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Joseph and Mary, the Parents of Jesus Christ

Extract from Barbelo – The Story of Jesus Christ, by Riaan Booysen

My theory about Jesus Christ began to develop when I read The New Complete Works of Josephus with the off chance of finding individuals named Joseph and Mary. A Joseph-and-Mary connection soon surfaced, although in a time frame significantly earlier than the accepted time of Christ. Joseph, the treasurer of Herod the Great, and his friend Sohemus were instructed to guard Herod’s teenage wife Mariamne I when he was summoned to appear before Antony.  Upon his return Mariamne I rejected Herod, who subsequently blamed Sohemus for a breach of trust and had him summarily executed. Mariamne I (her name is equivalent to the biblical Mary) was tried, convicted, and also executed. For some reason Joseph’ life was spared.

My first impression was that Mariamne could not possibly have been Mary, the mother of Christ, as she had been executed around 29 BCE. However, close scrutiny of her history with Herod strongly suggests that she must have escaped from Herod through a carefully orchestrated ‘execution’:

  •  Herod had murdered Mariamne’s father and brother, and had given instruction that should he lose his life, she should also be killed. Herod was a hated man and Mariamne had to live under constant fear for her life. Mariamne had also sworn to commit suicide rather than allowing Herod to touch her again. In other words, there was no way out for her. Anyone trying to hide her from Herod would have been executed if found out, and she could no longer live with him. Apart from suicide, the only way out would be for her to be ‘executed’, so that Herod would no longer continue to look for her. All that would be required would be the cooperation of a couple of officials in Herod’s court, who no doubt would have had great affection for this beautiful teenager. Joseph himself would have had control over many of Herod’s officials.
  • After the murder of her son, Alexandra, Mariamne’s mother, at great personal risk, wrote to Cleopatra of Egypt, begging for her assistance to have her son’s murder avenged. Antony subsequently summoned Herod to him for an explanation of his actions.
  • When Herod returned from Antony, Salome, his sister, accused Mariamne of plotting to poison Herod. Mariamne appeared before a tribunal and was sentenced to death. Herod and several court members objected to the sentence, but Alexandra, in order to save herself, “changed her behaviour to quite the reverse of  what might have been expected from her former boldness, and this after a very indecent manner; for out of her desire to show how entirely ignorant she was of the crimes laid against Mariamne, she leaped out of her place, and reproached her daughter in the hearing of all the people; and cried out that she had been an ill woman, and ungrateful to her husband, and that her punishment came justly upon her for such her insolent behaviour, for that she had not made proper returns to him who had been their common benefactor. And when she had for some time acted after this hypocritical manner,  and been so outrageous as to tear her hair.”
  •  Mariamne accepted her sentence without showing any emotion or fear.


Everyone hated Herod and Alexandra no doubt loved her daughter very much. Could this have been a deliberate ploy to free Mariamne from Herod once and for all? Alexandra could, instead, have begged Herod to spare Mariamne’s life, which he obviously would have done. Why didn’t she? Further investigation revealed the following:

1.      Practically all of the apocryphal accounts of Mary and Joseph relate that they were public figures, known to ‘all of Israel’. Would an unknown, pious young virgin have been known to all of Israel? The biblical episode of Christ being found in the temple at the age of twelve is a clear adaptation of the early life of Mary, who was raised in the temple and loved by all of Israel. Only royal children and the children of the priests were raised in the temple.

 2.   In the apocryphal The Infancy Gospel of James it is related that Joseph was elected to receive Mary as his ward, i.e. he was appointed as her guardian, and upon learning that she had become pregnant, he lamented “I did not guard her”. This matches Joseph as Herod’s treasurer having been appointed to guard Mariamne during his absence.

3.      According to The Infancy Gospel of James, both Mary and Joseph were brought to trial, but passed the drinking-of-the-Lord’s-water test and were exonerated. Both Mary and Mariamne had, therefore, appeared before a tribunal.

4.     In the Mandaean Apostasy of Mary, she (Mary) professes to be a daughter of the kings of Jerusalem, and “All the priests and priests’ sons came and kissed thy hand.” In the same document it is also related that she was locked up behind bars (as Herod had done with Mariamne), and her mother reproaches her in the presence of the Jews, as Alexandra had reproached Mariamne in court. Josephus recorded that Mariamne was publicly known as a woman “somewhat rough in nature”, while in The Apostasy of Mary her father, most likely a subtle reference to Herod, who was old enough to be her father, accuses her of being “a bit of coarse stuff” on his robe.  Mary makes numerous references to the “treasury of light” – why this curious association, unless she had been involved with Herod’s treasurer?

