Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Chapter Eight

In the end there is a dizzying array of material which can be used to make the case for our 'Jesus' as the heavenly Godman ish.  But to get there we have to began to think critically about the context with which Christianity came to us.  We know very little about the first century of the new religion.  Leaving aside the question of the reliability of the historical record that has come down us, the gospel of Mark could only have been written at the end of Jewish War with Rome - that is 70 CE.  The first real history that we encounter that needs to be taken seriously is the recorded debates between Justin and his Jewish opponent Trypho which seem to have taken place somewhere in Greece around 150 CE.

Ignoring those who argue for the authenticity of the canonical Acts of the Apostles, we come back time and again to Justin as our only real window into the early Christian landscape.  That isn't to say that the Dialogue itself ever represented something akin to 'verbatim reporting' of an actual debate.  We are so starved for information that in the end we have to latch on to something and Justin is as good a place to start as any.  We pick up the debate at the point where Justin has just cited Genesis chapter 18 - the same material we spent a great deal of time examining in the last chapter.  Justin's purpose is to demonstrate that the Godman of Christianity should be familiar to his Jewish opponents if they were indeed familiar with their actual traditions.  Since they don't know him, Justin concludes, they clearly don't have an authoritative understanding of the Bible.

His opponent confesses that his authority has less to do with religious instruction than philosophical studies.  Trypho apparently fled Palestine at the onset of the last great revolt of Jews against the Roman state - i.e. c. 135 CE.  He received philosophical instruction under a certain 'Corinthos of the school of Socrates in Argos.'  To this end we must surmise that his actual acquaintance with the Jewish religion was rather superficial.  It might well be possible that the Samaritan convert to Christianity with whom he is debating has more authority than him in religious matters.  So we read Justin declare:

And when I had made an end of quoting these words (i.e. the details surrounding the visit of the three men to Abraham in Genesis chapter 18), I asked them if they had understood them.  And they said they had understood them, but that the passages adduced brought forward no proof that there is any other God or Lord, or that the Holy Spirit says so, besides the Maker of all things.

Then I replied, "I shall attempt to persuade you, since you have understood the Scriptures, of what I say, that there is, and that there is said to be, another God and Lord subject to the Maker of all things; who is also called an Angel, because He announces to men whatsoever the Maker of all things- above whom there is no other God - wishes to announce to them."

And quoting once more the previous passage, I asked Trypho, "Do you think that God appeared to Abraham under the oak in Mature, as the Scripture asserts?"

He said, "Assuredly."

"Was He one of those three," I said, "whom Abraham saw, and whom the Holy Spirit of prophecy describes as men?"

He said, "No; but God appeared to him, before the vision of the three. Then those three whom the Scripture calls men, were angels; two of them sent to destroy Sodom, and one to announce the joyful tidings to Sarah, that she would bear a son; for which cause he was sent, and having accomplished his errand, went away."

"How then," said I, "does the one of the three, who was in the tent, and who said, 'I shall return to thee hereafter, and Sarah shall have a son,' appear to have returned when Sarah had begotten a son, and to be there declared, by the prophetic word, God? ..."

And Trypho said, "Certainly; but you have not proved from this that there is another God besides Him who appeared to Abraham, and who also appeared to the other patriarchs and prophets. You have proved, however, that we were wrong in believing that the three who were in the tent with Abraham were all angels."

I replied again, "If I could not have proved to you from the Scriptures that one of those three is God, and is called Angel, because, as I already said, He brings messages to those to whom God the Maker of all things wishes messages to be brought, then in regard to Him who appeared to Abraham on earth in human form in like manner as the two angels who came with Him, and who was God even before the creation of the world, it were reasonable for you to entertain the same belief as is entertained by the whole of your nation."

"Assuredly," he said, "for up to this moment this has been our belief."

Then I replied, "Reverting to the Scriptures, I shall endeavor to persuade you, that He who is said to have appeared to Abraham, and to Jacob, and to Moses, and who is called God, is distinct from Him who made all things ... For I affirm that He has never at any time done anything which He who made the world - above whom there is no other God -has not wished Him both to do and to engage Himself with."

And Trypho said, "Prove now that this is the case, that we also may agree with you. For we do not understand you to affirm that He has done or said anything contrary to the will of the Maker of all things."

Then I said, "The Scripture just quoted by me will make this plain to you. It is thus: 'The sun was risen on the earth, and Lot entered into Segor; and the Lord rained on Sodom sulphur and fire from the Lord out of heaven, and overthrew these cities and all the neighbourhood.' "

Then the fourth of those Jews who had remained with Trypho said, "It must therefore necessarily be said that one of the two angels who went to Sodom, and is named by Moses in the Scripture Lord, is different from Him who also is God and appeared to Abraham."

"It is not on this ground solely," I said "... for I undertake to prove to you from Scriptures themselves, that He whom the Scripture calls Lord is not one of the two angels that went to Sodom, but He who was with them, and is called God, that appeared to Abraham."

And Trypho said, "Prove this; for, as you see, the day advances, and we are not prepared for such perilous replies; since never yet have we heard any man investigating, or searching into, or proving these matters ..."

Then I replied, "You are aware, then, that the Scripture says ... 'And the Lord went His way as soon as He had left communing with Abraham; and went to his place. And there came two angels to Sodom at even. And Lot sat in the gate of Sodom' ... [And I said] "And now have you not perceived, my friends, that one of the three, who is both God and Lord, and ministers to Him who is in the heavens, is Lord of the two angels? For when they proceeded to Sodom, He remained behind, and communed with Abraham in the words recorded by Moses; and when He departed after the conversation, Abraham went back to his place. And when he came to Sodom, the two angels no longer conversed with Lot, but Himself, as the Scripture makes evident; and He is the Lord who received commission from the Lord who is in the heavens, i.e.,the Maker of all things, to inflict upon Sodom and Gomorrah the judgements which the Scripture describes in these terms: 'The Lord rained down upon Sodom and Gomorrah sulphur and fire from the Lord out of heaven.' "

Then Trypho said when I was silent, "That Scripture compels us to admit this, is manifest; but there is a matter about which we are deservedly at a loss - namely, about what was said to the effect that the Lord ate what was prepared and placed before him by Abraham; and you would admit this."

I answered, "It is written that they ate; and if we believe that it is said the three ate, and not the two alone - who were really angels, and are nourished in the heavens, as is evident to us, even though they are not nourished by food similar to that which mortals use."

And Trypho said, "It is possible that the question about the mode of eating may be thus explained: the mode, that is to say, in which it is written, they took and ate what had been prepared by Abraham: so that you may now proceed to explain to us how this God who appeared to Abraham, and is minister to God the Maker of all things, "is a man of passions like us."

And I continued: "It is again written by Moses, my brethren, that He who is called God and appeared to the patriarchs is called both Angel and Lord ... Moreover, I consider it necessary to repeat to you the words which narrate how He who is both Angel and God and Lord, and who appeared as a man to Abraham, and who wrestled in human form with Jacob, was seen by him when he fled from his brother Esau. When I had spoken these words, I continued: "Permit me, further, to show you from the book of Exodus how this same One, who is both Angel, and God, and Lord, and man, and who appeared in human form to Abraham and Isaac, appeared in a flame of fire from the bush, and conversed with Moses." ...  In addition to these words, I went on: "Have you perceived, sirs, that this very God whom Moses speaks of as an Angel that talked to him in the flame of fire, declares to Moses that He is the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob?"

Then Trypho said, "We do not perceive this from the passage quoted by you, but only this, that it was an angel who appeared in the flame of fire, but God who conversed with Moses; so that there were really two persons in company with each other, an angel and God, that appeared in that vision."

I again replied, "Even if this were so, my friends, that an angel and God were together in the vision seen by Moses, yet, as has already been proved to you by the passages previously quoted, it will not be the Creator of all things that is the God that said to Moses that He was the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, but it will be He who has been proved to you to have appeared to Abraham, ministering to the will of the Maker of all things, and likewise carrying into execution His counsel in the judgment of Sodom; so that, even though it be as you say, that there were two - an angel and God - he who has but the smallest intelligence will not venture to assert that the Maker and Father of all things, having left all supercelestial matters, was visible on a little portion of the earth."

And Trypho said, "Since it has been previously proved that He who is called God and Lord, and appeared to Abraham, received from the Lord, who is in the heavens, that which He inflicted on the land of Sodom, even although an angel had accompanied the God who appeared to Moses, we shall perceive that the God who communed with Moses from the bush was not the Maker of all things, but He who has been shown to have manifested Himself to Abraham and to Isaac and to Jacob; who also is called and is perceived to be the Angel of God the Maker of all things, because He publishes to men the commands of the Father and Maker of all things."

And I replied, "Now assuredly, Trypho, I shall show that, in the vision of Moses, this same One alone who is called an Angel, and who is God, appeared to and communed with Moses. For the Scripture says thus:'The Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the bush; and he sees that the bush bums with fire, but the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will turn aside and see this great sight, for the bush is not burnt. And when the Lord saw that he is turning aside to behold, the Lord called to him out of the bush.' In the same manner, therefore, in which the Scripture calls Him who appeared to Jacob in the dream an Angel, then[says] that the same Angel who appeared in the dream spoke to him, saying,'I am the God that appeared to thee when thou didst flee from the face of Esau thy brother;'and[again] says that, in the judgment which befell Sodom in the days of Abraham, the Lord had inflicted the punishment of the Lord who[dwells] in the heavens;--even so here, the Scripture, in announcing that the Angel of the Lord appeared to Moses, and in afterwards declaring him to be Lord and God, speaks of the same One, whom it declares by the many testimonies already quoted to be minister to God, who is above the world, above whom there is no other. 
Of course the debate that survives down to us is much longer than this one section of conversation.  Nevertheless this is certainly one of the most influential discussions in the preserved manuscripts having been used and reused by later Church Fathers down through the ages.

At the very least we get a sense of what the position of Christians was with respect to the 'pre-existence of Christ.'  There can be no doubt that at the core of the contemporary understanding of the gospel was the fact that ΙΣ had existed in previous ages.  To be sure the orthodoxy that went on to define Christianity in the late third and fourth centuries held that the pre-existent 'Jesus' was to be referred to as 'Christ.'  But we see quite clearly at the time Justin was writing that these rules were quite unstable.  Some groups identified Christ as being the earthly man and Jesus the heavenly and vice versa.  In fact, the difficulty wasn't really that there was so much diversity in the second century as much as those with agenda were 'running interference' as it were with the reporting of the evidence from previous ages.

As noted earlier those that came after Justin the Samaritan Christian exegete tried to 'tweak' his beliefs.  They altered the manuscripts of his works to set him up against sectarian groups he likely never opposed.  To this end, at the time he was writing there was a very popular Christian community which for instance, read the prologue to the Gospel of John, as if it made mention of various powers in heaven.  One of the most important of these 'heavenly powers' in this mystical interpretation of the gospel was that of 'Man' or Anthropos in Greek.  Just as the gospel declares:
In the beginning was the Word ... [he] was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
These Italian sectarians understood that 'Word' and 'Life' represented a string of heavenly powers which were emitted by the divine Father.

