We live in a time of intense interest in the historical Jesus. The theological assumption of a divine figure, the Son of God, is no longer affirmed in the way it was. Nor is the related assumption encouraged of a divine being, God, who takes a close interest in human affairs and overrules them, at times with miracles. As was the case for theological revolutions in the past, a great expansion of knowledge of the physical universe, together with knowledge of other human cultures, has modified an assumption that local beliefs are absolute religious truth.
A major source of our new knowledge of human cultures has come from the discovery of deposits of ancient documents, the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi codices, both uncovered in the 1940’s. Work on them over a half-century has left an abiding impression that they revolutionize our knowledge of what Christianity was like at its beginnings. Theology has made way for history.
A further step became apparent as they were studied. The New Testament Gospels, the book of Acts, and the Book of Revelation are capable of a process of decoding. They are the political documents of a party of ascetics engaged in an underground movement, a mission to take up and impose on the known world a cultural change that had been developing naturally for some centuries, the merger of Hellenism with Judaism. The Scrolls give a definition of the process that they call pesher, finding a secret interpretation of biblical books by applying the knowledge that only a select few had, taught to them in monasteries. That knowledge was information about the highly developed organization of their mission, coded in what looked like religious fantasies.
A major source of the secret information is in the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament.
If ever a scriptural book offered itself for decoding, it is the Book of Revelation. On the surface, the book presents visions of heavenly events, often structured in sets of 7. In one section, 7 trumpets are blown, and at each one a decisive event occurs. In another, there are 7 named churches of the province of Asia, with a message from Jesus to each one. In another, 7 angels appear. There are 7 plagues, followed by 7 bowls poured out. The climax of the book is what looks like a prediction of 1000 years leading up to the end of the world, a prediction that has been taken seriously by some fundamentalist Christians right up to the present time, with disastrous results.
The book has fed the imagination of simple people, intensifying superstition. It was placed last in the New Testament, and omitted altogether in the best copy, the Codex Vaticanus. Church fathers from the earliest centuries expressed doubt about it. Its anti-intellectual effect runs contrary to the heightening of rationality that was also found at the time of Christian origins. It was produced in a social environment where valid knowledge of mathematics, astronomy, nature, and metaphysical theories were confined to a limited class, men living together in monastic schools, called gnostics out of respect for their knowledge. They were not yet ready to separate science and religion, and their new knowledge of mathematics came to be treated as the language of religion. Mathematics was such a powerful tool that they assumed that heaven must work with its categories.
A society forced to be secret produces a double means of communication, with passwords and codes that look innocent but convey vital information to those who understand their specialized meanings. While in the outside world, the insiders may pretend to be fools, laughed at by normal people. The Book of Revelation is the product of such double identities. It looks foolish, and has produced much folly. In fact it is using codes to convey valuable information, the exact history of Christianity from 1 AD - the period before Jesus’ ministry -up to 114 AD. Its sets of 7 are not simply a numerological poetry, but a method of giving an exact date. Each time a trumpet was blown, for instance, a new period of 7 years began.Once the starting point is known, 1 AD, the subsequent septennia are dated, and the events occurring in each of the years are recognized from the symbol-laden language. Other books using a similar device to record history came from the pre-Christian period - the Apocalypse of Enoch, the book of Jubilees, the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, parts of the book of Daniel. In Revelation we have their successor, the fullest available account of the tumultuous first century AD within which Christianity arose. It is a priceless record of the history that had been thought to be lost.
Secular, straightforward accounts of the period were given by the Jewish historians Josephus and Philo, and Roman historians. Their information is essential for us to put together with the symbolic language to discover the facts. Among the Dead Sea Scrolls the particular group of documents called the pesharim, carbonated in the 1st century AD, explain and illustrate what they call the raz-pesher definition of scripture. Scripture is in the form of a mystery (raz in Hebrew), which looks like one thing to outsiders, ordinary people, who find simply moral meanings there. But the gnostic insiders who know the secret meanings of its terms can discover its pesher, a word that means "interpretation" but is used in the sense of "solution". It was the word that was used for the interpretation of dreams by Joseph and Daniel.
