The Natsarene and Hidden Gnosis – Pt. 6

Priests vs. Levites   We concluded the last section with an observation of Ellis Rivkin: “We must, therefore, conclude that the Aaronides come to power with the finalized Pentateuch and, as such, are their own creation” (IDB). The priestly Aaronides, centered in Jerusalem, are the post-exilic religious hegemonists who took authority away from the pre- and concurrently-existing (gnostic) Levites. By “their own creation,” Rivkin means that the Aaronides invented their own pedigree, invented their status as Levites (for Aaron was supposedly himself a Levite), and in this way they took over from the ancient and ʻtrueʼ Levites the rights to administer the Temple. Essentially, they arrogated to themselves the religion which became known as “Judaism.” With the rise of the … Continue reading

The Natsarene and Hidden Gnosis – Pt. 5

The demise of gnosticism   Scant elements of the gnostic worldview remain in the Jewish scriptures. They are hidden, to be ferreted out from among the obloquy heaped upon gnosticism by the later scribes. The meaning of old gnostic symbols was lost, perhaps unknown even to many in later antiquity. When the Jewish religion turned against its gnostic roots, the Aaronide priests of Jerusalem jettisoned the old goal of ‘acquisition of gnosis’ (which was still practiced at Dan in the north) and fashioned an impassable chasm between man and god, one not to be crossed. Thus Judaism made an about-face, from a people who at first celebrated ʻcrossing overʼ from the material to the transcendent, to a people who forbade … Continue reading

The Natsarene and Hidden Gnosis – Pt. 4

Ephrathah and ʻcrossing overʼ   In Jewish scripture, Bethlehem is sometimes equated with Ephrath/Ephrathah (Gen 35:19; 48:7; Ruth 4:11; Mic 5:2). Elsewhere, the latter is the “father” of Bethlehem (1 Chr 4:4). Both ʻplacesʼ were not material settlements in Judah, Benjamin, or Ephraim, but mythical locales in pre-Israelite religion. Beit-Lahmu (Bethlehem) was the home of the Lahmu divinities, servants of the great god of hidden wisdom who guarded the ʻgateʼ of his house. Hidden wisdom (gnosis) had long been symbolized by fresh water emerging from within and under the earth. Thus, it is no surprise that the Bethlehem known to Jewish scribes was noted for a well with special water sought out by David himself, as already cited (2 Sam … 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

Loisy disappoints

A Review of Le Mandéisme et les Origines Chrétiennes (Paris: Nourry, 1934) I just finished reading Alfred Loisy’s book on Mandeism. It was a disappointment. Given the high regard that many mythicists retain for Loisy, this came as something of a surprise. Yet, the little I have personally interacted with Loisy’s work has, admittedly, been less than satisfactory. I feel it’s time to give my reasons and to call Loisy out. From the Mythicist Timeline: – Listed in the Timeline as a Jesus “skeptic,” Loisy was a historicist and is often termed a “modernist.” He was excommunicated (1908). – Loisy argued that, though Christianity was complex, from the beginning it saw the presence of God in Jesus. – Loisy was … Continue reading

The Mandeans and Christian Origins (R. Stahl)

In a recent post I mentioned reading a book by Robert Stahl, “Les Mandéens et les Origines Chrétiennes” (Paris, 1930). I finished it yesterday. Actually, I only read about half the book, because when I was at GTU library in Berkeley (see last post) I photocopied only what I considered the most important chapters. Here’s my comment on this interesting work… Stahl sees the Gospel of John as dependent upon (and as a reaction against) Mandaism (pp. 10, 14). Both emphasize light/life/the word, but the main difference is that the Fourth Gospel carnalizes these in the person of Jesus. According to Stahl, GJohn was a reaction against those who considered John the Baptist to be the “Great Revealer,” and the … Continue reading

John was Jesus? (Price) Pt. 1

“Was Jesus John the Baptist Raised from the Dead?” by Robert M. Price, Ph.D. Being Chapter Seven of Jesus is Dead (American Atheist Press, 2007) Reproduced by permission, in three parts. With occasional added footnotes in green by R. Salm Part One There are several New Testament passages which over the years have struck me as being pregnant with implications far beyond those scholars usually reckon with. These texts seem to me to be held in check by the conventional ways in which we read the documents in which they occur. They are “anomalous data” (Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions) which somehow seem “left over” in the context of the paradigms which seem to make such excellent … Continue reading

John was Jesus (Ory) Pt. 1

Hypothesis regarding John the Baptist by Georges Ory Cahiers du Cercle Ernest Renan, no. 10 (1956) Translated by R. Salm (Note: Editorial additions are in brackets and/or are signed “RS”) Part One The birth narratives of John the Baptist and Jesus The Gospel according to Luke is the only one to give an account of the birth of John the Baptist. Though it precedes the account of Jesus’ birth, this introduction to the gospel1 is not primitive. It certainly betrays the effort which was attempted—and which met with success—to make of John a Jewish prophet. In the time of Herod the Great, we are told, the angel Gabriel appeared to the priest Zachariah. He and his wife are very old. … Continue reading

John was Jesus (Ory) Pt. 2

Hypothesis regarding John the Baptist by Georges Ory Cahiers du Cercle Ernest Renan, no. 10 (1956) Translated by R. Salm (Note: Editorial additions are in brackets and/or are signed “RS”) Part Two Apollos and the baptism of John The accounts of the famous baptism are contradictory and incoherent. Moreover, that found in the Fourth Gospel is an interpolation from 1:29 (“Here is the lamb of God…”) to 1:36 (“here is the lamb of God”), the lamb having replaced God or the Son of God. According to Acts 18:24ff a certain Jew named Apollos arrived in Ephesus, a man well versed in the scriptures. He had been instructed into the Way of the Lord and taught with precision concerning Jesus, though … Continue reading