A New Account of Christian Origins—Pt. 1: General considerations

The preceding series of posts, “Yeshu ha-Notsri as the founder of Christianity,” is now complete. Those fifteen posts serve as an introduction to a new account of Christian origins presented on this website. The series began with an examination of the figure Yeshu ha-Notsri in the Talmud, an obscure figure that Christians have long considered anomalous and quite curious. We investigated what exactly the Talmud has to say about Yeshu, brought those clues together, and constructed a preliminary biography of the prophet. Yeshu lived in the early first century BCE. He was a Pharisee, a protegé of the leading Pharisee in Judaism, Joshua ben Perachiah. Joshua and Yeshu (together no doubt with other aristocratic Jews, their families, and servants) fled … Continue reading

Yeshu ha-Notsri as founder of Christianity–Pt. 12: To Samaria

Yeshu’s teachings In preceding posts we looked at three central themes of Yeshu/Jesus’ teaching, as witnessed in the gospels and other Christian writings: not of this world, self-denial, and his adversarial relationship with ‘scribes and Pharisees’ (posts 8-10 in this series). These themes must also relate to the reasons Yeshu was excommunicated. ‘Not of this world’ signifies that Yeshu did not bestow honor upon the creator, Yahweh. ‘Self-denial’ signifies that Yeshu embraced the very un-Jewish doctrine of encratism (from Gk. egkrateia, ‘in continence’)—the sacrifice of pleasure in order to attain understanding. Finally, Yeshu was against ‘scribes and Pharisees’—very understandable given that they excommunicated him, and that Yeshu believed he knew a better way. Rabbinic literature preserves additional clues regarding the … Continue reading

H. Detering, “The Gnostic Meaning of the Exodus”—A commentary (Pt. 9)

→ Table of Contents Simon MagusPart 1 [Dr. Detering writes, p.3:] We encounter another allegorical interpretation of the Exodus motif with Simon Magus, as reported by the church father Hippolytus… The passage gives an analogy between the World Tree and the umbilical cord of the growing fetus in the womb. In Simon’s allegorical thought, the Book of Exodus is symbolic: [Hippolytus writes:] Again, the inscription of the second book is Exodus. Now, they say [Simon Magus] calls the Red Sea blood—and who has been produced, passing through the Red Sea, must then come into the wilderness and taste bitter water. For bitter, he says, is the water which is drunk after crossing the Red Sea; which water is a path to … 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

Mythicists, docetists, Nazoreans (Salm)

The present confrontation between Jesus mythicists and the tradition may seem new to some. Others may suppose that it dates as far back as the eighteenth century, when scholars began to question the historicity of Jesus. However, I suggest in this statement that mythicism is a modern name for ancient docetism—Christianity’s “twin” born along with the religion itself. In his Panarion (29.6.1) Epiphanius writes of a sect of “Nasarenes” whom he denominates as heretics. He writes that “the Nasarene sect was before Christ and did not know Christ.” The Church Father carefully distinguishes these Nasarenes (with sigma) from later “Nazoreans” (with zeta) whom he accepts as “Christians.” Other indications also exist of a pre-Christian movement somehow attached to the Greek … 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

Samaria: The Messiah’s Homeland (Ory) – pt. 3

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 Three Simon and the Taheb or “Messiah” It was in Samaria that the belief in the messiah, which was very old, appeared most coherently. This messiah—the Taheb—would return divine favor to Samaria (that is, to “Israel”), would return the tabernacle and the cult to Mt. Gerizim and would live one hundred and ten years. He was Moses returned to save his own, a conception opposed to that of the Jews of Jerusalem. At his death evil would multiply until the Day of Judgment at the end of the world. On that … Continue reading