Regarding your notion of Matthew/Levi and Josephus: I can certainly draw your conclusion. The community has long accepted the Luke Josephus connection, and all agree (I think) that one read the other before writing. Or perhaps, both read Matthew.
It is interesting in Matthew 10 5-6 "go not amongst the gentiles...Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel" actually provides an indirect proof of Joe's thesis (i.e.: Titus intended this for an *exclusively* Jewish audience, and as a destabilizing force to the much larger and longer-term enemy of Rome-Parthia). My interest is if this is indeed the primary text or a redaction, and unfortunately, because of the inherent problems with the Josephus text and the testimonium especially, I don't think I'll ever get there with Josephus. The only undisputed reference in Josephus to Jesus is to identify James ("James, the brother of Jesus")- which I took Eisenman to be winking to in the title of his book asserting the primacy of the Jamesian ministry.
The lost sheep (tribes-shepherd kings) were not "lost." Josephus states plainly where they are: "The entire body of the ten tribes are still beyond the River Euphrates, an immense multitude not to be estimated by numbers." ie: the Parthians. They weren't lost to the Apostles either: look at where they went! So this knowledge allows new readings of certain passages like I Peter 5-13 "The [church that is] at Babylon, elected together with [you], saluteth you; and [so doth] Marcus my son" is traditionally understood as Babylon=Rome. Others think (due to Mark's identifications, and his role as translator)=Jerusalem. But is it? It's interesting to catalogue which disciples went east and which went west. All the ones that went east are relegated to the apocrypha.
The interesting thing is the Arsacids- who held the literal title of "king of kings" ie: emperors of the Parthian nation states for 500 years- had quite a bit of interaction with Rome: they often sheltered and educated their princes there to preserve them from internecine rivalry. In 63ad Nero sent an army to challenge the Parthians in Armenia-in which the Romans were defeated. Nero ceded Armenia and the resulting peace stated that Tiradates, brother of the Parthian King would travel to Rome to receive the his crown from Nero! This has always puzzled me.
The Arsacids traced their lineage from David through Phares. They shared power with a hereditary tribe of priests called the Magi (descendents of the babylonian captivity?) who wore mitres and were described by the classical historians as exceedingly wise. The last king prior to Herod was Mattathius Antigonus, installed by the Parthians, and who also held the title of high priest! When the Magi came to Herod, not only Herod was concerned but "all of jerusalem" as well according to Matthew. I doubt it was a camel train! More likely a cavalry division.
And why didn't they come to the aid of Jerusalem as they surely would have if the Gospel accounts of Jesus' death (who the Magi apparently thought was an Arsacid) were true? It would have been an act of war. And again, why not when Titus sacked the Temple. It's not like they didn't know it was there.
These oddities support many of the things you and Joe are converging on. But they demonstrate the existence of issues which defeat easy identifications- be them Flavian, Piso, or whatever. I have my own ideas but I'll keep them to myself for now. It helps to keep an open mind.
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