The name change to Jesus/Joshua.

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Ben C. Smith
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The name change to Jesus/Joshua.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Oct 25, 2019 6:51 am

I still think, in agreement with Paul-Louis Couchoud, that the most natural candidate for the "name above all names" in the Jesus Hymn in the epistle to the Philippians is (in a way) the name "Jesus" itself:

Philippians 2.5-11: 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name [ἐχαρίσατο αὐτῷ τὸ ὄνομα τὸ ὑπὲρ πᾶν ὄνομα], 10 so that at the name of Jesus [ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ] every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Hebrews 1.1-4: 1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they [ὅσῳ διαφορώτερον παρ᾽ αὐτοὺς κεκληρονόμηκεν ὄνομα].

Origen, Homilies on Joshua 1: 1 God gave the name that is above every name to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. For this name that is above every name is Jesus. ....

The "name above all names," of course, really ought to be Yahweh, or YHWH (= the Tetragrammaton), the very pronunciation of which came to be forbidden. But the name "Jesus," or "Joshua" (same name in Greek and in Hebrew), is theophoric of Yahweh. Essentially, it is the name Hoshea/Hosea with the theophoric Yah element prefixed:

הוֹשֵׁעַ = Hoshea = "salvation" = Αὐσή/Ὡσηέ = Hosea.
יְהוֹשׁוּעַ = Yehoshua/Joshua = "Yahweh is salvation" = Ἰησοῦς = Jesus.

Now, Hosea/Hoshea was the original name of the Ephraimite hero Joshua/Jesus, and it is this name change, wrought by Moses, that I believe may stand behind the Jesus Hymn:

Numbers 13.1-16: 1 Then the Lord spoke to Moses saying, 2 “Send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I am going to give to the sons of Israel; you shall send a man from each of their fathers’ tribes, every one a leader among them.” 3 So Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran at the utterance of the Lord, all of them men who were heads of the sons of Israel. 4 These then were their names: from the tribe of Reuben, Shammua the son of Zaccur; 5 from the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat the son of Hori; 6 from the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh; 7 from the tribe of Issachar, Igal the son of Joseph; 8 from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea the son of Nun; 9 from the tribe of Benjamin, Palti the son of Raphu; 10 from the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel the son of Sodi; 11 from the tribe of Joseph, from the tribe of Manasseh, Gaddi the son of Susi; 12 from the tribe of Dan, Ammiel the son of Gemalli; 13 from the tribe of Asher, Sethur the son of Michael; 14 from the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi the son of Vophsi; 15 from the tribe of Gad, Geuel the son of Machi. 16 These are the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land; but Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun [הֹושֵׁעַ בִּן־נוּן, Αυση υἱὸν Ναυη] Joshua [יְהֹושֻׁעַ, Ἰησοῦν].

Deuteronomy 32.44: 44 Then Moses came and spoke all the words of this song in the hearing of the people, he, with Hoshea [הוֹשֵׁעַ] the son of Nun.

Wisdom of Sirach 46.1: 1 Jesus [Ἰησοῦς] the son of Nave was valiant in the wars, and was the successor of Moses in prophecies, who according to his name was made great for the saving [ἐπὶ σωτηρίᾳ] of the elect of God, and taking vengeance of the enemies that rose up against them, that he might set Israel in their inheritance.

Philo, On the Change of Names 21.121-122: 121 Thus much we have thought fit to say on this subject. But, moreover, Moses also changes the name of Hosea into that of Jesus; displaying by his new name the distinctive qualities of his character; 122 for the name Hosea is interpreted, “What sort of a person is this?” but Jesus means “the salvation of the Lord” [Ἰησοῦς δὲ σωτηρία κυρίου], being the name of the most excellent possible character [ἕξεως ὄνομα τῆς ἀριστης]; for the habits are better with respect to those persons who are of such and such qualities from being influenced by them: as, for instance, music is better in a musician, physic in a physician, and each art of a distinctive quality in each artist, regarded both in its perpetuity, and in its power, and in its unerring perfection with regard to the objects of its speculation. For a habit is something everlasting, energizing, and perfect; but a man of such and such a quality is mortal, the object of action, and imperfect. And what is imperishable is superior to what is mortal, the efficient cause is better than that which is the object of action; and what is perfect is preferable to what is imperfect.

Matthew 1.21: 21 “And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.”

Justin Martyr, Dialogue 106.3: 3 And when it says that he changed the name of one of the apostles to Peter, and it is written in his memoirs that this also happened, with the nicknaming of others as well, two brothers, who were the sons of Zebedee, with the name of Boanerges, that is sons of thunder, this was a sign that it was that very same man through whom also the nickname of Jacob was given to be called Israel, and Hoshea was called Joshua by name, through whose name also the people who remained from those who had come out of Egypt went into the land promised to the patriarchs. / 3 καὶ τὸ εἰπεῖν μετωνομακέναι αὐτὸν Πέτρον ἕνα τῶν ἀποστόλων, καὶ γεγράφθαι ἐν τοῖς ἀπομνημονεύμασιν αὐτοῦ γεγενημένον καὶ τοῦτο, μετὰ τοῦ καὶ ἄλλους δύο ἀδελφούς, υἱοὺς Ζεβεδαίου ὄντας, ἐπωνομακέναι ὀνόματι τοῦ Βοανεργές, ὅ ἐστιν υἱοὶ βροντῆς, σημαντικὸν ἦν τοῦ αὐτὸν ἐκεῖνον εἶναι, δι' οὗ καὶ τὸ ἐπώνυμον Ἰακὼβ τῷ Ἰσραὴλ ἐπικληθέντι ἐδόθη καὶ τῷ Αὐσῇ ὄνομα Ἰησοῦς ἐπεκλήθη, δι' οὗ ὀνόματος καὶ εἰσήχθη εἰς τὴν ἐπηγγελμένην τοῖς πατριάρχαις γῆν ὁ περιλειφθεὶς ἀπὸ τῶν ἀπ' Αἰγύπτου ἐξελθόντων λαός. [Refer also to Dialogue 75.1-2; 89.1-2; 113.1-4.]