The Essenes, from whom the Dead Sea Scrolls come, "followed the way of life taught to the Greeks by Pythagoras" (Josephus, Antiquities 15, 371). Their interest in exact measurement of time is frequently displayed, and they speak of periods of time governed by mathematically interesting numbers such as 7, 10, 40 and 490.They also measure ideal space in sets of square numbers, in their Temple Scroll. It is the Scrolls that have given us the tool for solving the conundrums of the New Testament, in both the five books of gospels-Acts and the Book of Revelation.
It has been possible to work out the pesher over many years of close study. In my book Jesus of the Apocalypse, (1995) the essential facts from the pesher of Revelation were given, without a full Word-for-Word treatment . A Word-for-Word of Parts C and D of Revelation, covering the years 54 to 114 AD is now given, facilitated by the Internet, which enables special meanings to be shown simultaneously with the Greek text. The earlier Parts A and B are now presented also, in in the same form, to complete the decoding of Revelation.
A consequence of the study was that Jesus was a real, historical figure, a gifted man but no different from other men. The places where he lived and worked may be identified. The evidence presented has led, regrettably but naturally enough, to speculation about whether his descendants are still with us. Perhaps they are, but does it matter? We are all a genetic mixture of long distant ancestors. The desire for a famous name has led to much fraud. It was more useful for the author of The Da Vinci Code to write acknowledged fiction, in which the evidenced fact of Jesus’ ordinary human nature is wrapped up, to be taken or left at will.
Parts C and D present information about the descendants of Jesus – his son Jesus Justus, his grandson and his great-grandson. To know their actual history might help deal with some of the fraudulent claims that are now being made. The Book of Revelation divides itself naturally, by means of its sets of 7, into four parts, A, B, C, and D. The dates that each part deals with can be discovered from the dates of events that are described. The parts do not appear in the book in order - Part B precedes Part A because of its greater value at a certain stage. The different parts, with the dates they cover, are:
|Part B||1:1 - 8:5||44 AD to 51 AD|
|Part A||8:6 - 14:5||1 AD to 44 AD|
|Part C||14:6 - 19:21||54 AD to 74 AD|
|Part D||20:1 - 22:21||100 AD to 114 AD|
It is a subject that inevitably captures the interest of academic historians and Christians alike.
As the pesher of the gospels and Acts shows in the closest and most consistent detail, Jesus survived the crucifixion and lived for many years after it. He lived in seclusion in the series of monasteries that had been set up by the Essenes throughout the Diaspora. Only his closest intimates met with him and acted as his executives in the reforms he was bringing about. The coded language shows that he went with them as far as Rome, which became the center of his Christian revision, and still is.
Jesus died in Rome at the age of 78 near the end of June, 72 AD. He died on Tiber Island in Rome, in the care of close friends. This fact is given indirectly, available only to those who had a full knowledge of the organizational system of which he was part. It is given to the pesharist in Revelation 18:24 (Word for Word Part C).
The reason for encoding it was that belief in his resurrection and ascent to heaven after the crucifixion had become deeply embedded, and was part of the reason for the success of his Christian revision. He had written the account of it himself, in what was intended for everyone as a drama expressing hope and renewal. For the few who could read, its text also gave a means of discovering what had really happened. The drama was magnificently effective, and for ordinary people it was all they knew of the history. They took it as not simply art, but fact, and all the more powerful religiously for that reason.
In the earlier chapters of Part C of Revelation, the name Jesus continues to mean the Jesus of the gospels and Acts. After 72 AD it refers to his descendants Jesus II (Jesus Justus), Jesus III, and Jesus IV. The book closes with the birth of Jesus IV.
Jesus' son Jesus Justus was born in June 37 AD, as the pesher Acts 6:7 records, with its phrase "the Word of God increased". His name is given in Colossians 4:11, which was written from Rome by Paul. He is said to be "of the circumcision", that is, Jewish. The title Justus, Latin meaning "just" or "righteous" was that of the David crown prince. It was applied to James the next brother of Jesus, called James the Just by the contemporary historian Hegesippus (quoted by Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History II, xxiii, 3-9). James was the crown prince for Jesus before he had a son of his own. He appears as Joseph called Justus in Acts 1:23. The name Jesus Justus is that of a son of Jesus, also called Jesus, with the added title of his crown prince.
