The story of Joseph of Arimatheas imprisonment after the
resurrection of Christ and his release by Vespasian after the fall of Jerusalem in 70
A.D., surely illustrate that at least those who revised William of Malmesburys work,
must have concluded that Joseph of Arimathea and Flavius Josephus were one and the same.
Indeed, we know from Flavius Josephus himself that he was imprisoned by
the Romans for his part in the revolt of the Jews but on the instructions of Vespasian was
released. A set of circumstance that would place his imprisonment between 69 and 70 A.D.
However, if Josephus Flavius as Joseph of Arimathea did come to Britain, why did de Borron
say it was 63 A.D. and not whilst Petillius Cerialis was governor in 71 A.D.?
When we ask this question, there is curious possible answer. Namely,
that once we assume Joseph was in Britain because Petillius Cerialis was in Britain, then,
as the legate of Legio IX during the Boudiccan rebellion, Petillius could indeed have been
in Britain in 63 A.D.
This is because, it is only in recent years that the Boudiccan
rebellion has been dated to 60/61 AD. In the 19th century, for example, Meiklejohn dated
the Boudiccan rebellion to 62 AD. Therefore, opinion placing Petillius Cerialis in Britain
in 63 A.D. could be accepted, as we do not know for certain exactly when he left Britain
after the rebellion ended.
Flavius Josephus was not the only one who referred to Petillius, he was
also included in the works of the Roman historian, Tacitus. Tacitus revealing that he was
sent to the Rhine to quell the rebellion of Civilis in 70 A.D. and that he was a man with
a flair for action, headstrong and impatient but nevertheless, usually successful.
As a friend and relative of Vespasian, Petillius Cerialis was sure of
advancement in his career once Vespasian was emperor. Becoming Vespasians governor of
Britain in 71 AD, with a second consulship in 74 AD. Whilst he was governor of Britain in
71, the Romans moved into Brigantia for the first time. Brigantia roughly comprising the
North of England from either the Ribble or the Mersey in the west and the Humber in the
east to were Hadrians Wall was later constructed.
In one of the Grail stories, we again read how Joseph of Arimathea
delivers the Grail to the safe keeping of his son, Bron. This story then introduce a
character called Petrus and this time it was Petrus who was told to depart to the west and
not Bron. The destination of Petrus was the vales of Avaron and it is there that Bron will
join him; along with Alein, one of Brons sons.
There are also a cross section of 12th. and 13th. century Grail stories
that all included a character called King Pelles. He was allegedly the uncle of Galahad in
the Vulgate Cycles Queste Del San Graal and one of the uncles of Perceval in
other Grail stories.
In effect, King Pelles was the brother of the all important Fisher King
and likewise the brother of the evil king of Castle Mortel. Hence, from other stories
where Bron was the Fisher King, we can assume that Bron and Pelles were considered
From these stories, therefore, we could so easily believe that it was
Flavius Josephuss companion, Petillius, who was to play the part of Petrus and also
of Pelles. Whilst Bron and Joseph of Arimathea either accompanied him to the west or
joined him there later depending upon which version of events you read.
Or are we to believe that the names Petrus and Pelles were used by
these late 12th. and early 13th. century story tellers by coincidence when the above
account is capable for the first time of logically attaching Petillius Cerialis to a
believable Joseph of Arimathea?
Seen in the context of a story with a series of similar plots that name
so few characters and when accurate dating of events was no way as refined as it is today,
what this new information does imply, is that those compiling the Joseph of Arimathea
story were taking their themes from credible historical material.
Presumably with those compiling it, truly believing that Flavius
Josephus the historian, was in some way associating with Jesus and later his name was
simply misinterpreted to give, Joseph of Arimathea. Especially if these stories are seen
in the context of where Flavius Josephus was previously the Pharisee, 'Joseph the son
of Matthew', who had operated in the Galilee region; the real homeland of Jesus.