copyright 2008 Stephan Huller
by Rory Boid (personal correspondence)
The order of events favours putting Garmon in the 2nd c. A.D., but will support a date in the early 4th c. The argument that there is no record of a ban on circumcision at any other time than under Commodus is telling. But this was not a ban on circumcision alone, but an attempt at wiping all religious practice out. (See the Arabic Book of Joshua, ch. XLIX). Precisely this is what was attempted under Commodus starting in 180 A.D. But what then are we to do with the names of the two Roman emperors? The names are apparently Decius followed by Constantius. Here is the evidence. But first, a warning about how to read the names in A.F. The Arabic spelling is a straight transcription of the original ARAMAIC spelling, so the names are to be read according to the spelling system of ARAMAIC, not Arabic. I would have thought this to be obvious, but I see that numerous authors miss this fact. The first name is written DHYQHWS The H in Aramaic spelling is a separator between two vowels. Read DQYHWS pronounced Dekios. The second name is spelt T.YHWS (You will see Tahus and so on in books. First, Jamgotchian has pointed out that although the spelling in all mss. known to Vilmar is T.HWS, the St. Petersburg Fragments preserve the original T.YHWS (Loss of Y after T. is almost inevitable in Arabic script if a word is not understood). Second, the spelling is ARAMAIC, not Arabic, so the pronunciation intended must be [teos] or [tios]. I think this must be short for Konstantios (Constantius). Garmon was an official under this [tios]. At first I was sorely tempted to think that A.F. could have inserted these two names of Roman emperors, but the consistenty honesty of his work makes that impossible. What if he the attempt at wiping Christianity out altogether under Decius and even more so under Constantius included an attempt at wiping Samaritanism out in Palestine? This might help explain why Germanos was sympathetic to the Samaritans. But what would be the motive behind such an attempt? And is there any evidence?
Montgomery was not the first to identify Garmon with the Bishop Germanus. (Known in French as St. Germain, as in the Boulevard St. Germain, which as I recall leads to the department store La Samaritaine). It was J. G. W. Juynboll, in 1848, in his edition of the Arabic Book of Joshua (Chronicon Samaritanum, cui Titulus est Liber Josuae, Leiden [where else?], 1848). He points out that in this book (but not in A.F.), he is called a prelate, Arabic qissîs, that is, a person of any degree of ordination, so he could have been a deacon at the time, not necessarily a priest. He is called wakîl, an official, as well. A.F. has nothing at all about his religious position. He calls Garmon wakîl and h.âris, a guard, and says he kept the High Priest’s house under guard. The addition at the end of the circumcision liturgy calls him in Aramaic [âsûra], literally a gaoler. However, the guard over the High Priest would not have been an ordinary person. A guess would be that the term in the Book of Joshua is anachronistic, in that Garmon was secretly a Christian and a deacon at the time, but was employed as a local governor.
I conclude that Garmon is the person later known as Bishop of Neapolis, present at the Council of Nicaea twenty years later, and now known as St. Germanus. This means we need to work out why there was an attempt at wiping Samaritanism out along with Christianity, and we have to find the documentation. This won’t be a simple ban on circumcision.
copyright 2008 Stephan Huller