The son of Jesus had been conceived according to the Essene dynastic rule. Its general principle, that sexual intercourse was permitted only in order to have progeny, is given by Josephus in his account of the second order of Essenes (Josephus, Wars of the Jews 2,160-161). The detail of how it was applied may be derived from this passage and the chronology of the pesher. The dynast lived in a monastic community for most of the time, coming out into the world only in order to meet with his wife for the purpose of sex. If a son was born to them 9 months later, he went back into the enclosed life for six years. If a daughter was born, he went back for three years only, for a girl was considered to be only half the value of a boy. He came out again at the season that the previous birth had taken place.
A dynast married for the first time at the age of 36, because the main aim was to keep going the succession of 40 year generations of a king. If the first child was a girl, he only had to wait 3 years and could still have the chance of a son when he was 40. His first wedding was held at the age of 36, and, since it could not be certain that a conception would occur at once, the couple were given a trial period of three years. If during this time the bride conceived, they waited until she was three months pregnant, when the danger of miscarriage was past, then held a second wedding, the permanent one, from which no divorce was normally permitted.
Jesus was born in March, 7 BC, as is shown by the fact that he was 12 years old in March, 6 AD, at the time of the census of Quirinius (pesher of Luke 2:6-7; The pesher is shown in Section 6 Part A: "Why Was Jesus Crucified?" ). If he had not been a pre-nuptial conception, he would have been 36 in September 30 AD. It was at that time that he had his first wedding with Mary Magdalene, who was the woman who anointed him with ointment (Luke 7:37-38). No conception occurred until December 32 AD. Mary was three months pregnant at the season of the crucifixion, in March 33 AD. Their second wedding was held two days before Good Friday, with the symbolism of the ointment again used (Mark 14:3-9). The ointment is called nard, an allusion to the Song of Solomon which was the liturgy for the weddings of the David kings (1:12 "while the king was on his couch, my nard gave forth its fragrance")
In September 33 AD Mary gave birth to a daughter. Jesus, who followed the dynastic rules for sex in a way that his parents had not done, waited three years until September 36 AD before coming out for sex with Mary again. A conception took place at once, and Jesus Justus was born in June, 37 AD.
There are several indications that Jesus Justus as a grown man adopted a different political viewpoint from that of his father, that of nationalist Judaism and militarism. It may well be explained as stemming from his mother Mary Magdalene, who was divorced from Jesus following the deep rift in their family on these questions. She was a militant anti-Roman nationalist, in the party of Simon Magus, where Jesus had started but later left.
The attitudes of Jesus Justus are shown in Part C of Revelation. It was during the years from 54 AD that the king Agrippa II and his twin sister Bernice preserved their rivalry on these questions, and Jesus Justus at first went with Bernice. The wealthy Herods had houses in the main capitals, and wherever they went Bernice kept a different house from Agrippa, gathering around her men who were out to destroy Rome. During the Jewish war in Judea Bernice acted heroically and was thereafter treated as a symbolic leader by anti-Romans. She claimed, in fact, to be the queen regnant, aware of the weakness of her brother.
In the houses of Bernice in Ephesus and Rome Jesus Justus acted as the Name, a title of the Davids when they gave a new name to initiants. It was their work as a bishop, an office they could stay in until they were 50 years old (CD 14:9-10). Jesus himself was past that age in the sixties AD, and Jesus Justus in his late twenties assumed the role, but in the house of Bernice. He appears there as the Name in Revelation 15:2; 16:9; 17:8.
After the arrival of both houses in Rome Agrippa's house the Vineyard at the south wall of the city became the cathedral, and Bernice having quarreled with other relatives occupied a small house on the west bank of the Tiber. For several years she hoped to continue her affair with Titus the son of the emperor, but she was finally rejected and disgraced. It was just at that time, in 73 AD, that Jesus Justus reached the age of 36, when he should marry. He put uppermost his duty to continue the David line, and came over to the house of Agrippa, which was by now the meeting place of Christians. At his coronation following his father's death he affirmed Christian principles.
He then adopted the disciplinary role of the Davids, punishing Roman members who had gone too far west, losing contact with their Jewish origins (Revelation 19:15).
