Tiberius Julius Alexander As Pilate of Mors Pilati

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Tiberius Julius Alexander As Pilate of Mors Pilati

Post by yakovzutolmai »

Rather than pollute another fine person's thread with this hypothesis any longer, I'll state it simply here.

From the legends associated with Mors Pilati, we have two aspects of Pilate's life:
  • His attempt to preach about Jesus in Rome
  • His association with the Veronica legend
The similarities between the Veronica legend and Edessa's Doctrine of Addai suggest a dependent relationship. Edessa's Addai hagiography is rather easily sorted. The kingdom was considered heavily Marcionite by population at the time of its greatest relevance to classical history. This was during the reign of Abgar the Great, who was a patron of Christianity around the time even a late orthodoxy would have emerged. Edessa had only recently become a Roman client (and was on its way to becoming a province), and prior to 90 AD may not even been an independent state (the kingdom being sold to the ruler's cousin shortly before Trajan's war against Parthia).

I'm inclined to think that Addai and Edessa's Christian heritage was fabricated ca. 200 AD, and that the place was entirely Marcionite before Rome's war in 165. The Christian Abgar who wrote to Jesus must be an invention.

There may therefore be some reason to think that Addai is dependent on the Veronica legend.

Some identify Veronica as Berenice, and so we can date her coming to Rome to around 75 (with Titus). Around this time, perhaps until Domitian's reign begins, Tiberius Alexander is made Prefect of the Praetorian Guard.

Tiberius is also responsible for persecuting James and Simon following the death of Theudas. He also plays a pivotal role in support Vespasian's rise to become emperor.

The oft-discussed notion of Flavian sponsorship of some form of Christianity comes into play here. Titus Flavius Clemens almost certainly being the historical basis for Clement.

I identify Theudas as the historical Jesus (who was the originator of the movement carried on by James and Simon, but the subject of that movement was a version of "Elchasai", a Christ about whom Theudas preached, the same Elchasai being remembered by Islam as Mohammed in his travels to Jerusalem).

I think Mark was a dramatic parody of the movement of Theudas, James and Simon (50-70 AD), written for the enjoyment of the rival Christianity centered in the Flavian household. To avoid embarrassing Tiberius Alexander and the Herodians, Antipas and Pilate are the narrative's villains, and Jesus is transposed into the 30s (as a composite of Elchasai, Theudas, James and Simon; the death of Theudas being given to a previously allegorical "John the Baptizer").

Therefore, the Christianity of Elchasai is introduced to Rome in 50, but then later the Herodians and Tiberius Alexander attempt to supplant it with Flavian Christianity ca. 75-82.

With Theudas as the historical Jesus, Tiberius Alexander is the historical Pilate of Jesus's story (i.e.: the actual Pilate never had contact with any Jesus, let us say the Samaritan prophet was in the mold of a Dositheos).

Thus, the Pilate of the Veronica legend and Mors Pilati is Tiberius Alexander.

Additional evidence comes from a Marcionite conceit which says that the time from Christ being introduced in Rome to Marcion is 115 years, which is the same amount of time between Tiberius and Antoninus. This account comes from Tertullian, who, by associating these names with the respective emperors, and believe Christ's time to have been in the 15th year of Tiberius, locates Marcion in the 140s.

Tertullian's mention of this is very strange. Why would the Marcionites care that the distance of time from Christ to Marcion happens to match the distance of time between two emperors? It's an oddly irrelevant coincidence to make enough of a big deal about, for a critic to reference it apologetically. Tertullian also compares the coming of Marcion to the Antonine plague, clearly a metaphor, and yet in context of the coincidental mention of Antoninus, oddly apropos.

I think the Marcionite account means something totally different to them, and Tertullian is writing apologetically. Implying that the Marcionite invocation of 115 is important or convincing in some way, forcing Tertullian to explain it away.

Let us propose that the Marcionite Christ is different than Tertullian's. For simplicity, let's say he is more similar to Elchasai. So this Christ (the Christ of Theudas, whom Valentinus later invokes) is introduced to Rome in 50 AD. 33 years later (fudging history a little for the sake of numerology, assuming this is what has made this convention popular), by 83 AD, Domitian's persecutions conclude what Tiberius Alexander began in terms of persecuting the "true" Christians. Never mind that Domitian is persecuting Christians of all shapes and sizes. Tiberius would have been famous for persecuting zealots from Alexandria to Judea to Rome.

In 165 AD, Rome conquers Nisibis (Antioch Mygdonia), which I identify as the home of Ignatius of Antioch. Thus, I believe Ignatius introduces "Marcionite" beliefs to Asia and Rome, as a political prisoner brought back from Nisibis for inspection and trial. I identify the Elchasaite Christians as persistent troublemakers with an anti-Roman bent, for example in their "Jewish" uprising during the Kitos war in defense of Osroes I of Parthia.

165 is also when the Antonine Plague sweeps in from the East, possibly spread by the same returning cohorts which bring Ignatius with them. Thus, literally, Marcion is bringing the plague with him.

So, 115 years from 50 to 165, seeing the two times Elchasai was introduced to Rome. 33 years later, 83 and 198. 198 being the beginning of Caracalla's reign, in which he heavily promoted the Serapian cult which has theological parallels to the Christianity of Tiberius Alexander and the Flavians. Caracalla was a Sampsiceramid, and I believe this dynasty had a political and theological conflict with Jewish Adiabene. Caracalla's activities in Arbela include turning out and defiling the royal tombs there. As a result, I conclude that he was a persecutor of Elchasaite beliefs in its homeland (this belief system almost certainly behind: Yazidism, Manicheanism, Mandeanism and Islam - therefore serving as a meaningful geopolitical threat to Rome).

So the Marcionites are saying that the true faith, introduced to Rome twice, met its two persecutors twice, 33 years later. The two periods separated by 115 years. Tiberius (Alexander) and (Marcus Aurelius) Antoninus being the two persecutors.

This convention would have been meaningful as a way for the Marcionites to tie themselves to the pure and original Christianity of the James movement in Rome, rejecting the orthdox catholicizers as Flavian Christians or Serapians. In this sense, because the catholicizers so heavily emphasized apostolic succession, the 115 year convention would have been an important element of the debate between Marcionites and Orthodox. As a result, it would merit Tertullian's time in deconstructing it with a misdirecting explanation.

It is because of Tertullian's contemporaries' belief in Christ living during the 15th year of Tiberius, and the Marcionite 115 years convention, that Marcion is ever associated with ca. 150. I would propose that there was hardly any church in Rome worth mention during the era of Pius, and that Marcion's impact was felt more in Asia from 165-185, marking this period as the time in which orthodox Christian texts first emerge as a reaction to Marcionite beliefs.

We can also identify a proto-Christian movement (as mentioned by Pliny the Younger) sprung out of the Flavian household. We can identify this movement's legacy by its elevation of the importance of Pilate, Titus or Tiberius and the Veronica legend (i.e.: Avenging the Savior).

This could explain a lot, for one, perhaps the Pauline literature came out of the Flavian Christianity of the 70-90s, masquerading as having originated in the 50s, with the express purpose of suppressing the remnant Elchasaite Christianity leftover from the movement of James.
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