The Natsarene and Hidden Gnosis – Pt. 3

David, Bethlehem, and the scribes   To this day, archaeologists cannot be certain where the settlement of Bethlehem was located. The scribes who penned the Jewish scriptures were also in doubt, for in several cases they found it necessary to identify Bethlehem with another unlocated settlement called Ephrath/Ephrathah: “So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem), and Jacob set up a pillar at her grave; it is the pillar of Rachelʼs tomb, which is there to this day” (Gen 35:19–20; cf. 48:7). However, Jewish scripture clearly locates Rachelʼs tomb to the north of Jerusalem (1 Sam 10:2; Jer 31:15). This anomaly has long caused both Jewish and Christian scholars a good deal of … Continue reading

The Natsarene and Hidden Gnosis – Pt. 2

Noah, the first Natsarene?   The flood was a divine judgment upon all mankind, one which came suddenly. But god gave Noah secret knowledge in advance: to build an ark. The ark itself represents and symbolizes the secret saving knowledge of god. After all, it was the ark that saved Noah. Thus it is no surprise that in the Akkadian flood story the boat is named natsirat napishtim, “Preserver of Life,” a phrase employing the root n-ts-r.6 It should also not surprise us that netsêru in Akkadian means “secret knowledge,” particularly that received from the moon god Ea/Enki (the god of the underword ocean).7 In the flood story, secret knowledge protects the wise person against that which destroys the entire … Continue reading

The Natsarene and Hidden Gnosis – Pt. 1 (Salm)

Foreword I wrote the essay entitled The Natsarene and Hidden Gnosis in 2011, to be read in conjunction with Ditlef Nielsen’s groundbreaking and long forgotten book The Old Arabian Moon Religion and the Mosaic Tradition (1904). This essay was originally conceived as an addendum to Chapter Four of Nielsen’s work. I am now revising and updating it in this series of posts, in order to make the essay available in the search features of this website and also in order to bring it once again to the attention of readers. The original essay is available complete in PDF form here. The first five chapters of Nielsen’s book (in my translation from the German) are available in a series of PDF’s … Continue reading

Pre-Christian gnosticism

In the last few years the fundamental historicity of the canonical gospels has been increasingly brought into question not merely through the work of a few “mythicists” but now also through the work of mainline scholars such as Thomas Brodie and Dennis MacDonald. The work of other scholars, too—scholars who are not ‘mythicist’ at all—is inexorably leading the entire field towards a new paradigm: “Jesus of Nazareth” was a fiction. This new paradigm is still far from being even a minority consensus among scholars, but that may largely be due to the reticence of many scholars to espouse what is extremely unpopular and still politically suicidal. In other words, the mythicist position is far stronger than may appear when the … Continue reading

The Natsarene (“Nazarene”) Religion – Pt. 8

Early Buddhist influence on the West It is hardly acknowledged by Christian scholarship that Buddhism potentially exercised considerable influence in the Western world as early as the third century BCE. In the middle of that century, Ashoka (r. 269-232 BCE)—the Mauryan “Emperor of Emperors” who conquered most of the Indian subcontinent—sent a Buddhist missionary contingent to Alexandria at the official request of the curious and enterprising emperor Ptolemy II of Egypt (r. 283-246 BCE)—the same emperor who founded the great Library of Alexandria (eventually destroyed, probably by Christians in 391 or 415 CE).   Both Ashoka and Ptolemy II were extraordinary figures. After a particularly bloody victory against the Kalingas, Ashoka Maurya converted to Buddhism and became a pacifist. Surrounded … Continue reading

Torrey Part 5: Jewish history rewritten

The Messiah Son of Ephraim by Charles C. Torrey, PhD. Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 66, No. 3 (Sep., 1947), pp. 253-277 Part Five With editorial material added in green and significant statements in red. Zechariah 12:9-11 It was remarked above that in the Jewish tradition one passage of Old Testament prophecy has been expressly declared to refer definitely to the death of the warrior Messiah, the Son of Ephraim. This is Zech 12:10, a picture of bitter lamentation in Jerusalem for a slain hero. The whole chapter deals with the closing scenes of the great conflict of Israel with the hostile nations of the world. Yahweh says in 12:9: “In that day I will seek to destroy all the … Continue reading

Torrey Part 4: Slain by the gentiles

The Messiah Son of Ephraim by Charles C. Torrey, PhD. Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 66, No. 3 (Sep., 1947), pp. 253-277 Part Four With editorial material added in green. I have also taken the liberty of highlighting some significant statements in red.—R.S. Daniel 9:24-27 /24/ “Seventy weeks are decreed for your people and your holy city: to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy one. /25/ Know therefore and understand: from the time that the word went out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the time of an anointed prince, there shall be seven weeks; … Continue reading

Torrey Part 3: The union of man and God

The Messiah Son of Ephraim by Charles C. Torrey, PhD. Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 66, No. 3 (Sep., 1947), pp. 253-277 Part Three With editorial material added in green and significant passages in red.—R.S. Apocalypse of Baruch, Chapters 29, 30, and 40 All those who have knowledge of the intimate relation existing between Second Esdras (IV Ezra) and the Apocalypse of Baruch will expect to find in the latter work the same Messianic teaching as in the former. And in fact, its representation of the lesser Messiah agrees in all respects with that which was given in the “Shealtiel Apocalypse” (II Esdr, chaps. 3-13).11 The material in Ap. Bar. taken over from Ap. Sheal. (i. e., from the core … Continue reading

Torrey Part 2: The two messiahs

The Messiah Son of Ephraim by Charles C. Torrey, PhD. Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 66, No. 3 (Sep., 1947), pp. 253-277 Part Two With occasional added notes in green and important points in red.—R.S. In this section Prof. Torrey delineates two messiahs: a “Son of Ephraim” (who is also known as “Son of Joseph”) and a “Son of David.” The former is essentially human, the latter essentially divine. The basic roles of these two different messiahs are as follows: First in history will come the very human Son of Joseph/Ephraim (the precursor): – In the last days of the world but before the Messiah Son of David (and, in a sense, ‘in preparation’ for the Messiah Son of David). … Continue reading

Torrey Part One: The Slain Messiah

The Messiah Son of Ephraim by Charles C. Torrey, PhD. Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 66, No. 3 (Sep., 1947), pp. 253-277 HIGHLIGHTS This important article provides astonishing—and unexpected—insight into the Jewish background of the Christian conception of the slain messiah. I have arbitrarily divided Torrey’s article into five parts. The major points (highlighted in red in the pertinent posts) are as follows: Part 1: – Contrary to general belief, there were two expected messiahs (“anointed ones”) in Second Temple Judaism: the Messiah Son of Ephraim, and the Messiah Son of David. The latter is well known, while the former has languished in obscurity since ancient times, suppressed in both Judaism and Christianity. However, Torrey argues that the Christian messianic … Continue reading