This has led me down an avenue of research which explores the role of the Flavian dynasty in the development and evolution of the Christian faith. I was particularly interested in what role they might have played prior to the Jewish Revolt. I also favor the hypothesis that Vespasian is one and the same as "Flavius Scaevinus" in Tacitus' account of the Piso conspiracy.
My hypothesis about the "honest tax-collector" is perhaps my most speculative. As such, I will present the hypothesis as it is, and avoid spending too much time hoping to prove it. Perhaps there's one or two points of it that have merit and could provide context to Christian development.
The key character of the hypothesis is Gaius Poppaeus Sabinus, novus homo with a peculiar nomen. His family had extravagant wealth in Campania, and his granddaughter Poppaea the Younger was Nero's wife. She has a lot to do with Nero's encounter with Jewish leaders at Pompeii.
The narrative begins in Thracia, 29 BC and the Roman invasion against the Getae. The precise details are irrelevant, but the idea is find a Getic prince or young noble who achieves Roman citizenship and attains a minor bureaucratic position in the empire. Let us say, a son of Rholes.
- 1) Our prince would have been Getic or Dacian. With red hair typical of the region. We have a few Dacian names associated with royalty. Petoporus. Pieporus. One can find "Petro" or "Poppaeus" in either. Our "Petro" takes the Roman name Gaius and becomes a tax-collector.
- 2) Due to incredible competence, Petro is acknowledged as "the honest tax-collector" in Asia, this leads to a promotion. The position is for the province of Syria.
- 3) After Herod's death, Petro is sent to ensure Herod's wealth is accounted for. Josephus records his name as "Sabinus", but he doesn't have this name yet. Herod was responsible for collecting Roman taxes on all wealth trading from half of Arabia and all of Assyria. Josephus gives the impression that the Roman accountants found it astonishing.
- 4) "Sabinus" appears to have run off, against the wishes of Varus, with most of the wealth of Jerusalem. Including both Herod's palace and the temple treasury. In Vespasian's time, the wealth of the temple was used to build the Colosseum.
- 5) At this precise time, Gaius Poppaeus Sabinus appears in Roman history as a novus homo and prominent senator. Gaius "Petro" Petoporus is given the former estate of Vipsania Polla in Falacrine, and attains senatorial rank along with the cognomen Sabinus. His nomen is latinized to "Poppaeus".
- 6) One assumes the hidden hand in the form of an alliance with the family of Marcus Agrippa, whose influence in Rome was high but would soon wane. Josephus tells that the Costobaran wing of the Herodians was quite unhappy with the prospect that Archelaus would inherit Herod's estate. He goes so far as to mention that the Agrippans are favorable to the argument, but that Augustus ultimately decides in Archelaus's favor. This is an important inflection point in the history of the Herodian family, but it's also coincident with "Sabinus" and his pilfering of the wealth of Jerusalem. The premise would be that Sabinus has become phenomenally wealthy overnight, and that a quiet alliance between the Vipsanians and Costobarans emerges. Sabinus will return some of the wealth to the Costobarans in exchange for political sponsorship by the Vipsanians. This is why Poppaeus inherits the estate at Falacrine, and why Herod Agrippa and the Costobarans emerge later as the leaders of the dynasty.
- 7) At Falacrine, Vespasian is born, the son of Poppaeus. Poppaeus is appointed governor of Moesia - paralleling the life of Titus Flavius Sabinus. Vespasian is sent to his grandmother for the same reason the official history records. She is Tertulla, and there are plenty of candidates for her more precise identity.
- 8) Vespasian comes of age and enters politics via his military service. He serves in the same war in Thrace which Poppaeus as governor is leading. If they are father and son, this is perfectly expected.
- 9) The missing Flavian sister (died in childhood) is actually Poppaea the Elder. Her political career is marked with disgrace and scandal. She's forced to commit suicide by Claudius. Her daughter becomes a ward of the court.
- 10) Due to Poppaea's disgrace, and the novelty of their family, Vespasian and his brother change their names. Vespasian finds a low-class woman who happens to have ancient pedigree in the priestly families of Etruria. Domitilla is the daughter of Flavius Liberalis. Their odd marriage and the matter of establishing her Roman citizenship is actually the story of Titus Poppaeus Vipsanianus changing his name to Titus Flavius Vespasianus. This Liberalis was connected to the cult of Nortia in Ferentium.
- 11) When Nero kills Poppaea the Younger, it is particularly upsetting to Vespasian. He is Flavius Scaevinus. Poppaea's death was the "last straw" behind the Piso conspiracy, and the family connection is what causes Scaevinus to react so passionately.
- 12) The Costobaran Herodians (including Saul/Paul) conspire with the family of Philo (Tiberius Alexander) and the Ananians to incite the Jewish Revolt. The Pauline ministry was partly an attempt to lay the groundwork for Vespasian to become emperor. They wanted a Roman Jew to become the new messiah, ending messianic cults. They wanted a Jewish messiah to be Roman emperor, ensuring a future for Jews in the empire. The plan had points of success along with major points of failure, and succeeded in establishing the Flavian dynasty, but ultimately failed.
- 13) Vespasian's family history was fabricated. The Falacrine estate was attributed to a fictitious "Vespasia Polla". The Flavian name was extended backwards, up the family tree.
Paulina mimics the Babylonian practice of the maiden staying the night in the temple in order to have intercourse with the god. In this story, Paulina is deceived. Some scholars recognize that the temple's connection with Isis is related to Domitian's love of the Isis cult.
The perpetrator of Paulina's rape is Decius Mundus, who is assisted by Ide. Both names, in my opinion, invoke tax/tithe-collection. Decius Mundus, ten percent of the world. That's the treasury of the temple.
The meaning of the allegory is that Sabinus and his family are behind an impostor church, and a false messiah. Tiberius in the allegory is Domitian, who persecuted the Flavian Christians and broke up the cult.
If this is true, imagine who it must have been that inserted this story. If the T.F. is an interpolation (likely), then Paulina would be part of the same interpolation due to the identification of Tiberius.
Also, note that the "Basilides" who anointed Vespasian in the Serapeum of Alexandria appears to be Tiberius Claudius Balbilus (due to the identification of this Basilides as a former Prefect of Egypt). He served in the same British campaign as Vespasian. His father Thrysallus of Mendes was Tiberius's astrologer, and appeared to have foreseen the death of Tiberius. Balbilus's mother was Aka of Commagene, again the same Eastern monarchies tied up with the Herodians. Balbilus is also associated with the Emesene dynastic cult which produced the Severan dynasty.
Balbilus was astrologer to Nero and Vespasian, and helped encourage Nero to assassinate noble Romans.
He ended his life as an important patron of Ephesus.
Thus, the founding faction of orthodox Christianity is easily identified: Poppaeus/Flavius (Getican) "Sabinus" who stole Jerusalem's wealth, the family of Philo, the Costobaran (later Agrippan) Herods, the Vipsanians in Rome, the Ananian priests.