The Natsarene (“Nazarene”) Religion – Pt. 5

What’s in a name? In the preceding post I suggested that a number of “core” sayings found in the Christian scriptures have already been extensively redacted. They are not the ipsissima verba of the “lost” prophet whom I propose existed in history (certainly not Jesus of Nazareth). Rather, those sayings are the product of a fairly complex and sophisticated religious tradition. For convenience I may sometimes call that tradition “Nazoreanism” and the movement to which it refers the “Nazarene” movement. This terminology is somewhat incorrect, however, for the movement that these posts describe was never Hellenist but existed purely in the Semitic realm. Hence, it should not be referred to by a term derived from Greek which contains the “z” … Continue reading

The Natsarene (“Nazarene”) Religion – Pt. 3

The background In the first two posts in this series I argued that a human prophet lay at the root of the Christian religion—certainly not ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ This prophet taught a rigorous code of personal fulfillment out of step with both Hellenism and Judaism, yet conforming in fundamental ways with the uncompromising ethics and search for enlightenment (gnosis) found in Buddhism. The proof of these statements lies in a body of sayings preserved in the Christian scriptures themselves. Those sayings—which I have numbered at about 150—comprise a coherent body of material in tension with both the Jewish worship of Yahweh and with the Hellenist ethos of man’s domination over the material world. These “core” sayings are inward-looking and socially … Continue reading

B. Ehrman’s “Misquoting Jesus”

A critique of Bart D. Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (HarperOne 2005) Chapter Six: “Theologically Motivated Alterations of the Text” by René Salm Even the avid reader will have a hard time keeping up with Bart D. Ehrman. By my count he’s written twenty-three books and his next, “Did Jesus Exist?” (of particular interest to Jesus mythicists) appears this March. Yet, I have heard it declared that Ehrman has not written many books but has written one book many times. Perhaps I can be excused then for not having read all of his oeuvre, and for critiquing but one chapter of this book, with the modest hope that what I have to say … 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