There are two things I cannot do:
1) Demonstrate that the pre-existent Arab triad of Father-Christ, Mother and Son is connected to Adiabene.
2) Connect the Boethusians to the James community (Bathyrans), except speculatively.
We can reasonably conclude that both the Gnostics and later Islam draws from the solar triad tradition, and at best orthodox Christianity has built its pseudo-history as a reaction to it. However, I cannot say that Jewish Adiabene was a specific catalyst for an identification of an historical Christ. We could identify Gnostic Christianity as purely mythicist, incorporating historicist elements as a reaction to orthodoxy. On the other hand, there are essential elements of the historical narrative that clearly derive from a mythicist origin.
Consider the three Marys.
The mother, the sister-wife, and the virgin beauty represent three aspects of a single divinity. The virgin-whore-crone motif is common for Arabian moon goddesses. The three Marys are not reflecting a historical fact, but rather represent a mythological motif. These are the consorts of the Christ-god.
Consider Joseph and Asenath:
In this text, both Joseph and Asenath from the Genesis narrative are dressed up as the Syrian sun god and moon goddess. These same common mythological motifs are even applied to Mary the Mother of Jesus in the Catholic faith (crown of stars, Queen of Heaven, etc.).
I have to conclude that the Gnostic, mythicist narrative is not independent from some historical basis for Christianity, and then later reacts to it. The historicist narrative is incorporating mythicist elements.
That said, the most likely case for a historical Jesus would be a real-world figure who is identified as an important incarnation of the mythical Christ-god. This is where the mythicist narrative enters history, and anchors mythicist motifs to a loose historical and geographical (or at least factional) context.
Returning to Joseph and Asenath, what is remarkable is that Asenath is hid away in a tower. This connects with the "Magdala" of Magdalena. I believe that I have understood the various tower motifs (e.g.: Rapunzel) to have derived via (dubious) "Sangreal" legends that allegedly secretly insert the history of Mary Magdalene into European folk stories. Otherwise, I'm not sure if the maiden in the tower motif shows up anywhere. I'd prefer to think that the Moon Goddess of Syria/Arabia is associated with some celestial tower, but I cannot find an example of this.
If you are aware of any context for the maiden in the tower, please share.
Returning to the time of Simon Boethus, the issue of Mariamne Boethus's son Herod confuses (his wife Herodias is a somewhat essential historicist link to John the Baptist). Herod disappears from Josephus's narrative, and yet Philo seems to be aware of more prominent Herodian princes ca. 33 CE than Josephus is.
There is also Cleopatra of Jerusalem, who has a son Herod mentioned only once and never again (one assumed he died in childhood), and the other son is the famous Philip the Tetrach. We have no context for who this Cleopatra is or why she was married to Herod. There are rather bizarre speculations of her being a secret daughter of Caesar.
Finally, Mariamne and Simon are disgraced, along with Herod Boethus.
I would prefer to speculate that the following is true:
1) Cleopatra is a relation of Simon Boethus, perhaps his sister, and her elevation coincides with his. I link Simon Boethus's elevation to the peace deal Rome and Parthia struck in 23 BCE, and I hold the Parthian rebel Tiridates as a key negotiator (whom I believe is Philip II of Seleucia/Philippion of Chalcis/Ma'nu III Saflul of Osrhoene). I would like to think Simon and Cleopatra are his relations (perhaps, via Ptolemy Menneus's marriage to Alexandra the Hasmonean).
2) Herod Boethus is actually the Herod of Cleopatra, whereas Mariamne was never married to Herod the Great for being too young. Instead, Mariamne marries Archelaus. Perhaps the last minute change to Herod's will which reinserts Archeleus is due to a political alliance stemming from a marriage to Mariamne.
This would assume Josephus is lying, and his reasons for doing so (Nicolaus of Damascus is the source) relate to a simple political phenomenon. Zamaris the Babylonian Jew is living in Galilee with a capable army of Parthian horse archers. It would probably be the case that this alliance of convenience (contra robbers) arose as part of the same deal in which Manu Saflul's family members join Herod's dynasty.
To boot Simon Boethus was an attempt to lash out at the Babylonian faction. We might assume Philip's reputation was intact due to his being away at training in Rome. Towards the final days of his life, Herod the Great concedes to a new alliance in which:
1) Archelaus marries Simon's daughter Mariamne, reuniting the families.
2) Joazer Boethus will become High Priest and the office will return to the family.
3) Zamaris's army will support Archelaus as ruler of Judea.
This factional explanation aligns with the context at the time of Herod's death, and explains the situation with the Boethusians. Josephus/Nicolaus misreport the wives of Herod with three purposes in mind:
1) To conceal the political and military power of Adiabene supporting Herod - i.e.: giving a false reason for Simon's ascension to the throne.
2) To insulate Philip - a reputable Herodian - from the shame of the Boethusians (thus Mariamne is given Cleopatra's shame).
3) To place Mariamne Boethus in the wrong generation to conceal the biggest story of all.
We also see that Josephus mentions two separated rebels named Judas the Galilean: Judas of Sepphoris, son of Hezekiah and father of Menahem who rebelled in 4 BC, and Judas of Gamala, father of James and Simon, who rebelled in 6 CE. I have seen many historians assume these are the same person, but I don't think there's nearly any evidence to say that. It could be Josephus's intention to confuse his ignorant readers, or perhaps an interpolator hoping to do so.