5.      The Romans remembered Christ as ‘Fabri (of a workman, carpenter) aut (or) quaestuariae (quaesturae, of the office of a treasurer, or chamberlain) filius (a son). In other words, his father was Joseph, Herod’s treasurer.

6.      The cuckolded husband of Christ’s mother is called Pappos ben Judah in the Talmud. The only other person by that name supposedly lived around 134 CE and reportedly used to lock his wife indoors when he went out. This would be a perfect match for Herod the Great, who locked his wife Mariame away when he was travelling. In other words, this Pappos merely seems to have been dated incorrectly. One of the towers in Herod’s temple was actually named the Tower of Mariamne and could refer to either Mariamne, his second wife, or Mariamne, his third wife. It is perhaps no coincidence that when Luna, the mistress of Simon Magus, “was in a certain tower, a great multitude had assembled to see her, and were standing around the tower on all sides; but she was seen by all the people to lean forward, and to look out through all the windows of that tower.” It was not Mary Magdalene but Mary, the mother of Christ, who had been locked away in a tower. In Barbelo Simon Magus is argued to be the real name of Jesus Christ.

7.      In The Acts of Philip Mary Magdalene is actually called Mariamne, confirming that the names Mary and Mariamne were used interchangeably at that time.

8.      Joseph was recorded as having lived until the age of 111 years, and he had become known as Sabbas, meaning ‘the Old Man’ in Hebrew. One of his sons was known as Joseph Barsabbas and also as Barsabbas Justus of the Flat Feet. The latter can be linked to the renowned Roman orator Cicero, who had once defended a Roman soldier called Quintus Ligarius before Julius Caesar in his famous Pro Ligario speech. In his speech Cicero mentions a Caius Pansa (Gaius Vibius Pansa Caetronianus), who had been involved in the charges against Ligarius to a lesser extent. Caius Pansa was consul of the Roman Republic and was therefore a public figure that would have been known amongst the Romans as well as Rome’s vassal states. In Latin the word pansa means ‘splay-footed’ or ‘having broad (flat) feet.’ Pansa died in 43 BCE, which would have made him a contemporary of a young Joseph, the treasurer of Herod. Joseph must have married a daughter of Pansa, hence ‘of the Flat Feet’.

The fact that Joseph, Herod’s treasurer, had not been executed makes sense if he had become a Roman citizen through his marriage to the daughter of the consul of the Roman public – Herod would not have dared touch him. In Barbelo I argue that Christ had adopted the alias Paul of Tarsus following his ‘resurrection’. ‘Paul’ claimed to be a Roman citizen upon his capture, most certainly through his father.

9.      In Barbelo I present evidence that Joseph, the father of Christ, and Joseph of Arimathea (Arimathaias), were one and the same person. No place called Arimathea has ever been identified, but the name Ara-Matthaias means “the cursed Matthaias” in Greek. This Joseph was born in 68-67 BCE to a Matthias Curtus (see related extract on Joseph – Joseph of Arimathea – Josephus) and died in 45 CE, which makes him around 112 years old at the time of his death – a near perfect match for Joseph’s 111 years.

It should be noted that Christ’s body was taken care of by Joseph of Arimathea and another secretive disciple called Nicodemus. This Nicodemus has been identified as the Nakdimon ben Gorion (Gurion) in the Talmud, Gorion most likely being derived from the Greek ‘geron’, also meaning ‘old man’. It would make sense that Joseph of Arimathea, a ‘friend of Pilate’, and his son Nicodemus, would have been in a position to monitor Christ’s deteriorating condition on the cross and to remove him when Christ gave them the signal “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (quite literally).

 10.  Celsus claimed that Mary had had an affair with a Roman soldier called Pantheras, who is called Pandira in the Talmud. The word pansa is derived from the Latin word pandere, of which “pandira” must simply be a distorted form. Pantheras is mentioned in the same context as Pansa’s Roman soldier, and although there is no Latin equivalent for “Ligarius”, the Latin word lignarius means “carpenter”, no less. There can be no doubt that “Roman soldier”, “pandira” and “carpenter” all link Joseph, the father of Christ, to Caius Pansa, who died in 43 BCE.

