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’.