Nasaraeans, Mandaeans, Enochic Judaism, & Christianity.

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Nasaraeans, Mandaeans, Enochic Judaism, & Christianity.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Oct 06, 2020 5:32 am

Secret Alias wrote:
Mon Oct 05, 2020 8:05 pm
Why should we not take that as original? I think - without getting you angry I hope - that this is a blind spot in your approach.
A night of sleep has granted me fresh perspective, I think. There is a blind spot in my approach. It just happens not to be about Jewish origins. Rather, it is about how long the original cultic notions may have persisted, even in the mainstream. The impression I am usually under by default is that some sort of worship which we now associate with paganism came first; and then it was suppressed in favor of what we would now associate with mainstream Judaism (which is at least in the ballpark of the Sunday School version you spoke of); and by the time we get to late Maccabean times the original "pagan" stuff is pretty much gone, except maybe in little corners here and there.

I get this impression about all kinds of things. Take sacrifices, for example. I presume that people (like Samuel, the judges, Saul, and David in the narratives) making offerings pretty much everywhere on their own homemade altars predates the push to centralize worship at the Temple. Fine and dandy, and this has been the case for me for literally decades. But yes, the impression I get is that by the time we reach a certain point in history that practice has been stamped out (again, perhaps with oddball exceptions, and in locations external to Judea, such as Leontopolis), and now everybody goes through the official Aaronid priests at the official Temple, and so on. My blind spot is not how these practices stack up chronologically, or which one may predate the other, where I assume that "orthodoxy" came first and "heterodoxy" tried to intrude for a while, as per the narrative laid out in the current form of the Hebrew scriptures. No, my blind spot is that I may be underestimating how long those heterodox (and often more ancient) practices persisted into later times (or, rather, how long they were actually prevalent and not relegated to the fringe).

Same goes for the worship of the stars. I have been on board for years and years with the idea that it predates the cultic worship of Yahweh as we know it from the Sunday School version of events. But my blind spot is how long it may have persisted. That is part of what the OP is trying to remedy: my possibly mistaken impressions about such things.

I think you may have picked up on this aspect of my thinking, possibly from something in how I approached the topic, but that you may have misidentified the source of whatever mismatch you were sensing. Is that possible?
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Re: Nasaraeans, Mandaeans, Enochic Judaism, & Christianity.

Post by mlinssen » Tue Oct 06, 2020 7:45 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Mon Oct 05, 2020 10:43 am
mlinssen wrote:
Mon Oct 05, 2020 10:14 am
I have another, and a quite interesting one. On Nazarene versus Nazoraios

Gospel of Philip 51

The interlinear of the late Dr. Paterson Brown, your mobile won't support the Coptic font I'm afraid, but perhaps your laptop will

https://www.freelyreceive.net/metalogos ... ph051.html

The apostles who were before us had these names for him: "Jesus, the Nazorean, Messiah", that is, "Jesus, the Nazorean, the Christ". The last name is "Christ", the first is "Jesus", that in the middle is "the Nazarene". "Messiah" has two meanings, both "the Christ" and "the measured". "Jesus" in Hebrew is "the redemption". "Nazara" is "the Truth". "The Nazarene" then, is "the Truth". "Christ" [...] has been measured. "The Nazarene" and "Jesus" are they who have been measured.

(SNIP)

The meaning of "Nazara" and "Nazarene" in saying 51, however, makes no sense, at least not directly, so far as I have been able to determine.

(SNIP)
It makes humongous sense - if you read the Coptic: https://www.freelyreceive.net/metalogos ... ill-10.gif. Sadly, I only read Philip for the first time yesterday, don't have the papyrus myself nor any decent interlinear translation

Line 8: IES P-NAZORAIOS MESSIAS
Line 9: IES P-NAZORAIOS
Line 11: NAZARENOS MESSIAS
Line 14: NAZARA (...) P-NA
Line 15: ZARENOS
Line 16: P-NAZARENOS IS

I have transcribed the most important items, those being the different forms of naz-whatever.
This is, without the shred of a doubt, 100% verbatim identical to Mark and Matthew. A thousand, a million percent.
I haven't said anything about any order or direction yet, this just is a perfect verbatim copy:

Matthew 2:23 - https://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/mat ... onc_931023 (KJV)

"And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene."

