Sunday, August 16, 2015

Joseph of Ar-Mathea: Fact and Fiction

Alice C. Linsley

There is a great deal of medieval elaboration surrounding Joseph of Arimathea. One account says that he brought Jesus as a teenager to England. Local legends say that among the places they visited were St. Just in Roseland and St Michael's Mount. A 12th-century account connects Joseph to the Arthurian legends and names him as the first keeper of the Holy Grail. It is said that he hid it in a well at Glastonbury, now called the Chalice Well. There is no evidence to support these inventions. The association of Joseph with Glastonbury in Somerset added to the status of Glastonbury by associating it with a prestigious Christian who was known to have been in Cornwall.

In Matthew 27:57-8 and John 19:38-40, Joseph is described as a "man of means." Jerome's Vulgate version calls him nobilis decurio. The term decurion was often used for an official in charge of mines. It is also said to be part of Cornish tin-miners folklore that there is a saying and song that "Joseph Was a Tin-Man and the miners loved him well." Joseph apparently had business dealings in Cornwall where it is said he visited the Ding Dong Mine.

Mining in Cornwall and Devon began as early as 2150 BC. The Ding Dong Mine is one of the oldest mines. An old miner told A. K. Hamilton Jenkin in the early 1940's: "Why, they do say there's only one mine in Cornwall older than Dolcoath, and that's Ding Dong, which was worked before the time of Jesus Christ." (Hamilton Jenkin, A. K. Cornwall and its People. London: J. M. Dent; p. 347)

The inhabitants of Cornwall were involved in the manufacture of tin ingots. The area has prehistoric tin mines, stone monoliths, and iron age fortresses. Joseph probably had Jewish friends and family living in the area. The presence of Hebrew is evident in place names like Marazion, meaning "sight of Zion" and Menheniot, which is derived from the Hebrew min oniyot, meaning "from ships." Menheniot was a center of lead mining.

These metal workers and miners were among the Damoni, an early population of Cornwall. Dam-oni means "red people." Their ancestors were the builders of the great shrines like Carnac in Brittany because the stone monoliths in Damnonia are like those in Carnac, though smaller. On the Nile the ancient shrine at Karnak was built with huge stones by skillful craftsmen. Kar-nak means place of rituals. The red skin Annu/Onnu also built Heliopolis on the Nile, called "On" in Genesis 41. They were the builders of pyramids also.

Kar or car appears in many words for sacred mountains (Carpathians), shrines at high elevations and circles of standing stones. The original name for Cornwall was Kernow, which is related to the words Karnak and Karnevo.  According to Jasher 7:50, Abraham's father Terah had a wife who was the daughter of a man of Karnevo. Her name was Amsalai.

The ancient masters of stone monuments, tombs, and mining operations also built circles of standing stones in reverence to the Sun, the emblem of the Creator.

Joseph of the venerable clan of Mathea

Joseph was a kinsman of Mary and Jesus. They were of the Hebrew line of Matthew. It was a venerable lineage indicated by the Ar prefix. That is the meaning of the name Ar-Mathea. Ar in ancient Sumerian means "praiseworthy" or "venerable" and was used to describe sacred mountains, rivers, clans, and rulers. Many famous persons throughout history have been regarded as venerable, as is evident in their AR names: Arpachshad, Archelaos, Arwium (King of Kish), Ar-Shem, Arsames, Artix, Araxes, a Jebusite called Araunah, Artaxerxes, Artabanus, and Joseph Ar-Mathea. The name Arthur is especially interesting.

Some Hebrew examples include are Aroch (1 Chr 7:39, Ezr 2:5, Neh 6:18, Neh 7:10) and Ariel (Ezr 8:16, Isa 29:1, Isa 29:1, Isa 29:2, Isa 29:2, Isa 29:7). Ariel means “Scribe/Messenger of God.” 

The association of the name Ar with the scribal caste is suggested by the discovery of Aramaic scrolls from Arsames, the satrap, who wrote to his Egyptian administrator Psamshek, and to an Egyptian ruler named Nekht-Hor. (A.T. Olmstead, History of the Persian Empire, Chicago, 1948, pp.116-117)

There is evidence that a group of warrior-priests were regarded as praiseworthy. Dr. Catherine Acholonu explains, "In Nigeria the caste under reference is the Ar/Aro caste of Igbo Eri priest-kings, who were highly militarized in their philosophy." 

Joseph is identified in the New Testament as being of Ar-Mathea. This identifies his venerable Hebrew lineage. The Mathean clan names include Mattai, Matthew, Mattatha, Matthat, and Mattathias. All of these names appear in reference to the family into which Jesus was born (Luke 3:23-31).

Joseph was a mining expert and a tomb builder who provided his own expertly excavated tomb for Jesus’ burial. His business took him to the Ding Dong Mine in Cornwall.

Mining in Cornwall has existed from the early Bronze Age around 2150 BC. In 1600 BC, Cornwall experienced a trade boom driven by the export of tin across Europe. Pytheas of Massilia, a Greek merchant and explorer, circumnavigated the British Isles between about 330 and 320 BC and produced the first written record of the islands. He described the Cornish as civilized, skilled farmers, usually peaceable, but formidable in war. The Greek historian Diodorus Siculus named Cornwall Belerion, meaning “The Shining Land", the first recorded place name in the British Isles. Cornwall was one of the few parts of Britain where the dead were buried in ancient times.

As a member of the Sanhedrin, Joseph of Ar-Mathea was qualified to ordain priests with the written consent of two other members of the Sanhedrin (Nicodemus and James the Just?). Therefore, it is likely that Christian priests in Cornwall were ordained by him as early as 40 AD. Eusebius of Caesarea (AD 260-340) wrote of Christ's disciples in Demonstratio Evangelica, saying that "some have crossed the Ocean and reached the Isles of Britain." This was likely a reference to the Seventy who Christ commissioned (Luke 10) and Joseph is numbered among them, according to John Chrysostom (347-407), the Patriarch of Constantinople, who wrote that Joseph was one of the Seventy Apostles.

According to Gildas's De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae there were Christians in Britain as early as 46 AD. Tertullian (AD 155-222) wrote in Adversus Judaeos that Britain had already accepted the Gospel in his lifetime. These Hebrew/Habiru Christians would have had priests among them. We know from the Bible that there were skilled metal workers among the Horite priests. Aaron fabricated a golden calf and Moses made the bronze serpent on a staff. The earliest high-ranking rulers in Cornwall would have served as priests with powers equivalent to bishops as early as 46 AD and probably earlier than this. The episcopacy of Evodius of Antioch dates to 53–69 AD. The episcopacy of James of Jerusalem must correspond to that, as he died before 69 AD, and the episcopacy of Linus, the first bishop of Rome, dates to 67-79 AD.

Related reading: Stonework of the Ancient World; The Priesthood in England 

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