After 'Word' and 'Life' came into the world this male-female pairing created the next beings in the chain - Man and Church.  'Man' or Anthropos is clearly a throwback to the Hebrew origins of ΙΣ.  'Church' must also have been a rough translation of the original 'Israel.'  Just as Jewish mystical traditions argue for the necessity of Israel to cleave to a ruling power variously described in that literary tradition, the early Roman sectarians made the same case with respect to Man and Church.  In a text ascribed to the first century Clement of Rome that still survives within the Roman Catholic Church we hear of the manner in which this heavenly 'Man' created in Genesis 1:27 was  and his wife was 'Church':
And I do not suppose ye are ignorant that the living Church is the body of Christ: for the scripture saith, God made man, male and female. The male is Christ and the female is the Church. And the Books and the Apostles plainly declare that the Church existeth not now for the first time, but hath been from the beginning: for she was spiritual, as our ΙΣ also was spiritual, but was manifested in the last days that He might save us.
There is little need to go through all the complexities of this early Roman tradition other than to note that it clearly supposes the underlying origin of ΙΣ from the Hebrew word for man.

It is worth noting however that when Church Fathers describe this mystical tradition from Rome before the Catholic orthodoxy there are clear echoes of things we have encountered already.  Instead of speaking in terms of 'Image' and 'Likeness' of a heavenly Man, these sectarians references male-female pairings which transmitted 'essences' to the created man below:
Consequently, when the Divine Artisan was grafting this scion of his soul onto Adam, the "spirit-like man" lay hidden there too, since it had been planted in the Demiurge's breath and introduced along with the breath in Adam's body. I say "hidden" because the Demiurge knew no more about this seed from his mother than he did about her herself.  This seed they call Church. They say it is a mirror of the higher Church and Man. 
The point again is that while the terminology has changed the underlying borrowing from the lost original Jewish mysticism is still discernible.  The invented heavenly power of 'Church' is merely a disguised way of referencing 'the Likeness of God.'

So it is when these early sectarians interpret other passages in the gospel they assume a heavenly 'Jesus' and an earthly 'Christ' - essentially transposing the later assumptions of orthodoxy.
Now I continue with what they say about Christ on whom they graft Jesus - with the same liberty as when they stuff the spirit-like seed in him along with the soul-like breath. They make him a mash of inventions of both Men and gods: the Divine Artisan also has his own Christ, his natural son (consequently soul-like), produced from himself, preached by the prophets. His nature must be decided by prepositions: specifically, he was produced through a virgin, not from a virgin ... he experienced her not as a mother but as a conveyance. Upon this Christ, then, in the sacrament of baptism, Jesus descended in the form of a dove.
To this end it is not at all difficult to see that in Rome at least the traditional assumptions regarding - 'Jesus' and 'Christ' - were transposed.  'Christ,' rather than being a heavenly power brought down by the dove onto Jesus, was the mortal man who received a heavenly ΙΣ.

While the Church Fathers reports an abundance of variation within the fold of early Italian Christianity at least some of these groups argued that 'the Son of Man' figure derived his origin from this 'heavenly Anthropos.'  There is also a strong suggestion that among early Christian groups in Rome and Alexandria there were two heavenly 'men' - the one who was formed after the likeness and the original likeness which formed the heavenly man.  In other words, Man and Superman.  A sectarian community associated with a certain Mark declare:
that the Saviour formed by special dispensation did indeed destroy death, but that Christ made known the Father. He maintains, therefore, that ΙΣ is the name of that man formed by a special dispensation, and that He was formed after the likeness and form of that [heavenly] Anthropos, who was about to descend upon Him.
As aforementioned there appears to be a great variation in the reporting of these 'heresies.'  At least some of this variation is attributable to the transmission of the information - where the original material is recycled so many times and with so many 'translations' and retelling that the original details get obscured.

Yet there is an important consideration which rarely makes its way into discussions of these early communities and has nothing to do with the Godman tradition.  At the core of Christianity there is the idea that there are many prophesies scattered throughout the 'Old Testament' which point to the coming of Christ.  This understanding is so important to the new religion that it makes its way into the formation of the gospel.  The Passion narrative - the story of Christ 'suffering' during his trial until his ultimate death - is without question developed almost word for word from the 'predictions' of Isaiah and a Psalm in the Jewish canon.  The figure who suffers like this is clearly human rather than divine.

However even with this acknowledgment these Psalms make no specific mention or prediction about a figure called the messiah or Christ.  In fact in all of the Jewish scriptures there is only one explicit mention or prediction of this figure and it appears in the Book of Daniel.  That's not to say that the Church Fathers didn't ultimately discover prophesies in passages which had nothing to do with the messiah.  Of course they did.  But the point is that no matter how vehemently they argue on behalf of the merits of this or that passage being taken to be a messianic prediction these opinions come down to subjective arguments on the part of the apologist.  Maybe contemporaries were swayed by these subjective arguments, maybe they weren't.  But they weren't seminal to the development of Christianity or its gospel.

Daniel chapter 9 verse 26 has the opposite problem.  In spite of it being the only explicit reference to the coming Christ it is never used by the early Church Fathers in their apologetic treatises.  How can that be?  It would be like writing the history of rap music and ignoring Rapper's Delight.  And what's more, what is said in Daniel 9:26 so perfectly predicts the general sense of the original ending of the gospel of Mark it is simply stunning that no Church Father makes reference to it.  In the original Hebrew it reads:
יכרת משיח ואין לו
which from a Greek perspective translates into:
Christ will be killed and will disappear
How odd that in all of the recorded debates between Christians and Jews in early antiquity that we never hear an apologist make reference to these words.  This especially when the typical line of attack especially in later periods is for Jews to say the messiah is a victorious general who defeats the enemies of Israel.

Indeed a strong case can be made that in its original form, the gospel of Mark developed from this very expectation.  Just before Christ is about to be captured and put on trial he cites the words that follow these in Daniel - the so-called 'abomination that causes desolation.'  So the point is that Daniel's words were clearly helping Mark shape his narrative.  Whenever he is in doubt about what comes next he goes to Daniel.  When for instance the main protagonist goes on trial it is the words of Daniel which are put in his mouth - in this case the expectation of a heavenly 'Son of Man.'  Yes to be certain the Passion narrative was shaped principally by the suffering servant material from Isaiah and Psalm 22.  Yet the manner in which Mark concludes - that is with Christ disappearing from the empty tomb after his crucifixion - is absolutely appropriated from the only explicit mention of the messiah in Jewish canon.

The point here is that the silence of the Church Fathers with respect to Daniel 9:26 is connected to their transposition of 'Jesus' and 'Christ' from earlier traditions in Christianity.  We have early reports that the earliest exegesis of the gospel of Mark assumed one man was crucified, the other escaped suffering as some sort of heavenly being.  These traditions stand side by side with the heretics emphasizing that ΙΣ was something of a shape-shifter with respect to his form.  He didn't have 'true flesh and blood' so he didn't suffer.  Whenever the Jews in the gospel tried to corner him he could pass through them or fly away.  By nailing ΙΣ to the Cross the Church Fathers made him fully human.  By making this man suffer the apologists for the developing orthodoxy achieved their ultimately aims.  The Savior began to lose his association with the heavenly אש.

Yet we needn't look too far for signs that the gospel of Mark developed from an original 'adoptionist' narrative - that is a mortal man 'adopting' a heavenly man at baptism.  Think for a moment about one of the most curious narratives in the gospel - where a menstruating woman touches the 'garments' of the Savior only to stop bleeding.  Leaving aside the 'implausibility' of the magical thinking inherent to this narrative there is the question of what it was intending to convey.  Without question the answer has to be that this woman - Mary Magdalene - was the first to see the Savior for who he really was.  She saw that his 'garment' was the embodiment of 'maleness' - a maleness with which she sought to heal the bleeding that had been imposed upon her sex since the events in Eden.

Throughout the writings of Samaritan Mark we saw the idea that Moses himself was similarly 'clothed' with the Form of Adam.  That Mary is understood to epitomize Eve is without question.  When she contemplates healing herself of the curse it represents nothing short of a second chance - a 'do over' as it were - of the mistake in Paradise:
If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.  Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.
As ancient exegetes noted the reaction of Jesus is bizarre as it seems to channel the ignorance of God in Eden not knowing where Adam and Eve have disappeared to after disobeying him:
At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” ... Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.  He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” 
Anyone who tries to explain this passage has to come to terms with the involuntary nature of his activity in the narrative.  He is the furthest thing from being a magician or a healer when he is unaware of his effect on another person, when he doesn't initiate the transformation.

Above all else the narrative shows that the entity which came down upon Christ was ΙΣ - or if you prefer the terminology of Samaritan Mark, that a mortal man was 'clothed' with the heavenly man.  In story of Moses quite clearly the means by which the man of God became established was baptism - in this case a full immersion in the heavenly fire on mount Sinai.  Most of the early Christian gospels make reference to a water baptism which in their earliest form imply fire was also present - flames or light shooting up from the river as the mortal man was submerged.  Because of the manner in which the Christian canon preserves the narrative only one paradigm has ever been considered - i.e. Christ coming down on Jesus.  But the evidence suggests there were other gospels with other formulas - some of the earliest did not even reference the baptism from John. 

Monday, December 17, 2018

Chapter Seven

Perhaps I didn't mention it enough when I was discussing the 'divine sex romp' material but everyone of the 'secret references' to God impregnating women happen to ish references too.  In fact, use of ish as a divine name in the build up to the birth of Isaac is so pronounced it has received a lot of scholarly attention.  Part of the reason for that attention is that the discussion was at the heart of debates between Jews, Samaritans and Christians in the early decades of the Common Era - i.e. around the time of the development of Christianity.  Jews were arguing 'god can't be a man' and the early Church Fathers replied 'yes he can. It's in the Bible.' 

Let's start with a simple fact.  The Abraham narrative is filled with references to heavenly beings called ish or in the plural form anashim.  As we noted earlier, it might seem strange to use the term anashim for instance to denote a different species of humans.  Nevertheless the Samaritans preserve a different pronunciation for the divine man - in the case of ordinary 'men' the same four letters are pronounced anashim, in the case of heavenly men anushem.  There are many examples of this sort of a tradition of a special pronunciation of words associated with heavenly beings among the northern Israelites.

Samaritan tradition distinguishes between angels and humans. In this tradition, the angels are considered as “living” and humans as “dead,” because angels have eternal life.  Not only do Samaritans understand humans to have been made in the image of the angels but also Ish and Anushim are the most prominent angels in the Torah.  My friend Benny writes:
Anushim — There are three angels who showed themselves to Abraham to announce about his coming child, called “Anushim” (Gen. 18:2). Two of them were sent on another mission: to destroy Sodom (Gen. 18:16, 19:16). 
Of course anushim are portrayed as engaging with Abraham - sometimes collectively, sometimes individually - throughout the narratives where he appears.  It isn't just that Abraham is the first to establish a covenant with ish (ברית אש) - his descendants are promised to become like heavenly bodies because their real father is the heavenly Godman.

If this were any other book than the Bible you'd think this was too incredible to actually be believed.  We hear about bizarre cults in our modern age whose members believe they will meet space aliens and can't believe that they can attract followers.  Yet the surviving literature from antiquity reveals that this message of heavenly translation was wildly popular.  Early Christians apparently drank milk during their services thinking the 'Promised Land' was in the Milky Way.  If people believed they could go from here to there, how incredible would it have seem that these mighty beings could likewise make their way from there to here?

