Monday, November 16, 2015

In Search of Ebionite-Nazarene Christianity – 2

James & Brothers

Both the Evyonim of the Qumran community and North Nazarene community and among them extremely respectable men called Nazarites, who were linked to Mount Carmel, Har Karmel, in Northern Israel. The Prophetic School revived by sages like the prophet and nazarite Elijah, was closely related to such mount.

Numbers 6 describes the Nazarites as people entirely devoted to God: they ate no meat, drank no alcohol, nor made sacrifices of animals in the temple and wore long hair.

Aren´t these customs similar to those described by Epiphanius in reference to the pre-christian Nazarenes?

Among the mythic nazarites we find Samson, Samuel, Elijah, John the Baptist and James the Just, the apostle and full brother of Jesus (Yeshua).

About Jacob the Just –Yaakob ha Tzadik–, there is plenty of historical information and we know he was murdered in the Passover of 62 CE, at hands of the Sanhedrin judges, commanded by the nephew of Caiaphas, the accuser of Yeshua.

Jerome, Father of the Church, hands down that James kept perpetual nazarite vows, not just temporary -like those of of Paul (Acts 18:18). He cites Hegesippus the Nazarene in that regard [1]:

After the apostles, James [Jacob] the brother of the Master surnamed the Just was made head of the assembly at Jerusalem. Many indeed are called James. This one was holy from his mother's womb. He drank neither wine nor strong drink, ate no flesh, never shaved or anointed himself with ointment or bathed [in public baths]. He alone had the privilege of entering the Holy of Holies, since indeed he did not use woolen vestments but linen [like the Essenes] and went alone into the temple and prayed in behalf of the people, insomuch that his knees were reputed to have acquired the hardness of camels' knees
Lost Commentaries of Hegesippus by Jerome

Clement of Alexandria and other Doctors of the Church acknowledged that James was the first head of the Nazarene Church, and not Simon Cephas (Peter), contrary to what many believe.
James, to whom people used to call the Just due to his outstanding virtue, was, as attested on the records, the first to be chosen for the Episcopal throne of the Church of Jerusalem–Eusebius of Cesare, Ecclesiatical History.

All this is a real gem that might rekindle the true faith of those who disbelieve coca-cola light Christianities.

Anecdotes aside, we are not sure that all Nazarenes kept perpetual Nazarite vows, although their life was very pure, which in no way means they all were celibate.

In fact, the data provided in the New Testament suggests that there were women and children among the Nazarenes, as it happened with the Qumran community, whose documents include rules of behavior for them.

The Canonical Gospels even speak of the carnal sisters and brothers of Jesus [Mark 6: 3, Matthew 12:46, Luke 8: 19-20].

Among them we find: James, Joses, Judas, Simeon, Mary and Salome. And they are clearly distinguished from his spiritual brothers or Apostles, although James was both things.

We should not forget that James the Just appears written as such in the Greek and Latin Vulgate version of the Gospels: Ἰάκωβος and Iacob. However, among the various alterations introduced to disguise the Gospels, we find the miraculous change of Jacob the Just for James the Just, who was also nicknamed "first cousin of Jesus," following the theory of Jerome. Others joined Epiphaniu's view and called him "brother in law". Positions accepted by the Roman and Orthodox churches respectively, for fear to accept that mother Mary had “carnal sons”.

All funny attempts to loop the loop, result of throwing away the Key of Knowledge (Luke 11:52).

Even Doctors of the Church like Clement and Origen recognized the Gospels were allegories not explained to common people that would not understand them. Yet, in the course of time, those who forgot those roots remained orphans, unable to see and hear.

Thus, many still ignore that the doctrine of the virgin birth has a special meaning in Hebrew mysticism and other cultures:

Every candidate for the Kingdom of Heaven must be born of  Water and Spirit (John 3:5), that is, go through a purification and be born out of the Holy Spirit, the manifestation of the Love and Light-Mind emanated by the Father, and mediated by the Son.

Once the spiritual soul or baby in Christ is born, it needs to develop up to the stage of kid of light, to be instructed:

If you do not become like little children, you cannot enter the Kingdom.

This was the meaning of Ebionites, poor of pride or humble. 

Only then can one be led into the Way and find in the Kingdom of Spirit within–and before physical death, not after, otherwise the process has to be repeated in the regeneration or palingenesia (usually mistaken with reincarnation, which requires a higher level, since the incarnation of a soul is very hard).