All this suggests a missing story related to the shame and removal of Archelaus.
I would propose that:
- Mariamne married Archelaus. Though Joazer was removed due to the 4 BC rebellion, Eleazar Boethus took his place. Thus the Boethusians retain power in Jerusalem.
- Zamaris is present in Jerusalem as muscle to protect the Boethusians, but also to help Archelaus keep his rights in spite of the ambitions of Antipas.
- The relationship between Zamaris and Archelaus turns foul.
- Zamaris leaving Jerusalem is at least linked to the turmoil leading to the census of Quirinus, Archelaus loses his power base without him, the Boethusians lose power in Jerusalem and are replaced by the Ananians.
There is a woman from Josephus's account of the Babylonian Jews Anileus and Asineus whom I believe is Helena of Adiabene:
If I have to imagine the career of this woman before being captured and married to "King Abgar", I could think of this hypothetical Mariamne, about whom Josephus wrote:A certain Parthian, who came as general of an army into those parts, had a wife following him, who had a vast reputation for other accomplishments, and particularly was admired above all other women for her beauty.
The description is apt for a "Helena", and Anileus's capture of her certainly provides justification of the epithet. Queen Helena of Adibene's alleged sarcophagus bore the inscription "Tzara Malchata". There are some explanations for this which differ, but I have wondered if it may have a personal meaning "Queen Sarah".There was one Simon, a citizen of Jerusalem, the son of one Boethus, a citizen of Alexandria, and a priest of great note there; this man had a daughter, who was esteemed the most beautiful woman of that time; and when the people of Jerusalem began to speak much in her commendation, it happened that Herod was much affected with what was said of her; and when he saw the damsel, he was smitten with her beauty
Sarah and Abraham's story parallels that of Joseph and Asenath. In Egypt, Sarah pretends to be Abraham's sister.
Thus, I would like to think that Zamaris, who may be Bazeus of Adiabene, masqueraded as Mariamne Boethus's brother. This would allow him access to her household as a protector in spite of her marriage to Archelaus.
Helena is named as Bazeus's sister-wife by Josephus.
What is so interesting about sister marriage is that it is connected to mythicist motifs. The divine parents of the Syrian/Arab triad are sibling spouses. This is partly why the Ptolemys were among the few practitioners of sibling marriage: they were considered living deities. It is highly unusual for Bazeus and Helena to have been sibling spouses.
Consider also the legends surrounding Simon Magus:
(wiki)Justin and Irenaeus are the first to recount the myth of Simon and Helen, which became the center of Simonian doctrine. Epiphanius of Salamis also makes Simon speak in the first person in several places in his Panarion, and the implication is that he is quoting from a version of it, though perhaps not verbatim.
As described by Epiphanius, in the beginning God had his first thought, his Ennoia, which was female, and that thought was to create the angels. The First Thought then descended into the lower regions and created the angels. But the angels rebelled against her out of jealousy and created the world as her prison, imprisoning her in a female body. Thereafter, she was reincarnated many times, each time being shamed. Her many reincarnations included Helen of Troy, among others, and she finally was reincarnated as Helen, a slave and prostitute in the Phoenician city of Tyre. God then descended in the form of Simon Magus, to rescue his Ennoia, and to confer salvation upon men through knowledge of himself.
This relates to the doctrine of the Simonians which is very similar to the Elchasaite doctrines about the mythicist Christ-god. The direct reference to Helen of Troy, in the context of this hypothetical history of Helena of Adiabene, is remarkable. The prostitute motif corresponds to Asenath's representation of that mythical motif in Joseph and Asenath.
My instinct is that Joseph and Asenath could have been pre-Christian, and was from the Jewish mystical tradition that invented the Christ-god.
Thus, having Bazeus rescue his alleged sister from the tower of the son of Pharaoh, the daughter of Pharoah's (Herod's) High Priest, and then marry her, allows mystics and cultists to claim that Bazeus and Helena are literal incarnations of the cosmic archetype portrayed in Joseph and Asenath. Moreover, the argument would be that Joseph and Asenath were themselves earlier incarnations of the same divine spirits. History repeating is just divine forms reincarnated upon current events.
Zamaris may also have been a popular and stabilizing force in Judea and Galilee, who contrasted nicely with the controversial Herod.
It's particularly easy to see Helena/Mariamne come to be recognized - in her own lifetime - as the reincarnation of the divine Sophia. This would lead to the particular reputation she had, according to Josephus. We see Anileus tries to marry her, Ananias tries to convert her. She is forced into multiple periods of Nazarite asceticism.
Of course, the western Jesus takes on certain attributes of Theudas's history and ministry, in my opinion. However, the eastern Christ is fully Bazeus. This is the divine person who ascended the seven layers of heaven from Jerusalem as Mohammed did. This is the angel-prophet Elchasai.
I feel as if this hypothesis can be confirmed so long as the identity of Helena and the reason for her reputation can be identified. If she was Mariamne, and this is the same once married to Archelaus, then the entire story (almost) can be reconstructed.
I'll pose the question again: whence the maiden in the tower?
A first century source or earlier would take away from my hypothesis. However, if Mariamne was hidden away in one of Herod's three towers, and the fame of the beauty in the tower who was rescued by her brother-husband is actual history, it could be the provenance of the motif.