At the core then the ancients didn't believe that the stars were that far away.  Not only were there ladders from heaven described in the Bible but the tops of mountains were thought to almost reach to the vault of heaven.  Given that heavenly beings had made their way to earth in droves as recently as two centuries before the birth of Abraham's father, it was perfectly believable that a group of anushim could have descended from on high in Abraham's lifetime. The purpose then of their descent was also clear - to employ his wife Sarah's unused womb to create a race of astral 'supermen.'

Abraham will never be like Isaac or his descendants.  He will never attain perfection by means of divine nature alone.  But Abraham comes to epitomize all the converts to Israel - those who look with envy on the priesthood as the last remnant of a mythical race.  This is the reason why he is left on the outside looking in as the Godman impregnates his wife Sarah.  He desires perfection in the manner which carnal crave sexual intercourse.  In a paradoxical manner, his passionless relationship with Sarah sets the table for his eventual recruitment.

Genesis 18:16 is the first clearly attested use of anushim as a term for divine men. Philo makes explicit that the 'men' mention here are heavenly beings who:
the man who follows God (i.e. Abraham) does of necessity have for his fellow travellers all those reasons which are the attendants of God, which we are accustomed to call angels. At all events, it is said that "Abraham went with them conducting them on their Way."  Oh the admirable praise! ... for until a man is made perfect he uses divine reason as the guide of his path, for that is the sacred oracle of scripture: "Behold, I send my angel before thy face that he may keep thee in the road, so as to lead thee into the land which I have prepared for thee. Attend thou to him, and listen to him; do not disobey him; for he will not pardon your transgressions, for my name is in Him." But when he has arrived at the height of perfect knowledge, then, running forward vigorously, he keeps up with the speed of him who was previously leading him in his way; for in this way they will both become attendants of God who is the guide of all things
While the notion of all Jews and Samaritans being able to trace their ancestry back to twelve tribes is a romantic notion - it is unlikely to have been a historical reality.  Abraham is given a prominent role in the Torah likely because most adherents of the Israelite religion were converts from other cultures, races and religious traditions.

In our next chapter we will demonstrate that not only Isaac but all the subsequent Patriarchs were the
'starmen' promised to Abraham.  In other words, they were mythical creations of the author.  They have about the same reality as the anushim or 'men' with whom Abraham conquers the neighboring kings.  Philo clearly seems to know these 'men' are really astral beings for he makes reference to the most prominent of these angels included a certain figure named "All Fire."  He writes that when the Torah reads "of the men who went with me, Eschol, Annan, and Mamre, shall receive a Share"
by these names of persons he means dispositions which are good by nature and fond of contemplation;  for Eschol is an emblem of good disposition, having a name of fire, since a good disposition is full of good daring and fervour, and adheres to what it has ever applied itself.
The collective body of enushim have as their leader one whose name is אש.  What are the odds of that?  But this isn't the strangest thing about this section.  Abraham also happens to have a slave named Eleazar whose name has the numerological value as the number of 'men' who recently fought with him.

Again I ask - what are the odds of that?  The number men is identified as 318 which is the same value as the letters in the name of Abraham's slave Eleazar.  Not surprisingly Philo sees mystical significance in the name:
But the name Eleazar, being interpreted, means, "God is my helper." Since the mass of the body ... is kept alive by, the providence of God ... Do you not see that the second of the sons of Moses has also the same name as this man? For, "the name of the second," says the scripture, "was Eleazar." And he adds the reason: "for the Lord has been my helper, and has delivered me out of the hand of Pharaoh." But those who ... are attacked by ... lawlessness and cruelty, it is impossible to escape, unless Eleazar be born in the soul, and unless one puts one's hope of succour in the only Saviour.  And it is with particular beauty that he speaks of Damascus with reference, not to his father, but to his mother; in order to show that the soul depending on blood, by means of which the brute animals live, is akin properly to the female race; the race of his mother, and has no share in the male race. But this is not the case with virtue, that is with Sarah; for she has none but a male offspring, being borne only of God who is the father of all things, being that authority which has no mother. 
So there is a deliberate juxtaposition between Eleazar and Isaac in the Bible.  Abraham worries that he will leave all things to his heavenly army personified in the figure of Eleazar.  But God says don't worry, soon you will have a divine child modeled after the stars.

In other words, Abraham has come into acquaintance with the heavenly angels and wants more.  But the fact that there are these astral men isn't an insignificant detail either.  Christian converts were very excited to uncover that the Torah employed gematria.  It is no coincidence that at the first assembly after Christianity had been declared a tolerated faith was said to have had 318 participants.  The body of the Church was now filled with 'heavenly men.'  The Church was the new Eleazar providing the example of anushim to a flood of converts who wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to become angels.

The anushim resurface again in chapter 18 - a section of material that we shall see became a virtual battlefront between Jews, Samaritans and Christians.  Philo for one in the period immediately before this confrontation, acknowledges that 'men' here are divine beings.  He goes so far as to also say that "have the power to read minds."  But Philo never completely reveals his sacred mysteries to his readership.  He uses terminology, allegories, symbols and whatever else he can get his hands on to hint at the truth but ultimately leave his audience wanting to know more.  His writings aren't as much explanatory texts as recruitment booklets.  If you want to know more, Philo effectively says, you'll have to come to our synagogue in Alexandria and we'll reveal more to you.

We can only get so close to the underlying reality of heavenly 'men' in the Bible through Philo or any member of a closed society.  Christians were more eager to tell the world what they knew because as we mentioned they were engaged in a battle with Jews in the second century for the hearts and minds of Gentile proselytes.  Justin the Samaritan convert makes clear to this audience that the anushim had more than a casual relationship to אש - or if you prefer the Greek nomenclature ΙΣ.  Justin declares that"on that occasion He (i.e. ΙΣ) did Himself appear with the angels to Abraham in the verity of the flesh ... [and] since the Creator "maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire"--as truly spirits as also fire--so has He truly made them flesh likewise; wherefore we can now recall to our own minds ... that He has promised that He will one day form men into angels, who once formed angels into men."

Come on now.  ΙΣ as we have shown goes back to a Hebrew term which means both fire and man.  What do all the Christian source texts tell us?  That this god could change his form from that of fire to that of a man because he was both.  Almost the same understanding is preserved in a text alleged to have been written by Clement of Rome a Christian of the first century - "were not angels, who are free from old age, and of a fiery substance, changed into flesh,—those, for instance, who received the hospitality of Abraham, whose feet men washed, as if they were the feet of men of like substance? Yea, moreover, with Jacob, who was a man, there wrestled an angel, converted into flesh that he might be able to come to close quarters with him. And, in like manner, after he had wrestled by his own will, he was converted into his own natural form; and now, when he was changed into fire, he did not burn up the broad sinew of Jacob, but he inflamed it, and made him lame."

Of course it is obvious what the author is struggling with.  It is difficult to understand why God could appear in two separate forms.  אש meant both man and fire.  In the same way the same god is seen as a man in some instances in the Torah and others as a fire.  The fact Jacob wrestled with the ish is perhaps the most repeated reference to this heavenly being   But it is difficult to reconcile why Jacob wasn't described as burnt as he grabbed and pulled on the flesh of a being who was made of fire.  The same problem resurfaces in countless texts which were copied and recopied throughout the second and third centuries.  Certain groups argued from this evidence that ΙΣ was a man with a special type of flesh.  He could change his form at will.  Yet the dominant orthodoxy disagreed.  'Jesus' they said was a man because he was born from a Virgin's womb.  He had once visited the Patriarchs as both fire and man.  But at the time of Jesus he was fully mortal with absolutely ordinary human flesh.

Of course old controversies are never completely swept away - even by those who controlled the manner in which manuscripts were copied and distributed.  By the third century the original understanding of ΙΣ as a heavenly man was pushed to the margins of history.  It survived in increasingly random appearances in corrected texts from the previous age.  The third century exegete Origen notes that there are in Hebrew "numberless instances are adduced to show that in Scripture man and angel are used indifferently, and that the same subject is entitled both angel and man. This is true of the three who were entertained by Abraham, and of the two who came to Sodom; in the whole course of Scripture, persons are styled sometimes men, sometimes angels."  In the writings of near contemporary Irenaeus the reference was even barer - "now two of the three were angels; but one was the Son of God, with whom also Abraham spake." 

When the allusion to ΙΣ as a heavenly man in the writings of the Church Fathers are taken as a whole it becomes readily apparent that Justin is the ultimate source of most of them.  Justin was made famous because of his debate with a Jew named Trypho.  He likely had a philosophical background and at least a few of his surviving arguments echo things said against Jews and Judaism betray his Samaritan origins.  Indeed there is a strong Samaritan 'brand' of Christian in early Christianity which is always identified as heresy by later figures.  The Samaritans typically identified ΙΣ as various fire references in the Bible.  Justin does much the same thing but he wasn't ultimately rejected.  In fact he was embraced and internal evidence suggests his writings were likely altered in and around 195 CE.

Why did the orthodox have to embrace a quasi-heretic like Justin?  Why when the Church did all he could to establish that there was only one all powerful God in the universe did they ultimately 'co-opt' an obvious heretic like Justin?  Justin was after all the teacher of the arch-heretic Tatian who among other things was remembered for promoting a gospel which was not accepted into the Catholic canon.  The only answer that makes any sense here is that Justin simply was so influential and his battles with prominent Jews were celebrated with such intensity that to have him missing from its canon of holy men would have compromised the authority of the Church.

By the third century the Church simply wanted to smooth over all controversies about 'Jesus.'  That he was born from a Virgin was gradually introduced into the second and third gospels.  But that he could have existed in the margins of the Torah was still problematic.  Why was a man who openly preached in the streets of Galilee originally so reluctant to reveal himself?  He seemed to wander about the narratives of the Old Testament without any discernible purpose save for his desire not to be recognized by people.

The Godman was above all else the stranger god.  Philo says as much at one point in his treatises.  When the 'men' came to Abraham he received them as strangers.  To be certain our 'Jesus' still retains some of this baggage especially in the Gospel of Mark.  But gradually bit by bit the orthodox worked to obscure his obscurity.  Instead of having the crowds taunt the stranger who claimed to be a god by saying that his mother and brothers were outside when he was indoors preaching, the orthodox transformed the same gospels to make it appear as if the mother and brothers of 'Jesus' really were outside and the hostile Jews outside were just pointing out a 'historical fact.'

It is enough for us to acknowledge that Justin was remembered above all else for identifying ΙΣ as the heavenly man, the second God who visited the Patriarchs.  He wrote "neither Abraham, nor Isaac, nor Jacob, nor any other man, saw the Father and ineffable Lord of all ... but Him who was according to His will His Son, being God, and the Angel because He ministered to His will ... who also was fire when He conversed with Moses from the bush."  The reason he was celebrated in the late second and third centuries was because he brought this information up in disputes with prominent Jews.  If he had done so in the context of disputing the generation of 'Jesus' from his mother's womb he would have been dismissed as a heretic.  But since he did so in combat with Jews - the enemy of the Church's enemy became their friend.  