Joshua/Hoshea went from a nontheophoric name meaning "salvation" to a theophoric name meaning "Yahweh is salvation." To his original name, in other words, was added the "name above all names," and upon the man himself, therefore, was the "name above all names" literally bestowed. The Jesus Hymn looks to me to be suggesting something similar with respect to Jesus Christ. It does not give us an original name for Jesus, but it suggests, on what to me is its most natural reading, that his original name was neither theophoric in general nor "Jesus" in particular; rather, he inherited the "name above all names" at his exaltation, which may even run parallel to an observation made by Origen about Joshua's name change:

Origen, Homilies on Joshua 1: .... But in the book of Exodus I find the name Jesus for the first time, and I want to consider closely when it was first given. Scripture says, “Amalek came and was fighting against Israel, and Moses spoke to Jesus in Raphidim” (= Exodus 17.8). This is the first mention of the name Jesus. Moses said, “Choose mighty men for yourself from among all the sons of Israel, and go out and fight tomorrow with Amalek” (= Exodus 17.9). Moses acknowledges that he cannot lead the army; he acknowledges that he cannot even gather it, although he led the people out of the land of Egypt. Therefore he called Jesus and said, “Choose men for yourself and go out.” You see whom he allowed to carry on the war against Amalek. Thus we first become acquainted with the name Jesus when we see him as the leader of the army; not as one with whom Moses joined his leadership, but the one to whom Moses granted primacy. Moses was not able to choose mighty men. “You,” he says, “choose mighty men for yourself from among the sons of Israel.” Therefore, when I become acquainted with the name Jesus for the first time, I also immediately see the symbol of a mystery. Indeed, Jesus leads the army.

The Pentateuch does not tell us that this is the exact moment when Moses changed his name from Hoshea to Joshua, but the bare mention of the name change in Numbers 13.1-16, the list of the names of the spies, is not enough to let the attentive reader assume that Moses changed his name at the time of the spying, either, since (A) this figure is called by his new name, Joshua, already in Exodus 17.8-9, (B) he is still called by his old name, Hoshea, in Deuteronomy 32.44, and (C) lists of names are just good repositories for information about name changes; they do not necessarily mark the occasion of the name change itself.

At any rate, I think that the example of how Joshua received his name from Moses may furnish a template for how his namesake Jesus received his name from God.

YMMV.

Ben.
Last edited by Ben C. Smith on Fri Oct 25, 2019 10:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The name change to Jesus/Joshua.

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:24 am

The name Iesous especially as it adds up to the "fullness" of 888. Already known to Irenaeus. Not sure this name is the name above all others. But it was significant.
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Re: The name change to Jesus/Joshua.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:37 am

Secret Alias wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:24 am
The name Iesous especially as it adds up to the "fullness" of 888. Already known to Irenaeus. Not sure this name is the name above all others. But it was significant.
Well, there are two ways to approach the matter, I think. The first is direct and overt and was floated by Origen: "Jesus" is the name above all names. The second is indirect and covert and is actually my preference: "Jesus" theophorically contains the name above all names (= Yahweh).

Later Christians could sit in their armchairs and imagine that the name was special, but I suspect that earlier Christians thought of the meaning of the name as what was special: it was the fitting (in their eyes) vehicle for the bestowal of the name above all names upon this Messiah figure.
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Re: The name change to Jesus/Joshua.

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:49 am

But my difficulty still is the reconciliation between 'Jesus' the man and 'Christ' the divine being. If the original story had a mortal man at its center and his name was Jesus then I find it difficult to reconcile this with (a) a divine name and (b) the baptism of said 'Jesus' and the reception of 'Christ.' This is the model that comes from 'canonical' Mark - i.e. early baptism narrative, 'dove,' and ultimately crucifixion. I have mused in an unpublished paper that Secret Mark with its later baptism might point to an answer to reconciling this 'Jesus' and 'Christ' situation. But again, if Jesus is born to a woman and comes to the Jordan to baptized at the beginning of the liturgical year, hard to square this name with 'the name above all names.' I think instead that the baptism occurred as late as it does because of an association with the Biblical Joshua. And I use arguments in favor of a sixfold division to the gospel to isolate the 'Joshua' portion coinciding with the baptism of the unnamed youth in Secret Mark. I think he becomes 'Jesus' or Joshua and is crucified owing to symbolism found in the Book of Joshua. He is not god but 'Christ' and he received 'Christ' (that is Joshua) via the mysteries of the kingdom of God. It is the most important moment - allegedly - in world history as it fulfills Daniel's prediction (as well as Moses's expectation in the Pentateuch) regarding a Christ or Joshua redivivus. We should remember whispers of the Marcionite baptism ritual were baptism on behalf of the dead. which is connected - I think - with Herod's notion that Jesus might be John redivivus.
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Re: The name change to Jesus/Joshua.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:53 am

