Eisenman's "New Testament Code", Chapter 3

Chapter 3, "Essene Bathers in the East and Abraham's Homeland", is the start of Part II of the book, entitled "The New Covenant in the Land of Damascus".

In this chapter, Eisenman reconsiders the centrality of Patriarch Abraham in the "New Covenant" (proto-Christianity), and clues in the Dead Sea Scrolls pointing to a connection between Herodian Jerusalem and contemporary court life in the former Biblical homeland of Abraham in and around ancient Harran of Assyrian/Armenia. Eisenman deduces that this was the prototypical "Damascus" in Assyria, and more specifically the locale intended by Damascus Document and other Dead Sea Scrolls texts.

Although not specifically pointed out by Eisenman, Abraham turns out to be the ideal role model for Herodians living in the shadow of Roman power. The lesson of Abraham is one of accepting the supremacy of a greater power and a subservient kingly status in relation to that power. "Mighty Prince" Abraham had to first abandon his lofty home in Ur of Babylon for the lowly refuge of Harran. Among the Hurrian (Mitanni) tribes of ancient Assyria, Abraham was known by the name Wasashatta son of Shattuara (Terah). See, However, he suffered another crushing defeat there. By direction of "God", he departed that region as well and went to Canaan and Egypt where he was known by the Egyptian name of Djehuty.

Circumstances hardly improved for Abraham. He helped an ungrateful father Terah overcome his enemies only to be pushed around by other younger sons of Terah. But even then he did not despair. Recall that Abraham was blessed only as he acquiesced to other royal princes who were in rapid succession elevated above him. The hope of Abraham became a hallowed, but mostly hollow, promise to be recognized as the (legal) father of yet another heir to the Great Throne to be produced through Sarah, and honorary ancestor by him alone of a troubled nation. The son Abraham was eventually to receive for his "obedience", Isaac, was not his own biological offspring, but sired by the notable tyrant Abimelech (Thutmose I) and destined to perpetuate a long line of fearsome tyrants.

Similarly, in Herodian times, there was a ruler in Assyria named Agbarus, who was called "Great King of the Peoples beyond the Euphrates". The name Agbarus, means "Great One", and is the same as the epithet of Osiris in Egypt. (Recall that Abraham was also called the "Great One" in Egypt, and specifically in emulation of Osiris.) Although the immediate kingship of Osiris was cut off, he was credited with being the father of the royal dynastic line of Egypt through Horus the Younger. Abraham also experienced a symbolic death with the loss of his election as successor, but was later given the consolation prize of seeing his adopted son Isaac placed in the role of Horus the Younger as future Great King.

The person of Agbarus in Herodian times was being set up for a similar career path as Abraham/Djehuty. But who was this "Great One" Agbarus in a historical sense? Well, it just so happens that we do know something about the Great Kings of Assyria in this time period, which was called the province of Armenia by the Romans. Oddly, Eisenman, does not seem to perceive, or at least does not mention, this larger political context (sitz-em-liben), but it is critical to decoding the full significance of the Dead Sea Scroll corpus as well as human history itself.

To wit, it can be said that Rome first appointed the Herodian prince Tigranes son of Alexander (and grandson of Herod the Great) as king over the region. This Tigranes was deposed after being accused in Rome, but replaced by his nephew, also called Tigranes, and around the time the Agbarus story begins to unfold. Tigranes I and Tigranes II were then of a stature commensurate with the title "Great King of the Peoples beyond the Euphrates". Both likely used the traditional colloquial epithet of Osiris (Agbarus) at Edessa-Harran, and most certainly Tigranes II. The names of many of the Great Kings of old Assyria/Mitanni/Libya had in fact referenced the god Osiris/Asar, such as Assurdan/Osorkon (I though V). Esarhaddon/Osorkon IV seems to have been specifically called by the Hebrew epithet Achbor, indicating nibbling or attacking as a mouse (Cf Roman Mus, the "Mouse God"). It stands to reason that the name Agbarus is a link to the former Assyrian empire and its legendary greatness.