By the way, this second birth is the core of Buddha´s teachings. He is also described as born of a virgin in the sacred myth, like other messengers in sacred narratives.

Here lies one of the controversies concerning the Ebionites. They believed in spiritual virginity but denied the carnal virginity of Yeshua´s mother.

And this caused confusion among the Doctors of the Church.

Origen and Epiphanius (Ecc Hist III, 27) said they knew Ebionites who accepted the virgin birth, but in general, the Ebionites were considered as those who denied the carnal virginity, while accepting a spiritual one:

[The Ebionites] represented Jesus as having not been born of a virgin, but as being the son of Joseph and Mary according to the ordinary course of human generation, while he nevertheless was more righteous, prudent, and wise than other men. Moreover, after his baptism, Christ descended upon him in the form of a dove from the Supreme Ruler, and that then he proclaimed the unknown Father, and performed miracles–Irenaeus, Doctrines of Cerinthus, Book I, Ch 26.

And with regard to the Neo-Nazarenes that came after the second century, it was said that they accepted the virginity of Mary. However, Epiphanius claimed that it was not clear whether they deemed Jesus as a mere man or born of the Holy Spirit and Mary at the same time (Heresies, 29:7).

This is an issue that has no mystery for those who have ears.

Notwithstanding, to clear up doubts, Paul himself called James the Just the brother of the Lord in Galatians 1:19, appellation which he does not apply neither to Peter nor John, being these also brothers, but in spirit. What's more, Paul distinguishes them from the full brothers:

Do we not have authority to bring with us a sister, a wife, as also the other apostles and as the brothers of the Lord and Cephas [Peter]? –1 Corinthians 9: 5

It´s worth mentioning that the Ebionites Qumran called each other brothers and sisters, regardless of being carnal or not.

However, such sense of spiritual brotherhood was abandoned by self-proclaimed “christians” that came to hate them and hide their precious legacy.

Such early Ebionite legacy was not published until the 70´s, that is, 30 years after its discovery in Qumran in 1947. When the area came under the control of Israeli government during the Six Day War (1967), the Dominican scholars of the École Biblique lost the monopoly over the scroll studies, and the gate remained accesible to open-minded researchers,  who soon published the first translations and investigations that came to suggest a review of the history of Christianity, since those who called themselves The Poor, had ideas and customs identical to the followers of Yeshua.

Blessed are the poor [the evyonim], for theirs is the Kingdom.

In Galatians 2:10 Paul tells the following:

All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along

Such request came from the three pillars of the Nazarene Church -Yaakob, Simon and Yojanan-, and it was made just when Paul was given permission to carry the Gospel of heart circumcission to idolater gentiles, and more specifically to the lost sheep of Israel (spiritual humanity).

Some details in Acts and the Letters seem to indicate that Paul certainly endeavored to meet such request, raising money on his trips to help the Evyonim. Although there is no evidence that such collection was accepted or even welcomed by them. If there was already some distance between the Pauline Church and the Nazarene Church of Jerusalem, with the Evyonim there seems to be a smaller contact, since these lived completely apart.

What can no longer be put into question is the fact that the Essene Ebionites and the Nazarene Church, or even the Pauline judeochr istian congregation, were inheritors of the renewed Teaching of the Master and thus trustees and custodians of it, having the task of keeping it without idolatric alterations.

Unfortunately, that request made to Paul was not welcomed by paganized Christians, who condemned the Key of Knowledge and pruned its roots, getting poisoned with the idolatric mentality of Rome, introducing cult to material idols, gross alterations in the Gospels and as we have see, promoting anti-Semitic information against those whose only aim was to preserve the roots.

Another unfortunate case was that of the Neo-Nazarenes, who in spite of trying to return to the roots after the rupture of the Church in 135 C.E, they fell into some form of farisaic Judaism, although their intention was also noble.

Paul and his first Nazarene-Katholic congregations were never romanized. Actually they were persecuted and massacred by the Romans, keeping their connection with the roots. This leaves them within the circle of apostolic legitimacy.

More details on that will be shown in the next article on the Way.

[1] Quoted by Robert Eisenman in James, the brother of Jesus. Well documented work with bold theories, but with certain interpretations that do not consider the allegorical meaning of the Clementine Homilies attributed one ebionitas the III-IV century.

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