Jesus Justus adopted the hereditary title the Lamb that belonged to all the Davids, but he is never called Christ in these chapters.
As may be calculated from Part D, Jesus III the son of Jesus Justus was born in June 77 AD, so was 36 in June 113 AD, the date when his wedding took place.
Jesus III was called the Christ in Revelation 20:4, 6. It was in 100 AD, when he would have been 23 years old, the age of initiation. The title may have been held back for Jesus Justus, but given to Jesus III as a sign of merit. Information about him indicates that in personality he was more like his grandfather, outgoing to others. He adopted the titles that had been assumed by his grandfather in his final years, which meant that he was not a supreme head.
It was when he was 29, in 106 AD at the death of Agrippa II, that Jesus III came under the authority of a new Priest-Pope, Alexander I. A Roman with no Jewish background, but capable and ambitious, Alexander transformed the papacy, according to the account of Revelation. He gave some authority to Jesus III as an equal, for following Jesus I his grandson should act in the combined role of Messiah of Israel and Aaron, but it becomes apparent that Jesus III functioned as his deputy rather than an equal.
His marriage in June 113 AD at the age of 36 followed several stages of betrothal. He is presented as agreeably accepting the status of a married man and stepping aside from cathedral duties to live privately with his wife for the purpose of conception. He kept the Essene marriage rule, delaying sex until three months after the wedding. A conception took place in September 113 AD, and his son Jesus IV was born in June 114 AD.
The last few verses of Revelation deal with the christening of the baby Jesus IV in June 114 AD. They mainly give indications of how a christening was conducted at that time, by a procedure that is still in use. When asked to name the child, his father affirmed the ancestral titles of the Davids. The last verse in the book states that the hierarchy was in the order Alexander I as the Pope, Jesus III as his deputy, and the child, a David crown prince, a third. Textual alterations disputed this wording in order to put the Davids first. The contest would go on, but eventually the Pope, chosen on merit not on privilege of birth, would absorb all the priestly and royal functions into himself, and the line of the Davids would die out.
A lasting and regrettable legacy of the Book of Revelation has been the belief of biblical literalists in a period of 1000 years that will see a supernatural change in the human condition. Chapter 20 is peppered with the term: "He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for 1000 years"...."Those who had not worshipped the beast...came to life, and reigned with Christ 1000 years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the 1000 years were ended".... "And when the 1000 years are ended, Satan will be loosed from his prison". "And the devil... was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever".
When these words are read by the rules of pesher, the term "1000 years" becomes "Year 1000". It is the date of a particular year. That year was 100 AD. The thousand years are already ended!
Since the 3rd century BC the Essenes, expelled from power in the Jerusalem temple, had practiced foretelling the future on the basis of their solar calendar. It depended on the number 7 for the days of the week, and in combination with the number 10, which had equal mathematical significance, it gave what seemed like a harmonious method of dividing time, in sets of 7 years, of 49 years called jubilees, 490 years for the major divisions of history, and finally 4900 years for the whole length of the present world order. The Apocalypse of Enoch, composed in the 3rd century BC, divided previous Jewish history since creation into sets of 490 years up to the 8th one,the year 3920, which they believed they had now reached. Knowing the system, they would be able to predict events in the next two sets of 490, 980 years, up to the year 4900, which would bring the Last Judgment (1 Enoch 91:12-117). But in the meantime, they were persuaded by political events that the year 3920, when they now lived, was that of the Restoration, when Essenes would be restored to power in the Jerusalem temple.
When their expectations were not fulfilled, a series of corrections were made from more accurate historical research, resulting in the correction that made 21 BC the year 3920 for the Restoration. (See Years in Chronology in Section 3 for the detail.) That meant that 41 BC before it was the year 3900, and so it began the last 1000 years until 4900.
Concurrently with the Essene calculations, the Therapeuts, also solarist, measured periods of time in sets of 40 years. It resulted from their imagery of an Exodus, which had lasted 40 years (Deuteronomy 2:7), followed by a Holy War, which they said in their War Scroll was to last 40 years (1QM 2:4-14). After 80 years there would be a conquest of the Promised Land, with a victory for them, gaining a political power for which both kinds of solarists hoped.