Perhaps the proper way of closing this chapter is to cite directly from one of the surviving debates that is ascribed to Justin.  It is unlikely that the text has survived with substantial reworking in other places.  Yet what we present here is as close as we can get to the original historical situation in the middle of the second century.   By this point in history the Jews had gone through two and possibly three cataclysmic wars with the Roman state.  Their priesthood, the bloodline of authoritative exegetes of the Jewish religion had all been wiped out.  Perhaps worst of all for contemporary Jewry a religion had spread across the ancient world purporting to speak on behalf of a god that Jews no longer recognized.  The situation with  is epitomized by the line in the prologue of the gospel of John quite accurately - "he came to his own people, but his own people did not receive him."



Chapter Six

There is sometimes a danger in books such as this, which challenge their readership with 'radical new interpretations' of traditional understandings that an attempt is made to gloss over things which don't help the argument.  With respect to the argument in favor of the Godman of the Torah we find ourselves in something of a dilemma insofar as the אש of the Torah is quite clearly more interesting than our traditional 'Jesus.'  While 'Jesus' is the incarnation of absolute goodness - so much so that he never engages in sexual intercourse or produces any babies, the same cannot be said for the Godman אש.

For one of the implicit meanings of ish in everyday Hebrew is 'husband.'  A husband is someone who makes children with his wife presumably by sexual intercourse.  While the Godman אש isn't said to have a wife, nor is he ever explicitly said to have had carnal relations he is always understood to have impregnated the wives of the Patriarchs.  While this is something of a departure from the normally chaste portrait that we have of the Christian 'Jesus,' it does seem to have had an influence on the way the son of Mary was developed in Christian mythology.

The usual way of explaining how the 'incarnate Jesus' was born was to say that Mary was visited by an angel.  In the gospel of Luke "Don't be afraid, Mary. You have found favor with God. You will become pregnant, give birth to a son, and name him Jesus."  But it is interesting to note that there is also a visit which precedes these words to Mary.  The angel comes to her husband Joseph just before the announcement to the mother of God.  Apparently, as we shall see, it was the custom for the divine messengers to proclaim a divine impregnation first to the husband and then after to his wife.

Yet before we see outline the Jewish origins of the 'virgin birth' narrative it might be worth debunking the claim that it came to Christianity by means of 'paganism.'  We are told that Jews could never have accepted the idea that women gave birth because of the visit of gods or angels.  This is simply not true and evidence in favor of the idea that women could and indeed did become pregnant by means of heavenly visitors is well establish in the literature.  It comes to us from sources using the Hebrew and the Greek text of the Bible.

Since however most of the readers of this book are likely not familiar with Hebrew let's stick with Philo's understanding of these divine 'booty calls.'  As we saw earlier Philo preserved the idea of a double creation the heavenly man was made on the sixth day of creation, fully in the Image and Likeness of God, and the earthy man was made after the seventh day, the last created thing in physical creation.  This earthly humanity was different than the heavenly one. For the former was according to Philo “perceptible to the external sense, partaking of qualities, consisting of body and soul, man or woman, by nature mortal” while the latter was “made according to the image of God, was an idea, or a genus, or a seal, perceptible only by the intellect, incorporeal, neither male nor female, imperishable by nature.”

Adam was not as established in the image and likeness as the heavenly man but was still nonetheless the height of earthly human perfection. As Philo notes he was “superior to all those who live in this present day, and to all those who have gone before us." Philo believed that the Torah made clear that each subsequent generation had since been “degenerating” so that the first man lived in communion various angelic beings, both incorporeal and corporeal, and made attaining likeness to God the goal of his life.  Nevertheless in spite of Adam wish each subsequent human generation has become weaker with each each subsequent human being still having kinship with the original human Adam.   As Philo puts it “every man in regard of his intellect is connected with divine reason, being an impression of or a fragment or a ray of that blessed nature.”

So despite the corruption that human generations have been forced to endure, we still maintain the image of God. But owing to the Fall and mankind’s attachment to bodily nature and pleasure, the likeness to God was lost.  Human beings still retain a connection to Adam who held both Image and likeness to God and because of this it is possible that the soul of the virtuous man can regain it again. For Philo believes that any wise human is like the first human - he is like God.  Philo writes that “the man who is wholly possessed with the love of God and who serves the living God alone, is no longer man, but actually God, being indeed the God of men, but not of the parts of nature, in order to leave to the Father of the universe the attributes of being both and God.” The virtuous human who is like God, is the only truly free human. Those who do not live the virtuous life in likeness to God, are slaves to their passions, and rightfully slaves to the virtuous human.

But given the downward spiral from Adam it should come as any surprise that Jewish tradition emphasizes the role of the angel ish as preserver of the human race.  It is well established that Eve is said to have produced Cain without Adam's involvement. "I have acquired an ish by means of God" she announces.  The Christian text On the Origin of the World sees to know a tradition it was god rather than Adam who really fathered her son.  We read "Moreover, Eve is the first virgin who gave birth without a man ... My husband produced me, and I am his mother, and he is my father and my lord. He is my potency; what he desires he speaks with reason. I am becoming, but I have borne a lordly man."

While this mind sound like an outlandish interpretation of the original Hebrew text this Christian text finds support in Philo of Alexandria.  Philo denies that Adam's seed ever entered Eve to make Cain.  He writes that "we must begin our explanation of these mysteries in this way. A husband unites with his wife, and the male human being with the female human being in a union which tends to the generation of children, in strict accordance with and obedience to nature. But it is not lawful for virtues, which are the parents of many perfect things, to associate with a mortal husband. But they, without having received the power of generation from any other being, will never be able by themselves alone to conceive any thing. Who, then, is it who sows good seed in them, except the Father of the universe, the uncreated God, he who is the parent of all things?"

Immediately after this Philo alerts us to the fact that it wasn't just Eve but a great number of wives of the Patriarchs who were divinely impregnated:
This (i.e. God) is the being who sows, and presently he bestows his own offspring, which he himself did sow; for God creates nothing for himself, inasmuch as he is in need of nothing, but he creates every thing for him who is able to take it.  
Philo goes on to make clear that it wasn't just Eve who was inseminated by means of God but also some of the greatest women in the Bible - Sarah, Leah, Rebecca, Zipporah and possibly many more!  What are we to make of this extraordinary understanding?  The first thing that we should notice is that all of the examples that Philo gives coincide with ish usage in the Torah.  In other words the Godman 'husband' was father of most of the important 'Godchildren' in the Bible.

Of course it might be argued right out of the gate that Cain was not good child, let alone a godchild.  He ends up murdering his brother.  But it should also be noticed that one of the most surprising things that happens in that narrative is God appearing to defend him after he killed Abel.  Could it be that God was showing partiality to his firstborn son?  Whatever the case maybe Philo deflects the difficulty inherent in Cain being a Godchild by noting that whenever God impregnates a woman there seems to be one good child and one bad child.  In other words, it wasn't just Cain who was fathered by God but also Abel and later Seth presumably too.

Philo latches upon the word "added" which follow in the description of the birth of Abel - i.e. "he also added, that she should bring forth his Brother" to suggest that the Godman again added his seed to Eve.  There is a similar interpretation of Sarah's birth of Isaac which Philo first brings up when discussing Cain's virgin birth:
And I will bring forward as a competent witness in proof of what I have said, the most holy Moses.For he introduces Sarah as conceiving a son when God beheld her by himself; but he represents her as bringing forth her son, not to him who beheld her then, but to him who was eager to attain to wisdom, and his name is called Abraham.  
This is a clear example of where Philo's understanding of tradition seems to go back to the original Hebrew text.

In Genesis chapter 18 three visitors come to Abraham.  In a pattern which presages the Virgin Birth narrative of the Christian 'Jesus' they said to the husband first and declare:
“Where is your wife Sarah?” And he replied, “There, in the tent.” And he said, “I will return to you at the due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son!” Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent, which was behind him.
In chapter 21 we read:
Yahweh visited (פקד) Sarah as He had promised, and Yawheh did for Sarah as He had spoken.
Clearly the 'man' in chapter 18 who promised a visit is the god who came back in chapter 21.  As one scholar notes "the verse is telling us that when Yahweh visited Sarah he caused her to conceive. Yahweh further communicates this fact when says that he would return in the future and Sarah would already be with child (Gen 18:14). In other words, the verse affirms what God did for Sarah then, i.e., that he caused her to become pregnant during that visit."

פקד is used with sexual connotation in a number of Hebrew texts including the Book of Job. Similarly a Jewish commentary on Genesis writing in the fourth century makes God's baby-making explicit:
Said R. Yehudah bar Simon: Even though as R. Huna said there is angel appointed
over physical desire, Sarah did not require such things, rather He in His glory
Not surprisingly Christians consistently read the text as a prefiguring of the Virgin Birth.  John Chrysostom in the fifth century writes "for Isaac, born not according to the order of nature, nor the law of marriage, nor the power of the flesh, was still Abraham's own son. He was the son of bodies that were dead, and of a maternal womb that was dead. His conception was not by the flesh, nor his birth by the seed, for the womb was dead both through age and barrenness, but the word of God fashioned him."

Philo goes so far as to call Isaac “God’s son” (υἱὸς θεοῦ).  He interprets Sarah’s comment that “God has caused me laughter” (Gen. 21:6) to mean that the Lord has begotten Isaac.
when happiness, that is Isaac, was born, she says, in the pious exaltation, “The Lord has caused me laughter, and whoever shall hear of it shall rejoice with Me.” Open your ears, therefore, O ye initiated, and receive the most sacred mysteries. Laughter is joy; and the expression, “has caused,” is equivalent to “has begotten.” So that what is here said has some such meaning as this, “The Lord has begotten Isaac." 
This is the second time in this discussion that Philo the Alexandrian Jew has described the divine impregnation of women in terms of being 'divine mysteries.' While one might dismiss this sort of language as hyperbolic, there is good reason to believe he is not exaggerating its significance.

Once again we see that the veneration of Isaac's 'divine birth' is something which carried over to Christianity.  In other words, it wasn't 'an idea which popped into Philo's head.'  It formed the basis to one of the core Christian theological concept - that of being born 'according to the promise.'  It was used to distinguish Christians from their ancestors who were born according to human sexual intercourse.  Those born 'according to the promise' were a separate divine human race.  We read in the Letter to the Galatians in the New Testament that:
it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and the other by a free woman.  One, the child of the slave, was born according to the flesh; the other, the child of the free woman, was born through the promise.
In explaining this seminal Christian text the scholar Daniel Boyarin writes that "[i]t should be noted that in the biblical text, it is not stated that Abraham 'knew Sarah his wife' after the 'annunciation.'  There may have even been, then, a tradition that the conception of Isaac was entirely by means of the promise… The point would be that Hagar had sex with a man in order to conceive, but Sarah did not!"

