THEOSOPHY, Vol. 57, No. 9, July, 1969
(Pages 271-276; Size: 18K)
(Number 21 of a 36-part series)
THE CHRISTIAN SCHEME(2)
JESUS: A True Nazarene
HISTORY finds the first Christian sects to have been either Nazarenes like John the Baptist; or Ebionites, among whom were many of the relatives of Jesus; or Essenes (Iessaens) the Therapeutæ, healers, of which the Nazaria were a branch. All these sects, which only in the days of Irenæus began to be considered heretical, were more or less kabalistic. They believed in the expulsion of demons by magical incantations, and practiced this method. The Talmud indiscriminately calls all the Christians Nazari. All the Gnostic sects equally believed in magic. Dunlap shows that Jesus was called Nazaraios, in reference to his humble and mean external condition; "for Nazaraios means separation, alienation from other men."
The Jewish Scriptures indicate two distinct worships and religions among the Israelites; that of Bacchus-worship under the mask of Jehovah, and that of the Chaldean initiates to whom belonged some of the nazars, the theurgists, and a few of the prophets. The headquarters of these were always at Babylon and Chaldea, where two rival schools of Magians can be distinctly shown. The oldest and the most esoteric of the two being that which, satisfied with its unassailable knowledge and secret power, was content to apparently relinquish her exoteric popularity, and concede her supremacy into the hands of the reforming Darius. The later Gnostics showed the same prudent policy by accommodating themselves in every country to the prevailing religious forms, still secretly adhering to their own essential doctrines.
The real meaning of the word nazar signifies to vow or consecrate one's self to the service of God. The nazars or prophets, as well as the Nazarenes, were an anti-Bacchus caste, in so far that, in common with all the initiated prophets, they held to the spirit of the symbolical religions and offered a strong opposition to the idolatrous and exoteric practices of the dead letter. The initiated nazars held to the rule [of conventual rites and "the virtues"] which had to be followed before them by the adepts of every age; and the disciples of John were but a dissenting branch of the Essenes. Therefore, we cannot well confound them with all the nazars spoken of in the Old Testament.
The Nazireate sect existed long before the laws of Moses, and originated among people most inimical to the "chosen" ones of Israel, viz., the people of Galilee, the ancient olla-podrida of idolatrous nations, where was built Nazara, the present Nazareth. It is in Nazara that the ancient Nazoria or Nazireates held their "Mysteries of Life" or "assemblies," which were but the secret mysteries of initiation, utterly distinct in their practical form from the popular Mysteries which were held at Byblus in honor of Adonis. While the true initiates of the ostracised Galilee were worshipping the true God and enjoying transcendent visions, what were the "chosen" ones about?... We really cannot suppose that the Pagans have ever surpassed the "chosen" people in certain shameful abominations of which their own prophets accuse them so profusely. To admit this truth, one hardly needs even to be a Hebrew scholar; let him read the Bible in English and meditate over the language of the "holy" prophets. This accounts for the hatred of the later Nazarenes for the orthodox Jews -- followers of the exoteric Mosaic Law....
The oldest Nazarenes, who were the descendants of the Scripture nazars, and whose last prominent leader was John the Baptist, although never very orthodox in the sight of the scribes and Pharisees of Jerusalem, were, nevertheless, respected and left unmolested. Even Herod "feared the multitude" because they regarded John as a prophet. But the followers of Jesus evidently adhered to a sect which became a still more exasperating thorn in their side. It appeared as a heresy; for while the nazars of the olden times, the "Sons of the Prophets," were Chaldean kabalists, the adepts of the new dissenting sect showed themselves reformers and innovators from the first. The great similitude traced by some critics between the rites and observances of the earliest Christians and those of the Essenes may be accounted for without the slightest difficulty. The Essenes were the converts of Buddhist missionaries who had overrun Egypt, Greece, and even Judea at one time, since the reign of Asoka the zealous propagandist; and while it is evidently to the Essenes that belongs the honor of having had the Nazarene reformer, Jesus, as a pupil, still the latter is found disagreeing with his early teachers on several questions of formal observance. He cannot strictly be called an Essene, for reasons which we will indicate further on, neither was he a nazar, or Nazaria of the older sect. What Jesus was, may be found in the Codex Nazaraeus, in the unjust accusations of the Bardesian Gnostics.
