Forum

Vespatian as "Moses"
In Response To: Revelation has been decoded ()

Joe,

I couldn't go to sleep last night until I had read through your article!

It makes perfect sense that Domitian would want to trump Titus in the literary and religious realms, as well as in the kingly one. And he could have found ready precedent to do so. In terms of Biblical typecasting, Vespatian made for a ready Moses, that is, he led an Exodus of Israelites. A remnant had survived, but most were "diseased" and bitterly died. Titus and Domitian correspond to the traditional two sons of Moses, namely Eliezer (Osiris type) and Gershom (Horus the Younger type). The eldest son Eliezer was murdered and replaced by the younger, who went on to far greater renown (as Joshua). And although Gershom/Joshua was almost universally celebrated, he too was a consummate killer of men. Within this context, Domitian would have convinced himself that the horn of Titus must decrease so that his own horn of rulership could increase.

About the time Titus was killed, Josephus was no doubt dubbed a "false prophet" and taken down with him. It is also completely logical that Domitian would raise up his own prophet Suetonius ("John of Patmos"?) and produce the Book of Revelation to be read intertextually with his biography of Domitian. Yes, why not! Or perhaps Josephus, the ultimate survivor that he was, sold Titus out and became a second "witness" to Domitian.

But what happened when Domitian himself was killed and a new dynasty grafted itself onto that of the Flavians, who had in turn grafted themselves onto the Julians as well as Herodians such as the Apostle Peter (the Rock upon which Titus would build his cult, umm, I mean church). The tradition of graft and grafting was perpetuated, certainly. Whoever conspired to kill Domitian made sure that the time of his death had astronomical significance and therefore would be perceived as fate (rather than baldface homocide).

I think it would also have been irresistable for Church leaders to tamper with the text of Revelation after the time of Domitian to better reflect subsequent developments, such as the quashing of the second Jewish Revolt, the transfer of power to Constantinople, and the later destruction of Rome/Babylon for her "sins".

John Dominic Crossan makes much of the seven churches of Asia as Imperial cult centers, however concludes that it was the intent of Revelation to oppose Emperor worship. Your point is well taken however that Domitian would have redirected worship (yea verily even unwitting worship by Christians) from Titus to himself and that there would have been serious resistance to his reign, especially as it was ill-gotten.

It is not at all unexpected for Titus to be both venerated and denigrated by the Book of Revelation. We found plenty of examples of this type of writing in the Old Testament narratives. "Good" and "bad" judgments were pronounced on the same individuals, however multiple idenities disguised this technique (employed to reveal more balanced biographies for those who had eyes to see).

I had not realized that only certain Julians had been deified. That definitely calls into question the normal association of Caesars to the successive horns of Revelation. The metaphor of the seven horns and the ten horns and the little horns, etc., is very intricate. It obviously describes a political situation and sequence with precision, but I'm not quite sure you've totally nailed it though.

Associating the woman with Judaism and her dragon persecutor with Nero also doesn't quite square with me. I would rather suspect that the child of the woman ("destined" to become mother of a new and "superior" dynastic line) is supposed to represent the young Domitian and this passage reflects the danger he was in during the year of four emperors.

Joe, you provide a number of striking parallels between Revelation and the writings of Suetonius on Domitian. I don't have the familiarity with Suetonius to adequately critique these but they sound extremly convincing. The satirical touch of the flies on Nero's wall is "dark comedy" in more ways than one!

Congrats on this exciting extension to your "Flavian Solution".

~Charles

Responses To This Message

Josephus on Domitian
Friend or Enemy?