Conceiving Of A Cyrenean Jewish Cult At Siwa; Making Zeus-Ammon Into Yahweh; Alexander as Jesus

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Conceiving Of A Cyrenean Jewish Cult At Siwa; Making Zeus-Ammon Into Yahweh; Alexander as Jesus

Post by yakovzutolmai »

I've lately focused on Simon of Cyrene, stemming from my deconstruction of Mark. My opinion of Mark is that its characters are selected for very specific reasons to help create a Jewish-Christian ecumenicalism. For example, Peter's historical analogue would be the last authority of the James sect. After Jesus has interacted with many different people and done many things, there is a confusion about who he is. This is establishing an ecumenical Jesus without an ecumenical sect. So, Mark acknowledges this with an entire chapter where multiple people ask, "Who is this Jesus, really?" In other words, is he part of this sect or that sect? Is he the promised one for these people or those people. Peter, finally, acknowledging him as Christ is saying: "The last, great messianic sect of James, fresh in our memory, anoints this ecumenical character as the great messiah."

That being understood, it is obvious that Simon of Cyrene is of paramount importance. The narrative is very quiet about his identity, but shows how this character is closest to Jesus. He bore his very cross.

So, where Jesus goes to Simon and Andrew, to John the Baptist, to the Sons of Zebedee, and to Peter, there is Simon of Cyrene. Someone he never went to, someone he never called, but he is there ready to be compelled to bear the cross.

One interpretation is to say that Mark is implying that Jesus is from Simon of Cyrene. That this is Simon of Cyrene's Jesus who presents as the ecumenical Jesus, eventually bearing the title of James's Christ.

Who is Simon of Cyrene?

I have experimented with a few ideas, and one is that the man's alleged two sons, Alexander and Rufus, give a clue. At this point I'm searching for any clue that might lead somewhere else. The Jesus of Mark appears to be the Jesus of the Therapeutae, against the Melchizedekian, Babylonian, or Egyptian (Simonian) Jesus. I think in a general categorization, you'd agree.

We cannot say that Philo or his family are Therapeuts, but they both are not any of the other things. And Alexander the Alabarch is more prominent in the Roman world than Philo (his brother). Could Alexander be the son of Simon of Cyrene?

The Cyrenaican Jews are a separate colony established in parallel to the one in Alexandria. They are post-Maccabee, which the Oniads are not. Yet, they are more distant from Jerusalem than even Alexandria. If the Therapeuts are developing a way to receive the benefits of the temple without a temple, then the Jews of Cyrene would have the earliest, greatest need of it.

So I began to search for the meaning of a Jewish, Cyrenean sect.

I discovered an interesting "twist" historiographically.

Josephus mentions how Alexander was received well by the Jewish High Priest. This story is dubious, as a consensus of scholarship. Another opinion of less established scholarship is that there might not even have been exactly a Jewish High Priest as we would know it during the time of Alexander. Appian's Syriaca suggests Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed by Ptolemy. The concept of the Second Temple might be false.

But Josephus's story is very interesting for a specific reason:
And when he understood that he was not far from the city, he went out in procession, with the priests and the multitude of the citizens. The procession was venerable, and the manner of it different from that of other nations. It reached to a place called Sapha, which name, translated into Greek, signifies a prospect, for you have thence a prospect both of Jerusalem and of the temple. And when the Phoenicians and the Chaldeans that followed him thought they should have liberty to plunder the city, and torment the high priest to death, which the king's displeasure fairly promised them, the very reverse of it happened; for Alexander, when he saw the multitude at a distance, in white garments, while the priests stood clothed with fine linen, and the high priest in purple and scarlet clothing, with his mitre on his head, having the golden plate whereon the name of God was engraved, he approached by himself, and adored that name, and first saluted the high priest. The Jews also did all together, with one voice, salute Alexander, and encompass him about; whereupon the kings of Syria and the rest were surprised at what Alexander had done, and supposed him disordered in his mind. However, Parmenio alone went up to him, and asked him how it came to pass that, when all others adored him, he should adore the high priest of the Jews? To whom he replied, "I did not adore him, but that God who hath honored him with his high priesthood; for I saw this very person in a dream, in this very habit, when I was at Dios in Macedonia, who, when I was considering with myself how I might obtain the dominion of Asia, exhorted me to make no delay, but boldly to pass over the sea thither, for that he would conduct my army, and would give me the dominion over the Persians; whence it is that, having seen no other in that habit, and now seeing this person in it, and remembering that vision, and the exhortation which I had in my dream, I believe that I bring this army under the Divine conduct, and shall therewith conquer Darius, and destroy the power of the Persians, and that all things will succeed according to what is in my own mind." And when he had said this to Parmenio, and had given the high priest his right hand, the priests ran along by him, and he came into the city. And when he went up into the temple, he offered sacrifice to God, according to the high priest's direction, and magnificently treated both the high priest and the priests. And when the Book of Daniel was showed him 23 wherein Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians, he supposed that himself was the person intended.
Antiquities XI 8:5

