This Nasara-Nazirites (vs Nazarene) addition/page has two bookends if you will, a required front and back historical context. The front-bookend is this… most everyone is familiar with John the Baptist, a cousin of Jesus, and his ritual of cleansing through water immersion. But John the Baptist is part of the back-end bookend. Let me explain.
This Jewish ritual of immersion or bathing happened to be a critical ritual among the Essean-Essenes of Qumran made clear through their Dead Sea Scrolls and hinted in the Canonical New Testament. James the Just, or James the brother of Jesus, can be adequately inferred from Acts 21 and other Jewish sources to have been a Nazirite, and indirectly by Saul/Paul in Acts 18, by Hegesippus quoted by Eusebius, and Epiphanius of Salamis as well. These associations are very important because the early Greco-Roman Christian Church (followed later by the Vatican) did not understand rural Jewish sectarianism. Furthermore, over time the early Greco-Roman Christian Church attempted repeatedly to dissociate Jesus completely from his historical time and culture — i.e. the direct and undeniable influence of Second Temple Torah-Judaism, sectarian culture upon Jesus — and is reflected in Jesus’ attempts to ritualistically inaugurate a sacred Messianic Kingdom of God on Earth. Jesus most likely had an amalgamation of Essean-Essene rituals as well as Nazirite-Nasara rituals that the Pharisees and priests inside Jerusalem and the Temple had serious contentions with. The canonical Gospels portray portions of this contentiousness, however, the Dead Sea Scrolls further expand the context verifying the real strife/angst of the period among Jews and with the Romans. The Nazirite separation, set apart lifestyle also corroborated, and in ways inflamed the rising polarization of these Jewish groups and Roman authorities. Those very same volatile dynamics are subtly found throughout the Canonical Gospel narrations. All the same, the Nazirite distinction was not to a fixed locale, but to a higher commitment of purity. Nazirites were found not only in Galilee, but in other small pockets of Samaria, Aram-Syria, Palestina and Nabataea in and near modern Arabia. Enter Saul/Paul:
“I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus. Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days.” — Galatians 1:17-18
Why Arabia? What was so important there to spend 2-3 years before consulting the Jerusalem Church for further understanding of Jesus’ idea of Messiahship and the Kingdom of God on Earth? The most compelling answer is Jesus’ and John the Baptist’s dual link to the Arabian Nasoraens-Nasara-Nazirites, their vows of sanctification, and their own Scriptural exegesis about Israel’s savior/Messiah in their traditions. These were higher forms of Torah-observant purity for this tangible kingdom. Paul probably wanted to know and understand the Nazirite lifestyle, and not from within Jerusalem. Arabia somehow had his answers or perhaps rites to admission and authority with James, Peter(?), and the disciples(?) — the backside bookend and the latter parts of this page.
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Nazirite: Sacred Volunteers
An extensive in-depth understanding of what a Nazir-Nazirite means from the Jewish Tanakh, who/what they were, coupled with all accumulated archaeology of Israel/Palestine the last 40-80 years reveals to a neutral bystander (i.e. without Christian biases and teachings) that “Nazareth” was a place, yes. It was/is above the lowlands of the Valley of Jezreel/Esdraelon. But in authentic Jewish priestly history going back to 1200 BCE it isn’t the geographical location that has any importance. In fact, in Jewish kohanim/priestly tradition it’s insignificant. It’s much more about the person/people and their vows/sacredness!
From the 1st-century BCE until the end of the 6th-century CE Nazareth was a tiny hamlet/region of no more than 50 small homes on a mere 4-acres of land, populated by very poor-or-moderate-meaned Jews. This was exactly how Nazirites would be expected to live. The tiny area in Galilee was never worth mentioning anywhere in the Tanakh or Hebrew Bible, nor among Gentiles, even by the Jews unfamiliar with the region or people. But “Nazarene” and “Nazareth” (Greek words, not Hebrew) are wrong translations by naive Greco-Roman Gentiles and later Greek Apostolic/Patristic Church Fathers and Archbishops. Nowhere in the Jewish Tanakh is the Messiah(s) referred to as a Nazarene.