Secret Alias wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:49 am
But my difficulty still is the reconciliation between 'Jesus' the man and 'Christ' the divine being. If the original story had a mortal man at its center and his name was Jesus then I find it difficult to reconcile this with (a) a divine name and (b) the baptism of said 'Jesus' and the reception of 'Christ.' This is the model that comes from 'canonical' Mark - i.e. early baptism narrative, 'dove,' and ultimately crucifixion. I have mused in an unpublished paper that Secret Mark with its later baptism might point to an answer to reconciling this 'Jesus' and 'Christ' situation. But again, if Jesus is born to a woman and comes to the Jordan to baptized at the beginning of the liturgical year, hard to square this name with 'the name above all names.' I think instead that the baptism occurred as late as it does because of an association with the Biblical Joshua. And I use arguments in favor of a sixfold division to the gospel to isolate the 'Joshua' portion coinciding with the baptism of the unnamed youth in Secret Mark. I think he becomes 'Jesus' or Joshua and is crucified owing to symbolism found in the Book of Joshua. He is not god but 'Christ' and he received 'Christ' (that is Joshua) via the mysteries of the kingdom of God. It is the most important moment - allegedly - in world history as it fulfills Daniel's prediction (as well as Moses's expectation in the Pentateuch) regarding a Christ or Joshua redivivus. We should remember whispers of the Marcionite baptism ritual were baptism on behalf of the dead. which is connected - I think - with Herod's notion that Jesus might be John redivivus.
The highlighted portion is what I am expressly disagreeing with. If the original story had a mortal man, then, on my showing, his name was not Jesus. It became Jesus only after his exaltation. His original name either was never known or was lost when everybody used his exalted name instead (and understandably so).
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Re: The name change to Jesus/Joshua.

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:04 am

In that much we are in agreement then. The question in my mind is whether the gospel was divided sixfold to accord with the Heptateuch and if so whether the baptism fits better in the 'Joshua' portion or the 'Genesis' portion.
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Re: The name change to Jesus/Joshua.

Post by Charles Wilson » Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:26 am

It's difficult to imagine that there would be a "More Perfect" name than "El-i-Yah" and that points to Political dispensation "on-the-ground".
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Re: The name change to Jesus/Joshua.

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Oct 25, 2019 9:18 am

FWIW Here is the paper I wrote - which incidentally coincided with my reduced positing here at the forum. The last third of the argument deals with issues raised here:

The Jewish Myth of Jesus
By Stephan Huller

The simplest explanation is the best explanation. This understanding first articulated by Claudius Ptolemy has become a cornerstone of scientific research. Yet there is a fine line between being mindful of simplicity and being simple-minded. Ptolemy himself offers us the simplest of all explanation of how universe functions, yet his model is ignored by modern astronomy. His model for the cosmos achieved ‘simplicity’ by trying to explain a limited number of facts. The same is true, I would argue with regards to those who put forward that the best understanding of the gospel assumes that Jesus was a historical person.

It would certainly make Christianity ‘easier to understand’ if we just took the gospel to be an ancient biography. But the gospel of Mark does not give the impression that it was conceived as a bios.1 Rather, in its Alexandrian form certainly, was used by “those who are being initiated into the great mysteries” – in short, a liturgical text used in a mystery religion.2 This is the place that ‘the gospel’ continues to occupy in the oldest traditions of Christianity. The reason this is generally ignored is the fact that the spirit of Protestantism dominates the study of the historical Jesus. It is quite easy – that is to say simple – to make yourself sound like a ‘serious scholar’ by stripping what are seen to be ‘the facts’ of the narrative from all the ‘spiritual mumbo jumbo.’

In the same way it’s very hard to take the icing off a finished cake, it’s even harder to call what’s left a cake once it has been stripped bare. There is a point in the process of deconstruction where we lose the original essence of a thing. This is especially true with neo-Protestant attempts to extract ‘history’ from the mystic core of the gospel narrative. It often feels like scholars aren’t even aware that they are cheating. For instance, no one ever seems to mention often enough that the name ‘Jesus’ doesn’t appear as a name for the main protagonist in the gospel in our earliest surviving manuscripts. Of course, those who study the historical Jesus want us to believe they are dealing with simple facts – even the actual truth. But the bare facts are that his name is – for all intents and purposes - never out written as Ἰησοῦς in the earliest Christian manuscripts.3

Let’s be honest about this one thing. In order for us have certainty that the main character of the gospel was a historical individual we have to make the mental jump from (IS) ̅ or (IHS) ̅ or (IH) ̅ – the actual names which appear in the manuscripts - to ‘Jesus.’ We’ve been doing it for centuries. Yet when we look at the process with open eyes, we can’t avoid seeing any longer that IESOUS doesn’t appear as his name. We’ve just cleared away what’s actually there. What appears in the ancient manuscripts is (IS) ̅, (IHS) ̅ and (IH) ̅. (IH) ̅ and (IHS) ̅ are utterly meaningless terms. On their own, they are little more than literary gobbledy-gook. But (IS) ̅ – that is, ΙΣ with a super script above it – is by far the most widely-attested name for the Savior. If we stop ourselves from reading ‘IESOUS’ and see (IS) ̅ for what it is – i.e. as a well-attested divine appellation – (IS) ̅ represents a unique challenge to our assumed name, Jesus.

What is required for us is to stop ourselves and prevent our old habits from bubbling up into our minds. (IS) ̅ is all there is. We don’t need to play mental gymnastics read this as ‘Jesus’ any longer. Justin Martyr, our oldest historical Christian witness tells us repeatedly that the main character of the gospel appeared in the Pentateuch as the angel ‘Man.’4 In fact, Justin Martyr explicitly tells us the Savior of the gospel is properly named Man.5 With this knowledge we can start the process of our disembarking from the ‘Jesus-train’ once and for all. So let’s summarize the evidence – (a) by far the most common name for the main character of the gospel in early Christian manuscripts is (IS) ̅ 6 (b) (IS) ̅ is the standard Greek transcription of the Hebrew word for ‘man’ that is ish7 and as we have started to show (c) our earliest Christian source tells us the main character’s name is ‘man.’

The word for man in Hebrew is ish, spelled aleph yod shin. Yet various Hebrew manuscripts point to the likelihood that at one time man and fire were spelled the same way – that is, aleph shin.8 On the other hand the third century Church Father Origen explicitly ‘spells out’ the Hebrew word for man - ish – with the Greek letters iota sigma.9 The standard Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible – the LXX – spells out various names which begin with this Hebrew word for ‘man’ – that is (IS) ̅.10 As such, even though historical Jesus people won’t want to admit it, the reality is that there is a very persuasive argument that ‘Jesus’ wasn’t the name of the main character of the gospel. His actual name is the nominative form of the most common nomen sacrum. We no longer need to play tricks with the manuscripts.

