Friday, March 20, 2009


A sample of what appears in the Real Messiah order it here

I hope someone is interested in this. I will keep this brief. I know why Marcion called Jesus Chrestos. The common understanding was that Jesus was 'the Good' god. Yet this never made sense to me. Good is the worst possible epithet. Even in Greek Chrestos had the sense of simpleton as it does in French viz. bon homme. Of course God is good but good is ultimately meaningless or - as we see in Justin and various other Church Fathers a screen to say 'Christians are good people' or something stupid like that.

Here's my discovery. Open up an LXX concordance. Chrestos takes the place of three Hebrew words 'tov' (obvious) yaqar (precious, honored) and yashar (upright). Yashar is the intriguing one because it leads us to something absolutely central in Judaism.

Hebrew Proverbs 2:21 כִּי-יְשָׁרִים יִשְׁכְּנוּ-אD6רֶץ; וּתְמִימִים, יִוָּתְרוּ בָהּ

LXX Proverbs 2:21 χρηστοὶ ἔσονται οἰκήτορες γῆς ἄκακοι δὲ ὑπολειφθήσονται ἐν αὐτῇ ὅτι εὐθεῖς κατασκηνώσουσι γῆν καὶ ὅσιοι ὑπολειφθήσονται ἐν αὐτῇ

In short Chrestos = yashar. As Kittel notes Chrestos "when used20of people means 'worthy,' 'decent,' 'honest,' morally 'upright' or 'good." (p 1320)

Okay so far? So why would the Marcionites have been so interested in identifying Jesus by a title which means 'upright,' 'just' or 'righteous.' Well let's bring to the table the other strange feature of the Marcionite understanding of Jesus - he had a supernatural body. He could walk through crowds, f ly through the air, and only appeared to be crucifed on the cross.

What does this have to do with Chrestos? Well, I hope it wouldn't be too much to say that the Marcionites thought that Jesus had an 'angelic' characteristic. Numerous passages in Tertullian can be used to argue this. Well take a guess which angel happens to be connected with the Hebrew word yashar?


Yes almost everyone in antiquity made the connection between a word spelled yod-shin-resh and Israel. Israel is (yod+shin +resh) + el (god). The Samaritans maintain a form of Hebrew which doesn't differentiate between shin and sin (the Jews put a dot on the right and left side of the letter to differentiate between two different phonemes). The Samaritans simply say the name of Israel comes from yashar or specifically Gen 32:28 "And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power ]yashar] with God and with men, and hast prevailed."

Now anyone who has ever read Philo, the various Palestinian Targums, the Prayer of Joseph and all those other pseudepygryphal texts knows that there was inevitably this story where Jacob either wrestles with an angel named Israel or Sariel, was a heavenly angel named Israel or something like this based on a word play related to yasar in Jewish Hebrew yashar in Samaritan Hebrew. The inevitable rejection by scholars that yasar com es from a root which means to 'rule' or have 'power' must be acknowledged. Nevertheless the poi nt isn't what we know but what ancients thought was true about the etymology of the name Israel. It is abolutely amazing to see how every single Greek translator connects Israel with Yashurun or Jeshurun which is derived from the yashar meaning 'upright' and translated as Chrestos in the LXX.

Brown, Driver and Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament p 449 identifies Aquila, Symmachus and Theodoret as identifying Yeshurun as the 'name of Israel, designating it under its ideal character.' Numbers appears to use the word “upright,” “yesharim,” as a play on the word “Jeshurun” to refer to the people of Israel.(Num 23:10) Similarly Rabbi Berekiah in the name of Rabbi Judah b. Rabbi Simon interpreted Jeshurun to mean “the noblest and best among you.” (Genesis Rabbah 77:1.)
Rabbi Aha bar Jacob told that the breastplate of the High Priest contained the words “The tribes of Jeshurun" (Babylonian Talmud Yoma 73b; see also Exodus Rabbah 38:9.)

I have always noticed the Jewish character of the Marcionite sect. Tertullian's repeated statements about them thinking that the Messiah would come as a man of war (Tert AM iv:20; Ephraim AM Bo ok i, Adamantius etc even Irenaeus AH iv:34), the idea that the revelation of the gospel rendered the Law of Moses useless, Irenaeus' complaint that the Marcionites divided the godhead into two powers of mercy and judgement (Irenaeus AH iii.25.3) and his identification of their criticism of ancient Israelites for taking the gold of the Egyptians (AH iv:30 and in at least four places in Tertullian's AM; cmp Berakoth 9a, 'Abodah Zarah 52a were the same story is attributed to the school of Jannai i.e 'Johnny'; Marcion = 'Marky') led me to identify this underlying but universally ignored characteristic. Now I see that suspicion confirmed to the highest degree. The reason the Marcionites identified Jesus as Chrestos was because it point to his secret role as the ancient Israel, the figure who gave20Jacob t he divine name, who visited with Abraham, who guided the Israelites as the column of glory and the well of Miriam.

Marcionitism can now finally be recognized to be connected with Alexandrian Judaism. When Philo and others present the otherwise ridiculous interpretation of the name Israel as 'a man seeing God' what they are really saying is that the name came from wrestling at Peniel or as Sayce (The Early History of the Hebrews p 73 -4) writes:

when the narrative in Genesis was composed a more primitive conception of the Divine nature still prevailed and no reluctance was felt in stating exactly what the patriarch himself had believed. It was God with whom he had struggled, and from whom he had extorted a blessing and a memory of the conflict and victory was preserved in the name Israel which Jacob thenceforth bore. The etymology however is really only one of those plays=2 0upon words of which the Biblical writers, like Orient al writers generally, are so fond. It has no scientific value, and was never intended to have any. Israel is, like Edom, not the name of an individual, but of the people of whom the individual was the ancestor. The name is formed like that of Jacob-el, and the abbreviated Jeshurun is used instead of it in the Song of Moses (Deut 32:15 see also Deut 33:5, 26; Isa 44:2). If the latter is correct, the root will not be sarah, 'he fought' or yasar 'he is king' but yashar 'to be upright' 'to direct;' and Israel will signify 'God has directed.' Israel in fact will be the 'righteous' people who have been called to walk in the ways of the Lord.
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The Marcionite understanding of the Gospel now is such that it essentially treats the story of Moses and the Exodus as a prophesy for what would happen in Galilee and Judea in the 'year of favor.' Jesus Chrestos, the angel Sariel redivivus comes back to earth to establish the true Israel with SOME OTHER figure from among the disciples as the awaited Messiah.

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