About four decades later after Jesus’ death Greco-Roman Gospel copyists attempting to record many oral circulations about Jesus, intentionally or mistakenly retrofitted into Matthew the Hebrew word Netser (“shoot”) to connect Jesus the “Nazarene” to the line of King David as found in Isaiah 11:1. This is wrong. Greco-Roman Gospel copyists also have tried the Hebrew word Natsar (“guard” or “keep”) for the same reason, but this is wrong as well. Both of those Hebrew words are not connected to or reference Jewish Messiah(s). What these Gospel copyists were attempting, likely under the supervision/commission of the early Hellenic Church Fathers and Archbishops over their shoulders, was to fire prophetic Greek Christ-arrows into the books of the Hebrew Tanakh. When preferable passages fit their Greek Gentile-Christ they drew the bulls-eye around their Christ-arrows and called it fulfilled
Messianic Christ prophesy before Jesus’ birth, even before God created Earth and the Garden of Eden! As I demonstrate in my blog-posts Christ: The Roman Ruse and Constantine: Christianity’s True Catalyst/Christ this was a long established Hellenistic peace-keeping or policing tradition of absorbing some foreign ideas, cultural concepts, and religions then overhauling them for their own needs and call it right, true, for the glory of Rome.
To be further clear, nowhere in the Jewish Tanakh does Messiah(s) equate to or reference a Nazirite or the Messiah(s) taking those vows and ascetic lifestyle. On the other hand, nor does the Jewish Tanakh exclude an “anointed” priestly Messiah(s) with an added secondary benefit of past Nazirite vows and lifestyle. For the true authentic Second Temple Jewish Messiah(s), Nazir qualities and its background are not qualifying or disqualifying. What proper Tanakh exegesis dictated was that there are six (6) critical, non-negotiable requisites for Messiahship. It was the early Greco-Roman Church Fathers/Archbishops, with the imperial support of Roman Emperors, that convoluted, defaced, and vandalized authentic Jewish Messianism. The Jewish Rabbis I have corresponded with on this research all agree on this: Rome completely maimed their true, pure Messianic doctrines found in authentic Hebrew Scriptures. Period.
The Perazah-Nazirites were known by many similar names not associated to a geographical longitudinal-latitudinal coordinate. The variations really described the people’s vows and strict ascetic lifestyle which included rites of bathing or baptism according to the Mishnah and the Tosefta (Numbers 6:1-21). In the Tosefta these Nazirite laws are titled Nezirute (“Nazariteship”). Outside of the correct context and connotation of 1) the Mishnah, 2) the Tosefta, 3) the vows and lifestyle they demanded, 4) sacrifices of a lamb, 5) offering bread, 6) abstinence from wine/grapes of the vine, and 7) the true Hebrew definition of Nazir which means “consecrated” or “separated”… the Hebrew variations talk/describe mostly the person/people/group — who by the way traveled a lot. It doesn’t really pertain to a specific spot of land, or town, or village. This was incorrectly attributed by the Greek-Hellenic mistranslated word, much less our modern “Christian™” definition!
Immersion or Baptism
The Essene contributions of ritual baptism and inauguration of Jesus’ Kingdom of God on Earth cannot be ignored. The idea that Messiahship was strictly an Old Testament principle was cast aside when the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran were translated. Instead, biblical scholars and historians such as W. H. Brownlee and Marcello Craveri, assert that Jesus’ cousin John (the Baptist) was most likely a key figure of the Essene community. Both scholars note that John’s exhortations of repentance through immersion was practically identical to that of the Essene teachings found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The present-day archaeological site at Qumran has three mikveh baths for ritual immersion. The connections, dare say, direct connections between the Essenes influence upon Jesus are numerous. Perhaps the two most striking similarities are the Essene eucharistic meal of bread and wine. The other similarity are the Qumran scrolls speaking of a great teacher, a Teacher of Righteousness, who in some texts is yet to come and in other texts who has already come, adding further that this Teacher has suffered martyrdom and reappeared to his followers.
In Galatians 1:19-20 Paul/Saul writes:
“But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord’s brother. (Now in what I am writing to you, I assure you before God that I am not lying.)” — NASB
These four verses in Galatians, along with other related verses, are a distressing conundrum for fundamental Christians. The usual treatment of these verses is to quickly bypass them, sweep them under the academia-carpet, if you will. What is very strange about Paul in Arabia is not only that he spent three whole years there, but why did Paul not say hardly anything about that stay or its significance and purpose later in his many epistles? Obviously it was more important to go to Arabia before Jerusalem. Why?
