Heb 5:13 - 'Melchizedekians', λόγου δικαιοσύνης & Hermetica?

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Heb 5:13 - 'Melchizedekians', λόγου δικαιοσύνης & Hermetica?

Post by billd89 » Sat Oct 03, 2020 12:41 am

I've been translating Moriz Friedländer’s “La Secte de Melchisédec et l'Épître aux Hébreux” in Revue des Études Juives Vol. 6, No. 12 (1882), Part 3: pp.187-199 (third part wrapping up: almost there!).

As indicated elsewhere, whether Friedländer's ideas are accepted by modern consensus is largely immaterial to my purpose, because I am following through a thesis linking the Alexandrian Therapeutae with a modern recovery cult/revised 'First Century Christianity' (apparently derived from Friedländer's theories). So my own key focus is a) what Friedländer argued and b) how the Anonymous Authors responded to Friedländer (c.1938)', not c) any 21st C. theological debate (however fascinating).

Friedländer is credited by Pearson (1973) and Piovanelli (2012) as the first Western scholar to link Melchizedek to the transformation of Enochic-Essene Judaism into Christian gnosticism and to forcefully address Pre-Christian Jewish Gnosticism generally. (Friedländer was mostly ignored by contemporaries.) But my Anonymous Author personally knew Gershon Scholem and Hans Jonas as peers, and in 1937 the Melchizedek question had been addressed at some length by Marcel Simon, so it would have been fresh in my Anonymous Author's mind (1938).

As I now understand Friedländer on the pertinent background, here:

1) Apollos is the anonymous author of Epistle to the Hebrews, c.60 AD.
2) Apollos has become a Paulist preacher, he writes to a backsliding 'Melchizedekian' Gnostic Jewish synagogue (perhaps in Alexandria).
3) From Alexandria originally, Apollos was the popular preacher of a then-advanced Christos doctrine as a 'Melchizedekian' gnostic (Therapeut/Essene) theosopher before he adopted Aquila & Priscilla's Paulism.

While Friedländer's work strongly appears to be the foundation for my Anon.'s assumptions, they need not have limited themselves to his radical start 35 years earlier. Whatever these 'Melchizedekian' Hebrews called themselves, Friedländer suggests, in Hebrews these "Gnostic" Essene/Therapeut Jews employed a book called 'Discourse on Perfect Righteousness'. My question is about that. Could this be 'The Perfect Discourse' of Ascelpius, or something similar - known or unknown - from the Hermetica? Because that is the direction my Anonymous Author(s) certainly went with: that some Alexandrian 'Therapeutae' (viz., Apollos' background) were in fact also Hermeticists. I have been unable to find this leap in Friedländer; I presume it's their own radical thesis unless I can prove otherwise. It is certain my Anon. were writing a book on Ascelpius at the time: THAT cannot be coincidental. Enoch/Imhotep/Hermes certainly suggests the possibility a learned Alexandrian 'Jewish Gnostic' theosopher c.60 AD might have referred to a known or lost work of the Hermetica. So:

What is the 'Discourse on Perfect Righteousness'? And what else might tie the supposed 'Melchizedekians' to the Hermetica?

Excerpts from my working trans. of Friedländer’s “La Secte de Melchisédec et l'Épître aux Hébreux” in Revue des Études Juives Vol. 6, No. 12 (1882), Part 3: pp.
Now let us try to explain the difficult passage of Chapter 5: ‘For whoever is fed only milk is incapable of hearing the Discourse on Perfect Righteousness*’ (5:13). ‘What is the Discourse on Perfect Righteousness?’ is what all the commentators wonder. We know that the very name of Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:2), ‘who according to etymology is called first ‘the King of Righteousness,’ for much of the mystery is attached to this Old Testament character. This is indicated by this relation of Epiphanius78: “The aforementioned sect makes offerings in Melchizedek’s name and claims that offerings must be made through him: because he is the intermediary to God and, because he is the Archon of Righteousness ordained by God in heaven for this purpose, having been a spiritual being and instituted as Son of God. And (they say) we must present gifts to him, so through him they may be offered on our behalf, and through him we may find life. And (they say) Christ was chosen to summon us back by many ways to this one knowledge (gnosis), having been anointed by God and chosen to turn us away from idols and show us the way...” After that, Melchizedekians thought that Melchizedek is the true intermediary and that by him alone one can be pleasing to God, because he is ‘the Chief of Perfected Justice.’ It is also for this reason he was raised so high by God, while Christ's only task was to bring men from their many errors to the one way, that is to say to the path traced by Melchizedek.