The two groups could ally, and one of their agreements was that the 3920 of the Essenes, falling in 21 BC, with an added 80 years for the Exodus and Holy War, came to 4000, which should fall in 60 AD (note that in calculating from BC to AD, subtract 1 from the BC date, as no zero year was allowed when the dates were finally set). That year would be 4000 from creation, according to their corrected dating. It should surely bring a crisis, one that would help them in the political tensions of the 1st century AD under the Roman occupation. The year 4000 of the Therapeuts would come long before the year 4900 of the Essenes, but they were compatible, and would surely bring intervention from heaven at both dates. The year 4000 in 60 AD was called the Last, the Eschaton.
Politics then entered into the 40 years between 41 and 1 BC, in the person of Herod the Great. He was beginning his rise in that year as an adventurous young man, and would be crowned king of the Jews in 37 BC. In the interpretation of the Therapeuts, building on an existing series, he had begun a New Exodus of 40 years in 41 BC. He meant new hope for the oppressed Jewish people.
He began well, but by 4 BC when he died, he had lost almost all support. He had degenerated into insanity in his later years, divorcing wives out of sexual jealousy, disinheriting sons out of fear of usurpation. As he had nine wives and numerous sons, and as his system of Diaspora taxation had brought in enormous wealth, he left a warring clan of relatives whose feuds dominated Jewish politics throughout the 1st century AD.
When dating began from creation, it was never certain whether to call the first unit a 0 or 1. The Therapeuts had called the 41- 1 BC generation of 40 years a 1, but they now saw that they should have called it a zero. Herod's 40 years could be treated as a zero generation and consequently cut out of the record. They could start a true 40 years without Herod in 1 BC. And, since 41 BC had also been the Essene year 3900 and both sides wanted to keep in step, the millennium also had to come down to 1 BC. For Essenes, that year was the start of the final 1000 years until 4900, its year 1 being 1 AD. For Therapeuts it was the start of a nearer goal that would bring them to 60 AD, the year 4000 when counted from 21 BC as the year 3920.
They cherished the double expectation until 60 AD, but heaven sent no crisis. Blaming the delay on their own failure in mission, the Therapeuts gave themselves another 40 years to try harder, as could always be done in their method of measuring time. Ever since the Hasmonean period following the Maccabees, they had repeatedly started a new Exodus of missionary activity when political events seemed to justify it. They now set their sights on pagan Rome, prepared for martyrdom if necessary. After 40 more years of mission, they would gain victory over Rome itself in 100 AD. That date , after all, would fulfill their hopes for the year 4000 from creation.
They called it year 1000 as that of the last millennium, a term used many times in Revelation 20:2-6. Although their adjustment would simply postpone the Essene millennium 4900 until 1040 AD, that date was so far off that Therapeuts began to work on the possibility that their 4000 would be the final end of everything. They found further ultimate symmetries within that figure, reflected in the pesher of the gospels and Acts. It was obvious that the figure could be divided into 4 x 1000, and the one they were now living through was the last, and could be called year 1000. The year we call 100 AD should bring their final triumph, a divinely sent victory over Rome.
Such a belief can be very persistent, given the fixation on patterns of numbers. To adjust again, they turned back to the Essene sets of 7, and the sets of 14 years produced by the intercalations of the north solar calendar. Heaven was giving them an extension to complete their missionary work in the form of another north solar quartodecimal period, fixed from 99 to 113 AD. It was unlikely that heaven's patience would stretch any further, and 113 AD would be the really final Eschaton.
It was indeed, final - final for their ontological mathematics. Some hung on a little longer, as 2nd century documents show, but the theory had lost all credit in the sophisticated intellectual environment of Rome. The belief in the Thousand Years was abandoned in the gnostic schools, and soon by all Christians.
Bernice the twin sister of Agrippa II figures as the villainess of the Revelation account. She was the "woman dressed in scarlet and purple, sitting on the scarlet Beast", of Revelation 17:3-4. The book calls her the Harlot. From the political point of view of Christians, she did a great deal of damage, and was responsible for discrediting both Jews and Christians in the eyes of the Roman emperors. Yet at one stage of her career she was a heroine. At the time of the Jewish War she stood up to the tyrannical Roman governor Florus, imploring him to stop the carnage for which he was responsible. Dressed as a Nazirite because she was under a vow, "she would come barefoot before the tribunal and make supplication to Florus, without any respect being shown to her, and even at the peril of her life." (Josephus, Wars of the Jews 2, 310-314).