Ναζωραῖος is the word according to the Textus Receptus: https://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/mat ... ncf_931023
Alternative view is the combined TR/KJV interlinear: https://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/mat ... ncr_931023

Mark 1:24 - https://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/mar/1/24/s_958024 (KJV)

"Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God."

Ναζαρηνέ is the word according to the Textus Receptus: https://www.blueletterbible.org/tr/mar/ ... onc_958024
Alternative view is the combined TR/KJV interlinear: https://www.blueletterbible.org/tools/i ... r/mar/1/24


Philip read Mark and Matthew, is what our assumption would be, given the texts that we have (even though there's a 1,000% chance that there are other texts, like Philip, that I don't know of). Or they read them.
In all likelihood Philip is here trying to foobar the strangely spelled Nazorean into a variant of Nazarene, and then he tries to explain away Nazarene by coming up with the word Nazara - whatever rock that crawled out of. Some idiot even managed to edit Wikipedia and comment that it's behind the name Nazar https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazar_(given_name) and it's even made it into wiktionary "From the Ancient Greek Νᾱζᾰρᾱ́ (Nāzarā́, “Nazareth”)". You see, whenever something goes mainstream it becomes compromised-to-death. But let's not dwell on that

Yet it is beyond the shred of a doubt that the whole Naza-scheme was one big whopping mystery even to the contemporary literals of that time.
I'm unsure which camp Philip belongs to, he seems to be somewhere midway Thomas and Christianity but then again so are most, not surprisingly, given the fact that those are two complete opposites - but I'm inclined to go with my gut feeling that Philip is benign to Jesus of Nazarene, Christianity, and simply trying to cover / fill in for their riddling use of Naz-whatever.
And as such undeniably is confirming that, whatever-da-fudge it was, the whole Naz-whatever thingy indeed WAS one big damn mystery in the first centuries CE

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Re: Nasaraeans, Mandaeans, Enochic Judaism, & Christianity.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Oct 06, 2020 7:55 am

mlinssen wrote:
Tue Oct 06, 2020 7:45 am
It makes humongous sense....
What I mean is that it makes no etymological sense. "Hidden" makes sense; "truth" does not. But I am speaking etymologically.

ETA: Just to be clear, "hidden" makes etymological sense if one ignores the ṣ/z (ṣade/zayin) distinction. I do not ignore that; and I have much to say about it at some point; but in Christian antiquity that distinction was definitely ignored along the way.
Last edited by Ben C. Smith on Tue Oct 06, 2020 8:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Nasaraeans, Mandaeans, Enochic Judaism, & Christianity.

Post by mlinssen » Tue Oct 06, 2020 8:01 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Tue Oct 06, 2020 7:55 am
mlinssen wrote:
Tue Oct 06, 2020 7:45 am
It makes humongous sense....
What I mean is that it makes no etymological sense. "Hidden" makes sense; "truth" does not. But I am speaking etymologically.
Ah, that. Course, it doesn't make sense, and poor Philip here is just replacing two mystery words by one mystery word.
I wasn't being contrarian, you really do watch your defence very carefully LOL

Trust me, when I'm berating you for being wrong, you'll notice. I did that half a year ago in a session on academia, and it is still smoking from time to time

;)

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Re: Nasaraeans, Mandaeans, Enochic Judaism, & Christianity.

Post by MrMacSon » Tue Oct 06, 2020 1:25 pm

mlinssen wrote:
Tue Oct 06, 2020 7:45 am
Yet it is beyond the shred of a doubt that the whole Naza-scheme was one big whopping mystery even to the contemporary literals of that time.
That makes sense: it's the most parsimonious explanation of an otherwise hard to fathom 'riddle'.

mlinssen wrote:
Tue Oct 06, 2020 7:45 am
I'm unsure which camp Philip belongs to, he seems to be somewhere midway Thomas and Christianity but then again so are most,1 not surprisingly, given the fact that those are two complete opposites ...
1 'most'? most apocryphal texts/Gospels/epistles?

mlinssen wrote:
Tue Oct 06, 2020 7:45 am
... but I'm inclined to go with my gut feeling that Philip is benign2 to Jesus of Nazarene, Christianity, and simply trying to cover / fill in for their riddling use of Naz-whatever.
2 'benign', as in not influential on?

mlinssen wrote:
Tue Oct 06, 2020 7:45 am
And as such undeniably is confirming that, whatever-da-fudge it was, the whole Naz-whatever thingy indeed WAS one big damn mystery in the first centuries CE

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Re: Nasaraeans, Mandaeans, Enochic Judaism, & Christianity.