Of course we shouldn't think that Philo understood that these 'divine impregnations' were limited to Eve and Sarah.  A careful reading of his original discussion of this phenomenon reveals most of the descriptions of births in Genesis are some related to the visitation of divine aliens.  After referencing the situation with Eve and Sarah Philo goes on to say that the Torah:
teaches the same lesson more plainly in the case of Leah, where he says that "God opened her Womb."  But to open the womb is the especial business of the husband. And she having conceived, brought forth, not to God, for he alone is sufficient and all-abundant for himself, but to him who underwent labour for the sake of that which is good, namely, for Jacob; so that in this instance virtue received the divine seed from the great Cause of all things, but brought forth her offspring to one of her lovers, who deserved to be preferred to all her other Suitors.  Again, when the all-wise Isaac addressed his supplications to God, Rebecca, who is perseverance, became pregnant by the agency of him who received the supplication; but Moses, who received Zipporah,  that is to say, winged and sublime virtue, without any supplication or entreaty on his part, found that she conceived by no mortal man.
This is a dizzying list of divinely assisted births.  When you throw in the fact that that story that immediately precedes the Torah's flood narrative is centrally concerned with heavenly beings having intercourse with earthly females - and a parallel early text which suggests that Noah's father thought he might have been born from an alien father - we have an utterly strange obsession with a seemingly silly Biblical subplot. 

Why should ancient Jews have cared so much about an alleged 'prehistoric space alien sex narrative'?  Because it is essential to contextualizing the secret ish story.  The fact that so much of the earliest Bible text has most of its interesting story lines taking place in the margins as it were challenges our traditional interpretation of the text.  When Philo himself attempts to contextualize the space alien subplot he does so by referring to it as nothing short of a 'divine mystery' - which essentially tells his readership he is limited as to what he can reveal about its significance.  He writes in what immediately follows our last citation:
Now I bid ye, initiated men, who are purified, as to your ears, to receive these things, as mysteries which are really sacred, in your inmost souls; and reveal them not to any one who is of the number of the uninitiated, but guard them as a sacred treasure, laying them up in your own hearts, not in a storehouse in which are gold and silver, perishable substances, but in that treasurehouse in which the most excellent of all the possessions in the world does lie, the knowledge namely of the great first Cause, and of virtue, and in the third place, of the generation of them both. And if ever you meet with any one who has been properly initiated, cling to that man affectionately and adhere to him, that if he has learnt any more recent mystery he may not conceal it from you before you have learnt to comprehend it thoroughly. For I myself, having been initiated in the great mysteries by Moses, the friend of God, nevertheless, when subsequently I beheld Jeremiah the prophet, and learnt that he was not only initiated into the sacred mysteries, but was also a competent hierophant or expounder of them, did not hesitate to become his pupil. And he, like a man very much under the influence of inspiration, uttered an oracle in the character of God, speaking in this manner to most peaceful virtue: "Hast thou not called me as thy house, and thy father, and the husband of thy Virginity?" showing by this expression most manifestly that God is both a house, the incorporeal abode of incorporeal ideas, and the Father of all things, inasmuch as it is he who has created them; and the husband of wisdom, sowing for the race of mankind the seed of happiness in good and virgin soil. For it is fitting for God to converse with an unpolluted and untouched and pure nature, in truth and reality virgin, in a different manner from that in which we converse with such.

For the association of men, with a view to the procreation of children, makes virgins women. But when God begins to associate with the soul, he makes that which was previously woman now again virgin. Since banishing and destroying all the degenerate appetites unbecoming a human being, by which it had been made effeminate, he introduces in their stead genuine, and perfect, and unadulterated virtues; therefore, he will not converse with Sarah before all the habits, such as other women have, have left her, and till she has returned into the class of pure virgins.

But it is, perhaps, possible that in some cases a virgin soul may be polluted by intemperate passions, and so become impure. On which account the sacred oracle has been cautious, calling God the husband, not of a virgin, for a virgin is subject to change and to mortality, but of virginity; of an idea, that is to say, which is always existing in the same principles and in the same manner. For as all things endowed with distinctive qualities are by nature liable to origination and to destruction, so those archetypal powers, which are the makers of those particular things, have received an imperishable inheritance in their turn. Therefore is it seemly that the uncreated and unchangeable God should ever sow the ideas of immortal and virgin virtues in a woman who is transformed into the appearance of virginity? Why, then, O soul, since it is right for you to dwell as a virgin in the house of God, and to cleave to wisdom, do you stand aloof from these things, and rather embrace the outward sense, which makes you effeminate and pollutes you? Therefore, you shall bring forth an offspring altogether polluted and altogether destructive, the fratricidal and accursed Cain, a possession not to be sought after; for the name Cain being interpreted means possession.
The reason I have cited so much of this text is because it is utterly essential to understand the significance of the divine impregnation narratives in Genesis.  The idea that God could be a man - a special kind of man to be sure - a heavenly man, who spent much of his time turning up in the vicinity of ancient Israel getting women pregnant is the furthest thing from a 'novelty' or a 'throw away concept' in the Torah.  It goes right to the heart of its central literary purpose.

If God was only some invisible, unknowable being in the clouds a chasm would separate the human world and the divine world.  But the author of the Torah doesn't see things that way.  From the very beginning of the text he lays out a vision of the cosmos which says essentially the reason things come into being in the universe is because man is an unfinished work.  Do you understand what that means?  The way most of us view existence is very different.  If we like our life, if living is pleasurable for us, we wonder - why does it have to end?  Why do we have to die?  Why can't it be like this forever?  But the author of the Torah sees the world from a different perspective.  Life isn't perfect because we are happy and 'at peace' with existence.  He argues instead that man is only complete and perfect when he chooses the divine man, who is the tree of life.  

So the reason why these ludicrous sounding 'divine insemination stories' are placed in the margins of each chapter of Genesis ( is to illustrate the utterly mysterious nature of the ברית אש.  God happens to 'live' in Israel.  This is why the Israelites get special treatment by the Lord of the Universe.  It really is no different than the Greeks thinking that Zeus lived on Mount Olympos.  The reason all the action in the Bible takes place around the holy mountain of Gerizim is because this is God's 'home' and he basically 'chose' a wandering people to wipe out the original inhabitants and become his extended family.  Remember Adam not only means 'earth' but specifically 'red earth' - the red earth that came from the desert region just beyond the Holy Land.  The Middle East is so-called by historians because it literally stands at the crossroads of ancient civilizations.  The ancient Israelites turned that around and saw themselves at the center of the world living in the 'downstairs apartment' in God's house.

We have to see the hidden 'Godman knocking up mortal women' in terms of his central promise to Abraham - your descendants will be like the stars in heaven.  Philo and the earliest Christians interpreted this literally - that is, your descendants will live in heaven as angels.  How will they live in heaven as angels?   God says essentially, "I will impregnate your wife on your behalf and your children will be divine."  As stupid as this deal sounds - imagine your best friend offering this up to you if you and your wife were childless - it does 'even out' the situation that Sarah was forced to endure i.e. having her husband impregnate her handmaiden.  It's as if the author of the Torah is saying, what's good for the gander is also good for the goose.  It's one of the most progressive parts of the Old Testament.  Sarah has to endure her husband's dalliance only for Abraham to put up with hers. 

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Chapter Five

That was a particularly difficult chapter.  The problem is that Judaism is a religion like no other - or at least goes against the grain of religious experience.  The bottom line is that we as a culture aren't used to limiting discussions about God to 'what the Torah says.'  We like instead to put forward 'our 'feelings' about God, religion and spirituality.  We tend to frame religious discussions in terms of questions like - is there a God?  Is the Bible 'literally true'?   I've always likened Jewish religious writings as being more like mathematics.  It all come down to 'what do you do in this situation?  The answer comes down to a simply formula - if text (a) says this and text (b) says that then the answer is a + b and so on and so on.

I've noted that for Mark the Samaritan then 'the great power' is a presence in the Torah even though that presence isn't explicitly confirmed by the original author.  There are clues scattered throughout the text.  It's as if we aren't meant to know exactly how Israel achieved its greatness.  But then again Jews and Christians passed on the information by word of mouth as we just saw.  Israel is a 'man (ish) seeing God' or maybe 'a man contending with God' - no one knew quite exactly what was meant.  This is undoubtedly why Jews and Samaritans always turned back to the literal page of scripture.  Surely, the truth could still be gleaned from the margins.

As word got out that there was this 'mystic' narrative, outsiders became interested.  Yet for Gentiles who either weren't able to read or weren't fulling immersed into a culture of venerating words on a page, it was inevitable that the secret doctrines of Ish would manifest themselves in a slightly different form.  A new myth, a new adaptation of the original mysticism associated with the Godman manifested itself in the development of Christianity.  Inner tensions within Judaism led to the creation of a new story which re-presented the hidden Ish in a new context.  Now the Godman would openly reveal his presence to his own but because of their unbelief they wouldn't recognize him for who he was.  Should they have known?  Could they have known this secret man?  Apparently the author of gospel thought so and used the unbelief of the Jews as an explanative tool to make sense of the contemporary history.

Of course the inevitable question is going to be - how do we know that our 'Jesus' was אש?  Does it all come down to a misinformation campaign about the 'sacred name' ΙΣ which appears in most Christian manuscripts and which theologians are trained to read as the first and last letters of Joshua?  No there is a great deal more to this theory.  We could start with the manner in which all the early Church Fathers identify 'Jesus' as being present in all the ish narratives in the Torah.  In other words, even though some of the gospels say that Jesus was born to a virgin named Mary, the earliest gospel - the gospel according to Mark - has him appear only as a mysterious 'man' at the beginning.  The notion that he was born from a virgin came much later.  Yet the idea that 'Jesus' dined with Abraham, wrestled with Jacob and gave the Law to Moses from the burning bush is always present in the religion.

The idea is in the gospel of John.  For the man declares to his hostile Jewish audience - "before Abraham was, I am."  'I am' is the familiar declaration of אש in the burning bush.  The Jews who were allegedly present certainly knew what this man was saying.  I am the god who spoke to all your patriarchs.  How could this be true is 'Jesus' was really born from a virgin.  The ideas are clearly mutually exclusive.  Either the man named ΙΣ was the secret god אש or he was a physical man named Joshua had a secret messianic pedigree and was born to a woman.  Why the original beliefs about Jesus were changed is another story entirely however there is no question that early Christian groups believed ΙΣ to be a wholly divine being.  We have countless books from the earliest period of Christianity which tell us how these 'sects' were fought and overcome by the Church.

Since we spent so much time on the doctrines of Mark it is worth noting that that core mystical reading of the Torah is clearly also present in early Christianity.  In the very early letter to the Corinthians we hear it declared that "the Rock was Christ."  We already now that Mark repeatedly uses this same formulation and that it is based on gematria.  'The Rock' is written as הצור in Hebrew.  Both 'הצור' and 'אש' have a numerological value of 301.  What is being said then is that not only was ΙΣ present when Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt but that ΙΣ is the second god אש.  Why would this doctrine be present in one of the earliest texts of Christianity is it was not one of the earliest doctrines of the religion?  Again we see the identification of 'Jesus' with אש was foundational.

Yet it goes beyond a mere shared use of gematria.  We have to go beyond individual 'tricks' used by the earliest authors to get their secret message across to their followers.  Let us ask us the boldest question of all - what is Christianity?  Why were people so eager to be initiated into its mysteries?  And, what in fact, were the mysteries of Christianity in the first place?  When we delve into these fundamental questions it is utterly mind blowing to realize that the central 'myth' of the religion of ΙΣ is identical with the core mystical doctrine we saw in the writings of Mark.  That the Samaritan religion, developed from a slavish line by line reading of the Torah presents its readers with the same mystical reality as that taught to Christians when they undergo baptism.  It's all about Adam.  It's all about the Form '(צורה) of Adam' which we know from our study of Mark is a cipher for the second god אש.