But let’s things one step further. Mothers didn’t name their children (IS) ̅. To this end, the main character of the gospel had a name which couldn’t possibly be the identity of a historical individual. Everything depends on us ‘training ourselves’ to read IESOUS in place of what the manuscripts actually say – (IS) ̅. How did we learn to ‘fake it’? I strongly suspect that the mental gymnastics here were mandated to avoid the tradition associated with Justin Martyr, Marcion, Valentinus and most of second century Christianity. Where the name ‘Man’ was retained so too was the understanding that he was not a mortal man. Those who preserved this name saw him for what he was – a god, even the second god of Israel, mediator between humanity and the higher divinity.11

That’s why it is so important for us to stop adding letters to the nomen sacrum (IS) ̅. Jesus wasn’t the name of the main character of the gospel. Irenaeus explicitly denies this possibility.12 He says there are those who read the nomen sacrum as Ἰησοῦς and they are wrong. So what are you left with? A faith that a Jewish mother would name her new baby boy ‘Man’? Impossible. Ish is simply unattested as name for a Hebrew child at any period of Jewish history. But then again, the gospel tells us that it wasn’t Mary who named him. He received the nomen sacrum by the decree of an angel.13 What’s more many of those who accepted his Virgin Birth assumed that ‘Man’ was a heavenly being who descended into Mary’s womb like water passing through a tube.14 Don’t you see? We’re getting further and further from the certainty that Christianity had a historical individual named Jesus as its founder.

‘Man’ was a traditional name given to a class of angels in Judaism. The ishim – i.e. Men – occupied the sublunar realm.15 Indeed one of the strongest identifiable characteristics of the Christian and pre-Christian communities was their desire to live their earthly existence as angels.16 The Greek name of this community – the Essenes – has been interpreted by at least a few scholars as deriving from the name Ishim.17 We may presume that Christians were originally called Ishim – as Epiphanius implies18 - because the separating wall between divine and mortal men had – with the coming of IS – been thrown aside. The Ishim claimed (IS) ̅ as their founder or perhaps that they had become like the heavenly Ishim. Don’t you see? This sort of community would need to have a heavenly founder. History and historicism turns out to be antithetical to attaining otherworldly perfection.

In the second century there were a plurality of Christian sects each with a different understanding of how this heavenly Man came to start a new religious community. Some said that ‘Man’ passed through Mary’s womb, others, the Marcionites though ‘Man’ descended straight from heaven to Judea.19 Still others, the Valentinians, included ‘Man’ – that is Anthropos - as one of the heavenly powers of their gnosis.20 To this end, the evidence for a strong second century tradition that Christian was founded by an angel named ‘Man’ is incontestable. The ‘Jesus’ tradition is nowhere to be found.

Even the Gospel of Mark presents his main character as simply ‘a man’ – someone with no history, no background – an anonymous person.21 For the Marcionites he was simply “the Stranger” who “crossed the boundary and descended to us.”22 We are told he is the stranger because “he has no name.”23 This is also the sense behind the traditional Jewish literary method for speaking about the founder of Christianity. He is oto ish – ‘that man.’24 But if we go back to Justin for a second, the Church Father tells us over and over again to take note of the mysterious ‘man’ who appears throughout the Pentateuch, visiting Abraham, wrestling with Jacob, instructing Moses and commanding Joshua. That heavenly man, Justin says, is the founder of the Christian religion.

The existence of a heavenly man ‘ish’ goes back to relatively well known example of Zechariah 6:12. Philo discusses the words “Behold the man (ish) who’s name is rising” and says that it is a reference to the Logos.25 Zechariah 6:12 was also a strong ‘proof text’ for Justin who posits that this angel or god was born into Mary’s womb. In one reference Justin tells us that he is called ‘the Rising’ by Zechariah because of the star the Magi followed and also ‘Man’ owing to the announcement of his name by Gabriel:
and that He became Man by the Virgin … [T]he Virgin Mary received faith and joy, when the angel Gabriel announced the good tidings to her that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon her, and the power of the Highest would overshadow her: wherefore also the Holy Thing begotten of her is the Son of God; and she replied, 'Be it unto me according to thy word.' And by her has He been born, to whom we have proved so many Scriptures refer26

In other words, a version of that heavenly ‘man’ tradition that was passed on to Philo also made its way to the Virgin Birth tradition of Justin.27

Once we come to terms with the widespread acceptance of a ‘second god’ named (IS) ̅ in ancient Jewish and Samaritan cultures, we can finally address some of the outlandish assumptions of Richard Carrier’s mythicism. To read Philo as if Alexandrian Judaism venerated a god named ‘Jesus’ completely misses the mark. Samaritans to this day accept ‘Man’ as the name of an angel who appears throughout the Pentateuch.28 Similarly Philo’s commentary on Zechariah 6.12 and dozens of other references to ‘anthropos’ as a reference to God, all point back to an Oniad tradition originally preserved in Hebrew and which became, in time, remembered only in Greek. Philo knows nothing about a ‘heavenly Jesus’ only a heavenly (IS) ̅.29

The same thing can be seen in the allusions to a heavenly man in the writings of Paul. The same Oniad understanding of the angel (IS) ̅, especially from the first chapters of Genesis, is at the heart of the antithesis between the earthly man Adam and a heavenly Lord (IS) ̅ in 1 Corinthians.30 The Marcionites are perhaps the best and earliest known exclusive Pauline sect. Not surprisingly the mystical significance of the term anthropos resurfaces time and again in Tertullian writings against the sect. A frequent theme is his rhetorical questioning of the Marcionite acceptance of their Savior as ‘Man’ while denying his humanness.31 At other times Tertullian puzzles over the Marcionite understanding of Christ as ‘Son of Man’ implying – he says – that ‘Man’ was the name of Christ’s Father.32 In either case, a simple solution – accepting that the Marcionites read the nomen sacrum (IS) ̅ as ‘man’ like Justin – effectively blunts Tertullian’s bluster.

