Re: [Synoptic-L] Early Beliefs
- I was very interested, Jack, by your e-mail on this subject. Like you, I have long pondered as to whether Jesus thought that he was the Messiah. Desperate situations demand divine remedies and, as you rightly point out, apocalypticism was at a fever pitch in Palestine in the 1st century. Like you, I believe that Zoroastrian beliefs about a coming Saviour had a big impact on Judaism. I think we also have to bear in mind that the Jews were not systematic theologians, nor did they all sing from the same hymn sheet, as witnessed by the DSS listing two Messiahs as you mention. The Book of Enoch is clearly influenced by Zoroastrianism and it was highly regarded, as witness the Episle of Jude. The only problem is that no trace in the DSS has been found of Chapters 37-71 which is the part always quoted, which makes one wonder whether they circulated in Palestine at that time. Like Manson, I am convinced that the Pharisees were so called because they were the Persianizers, since it is Zoroastrian beliefs that distinguish Pharisaism from Sadduceeism. It seems to me possible that the Danielic Enochian Son of Man at some stage became fused with the classic Davidic Messiah figure in apocalyptic beliefs about the eschaton. It is perfectly possible that Jesus at some stage was convinced that that is what he was. The crucial question to my mind is the following. Would his followers have believed, after the crucifixion, that he was the Messiah/Son of Man if he had never given them to believe so before his death? Why the titulus if there was no Messianic claim ? It was the Messianic claim that enabled the hierocracy to get him crucified by the Romans for sedition.
One thing is certain, this discussion will run and run.
----- Original Message -----
From: Jack Kilmon
Sent: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 6:24 PM
Subject: Re: [Synoptic-L] Early Beliefs
Sent: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 12:22 AM
Subject: Re: [Synoptic-L] Early Beliefs
> To: Synoptic
> Cc: GPG
> In Response To: Dennis Goffin
> On: Early Beliefs
> From: Bruce
> The question is: How new were the teachings of Jesus, and how opposed
> were they to the conventional Judaism with which he was in immediate
> contact during his lifetime?
> BRUCE (quoted by Dennis): No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an
> old garment; if he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from
> the old, and a worse tear is made" (Mk 2:18 [should have been 2:21 -
> EBB]). And so on.This amounts to a statement that Jesus's doctrines
> are not only distinctive within previous Judaism, they are
> incompatible with previous Judaism.
> DENNIS (quoting Brandon): Brandon says "Jesus is represented as
> pronouncing on the obsolescence of Judaism. The attempt made by Jewish
> Christians to adapt Christianity to Judaism was hopeless - new wine
> cannot be held in old wine skins. The ruin of the temple in AD70 (of
> which the Roman Christians were well aware from the triumph held by
> Vespasian and Titus in AD 71) had ended the compromise which the
> Jerusalem Christians had sought to maintain, and now Christianity was
> free of its Judaistic swaddling bands." [Page 266 in the chapter 'The
> Markan Gospel' from "Jesus and the Zealots".] Brandon dates Mark's
> Gospel to 71 AD.
Jesus' statements were distinctive within Mosaic Judaism.
I apologize for the length but this is a new approach and requires
The issue is how Jesus saw himself and I think it is clear he did not
believe himself to be the Messiah. I think he was hijacked by the latter
first centuries high christologists as the Davidic Messiah (There were
supposed to be two, a Davidic and a priestly) and the birth in Bethlehem and
sojourn and exit from Egypt were theologoumena to support this. In many
ways the Enochian literature is even more supernatural fantasy
but in this context a righteous person is elected to be the Barnasha at a
time of great need.
The evolution from the historical Yeshua bar Yahosef (Yes, there was one) to
the "Christ of Faith" was a century in the making. In the corpus of Jesus'
sayings preserved in the Gospels, there is not one claim to be the Pharisaic
Messiah. The hope and expectation for this prophesied "Knight on a white
stallion" was intense among the beleaguered am ha-aretz who saw this mythic
savior in numerous "fire and brimstone" preachers who roamed the
countryside. Jesus refers to himself repeatedly (over 30 times by my count)
as the Bar Nasha...the "Son of Man." There were two uses for this term in
the 1st century. One was an Aramaic idiom, "a son of man" that refers to a
person or a human. The context of Jesus' sayings, however, refer to the
Danielic-Enochian "Son of Man."
Forgive me for the length of this and also, as the "follow the Aramaic" guy,
for use of "Yeshua" instead of "Jesus." I tend to separate the historical
Jesus by his Aramaic name from the high Christological "Christ of Faith."