Post by mlinssen » Tue Oct 06, 2020 1:44 pm

MrMacSon wrote:
Tue Oct 06, 2020 1:25 pm
mlinssen wrote:
Tue Oct 06, 2020 7:45 am
I'm unsure which camp Philip belongs to, he seems to be somewhere midway Thomas and Christianity but then again so are most,1 not surprisingly, given the fact that those are two complete opposites ...
1 'most'? most apocryphal texts/Gospels/epistles?
All of the above, yeah
MrMacSon wrote:
Tue Oct 06, 2020 1:25 pm
mlinssen wrote:
Tue Oct 06, 2020 7:45 am
... but I'm inclined to go with my gut feeling that Philip is benign2 to Jesus of Nazarene, Christianity, and simply trying to cover / fill in for their riddling use of Naz-whatever.
2 'benign', as in not influential on?
I have this crazy theory that Thomas started it all, that Mark countered, and everything else was written "in the middle of the two", although a third stream also developed that went hard-core gnostic.
So Philip considered himself in the Christian camp, not with Thomas, although he clearly draws on both, in content as well as context, with his loose paragraphs in sayings style

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Re: Nasaraeans, Mandaeans, Enochic Judaism, & Christianity.

Post by MrMacSon » Tue Oct 06, 2020 2:16 pm

mlinssen wrote:
Tue Oct 06, 2020 1:44 pm
All of the above, yeah
Cheers.

mlinssen wrote:
Tue Oct 06, 2020 1:44 pm
I have this crazy theory that Thomas started it all, that Mark countered, and everything else was written "in the middle of the two", although a third stream also developed that went hard-core gnostic.
So Philip considered himself in the Christian camp, not with Thomas, although he clearly draws on both, in content as well as context, with his loose paragraphs in sayings style
I'm intrigued with Jörg Rüpke's propositions, in his 2018 book Pantheon: A New History of Roman Religion [some excerpts below], that it all essentially came out of an increasing public demand for literary narratives in the 2nd century, especially biography type narratives, and competition among producers of such literature (a demand fostered by the relatively new writings of the likes of Josephus, Cicero, Seneca, etc). Rüpke has interacted a lot in recent years -the last decade or so, at least- with the likes of Markus Vinzent and Matthias Klinghardt (at conferences, seminars, and presentations, and the such, at least) who, among others, are of the view the NT gospels were written in close proximity in response to the Marcionite gospel.

I think the NT epistles, including many if not all of the Pauline epistles were written in and contributed to the same milieu.

I think increasingly anthropomorphizing/ personifying a Christ (or Christs) and/or a Jesus (or Jesus's, or other perceived sages) - or even personification of angels/ Lords, etc., as well as borrowings from and revisions of so-called gnostic stories - contributed to it all.

If so, determining in what order could be the ultimate jig-saw puzzle.



1. http://www.earlywritings.com/forum/view ... 696#p90696

2. http://www.earlywritings.com/forum/view ... 517#p90517

3. http://www.earlywritings.com/forum/view ... 570#p90570

4. http://www.earlywritings.com/forum/view ... 713#p90713

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Re: Nasaraeans, Mandaeans, Enochic Judaism, & Christianity.

Post by davidmartin » Wed Oct 07, 2020 5:15 am

Ben don't you ever think that at some point your own personal experiences have to guide you?
i don't think its possible to take that objective viewpoint that is above and higher than the subjects this it discusses and do so dispassionately
at some point you have to get involved and integrate your own experiences with what you believe is true?