Bernice had a lurid marital history. At 14 she had been given in marriage by her father Agrippa I to the son of the alabarch of Egypt . A year later he died and she became a widow at the age of 15.Then her father gave her in marriage to his brother Herod of Chalcis, her uncle. With him she had two sons, Bernicianus and Hyrcanus. When he died in 48 AD she did not remarry for some time, but during those years she committed incest with her timid twin brother Agrippa II. When the scandal became known, she married Polemo, the pagan king of Cilicia, who was interested only in her Herodian wealth He became Jewish in order to marry her, but the marriage did not last long and they were divorced. During the last stages of the Jewish War her public taunting of Rome aroused the passion of Titus the son of Vespasian, who was finishing the siege of Jerusalem when his father was called away to become emperor. She began an affair with Titus, which continued after both had come to Rome, to the great scandal of Roman citizens.
The story of Bernice's affair with Titus the son of Vespasian was tactfully omitted by Josephus, but was told by Roman historians. In true Herodian fashion she was prepared to use sex to gain power.
According to Dio Cassius (Epitomes, Books 65,66), in 75 AD "Bernice was at the very height of her power and consequently came to Rome along with her brother Agrippa ...she dwelt in the palace, cohabiting with Titus. She expected to marry him and was already behaving in every respect as if she were his wife; but when he perceived that the Romans were displeased with the situation, he sent her away. For, in addition to all the other talk there was, certain sophists of the Cynic school managed somehow to slip into the city ... and first Diogenes, entering the theatre when it was full, denounced the pair in a long, abusive speech, for which he was flogged; and after him Heras, expecting no harsher punishment, gave vent to many useless yelpings in true Cynic fashion, and for this was beheaded." (65, 15, 4-5). When Titus succeeded his father as emperor, Bernice came to Rome again, but he sent her away (66, 8, 1). (See Dio Cassius, Roman History 65 &
Dio Cassius, Roman History 66)
Accepting the title of queen because her brother was unmarried, she always lived in a separate house from him. When they reached Rome she went first to the house of Antipas Herod on the Tiber Island, where women leaders were permitted and which was given the code name Babylon in 1 Peter 5:13. One of her names was "Babylon" or "Babylon the Great": Much of her history is told through passages appearing to attack Rome under the name Babylon. Having fallen out with Antipas she moved to a small house on the west bank of the Tiber, and gathered around her men determined to overcome Rome. To them she became an icon, a priestess, the female figure to whom they were devoted. But when Titus was ordered by his father Vespasian to give her up, she fell into disgrace. She nevertheless survived as an inspiration to nationalists until she died in 111 AD.
In 43 AD the emperor Claudius with the help of the youthful Vespasian had set up Roman settlements in Britain. With the Roman forces came the Jewish ascetic mission in its pre-Christian form, bent on making proselytes to Judaism throughout the world. For them, Britain was "the last place of the Earth" (Acts 1:8). Britain was well known to eastern Jews, as is shown by several references in Josephus.
In the 40's AD the authority from home over such distant western places was James the brother of Jesus, using the title Joseph as that of the David crown prince. He was Joseph of Arimathea of the crucifixion story and Joseph Barsabbas Justus of Acts 1:23. His name remained associated with the British tradition.
This early establishment, which subsequently became Christian, is the one referred to in the account of the British monk Gildas, which has been thought to be unreliable because of its early date. Gildas was a sixth century British monk who lived at Glastonbury, and who on going to Brittany wrote a book about current problems in Britain(quoted in Geoffrey Ashe, King Arthur's Avalon, The Story of Glastonbury, 1957). Speaking of his country's past, he wrote that "the holy precepts of Christ" had come to "these islands, stiff with cold and frost, and in a distant region of the world.in the latter part, as we know, of the reign of Tiberius Caesar". Tiberius died in 37 AD. Gildas was either a little mistaken and meant the invasion of Claudius in 43 AD, or some missionaries had come following Julius Caesar.