It is plain that the Marcionites did not take the main protagonist of the gospel – the one ‘marked’ by the nomen sacrum (IS) ̅ in the manuscripts - to be the expected Christ of the Jewish scriptures.33 Given Tertullian’s relentless effort to consolidate all divine titles to one almighty ruler of the universe this understanding is repeatedly condemned. But Jews and Samaritans always understand that the one who is to come as distinct from the divinity. A frequent criticism that Tertullian levels against the sect is that they deny the scriptures. Nevertheless, at other places in his writings the Church Father admits that the Marcionite version of the Pauline writings retained at least some reference to the Jewish writings.34 Moreover, other sources on the Marcionites revealed that they had developed interpretations of the Pentateuch, Isaiah and Daniel.

Tertullian’s reporting on the Marcionites suffers from his own religious fanaticism. Instead of allowing for the possibility that the Marcionites represented a continuation of a Jewish tradition that venerated more than one divine power, he interprets their veneration of another god beside the Creator as proof that they hate god he presumes to be the ruler of the universe. Because the Marcionites distinguished their beloved divinity Man from the ‘Christ’ manifest through the Jewish scriptures, Tertullian claimed they denied prophesy. In other words, the evidence seems to suggest that the Marcionites like other of the earliest sects of Christians understood ‘Man’ and ‘Christ’ to be separate entities. It is a pity the Church Fathers won’t let us actually hear what these traditions actually had to say. But what evidence is preserved all points to them continuing the Oniad tradition of Philo of Alexandria.35

As I show in my book the twin theses of this Oniad tradition – namely that ‘Man’ was a secret divinity in the Pentateuch and Joshua was the awaited ‘one like Moses’ – ultimately became heretical or obscured thanks to the efforts of men like Tertullian. That Alexandrian Judaism perpetuated the understanding that Man was god of the gospel is confirmed by the writings of Clement of Alexandria. With respect to the latter exegesis the ancient Jewish understanding was preserved by a relatively obscure Alexandrian presbyter named Ammonius Sakkas who was the teacher of Clement’s successor, Origen.37 As a respected philosopher, Ammonius understanding of the scriptures was necessarily shaped by established exegesis.38 To this end, it is the soundness of Ammonius’s methodology which will ultimately help us unravel the role that Jesus had in a gospel almost wholly devoted to (IS) ̅.

There was – and still are39 - traditions which venerate or at least acknowledge the existence of a heavenly god man named (IS) ̅. It is reasonable to presume that there were traditions which identified the founder of Christianity as this angel. These traditions necessarily depended on Alexandrian Judaism for their sustenance. While Philo was the visible ‘face’ of this tradition, the evidence leads me to conclude that Philo was only a leading member of a tradition of exegesis I identify as Oniad Judaism. When Ptolemy fled Judea with the leading priestly families, they brought with them the earliest traditions for understanding and interpreting the Pentateuch. Alexandrian Judaism not only venerated the angel Man but as I show - the earliest understanding of the person of Christ.40

The Jews and Samaritans who came over to Egypt with Ptolemy identified the one who was to come as the Patriarch Joshua – or if you will in Greek – Jesus. This pre-existent Alexandrian Jewish interpretation clearly makes its way into Alexandrian Christianity.41 My book stitches together how these two core Alexandrian exegeses – i.e. the angel (IS) ̅ and the Christ Jesus - went on to shape the composition of the gospel, or at least the gospel used in the Christian mystery religion of Alexandria. As much as it would have helped the sales of my book if I sensationally claimed that Jesus never appeared in earliest Christianity. The evidence won’t quite let me do that.42 I think ‘Jesus’ does finally make an appearance in the original gospel of Alexandria but much later than anyone would have ever suspected.

At the core of the gospel is the understanding that IS comes into the world to fulfill the ‘Deuteronomic’ prophesy of the one like Moses – that is ‘raise’ the Patriarch Joshua in the final section of the gospel. Let me go through a few of my assumptions. The mystic gospel of Mark referenced in Clement’s Letter to Theodore was the Alexandrian mystery gospel.43 This text allows us to assume the existence of an ahistorical gospel narrative as by Clement’s own description it is focused on symbolism rather than ‘history.’44 To this end it is not an overstatement to say that the Alexandrian community which venerated this gospel was less interested in having a historical founder than a supernatural foundation. They wanted to be like the angels and so – like the very Ishim or ‘Essenes’ they claimed as their forefathers, they had as their head an angel name ‘Man.’45

So it was that the controversial scene from the gospel which is the subject of Clement’s correspondence – the resurrection of an unnamed youth across the Jordan river – provided them with that metaphysical hope. What the Savior did to this youth changed human history and in fact ultimately stood outside of human history as such. What happens ‘across the Jordan’ in a sense takes place outside of the natural order of things. It was understood to be a predicted event foretold in the aforementioned ‘Deuteronomic’ prophesy. What we are witnessing through Mark’s storytelling is the resurrection of the Patriarch Joshua – that is, Jesus, the one like Moses – in the person of the unnamed youth. It is of critical importance to see that the youth was not originally named ‘Jesus.’ Before the ‘event’ he clearly went by another name. Clement of Alexandria might have understood the youth to have been Philip the disciple saying that “when the Lord put his passions to death he rose from the grave and lived to Christ.”46

Whatever the case the actual gospel does not give us his prehistory because the text isn’t interested in history. It is only concerned with the fact that prophesy has been fulfilled. We are only meant to know that after his resurrection ‘Jesus’ was in the world as promised. We can piece together his new identity from the clues that appear in the narrative. Up until that point preserved in mystic Mark, the angel Man was wandering about Judea attempting to demonstrate to the people that he was the god known to their ancestors.47 This is the first part of the narrative that lasts about five sixths of the book. It is a set up for the final act of the gospel - (IS) ̅ will raise ‘Jesus’ – that is the Patriarch Joshua - in the person of the dead youth.

