A New Testament Reality Check: How Nazareth disappears
by, 19th December 2011 at 03:15 PM (1661 Views)
(Part I @ http://www.volconvo.com/forums/relig...ity-check.html)
Robert Eisenman, Biblical Scholar, anthropologist, teacher and master of ancient languages, writes his book, “James the Brother of Jesus” as an exposition that severely tests the veracity of New Testament narrative on several levels.
For many, it may seem like bad timing to raise these issues now; for me, the timing was always bad and shall remain so--perhaps for years--because I have, in the main, accepted the Bible's testimony as a relevant part of my life and now need the experience of examining my own thoughts in light of other people's responses.
To that end, I hope to see comments as I write this series for anyone who may be interested. The book is important information for individuals who value knowledge.
At the end of Part I Mary is now a perpetual virgin, according to church doctrine sometime in the early 2nd century, and James (called the Zaddik, or the Just One in the Dead Sea Scrolls, “DSS” – 150 BCE TO 70 CE) has all but “disappeared” from subsequent church history. Were it not for the DSS and now Eisenman, we might never have noticed James at all.
The Signs of the Times
In Part I there was something of an outline showing cultural conditions in and around Jerusalem at the beginning of the first century, with roughly five groups in play. It bears repeating:
Passive Hebrews – out in the hinterlands, with a marginal group in Jerusalem
Nationalistic Hebrews – who were constantly agitating to war against the Romans, roaming the countryside, looking for compatriots
The Herodians -- Romans who occasionally married into Jewish culture, Herodion said to have been Paul’s kinsman
The Pharisees and Sadducees – Jews who ingratiated themselves within the Roman culture, Paul being a prime example
The Essenes – A group of Hebrews who had their own community, similar to a monastery, at Qumran (the place of the DSS discoveries)
It is important to know about this cultural diversity to understand how the New Testament has come down to us today.
Gleaned from a host of sources and according to Robert Eisenman, teacher and historian, it is the interaction, plans and schemes among these groups, that resulted in the New Testament’s surviving narrative.
James is at the center of it, as Eisenman sets about making his case for an altogether different narrative—one that did not survive.
The Name Maze
With unrelenting pursuit, Eisenman investigates names as they appear, disappear, interchange and reappear, at will, in the New Testament. His logic is compelling and admirable; he follows every thread to its remarkable conclusion. Especially fascinating are the names and origins of the men that Jesus gathers around himself.
Eisenman makes it clear that their relationships with each other and relatives change from Gospel to Gospel (seeming to take up the same confusion ever-present in writings attributed to Paul—some of whose prose predates the Gospels), with instances converging to such a degree that one could easily become one’s own uncle.
Words mean things
With his meticulous knowledge of ancient Hebrew, Eisenman explains, with a carefully constructed armature of examples, how consonants form the basis for Hebrew names and descriptions, each combination carrying within it definite meanings and messages.
As Eisenman infers, it was either genuine ignorance or deliberate deceit, on the part of translators, that accounts for this “transliteration”—or transposition—of names and conditions. Moreover, many Hebrew consonant combinations don’t easily translate into Greek, i.e. Greek etymology lacks the orthography to accommodate certain consonant juxtapositions. Simply stated, names and places suffered severely in subsequent translations.
Case in Point
The term “Jesus of Nazareth,” is a phrase most Christians recognize. The word Nazareth is a reduction of the word Nazoraean.
For centuries its meaning, stored in the Hebrew root N-Z-R, stems from the original meaning “Keep away from”—to separate one’s self from all “pollution”—to remain disassociated with secularism.
Obviously mistranslated, it is not a location, but a distinctive state of orthodoxy and, when judged against his actions, Nazoraean, or Nazarene as it culminated, most assuredly would not describe the New Testament Jesus.
Not Jesus, but James
The word Nazoraean, however, was an accurate portrayal of James.
According to the DSS, he was a daily “bather,” meaning he was genuinely devoted to remaining a virgin—cold morning ablutions were the reminder of his complete dedication to God.
He lived his life in strict observance of the Laws and Traditions of Hebrew orthodoxy, was held in highest esteem by the general population and praised in the DSS, by the Essenes, as being “perfect before God, from his mother’s womb.” He became a high priest and was head of the church in Jerusalem for 30 years, 37-67 C.E.
In the NT, you can almost hear the name of James being mumbled as a “brother” of Jesus—perhaps he is the “son of Joseph’s former wife”—speculate those who advocate that possibility in view of Mary’s continuing virginity.
And so another case is made for transliteration: the words “Nazoritism,” "Nazarite" and Nazoraean---describing not only James’ ethic and actions in the DSS, but anyone who follows that Tradition---in the New Testament, instead somehow becoming a place—Nazareth---claimed to be Jesus’ location during his formative years.
The town of Nazareth has never existed.0 Thanks, 0 Likes, 0 Dislikes
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