There is a ton of literature on Yeshua's use of his self-description as the
bar nasha (Son of Man) and disagreements on what that meant. If the Dead
Sea Scroll corpus is a good barometer, the late 2nd temple period saw an
emergence of Daniel-Enochian fervor. In both Daniel and the Enochian
literature, the "son of man" plays a central role.
Yeshua himself, NOT ONCE, refers to himself with certainty as the Messiah
but instead refers to himself as the bar nasha of Aramaic Daniel and
Enoch..."coming on the clouds, etc." It was Paul of Tarsus...hostile to the
Nazarenes, who conferred the name of XRISTOS on Yeshua in his reconstruction
of Yeshua as the Pauline "Christ Crucified" but was it Paul who refashioned
him as the savior/Messiah?
The cradle from which both Jewish and Christian "mysticism" arose was
Enochian apocalypticism, the same cradle from which post-destruction Ma'asei
Merkavah (which would eventually develop into Kabbala) and the Hekhalot
literature arose which deals with "mystical" ascents into heaven.
If you are pursuing the ancient Jewish sources that was the base material
for the young Jesus, I would tell you to read the considerable Enochian
now available thanks to the Qumran texts. The Books of Enoch and their
related texts, Jubilees, Giants, Weeks, Parables, Watchers, Testimonies of
the 12 Patriarchs, Dreams, etc. Enochian apocalypticism is a reflection of
a Mesopotamian alternative to Mosaic" Judaism with its focus on Enmeduranki,
the 7th antediluvian king of Sippar in the Sumerian Chronicles and a
counterpart (or model) for Enoch.
There was a considerable influence by Zoroastrianism on Judaism as a result
to the Babylonian Captivity after which the brought the Enochian traditions
to Jerusalem upon the return. The Jerusalem priests at that time hated the
Enochian Jews (and it has always been my position that Jesus was an Enochian
Jew) who supported the Maccabees thereby gaining favor with the Hasmoneans.
These Enochian Jews became, IMO, the Essenes who developed serious issues
with the Hasmonean priest-kings. This is why the Dead Sea Scrolls are
strongly Enochian. This is why this is relevant in time, place and social
and political anthropology to Jesus.
The Jewish Nazarenes were heirs, IMO, to the Enochian traditions but
Gentile Christianity imported a constellation of influences from
Graeco-Roman sources. That Enochian Judaism was alternative to Mosaic
nomian Judaeism can explain why Enoch was not included in the Rabbinical
Quoted in the Book of Jude:
"And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones To execute
judgement upon all, And to destroy all the ungodly: And to convict all flesh
of all the works of their ungodliness which they have ungodly committed, And
of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him."
Other references to the SON OF MAN in Enoch:
"And there I saw One who had a head of days, And His head was white like
wool, And with Him was another being whose countenance had the appearance of
a man, And his face was full of graciousness, like one of the holy angels. 2
And I asked the angel who went with me and showed me all the hidden things,
concerning that 3 Son of Man, who he was, and whence he was, (and) why he
went with the Ancient of Days? And he answered and said unto me: This
is the Son of Man who hath righteousness, With whom dwelleth righteousness,
And who revealeth all the treasures of that which is hidden, Because the
Lord of Hosts hath chosen him, And whose lot hath the pre-eminence before
the Lord of Hosts in uprightness for ever." (Part 8 Chapter 46:1-3)
You will note the midrashic relevance between the above in Enoch and
the account of the transfiguration.
1 And in that place I saw the fountain of righteousness Which was
inexhaustible: And around it were many fountains of wisdom: And all the
thirsty drank of them, And were filled with wisdom, And their dwellings were
with the righteous and holy and elect. 2 And at that hour that Son of Man
was named In the presence of the Lord of Hosts, And his name before the
Ancient of Days. 3 Yea, before the sun and the signs were created, Before
the stars of the heaven were made, His name
was named before the Lord of Hosts. 4 He shall be a staff to the righteous
whereon to stay themselves and not fall, And he shall be the light of the
Gentiles, And the hope of those who are troubled of heart. 5 All who dwell
on earth shall fall down and worship before him, And will praise and bless
and celebrate with song the Lord of Hosts. 6 And for this reason hath he
been chosen and hidden before Him, Before the creation of the world and for
evermore. 7 And the wisdom of the Lord of Hosts hath revealed him to the
holy and righteous; For he hath preserved the lot of the righteous, Because
they have hated and despised this world of unrighteousness, And have hated
all its works and ways in the name of the Lord of Hosts: For in his name
they are saved, And according to his good pleasure hath it been in regard to
their life. (Part 8 Chapter 48:1-7)
The Book of Daniel, like Enoch, was written originally in Aramaic. It
contains the most famous reference to the SON OF MAN.
