Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
If anyone is interested, this is a photo of my whiteboard showing where I feel Paul would be located in
time if he were to have been a participant of the Roman civil wars in Greece and Macedonia.
The timeline Paul 48-29 BCE has hypothetical ages on it from age 41-60 extrapolated from a
hypothetical age of 20 in 69 BCE when he may have left Damascus when Aretas III regained control of
that city after it had been in the control of Tigranes II for three years from 72-69 BCE.
This age timeline is of course not based on any actual evidence and is only to show feasibility of Paul
being in Damascus in 69 BCE and in Greece in 29 BCE.
Combatant ages from mid 30’s to mid 50’s were not uncommon during this time period and a Paul at
Pharsalus at age 41 is feasible as is 47 at Philippi as well as 52 during Anthony’s Parthian campain.
Paul being 58 at Actium is also feasible though at the outer edge of practicable (I am 58 and while no
spring chicken I can still keep up with 35-40 year olds as a professional carpenter, though I do feel it
This timeline also is in keeping with the creations of Roman military veteran colonies at Corinth,
Philippi, and Troas.
Here is what I propose.
1: Paul is recruited to participate in the war against Caesar on the side of Pompey and then returns to
the Levant after Pharsalus.
2: Paul is again recruited, by Brutus and Cassius, in the war against Anthony and Octavian. Paul is then
either returned to the Levant or absorbed into the army’s of Anthony.
3: Paul is part of Anthony’s Parthian war.
4: Paul is possibly at Actium under Anthony against Octavian.
5: Paul writes Romans after Actium on his way back to Judea but possibly never leaves Judea.
While I suspect that many of you here are certain that I am completely bonkers, I am presenting a new look at my updated whiteboard for anyone who might find it interesting.
If Paul is in the 1st century BCE then here is my take on it…...
First of all, I feel that the letters that we have by Paul, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, and Romans have the possibility of have being written between the battle of Philippi in 42 BCE and the battle of Actium in 31 BCE or perhaps a little later for Romans in 30-29 BCE in a 10-12 year period when Paul was possibly mostly in Greece and Asia Minor perhaps as part of Antony’s auxiliary forces.
The letters: Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and 1 and 2 Corinthians seem to be compilations of smaller letters that may also have been edited and added too at a later date by others. Please see viewtopic.php?f=3&t=3487
I have no idea whatsoever when Galatians may have been composed. Or even who the intended group is_’Galatians’ from Asia Minor or ‘Galatians’ from Gaul_in Caesar’s and or Antony’s army. Paul could have been in contact with either group in the following scenarios.
So here goes….
1: Paul returns to Damascus from Arabia in 72 BCE, stays there three years, and then leaves in 69 BCE when Tigranes II loses control of the city back to Aretas III who seems to want Paul arrested for some reason. Was Paul back in Damascus from Arabia because he thought it made him safe from Aretas because the Armenians had control of that area now? Only to need to escape the city when Aretas regained control three years later?
Impossible to know but interesting to contemplate.
2: Paul goes to Syria and Cilicia perhaps to avoid arrest by Aretas III or perhaps for a means to make a living, possibly both.
3: Paul goes to Jerusalem 14 years later in 55 BCE well after death of Aretas III in around 62 BCE. It is also interesting to note that 55 BCE is when Roman forces move south through the Levant from Syria on way to Egypt to reinstate the deposed Ptolemy XII to the throne there.
Antony with Galatian troops from Gaul was also part of this campaign and this possibly could be Paul’s introduction to the ‘Galatians’. However, I can find nothing in the letters of Paul that make any mention of this event.
Paul may have been part of the Parthian invasion by Crassus in 53 BCE but I tend to think this is not the case. If 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 is a reference to Antony’s Parthian campaign then it seems unlikely that Paul wouldn’t equate it with the earlier failed attempt by Crassus (all pure speculation of course).
4: Paul perhaps goes to Illyricum and Greece in his first journey to Europe as an auxiliary combatant on the side of Pompey in 48 BCE, and returns to the Levant with his auxiliary brothers after they being pardoned by Caesar after the battle of Pharsalus.
Galatian troops from Galatia in Asia Minor also fought on Pompey’s side during this conflict making it possible that Paul could have encountered them at this time. However, Antony and Caesar had Galatian troops from Gaul with then at this conflict as well, some of the same Galatians that had been with Antony when he went through the Levant on his way to Egypt to restore Ptolemy XII to power earlier in 55 BCE.
5: Paul is possibly next in Europe for a second journey in 42 BCE as a combatant at Philippi, probably under Cassius as Cassius did most of his recruiting in the Levant, Syria, and Asia Minor.
After Cassius commits suicide, Paul and other survivors of his camp probably retreat to Brutus’ camp for safety. There, he and the other forces of Brutus are insulted and harangued by Antony and Octavian’s forces leading to Paul writing about it in 1 Thessalonians 2:2.
Galatians from both Asia Minor and Gaul are at this battle as well with the Galatians from Asia Minor switching sides to the Triumvirs, Antony and Octavian, from the Liberators, Brutus and Cassius, at the last minute.