How did Mark explain the manner in which Moses became divine?  He received the 'Form' which formerly adorned Adam.  Even though each Christian denomination has preserved the central 'mythical' explanation of why initiates receive baptism to enter the fold the core doctrine is centrally Samaritan.  Indeed given Mark's equation of 'the Rock' and the 'Form' of Adam (because they share the same letters and obviously share the same numerological value) its not hard to see that Christianity must also have pushed the existence of their ΙΣ - our 'Jesus' - back to Creation.  This is what the gospel of John says 'in the beginning was the Word ..." But early Jewish sources from the dawn of Christianity make this even clearer.

Philo of Alexandria had one of the earliest surviving manuscripts of the Torah.  He lived at the beginning of the first century and his Greek translation of the original Hebrew clearly distinguished between 'Adam' and 'Ish.'  Philo says that when God commands 'Adam' not to eat the forbidden fruit in the second chapter of Genesis he is addressing a different man from the 'man' created after the image and likeness in chapter one.  This is fundamental to Philo's reading of the Torah and more importantly - his understanding that a second god named 'man' (in Greek 'anthropos') lurks in the text of the Law.

"A question may arise here to what kind of Adam he gave this command and who, this Adam was," says Philo to his readership. "For Moses has not made any mention of him before; but now (in chapter 2) is the first time that he has named him." "And he calls him," continues Philo citing the text of the Torah"Earth." For this is the interpretation of the name of Adam. Accordingly, when you hear the name Adam, you must think that he is an earthly and perishable being."  And he continues elsewhere "The races of men are twofold; for one is the heavenly man, and the other the earthly man. Now the heavenly man, as being born in the image of God, has no participation in any corruptible or earthlike essence. But the earthly man is made of loose material, which he calls a lump of clay. On which account he says, not that the heavenly man was made, but that he was fashioned according to the image of God; but the earthly man he calls a thing made, and not begotten by the maker."

Clearly now we know what Philo really means - the original Hebrew text upon which his Greek translation was based distinguished between the creation of 'ish' in the first chapter and 'Adam' in the second.  And it wasn't just Philo who distinguished between a 'heavenly man' and an 'earthly man.'  The Letter to the Corinthians in the Christian Bible has a nearly identical juxtaposition between these two 'men.'  Since Christianity was understood to be establishing a new race of 'heavenly men' on the earth, the text speaks from our perspective as human beings - i.e. first we were made after Adam and lastly in the present age after ΙΣ the heavenly man:
The first man Adam was made a living soul, the last Lord was made a quickening spirit.  The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.
Once again we see the early Christian doctrines are absolutely in accord with Mark the Samaritan's mysticism.  In either case, becoming one with אש is the path to becoming a god.

I am not trying to say that there aren't differences between the traditions as well as these uncanny similarities.  Of course the Samaritans don't accept 'Jesus' and Christians don't emphasize the example of Moses as the first man after Adam to be 'restored' to divinity in the manner that Samaritans do.  But that's perfectly understandable given the differences between their respective cultures.  I can't even tell you whether Christianity was directly influenced by Mark or Mark merely passed on an ancient tradition - a secret tradition that dates back to the culture which produced the Torah - and Christianity and Samaritanism had a shared dependence on that original exegesis.  There's a lot we don't know and I don't want to make it seem that I have the answers to everything.

The bottom line is that Samaritans and Christians both understand that humanity is lacking something - something that Adam lost at creation.  This understanding is explicitly proclaimed in the Torah.  It's not like the narrative 'spells it out' for us.  But if you look at things from the right perspective it's hard not to see that what Adam and his descendants were missing was אש.  God says to the angels in Genesis "let us make man in our image and likeness."  In the next line we here only that "God made man according to the image of God" or "His image" depending on the translation.  It seemed as if the original plan to make man according to both "our image and likeness" was somehow not carried out.

It should be noted that there are many different variations of what exactly happened in the first chapter that led to 'Adam' lacking something when he was created out of the earth.  The earliest Jewish interpretation that is known to us however is distinguished by its correct assumption that the first man is not Adam but a heavenly man.  As Philo notes "some one may ask, why God thought an earth-born mind, which was wholly devoted to the body, worthy of divine inspiration, and yet did not treat the one made after his own idea and image in the same manner."  So the man according to the image is clearly not Adam.  The man according to the image is אש or if you prefer the way the name was expressed in Greek letters on Christian manuscripts - ΙΣ.

The 'plan' that Philo sets forth as existing from the beginning of Creation is as follows:
And even if there be not as yet any one who is worthy to be called a son of God, nevertheless let him labour earnestly to be adorned according to his first-born word, the eldest of his angels, as the great archangel of many names; for he is called, the authority, and the name of God, and the Word, and man according to God's image, and he who sees Israel. For which reason I was induced a little while ago to praise the principles of those who said, "We are all one man's Sons." (Gen 42:11) For even if we are not yet suitable to be called the sons of God, still we may deserve to be called the children of his eternal image, of his most sacred word; for the image of God is his most ancient word.
Once again those who want to ignore Philo testimony are left grasping at straws.  "Philo didn't know what he was talking about." "Philo only spoke Greek,"  All these considerations miss the point.  Philo clearly didn't think 'Adam' was meant here. He thought 'man' was being used in a special way.  It was referring to a 'heavenly man.'  There can be no doubt that the scripture cited here is an ish reference in Hebrew.  We are all sons of man בני איש or if you prefer the original Hebrew בני אש.  There can be only one inference - the Patriarchs were saying we are sons of אש, the second god.

Of course some might argue a much safer position.  "Yes Philo is saying that the 'man' reference in Genesis 42:11 is to a special 'heavenly man.' But Philo is nuts.  The 'man' in Genesis 42:11 is clearly Jacob and even if Philo is trying to say that אש is the heavenly man, the argument is without merit because in its proper context the scripture is merely saying that the sons of Jacob are sons of the man Jacob."  The surprising thing here is that Philo is very consistent.  He does not believe that the sons of Jacob were actually born to Jacob's seed.  He thinks that the 'heavenly man' - and this is backed up by the use of ish in the original Hebrew - had a hand in the birth of the Patriarchs.  So even if it is a crazy position or a crazy sounding position it is one which backed up by the original Hebrew text of Genesis and which is remarkably consistent.

Indeed we will come to that particular understanding later in our book.  For the moment it is enough to acknowledge that both Philo and Mark are saying the same thing about the existence of a heavenly man who is אש.  Philo simply assumes that the Greek word anthropos is translating the original Hebrew name of the second god; Mark, making reference to the original Hebrew, disguises his argument by appeals to gematria and kabbalah.  So in another section of his surviving writings we see Mark revisit the idea of the eshel tree as the tree of life in Paradise which we saw in the last chapter.  We saw there Abraham's planting of an אשל in paradise and Isaac's subsequent 'tending' to the tree was epitomized the opposite of the verse in Deuteronomy 32:18 "You deserted the Rock, who fathered you; you forgot the God who gave you birth."

As we remember, the Hebrew הצור is the numerological equivalent of אש.  Even the Letter to the Corinthians recognizes the gematria - "and the Rock was Christ." In the next passage we are about to discuss Mark literally identifies Moses as the אשל and says that he was made a man - a man of God - because he was adorned with the Form of Adam:
Great was the tree which was planted in the garden of Amram. Of its fruit all the generations of the world are supplied for ever. Great was the tree which was planted in the land of Egypt and grew up in the desert and was cut off on Mount Nebo. Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died ... His eye was not dim ... nor his natural force abated for he was vested with the Form which Adam cast off in the Garden of Eden; and his face shone up to the day of his death. 
It is very common to identify a great man (i.e. an ish) as an eshel.  Aramaic dictionaries are filled with examples.  It must have been seen as a play on words - eshel being likened to ish by means of a faux etymology.  Mark's near contemporary Philo of Alexandria also thinks the 'heavenly man' was the tree of life in Paradise albeit we don't know what type of tree he thought it was.

Whatever the case may be we come to the realization that ALL of the earliest commentators on the Torah think that אש was the heavenly man and who had a role in the final act of perfecting man.  While there are slight differences in the way the idea is expressed, the underlying 'cosmic drama' that played out in the millenia since the creation of Adam is basically the same.  While אש was given both the image and the likeness of God, Adam was later created only in the image of God.  The 'likeness' was held back for some reason and only later was the original creation 'perfected.'  Mark explain things in terms of Moses being the first 'man of God.'  The same emphasis isn't as pronounced in Jewish and Christian sources but the understanding isn't denied either.  The differences are attributable to a matter of emphasizing different parts of the same underlying tradition.

We haven't talked a lot about the Karaites - a Jewish sect that arose after the codification of the Talmud in the fifth century.  They have ties which connect them to the Sadducees of the Common Era.  They express the same אש tradition in a way that emphasizes a relationship with Moses, like the Samaritans.  One of their earliest exegetes writes:
Know that some angels are made of fire and some of wind, as it says “You make the winds your messengers, fire and flame your ministers” (Ps 104:4). Thus, they can be sustained in the wind with no need for the earth to diminish their bodies. Those who are made of fire stand before the glory of God, as the saying "fire and flames your ministers" while those who are made of the wind God sends to earth for matters related to humans. The angel that was revealed to Moses was one of the most exalted.  Know that the master of the universe did not show Moses the form (צורה) of the angel. He noticed him but he was surrounded by fire all around him and his shape was not revealed to Moses.
Once again we see the same formula - fire אש, form צורה and Moses, the man who entered the fire to put himself in acquaintance with secret knowledge from God.

Of course this tenth century Karaite author struggled with the obvious difficulty for a monotheistic interpretation of Judaism.  If you believe that there is only one God and the angels are shaped like humans and humans were made in the image of God, it's hard to avoid the idea that God had an anthropomorphic shape or was in fact a man.  In order to mitigate this difficulty the author concedes that that even though God's glory is superior to that of humans, its shape is similar to that of humans.  But this is complete nonsense.  You can't avoid certain truths because it challenges established dogma!  But this is what those who argued for one all-powerful all-knowing God did time after time.  Their cleverness ultimately forced the second god אש to disappear from view.

The only explicit confirmation of the Godman ultimately comes from the most ignorant and least learned of all the surviving traditions - Christianity.  The fact that most Christians think that the name ΙΣ in their manuscripts is a code for the name Joshua is only testimony to the success of ancient counter-intelligence operations can be.  The idea that ΙΣ might be a code for Joshua was presented in at least a few early Church Fathers.  It wasn't presented as a universally acknowledged 'fact' by any means.  Little by little the idea that this Godman was really a man of flesh and blood developed.  The man who appears suddenly and unannounced in the gospel of Mark gradually develops into a man born to a woman and then a virgin.  It's easy to reshape tradition if you gain control of the manuscripts.

