Ralph Ellis, in an attempt to defend his claims, has seemed to have misread my argument about Josephus and Abgar bar Ma’nu VI. He writes, mistakenly, that:
Finally, Verenna also seems to be completely confused about the life of Josephus Flavius, saying he was not in Jerusalem in AD 70. His review says:
Abgar Ma’nu VI could not be the individual you claim when you state that “The historical Izas was crucified…[and] taken down [from the cross] by Josephus Flavius” since Josephus was living in Rome, as a court historian, probably on the Palatine Hill–far, far away from Edessa (and Palestine, for that matter).
One hardly know what to make of this assertion. Here is a reviewer of Judaean history, and he does not appear to know that Josephus Flavius was in Judaea in AD 70 – 71. In fact, Josephus says of this very crucifixion event that I mention:
as I came back (from Tekoa), I saw many captives crucified, and remembered three of them as my former acquaintance. I was very sorry at this in my mind, and went with tears in my eyes to Titus, and told him of them; so he immediately commanded them to be taken down, and to have the greatest care taken of them, in order to their recovery; yet two of them died under the physician’s hands, while the third recovered. Life 75
So not only was Josephus in Jerusalem at this time, he did indeed come across three of the leaders of the Jewish Revolt being crucified. Since King Izas was one of those leaders, it is axiomatic that King Izas was one of those being crucified. You might also note a similarity with the biblical crucifixion here.
But this speaks of Mr. Ellis’ inability to comprehend what it is that I wrote. The full quote (taken from here) is:
“In 70-71, when Abgar Ma’nu VI became king, Josephus was on his way to Rome. And in 90-91 when Abgar VI’s rule ended, Josephus was sitting comfortably (probably–chairs back then and all) in his house, paid for by the empire, in Rome, writing his histories and autobiography. He died ten years later. So, no, Abgar VI could not have been crucified and taken down by Josephus–by the way, ‘Flavian’ is the name Josephus adopted after the Jewish War in 70, after he had been granted full citizenship by Titus. Abgar had not yet started his reign when this occurred.”
Notice that my point is in fact that Josephus would not have been around during Abgar VI’s reign; this is precisely my argument. In fact Abgar bar Ma’nu VI didn’t start his reign until 71 CE; when I wrote 70-71 in the quote above, I was giving Mr. Ellis the benefit of the doubt. Titus and Josephus were on their way back to Rome in 71, as Josephus mentions:
But when Titus had composed the troubles in Judea, and conjectured that the lands which I had in Judea would bring me no profit, because a garrison to guard the country was afterward to pitch there, he gave me another country in the plain. And when he was going away to Rome, he made choice of me to sail along with him, and paid me great respect: and when we were come to Rome, I had great care taken of me by Vespasian; for he gave me an apartment in his own house, which he lived in before he came to the empire. (Vita, 76)
But is this at all relevant? I suppose I was still giving Mr. Ellis the benefit of the doubt. Here I was presuming that Mr. Ellis was simply confused; I was under the impression that Mr. Ellis had merely moved the crucifixion of Jesus to the period of the first Jewish war. After all, how could anyone be so delusional as to think otherwise? How foolish of me to think that Mr. Ellis just made a mistake; instead, it seems, he meant to argue that Jesus had a history beyond a crucifixion–and that he would be king, no less–twice!
Conventional history be damned, if Mr. Ellis had his way. We already know that Mr. Ellis picks and chooses his own timeline, regardless of whether or not they conflict with facts. He claims Paul was born in 37 but ignores the fact that Paul claims to have run from Aretas IV (even though he died around 40CE). He conflates multiple historical figures, which he admits:
In reality, I have conflated only two pairs of different kings.
a. King Abgarus V of Edessa is King Monobazus of Adiabene.
b. King Manu VI of Edessa is King Izas of Adiabene.
Why have I done so? Because King Abgarus and King Monobazus shared a common wife – Queen Helena of Adiabene/Edessa (and thus King Manu and King Izas shared a common mother). So Thomas Verenna has fabricated a complaint about my work, and then failed to explain why I did conflate two pairs of kings.
Actually, he conflates more than two people. Still, he is somewhat proud of this fact; as if conflating two historical individuals from different times (ruled 13-50, and 57-71 respectively), separated by another king (Manu V who ruled for seven years between these two), is somehow acceptable methodology. I’ve dealt with this conflation issue extensively here. He also conflates Paul and Josephus, and he seems pretty proud of that catastrophe.
And what is this about Abgar and Manu having the same wife? And what is this about Izates and Manu having the same mother (Abgarus and Izas are not found in the past–these are fabricated names that Mr. Ellis has invented to make his connections seem more plausible)? This is simply false. And what is this about his fictional Izas character being crucified at Thecoa? Really? He believes this? I guess so.
So how could he possibly have an issue with conflating the dates here? Why wouldn’t he just say, ‘Oh well Jesus is Abgar VI bar Ma’nu who was taken down from the cross by Josephus in 70, started his reign a year later in Edessa, and after his reign, was exiled to Britain where he became King Arthur.’ That is exactly what he is arguing (or worse, that his version of Jesus, a conflation of the two kings above, was king prior to the Jewish War, but in his 50’s when he was crucified, escaped crucifixion, went back to rule from 70-71, and then ended up in Britain after being exiled, where he became king again). Every scenario is less and less probable and more and more ridiculous.
Forget that there is zero evidence for any of these assertions, forget that he’s fumbling through the sources, that he chooses the weakest possible arguments to validate his case; it’s a house made of cards. So shame on me for reading Mr. Ellis’ content too generously. What he is actually arguing is way worse than what I had originally imagined.
Because he’s a conspiracy theorist and not a historian.
Filed under: Belief