Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
FransJVermeiren
Posts: 144
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2016 1:14 am

Re: Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.

Post by FransJVermeiren » Thu Aug 04, 2016 12:58 pm

Tenorikuma wrote:
Josephus does mention two men named Rufus: a Roman solder, who captures and crucifies a Jewish partisan, and a captain (Terentius Rufus) who is associated with Simon bar Giora; and in a section about the revolt in Cyrene he mentions a Jew named Alexander who was falsely accused. (War book 6)

Simon bar Giora has been mentioned a couple of times in this thread, but there is a 99 years old discussion of this passage that, as far as I can see, is not mentioned above. Although this discussion is part of a bizarre book that, for example, extremely defames Josephus, in my opinion the arguments of the authors shed an interesting light on the passage of Simon of Cyrene and his sons Alexander and Rufus.

In the thread ‘The woman with the hemorrhage, a political story?’ (on page 6) DCHindley mentioned the book ‘Simon Son of Man’ (with a long subtitle), written by John I. Riegel and John H. Jordan in 1917. DCHindley guided me to the book on the internet and I am actually reading it. On page 95-97 the authors discuss Simon of Cyrene, a discussion out of which I eliminate the substantial and daring philological part. I cannot evaluate it as I haven’t mastered Hebrew.

So here I only take into account Riegel’s and Jordan’s non-philological arguments. These are as follows:
• It is quite improbable (quote) ‘that a Jewish parent bearing the distinctively Hebrew name of Simon should depart so far from his ancestral customs as to give one of his sons a Greek and the other a Latin name.’ (end of quote)
• In this story the father is identified through two sons, in contrast to the normal use in those days, where men were usually identified through their fathers. The identities of the sons (quote) ‘have not been established or have disappeared forever from the pages of human history.’ (end of quote)
• There is only one event in Jewish history where Alexander and Rufus can be linked to each other. They are Tiberius Alexander and Terentius Rufus, two generals under Titus at the siege of Jerusalem.

The first two arguments are not really specific, but they suggest that perhaps not a real-life family has been put on the stage here. The third argument is an important one, because it draws attention to a historical Simon – Alexander – Rufus combination that may be unique in ancient history. In this historical combination however, Simon on the one hand and Alexander and Rufus on the other are not father and sons, but military opponents, as Simon bar Giora was the commander-in-chief of the defenders of Jerusalem. That exactly the generals Alexander and Rufus are mentioned is understandable. Tiberius Alexander was the chief of staff of the Roman army under Titus, so he was Simon bar Giora’s opponent with the same function. Why Rufus is mentioned becomes clear from the quote from Josephus’s War below. I summarize the previous sentences.

At the capture of Jerusalem Simon bar Giora hided in an underground passage in the hope to escape through a tunnel to be mined. But the work was in vain and Simon was forced to leave his hiding place. (quote) ‘So Simon, thinking that he could deceive the Romans by creating a panic, dressed himself up in white tunics and, fastening over them a purple cape, he emerged suddenly out of the ground on the very spot where the Temple had once stood. At first those who saw him stood aghast and did not move, but after a while they came nearer and asked who he was. This Simon refused to tell, and bade them summon the general. They ran to fetch him, and Terentius Rufus, left in command of the army, appeared at once. After hearing the whole truth from Simon, he kept him fettered and reported to Caesar how he was captured.’ (end of quote) (War VII, 29-31). (Caesar = Titus) Terentius Rufus is not mentioned haphazardly as a second general, but because he was the Roman general who arrested Simon.

As my research has pointed out that Jesus was active as a rebel leader during the war of the Jews against the Romans, it becomes clear why Simon bar Giora is introduced in Mark’s gospel. Simon was Jesus’ commander and so he deserved a place in the story, together with his Roman adversaries Tiberius Alexander and Terentius Rufus.
After I discovered Simon bar Giora in the parable of the ten pounds in the Gospel of Luke, this might be a second mention of Simon in the Gospels, albeit in disguise both times, understandably.

With thanks to DCHindley for drawing my attention to Riegel’s and Jordan’s ‘Simon Son of Man’.

Giuseppe
Posts: 2717
Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:37 am
Location: Vicenza (Italy)

Re: Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.

Post by Giuseppe » Thu Aug 04, 2016 9:26 pm

Very great! Thanks Frans and DCH!

The Cyrenaic episode describes therefore the final collateral effects of the war, just before the end: the complete elimination of the last rebels in the more remote places (the far Cyrene and the hidden underground). I know the argument of Sid Martin about Simon bar Jora: he would be the crucified Jesus on Golgotha or Place of Skull : the Capituline Hill in Rome.

I can't wait to read your book. Even if I am a bit skeptical prima facie about the proposed identity of Jesus, I find basically correct the idea that Mark is allegory of the war events. That is the more simple reading , even if Mcn and not Mark was the earliest Gospel.

And especially, I am curious about your views on Paul and Hebrews.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

User avatar
DCHindley
Posts: 2083
Joined: Mon Oct 07, 2013 9:53 am
Location: Ohio, USA

Re: Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.

Post by DCHindley » Sat Aug 06, 2016 6:31 am

FransJVermeiren wrote:So here I only take into account Riegel’s and Jordan’s non-philological arguments. These are as follows:

1) It is quite improbable (quote) ‘that a Jewish parent bearing the distinctively Hebrew name of Simon should depart so far from his ancestral customs as to give one of his sons a Greek and the other a Latin name.’ (end of quote)
That is a rather subjective thing for R&J to have said, as the summaries and texts of ancient Hellenized Judeans (poets, tragedians, etc) strongly suggest that a person having a good Hebrew or Aramaic name is not a good indicator of a person's propensity to follow ancestral traditions strictly or laxly. Not every modern day Jew is a Hasidic Jew, so someone named Yakob can be non-observant and probably uses the Anglicized (and Christian) version of the name, "James", for everyday business and pleasure.
2) In this story the father is identified through two sons, in contrast to the normal use in those days, where men were usually identified through their fathers. The identities of the sons (quote) ‘have not been established or have disappeared forever from the pages of human history.’ (end of quote)
This has been discussed at length on this forum, a discussion spearheaded by Ben Smith. Check it out. I do not recall if the matter was resolved, or even which side of the spectrum the discussion leaned.
3) There is only one event in Jewish history where Alexander and Rufus can be linked to each other. They are Tiberius Alexander and Terentius Rufus, two generals under Titus at the siege of Jerusalem.
I still cannot shake the feeling that the two names being in conjunction is actually a matter of chance.
With thanks to DCHindley for drawing my attention to Riegel’s and Jordan’s ‘Simon Son of Man’.
There is a summary of the language used in Riegel's book in some posts floating about, but like you I am no master of the language. Consequently, some of it may be just plain wroooong. :thumbdown:
http://www.earlywritings.com/forum/view ... gel#p42686

DCH

Giuseppe
Posts: 2717
Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:37 am
Location: Vicenza (Italy)

Re: Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.

Post by Giuseppe » Sat Aug 06, 2016 9:55 am

.

I still cannot shake the feeling that the two names being in conjunction is actually a matter of chance
It is not only that the strage "coincidence" but the fact that in Josephus also a Simon is captured by Romans just before the tragic end of someone (the battle for Jerusalem in Josephus). Cyrene also remembers the final act of a repressed sediction therefore his mention works as well as the reference to the arrest of Simon (bar Jora): the collateral effects of a tragic defeat.

In the gospel, the arrest of Simon is the tragic collateral effect of the imminent crucifixion of Jesus.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

User avatar
JoeWallack
Posts: 892
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 8:22 pm
Contact:

Jason of Cyrene

Post by JoeWallack » Wed Oct 18, 2017 6:56 am

JW:
15:21
And they compel one passing by, Simon of Cyrene, coming from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to go [with them], that he might bear his cross.
Someone may have already mentioned this but the best guess for the "Cyrene" reference above may be Jason of Cyrene:
Jason of Cyrene (Greek: Ἰάσων κυρήναιος) was a Hellenistic Jew who lived about 100 BC and wrote a history of the times of the Maccabees down to the victory over Nicanor (175-161 BC). This work is said to have been in five books and formed the basis of the present 2 Maccabees.[1] See 2 Maccabees Wikisource-logo.svg 2:19-32.,[1] especially:
Jason's book would have been hugely popular in "Mark's" (author) time (and another Jewish story written in Greek). You have parallels all over the place with GMark such as the Martyrdom of the 7 brothers (Woman with seven sons):
she is known variously as Hannah,[1] Miriam,[2] and Solomonia.[3]
Sound familiar? ("Mary Magdalene, and Mary the [mother] of James, and Salome").

