10.2). Socrates took control of his death by requesting the hemlock rather than waiting for it to be administered to him (Phaed. 116D); Polycarp took control of his death by removing his own clothes and standing on the pyre without being nailed (Mart. Pol. 13.2–3). Both Socrates and Polycarp prayed before dying (Phaed. 117C; Mart. Pol. 14.1–3), and the accounts of both of their deaths refer to sacrifices (Phaed. 118A; Mart. Pol. 14.1). Both men are explicitly said to have been old (Apol. 17D, Crito 52E; Mart. Pol. 9.3), and their deaths were models for others (Phaed. 115C; Mart. Pol. 1.2; 19.1).


The three elements Holmes identifies as central to a martyrdom “according to the Gospel” in the Martyrdom of Polycarp — divine call, concern for others, and endurance — are also central to the noble death tradition, known through the ancient genre exitus illustrium virorum, which was based on the death of Socrates.12 If Holmes is correct that the Martyrdom of Polycarp is concerned with demonstrating “a particular approach to” death, then the text fits perfectly into this tradition.


In what follows, I will explore Holmes’s three components of a “martyrdom according to the Gospel” — endurance, concern for others, and divine call — preceded by a discussion of another commonly identified aspect of the noble death tradition — sacrificial metaphors — to demonstrate how an ancient audience could have interpreted Polycarp’s death through the lens of traditions relating noble deaths. Then I will suggest one way these literary allusions may function apologetically.13 Ultimately, I am interested in the literary product that emerges when we read the Martyrdom of Polycarp with an eye to widely circulating elements of noble deaths. Thus, by identifying various literary allusions in the Martyrdom of Polycarp, I hope to explore — to borrow Ellen Finkelpearl’s phrase — “meanings available in the source text beyond the  obvious” — that is, imitatio Socratis not merely imitatio Christi, though these function reciprocally rather than competitively or in isolation.14


Even more directly, the author will name the next section (pp. 229 f.):

The Death of Polycarp as Imitatio Socratis.


Eleazer and Socrates

Published July 2, 2018 by amaic

A painting of Socrates representing him in a story about the lake.

Socrates more prophet than philosopher?




 Damien F. Mackey


“… the ‘historical problem of Socrates’ is a major one, about which much has been written and debated. Statues of Socrates,

for instance, can be found in post-Christian Roman contexts, such as at Pompeii”.




Previously I have written of what I have considered to have been:


The Evolution of ‘Socrates’


Though both the prototypal Socrates and Mohammed are (according to my view) grounded historically in the above-mentioned “Axial Age”, in which era the conventional Socrates – but not Mohammed – is considered to have existed, the two underwent a literary-historical evolution thereby picking up aspects of other characters and eras not truly belonging to them.


Striking Christian aspects, for instance, such as Mohammed’s supposed ascension from Jerusalem into the seventh heaven. Frequent claims that the Prophet Mohammed copied from Judaïsm and Christianity – such as e.g. the Christian Apocryphal source “The Infancy Gospel” and Gnostic Christians about the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ – would need to be modified substantially, according to my reconstructions, so as not to include the “Axial Age” Mohammed as a copier. ….


For likenesses between Jesus Christ and Socrates, see my next section [not given here].


Socrates and Jeremiah were also alike in many ways. Both, called to special work by oracular or divine power, reacted with great humility and self-distrust. And, whenever Socrates or Jeremiah encountered any who would smugly claim to have been well instructed, and who would boast of their own sufficiency, they never failed to chastise the vanity of such persons.

Again, the Book of Jeremiah can at times employ a method of teaching known as ‘Socratic’:


“… Then came the word of the Lord unto Jeremiah, saying, Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for me?” – Jeremiah 32:26, 27. THIS method of questioning the person to be instructed is known to teachers as the Socratic method. Socrates was wont, not so much to state a fact, as to ask a question and draw out thoughts from those whom he taught.


Similarly in the case of Zechariah, as we read in another place, “God used what we today call the Socratic method to teach Zechariah and the readers of this book” (

And perhaps to none of the Old Testament prophets more than Jeremiah would apply the description ‘gadfly’, for which Socrates the truth-loving philosopher is so famous (


The term “gadfly” (Ancient Greek: μύωψ, mýops[1]) was used by Plato in the Apology[2] to describe Socrates‘s relationship of uncomfortable goad to the Athenian political scene, which he compared to a slow and dimwitted horse.

