A New Account, Pt. 5—The founder: Who was he?

The name As mentioned in a prior post (last paragraph), the early first century BCE prophet known to the Talmud as “Yeshu ha-Notsri” doubtless had some other name in actuality. We know this because Yeshu means “Salvation” and ha-Notsri means “the preserver” (also “watcher, keeper of secret wisdom” etc). Nobody is born with the name “Salvation the Preserver.” The later religious writings of various traditions vaguely remember the prophet under a number of pseudonyms. This shows that already in late antiquity the founder had attained mythical status, for his personal attributes (including his name) were soon discarded. The Talmud records at least three names: Yeshu ha-Notsri, Balaam, and ben Stada. Samaritan texts record Dositheus and Dusis. Mandean texts record John. … Continue reading

Yeshu ha-Notsri as founder of Christianity—Pt. 15: Dositheus = John = Jesus = Simon Magus

In the preceding post I made a bold claim: the founder of Christianity, Yeshu ha-Notsri, is identical to Dositheus, the Samaritan arch-heretic. If I am accused (or lauded?) in future for being the inventor of this claim (which must appear monstrous to ordinary Christians), I accept full blame (or credit)—for I don’t believe it has been made before. One objection that immediately arises to the above claim is that Dositheus is generally dated to the first century CE. But it is not a serious objection. The conventional dating of Dositheus depends on the dating of so many other mythical characters (see below), including John the Baptist, Simon Magus, and Jesus of Nazareth himself—all of whom have been placed in the … Continue reading

Yeshu ha-Notsri as founder of Christianity—Pt. 14: Dositheus

In prior posts I have hinted that, after his excommunication in Egypt at age twenty-four, Yeshu ha-Notsri (not his actual name) returned to Palestine. The chronology for Yeshu that I have been using was pieced together from various places, including the Talmud (which explicitly dates Yeshu to the time of Joshua ben Perachiah, i.e., early I BCE) and the medieval Jewish writer Abraham ibn Daud (who gives a lifespan for Yeshu of about 34 years and his date of death in the 60s BCE). Additional information came from Epiphanius who—in an apparent slip of the pen—also dated the founder of Christianity to the time of King Janneus and Queen Salome Alexandra. The next step in our search for the prophet’s … Continue reading

H. Detering, “The Gnostic Meaning of the Exodus”—A commentary (Pt. 34)

→ Table of Contents The Didache—Pt. 4 The spiritual Jesus I have argued on this website that “Jesus” in the first century CE (before appearance of the canonical gospels) was spiritual, not material (see here and here). As so much in Jesus mythicism, the consequences of this thesis are far too provocative for mainstream scholarship. After all, a first century ‘spiritual’ Jesus strikes at the very heart of Christianity and gives the lie to the very existence of Jesus of Nazareth. So today this view of an early spiritual Jesus—graphically recorded in the Christian apocrypha and in some gnostic tractates—lives only in the outer reaches of the Internet. The great irony is that, while Christians are forever desiring to recover earliest … Continue reading

John was Jesus? (Price) Pt. 2

“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 Two In a Looking Glass Darkly Mark 1:14 (“And after John had been delivered up, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God.”) has Jesus neatly replace John on the public stage, occasioning the popular opinion that Jesus’ public advent signaled the miraculous return of John. Note the use of paradidomi, the same pregnant word used for the sacrificial delivering up of Jesus to death, whether by God (Romans 8:32) or by Judas Iscariot (Mark 3:19). Can the … Continue reading

Samaria: The Messiah’s Homeland (Ory) Pt. 1

by Georges Ory Cahiers du Cercle Ernest Renan, no. 11 (1956) Edited and translated from the French by R. Salm (April, 2012) Note: Bracketed editorial additions are in green and signed “R.S.” Original page numbers are in brackets. Part One The Simonian origins of Jesus and the woman at the well (Jn 4) Several indications have suggested—as Prosper Alfaric proposed—that the messiah of Samaria had become subordinated to the Judean messiah. It appears to us, also, that the Judean messiah eventually totally replaced the Samaritan while appropriating the latter’s gospel and his various writings. Towards the year 30 of our era, the opposition between Judea and Samaria was at its height. At the same time, Jesus showed an extraordinary goodwill … Continue reading

Samaria: The Messiah’s Homeland (Ory) Pt. 6

by Georges Ory Cahiers du Cercle Ernest Renan, no. 11 (1956) Edited and translated from the French by R. Salm (April, 2012) Note: Bracketed editorial additions are in green and signed “R.S.” Followed by a concluding note A little further on in the same book, Josephus recounts the victory of Aretas (Ant. XVIII.5.1). After giving certain details, he writes (§2): “Some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment for what he did against John…” Now, until this passage John had not yet been mentioned by Josephus who, we recall, had also not named the Samaritain messiah (for whom he certainly had no admiration). Immediate thereafter, §2 continues … Continue reading

Samaria: The Messiah’s Homeland (Ory) Pt. 5

by Georges Ory Cahiers du Cercle Ernest Renan, no. 11 (1956) Edited and translated from the French by R. Salm (April, 2012) Note: Bracketed editorial additions are in green and signed “R.S.” Part Five Further evidence identifying Theudas with John the Baptist Are we able to find other allusions to the messianic role of our John-Dositheus-Theudas in the texts? Flavius Josephus (Ant 20.5.1) writes of a Theudas whom he characterizes as a charlatan and for whom he offers details which arouse curiosity on several counts. This Theudas led the crowd to the Jordan. Its waters were supposed to part and let him pass through the river—proof of his stature as a baptist and a prophet analogous to Joshua. But Fadus … Continue reading

Samaria: The Messiah’s Homeland (Ory) Pt. 4

by Georges Ory Cahiers du Cercle Ernest Renan, no. 11 (1956) Edited and translated from the French by R. Salm (April, 2012) Note: Editorial additions are in green. Part Four (I have taken the liberty of placing seminal theses of Ory in bold—R.S.) John = Dositheus Most of the Church Fathers reported that Simon the Magician was a disciple of John the Baptist and of Dositheus. He was the favorite disciple of John, and at the latter’s death Simon returned from Egypt where he had gone to learn. After having been accepted into the group of Thirty by Dositheus, Simon eventually took the latter’s place, succeeding both John and Dositheus after a short period. The history of Simon’s beginning must … Continue reading