He is then possibly absorbed into Antony’s military after that war and is stationed possibly at Athens and perhaps also Ephesus until he goes into Asia with Antony’s forces during the Parthian war of 37-35 BCE (see 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 (be aware that the original Greek version has the word ‘Asia’ in the passage not ‘Provence of Asia’ as it is usually translated into English)).
Galatians from Asia Minor as well as Gaul were part of this campaign as well.
This time period right after the battle of Philippi is when he was probably incarcerated with other captured auxiliary combatants and optimate Roman supporters of the Liberators forces while Antony and Octavian decided what to do with them. Thessalonia was the governing seat of Macedonia at this time and would probably have been the logical place to intern and sort out the POW’s from the fighting at Philippi. This is when I suspect that Philippians 1:1-3:1 without 2:5-11 was possibly written.
From 42-37 BCE, when not in Alexandria or engaged in problems with Octavian in Italy, Mark Antony was predominantly in Athens as well as Ephesus. This time slot is when I suspect that the other shorter letters of Philippians, Thessalonians, and 1 Corinthians may have been written. Corinth, Philippi, and Troas all being newly created Roman military veteran colonies (RMVC) with troops from Pompey’s war with Caesar as well as veterans of the Liberators war being settled in them.
40-37 BCE is also when the Parthians had invaded Syria, Asia Minor, and the Levant and controlled those areas until pushed back by the Romans and their forces making return by Paul to the Levant unlikely during this time.
6: Paul is possibly part of Antony’s Armenian war of 35-34 BCE and is then perhaps back in the Levant until the battle of Actium a few years latter. Although, no hint of this can be found by me in the letters of Paul that we have.
Galatians from Asia Minor and Gaul were present at this campaign as well.
7: Paul is then possibly at the battle of Actium under Antony for his third journey to Europe and is sent back to the Levant with the other auxiliary troops at the conclusion of that war, possibly after Herod states his intention to side with and be loyal to Octavian. This is when I suspect that 2 Corinthians and Romans may have been composed. However, to be fair, I find nothing conclusive in either 2 Corinthians or Romans to back this up. 2 Corinthians 1:1-7 is as close as I get.
Galatians from Asia Minor and Gaul are present at this conflict as well with the Galatians from Asia Minor switching sides at the last minute once again, from Antony to Octavian this time.
It is worth noting that the assemblies that Paul is writing to in Rome could be comprised of combatants that he could have met at any of the conflicts named above. This could go a long way towards explaining how Paul could be writing to people that know him in Rome when he has never been there himself. Also, a lot of mail would have been going back and forth between Rome and Greece at this time making sending a letter to Rome relatively easy.
It’s also worth noting that one of the main themes in Paul’s authentic letters is that everybody get along with each other, exactly what one should expect if he is writing to people (soldiers) that have been on one side or another in the above civil wars and are now living with each other in the aftermath.
While Caesar versus Pompey and the Liberators versus the Triumvirs were ideological at their base, Parthia and Armenia were just attempts by Antony to gain renown and money to build his prestige with the Romans to upstage Octavian, and Octavian’s war with Antony was just a pure and simple power grab. This left a lot of soldiers of these civil and opportunity wars rubbing elbows with each other in veteran colonies and other locals that had lost friends and family to both sides of the wars, now cohabiting with each other. In the case, especially of Antony, with soldiers from both sides of earlier wars fighting together with him in Parthia and Armenia.
8: Now this is where we lose sight of Paul. Did he ever leave the Levant? Did his plans to go to Spain to campaign in the Cantabrian wars fall through because Octavian drastically reduced his military forces at this time making the use of auxiliary forces from the Levant unnecessary? Was he just to old now? Did he die there? Are there more letters of his to other Gentile assemblies there, perhaps in the Decapolis, Syria, or areas like Beirut, buried in the sand, waiting to be discovered?
Personally, I would love that to be true.
To summarize: this model shows that while a king Aretas IV has never been shown to be in control of Damascus in the 1st century a Paul in the 1st century BCE could have been in danger of arrest by a king Aretas III who was in control of Damascus from 85-63 BCE except for three years from 72-69 BCE which might correspond to the three years Paul may have written about. It also shows how Paul could have made three journeys to Europe during the civil wars being fought there in the 1st century BCE, the first in 49-48 BCE, the second in 43-42 BCE, and a third time in 32-31 BCE and how and why he returned to the Levant after each campaign. It also shows how Paul could have come into contact with Galatians from Asia Minor and Gaul and why his letter to the assembly of the Galatians has no city name in it. It also helps explain the dire language of 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 which in the province of Asia in the 1st century would be harder to explain.
A reason for Paul wanting to go to Spain is also evident in this model as after Actium quite a few soldiers were now out of work and Spain was the only game left in town. It also addresses how Paul could be writing to assemblies in Rome without ever having been there. As well as the militaristic language and imagery inherent in his letters as well as implying that he is a fellow soldier.
Anyway, no way to prove any of this, and I think there is a better chance that Jesus will show up than any Christian theologians will buy into any of this, but it is fun to play around with, and for someone as obviously as nuts as myself it makes a certain amount of sense.
Of course YMMV, and please, if you find anything obviously wrong with any of this, I would love to hear about it. Just remember, it’s all in good fun.