The Book of Jeremiah uses a similar analogy as a political metaphor. “Egypt is a very fair heifer; the gad-fly cometh, it cometh from the north.” (46:20, Darby Bible)


Could this last be the actual prompt for the ‘Socratic’ concept?

But, as we are going to read in the last section of this article, the ‘historical problem of Socrates’ is a major one, about which much has been written and debated. Statues of Socrates, for instance, can be found in post-Christian Roman contexts, such as at Pompeii (

Socrates and Jeremiah were very humane individuals – Jeremiah’s constant concern for the widow and orphan – men of profound righteousness, always trying to do all that was good for the people.

Both Socrates and Jeremiah were hated for having challenged the gods of the society; Jeremiah, of course, being a loyal Yahwist.

Socrates, like Jeremiah, had followers or disciples who also were inspired by him and were willing to go into exile and defy the government for him. ….

[End of quote]

“Is Socrates a Prophet?” is a question commonly asked.


According to Hossein Ghaffari:


Everybody acknowledges the importance of Socrates’ role and influence on the history of philosophy, as well as on the culture of humanity. He is also considered to be the first martyr of virtue and wisdom in human history. In spite of this, even though most Western commentators recognize the elevated meanings and high level of Socratic wisdom, they refuse to consider it to have a supra-human source and to be divine prophecy. In this article and through the analysis of Socrates’ words and speeches, which can be found in authentic sources such as some of Plato’s writings, the author aims to prove the truth of Socrates’ claim according to which he had the gift of prophecy. By putting together rational proofs and historical clues from his life, we will underline the veracity of such a claim. A part of the article will be dedicated to underlining the fact that our reasoning is based on authentic and historical references of Socrates’ speeches, which are mainly mentioned in Plato’s Apology. By quoting the main and most important commentators’ views in this field, we will therefore endeavor to show that there is a sort of general consensus among most commentators to consider this treatise to be an historical document. The importance as well as main outcome of this article is that if we accept this theory, the general outlook of the history of philosophy will change radically. In addition, the claim that wisdom has a divine source, which is mentioned repeatedly in the content of divine wise men’s words and in some Islamic traditions, will be confirmed. Moreover, the link between spiritual truths and human reasoning will be corroborated and underlined. ….

[End of quote]


Amongst the Ahmadi Moslems, Socrates is indeed considered a prophet:


The Holy Quran proclaims that God has sent messengers to all peoples in the world. In Islamic traditions 124,000 thousand is the number that is given for prophets that were sent by God to guide people. While some of them are mentioned by name in the Quran, Ahmadi Muslims believe that Socrates was one of the prophets of God. Islam literally means surrender to God’s Will. As a Prophet of God Socrates was devoted to this and is therefore a “Muslim” (in meaning) in his heart.

In keeping with the universal and inclusive character of Islam this means that Greek people are also brothers in faith and must be respected.


[End of quote]


Socrates was, I believe, like Mohammed, a non-historical composite character based largely upon biblical persons.

As to the manner of his death, Socrates, I think, may mostly resemble the fearless teacher, Eleazer, of the Maccabean period.



Part Two: Forced to eat pig’s flesh


“There was an elderly and highly respected teacher of the Law by the name of Eleazar, whose mouth was being forced open to make him eat pork. But he preferred an honorable death rather than a life of disgrace”.

2 Maccabees 6:18-19



Previously I had written: “Perhaps the death by martyrdom in the Old Testament (Catholic) Scriptures that most resembles that of Socrates, is that of the venerable and aged Eleazer in 2 Maccabees 6:18-31”.

I then proceeded to elaborate a little on this, whilst also including certain likenesses to the death of Jesus Christ:


…. There is something anomalous about the callous slaying of Socrates at that particular era of Greek ‘history’, when conditions would not really seem to have favoured it.

Glover calls it “almost unintelligible” ….

  1. Thomas has written an entire book on The Trial [The Trial, Bantam Press, NY, 1987, p. 175], in which he seems to be at a loss to account for many things, not least of which was why poor old Socrates was martyred, and why they waited until he was 70 years of age to do this.