Therefore, if we consider that this idea of ‘Righteousness’ attached to ‘Melchizedek’ name is central to Melchizedekian gnosis and moreover that it’s precisely on the occasion of Christ’s priesthood ‘according to the order of Melchizedek’ that Hebrews’ author mentions the Discourse on Perfect Righteousness, then don’t we have the right to conclude there is an allusion to Melchizedekian ‘Justice’ in this passage? Isn’t it very plausible to say the author of Hebrews, addressing his blind readers on this occasion, exclaims: ‘Since you have strayed from the right path, you have lost your faculty to judge and therefore {p.191} you have become incapable of hearing the Discourse on Righteousness; you must not therefore risk yourselves on this slippery ground, which easily leads to deviations, because ‘whoever is fed only on milk is incapable of hearing the Discourse on Righteousness?’



* λόγου δικαιοσύνης = 'Discourse on Righteousness'

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Re: Heb 5:13 - 'Melchizedekians', λόγου δικαιοσύνης & Hermetica?

Post by mlinssen » Sat Oct 03, 2020 4:34 am

I apologise upfront if I completely misunderstand your point, yet I see two very strong links to my knowledge of Thomas: milk and Righteousness
‘For whoever is fed only milk is incapable of hearing the Discourse on Perfect Righteousness*’ (5:13)
I interpret it as a joke, in the Thomasine sense: the so-called Discourse is baloney, and the food and drink of religiots. Righteousness points to Judaism - but let's first discuss the milk

Drinking or taking milk is a key theme in Thomas:

22. did IS behold to some(PL) little-person they take milk say(s) he to his(PL) disciple : these little-person who/which take milk they liken to they-who enter to the(F) reign-of(F) king (...)

79. (...) blessed-is she/r the(F) belly this-one(F) who/which not she/r conceive and the(PL) breast these not they give milk

96. say(s) IS : the(F) reign-of(F) king of the father she/r liken to a(n) woman did she/r take a(n) little of first-milk did she/r hidden he in a(n) dough did she/r make-be he of some(PL) great loaf he-who there-be ear within he let! he hear

So you're really better off with "feeding only on milk"

Righteousness?

12. say(s) the(PL) disciple to IS : we know : you will go from-the-hand-of we who? is(M) who/which will make-be great upward upon we say(s) IS behold : the place have you(PL) come therein you(PL) will go toward Jacob the righteous this-one have the(F) heaven with the earth come-to-be because-of he

13. say(s) IS to his(PL) disciple : liken me you(PL) tell it these : I resemble who? say(s) he to he viz. Simon Peter : you resemble a(n) messenger of righteous (...)

Righteousness. A vile pointer to the Jacob of Isaac, the poster child of Judaism: Jacob The Righteous, whose name got changed into Israel

Discourse of Perfect Righteousness - that seems to me to be a double pleonasm, a punpun, a "comical joke". As if Socrates were to discuss "useful virtues" or write a book called "dummy's guide to virtue"

Mind you, your quote explicitly states "hearing", not "understanding".
You will be protected from said Discourse, become immune to it, pretty much like in logion 20 of Thomas where the branch becomes "shelter/protection of birds of the heaven". It is heaven, singular, so it points to the theological heaven, not the real heaven of Thomas which is always "the heavens". When you do what logion 20 insists you to do, the same thing will apply as in your quote: you will create something that protects you from Monotheism, and that usually applies to Judaism in texts from that period

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Re: Heb 5:13 - 'Melchizedekians', λόγου δικαιοσύνης & Hermetica?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Oct 03, 2020 7:55 am

billd89 wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 12:41 am
I've been translating Moriz Friedländer’s “La Secte de Melchisédec et l'Épître aux Hébreux” in Revue des Études Juives Vol. 6, No. 12 (1882), Part 3: pp.187-199 (third part wrapping up: almost there!).