Historian and researcher Kamal S. Salibi of the University of London and American University of Beirut, picks up on two anomalies with Paul’s decision after conversion on the road to Damascus — not to mention his “miraculous” healing from blindness by Ananias there — and why Paul felt the need to emphasize he was not lying (v. 20) to his followers in Galatia. Once he returns to Damascus three years later with whatever he has learned or found, then he goes to Jerusalem to see only Peter and Jesus’ blood-brother James. Salibi finds it very interesting that the blood-brother of Jesus, like Paul, is a latecomer, maybe even a party-crasher. James the brother is utterly unknown one minute, then head of the apostles in Jerusalem the next — and with no prior credentials. Yet, maybe his name and blood did indeed amount to all the best credentials? Paul’s encounters/meetings with Peter and James the brother are peculiar, intriguing, as well as enlightening to Nazirite-Essene lifestyles.
An expanded Jewish-Hebrew study of John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin (probably undeniably a Nazarite too) and James the Just — why he was described as “the Just” by Eusebius — was in all probabilities a Nazirite attribution. The narrations of these three men’s associations in the New Testament are not merely wrong Greek interpretations/diversions of ‘Jesus from the hamlet Nazareth,’ they can infer—from several New Testament passages in Mark 14, Luke 1 and 22, and Acts 18, 21, and 24—that Jesus, his cousin, and his blood brother James were undeniably associated with the Nazirites.
Sectarian Essenes of Qumran (Dead Sea Scrolls), Samaritans, and somewhat with the Ebionites, had many corresponding themes with Jesus, James, and John the Baptist, all of which can be agreed upon by Christian and Secular scholars/historians alike, were at serious odds with the Temple worship and priests in Jerusalem held/performed by Hellenic-Herodian Jews.
And why does Paul feel the need to stress he isn’t lying in Galatians 1:20? Fourteen years go by before Paul ever returns to Jerusalem, that is fourteen years without Nazarean-Nasara-Nazirite ordination of apostleship. A total of 17-years pass before Paul receives his official apostolic recognition from James during his second visit to Jerusalem. The fact that Paul swears before God that he is telling the entire truth is indicative that there was some other story about Paul’s authority already circulating around Anatolia. See Gospel of the Nazarenes.
The fact that Paul’s journey to Arabia has been meticulously rearranged into another variation story suggests, among other things, that the Nazarene apostles of Jesus had something to hide and/or they did not want to give authority to Paul based upon an epileptic roadside vision and healing. So what was in Arabia that was so important? With the assistance of Michael Goulder (Trinity College, Oxford and Cambridge) and French philosopher Simone Pétrement (author of A Separate God: The Origins & Teachings of Gnosticism), we can find the three-pronged roots of Paul’s Neo-Christology: Judaism, Arabian Nasara-Nasorean, and to the surprise of many, Samaritan.
Goulder finds five trademarks of Paul’s ‘Divine Man‘ Jesus also found in Samaritan beliefs:
- God is experienced not through history but through revelation of Scripture;
- God’s revelation was in the form of ‘secrets’ and ‘mysteries’ and formed a ‘wisdom’ or ‘knowledge’ of God known only to an élite;
- God is a duality;
- God manifested himself and stood by Moses as a ‘physical incarnation’ (Joshua?); and
- God would some day send a prophet like Moses.
This sheds light upon Paul’s strange sometime incoherent theological developments. When he arrived back in Judea-Palestine, his new ideas were at serious odds with Nazarene beliefs about Jesus. But Simone Pétrement puts the final clarifying touches on Paul’s three-pronged influences.
Pétrement makes the direct connection between the sect of Nazarenes to the Dosithean Samaritans, a sect older than the Sadducees. These are the Dosithean beliefs, ironically the same as those of the Ebionites who are also known to be closely related in beliefs and practices to the Nazarenes, given to Jesus by earliest Samaritan Christians. Dositheos (or ‘gift of God‘) was:
- Jewish and not Samaritan;
- he was Christ for the Samaritans;
- he claimed to be a saviour figure;
- his disciples believed him to be alive and not dead;
- he prescribed baptism or baths for those wishing to join his faith;
- he had been a disciple of John the Baptist and had succeeded him;
- he was the founder of the Ebionites;
- the Dositheans were also called Nazarenes; and
- the Dositheans were Christian heretics, or, more precisely, they were among those constituting the transition between Jewish heresies and Christian heresies.
It is worthy as gold to note that there are only two passages in the New Testament where the title of “Gift of God” (Dositheos) appears, and both passages are linked contextually with Samaria. Why the mixing and interchangeable names and identities all throughout the New Testament? Intentional or gross ignorance?
Please note that this page is a very truncated elaboration of the Arabian Nasara-Nazarenes connection and Paul’s blatant early conflict with the Nazarenes, or Judeo-Christians (as popularly known today) in Jerusalem such as Peter and Jesus’ blood-brother James.
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