Beyond The Galilee Episode

Other primates have been working on this jigsaw puzzle for a long time. Around 2008 someone handed me an odd piece they’d found in the box lid. In all the other rooms it was in piles of red balloon pieces. But I realized it probably wasn’t a balloon piece. I looked through my little box lid, and over the years I put a couple dozen puzzle pieces together. They look good. The problem is, it’s a 25,000 piece puzzle.

Different groups of primates are working on their puzzles in different rooms. Many of them have been working on their puzzles for generations. And in some rooms they don’t even use the same pieces as the others! And everyone seems to have put the edge pieces together differently. I heard that a long time ago a few primates used scissors to make certain pieces fit. How weird is that? Most primates won’t believe it if you tell them their puzzle pieces were trimmed, but from a distance you don’t notice.

There are some pretty old box lids floating around. Some of them look good, but others are a mystery. They’re all pretty, but they’re all handmade.

Okay, enough metaphor.

This is Luke 17:34-35 (KJV), used eschatologically by most Christians, although Dispensationalists use it to support the rapture idea.

I tell you, in that night,
Two men will be in one bed,
one will be taken, and the other left.
Two women will be grinding together,
one will be taken, and the other left.

Let me cut to the chase. These verses seem to be the only record of a legal verdict rendered by Philip the Tetrarch, son of Herod the Great. The founder of Rabbinic Judaism, R. Yohanan b. Zakkai, had put on trial two mixed-ethnicity same-sex couples in Bethsaida, but their case had to be appealed to Rome-approved regional ruler Philip. Philip recognized Rabbi Yohanan’s authority to enforce Torah on Jews, but disallowed the rabbi’s attempt to extend his authority to gentile sexual offenders.

There is evidence for the entire scenario in the Q Source, the Talmud and Josephus. I researched on and off for over ten years to be as thorough as possible. I published a longish summary yesterday ( and I recently published the title The Galilee Episode.

Somehow this record (Luke 17:34-35) of a Jewish imperial puppet protecting gay and lesbian gentiles against the expansive encroachment of a Torah-motivated Pharisee was preserved in the papers of the target community (gay and lesbian gentiles), which records became part of the original documents used in the Q Source.

To my knowledge, this evidence hasn’t been recognized before, although the material is not new.

What follows is not something I wrote about much in my book. I believe that the figure of Philip the Tetrarch influenced the creation of the New Testament Christ material. The “parousia” of Philip to judge disputes between his Bedouin tribal subjects, his practice of “tabernacling” in his domain with his select friends instead of requiring every kindred and every tribe to travel to him for dispute resolution, and the characteristic peace of his dominion (compared to Galilee and Judea), and his solution of the Jew-gentile division contributed essential elements to the evolving Christ doctrine.

It is not coincidental that the dominion of Philip the Tetrarch extended east from the northern edge of the Sea of Galilee to the west, the area now considered southern Syria. Shortly after Philip’s death, the tetrarch’s territory was officially renamed, “The Roman Province of Arabia.” You may be aware that after his “Damascus Road Experience” the Apostle Paul reportedly spent three years in . . . Arabia. Not what we think of as Saudi Arabia, but the region previously ruled by Philip the Tetrarch. It is not coincidental that both Philip the Tetrarch and the Apostle Paul dealt with the conflict between Jews and gentiles, in similar ways, with both addressing the issue of submission to authority.

I’ve believed for a long time that Paul spent three years working out his new theology, which was quite a departure from Pharisaic Torah-enforcement. Little did I know.

About Ron Goetz

My first wife used to say, "There's nothing so sacred that Ron won't pick it apart." My desire to be a pastor -- that was a temperamental mismatch. She was so patient. If my birth mother had lived somewhere else, maybe I would've become a cold case detective. But I would have had to be J instead of a P, I think. And that mid-life reevaluation, starting adolescence as a GARB fundamentalist and transitioning to a non-theist, that gave me an unusual skill set.
This entry was posted in Arabia, Book, Galilee, Luke 17:34-35, Roman Province of Arabia, The Galilee Episode. Bookmark the permalink.

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