Josephus,_Ant..._, 17, 9, 3:
"And as Archelaus was afraid lest some terrible thing should spring up by means of these men's madness, he sent a regiment of armed men, and with them a captain of a thousand, to suppress the violent efforts of the seditious before the whole multitude should be infected with the like madness; and gave them this charge, that if they found any much more openly seditious than others, and more busy in tumultuous practices, they should bring them to him."
_War..._, 2, 10 - 11 (Thackeray Trans.):
"The promoters of the mourning for the doctors [[Note: The smashing of the Temple Eagle episode]]stood in a body of the Temple, procuring recruits for their faction. This alarmed Archelaus, who wishing to prevent the contagion from spreading to the whole crowd, sent in a tribune in command of a cohort, with orders to restrain by force the ringleaders of the sedition."
These soldiers are stoned and all hell breaks loose. I see this as the point where John the Baptist is killed (Luke 22: 39 - 41,et.al). Another Jesus is captured and this leads to the ear cutting and then the important denials by Peter.
If you start with GJohn 18, you get a nice slice of a story inserted for effect: "Having said this...". I see this as a cut 'n paste part. That this is important to the originators of the final rewrite is seen in the changes made after "..the servant's name was Malchus."
Who was Malchus?
Verses 12 - 23 are additions ("To me...") and it is possible to see the death of this second Jesus in 8 CE and even Titus. Then we get to Peter's denials, about which more in a moment.
If you start with Mark, Simon Peter and Malchus are not to be found. A "bystander" cuts off the ear of a servant of the High Priest. We get the view of the youth who is stripped of his linen sheet as he runs away naked.
I believe that there are several stories compressed here but the main one is the Temple Slaughter of Archelaus in 4 BCE. Luke 19: 39 - 40 tell of the arguments in the Temple between the generals and others of the government and the "Seditionists", led by many Priests.
At the key moment, these "monitors" are cut off - stoned ("...If I were to quiet my disciples, the very rocks would shout!"). Josephus, copying Nicholas of Damascus here, states that "This alarmed Archelaus...". His monitors are stoned and the very government itself is reeling and is a moment from falling. (BTW, at Archelaus' "trial" in front of Caesar, he is accused of partying all that night. It must be a neat trick to be able to party in full libertinage and still run the government at an hour just before the cock crows.)
This then is "Ear" passage. With the stoning of the monitors, the "ears", Archelaus (or the Roman Political Control Officers) order the troops in to road grade everyone in their path.
Although there are some edits and compressions here, I believe that this basic idea is sound. Peter accompanies a disciple who is a friend of the High Priest (!) into the courtyard and is asked the fateful question. Why did Peter deny Jesus 3 times?
Because the Seditionists are being slaughtered in his sight and if he acknowledges membership in this group, he will be thrown out into the night to be killed himself. JtB is killed but this Jesus is thrown out to be killed and it is Peter who sees him in the "Walking on Water" stories of Mark and Matthew. In Matthew, Peter calls out to Jesus to have him come out and it is this that shows that "the Boat" in the Gospels is Antonia.
© Charles N. Pope, US Library of Congress. All rights reserved.