חזה הוית בחזוי ליליא וארו עם־ענני שׁמיא כבר אנשׁ אתה הוה ועד־עתיק יומיא
מטה וקדמוהי הקרבוהי׃ 14 ולה יהיב שׁלטן ויקר ומלכו וכל עממיא אמיא ולשׁניא לה
יפלחון שׁלטנה שׁלטן עלם די־לא יעדה ומלכותה פ
13 I saw in the night-visions, and, behold, there came with the clouds of
the sky one like a son of man (כבר אנש [kibar 'anash]), and he came even to
the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14 There was
given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations,
and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be
Yeshua spoke of himself, just as above in Daniel, at Matthew 24:30 And
then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all
the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in
the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
.....and at Matthew 26:64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said:
nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting
on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
As you can see, Yeshua refers to himself as the SON OF MAN (Aramaic bar
nasha) of Daniel and Enoch and not, IMO, as simply the bar nash/a idiom for
"just a guy."
Now let's see how many times Yeshua calls himself the bar nasha (son of
man)...he never referred to himself with certainty or non-cryptically as
Matthew 8:20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds
of the air [have] nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay [his]
There is not a doubt in my mind that "L'tha'le neqe'a ith lehon walaparakhta
d'shmaya matlela labareh den d'nasha layt leh ayka d'ysmok resheh" (Mt.
8:20) is an imagery derived from Aramaic Enoch Parables 42.
Matthew 9:6 ;10:23 ; 11:19 ;12:8; 12:32 ;12:40; 13:37; 13:41;16:13 ;16:27;
16:28; 17:9; 17:12; 17:22; 18:11; 19:28; 20:18; 20:28; 24:27; 24:30; 24:37;
24:39; 24:44; 25:13; 25:31; 26:2; 26:24; 26:45;26:64
Jesus is reported by Matthew alone to have claimed to have been the SON OF
MAN (bar nasha) of Daniel and Enoch THIRTY TIMES....so why don't we believe
Jesus/Yeshua was indeed, IMO, an apocalyptic herald of the imminent malkutha
d'alaha (Kingdom of God) in the Enochian tradition and, as such, outside of
"normative" Mosaic Judaism. I think there are other indicators that this
"Son of Man" from the ancient of days could be "Lord of the Sabbath" as well
as the Mosaic laws (seen in the formula "It is written" or "You have
heard"...ABC "but *I* tell you"...XYZ).
So yes, he was apocalyptic but, in his mind, just not a "sage" but THE bar
nasha the apocalyptic redeemer of Daniel 7:13-14.
Some scholars believe that Jesus himself uniquely conflated the image of the
Bar Nasha with that of the Messiah but I do not think so. The concept of
his being the Messiah was, IMO, layered on top of his image/reputation by
some of his own followers who came from the Pharisaic influenced am ha-aretz
and that reputation as an annointed "king" may have contributed to his
execution by the Romans.
I think Enoch fashioned Jesus and after his crucifixion someone refashioned
him as the Davidic Messiah, more palatable to 1st century Jews, rather than
the Enochian Son of Man, perhaps his brother Ya'qub.
San Antonio, TX
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- To: GPG
In Response To: Keith Yoder
On: Mark and John
Thanks to Keith for his additional notes on recasting of previous
tradition in John. The subject is a large one, with its own special
interest, and all points are welcome.
One of the skills needed by the successful churchman is the grace to
respond politely when presented with a Festschrift which is small,
undistinguished, and full of internal rancor, one author using his
space to trash the opinion of another author about the date and
authenticity of 1 Peter. Such was the crisis which must have
confronted the dedicatee when he was handed Sherman E Johnson, The Joy
of Study: Papers on New Testament and Related Subjects Presented to
Honor Frederick Clifton Grant (Macmillan 1951).
Fred his my sympathy in that moment.
Nevertheless, there are some shreds of interest in the thing. One is
the paper by Sydney Temple (University of Massachusetts, no less) on
Geography and Climate in the Fourth Gospel. He makes what looks to me
like a good case that the author of John knew Palestinian geography
and its seasons very well: when a certain ford was passable, when the
court migrated from Jerusalem to Jericho, when the high road through
Samaria would have been preferable to the more obvious lowland one.
Does this mean that John, being more cogent about geography than it
seems Mark always was, knew Palestine, and Mark did not? That might be
a rash conclusion. But with Temple's data in mind, we can at least say
that he had done his homework, not only on the calendar, but on the
E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts