Ananias, the Triple Agent with Intent to Martyr the Apostle Paul and Undermine Messianic Judaism
by Brendan Bombaci
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“Paul the Apostle,” whose name before Christian conversion was Saul of Tarsus, has been considered one of the most important figures of the Apostolic Age. He was a high council Pharisee Jew who fatally persecuted Christians before a day that he himself had a vision of Jesus that made him blind for days and led him to preach Christianity after being commanded by a man in Damascus. That man may well have been a triple agent for the Pharisees and the already-standing apostles, and, ultimately, for the conquering Roman empire. There is some evidence to this in the Bible itself.
In Acts 5:5, a man named Ananias suddenly dies before Peter when he has been judged as “lying to God,” when he in fact merely lied to Peter, about withholding a certain amount of his wealth from charitable contribution to the Christian outreach. This is a famous Biblical miracle – a great show of the power of the Christian God and the authority of his strictest adherents. Yet, the name Ananias appears again later, in the same book of Acts, identifying the Christian disciple who hears a message from God that Paul is in Ananias' city of Damascus, sent there by a vision of Jesus to seek out his new mission in life (conversion from Pharisee executioner to Christian apostle). He is the man who, in Acts 9:17, takes Paul in and heals his hallucination-related blindness with Jesus-like powers (an evangelical “laying-on of hands”) – another famous miracle. Paul then begins traveling widely and preaching what Ananias blessed him to preach: about the “gentle Jesus, meek and mild” of his vision. This notion ran counter to Jewish (and common) knowledge about Christianity being a Sacarii, or neo-Zealot, cult amongst their population with aims to establish a permanent and widespread lineage-based authority in Mesopotamia with a militant messiah at charge, and the creed to do so formed by blessings given to the Abrahamic lineage from the holiest individual in the Bible aside from God, so described by both Peter and Paul: a priest-king named Melchizedek (Bombaci 2016). In Acts 22:14, after being arrested for preaching at (“desecrating”) the Temple in Jerusalem, Paul recounts how he was told by Ananias to be the ‘witness’ of the “Righteous One” (a Christian moniker for Melchizedek) and to carry forth his mission as such.
One would rationally think that this second Ananias character was a different man; however, in Acts 23:1, when Paul is taken in for questioning by the High Council at Jerusalem, he is addressed by the high priest there who turns out to also be named Ananias -- and the fact that Paul seemingly recognized this man and implied his surprise that he did not know Ananias to be the High Priest let alone a Pharisee, when addressed by him in persecution, suggests that he was, in fact, the same man. Paul said: “I am sorry, brothers [i.e., the Pharisees, amongst whom he previously ranked]. I did not realize he was the high priest, for the scriptures say ‘You must not speak evil of any of your rulers.” He had converted to the faith crafted seemingly by pacific Christians rather than Pharisees, so only one of two meanings is possible by this. It is implicit that either (1) he would not assume the self-proclaimed Christian, Ananias, to falsely represent Christianity via retaining the highest of Jewish High Council roles and thereby being a commander of Christian persecution and executions, which therefore marks Ananias as "speaking evil against his ruler," Jesus Christ, or (2) he is astounded at this double-agent deception and doesn't know what to do, but plays this part, in hope and trust, with his newer evangelical preacher/healer Ananias, toward whatever judgment is needed for the cause, by submitting that he instead was the one "speaking evil against his ruler” (i.e, Ananias). After Paul’s fate was almost sealed by a murderous group of 40 leaders in the council, he was saved by a Christian (or at least a Christian-sympathizing) commander of the centurions, and then taken to “Governor Felix” (Acts 23:18-24). The High Council learns of his whereabouts and, in Acts 24:5, petitions the Roman governor to prosecute because he “is a ringleader of the cult known as the Nazarenes” (a translation of the word Nazorean which means “branch of David,” and actually has nothing to do with Nazareth). Felix hears Paul’s testimony against the accusation that he was trying to desecrate the temple, and is at first empathetic because he is apparently savvy to “the Way” (Acts 24:22) of Christian doctrine as it was known by the authorities (which could lead to a revolution they would have been glad to see, in that its volatility would have given them justification for a thorough quelling of any people deemed oppositional in the Jewish population so troublesome to Roman efforts at hegemony). In Acts 25:25, however, Felix was somehow taken unawares and made frightened when Paul described the coming day of judgment and salvation of Christians alone – implying aims at global rather than merely Mesopotamian rule – something that denotes the notions laid out in what would become the Book of Revelations as being esoteric in the Christian doctrine as it was thus far popularly known. In fact, it was likely around the later years of Paul’s and Ananias’ lives (60-70AD), around the rule of Vespasian, that the first version of the Book was completed (Burke 2002).
That the idea of globally-affective Armageddon and Rapture was apparently novel, and not common gospel, is corroborated by what Paul told Agrippa, later (Acts 26:16-18), of his original vision that directed him to see Ananias in Damascus (a testimony or account of which that was for some reason omitted from earlier verses in Acts). So, being as Ananias told Paul to be Melchizedek’s “witness,” after Paul told Ananias all that was supposedly miraculously revealed to him, Ananias must have known about the Judgment Day doctrine and informed him about it. Either way, it appears that Ananias wanted this information, along with that which claimed the living Jesus to be peaceful and immortal, to be preached widely and then known of through Paul’s eventual “imprisonment or death” (Acts 27:30), which seemingly would have been his fate. So perhaps being “witness” to Melchizedek meant “martyr,” as is one translation of that very term. This would have been (1) a way to popularize a rather anti-militant image of the living Messiah - a figure antithetical to the prophesied messiah by the otherwise volatile Sacarii (neo-"Zealot") force erupting from the Jewish population, while (2) altering Jesus’ original prophesied Messianic purpose of uniting and redeeming the people of Judah and Israel alone under the line of David and Zadok (that is, Jacob and Aaron) to one of a powerful and incontestable perpetuation of Abrahamic monarchical rule in the region and well beyond (actually a Damascus document promise), and (3) convincing non-Christians of a contrary religious supremacy in Christianity and a destructive nature in Jesus' purportedly pacifist and forgiving New Covenant-abiding father and judge of all creation, the "progressed" but foundationally Judaic god Yahweh, or now, "God." Such contradictions could easily create dissent amongst Christian groups, both (a) stirring up further Sicarii uprisings by some, in antagonism of such image-softening propaganda, thereby bringing harsher retaliation upon Zealots by the Roman forces to the point of diminishment and total subjugation, and (b) simply quelling the volatility of any less confident Zealots who waivered on the militancy of their goals. It would also paradoxically serve the cause of the Pharisees’ Old Testament interpretations, in opposition to that of the Saducees: that angels and spirits, as well as resurrection, are all real phenomenon (Acts 23:8), so that their form of Judaism, then, would be the one with more legitimization whether or not Christianity did become a formidable popular faith of the region. We may have, in this collection of accounts, real evidence of religio-political psychological warfare being conducted at the outset of widespread Christian communal development. Grinningly, it is even in plain sight.
Corroborative to my theory herein, recently published exegetical research by Joseph Atwill cogently suggests that the entire New Testament itself was a historically attentive but fictional work commissioned by Titus Flavius for the sake of legitimate appropriation of messianic Judaism by the Roman Empire -- and literarily composed by Josephus, a prodigiously influential Jewish polysectarian and once the army commander of Maccabee Zealots who became willfully adopted into the nemesis Holy Roman family of Flavians by the Roman general Vespasian, after Vespasian sacks Galilee and Josephus prophesies him as becoming "Lord of all mankind" upon his imperial coronation. Notably, as mentioned above, it was likely during Vespasian’s rule that the first version of the Book of Revelations was written. Josephus was the same author who wrote Wars of the Jews and Jewish Antiquities, both of which are the faithfully trusted works that provide Biblical scholars with any context for the period whatsoever. Such an Imperial power play founded on Josephus' clever penmanship would, of course, lead to swift and syncretizing cultural hegemony - a position over which Rome enduringly ruled after the New Testament was canonized. And Paul plays right into this. As Atwill puts it, in his book Caesar's Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus (Flavian Signature Edition),
"The tradition connecting early Christianity and the Flavian family is based on solid evidence, but has received little comment from scholars. The best known of the "Christian Flavians" was (Pope) Clement I. He is described in the Catholic Encyclopedia as the first pope about whom "anything definite is known" and was recorded in early church literature as being a member of the Flavian family. Pope Clement was the first pope who was referred to by individuals known to history, and who left behind written works. [...] Thus, Clement is of great significance to the church's history. In fact, while the Catholic Encyclopedia currently lists Clement as the fourth "bishop of Rome," or pope, this was not the assertion of many early church scholars. St. Jerome wrote that in his time "most of the Latins" held that Clement had been the direct successor of Peter. Tertullian also knew of this tradition; he wrote "the church of Rome records that Clement was ordained by Peter." Origen, Eusebius, and Epiphaneus also placed Clement at the very beginning of the Roman Church, each of them stating that Clement had been the "fellow laborer" of the Apostle Paul." [Atwill, pp 38-39]
Altogether, it appears that Paul may well have been a converted double agent, for both Christianity and (unknowingly) for the Roman Empire; with Ananias being a cunning triple agent, but ultimately serving Rome.
But none of this can truly come as a surprise to someone informed of the fact, outlined in multiple Christian documents, that the power of the messiah was really about the consolidation of familial agency, from the priesthood of Melchezidek and the royal line of David, in one man (Bombaci 2016). That such influence would be coveted by other powers is intuitive. Appropriating that influence, for Rome, was probably just an initial matter of adequate monetary persuasion, and a secondary matter of concentrated alt-history authorship. And who but the specially positioned person of Titus Flavius would be keen to execute this, in that "while emperor, he received the title of Pontifex Maximus, which made him the high priest of the Roman religion and the official head of the Roman college of priests - the same title and office that, once Christianity had become the Roman state religion, its popes would assume" (Atwill, p35). Other than quelling the militant messianic Jews, "Titus had another, more personal reason for creating the Gospels - being that the Zealots refused to worship him as a god. Though he was able to crush their rebellion, Titus could not force the Zealots, even through torture or death, to call him Lord" (Atwill, p28). But indeed, his legacy of the Christian religion made it so that all popes receive the title of "Vicar," literally meaning "stand-in" or "replacement for" Christ. While "36 of the 60 emperors from Augustus to Constantine and 27 members of their families were apotheosized and received the title of diius [god]" (Atwill, p37), with this act they finally secured for themselves that title as respected, or at least acknowledged, by some of the most resilient and rebellious of those whom they conquered.
Atwill, Joseph. 2011. Caesar's Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus: Flavian Signature Edition. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
Bombaci, Brendan. 2016. Of Jesus the “Messiah” (Anointed One), and “Melchizedek” (Prince of Righteousness): Rebutting the Trinity Doctrine. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Brendan_Bombaci/contributions. Lulu Press.
Burke, Delbert. 2002. An Introduction to the New Testament and the Origins of Christianity. Cambridge University Press.