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In Response To: Was Josephus a Pharisee? ()

For cross referencing characters from the rabbinical tradition to gospel counterparts: http://virtualreligion.net/iho/rabbis.html

Although it is instinctive for me to assume a jewish figure as both John and Banus, perhaps that is wrong- since Josephus is so precise in other matters regarding his lineage and relationship to Hasmonean teachers. Nor can I accept that Banus was a "nobody." Our John/Banus has to be someone with a significant Hellenist background and education, as well as a Jewish secular training to have attracted Josephus as a pupil. Banus sounds like an exile to me. From where, I don't know.

The only Parthian with enough background that could fill the role, AND was sufficiently Hellenized to account for Josephus' obvious later proclivities, AND survived long enough was Tiradates III. Josephus' knowledge of the turbulent period from 36ad to say 60ad as evinced in "Antiquities of the Jews" of the Vardanes/GotarzesII/VononesII succession (an exceptionally bloody period, and a terrific time if you were an Arsacid to change your name if you wanted to live) suggests he was tutored by someone who knew these characters well.

(wikipedia) "In 35 (Artabanus) he tried anew to conquer Armenia, and to establish his son Arsaces as king there. A war with Rome seemed inevitable. But that party among the Parthian magnates which was hostile to Artabanus applied to Tiberius for a king of the race of Phraates. Tiberius sent Phraates's grandson, Tiridates III, and ordered Lucius Vitellius (the father of the emperor Vitellius) to restore the Roman authority in the East. By very dexterous military and diplomatic operations Vitellius succeeded completely. Artabanus was deserted by his followers and fled to the East. Tiridates, who was proclaimed king, could no longer maintain himself, because he appeared to be a vassal of the Romans; Artabanus returned from Hyrcania with a strong army of Scythian (Dahan) auxiliaries, and was again acknowledged by the Parthians. Tiridates left Seleucia and fled to Syria. But Artabanus was not strong enough for a war with Rome; he therefore concluded a treaty with Vitellius in 37, in which he gave up all further pretensions. A short time after-wards Artabanus was deposed again, and a certain Cinnamus was proclaimed king. Artabanus took refuge with his vassal, the king Izates of Adiabene; and Izates by negotiations and the promise of a complete pardon induced the Parthians to restore Artabanus once more to the throne. Shortly afterwards Artabanus died, and was succeeded by his son, Vardanes, whose reign was still more turbulent than that of his father.

It's a reach, but I know enough to say that if Banus cannot be found in the rabbinical tradition, perhaps he could be found there. Tiradates briefly ruled in 36AD, but his Roman upbringing, customs and sensibilities alienated him from the Parthian nobility, and he was said to have fled to Syria. Perhaps he borrowed a family cognomen- there are at least 15 generations of Arsacids who used a version of "Banus" in their titles. Remember that among the Arsacids, we have almost no knowledge of their actual names- history only records their regal names- and like the Romans, they routinely used multiple names both at home and when travelling to avoid internecine violence.

In simplistic terms though, we have (arta)Banus, Hyrcania, and Izates of Adiabene all in the same paragraph. Hmmm.

I don't know if it helps, but that whole site is packed with info; backtrack to the main page if you're interested.

It's worth mentioning Josephus' given name was Joseph Bar Matthew. Here is the same site's bio on him: http://virtualreligion.net/iho/josephus.html
It's hard to believe that if Banus was an Hasmonean, that Josephus wouldn't have mentioned it explicitly.

If you click on the hypertext word "descent" in the second sentence of the second paragraph it has a nifty chart of his family tree.

All the best,

tim

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