Eddie brings up an excellent point. The ancients thought of stories, myths, etc. (whatever you want to call them) much differently than we do today. If knowledge was protected, it was hidden from the many, but not from the "chosen few". Secrets could be learned by the ruling elite and select others by undergoing initiation rites. Today believers are only allowed to know the outer, naive meanings of Scriptural stories. It does not matter how devout they are, this is all they are ever going to be taught.
Yes, there are many "characters" in the Gospel stories. It was not just about Jesus. This was a game that the entire Herodian family could play! Aliases were required not only to fool the public but to keep the Romans from discerning what they were up to. And it is quite amazing how ignorant the Romans were, not only of the nature and activities of the Herodians, but of previous Roman emperors. This becomes evident in the writings of Josephus.
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