Fabled Agbarus in the role of Osiris/Abraham at Edessa of Armenia, although having other wives, arranges to take Helen of Adiabene in Parthia as his new chief wife and adopt her son Izates as his heir. Helen becomes "Sarah" the sister-wife of Abraham, and her son Izates is adopted by Agbarus even as Isaac son of Sarah was adopted by Abraham.

The story of Agbarus and Helen leads one to believe that Helen was the sole monarch of Adiabene. But secular history, again neglected in this case by Eisenman, proves otherwise. After the death of Herod the Great (Phraates IV), the throne of Parthia passed to his son Phillip I (Phraataces) and grandson Phillip II (Artabanus III). In the mid-30's AD, Artabanus III attempted to conquer Armenia in an apparent revolt against Roman authority. He was repelled by the Roman magnate Lucius Vitellius, who then placed one Tiridates III (back?) on the throne, not only in Armenia but also Parthia. (Tiridates is by association the Parthian equivalent of the Assyrian name Tigranes.) Despite the loss, Artabanus strengthened himself with Scythian recruits from Hyrcania, overthrew Tiridates, and successfully sued for peace with Rome, only to be deposed once more in a coup. Through the mediation of Izates son of Helen, Artabanus was pardoned and restored to the throne of Parthia, but died shortly thereafter.

Artabanus/Phillip II played the role of Elijah in Herodian times. It was his "fate" to lead a rebellion in Mesopotamia and the Trans-Jordan before being taken into custody and decapitated, not just for his scripted "crimes" but to prepare the way for the Messiah. He was to decrease in order that the Herodian Elisha/Joshua/Jesus might increase. It was Herod the Great himself who had designated his grandson Aristobulus III as the family Joshua. When Phillip II was arrested and beheaded, the stage was then set for Aristobulus III to take up arms and ascend triumphantly to the Herodian throne.

Aristobulus III, in the guise of Izates of Parthia, had shown himself to be a loyal vassal of Rome by restoring the order. (His mother Mariamne IV, the Parthian "Helen" had many sons, but only two are featured in her story at Edessa, because only two sons of Abraham are featured in the Genesis story.) The execution of Phillip II/Artabanus/"John the Baptist" by Antipater and Queen Herodias would have further demonstrated Herodian faithfulness to Rome and enmity to those who challenged its authority. Yet, the grander Herodian scheme was nixed by the profligate Herodian prince Agrippa, who accused Herod Antipater of amassing weapons and got him deposed.

Caesar rewarded Agrippa with seniority over the Herodian family and the territories they controlled on behalf of Rome in Syria and Palestine, if not also Armenia and Parthia. Aristobulus had to bide his time with a minor kingship in Lebanon under the regency of his adoptive father Herod of Chalcis. Parthia plunged into actual civil war as surviving descendants (?) of Artababus III (viz., Vardanes, Gotarzes II, Vonones II) tried to hold on to the throne.

The partnership of Agbarus (Tigranes/Tiridates) and Helen (Miriamne IV) did not fall apart in Edessa. Like his model Abraham the "Friend of God", Tigranes remained true to his Sarah and to Caesar. He and Helen also persevered in the work of establishing a new retro-religion based on the faith of Abraham, which was reckoned as righteousness in the Torah. Their son Izates took the additional and controversial step of submitting to (mock?) circumcision. It was perhaps promoted as orthodoxy to (increasingly militant) Jewish fundamentalists, but dismissed by Roman elite as a ploy or taken as a sign of complete political docility ("castration"). In the late 50's AD, Aristobulus III was appointed as king in Roman Armenia. He and his wife Salome maintained the impression (at least on their coinage) of being "Great Lovers of Caesar". Their son, also called Aristobulus, had a home in Rome and was respected there both by Romans and nascent Christians.