While I have hitherto only referred to this prophesy as ‘Deuteronomic’ I wish to qualify that now. It is only understood to be ‘Deuteronomic’ owing to deliberate changes which were made to the text of Exodus at the turn of the Common Era.48 Why Exodus had portions shared with the Book of Deuteronomy excised from the Masoretic text is anyone’s guess. The indisputable fact is that it occurred, and it mirrors charges of textual manipulation with respect to the Christian canon in the same period.49 To this end, the mystic gospel of Mark is understood to have been written in a period when the original text of Exodus was presumably widely accessible. The prophesy regarding the one who is to come should now be understood in its original context from the book of Exodus to understand why the Oniad tradition in Alexandria identified ‘Jesus’ as its fulfiller.

Immediately after the giving of the ten commandments in the Book of Exodus – God addresses the frightened people, consoling them with the words – “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brethren and will put my words in his mouth. And he shall speak to them all that I command him. And it shall be that the man who will not hear his words which he will speak in my name, I will require it from him.”50 The idea is clearly that they should be frightened of him – i.e. God – but that another will come after Moses whom they should heed. If they do not adhere to what he says God will punish them. The lengthy proclamation continues through a variety of other subjects down through to the end of Exodus chapter 23. It is here that a closing section begins with some hints of ‘what will happen in the future’ which in my mind must have served as the basis for the construction of the gospel narrative.

The closing words of this lengthy speech were clearly understood to foretell the role that (IS) ̅ will have setting up ‘the one like Moses.’ We read:
See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him.
The echo of what would become the opening words of the Gospel of Mark are not coincidental. The gospel is rooted in this section in Exodus. The warning against not heeding (IS) ̅ is clearly understood to be the cause of the destruction of Jerusalem. But it is worth also noting that what follows in Exodus chapter 23 was originally read as ‘predicting’ the conquest of Canaan by Joshua. The language is unmistakable. The angel (IS) ̅ will clear the way for Joshua, the one like Moses.51

While this was certainly the normative manner of reading the material – i.e. that it pertained to Joshua the son of Nun. This plainly authoritative reading of Exodus could easily give way to a still future revelation of Joshua redivivus.52 That the mystic gospel of Mark was one such text is manifestly evident from the narrative cited by Clement. It is based, in my opinion, on the ‘final clue’ thrown into the original Exodus narrative. Moses goes up to the top of the mountain, first with an assembly of the leading men of Israel, but finally only with Joshua in order to reinforce that he is the one to come:

Then Moses set out with Joshua his aide, and Moses went up on the mountain of God. He said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we come back to you.” … When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the LORD called to Moses from within the cloud. To the Israelites the glory of the LORD looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain.

In no uncertain terms Joshua stands outside the tent to reinforce that he is ‘next in line’ to the described ‘divinization process.’ In other words, this is the final sign in Exodus that Joshua is the ‘one like Moses.’

Marvin Meyer points out quite convincingly that the scene in mystic Mark is developed from this very narrative in Exodus.53 The youth waits for ‘six days’ and then is finally initiated on the seventh day. This is not coincidental because the resurrected youth is now Joshua redivivus. As such the mystic gospel of Mark provides us with the exact point in which ‘Jesus’ was originally introduced into the narrative. Not at the beginning of the gospel. Not with the baptism by John which plainly absent in heretical gospels such as that employed by the Marcionite. ‘Jesus’ is only introduced five sixths of the way through the original narrative because of the ‘one like Moses’ prophesy originally found in the Book of Exodus.

By now my readers have heard me make several references to the fraction ‘five sixths.’ The reason I keep hearkening back to this bizarre statistic is that it happens to have been the number established by the hexateuchal model for the arrangement of the gospel according to the brilliant Anglican scholar Austin Farrer.54 While Farrer is best known for his arguments against Q – i.e. the hypothetical source or ‘quelle’ for various sayings found only in Matthew and Luke – Farrer also speculated about the structure of the Gospel of Matthew, arguing that it was arranged in sections which conformed to the Hexateuch – i.e. the first six books of the Bible. To this end, according to the parallel arrangement of mystic Mark, the resurrection of the youth happens to conform to the ‘Joshua section’ of Farrer’s study of Matthew. I think this is deeply significant.

According to Farrer’s model the resurrection narrative of the mystic gospel of Mark occupies the very starting point of the ‘Joshua’ section of this hexateuchal model. While Farrer had absolutely no knowledge of this letter of Clement when he devised his scheme, there are clearly a number of clues in to Theodore which strengthen Farrer’s presumptions about Matthew – albeit making mystic Mark something of a proto-Matthew. Indeed, understanding mystic Mark as proto-Matthew might have already taken place make sense in the writings of Ammonius. Aside from a lost text which demonstrated ‘Jesus’ was the one like Moses, Ammonius was most famous for his canons for a ‘harmony of the gospels.’55 This latter work placed parallel passages of the last three Gospels alongside the text of Matthew effectively demonstrating that the latter was the source for the former.

