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Atwill Diminishes Paul
In Response To: Atwill decodes Paul ()

Hi Bruce,

Just made a first reading tonight during the four-hour World Series game!

Joe definitely strengthens the identification of Domitian as the Lord of the Book of Revelation. I would even add that Vespatian, disguised as "John of Patmos" is made out to be the author of the Book of Revelation. In other words, Vespatian foresees the coming of Domitian as his ultimate successor.

Patmos could be interpreted as "Father Moses". As decoded here at DomainOfMan, Vespatian corresponds to John the son of Zebedee in the Gospels. Within the Herodian sphere he was the son of Archelaus (neo-Rehoboam/Moses II), who was in turn son and successor of Herod the Great (neo-Solomon). As a royal Roman, Vespatian was Drusus son of Germanicus.

The parallel between the "seven sealings" found in Paul's writings and the seven seals of Revelation is also magnificent, however a better argument would be that Paul's existing works were "cherry picked" by the author of Revelation. I don't buy the idea that Paul's writings were manufactured by Domitian (although one can't rule out tampering), or that Paul and Jesus were mere typological phantoms rather than actual historical persons. The role of Jesus was played by a series of genuine royal persons. The character of Paul is even more unique and patently historical.

Paul was the "slave" of a succession of emperors who each had their own Christ-complex. Some of these emperors would have kept the volatile Paul on a small leash, and for good reason. Paul/Paullus/Phasael was an eminently pedigreed royal prince of the Roman/Herodian family with seemingly endless energy. Even Josephus divulges the royal status of "Saulus".

Paul also steadily cultivated his own persona as a Christ figure in districts where he thought he could get away with it. Many of Paul's narratives are simply generic hyping of the Christ myth. He was first and foremost a slave of the Christ myth, because he one day hoped to reap the full benefit of it. This comes out best in the identity of Simon Magus/Atomus.

However, to entertain any notions of becoming emperor, as Paul certainly did, placed one in a constant danger, that is, under a perpetual threat of execution by those with higher rank within the royal family. Royal women, such as a leading Vestal Virgin faced the same persecution after a regime change. They and their offspring by various royal males (that may have been rivals of the new emperor) could be quickly charged with crimes and put to an ignominious death.

Paul was obviously an enormously influential figure in the 1st Century AD. It is very unlikely that Paul was still living in the reign of Domitian, yet, the following Paul drew to himself still motivated a propaganda program by Domitian to redirect attention back to the Imperial Cult. Domitian had two choices in dealing with the legacy of Paul. Suppress his memory and his writings entirely, or pervert and usurp them to his own glory. He seems to have decided upon the latter. Everything was made to "work together for Domitian's good", or at least that was the intent.

Rulers rarely tried to completely erase the memory of a predecessor. It was usually sufficient to "build on the foundation", that is, reinterpret the actions and merits of those that went before, and establish yourself as the legitimate continuation of a legitimate heritage - even a heritage that may have gone partially astray, but that you miraculously restored to its former greatness or better. Rulers never (to my knowledge) invented persons as typological tools. There were always plenty of flesh and blood rivals to work with.

It is more likely that Paul's heir Marius/Marcion had to deal directly with the menace of Domitian, and like Josephus/Nerva, find some way to survive his reign of terror.

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