As mentioned in several posts, the people involved in the final days of the Nazarene Teacher on earth are missing from the early pages of the Christian movement. The Gospels mentioned them, but Acts and the other New Testament epistles are silent, especially about the women who were there.
The focus in the post-Gospel world was centered on a young Hellenistic Jew named Saul who later changed his name to Paul. It is his story and teachings which left their mark on the young community of believers.
Joseph of Arimathea and Maryām (Miriam) of Magdala, two central players of Easter Week, mysteriously disappeared or were never mentioned again in the canonical writings. What happened to them?
The following is a speculative narrative based on ancient sources and traditions which have hung like the heavy moor fog for centuries over Christian history.
Part One: Pilate, Annas and Caiaphas
In the weeks that followed after that miraculous Sunday morning, some of the highest ranking religious leaders sought to silence those who spoke of the events concerning the death and resurrection of the Nazarene Teacher. Fearing an upheaval of the populace and the brutal censure of the Romans, they sought to suppress the growing heresy with the aid of a zealous young man named Saul of Tarsus who would murder anyone who threatened the established orthodoxy.
Claudia Procula, wife of Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate, continued to have dreams. She would share these with Maryām of Magdala who in turn would inform Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, both of whom had been excluded from the stratagems of the leadership.
Pilate was concerned about the safety of these people who had shared a common history with him over the past year. Claudia had fully embraced the teachings of the man he allowed to be crucified.
He found himself washing his hands constantly during the day. Something just clung to them which would not go away until he returned to Rome to face charges raised by his ever growing circle of enemies.
The Roman Centurion Longinus and his cohort had been assigned to protect the handful of people associated with the Nazarene Teacher in his last days on earth. Longinus and many of his men had accepted the teachings of the Man of Sorrows.
Longinus felt a special attachment to Maryām, like a father would feel for a daughter. This Roman’s behavior did not escape the notice of Annas and Caiaphas, who, like King Herod, were political appointees. Under their leadership the Sanhedrin was corrupt, except for a few members like Joseph, Nicodemus and Gamaliel.
Annas and Caiaphas could ostracize Joseph and Nicodemus, but Gamaliel was a different matter. He was the senior member of the Sanhedrin with a rich Jewish history and respected as the true interpreter of the Torah. Unlike Joseph and Nicodemus his conversion to the teachings of the Nazarene teacher remained a secret except to a few; Annas and Caiaphas suspected, but they dared not attempt to expose the truth.
They had him watched closely by their temple guard. Fortunately, Gamaliel would die before the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in AD 70, which many believe was allowed because the last righteous member of the Sanhedrin had passed to his rest. In many ways respect for the Torah died with him as did purity and piety. God turned his face away from Jerusalem.
Pilate was becoming very inflexible with Annas and Caiaphas whom he detested. They in turn sought every opportunity to send to Rome surreptitious allegations and complaints against Pilate’s treatment of the people.
Little worked, until they hatched an ambitious plan to tap into the superstitious belief that Moses had hidden sacred vessels on Mount Gerizim. Pilate was informed at his residence in Caesarea that an armed force of Samaritans would join with the ever-increasing zealots to wage a holy war against Rome.
Pilate sent his Roman cohorts to meet the armed threat and a great slaughter of innocent men resulted. Annas and Caiaphas wasted no time in sending the bereaved relatives to Vitellius, legate of Syria. Vitellius ordered Pilate to return to Rome to give a full report to Emperor Tiberius of his ten years of administration, but Vitellius realized that Pilate was no longer safe, and believed the incident was a ruse to ease the Jews’ growing hostility toward Rome.
Unfortunately, the hostility toward Rome was a boiling cauldron. The machinations of Annas and Caiaphas would set in motion the eventual destruction of Jerusalem.
By the time of these unfortunate events Pilate had had Longinus and his cohort take Joseph of Arimathea and Maryām of Magdala to Britannia where he believed they would be safe. For it was in Britannia that he had been born, and he knew the frontier was safe from many political dangers.
Pilate and Claudia Procula would return to Rome. Tiberius was very fond of his niece Claudia, and Pilate had won favor with the Emperor by sending him detailed reports of the intrigues happening in Judea.
Before they arrived in Rome, Tiberius died mysteriously. Caligula became Emperor which was of great concern to Pilate because Caligula, as a 14 year-old, had attempted to molest Claudia in the emperor’s residence. If not for Longinus’ intervention, he would have succeeded.
Now, Pilate decided to send his wife away from Rome before Caligula knew they were there. Pilate sought out his old friend Cassius Chaerea of the Praetorian Guard.
With Cassius’ assistance, Claudia and Pilate parted; she would journey to Britannia to join Joseph and Maryām. Now, Pilate could face this twenty-five year-old emperor without fear, but Cassius knew that Caligula would torture Pilate to gain information on Claudia. Caligula was still obsessed with her.
At Pilate’s first meeting with Caligula, he was gracious and inquired of Claudia. Pilate informed him that Claudia had become ill on the voyage and would be joining him in a few weeks. This delighted the young Emperor.