As indicated elsewhere, whether Friedländer's ideas are accepted by modern consensus is largely immaterial to my purpose, because I am following through a thesis linking the Alexandrian Therapeutae with a modern recovery cult/revised 'First Century Christianity' (apparently derived from Friedländer's theories). So my own key focus is a) what Friedländer argued and b) how the Anonymous Authors responded to Friedländer (c.1938)', not c) any 21st C. theological debate (however fascinating).

Friedländer is credited by Pearson (1973) and Piovanelli (2012) as the first Western scholar to link Melchizedek to the transformation of Enochic-Essene Judaism into Christian gnosticism and to forcefully address Pre-Christian Jewish Gnosticism generally. (Friedländer was mostly ignored by contemporaries.) But my Anonymous Author personally knew Gershon Scholem and Hans Jonas as peers, and in 1937 the Melchizedek question had been addressed at some length by Marcel Simon, so it would have been fresh in my Anonymous Author's mind (1938).

As I now understand Friedländer on the pertinent background, here:

1) Apollos is the anonymous author of Epistle to the Hebrews, c.60 AD.
2) Apollos has become a Paulist preacher, he writes to a backsliding 'Melchizedekian' Gnostic Jewish synagogue (perhaps in Alexandria).
3) From Alexandria originally, Apollos was the popular preacher of a then-advanced Christos doctrine as a 'Melchizedekian' gnostic (Therapeut/Essene) theosopher before he adopted Aquila & Priscilla's Paulism.

While Friedländer's work strongly appears to be the foundation for my Anon.'s assumptions, they need not have limited themselves to his radical start 35 years earlier. Whatever these 'Melchizedekian' Hebrews called themselves, Friedländer suggests, in Hebrews these "Gnostic" Essene/Therapeut Jews employed a book called 'Discourse on Perfect Righteousness'. My question is about that. Could this be 'The Perfect Discourse' of Ascelpius, or something similar - known or unknown - from the Hermetica? Because that is the direction my Anonymous Author(s) certainly went with: that some Alexandrian 'Therapeutae' (viz., Apollos' background) were in fact also Hermeticists. I have been unable to find this leap in Friedländer; I presume it's their own radical thesis unless I can prove otherwise. It is certain my Anon. were writing a book on Ascelpius at the time: THAT cannot be coincidental. Enoch/Imhotep/Hermes certainly suggests the possibility a learned Alexandrian 'Jewish Gnostic' theosopher c.60 AD might have referred to a known or lost work of the Hermetica. So:

What is the 'Discourse on Perfect Righteousness'? And what else might tie the supposed 'Melchizedekians' to the Hermetica?

Excerpts from my working trans. of Friedländer’s “La Secte de Melchisédec et l'Épître aux Hébreux” in Revue des Études Juives Vol. 6, No. 12 (1882), Part 3: pp.
Now let us try to explain the difficult passage of Chapter 5: ‘For whoever is fed only milk is incapable of hearing the Discourse on Perfect Righteousness*’ (5:13). ‘What is the Discourse on Perfect Righteousness?’ is what all the commentators wonder. We know that the very name of Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:2), ‘who according to etymology is called first ‘the King of Righteousness,’ for much of the mystery is attached to this Old Testament character. This is indicated by this relation of Epiphanius78: “The aforementioned sect makes offerings in Melchizedek’s name and claims that offerings must be made through him: because he is the intermediary to God and, because he is the Archon of Righteousness ordained by God in heaven for this purpose, having been a spiritual being and instituted as Son of God. And (they say) we must present gifts to him, so through him they may be offered on our behalf, and through him we may find life. And (they say) Christ was chosen to summon us back by many ways to this one knowledge (gnosis), having been anointed by God and chosen to turn us away from idols and show us the way...” After that, Melchizedekians thought that Melchizedek is the true intermediary and that by him alone one can be pleasing to God, because he is ‘the Chief of Perfected Justice.’ It is also for this reason he was raised so high by God, while Christ's only task was to bring men from their many errors to the one way, that is to say to the path traced by Melchizedek.

Therefore, if we consider that this idea of ‘Righteousness’ attached to ‘Melchizedek’ name is central to Melchizedekian gnosis and moreover that it’s precisely on the occasion of Christ’s priesthood ‘according to the order of Melchizedek’ that Hebrews’ author mentions the Discourse on Perfect Righteousness, then don’t we have the right to conclude there is an allusion to Melchizedekian ‘Justice’ in this passage? Isn’t it very plausible to say the author of Hebrews, addressing his blind readers on this occasion, exclaims: ‘Since you have strayed from the right path, you have lost your faculty to judge and therefore {p.191} you have become incapable of hearing the Discourse on Righteousness; you must not therefore risk yourselves on this slippery ground, which easily leads to deviations, because ‘whoever is fed only on milk is incapable of hearing the Discourse on Righteousness?’

* λόγου δικαιοσύνης = 'Discourse on Righteousness'
Your footnote stands out. Hebrews 5.13: πᾶς γὰρ ὁ μετέχων γάλακτος ἄπειρος λόγου δικαιοσύνης, νήπιος γάρ ἐστιν. Perhaps there were two different recensions of this lost text: the Λόγος Τελείας Δικαιοσύνης and the Λόγος Δικαιοσύνης, the righteousness espoused by the latter not being quite as perfect as that espoused by the former.

Perhaps, also, this Discourse on Righteousness is what Marcus Aurelius is referring to in Meditations 11.1: "Thus, then, the Straight Discourse and the Discourse on Righteousness are in no way different" (οὕτως ἄρ' οὐδὲν διήνεγκε λόγος ὀρθὸς καὶ λόγος δικαιοσύνης). Perhaps this text went by two different titles, Λόγος Ὀρθός and Λόγος Δικαιοσύνης, and Marcus is helpfully telling us that these two titles are actually referring to the same work.
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Re: Heb 5:13 - 'Melchizedekians'

Post by billd89 » Sat Oct 03, 2020 8:48 am

mlinssen wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 4:34 am
I apologise upfront if I completely misunderstand your point, yet I see two very strong links to my knowledge of Thomas: milk and Righteousness

No apologies needed; I won't get upset if the thread veers off Hebrews' authorship, intended audience, 'Melchizedekians' etc. Gospel of Thomas was discovered in 1945, so my Anons. cannot have referenced that.

But they do bring up ‘milk’ elsewhere, a well-known experiment that goes badly.
‘Righteousness’ is the best translation, I suppose (‘Justice’ sounds too legal; ‘Rectitude’ too prim).
‘For whoever is fed only milk is incapable of hearing the Discourse on Perfect Righteousness*’ (5:13)
I have translated «discours de la parfaite justice» correctly, but you’ve nailed Friedländer’s gloss. Perfectioning is my Anons.’ theme, but again I suspect ‘The Perfect Discourse’ (Ascelpius: something they studied) was something suggestive that leapt out at them.
I interpret it as a joke, in the Thomasine sense: the so-called Discourse is baloney, and the food and drink of religiots.
Pagels and other contemporary scholars have described John’s Gospel as a riposte to a Thomasine community. Hebrews might be another riposte to a (different?) Thomasine community?
Mind you, your quote explicitly states "hearing", not "understanding".
Indeed. Friedländer wrote “incapable d'entendre le discours de la parfaite justice” Here, entendre is ‘to hear; to understand’ so your sharp distinction is mistaken. In our English, ‘hear me out…’ ‘listen to what I say…’ also means ‘understand me’. In the next Verse (Heb.5:14), αἰσθητήρια refers to sense discernment, faculties of the mind for perceiving: I think that’s about hearing-understanding and seeing-perceiving.
Righteousness points to Judaism
Hebrews (and Melchizedek) do, also.
You will be protected from said Discourse, become immune to it, pretty much like in logion 20 of Thomas where the branch becomes "shelter/protection of birds of the heaven". It is heaven, singular, so it points to the theological heaven, not the real heaven of Thomas which is always "the heavens". When you do what logion 20 insists you to do, the same thing will apply as in your quote: you will create something that protects you from Monotheism, and that usually applies to Judaism in texts from that period.
I don’t understand this: “something that protects you from Monotheism”? Which Hellenistic Jews were anti-Monotheist? I do suppose Philo’s ‘radical allegorizers’ (pre-25 AD), pre-Xtian Jewish Gnosticism (c. 100 BC? - 150 AD?), the Minim {heretical Jews} addressed by rabbis (c. 100-200 AD), and the dizzying variety of “Christian" heretical sects noted by the Church Fathers (at least some of which were Judeo-Christians, as late as 350 AD?) prove that ‘alternative Judaisms’ did exist on a spectrum and over time, disappearing. (But I don’t assume that the ‘Melchizedekians’ here were polytheist, just antinominian.)

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Re: Heb 5:13 - 'Melchizedekians', λόγου δικαιοσύνης

Post by billd89 » Sat Oct 03, 2020 8:52 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 7:55 am
Your footnote stands out. Hebrews 5.13: πᾶς γὰρ ὁ μετέχων γάλακτος ἄπειρος λόγου δικαιοσύνης, νήπιος γάρ ἐστιν. Perhaps there were two different recensions of this lost text: the Λόγος Τελείας Δικαιοσύνης and the Λόγος Δικαιοσύνης, the righteousness espoused by the latter not being quite as perfect as that espoused by the former.

Perhaps, also, this Discourse on Righteousness is what Marcus Aurelius is referring to in Meditations 11.1: "Thus, then, the Straight Discourse and the Discourse on Righteousness are in no way different" (οὕτως ἄρ' οὐδὲν διήνεγκε λόγος ὀρθὸς καὶ λόγος δικαιοσύνης). Perhaps this text went by two different titles, Λόγος Ὀρθός and Λόγος Δικαιοσύνης, and Marcus is helpfully telling us that these two titles are actually referring to the same work.
Brilliant! Thank you for this*, Ben.

* However, Phillip A. Davis Jr. rejects the Sermon/Book thesis; obviously I do not.

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Re: Heb 5:13 - 'Melchizedekians', λόγου δικαιοσύνης & Hermetica?

Post by Secret Alias » Sat Oct 03, 2020 10:38 am

λόγος ὀρθὸς could go back to the Book of Yashar?

ορθος literally means straight or upright. The Hebrew word for ‘straight’ is ישׁר. Yashar is always taken to be the root of Israel.

Yashar can also and is also translated "just " https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of ... eferences). We make a good team Ben I think.
According to the medieval Jewish scholar Rashi, "Sefer HaYashar" in this verse refers to the Pentateuch: Jacob's prophecy regarding Joshua's ancestor Ephraim—"His seed will fill the nations"[4]—was fulfilled when Joshua's victory gave him renown among the various nations who heard of the victory.
Could Marcus Aurelius have been referring to the books of Moses? Sefer ha Yashar is an ancient epithet of the Pentateuch perhaps to the distinguish it from the Ten Commandments which = ha Torah which came not from Moses but God in heaven.
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Re: Heb 5:13 - 'Melchizedekians'

Post by mlinssen » Sat Oct 03, 2020 10:56 am

billd89 wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 8:48 am
mlinssen wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 4:34 am
I apologise upfront if I completely misunderstand your point, yet I see two very strong links to my knowledge of Thomas: milk and Righteousness

No apologies needed; I won't get upset if the thread veers off Hebrews' authorship, intended audience, 'Melchizedekians' etc. Gospel of Thomas was discovered in 1945, so my Anons. cannot have referenced that.
mlinssen wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 4:34 am
When you do what logion 20 insists you to do, the same thing will apply as in your quote: you will create something that protects you from Monotheism, and that usually applies to Judaism in texts from that period.
I don’t understand this: “something that protects you from Monotheism”? Which Hellenistic Jews were anti-Monotheist? I do suppose Philo’s ‘radical allegorizers’ (pre-25 AD), pre-Xtian Jewish Gnosticism (c. 100 BC? - 150 AD?), the Minim {heretical Jews} addressed by rabbis (c. 100-200 AD), and the dizzying variety of “Christian" heretical sects noted by the Church Fathers (at least some of which were Judeo-Christians, as late as 350 AD?) prove that ‘alternative Judaisms’ did exist on a spectrum and over time, disappearing. (But I don’t assume that the ‘Melchizedekians’ here were polytheist, just antinominian.)
Well, that settles it then.
If Thomas isn't useful in your context, then there's no need to tell that I was talking about Thomas (all the time, for that matter). So it's Thomas who's against Monotheism (as well as polytheism), and if you have a bit of time on your hands then there's 25 pages on it in https://www.academia.edu/43717037/The_P ... t_religion

Entendre means to hear and understand at the same time, and can also mean either. I know nothing of the work you're discussing, though my French is quite good, but was just intrigued by the milk, righteous, and the double entendre of the verb

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Re: Heb 5:13 - 'Melchizedekians', λόγου δικαιοσύνης & Hermetica?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Oct 03, 2020 11:39 am

Secret Alias wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 10:38 am
λόγος ὀρθὸς could go back to the Book of Yashar?

ορθος literally means straight or upright. The Hebrew word for ‘straight’ is ישׁר. Yashar is always taken to be the root of Israel.

Yashar can also and is also translated "just " https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of ... eferences). We make a good team Ben I think.
In all seriousness, I certainly wish the (real) Book of Jashar would show up in some jar in a cave someday:

Joshua 10.13: 13 So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies. Is it not written in the Book of Jashar? “And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.”

2 Samuel 1.17-27: 17 Then David chanted with this lament over Saul and Jonathan his son, 18 and he told them to teach the sons of Judah the Song of the Bow; behold, it is written in the Book of Jashar. 19 “Your beauty, O Israel, is slain on your high places! How have the mighty fallen! 20 Tell it not in Gath; proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon, or the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice; the daughters of the uncircumcised will exult. 21 O mountains of Gilboa, let not dew or rain be on you, nor fields of offerings; for there the shield of the mighty was defiled, the shield of Saul, not anointed with oil. 22 From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan did not turn back, and the sword of Saul did not return empty. 23 Saul and Jonathan, beloved and pleasant in their life, and in their death they were not parted; they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions. 24 O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet, who put ornaments of gold on your apparel. 25 How have the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! Jonathan is slain on your high places. 26 I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; you have been very pleasant to me. Your love to me was more wonderful than the love of women. 27 How have the mighty fallen and the weapons of war perished!”

Few titles sound cooler than "the Song of the Bow."
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Re: Heb 5:13 - 'Melchizedekians', λόγου δικαιοσύνης & Hermetica?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:01 pm

Secret Alias wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 10:38 am
λόγος ὀρθὸς could go back to the Book of Yashar?

ορθος literally means straight or upright. The Hebrew word for ‘straight’ is ישׁר. Yashar is always taken to be the root of Israel.
Came across an alternate explanation for Jashar/Yashar today (in a commentary on the former prophets by Robert Alter). Instead of יָּשָׁר (yashar, "the upright"), what if it is יָשִׁר, (יָשִׁיר without the mater lectionis; yashir, "[he/she] sang")? Odd name for a book until one recalls (A) that Hebrew books are often named after the first word of the text and (B) that the ancient Hebrew word order is usually verb-subject. The only two bits of text that we know belong to the book are songs.

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Re: Heb 5:13 - 'Melchizedekians', λόγου δικαιοσύνης & Hermetica?

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Oct 16, 2020 8:29 pm

It's strange because I was thinking or noticing the same thing about yashar/yashir while thinking about the etymology for Nasoraean. נָשִׁ֥יר we will sing. There is something in an Arabic Samaritan text about the Dositheans.

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