The supposed trial and death of Socrates may be something of a composite event; a mix of the ‘martyrdom’ of Jeremiah; death of the aged Maccabean hero, Eleazer (2 Maccabees 6:18-31); and the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ.


Eleazer, for instance, has the Socrates-like aspects of being,


(i) during Greek rule (as the Macedonian Greeks were ruling Palestine in Maccabean times);

(ii) “advanced in age”;

(iii) a witness to “the young”. Socrates was actually accused of ‘corrupting youth’.

(iv) Socrates’ death by swallowing (viz. the ‘hemlock’) may be an echo of Eleazer’s refusal to swallow the pig’s flesh.

(v) Eleazer’s acquaintances of long-standing begged him to feign compliance by substituting meat of his own, to save himself. Likewise, Crito begged Socrates to escape, even to using bribery if necessary (Apologia, Scene II); but

(vi) Eleazer refused to do this out of honour, and instead faced death with courage; as did Socrates.


Folklore has sensed the similarity between the demise of Socrates and the end of the earthly life of Jesus, and thus has Socrates warning Pontius Pilate’s wife, Claudia Procula, to save Jesus: “… in her premonitory dream Socrates appeared to Pilate’s wife and urged her to intercede on behalf of Jesus” [ibid.]. (Cf. Matthew 27:19).

According to H. Tredennick [trans. Plato. The Last Days of Socrates (Penguin Books, 1969), p. 43]: “The first part of the charge [against Socrates] – heresy – was no doubt primarily intended to inflame prejudice. … The prosecution relied mainly on a powerful conjunction of religious and political hostility”. The same combination that Jesus had to face. Anytus, the moving spirit in the prosecution of Socrates, has a name a bit similar to Annas, father-in-law of the high-priest Caiaphas at the time of Jesus’ death.

Jesus’ disciple John “was known to the high priest” (John 18:13, 15). Meno 90b. Socrates: “Please help us, Anytus – Meno, who is a friend of your family, and myself – to find out …”. St. John was known to Caiaphas”.

…. even the cock chanting to a new day figures in Plato’s Symposium (223c), connected by J. Pepple to Socrates’ death [“The Order of Plato’s Dialogues” (February 14, 1995) (]. (Cf. John 18:27).

Socrates, in good Greek fashion will – as we just saw – drink hemlock. He does not die on a cross. Still, even that terrible death is depicted in Plato’s The Republic, Intro., # 362]: “The just man … will be scourged, tortured, and imprisoned … and after enduring every humiliation he will be crucified”.


I submit that this statement would not likely have been written before the Gospels.


[End of quotes]

Whilst it is quite common for scholars to detect similarities between Eleazer and Socrates, some of these will do inevitably – as scholars invariably do – and that is attribute to the pagans (in this case the Greeks) the original upon which supposed ‘model’ the biblical account 9is based. Typical of this approach is that by Lacey Baldwin Smith (Fools, Martyrs, Traitors: The Story of Martyrdom in the Western World, p. 56), who writes:


The Maccabean martyrs, of course, did not stand historically alone as the inspiration for later martyrdoms. Eleazar in particular owed much to Socrates [sic] for the style of his performance, especially in Maccabees IV, where he is pictured as an overly verbose philosopher, sensitive to God’s good opinion and to his reputation in this world. Like his classical counterpart, he not only disdained all avenues of escape but also made it almost impossible for the state to do anything except go through with the grisly execution. Moreover, he also sought to thwart his opponents by maintaining firm control over himself and the proceedings leading up to his execution, and he was set upon demonstrating the truth of Socrates’ own dictum that it is better to suffer a wrong than commit one ….


In somewhat similar fashion, Marie-Françoise Baslez will describe Eleazer as a “New Socrates”


The author of 4 Maccabees considers Eleazar as a “New Socrates,” … the archetype of the semi-voluntary intellectual martyr: he is a [νομικός] … in the royal Court (4 Macc 5:5) … he is implicitly compared with Socrates by the metaphor of the pilot (4 Macc 7:6) … young people regard him as their “teacher” (4 Macc 9:7).