As the weeks went by, Caligula became suspicious and demanded that Claudia be brought to him. Pilate reassured him that she would join them soon, but as fate would have, Caligula made inquiries of the ship’s captain on his return to Rome and discovered the truth. One of the sailors had heard Pilate and Claudia speak of Britannia.
Cassius informed Pilate of this new development. They both knew that Pilate would be executed after torture.
Cassius knew of a band of Christians in the city. He had Pilate taken to them while he prepared a ruse which he hoped would work. The previous night a gladiator who could have passed for Pilate’s twin had been killed accidently by drowning. Dressing him in Pilate’s clothes and ring, he had the body tossed into the Tiber where it would be discovered the next day.
Caligula went into a rage that Pilate had committed suicide. He swore Pilate’s body would never find rest. He had the body taken from place to place so it would never find a final resting place.
If Claudia was in Britannia, he would find her. He would send cohorts to find her, but they never did.
As he lived among the Christians, Pilate found that they did not blame him for the death of their teacher. They accepted him as a brother.
After it was safe, Cassius arranged for Pilate to leave for Britannia as a merchant. Eventually, he was reunited with Claudia after two years of harrowing adventure in the German wilderness where he witnessed for his newfound faith. Legend would refer to this traveller along the frontier as the Unworthy One with no name, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief bearing heavily upon his soul.
Part Two: Joseph of Arimathea
Joseph of Arimathea had taken on their voyage to Britannia two sacred objects—the cup from the Last Supper and the staff of John the Baptist, which traced its origin back to the Gates of Eden as discussed in the post: Moses: The Exiled Prince. The cup or chalice would become the quest of a future king and his knights.
As Joseph walked the shires of his new home he came upon Tor, a hill which arose from the peaceful Somerset landscape into the air like hands raised to heaven. Deciding to camp at the foot of the hill for the night with his servants, Joseph was awakened around midnight and felt an urge to climb the hill.
As he stood there, the midnight stars were captured by his staff; as it absorbed the starlight of creation, brilliance encircled the aging traveller. A door seemed to open and he came face to face with the Archangel Michael, the warrior angel who had defeated Satan in the ancient star war.
Joseph quickly removed his shoes because he realized this was hallowed ground. Michael gave him a vision of the future of what this special place would become and the king who would rise to unite a nation.
The next morning when Joseph awoke in his tent, he wondered if it all had been a dream. Climbing the hill once again, he leaned on his staff and prayed. To his astonishment, the staff was transformed into a beautiful thorn (Glastonbury Thorn).
The words of Michael came back to him that the staff would rest in the hallowed ground until a young man would find it and use its power to assist in building a kingdom. The staff and a legendary sword are two elements of a future story of Merlin and Arthur.
The waters around the Tor are rust-colored. Legend says that drops of blood from the chalice from time to time drip into the aquifer which maintains the color. Of course as we know now, iron makes water rusty and has a unique taste.
Part Three: Maryām (Miriam) of Magdala
The voyage for Maryām was laced with tears and sadness. She had to say good-bye to all that she knew, but for her safety the flight to Britannia was a necessity.
Her uncle consoled her as much as possible, and Longinus would tell her of the exploits of Rome. She would pass down this history and her own to her children, who were destined to shape nations.
Of course she missed the daily communion with her beloved. She often thought of him and realized that he was on a higher astral plane that she could not touch with her mortal hand, but in her dreams they did converse.
The Roman soldiers and crew sensed there was something special about this young woman. She had a special glow, an aura which brought tranquility and warmth when they were in her presence.
She spoke of her beloved to them, and her words enthralled them. Her words were like honey to a famishing man wandering in the desert for weeks with little water.
She was the first witness of the newly risen Teacher of Galilee. She became the first evangelist, ordained by her Master, to tell others of what she had seen early in the morning on that first day of the week. This she did until she faded from the confines of this earth.
Legends and myths surround her children. Who was their father?
There are those who believe that she bore the child of the Promised One. Others believe that on the coast of France she bore her son and daughter, twins, who were symbols of the union of earth and heaven, the human and the divine.
Regardless of their paternity, their mother would hold a special place in history in France and Britannia. Her story may have ended in the Gospels, but it lived on in a faraway region.
Maryām was a woman who lived to serve. Her special relationship with a young rabbi is sealed in the unwritten histories of the first century.
Britannia would become the center of a new world order in the centuries ahead. From her shores North America would be settled with those who sought a new world to call their own.
As stated at the beginning this is a speculative account of what happened in the first century to those who were closely associated with that weekend where a young man was hung between heaven and earth for the sake of his nation, a political decision made by Annas and Caiaphas assisted by King Herod and a rabble. The Romans were just pawns in this chess game.
G. D. Williams © 2013
Moses The Exiled Prince
ARTHUR: ACT TWO—CONFLICT: https://lochgarry.wordpress.com/2011/10/09/arthur-act-two%E2%80%94conflict/
ARTHUR: ACT ONE—REMEMBRANCE: https://lochgarry.wordpress.com/2011/10/08/arthur-act-one%E2%80%94remembrance/
ARTHUR: PREFACE— https://lochgarry.wordpress.com/2011/10/07/arthur-preface/