 11.  As discussed in Chapter 4, Luke relates that Christ was born during the time of a census of the entire Roman Empire ordered by Augustus. He clarifies this census as being the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria. Augustus is known to have taken a census of Roman citizens at least three times—in 28 BCE, 8 BCE, and 14 CE—while Quirinius served as imperial legate of Syria from 6 to 9 CE and conducted the census at the beginning of his term of office. Quirinius’ term does not agree with any of the census dates of Augustus. However, the year 28 BCE perfectly matches the year in which a pregnant Mariamne would have given birth to her son.

 12.  The notion that Christ was born at the beginning of the Christian era stems purely from the biblical account that Christ was born when Herod (died 4 BCE) was still alive – he had supposedly issued a decree for all male children less than two years old to be killed. According to Jacob of Edessa, Christ was born in the 309th year of the Greeks. The Alexandrian age began in the year 336 BCE, which means that Christ was born around 27 BCE, which, given rounding errors, is the same as 28 BCE.

 13.  More importantly is the date of the crucifixion. According to Luke, Christ began his ministry at the age of 30 (in Barbelo it is argued that when Christ, who was known to the Jews as Simon Magus, returned to Israel following the death of Herod, he had already earned the reputation as being a magician, and began his ‘ministry’ right then). As he would have required time to build up a following, and Pontius Pilate was involved in his crucifixion, it is dated to around 30-33 CE. The traditional view is that Pilate ruled from 26-36 CE, but according to Josephus Pilate was already in office when the expulsion of the Jews from Rome occurred in 19 CE. We have two independent sources that date the crucifixion to ca. 21 CE. According to Eusebius, the ‘forgery’ called The Acts of Pilate claims that Christ died ‘in the fourth consulship of Tiberius, which was the seventh year of his reign.’ Tiberius ruled from 14 to 37 CE, and this description therefore translates to the year 21 CE. In The Life of Saint Paul the Apostle we read “Jeronimus in his book, De viris illustribus, that the thirty sixth year after the Passion of our Lord, second year of Nero, Saint Paul was sent to Rome bound”. Nero ruled from 54 to 68 CE and two years into his reign would be 56 CE. The year of the crucifixion is then 56 CE − 36 = 20 CE, which, given rounding errors, is the same as 21 CE.

In The History of the Death of Saint John the Evangelist, it is claimed that John lived seventy years after the resurrection of Christ, until the reign of Domitian (81–96 CE) and ‘he became an exceedingly old man.’ This implies that the Crucifixion and resurrection occurred somewhere between 11 CE and 26 CE.

14.  A key indicator of Christ’s age at his crucifixion is a passage from the Gospel of John in which the Jews indignantly reproach Christ that he had not yet reached the age of fifty. They would certainly not have made such a statement if Christ had still been in his early thirties. Irenaeus argues vehemently that Christ was nearly fifty years old when he was crucified, and asserts that according to those who had worked with John, he (John) confirmed that Christ had reached that age. If Christ had been born in 28 BCE and had been crucified in 21 CE, he would have been 49 years old when he was nailed to the cross, matching the remark made by the Jews.

15.  Christ was labelled “The King of the Jews” at his crucifixion. Why would he have received such an appellation, if either he or his mother had not claimed that he was indeed the rightful heir to the throne of the Jews (from the Hasmonaean line)?

16.  In the nativity accounts of Christ we are told that the Wise Men from the East brought gifts to the new born king of the Jews. The gifts would have been given to Mariamne, the young queen who would have required financial support to sustain her in her place of refuge.

17.  Christ befriended and ‘loved’ Mary Magdalene, her sister Martha, and her brother Lazarus. There was only one prominent family who lived in that era and who had three children of identical names, namely the family of Simon Boethus. His children were called Mariamne, Martha, and Eleazar. Mariamne was the third wife of Herod the Great and the Boethus family was prominent in Israel in the decades just before and after the beginning of the Christian era. If Christ had only been born around 4 BCE, he would probably have been too young to have become involved with this family. Had he been born in 28 BCE, however, he would have been around thirty years old when he met them, specifically Mariamne (Mary Magdalene).

In conclusion, there is a great deal of circumstantial evidence that suggests that Mariamne had not been executed as recorded by Josephus, but that she had used this ruse to escape from Herod. Several legends about Christ relate that he was born around 28 BCE and crucified around 21 CE, when he was close to 50 years old.

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