Daniel is a giveaway. But compare this story to a real event:
Now that I have already said much about Ammon,​209 I wish to add only this: Among the ancients both divination in general and oracles were held in greater honour, but now great neglect of them prevails, since the Romans are satisfied with the oracles of Sibylla, and with the Tyrrhenian prophecies obtained by means of the entrails of animals, flight of birds, and omens from the sky; and on this account, also, the oracle at Ammon has been almost abandoned, though it was held in honour in earlier times; and this fact is most clearly shown by those who have recorded the deeds of Alexander, since, p115 although they add numerous forms of mere flattery,​210 yet they do indicate some things that are worthy of belief. 814At any rate, Callisthenes says that Alexander conceived a very great ambition to go inland to the oracle, since he had heard that Perseus, as also Heracles, had done so in earlier times; and that he started from Paraetonium, although the south winds had set in, and forced his way; and that when he lost his way because of the thick dust, he was saved by rainfalls and by the guidance of two crows. But this last assertion is flattery and so are the next: that the priest permitted the king alone to pass into the temple in his usual dress, but the rest changed their clothes; that all heard the oracles from outside except Alexander, but he in; that the oracular responses were not, as at Delphi and among the Branchidae,​211 given in words, but mostly by nods and tokens, as in Homer,​212 "Cronion spoke and nodded assent with his dark brows" — the prophet having assumed the rôle of Zeus; that, however, the fellow expressly told the king that he, Alexander, was the son of Zeus. And to this statement Callisthenes dramatically adds that,​213 although the oracle of Apollo among the Branchidae had ceased to speak from the time the temple had been robbed by the Branchidae, who sided with the Persians in the time of Xerxes,​214 and although the spring also had ceased to flow, yet at Alexander's arrival the spring began to flow again and that many oracles were carried by the Milesian p117 ambassadors to Memphis concerning Alexander's descent from Zeus, his future victory in the neighbourhood of Arbela, the death of Dareius, and the revolutionary attempts in Lacedaemon. And he says that the Erythraean Athenaïs​215 also gave out an utterance concerning Alexander's high descent; for, he adds, this woman was like the ancient Erythraean Sibylla. Such, then, are the accounts of the historians.
Strabo Geographica XVII 814

We have the priest of Zeus-Ammon greet Alexander and though the exact events are disputed, in Alexander's ears he hears "Son of Zeus".

It's worth noting that, as far as I can tell, whatever the ancient provenance of the Siwan temple of Amun, the Cyrenaican Greeks had thoroughly converted it to a house of their particular syncretic deity Zeus-Ammon. Cyrene being the ancient source of that god. It appears to me that this was Greco-Egyptian oracular temple, perhaps with a Greek priest.

We also know that this particular Siwan temple, however important to Alexander himself, was already in decline at the time of this event, and certainly totally declined by the Roman era.

So, my speculation leads me to a thought experiment. What if Jewish merchants of Cyrene in some way purchased or patronized this Siwan temple as a sort of Cyrenaican temple in the Oniad model? If we concede that third century BC Judaism was much closer to Egyptian religion than we would understand Judaism to be today.

Now imagine Jews interpreting Alexander's oracle as if this Zeus-Ammon is in fact, actually, Yahweh or Adonai. In that, no matter what name he used for the god, Alexander spoke with Yahweh in the fashion of Moses. That Alexander was god's son.

This conceit is both powerful, but also completely consistent with syncretic trends of the Hellenistic period. Imagine sponsoring or purchasing the derelict temple of Alexander's fame and then trying to promote it as a temple of Yahweh? You are essentially positioning Yahweh as the father of Serapis, Osiris, Apollo, what-have-you. You are framing the Hellenistic world - born through Alexander's victory - as Yahweh's gift to the world.

Is this not the essential Pauline/Hillelite/Philonic worldview? Yahweh as the ur-deity? The voice behind the idols of all the gentiles? The piety of the gentiles as devotion directed to Yahweh, and therefore a piety which deserves some amount of Jewish respect?

I know there was a tomb discovered by Souvaltzi which she claimed was Alexander's, at Siwa. Obviously, she seems to have fabricated her evidence. However, there were inscriptions discovered there. I cannot for the life of me find their translations. Only Souvaltzi's, which have been discredited. However, the actual translations are not reported. I think a German team continued the excavations there.

The concept that Cyrenaican Jews more or less purchased the Siwan temple of Ammon, and then attempted to sort of present it as a Jewish sect and thereby claim Alexander's legacy for Jews is very compelling. That these Jews, let us say a family, became the driving agent in Alexandria, in the Roman era, behind Philo, Paul, that whole legacy, is too compelling.

So I would love to know what the Roman era tomb at Siwa contains.

Either way, add Siwa and Cyrene to your back pocket as places of interest in the construction of a Hellenic Jewish unversalist sect.