In 67 AD in Jerusalem Agrippa II had showed in a speech that he knew about the Roman invasion of Britain. "Consider what a wall of defence had the Britons...The ocean surrounds them, they inhabit an island no less in extent than the part of the world in which we live; yet the Romans crossed the sea and enslaved them, and four legions now secure that vast island." (Josephus, Wars of the Jews 2, 378). He was referring to the invasion of Claudius in 43 AD.
Revelation 21: 24-27 is dealing with the taking over in 113 AD of the original Jewish mission center, probably at Glastonbury, to make it Christian. A head of the order of Japheth, a successor of Luke, traveled there and established fully Christian forms of worship. He was opposed by the existing Jewish ministers, and there was conflict between them, of which detail is given.
It would be at this stage that the Grail legend began, interpreting the cup of wine as the chalice of the Last Supper. It would have simply been a local gold cup, but on the theory of reproduction it would be revered as the actual cup.
Throughout parts C and D, some verses begin "I saw" followed by what is seen. The particular verb "to see" that is used means in the pesher that there were 2 cubits between the person seeing and what was seen. In all occurrences he was sitting in a row of 6 seats, the length of the meal table, in the outer western seat which was for a guest. The person he saw was sitting in the eastern one of the two central seats. The device gives valuable information on status.
"I" was a recorder, placed there to make a legal record of decisions of councils held at the table, and other such matters. His work was to preserve the notes he made in an archive, and for that reason he was in a position to become an author, writing an account of what transpired. The four men who introduce themselves as "I" were responsible for the four parts of Revelation, Parts A, B, C and D. Two of them give their name, "John", and the other two may be deduced.
Parts A and B come from the bishops of Ephesus, James Niceta for Part A and his twin brother John Aquila for Part B. They are introduced in the Clementine literature. John Aquila introduces himself as John from the outset, and so also does the John of Part D, many years later (Revelation 22:8). It may be seen that the later one was a descendant of John Aquila, using the name as a dynastic title.
For Part C, "I" does not name himself, but his identity may be discovered from the letters of Paul. He also was based in the province of Asia, at Ephesus, although he finally came to Rome. Paul sent his colleague Tychicus to places in Asia with letters (Colossians 4:7, Ephesians 6:21) and in 2 Timothy 4:12 he says "Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus". In the list of 7 men in Troas in Acts 20:4 Timothy , Tychicus and Trophimus appear, the latter two as "Asians". Timothy was a bishop of Ephesus when Paul wrote to him in 1 Timothy, and it was Timothy who became the adopted heir of the childless Agrippa II, as is shown through the pesher of Acts 14. The three may be identified as Herods, the three sons of Aristobulus Herod and his wife Salome, who joined the court of Agrippa II. They appear in Josephus, Antiquities 18, 137 under Jewish names, but as many Herods did they renounced Jewish identity. The three sons all became Christians under the tuition of Paul. Timothy the eldest, born September 36 AD, died in Neo's persecution, but Tychicus the next one, born 38 AD, continued as a Christian leader in Ephesus.
The Book of Revelation is replete with dates, making it a vital source of historical information. That is not apparent to the uninformed reader, who sees its sets of 7 as merely a stylistic feature, either to be taken literally as revealed truth, or dismissed as superstition. The writers, however, were intent on giving enduring information to an exclusive company of learned men. For them, learning consisted of Pythagorean mathematics and systematization in a context of belief that it was the way that heaven worked. They had discovered, they believed, the fundamental truth governing the human condition. Arithmetic controlled all events.
The Essene element in their gnostic schools used the number 7 as the basic unit preferred by heaven, on which its determinations of time and place, as well as events, were made. On that principle they were in agreement with Hellenised Jews such as Philo, who wrote, "I doubt whether anyone could adequately celebrate the properties of the number 7, for they are beyond all words" (On the Creation, 90)
The sets of 7 in Revelation give dates, and so are the starting point for historical study. The divisions of time were marked by symbols, of which the concrete meaning was known only to their insiders. The 7 trumpets, the 7 angels, the 7 plagues, the 7 bowls, were all a means of giving the dates of sets of 7 years or seasons. Events at those divisions are described, in symbolic language, but sufficiently clear to those who understood their special meaning, their pesher.
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