"Jesus is Nebu, the false Messiah, the destroyer of the old orthodox religion," says the Codex. He is the founder of the sect of the new nazars, and, as the words clearly imply, a follower of the Buddhist doctrine. Moreover, we find the Talmudists holding that Jesus was inspired by the genius of Mercury.
The Nazarene reformer had undoubtedly belonged to one of these sects; though, perhaps, it would be next to impossible to decide absolutely which. But what is self-evident is that he preached the philosophy of Buddha-Sakyamûni. Denounced by the later prophets, cursed by the Sanhedrim, the nazars were secretly, if not openly persecuted by the orthodox synagogue. It becomes clear why Jesus was treated with such contempt from the first, and deprecatingly called "the Galilean." Nathaniel inquires -- "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" (John 1:46) at the very beginning of his career; and merely because he knows him to be a nazar. Does not this clearly hint that even the older nazars were not really Hebrew religionists, but rather a class of Chaldean theurgists? Besides, as the New Testament is noted for its mistranslations and transparent falsifications of texts, we may justly suspect that the word Nazareth was substituted for that of nasaria, or nozari. That it originally read "Can any good thing come from a nozari, or Nazarene," a follower of St. John the Baptist, with whom we see him associating from his first appearance on the stage of action, after having been lost sight of for a period of nearly twenty years. The blunders of the Old Testament are as nothing to those of the gospels. Nothing shows better than these self-evident contradictions the system of pious fraud upon which the superstructure of the Messiahship rests. "This is Elias which was for to come," says Matthew of John the Baptist, thus forcing an ancient kabalistic tradition into the frame of evidence (11:14). But when addressing the Baptist himself, they ask him (John 1:16), "Art thou Elias?" "And he saith I am not"! Which knew best -- John or his biographer? And which is divine revelation?
The motive of Jesus was evidently like that of Gautama-Buddha, to benefit humanity at large by producing a religious reform which should give it a religion of pure ethics; the true knowledge of God and nature having remained until then solely in the hands of the esoteric sects, and their adepts. As Jesus used oil and the Essenes never used aught but pure water, he cannot be called a strict Essene. On the other hand, the Essenes were also "set apart"; they were healers (assaya) and dwelt in the desert as all ascetics did.
Baptism is one of the oldest rites and was practiced by all the nations in their Mysteries, as sacred ablutions. Dunlap seems to derive the name of the nazars from nazah, sprinkling. The Nazarenes were baptized in the Jordan; and could not be baptized elsewhere ... and had to fast before as well as after the purification by baptism. Jesus is said to have fasted in the wilderness for forty days, immediately after his baptism. The Jordan baptism need not be shown a substitution for the exoteric Bacchic rites and the libations in honor of Adonis or Adoni -- whom the Nazarenes abhorred -- in order to prove it to have been a sect sprung from the "Mysteries" of the "Secret Doctrine"; and their rites can by no means be confounded with those of the Pagan populace, who had simply fallen into the idolatrous and unreasoning faith of all plebeian multitudes. John was the prophet of these Nazarenes, and in Galilee he was termed "the Saviour," but he was not the founder of that sect which derived its tradition from the remotest Chaldeo-Akkadian theurgy.
The baptism was changed from water to that of the Holy Ghost, undoubtedly in consequence of the ever-dominant idea of the Fathers to institute a reform, and make the Christians distinct from St. John's Nazarenes, the Nabatheans and Ebionites, in order to make room for new dogmas. If baptism is the sign of regeneration, and an ordinance instituted by Jesus, why do not Christians now baptize as Jesus is represented as doing, "with the Holy Ghost and with fire," instead of following the custom of the Nazarenes? In making [his] palpable interpolations, what possible motive could Irenæus have had except to cause people to believe that the appellation of Nazarene, which Jesus bore, came only from his father's residence at Nazareth, and not from his affiliation with the sect of Nazaria, the healers? Water, fire, and spirit, or Holy Ghost, have all their origin in India.