If Eisenman's analysis of the Dead Sea Scrolls is correct, James the brother of Jesus meanwhile cultivated an expectation in Jerusalem that salvation from Rome would come from a king arising in Abraham's homeland, "the land of Damascus", i.e., the environs of Harran and Edessa in Armenia. James (Greek for Jacob) was styled ala Herod the Great as the new Jacob. The role of Jacob, a Hebrew epithet of the sun god Atum-Re, had evolved into the most important and complex of many royal stereotypes. It combined the traits and actions associated with the Patriarchs Adam, Irad, and Noah, as well as all the royal persons who had assumed the identities of those Patriarchs prior to Herodian times. If Eisenman is on target, James augmented an already extremely rich personae by claiming to be the next "Teacher of Righteousness". That is, he was not only to be a caring usurper like Jacob and a wise like Noah and Solomon, but also an Osiris like the earlier renowned High Priest Hanan/Honi the Circle Drawer and a rainmaker like the even earlier Osiris-type Elijah.

Under his Roman name, Stephen Adronicus, James had worked hard to justify his reputation as a "servant of Caesar", and one worthy of Rome's favor and protection. Even so, it was his mandate as the Patriarch Jacob to steal the birthright from his reprobate brother Herod Agrippa (son of Agrippa) along with his appointed High Priest Ananus (son of Ananus). While Izates/Isaac yet lived, Agrippa and Ananus, probably also in cahoots with Saulus/Paul, made a preemptive strike on James and put him to death. Within about two years of James' assassination, the old and ailing Izates/Aristobulus did finally pass away (circa 63 AD). Nevertheless, Messianic fervor was far from snuffed out. Competition between Herodian princes and disputes over how to administer the volatile new form of Judaism further served to inflame the entire Middle East.

Simon Peter (Roman Gemellus/Tertulian) replaced James as the leader of direct Herodian opposition to Agrippa. The research of Eisenman indicates that within emerging Christianity Peter actually excelled James as a proponent of circumcision and Jewish ritual. Despite this, Eisenman makes Paul the unnamed partner of James during the initial conversion of Armenia to The Way (Neo-Judaism) in the 20's AD. But, how can that be if Paul was the persecutor of proto-Christianity until the late 30's? Rather, it is far more likely that Peter himself was the one that insisted converts in Armenia (including Izates) be circumcised and that Peter was operating in that region under the alias of "Eleasar". Simon Peter did in fact have a very strong Eleasar (Osiris) typecasting as confirmed by the research of Joseph Atwill.

Many, if not most, Herodians strove to incorporate the god Osiris (in Hebrew Scriptures a.k.a. Mehujael, Hanan, Eleazar/Eliezer, Issachar, Joktan/Jochin/John, Elijah/Abijah) into their personal royal image. Osiris was clearly all the rage of the Greco-Roman Age, as reflected in the enormous popularity of Serapis (an Osiris cult of Egypt) and Mithra (the corresponding Osiris movement in Parthia) both of which were embraced in Rome. The Herodians merely sought to architect a revamped Osiris cult of their own and for their own.

It was shown above that the "Great King" Agbarus/Tigranes of Armenia also adopted Osiris as patron god. In the Gospels, Agbarus is called Lazarus, a name connoting "the Osiris". In the Book of Acts, this same prince is denounced as the sorcerer Simon Magus. Simon Magus, like his Armenian alter ego Agbarus, is extolled as "The Great Power of God", a further allusion to Osiris, and with such pomp and circumstance as to resurrect the memory of a former Simon the Great, Nebuchadnezzar II. In both Biblical and extra-Biblical accounts, Simon Magus is the bitter rival of Simon Peter, and is confronted by him on multiple occasions.

The Book of Acts claims that Simon Magus was kept in check by the (other) disciples/Apostles, but in reality the influence of Tigranes steadily grew, and especially after the death of Aristobulus III. At this time he traveled ostentatiously beside a new Helen, Salome the very widow of Aristobulus III. (The previous Helen, Mariamne IV mother of Aristobulus III, had died in the 40's or early 50's AD.) In 66 AD, Tigranes created a stir with a sensational visit to Rome. Yet his meteoric rise, like that of Nebuchadnezzar, turned out to be an omen of destruction for Jerusalem. In the end, Herodian tories and turncoats sold out the Herodian revolutionary cause. The sheep knew not whether they were being led to the slaughter by one wolf or another.