But since ΙΣ is always likened back to Adam, the idea that ΙΣ means 'Joshua' is rendered utterly implausible.  If we turn to Wikipedia - the starting point for any modern truth-seeker - we find the following explanation of Imago Dei, the Latin terminology used in Christianity:
In Christian thought, the Image of God is intimately linked to the idea of Original Sin. The Image that was present in Adam at creation was partially lost with the Fall of man, and that through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, humans can be reunited with God. Christian writers have stated that despite the Image of God being partially lost, each person fundamentally has value regardless of class, race, gender or disability. Regardless of the exact meaning of being made in the Image of God, the concept is a foundational doctrine of Christianity and Judaism.
If this understanding of ΙΣ being the 'image of God' is taken seriously, ΙΣ can't mean Joshua.  Joshua was never presented as such in the Torah.  Moses perhaps, but not Joshua.

In any event if we return to the Wikipedia page this mistaken reading of ΙΣ doesn't even matter.  It becomes patently obvious that ΙΣ is the same אש of the Jewish, Samaritan and Karaite traditions when we follow the underlying logic of the earliest approaches to the Imago Dei.  We read it tell us that there were two basic understandings of the application of 'image and likeness' to the creation of man in early Christianity.  There were those, with a certain Origen of Alexandria in the third century, who held that "the image of God as something given at creation, while the likeness of God as something bestowed upon a person at a later time."  Origen's understanding derives demonstrably from Philo and thus it is a continuation of the original understanding as preserved among Jews in Alexandria.  Nevertheless there was a second 'reactionary' position which was developed by a certain Irenaeus who was active in Rome which clearly sought to 'correct' the dualism of that original position.

Irenaeus's mission was to deny the existence of a wholly separate second God.  Even though he believed in a Father and a Son and a Spirit he strove in his writings to argue that these weren't separate beings.  In the same then, because of the fact this original אש tradition 'beefed up' the second god אש to 'protect' the Most High god from involvement with Creation, Irenaeus strove to obscure any hint of independence or individuality with respect to the two powers.  So Irenaeus used the terms 'image and likeness' indiscriminately.  Adam was made in the image and likeness of God, Adam lost the image and likeness when he sinned, Christ came to restore the image and likeness to humanity.  The likeness of God was not conceived as a separate entity.  It was not allowed to be a separate being which could 'secretly' be understood to be a wholly distinct second power.

But for all of Irenaeus's efforts to cloud the waters, the Greek Church Fathers as whole did maintain a distinction between the image and likeness.  Humanity according to this dogma always retained the divine image which includes within it many characteristics including the ability to seek after God with divine grace.  While it is impossible for humanity to lose the divine image, we never had the divine likeness.  Adam's failure to chose the likeness led to the introduction of death and corruption into our nature.  But this is the context of the mission of the Christian savior - 'Jesus' by means of word of mouth but on the written page ΙΣ.  ΙΣ came down from heaven to bring the promise of incarnation - that is of man becoming God.

The bottom here is that the Christian doctrine of the Imago Dei is a garbled re-presentation of a much more ancient understanding of the secret doctrine of the Torah.  The earthy man Adam was designed to be an inferior copy of the heavenly man אש.  Starting with Moses the promise of establishing an ish ha'elohim was finally realized.  Yet early Christianity made the case that because they were living at the end times, the rules had changed.  No longer were the bulk of humanity meant to be 'kept down' as an inferior species.  We were meant to realize our divine potential with the help of the Godman אש and the religious mysteries he established.  Our job is to make sense of what those secret doctrines were in light of all the subsequent efforts made to obscure them.






Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Chapter Four

If we are going to understand the origin of the concept 'man' we have to go back to the beginning of the account of creation.  What we have been taught about God and creation is for the most part - complete nonsense.  God wasn't alone, God himself didn't create anything, and God didn't fashion the world from nothing.

These things are important to understand the Bible because we have to strip ourselves of all the things that Judaism and Christianity picked up along the way in their 'many thousand year' existences.  You see, just like each of one us, the collective body of Jews and Christians interacted and fought with other people, people who had great power over them, and these outsiders had a great effect on the constitution of each religion.  As a result of this contact the religions were changed.

Perhaps the most profound change was the understanding of creation.  It wasn't as if God was surrounded by nothing and then decided 'aha, time to make stuff!'  The original story, taken over from creation myths in nearby and related cultures, had it that there was this big chaotic mess and then God decided to straighten it out ... essentially by naming things.  It doesn't make sense to us now because of the way we take for granted the power of words and language.  However the people that first used the Bible understood that the power of names and naming assured that humanity would rule over the chaos which is existence.

To this end, when the narrator of the Torah describes for us what happened in the beginning he does so by keeping things murky.  We can't see clearly what is really going on.  It's like he is showing us something buried in the deepest darkness by taking a flashlight or a flaming torch and shining the barest of illumination about the process.  Indeed the first line comes upon us quite suddenly.  We can see that even before creation there is water and land - twin parts of the aforementioned chaos - and all that God is doing is 'forming' and 'saying' to give shape to the mess.

But he is also talking to someone else present beside him.  Who this someone or someones are is anyone's guess now.  Some claim it was his wife.  However the oldest opinion is clearly that his hearer is male.  It is either a group of angels to whom he addresses his words or a particular being, his word.  The Hebrew text of Genesis does not explicitly identify who is with God in the beginning.  But by the time this text was translated into the related languages of Aramaic and Greek it is apparent that God is addressing his words to his Word (word is capitalized in most translations to make it clear this word is special).

Does that sound kind of strange?  How can God create by his word?  The earliest Christians explained the process in the following manner.  A Church Father named Theophilus of Antioch writing in the second half of the second century says that God "having his own Word internal within his own bowels, begat him, emitting him along with his own wisdom before all things. He had this Word as a helper in the things that were created by him, and by him he made all things."  Theophilus inevitably turned to a unique translation of the beginning of Psalm 45 to make his case - "in this good work God employs a most excellent minister, even His own Word. 'My heart' He says, 'hath emitted my most excellent Word.'"

So the underlying idea is that from God's very speech came a second god who essentially did all the things we usually ascribe to God in the creation narrative.  In the Aramaic translations of the book of Genesis we see the word used for 'word' here - memra.  In these Targums (targum the word used to denote a translation of the books of the Bible from Hebrew) you see over and over again the memra appear as a kind of 'explanative tool' to help make sense of passages where two gods seem to be described.  For instance when we read in Genesis "Let us create man in our likeness ... so God created man in his own image" the Targum's change the last line into "and the memra of the Lord created man in His likeness."

Similarly in the description of the covenant with Abraham we read the description in Hebrew "And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed" the Aramaic translation reads "And I will establish my covenant between my memra and between you."  There are dozens - almost a hundred - examples of this transformation of the text in the Aramaic translations of the Bible.  Among Greek speaking Jews especially in Egypt the equivalent term logos is used and it clearly influenced the opening lines of the Gospel of John.  The bottom line is that the idea that a divine helper to establish creation is as Jewish a concept as any.  Everyone knew there was this 'second god' and then just as suddenly they forgot.  The question of why they forgot is almost as interesting and provocative as the re-discovery of the God-man.

But for the moment let's try to bring this discovery back to our original discussion.  Yes, there appears to have been wide-acknowledgement that there was a second god in the Bible.  But how do we get from him being a 'word' to him being a 'man'?  Surely one is not the same as the other.  Of course, this is where my Opa's knowledge came in so handy.  The scribes of Israel deliberately hid the presence of the Godman.  In the same way as discovering manhood is difficult, so is it with respect to revealing the Godman.

My grandfather passed on that at times the author of the Torah hid the presence of the Godman by means of gematria - that is substituting one word or phrase for another with the same numerological value.  So in this case when you add up the letters of the Aramaic word memra you arrive at 281. While archaic ish has a value of 301.  Not the same thing.  But we are clearly dealing with two different languages and Aramaic is not the original language of the Torah.  When God speaking in the opening verses of Genesis the text either uses אמר, which means to say or declare or קרא which means to name or proclaim.  קרא happens to have a numerological value of 301.

While  be a there is another more important discovery from my friend Benny the Samaritan.  As noted earlier the Samaritan tradition was founded by a mysterious exegete named Mark who lived in the late first or second centuries.  In his surviving explanations of the Torah he makes a very interesting and mysterious statement which basically explains the beginning of the Bible by going to the very end.  For it is almost at the last chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy that we find the Great Song of Moses.  This song is explained by Mark to tell the story of the perfection of Moses.  How he was transformed into the man of God (ish ha'elohim) - that is, how he was transformed into a divine prophet.  


Of course none of the things which Mark picks up on are explicitly mentioned in the text.  It's as if he knows a great secret which was hidden from outsiders from the first writing of the Torah.  The upshot of his teaching can be summed up in the prayer of little children - 'as it was in the beginning so shall it be in the end."  In other words, as we have already shown the Torah is meant to be read as if Moses completes the story of the creation of Man and Adam.  What does that mean exactly?  To borrow now from Christian terminology the two creations in the beginning - that of a spiritual man and then an earthly man are completed or brought together in the perfection of Moses as told in the Great Song.  

The verse in Deuteronomy that Mark uses as a launchpad for his teaching is verse 32:3 - "For I will proclaim in the Lord." The verse doesn't sound like it holds the key to unlock all the mysteries of the Bible.  But Mark sure seems to think it does!  His analysis is quite complex and probably too difficult for most readers to follow.  Mark lived the Torah.  He must have studied it all his life.  He was also privy to oral tradition which helped shape his understanding.

We have to learn to see things Mark's way.  Just as Genesis describes the fashion of two men at the beginning of the book, the Great Song describes the synthesis of Ish and Adam in one man, Moses.  To follow Mark's exegesis you on this hidden story in the Bible you have to realize that his exegesis is also hidden by gematria.  He never once says the word ish at all.  He refers to it mysteriously by means of repeated use of words whose letters add up to 301 - 'proclaim' (קרא) and the 'form' (צורה) of Adam.
Therefore the great prophet Moses proclaimed (קרא) at the beginning of the great Song the word 'for' (כי) . Since these things came 'in the name' (בשם) 'for' became the medium of prophethood.  'In the beginning' (בראשית) is a beginning of Genesis so 'for' is a beginn­ing and God is in the beginning and at the end, for it is with His name (שמה) that he is vested and strengthened.  

Therefore he began by saying, 'For in the name' (כי בשם). Note the greatness of his knowledge.  What he did in the name (בשם) is a mystery; it established the glory with which his Lord vested him.  The Lord said it (אמרא) of the Form (צורתה) of Adamfor by it it was established; by God it was perfected

"Then the Lord God formed man." "For I will proclaim in the name of the Lord" is a renewal of creation (בראשית), and the name (ושמה) with which he was vested and the great name (ושמה רבה) whose secret he taught. Moses was magnified mightily in knowledge, wholly of faith.  The secret of creation (סוד בראשית)—know how it is; the great name (ושמה רבה) and the word 'for' were heard from the mouth of Moses.  The mouth of the Divine One and that of the prophetic one were alike. 

We have seen a word which the True One wrote — 'create' (ברא).  What is its meaning? He wrote "In the beginning ... created (ברא)", and Moses at his beginning said, "For in the name (of the Lord I proclaim = אקרא). Create was said because the True One there saw and created by His will, and Moses said in his great knowledge, proclaim just like the word create (אקרא הך מלת ברא).   
At first glance this must look like the most confused jumble of nonsense many of you have ever seen.  Most of you don't know the opening lines to the beginning and end of the Torah off by heart so you must struggle to make sense of it all.