To assure ourselves that Jesus was a true Nazarene -- albeit with ideas of a new reform -- we must not search for the proof in the translated Gospels, but in such original versions as are accessible. Tischendorf, in his translation from the Greek of Luke 4:34, has it, "Iesou Nazarene"; and in the Syriac it reads "Iasous, thou Nazaria." Thus, if we take in account all that is puzzling and incomprehensible in the four Gospels, revised and corrected as they now stand, we shall easily see for ourselves that the true, original Christianity, such as was preached by Jesus, is to be found only in the so-called Syrian heresies. Only from them can we extract any clear notions about what was primitive Christianity. Such was the faith of Paul, when Tertullus the orator accused the apostle before the governor Felix. What he complained of was that they had found "that man a mover of sedition ... a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes"; and, while Paul denies every other accusation, he confesses that "after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers." This confession is a whole revelation. It shows: (1) that Paul admitted belonging to the sect of the Nazarenes; (2) that he worshipped the God of his fathers, not the trinitarian Christian God, of whom he knows nothing, and who was not invented until after his death; and, (3) that this unlucky confession satisfactorily explains why the treatise, Acts of the Apostles, together with John's Revelation, which at one period was utterly rejected, were kept out of the canon of the New Testament for such a length of time.
Our Nazarene sect is known to have existed some 150 years B.C., and to have lived on the banks of the Jordan, and on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea, according to Pliny and Josephus. But in King's Gnostics, we find quoted another statement by Josephus from verse 13, which says that the Essenes had been established on the shores of the Dead Sea "for thousands of ages" before Pliny's time. (King thinks it a great exaggeration and is inclined to believe that these Essenes, who were most undoubtedly Buddhist monks, were "merely a continuation of the associations known as Sons of the Prophets.")
According to Munk the term "Galilean" is nearly synonymous with that of "Nazarene"; furthermore, he shows the relations of the former with the Gentiles as very intimate. The populace had probably gradually adopted, in their constant intercourse, certain rites and modes of worship of the Pagans; and the scorn with which the Galileans were regarded by the orthodox Jews is attributed by him to the same cause.
Munk says that the "Nazireate was an institution established before the laws of Musah." This is evident; as we find this sect not only mentioned but minutely described in Numbers (chap. 6). In the commandment given in this chapter to Moses by the "Lord," it is easy to recognize the rites and laws of the Priests of Adonis. The abstinence and purity strictly prescribed in both sects are identical. Both allowed their hair to grow long, as the Hindu cúnobites and fakirs do to this day, while other castes shave their hair and abstain on certain days from wine. The Prophet Elijah, a Nazarene, is described in II Kings and by Josephus as "a hairy man girt with a girdle of leather." And John the Baptist and Jesus are both represented as wearing very long hair.(1) John is "clothed with camel's hair" and wearing a girdle of hide, and Jesus in a long garment "without any seams" ... "and very white, like snow," says Mark; the very dress worn by the Nazarene Priests and the Pythagorean and Buddhist Essenes, as described by Josephus.
If we carefully trace the terms nazar, and nazaret, throughout the best known works of ancient writers, we will meet them in connection with "Pagan" as well as Jewish adepts. Thus Alexander Polyhistor says of Pythagoras that he was a disciple of the Assyrian Nazaret, whom some suppose to be Ezekiel. Diogenes Laërtius states most positively that Pythagoras, after being initiated into all the Mysteries of the Greeks and barbarians, "went into Egypt and afterward visited the Chaldeans and Magi"; and Apuleius maintains that it was Zoroaster who instructed Pythagoras.
Were we to suggest that the Hebrew nazars, the railing prophets of the "Lord," had been initiated into the so-called Pagan mysteries, and belonged (or at least a majority of them) to the same Lodge or circle of adepts as those who were considered idolaters; that their "circle of prophets" was but a collateral branch of a secret association, which we may well term "international," what a visitation of Christian wrath would we not incur! And still, the case looks strangely suspicious.
THE CHRISTIAN SCHEME
JESUS: A Great Reformer
(Part 22 of a 36-part series)
Back to the
"Christianity in the Light of Theosophy"
complete list of articles.
Back to the full listing containing all of the
"Additional Categories of Articles".
TWO (2) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:
(2) NOTE.--"The Christian Scheme," begun in November, 1967, is collated from the works of H. P. Blavatsky. It recounts the historical background and early development of Christianity.
Back to text.
(1) In relation to the well-known fact of Jesus wearing his hair long, and being always so represented, it becomes quite startling to find how little the unknown Editor of the "Acts" knew about the Apostle Paul, since he makes him say in I Corinthians 11:14. "Doth not Nature itself teach you, that if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?" Therefore, if the passage is genuine, Paul knew nothing of the prophet whose doctrines he had embraced and for which he died; and if false -- how much more reliable is what remains?
Back to text.