At the very least, the fact - I consider indisputable - that Josephus is trying to claim Alexander's escapade at Siwa for Jerusalem is quite a bombshell.
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Re: Conceiving Of A Cyrenean Jewish Cult At Siwa; Making Zeus-Ammon Into Yahweh; Alexander as Jesus

Post by yakovzutolmai »

Alexander's Siwan diversion establishes him both as Pharoah, but also as the great Son of God in the Hellenic world. The temple itself, being remote, and having a discounted oracular tradition, is not so relevant by the Roman era. However, the story of Alexander as the son of Zeus-Hammon is critical to his legacy and the concept of the Hellenic world.

Josephus's story of Alexander meeting the High Priest of Jerusalem is clearly an attempt to recreate the Siwan episode, but rather give Jews the prophetic legacy behind Alexander's success. I find this to be obvious.

So, we have evidence of Josephus finding the Siwan episode relevant enough, at least mimetically, to invoke it on behalf of the Jews.

This is not proof of anything, but if we as a thought experiment consider a remote set of Cyrenian Jewish oligarchs purchasing the Siwan temple (via patronage) to promote the idea of Yahweh being the god Alexander encountered, we retain the same mimetic energy which Josephus had hoped to employ.

If this were to be a true story, then Josephus has a direct source of inspiration for framing his tale, a reason to do so.

And if it sounds completely bonkers to imagine that the famed temple of Amun in Siwa was bought by rich Jews and made into a Yahweh tourist trap, consider that our records of the ancient world are lacking. The paucity of evidence on anything is profound. If it's truly the case that, say, for thirty years you would have pilgrims show up at Siwa and be told "actually, your money is going to the Jewish Adonai, do you know about him?" and for these confused pilgrims to shrug, pay the fee, and enter the temple, get Amun's blessing for their mother's illness or son's marriage success or whatever, and forget about it, then we in modern times would never know. There would be no reason for any of that to have entered into evidence which we can recover.

However, if we want to explain why there's a Pauline or Hillelite strain of Judaism, if we want to connect Philo to the early Christians, we would want to assume some kind of locus of organization. We have not found the apostolic church prior to 120AD.

The factions of Judaism leading into Christianity seem to have locii, though this community continues to ignore them. Nisibis. Bathyra. Leontopolis. Alexandria. Tiberius.

It is not the importance of a Siwan temple that serves as a locus, but rather the existence of a family-faction with money which was leveraged into power, who would hope for something like a Siwan temple, and be inspired by the vision of it, which is important.

There may never have been a Siwan Jewish temple, but if there was ever a vision or dream of a Siwan temple to Yahweh, the family which possessed it becomes our Locus for Pauline Christianity.

Alexander as the Son of God. Gathering the provincial Jews and liberating them from the old law with the new law. And then, taking the new law to all the gentiles to create a world kingdom of peace.
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Amun at Siwa

Post by billd89 »

In 2003, a temple was unearthed by Paolo Gallo's Italian Archaeological Mission in Alexandria (CMAIA) in the El-Bahrein Oasis, 140 km southeast of Siwa in the Libyan Desert. The tripartite sanctuary was decorated with painted reliefs under Nectanebo I (c.370 BC) and some architectural parallels can be drawn with his mammisi at Dendera; the hypostyle hall was probably added by Ptolemy II Philadelphus (c.280 BC). Religious and political connections with the Siwa Oasis are constituted by the presence of the god Paheramon1, perhaps an oracular form of Amun, and by the local king Unamon (? c.350 BC), both represented in the temples of Aghurmi and Om Obayda2. Unamon ruled over the region at the time of the 30th Dynasty (c.350 BC) and wrote his names in cartouches at El-Bahrein, but not at Siwa. On the other side, religious links with the Bahariya Oasis are established by the identification of the god “Harsiesis3 the excellent heir of Onnophris4”, whose image is carved also in the first chapel of ‘Ain Muftella and in the tomb of Banenentiu. Moreover, the fragmentary toponym DsDs, one of the Egyptian names of Bahariya attested in the temple and in the mammisi of Edfu, could be read on one of the blocks.

1. See Michel Mathieu-Colas, Dictionnaire des noms de divinité [2014], p.249: "form of Amun ('the Face of Amon') attested in the Libyan desert; probably oracular divinity (cf. Ammon)"
2. The Temple of Amon/Temple of Umm Ubaid/Om Obayda at was according to one myth built by Dionysus/Herakles, led out of the desert to safety by a ram (=Khnum).
3. Harsiesis = "Horus, son of Isis"; the name is also associated with a High Priest of Amun in the 2nd Dynasty, Shoshenq C, or a Libyan Pharoah Maatkheperre Shoshenq distinguished from Heqakheperre Shoshenq II at Tanis.
4. Onnophris/Wennefer = 'Enduring in well-being'/'the Good' 'the Good'/'Happy -'/'Perfect One.'

There was a longstanding and integral component of a 'Young God, Son of God' at play in all these versions; intriguingly, Dionysius in a Judaic form and Herakles in a Phoenician form, linked to Khnum/Yahu.
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