I believe our own KK has washed her foot in these waters.



Joseph

The New Porphyry

Giuseppe
Posts: 2717
Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:37 am
Location: Vicenza (Italy)

Re: Jason of Cyrene

Post by Giuseppe » Wed Oct 18, 2017 9:23 am

JoeWallack wrote:
Wed Oct 18, 2017 6:56 am


Jason's book would have been hugely popular in "Mark's" (author) time (and another Jewish story written in Greek). You have parallels all over the place with GMark such as the Martyrdom of the 7 brothers (Woman with seven sons):
Curiously, the woman with seven sons is also the woman with seven husbands in Mark and the woman possessed by seven demons in Luke. This because Mary Magdalene allegorizes the Sophia mother of the Demiurge (''abort'') who is also the usurper of Sophia (as ruler of the seven stellary archons who possessed Sophia).

Salome is also a reference to Sophia (gained by Solomon).
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

User avatar
Ben C. Smith
Posts: 4037
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:18 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sun Oct 22, 2017 2:32 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Thu Apr 28, 2016 5:49 am
To address Joe's helpful table:
JoeWallack wrote:One way to measure relative evidence for fiction is to determine the percent of pieces of information in a section that have evidence of fiction. For the offending verse:

15:21

Information Evidence of fiction Commentary
And they compel one passing by, Unlikely Unlikely that someone just passing by would be forced to carry the stake
Simon Repetition 5 different Simons
of Cyrene, Unusual presentation The Greek is not "of Cyrene", it's "Cyrenian", a name and not a derivative
coming from the country, Contrived/Unorthodox Greek is "from the field" same as the LA and interrupts the identification
the father of Unorthodox Identification is normally by father.
Alexander and Rufus, to go [with them], Unusual Alexander is a Greek name and Rufus is a Latin name
that he might bear his cross. Contrived Simon the lead disciple abandons Jesus and a different Simon takes up Jesus' stake

Every piece of information here tests positive for fiction.
....

The last two rows on the table are the only ones, IMHO, that bear explaining. Yes, Sim(e)on is a Jewish name, Alexander a Greek name, and Rufus a Roman name. That Jews often took on Greek and/or Roman nicknames is a commonplace, but the nice threefold distribution might mean something. I am not sure what, but it might. The switching out of Simon from Cyrene (15.21) for Simon Peter (8.33-34) also seems slightly convenient; something weird might be going on there (but again, bear in mind that Simon was a very common name).
I am now prepared to suggest here that the threefold distribution of ethnic names (Hebrew Simon, Roman Rufus, Greek Alexander) in a single Jewish family is probably nothing unusual enough to raise eyebrows. I refer to pages 116-118 of volume 2 of the Corpus Papyrorum Judaicarum (The Early Roman Period); all underlining is my own:

The last problem connected with the Edfu ostraka is that of names. It was pointed out above (Vol. I, Introduction) that the Jews of Egypt called themselves by various names, Hebrew and non-Hebrew alike, and that a careful investigation of these names makes very important additions to our knowledge of the general cultural life of Egyptian Jewry (cf. Vol. I, pp. 27 sqq., 83 sq.). Edfu is the only place in Egypt where this problem may be studied comprehensively. The general impression is that of complete chaos. The Jews in Edfu called themselves by Hebrew, Semitic, Greek, Egyptian, and even Roman names, and no special preference for one kind of name or another can be established. The following list may illustrate the diversity of names of the Edfu Jews:

Hebrew and Semitic: Abdous, Abramos, Barnabis, Jakoubos, Jasikos, Jesous, Johannes, Josepos, Joudas, Maria, Marous, Sarra, Sambathion, Selemon, Simon.
Greek: Aischylos, Alexander, Alexion, Antipatros, Apollon, Chaireas, Damion, Demas, Didymos, Diogas, Diophanes, Dosas, Jason, Nikon, Philon, Teuphilos, Thaumasios, Thedetos, Theodotos, Tryphas.
Egyptian: Apion, Bokchoris, Pates, Pesouris, Petays, Psilychion, Thermauthos, Thermouthion.
Roman: Achillas Rufus, Akietos (= Quietus?), Marcus Anni(u)s, Antonius Rufus, Q. Caecilius, Marcus Verrius.

Even within the limits of individual families this mixture of names can be observed. One family only, evidently the most 'aristocratic', strongly maintained the Roman-Hellenistic spirit which dominated the family. The father was a Roman citizen, Antonius Rufus, probably a freedman belonging to a Roman family bearing the cognomen Rufus; his three sons have Greek names: Nikon, Theodotos, and Ptollis; one of them, Theodotos, had a Roman nickname Niger; the two sons of Nikon were Tryphas and Diophanes, and a son of Ptollis was called after his uncle Theodotos-Niger (in the receipts he is sometimes mentioned as 'Niger' only). Other families were far less snobbish. Psilychion-Alexion-Thedetos, and the three sons of the latter, Meious, Philippos, and Ptollis, reveal a mixture of Greek and Egyptian names, like the family of Jason-Philon, whose son bore the Egyptian name Pesouris and whose two grandsons were called by the Greek names Dosas and Melchion. In other families Hebrew names were frequent, though intermingled with names of different origin: Jacob-Theodotos-Jacob is one example; Jason-Joseph-Sambathion is another; and the five generations Joseph-Aischylos-Joseph-Bokchoris-Apollas are the best example of the intermingling of names of three various origins in the same family.

Egypt is not Cyrene, but both are in northern Africa. And the dates for these ostraka are a bit later than the alleged time period for Simon, Alexander, and Rufus (around AD 70-116), but not by much. We do not always have the data we need for the exact time period or location for which we are seeking information. But this is pretty close, and family naming traditions tend to be fairly conservative, I think. At any rate, it would seem that there is precedent for Jewish families of the Diaspora bearing a mixture of ethnic names, and I do not think that the trifecta of Simon, Alexander, and Rufus has to mean anything on its own merits. It can, but it does not have to.
ΤΙ ΕΣΤΙΝ ΑΛΕΘΕΙΑ

User avatar
Blood
Posts: 856
Joined: Sun Oct 06, 2013 8:03 am

Re: Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.

Post by Blood » Mon Oct 23, 2017 4:02 am

Tenorikuma wrote: • There is only one event in Jewish history where Alexander and Rufus can be linked to each other. They are Tiberius Alexander and Terentius Rufus, two generals under Titus at the siege of Jerusalem.

The third argument is an important one, because it draws attention to a historical Simon – Alexander – Rufus combination that may be unique in ancient history. In this historical combination however, Simon on the one hand and Alexander and Rufus on the other are not father and sons, but military opponents, as Simon bar Giora was the commander-in-chief of the defenders of Jerusalem.
Presuming for a moment that it was Mark's intention to link Simon bar Giora with Simon of Cyrene, what could have been the motivation to make him the father of Roman military adversaries? That doesn't make sense (acknowledging that Mark is under no obligation to "make sense" to us).

Given the pro-Roman bias of Mark, it seems to me that if the allusion to "Alexander and Rufus" was intended to convey the Roman generals under Titus, then Simon of Cyrene could not have been an allusion to Simon bar Giora.
“The only sensible response to fragmented, slowly but randomly accruing evidence is radical open-mindedness. A single, simple explanation for a historical event is generally a failure of imagination, not a triumph of induction.” William H.C. Propp

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Ben C. Smith, Bing [Bot], Google [Bot], JoeWallack, John2, Kapyong, MrMacSon, rakovsky, Stefan Kristensen, Ulan and 31 guests