This arrangement made at the turn of the second century had an important influence on both Origen and Eusebius in their reconstruction of the relations between the gospels. However it should be noted that Ammonius isn’t just remembered for an arrangement or ‘canon’ for understanding how the four gospels of our canon could ‘run together’ as one continuous narrative but for also having in his possession an actual ‘gospel harmony.’56 In other words, Ammonius was associated with a text which arranged the stories from Matthew through John in one continuous narrative. Could this ‘super gospel’ have been non-other than the Alexandrian mystic gospel mentioned in the letter to Theodore? I strongly suspect so. Moreover it should be noted that I think we get a glimpse of this super gospel in what is now – under Eusebius’s handiwork – identified as a ‘Commentary on Matthew.’ I assume that it was – in its original form – a commentary on his master’s super gospel.57

In any event, there are clear signs and features that the mystic gospel of Alexandria had features which resembled known gospel harmonies used for instance by the school of Justin Martyr.58 It is not that difficult to imagine that Christianity – in the period before the last generation of the second century – was wholly dominated by the fulfillment of the Joshua redivivus paradigm. To this end, Ammonius becomes a critical figure for our understanding of the transmission of the Alexandrian tradition. For Ammonius helps provide circumstantial evidence that the gospel used by Alexandrian Christians resembled Matthew and the hexateuchal structure identified by Farrer and others.

As already noted, Ammonius was a respected Platonic instructor who was born a Christian and ultimately became an apostate – that is he lapsed back into pagan philosophy. We know that he wrote a work entitled the Agreement between Moses and Jesus which was incorporated into Book Three of Eusebius’s Demonstration of the Gospel.59 The core argument in that text is suspiciously similar to the traditional Oniad interpretation of Deuteronomy 18:15 – namely ‘Jesus’ that is Joshua was the awaited one like Moses. As with Eusebius’s handling of Ammonius’s canon, he expands the philosopher’s original argument. But Ammonius himself would have certainly read Deuteronomy as if it pertained to Jesus son of Nave. We should think that erudition effectively prevents the wildly fanciful ‘prophetic proofs’ developed by less intelligent Church Fathers.60

Where exactly would this leave his gospel and its relation to Jesus the one like Moses? Let’s start with the working hypothesis that the unnamed youth initiated into the ‘mystery of the kingdom of heaven’ does to become at Joshua redivivus. Mysteries of kingship necessarily invoke the original king of Israel.61 I won’t enumerate all the arguments that appear in my book which identify the ‘Joshua’ theme of passage in question. But I can at least summarize them as follows - (a) context – the initiation taking place where the Patriarch Joshua crossed into the Promised Land (b) language - mystic Mark speaks of one of the two men in the narrative ‘arising’ in an apparent allusion back to the Joshua prophesy (c) symbolism – the raised man crosses the Jordan like Joshua at the beginning of the Jewish year during a Jubilee which accounts for the ‘redemptive’ language elsewhere in this section.

There’s another way of looking at this. Justin identifies the final appearance of (IS) ̅ in the Hexateuch (i.e. the Pentateuch plus the Book of Joshua) as the appearance before Joshua immediately preceding the destruction of Jericho.62 The scene itself must have been originally be taken to be the fulfillment of the two prophesies from Exodus – viz. ‘I will send my angel’ (i.e. (IS) ̅) and ‘I will raise one like Moses’ (i.e. Joshua). But I strongly suspect the gospel was developed to provide another fulfillment narrative. Now (IS) ̅ raises Joshua redivivus on the other side of the Jordan in the person of the resurrected youth. The raising of Joshua – i.e. the bringing back of the paradigmatic king of Israel – is to destroy Jerusalem for the sin of the Jewish people not recognizing IS.

Ammonius’s student Origen already sees Jesus entry into Jerusalem as a gospel parallel with Joshua’s destruction of Jericho.63 But our hypothesis would take this one step further. The early Christians read Exodus as if it foretold the events surrounding the end of the Jewish religion of sacrifices. The choice of Joshua redivivus as the one chosen to bring this to an end, might seem odd at first. But this begins to make sense when we take note of a hitherto unrecognized disconnect between the Pentateuch and the Book of Joshua. In the former, Moses established a priesthood to offer perpetual sacrifices (olat tamid) on the altar of the desert tabernacle. But the Book of Joshua makes clear that once Israel leaves the wilderness and crosses the Jordan the olat tamid disappear. This apparently did not escape the notice of the author of the mystic gospel.

Some more notes on the mythopoesis employed by the author of the mystic gospel. Joshua’s first act as it were is the destruction of Ai. Notice at once that accompanying the catastrophe is a crucifixion – “[Joshua] impaled the body of the king of Ai on a pole and left it there until evening. At sunset, Joshua ordered them to take the body from the pole and throw it down at the entrance of the city gate.” (Joshua 8.9) Ammonius’s student Origen clearly understands that ‘a mystery’ was contained in the crucifixion of the king of Ai. It foreshadowed the ‘double crucifixion’ of the gospel – viz. where at once “the Son of God was indeed visibly crucified in the flesh, but invisibly on that cross the Devil ‘with his principalities and authorities was affixed.’”64 Once again, the Book of Joshua being a seminal influence over the Passion narrative of the gospel.

And then there is the whole idea of the Patriarchs being able to ‘reincarnate’ in future ages. The Jewish doctrine of gilgul or metempsychosis is as old as the Book of Job. But the specific understanding that prophets could come back is embraced again by Ammonius’s student Origen. There is a strong sign that Christian metempsychosis was rooted in Platonism. The Carpocratians, the only ancient sect specifically linked with the mystic gospel were especially attached to this doctrine.65 I demonstrate in my book that the very phrase which prompts Clement’s dispatch of a letter to Theodore – ‘naked by naked’ – is taken from a famous discussion of reincarnation in the contemporary Platonic philosopher Maximus of Tyre.66 There can be no doubt then that the Christian Platonism of the Alexandrian Church could have supported a belief in Joshua redivivus.

Ammonius’s student Origen makes this clear in his examination of the gospel passage which tells of Herod’s suspicion that John the Baptist is the resurrected Elijah:
John was not Elijah in actuality, as those who hold the doctrine of transmigration say, alleging that the soul of Elijah came in John. For he does not say 'in the soul of Elijah'—because it was not a transmigration— but he says 'in the spirit and power of Elijah'. For there was spirit and power upon Elijah, that is, a spiritual gift as it happened to each one of the prophets.
In other words, it stands to reason that if one prophet was ‘brought back’ into the world in John, that Joshua could have been brought back in the youth of the mystery gospel. Origen clearly hints at that when he speaks of a ‘spirit’ associated with each of the prophets.67

Therefore we necessarily conclude that Ammonius could well have accepted that Joshua – that is Jesus – came into the gospel narrative through metempsychosis. Joshua was the one divinely appointed king of Israel. He could rightly be interpreted to be the paradigmatic ‘Christ’ of Israel based on the expectations set forth in the Pentateuch. The evidence suggests that in Alexandria at least the ancient expectation for Joshua redivivus was sublimated into a mystery rite in which individuals were baptized to become living reincarnations of Joshua. As such, given that the gospel was written as a mystery religion text, Christianity could well have had a historical origin without having a historical founder named Jesus.

Philo’s absolute silence regarding the person of Joshua is also very intriguing. Could the Alexandrian Jewish community have already expected a Joshua redivivus appearance? The messianic pretender Theudas who would part the river Jordan seems to confirm in the Jewish community at large (Ant. 20.97-99). To this end, Theudas was a Joshua but he was ‘Joshua’ in the sense of being a living tabernacle for the spirit of Joshua son of Nun. The manner in which Theudas’s followers understood ‘Jesus’ to have reappeared in the world precludes ‘Jesus’ from being a historical person. The same thing is true when we turn to examine the gospel. I don’t think mystery texts should be valued text to help reconstruct history. The gospel tells us a lot about Alexandrian Jews but very little about their Jesus – other than he never actually lived in Common Era.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

Giuseppe
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Re: The name change to Jesus/Joshua.

Post by Giuseppe » Fri Oct 25, 2019 10:21 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:53 am
Secret Alias wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:49 am
But my difficulty still is the reconciliation between 'Jesus' the man and 'Christ' the divine being. If the original story had a mortal man at its center and his name was Jesus then I find it difficult to reconcile this with (a) a divine name and (b) the baptism of said 'Jesus' and the reception of 'Christ.' This is the model that comes from 'canonical' Mark - i.e. early baptism narrative, 'dove,' and ultimately crucifixion. I have mused in an unpublished paper that Secret Mark with its later baptism might point to an answer to reconciling this 'Jesus' and 'Christ' situation. But again, if Jesus is born to a woman and comes to the Jordan to baptized at the beginning of the liturgical year, hard to square this name with 'the name above all names.' I think instead that the baptism occurred as late as it does because of an association with the Biblical Joshua. And I use arguments in favor of a sixfold division to the gospel to isolate the 'Joshua' portion coinciding with the baptism of the unnamed youth in Secret Mark. I think he becomes 'Jesus' or Joshua and is crucified owing to symbolism found in the Book of Joshua. He is not god but 'Christ' and he received 'Christ' (that is Joshua) via the mysteries of the kingdom of God. It is the most important moment - allegedly - in world history as it fulfills Daniel's prediction (as well as Moses's expectation in the Pentateuch) regarding a Christ or Joshua redivivus. We should remember whispers of the Marcionite baptism ritual were baptism on behalf of the dead. which is connected - I think - with Herod's notion that Jesus might be John redivivus.
The highlighted portion is what I am expressly disagreeing with. If the original story had a mortal man, then, on my showing, his name was not Jesus. It became Jesus only after his exaltation. His original name either was never known or was lost when everybody used his exalted name instead (and understandably so).
also I disagree with the portion in yellow but for another reason: there was no original story with a man distinct from the spiritual Christ. The separationism is NOT the original story, as both the Barabbas episode and the various occurrences of "Son of man" are designed to insist obsessively that the victim was not the original hero of the story (a Son of God or "Son of Father") but a mortal man adopted by YHWH.

A good objection against the Couchoud's theory about the Name above all the names is that Joshua was a very common name. While the true name of Lord (YHWH) can't be spoken to a public audience. Even today the Jews write G-D or D-o.

At any case, I follow willingly Couchoud about how he saw the Origins of Christianity: some Jews were the hallucinators of Jesus Christ during all the first century. The Gnostics came later and a Gnostic sect wrote the first gospel (a Docetic Gospel). The separationism was the Judaizing reaction against that first gospel. Again, it was not the separationism the "original story".

ADDENDA: probably I would like to be remembered in this forum as "the guy" who has this view about the Christian origins. Hardly I may change this view. While in other details I have always changed views.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: The name change to Jesus/Joshua.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Oct 25, 2019 10:32 am

Giuseppe wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 10:21 am
A good objection against the Couchoud's theory about the Name above all the names is that Joshua was a very common name. While the true name of Lord (YHWH) can't be spoken to a public audience. Even today the Jews write G-D or D-o.
My variation on Couchoud's idea avoids that problem completely. Yahweh is really the "name above all names." Jesus simply contains that name.
At any case, I follow willingly Couchoud about how he saw the Origins of Christianity: some Jews were the hallucinators of Jesus Christ during all the first century. The Gnostics came later and a Gnostic sect wrote the first gospel (a Docetic Gospel). The separationism was the Judaizing reaction against that first gospel. Again, it was not the separationism the "original story".
Before any of that came Hebrew eschatological expectation. Nobody hallucinated about some important figure, historical or mythical, or claimed that the figure only seemed to be flesh (the docetics), was a spirit inhabiting a human being (the separationists), had been adopted as the son of a god (the adoptionists), or had inside information about the nature of the cosmos (the gnostics) unless he or she already knew who that figure was (or was supposed to be).

And nobody had to hallucinate anything. They may have anyway, but they did not have to.
ΤΙ ΕΣΤΙΝ ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ

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