I hadn't seen that post. you're amazing.
I need some time to go over some of the topics that you raise. Thanks for providing the page numbers, and I'll get my Eisenman, Justinus, and my Rawlinson out together to try some of that typology.
You mentioned something that jumped right out at me because I have lately been drawing the same conclusion-that set me looking for hebrew matthew. You wrote: "Yet these people needed to be “converted”? They were no longer considered “Jewish”, or perhaps never were?"
You said a mouthful. We all know that Baal, Mithra and Yhvh went back and forth among the diaspora, and even in judea. The "David" if you will for the Parthian/Scythians of the period was Mithradates- So right away I'm getting a weird feeling. Mithra. Hmmm. He also reintroduced coinage at the time, so we are very lucky to have this resource, as well as these clues, since their coinage in many ways is like the dynastic cartouches of egypt, but less susceptible to erasure!
Linking a possible "Mithraic" political current to Edessa would really be something then, viz Paul!
My current thinking is the very possibility that have have raised before- that there was an 'official' religion, written is the same way perhaps of our much debated gospels, by ghost writers with political motives; and there was the royal religion, which all the time seems to be something else entirely. There were no shortage of 'Pauls' or 'Josephuses' in the royal courts both major and minor, either. Lately I've been leaning away from assuming Scythian or Parthian judaism at court. Especially in the case of the Armenian Scyths, who were the Vichy's of their day, and had roman rule for several years before the Parthian restoration in 50bc
As we both know, Eisenman sets out in JtBoJ, saying that he would make few references to third party sources, and focus on primary text. Which is great, and of course I'm not an idiot, so I'm not going to question his scholarship. Sometimes in the book though, I wish he could have done a better job of placing historical context though. Eis. doesn't refer to the case of crassus- where the story of his embarrasment is well known enough and in fact you have hit upon what I think is the key moment- one that really helps later when we try to place Abgarus (and his supposed letter, and how phoney it seems).
From the Parthia side- it's tough to beat Justin for economy of words, for it takes rawlinson about 200pgs to say the same: so here's a fantasic link for you: http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/index.htm
Go to Justinus: the books you want are: 37-42
there's all the typology background you need for the Parthian characters, if you're looking for it.
I'll give you the thumbnail off the top of my head, up to crassus, and for the sake of space, keep it brief. For the rest of the stuff, I'm going to have a beer, and start thinking.
The Hellenistic Amrmenian dynasty lasted until 66bc, and peaked right before it fell. Ultimately, the Romans and Parthians were allied in the conquest, but the Romans reneged on the deal, failing to turn over the territory for which Parthia had aided them. The Parthians went home, Phraates was king, killed by Mithradates his son, replaced by brother Orodes, then Arsaces. Crassus (of the triumvirate w. Pompey and JC) looking for loot, robbed the Temple on the way to the Euphrates, and figured he'd give these guys a try since they rolled over so easily when they were double crossed. Oops. Unbeknownst, the Parthians somehow had advanced knowledge, and basically blockaded armenia with infantry to keep that satrapy from aiding their new masters, the romans. According to accounts, the romans were completely massacred, unaware that in addition to the light cavalry that they had seen in Scythia, they also possessed several legions of *heavy* cavalry- of superior armor, weaponry, and tactics than Rome had ever seen. They filled Crassus' decapited head with gold, and sent it as a message to the Armenian/Scythian nobility-who had been under Roman rule- Never again mistake who's your daddy.
This "peace" led to the reconsolidation of the Palestine, etc and led to that very strange moment, when after capturing the Temple (whose gold they already had from their dear friend Crassus), they then gave it up in 37bc to Herod the Great under the standard of Rome, and headed back across the Euphrates.
So, that's the key moment isn't it? There had to be a Herodian link-but did he/she survive? What was it with Edessa?
Man I wish Herod hadn't killed (literally) so many of my perfectly good theories. Paul and Silas are key.
I'll be back with more help/questions soon.
Thanks for thinking of me.
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