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Re: Nasaraeans, Mandaeans, Enochic Judaism, & Christianity.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed Oct 07, 2020 6:44 am

davidmartin wrote:
Wed Oct 07, 2020 5:15 am
Ben don't you ever think that at some point your own personal experiences have to guide you?
i don't think its possible to take that objective viewpoint that is above and higher than the subjects this it discusses and do so dispassionately
at some point you have to get involved and integrate your own experiences with what you believe is true?
I am not completely sure how to answer your specific questions. For example, as to the first one, what does it mean for personal experience to guide one? On the one hand, in one sense, of course it has to be my own personal experience guiding me. Whose personal experience would I be tapping into? I have only my own to work with. On the other hand, in quite another sense, of course I have to be aware that whatever I am studying is completely, 100% independent of my own personal experience. The people and groups I am studying existed about two millennia ago, blissfully unaffected by whatever personal experiences I myself might have been destined to undergo years later. So I am not sure what your angle on that is, or which direction you meant to be moving in.

I can say, regarding my viewpoint, that I am basically just making predictions. Whenever I make a suggestion about what a text means or about what actually happened in history that went into producing that (part of the) text, I am making an educated guess that, in the future, if somebody digs up hard evidence one way or another, that evidence will vindicate the suggestion that I made; thus, the goal becomes to produce the most plausible hypothesis that I can. Now, obviously, there is no guarantee that hard evidence is going to be dug up to vindicate my suggestions, though it is not impossible (the Qumran scrolls, for example, vindicated Schechter's dating of the Damascus Document to the first or second century BC; other scholars had suggested a date in century VII or VIII or so, and they were proven wrong). The mental exercise is heuristic, and I tend to go all the way with it, imagining that time travel will be invented at some point which will allow researchers to verify hypotheses about history in the most direct fashion possible. (I do not think that time travel will ever be invented; it is just a mindset.)

With that mindset in place, one can see that it really does not matter what the exact suggestion is: the goal is to make the suggestion match the reality of what happened, and no more. We can liken this attitude to an experiment in which I offer you a prize for guessing what little object is in a closed black box; you can hold and shift and shake the box, but you cannot open it. You are not going to get the object itself, even with a correct guess; the prize, in other words, is independent of what the object is; the identity of the object is just what you have to guess in order to win that prize. In such a scenario, you probably would not really care whether the object was a pocket watch or a brass ring. There would be no motivation for you to truly suspect it to be a brass ring but then to guess that it is a pocket watch. All that matters is that you guess correctly, so that is the use to which you are putting the sum total of your personal experience. If you already know how brass rings and pocket watches normally sound in boxes, great! You can use that knowledge to help you make a good guess. But your personal experience of brass rings and pocket watches would not be influencing your final decision, because in the end you do not care which it is; you care only to be correct.

In real life, obviously, nothing is ever going to be as clean and easy as this black box experiment I have just described. No one is ever going to be completely objective in that sense. But objectivity remains the goal, because if relevant evidence is ever dug up it is either going to vindicate your hypothesis or not. There is a world of difference between (A) controlling and minimizing one's biases and (B) letting them run rampant on the grounds that they can never be completely eliminated.

But maybe your questions were going in a different direction. Not sure.
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Re: Nasaraeans, Mandaeans, Enochic Judaism, & Christianity.

Post by davidmartin » Fri Oct 09, 2020 1:16 am

Line 8: IES P-NAZORAIOS MESSIAS
Line 9: IES P-NAZORAIOS
Line 11: NAZARENOS MESSIAS
Line 14: NAZARA (...) P-NA
Line 15: ZARENOS
Line 16: P-NAZARENOS IS

Is this really saying 'truth'?
isn't the Coptic for truth ME where is that?

This is totally off topic for Ben, thanks for the above will think about that!
I was reading the Wisdom of Solomon, the description of wisdom in here is very similar to the prologue of John isn't it? Except wisdom has become Jesus
Could it be that wisdom speculation was the source, explaining the comparison of Jesus to wisdom in a few places
That would make Paul's leap to a divine Christ more explicable if the source was a divine wisdom which Jesus embodied ... after all does Paul ever say who Jesus really is? I don't think he needed to if this speculation was already familiar territory to his audience.
Even in the gnostic texts, some of the older portions seem to reflect a wisdom background:
"I existed from the first.
I walked down every possible road"
Christianity emerged from a wisdom tradition independent of hellenism? sure, why not. the source materials are all there and agree far better than Qumran community comparisons do except for a Matthean/Ebionite redactive phase (the so called pillars) which wasn't original?

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