Let me help you a little.  While Mark is doing his best to obscure his exact meaning it is clear that he is saying that the Great Song is describing a second Creation.  In the first Creation narrative there are five references to him 'creating' (the heavens and earth, sea monsters and all living creatures, man in his image twice and them male and female) and five references to him 'proclaiming' (day, night, the firmament heaven, the dry land earth and the waters seas).  Mark seems to be implying that there is a two step process - first 'creating' i.e. shaping or separating the chaos into 'things' and then 'proclaiming' or naming the formed things into specific beings.

In the second chapter of Genesis in fact it is the newly created man of earth - Adam - who takes over the job of 'proclaiming' and names the recently formed living creatures, cattle, birds of the air, beasts of the field and of course - woman.  The point of course is that it always been odd that God should shape a man out of the ground and then have him proceed to name a host of things that were made after the six days of creation.  Mark seems to think that what is described in the Adam narrative is only a mirror to what was taking place obscurely in the first chapter of Genesis.  In other words, there was a being who is eventually 'created' on the sixth day as the Godman Ish.

How do we know this?  Because קרא has the same numerlogical value as ish - 301.  When Mark says that both Moses and God 'proclaim' with the same mouth he is saying in effect that they have become one.  Proclaiming in the name of the Lord means acting in the role of God.  Moses is doing what God did in the beginning - perfect things by naming them.  God had taken the side out of Adam and woman was formed but not ultimately 'perfected' until Adam named - proclaimed her - 'woman.'  How did Moses become perfect?  Mark tells us that quite explicitly - Moses was vested with the form (צורה) of Adam.  צורה has a value of 301 and the form of Adam created by God is clearly the ish created in verse 1.27.  

Up until that point in the narrative Ish and the sons of Adam were separated.  When Moses had been perfected and became God the separation was broken.  How do we know that Moses became God?  Any Samaritan can tell you that.  'Moses' (משה) and 'his name' (שמה) have the same numerological value.  The reason the Song of Moses speaks of Moses "proclaiming in the name of the Lord" is because he has become God, he has become the 'man of God' - he was clothed with Ish.  But Mark could not originally have been telling us this because he believes that this power was limited to only Moses.  The name Mark (מרקה) as the same numerological value as Moses (משה) and the Samaritans know that  Mark became a prophet like Moses and ultimately Mark must have promised that transformative experience to those who followed his teachings too.  

But before we get too far ahead of ourselves it is enough to note the exact moment where Moses becomes God.  It was when the cloud covered the mountain for six days and on the seventh "Yahweh called to Moses from within the cloud."  The Bible adds "To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights."  The Samaritans however add critical details to their understanding of what took place.  They speak of the experience as "Moses treading the fire." 

According to their tradition Moses was called to join אש on the top of the mountain.  He fearlessly walked with his feet on the flames and was unharmed.  He was henceforth called 'ish ha'elohim' because he clearly became a mirror image of the divine Godman.  The Samaritans similarly speak of his reception of the Law as "from the אש."  It was was written by "a finger of devouring אש."  The Samaritans were not the only ones to understand the giving of the Law in this manner.  When Jews resettled in Islamic Spain after years of persecution in Christian lands they recorded similar traditions.  Multiple sources in the thirteenth century note that at the heart of the first word of the Bible - בראשית - you find אש.  Creation was really 'covenant of ish' (ברית אש).  The Torah is already so-called at the end of Deuteronomy - esh daat (אש דת) - that the 'law of ish.'

So it is again and again that we see the ideas of Mark reinforced in other sources.  Yet the preservation of his writings from almost 2000 years ago reinforce the basic idea which my grandfather preserved to me when I was just a young boy.  Most of the things we are taught in religion about the Bible are wrong.  At the very least they are simpleminded and superficial.  The deepest truths are never said.  Since אש was the most sacred power in the Israelite religion his presence is disguised throughout the text.  Mark's exegesis of the opening lines of the Great Song of Moses in Deuteronomy is the most explicit statement of what this secret tradition originally taught. 

As we proceed from where we left off in Mark's study it becomes apparent that he too refuses to reveal the hidden power אש.  You have to know gematria and the constant reference to words whose letters add up to 301 in the verse we were studying:
For I will proclaim in the name of the LORD; how great is our God!
301 is a very interesting number.  It is not quite a prime number.  There is one way that it can be divided.  It can be divided by 7 which leaves 43.  Of course the menorah candle in the tabernacle has seven branches and the word 'menorah' in Hebrew also happens to add up to 301 - so you know that word is going come up eventually in the treatise. 

Mark says elsewhere that אש glorified Moses seven times in the Torah, and then counts the seven times.  But he also knows that 43 happens to be the value of the Hebrew adjective 'great' (גדול) a word which not surprisingly happens to appear in the very verse we are studying.  Perhaps it should also come to no one's surprise that Mark discovered the very mathematical formula 7 x 43 in the 'secret language' of the Great Song of Moses.  If we follow where we just left off in the treatise we can see that he found a mathematical code in this verse which reveals the hidden Godman ish, if people are willing to look for it.

In order to see the 'mathematical code' you have to rearrange the English words in the order they appear in Hebrew:
For in the name of Yahweh I will proclaim is great our God. 
It is the section "proclaim is great" or קרא הבו גדל which is key.  If we remove all the spaces קראהבוגדל the result can be seen as a mathematical code:
קרא = הב וגדל
43 x 7 = 301
For Mark and the early Samaritan tradition, this result couldn't have been a mere coincidence.  This is why Mark spends an entire book devoted to the subject.  He is absolutely certain that Moses is singing about the Godman ish and continues to draw our attention to other words that add up to 301 appear in the section. 

If we return to the very place we left off earlier in his writings he confirms the understanding of 'in the beginning' from Jewish sources.  He says that 'creation' (בראשית) has within it "the six days and all the commandments that were written in the law."  Clearly his 'all the commandments that were written in the Law' is an allusion to the word scramble 'covenant of ish' (ברית אש) known to the Jewish sages.  Indeed he immediately follows this up with the even more cryptic statement:
The great prophet Moses made it (i.e. the opening verse in the Great Song) the gateway to all praises. In it is contained Genesis, as well as what is like it.
In other words, within בראשית is the word scramble ברית אש and the covenant and the blessing of אש. 

But let us ask the most daring question - why he won't actually explicitly reference the word אש?  Of course he does, and he will.  We just have to be patient.  He doesn't want to reveal the most sacred secret of his tradition just yet.  He leads us into this sacred chamber, this holy of holies, step by step.  We too have to walk on fire to reach the desired goal.  So after Mark cites the same words "Ascribe greatness to our God" this time in Aramaic he reveals to us that the very next word is a cipher for אש - i.e. it happens to have the value 301. So we read:
For in the name of Yahweh I will proclaim is great our God.
The Rock (הצור) his perfect work ...
Clearly then from Mark's perspective and the perspective of those he initiated into his mysteries, the answer is clearly there.  All the words in this section add up or multiply to the sacred number '301' which is the Godman of Israel. 

Let us hear word for word from Mark himself what Moses was saying in these verses:
The Rock (הצור) He said also later in the Song "The Rock (צור) that begot you" (Deut 32:18) . He began with the one and ended with the other. The first word is a compen­dium wholly of praises, like the garden (פרדיסה) which Abraham planted. The rock (צור) that begot you takes away the son who errs and disobeys. 
Of course the word for 'garden' that Mark uses here is pardes and it doesn't actually add up to 301.  But it too is an אש reference nonetheless. In Genesis 21:33 it doesn't say that Abraham planted a 'garden' but an eshel tree (אשל).  Mark's original audience knew that verse and the gematria of 301.  They were being brought into acquaintance with another idea which was shared by learned Jews in Alexandria - אש was also the tree of life in Paradise. 

The simple facts of the matter are that we can't follow Mark's argument easily because we haven't - like him - spent years studying the Bible in its original language.  So he can take us on a slight digression in what immediately follows - noting that Isaac was a good son who took care of Abraham's אשל.  This example of son faithfully following the orders of his father, Mark argues, is what is being said in the Great Song.  The Rock is their father but Israel forgets that he gave birth to them.  They have forgotten that they were made after Adam's form - that is the אש.  And so by the scrambling of to letters -  'the Rock' (הצור) to the 'Form' (צורה) of Adam - the conversation goes back to what was said earlier. 

In what immediately follows Mark declares again to his reads that:
The Form of Adam (צורתה דאדם) is glorified over all.  It's Lord empowered it above all forms (צוראתה). 
He goes on to say that while Adam himself is made of four elements fire (אש) is the essence of the form.  But he stops his reader.  They have to know that there are two types of fire - a divine one and an every day one.  What is sacred to Israel is very different than the common flame:
Fire is part and parcel of all created things, since at the Creation it was an element for everything ... go to the Garden and see what the divisions are—one made sweet and its changed state and one made bitter and its later state.  So fire is in this condition; in the Sanctuary it was made so, as on the candlestick. Aaron produced it well from the fire on the altar , which is perpetual, never extinguished. So the fire which is for the Burning , of which it is said, "Fire from the Lord" (Lev 9:24) . Therefore no other kind of fire enters into the Sanctuary. When it is brought into being it causes a great reflection (of light). The fire which the sons of Aaron made on the altar was put out when the great prophet Moses prayed to him (Num 11.2). 
So to repeat - Mark does not take much interest in any of the other four elements which made Adam the material man.  Only fire (אש) is understood to have an intimate relationship with divinity.  Water and earth are just the stuff left over from the divine forming of the primordial chaos.  Wind isn't even so much as mentioned at all.  Fire is close to god because fire (אש) is God. 

And then at once Mark arrives at the conclusion of this section of his treatise.  At the summation he assembles yet another dazzling array of words which add up to 301 all the while making his most explicit statement yet that his secret god אש is the second God of Israel.   We read:

Let us magnify our Lord and be humble before His greatness and believe in Him and Moses His prophet, who used the phrase the Rock (הצור) and conjoined it with the word Perfect.  From the Form (צורה) and the mind was the body perfected and set up in a manner quite apart from any other creature that was created ... At the beginning He mentioned Creation and at the end He magnified the Form (צורה) of Adam and blessed the firstborn with the two words 'Perfect work' (תמים-פעלו).  Greatness belongs to our Lord.  He has made everything known in His wisdom that which He made manifest for our Lord in His great power (בחילה רבה) made everything a form (צער) then created and fashioned and made creatures exceedingly grand.  Everything was made by His hand (בידה).  Everything was set aside from him.  Everything by His word (במימרה) was brought forth and is, by His power (בחילה) it was governed and by his good (ובטובה) it was made strong (מתחיל) and magnified by his glory.  
It is impossible to read this as anything other than Mark was a leading proponent of the two powers doctrine in the Common Era.  There is not only one Almighty Power but two - God and his man.  This Godman is the Form after which Adam was shaped but according to Moses one last process was left off to complete him - a process which Moses underwent to attain perfection on Sinai. 



 
Stephan Huller's Observations by Stephan Huller
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