“Jesus has a Nazareth problem” (interview transcript)—Pt. 3

The Nazarene is “the enlightened one” (See also here.) René: …Everything is showing that Marcion’s was in fact the first gospel and that Capernaum was the original hometown of Jesus.      The reason “Nazareth” was invented—that would be by Matthew, now, and taken up by Luke—is to change “the Nazarene,” because “Nazarene” was objectionable to the Catholic Church. “Nazarene” had some strong religious and theological meanings at the time, and it would be very valuable if scholarship looked seriously at this question, because this brings us to the heart of the issue: What does “Nazarene” mean? René: Jesus in the earliest gospels is called “Jesus the Nazarene.” But nobody seems to know what that meant. Now, “Nazarene” means the enlightened person, … 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

Ten steps to the birth of Christianity: My view

1. A PREACHER (“Teacher”) is born in Palestine towards the beginning of the common era. He claims to have found answers to the ultimate questions facing mankind and attempts to teach others the “Way” to understanding and fulfillment. His teachings conform to the Gnostic type and are fundamentally secular—the exercise of human reason and the application of effort towards the “understanding of life” (Mandaic: manda d’hayye).   2. THE REBELLION: The Teacher challenges the religious institutions of his time and place (as did the Buddha and Zoroaster before him). He considers Jewish teachings useless and misleading: cant, rite, sacrifice, and obedience. Though born a Hebrew, he rebels against Judaism. 3. THE BEGINNING OF A NEW RELIGION: Some followers listen to … 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

Thoughts on Mandaism (first post on this new blog)

I’ve just finished reading Mark Lidzbarski’s German translation of the “Book of John” (Mandaic). I hope to put a precis of the book up on this website. Lidzbarski was a real Mandaic specialist, a true devotee of this obscure and much-reviled religion. He copied out—by hand—the entire Book of John (which I also possess in photocopy). The result is a work of art, and one remains speechless before the gargantuan effort represented by those 290 pages in impeccable handwritten Mandaic (not a single crossing out can be found). Even the footnotes are in Mandaic, with only a few abbreviations in German to guide the reader. While I’m presently struggling to get a foothold in reading Mandaic, Lidzbarski’s work as a … 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

John was Jesus (Ory) Pt. 3

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 Three The Word, the light of life The prologue of the Gospel of John mixes two distinct notions: the Word and Light. Pursuant to the demonstration of Delafosse,30 one cannot convincingly claim that the prologue was not retouched to the advantage of the Word. Originally, the Light alone was causative, but an interpolator wished to subordinate it to the Word. At the same time, he made the latter the creator of the world and the divine element desirous of incarnating in the flesh. The Word is of Catholic origin, … 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