Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The New Sixth Chapter of the Myth of Jesus Christ

It has been said that few of us have the courage for what we really know. So it is with the study of the origins of Christianity.  We should know more about the ancient Agape the ritual.  Yet there seems to be an almost unconscious resistance to the hear what the evidence tells us about Jesus's supernatural role in the early Church.  We want Jesus to be a 'good rabbi' who taught the world 'to be nice to one another.'  Yet all the evidence suggests something wholly different.  When Jesus said 'love each other' he wasn't talking about giving your seat to the old lady on the bus.  He really meant to pair men into couples and encourage them to 'love each other.'  We were meant to see God in our brother - 'brother' being the term for the guy you happened to be bound to in a mystical marriage rite.

Where was Jesus in all of this?  He was the divine 'substance' that helped transform one's brother into God.  For instance one of the earliest testimonies comes from Justin Martyr in the middle of the second century.  Justin makes clear that Jesus was little more than the supernatural substance consumed in the ritual [1]  No wonder there is so little interest in coming to terms with this earliest of Christian rituals. It gets in the way of us continuing to believe in our inherited myths of Jesus Christ.  Yet it is for this very reason that we should press on.  Jesus was established from the very beginning as a God rather than a man.  So where did this brother-making rite originate?  It shall be our point in this chapter to begin to demonstrate that the Agape rite was rooted in the example of Moses.  Moses wasn't just the founder of the nation of Israel.  He was also the example of the Gnostic who stood midway between God and mankind and acted as an intermediary.  Jesus was the divine being who Moses met in the burning bush and subsequently sent him off to meet a brother he didn't even know he had.  As such Jesus was already established in the Book of Exodus as the force which one binds one man to another in brotherly love.

It is very interesting to see that the very same canonical text which tells us the most about the early Agape also gives us the clearest testimony about Jesus being present in the Book of Exodus.  The canonical Epistle of Jude, reportedly written by a brother of the apostle James and a Jewish Christian convert who was head of the Jerusalem church, makes reference to a wholly supernatural Jesus in its very opening words:

They are ungodly people, who pervert the [agape] of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.  Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Jesus at one time delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. [Jude 4,5]

When you read a text such as the Epistle of Jude it is hard to see why 'Jesus mythicism' gets such a bad rap from scholars - especially when such a writing is included in our New Testament.  Indeed the idea that Jesus was present in various narratives of the Pentateuch is well established in Patristic writings.  Nevertheless the two most important 'Jesus references' in the Pentateuch are those which related to Jacob and Moses.

For whatever reason, Jacob and Moses were understood to have been made aware of a power separate from the Creator, a people wholly distinct from the he who revealed himself to the other Patriarchs.  It will be our contention that in Christianity at least the understanding that the yesh which appeared to Moses in the burning bush crystallized into a figure named Yeshu or later 'Jesus' in Greek.  As the near contemporary Church Father Justin Martyr acknowledged to his Jewish opponent, it was. "Jesus, who led your fathers out of Egypt."[2]  The same understanding continues to get perpetuated through the Alexandrian tradition until the conclusion of heretical controversies in the fourth century.

The point again of course is that 'mythicism' - i.e. the understanding that Jesus was a divine hypostasis rather than a human being - shouldn't be relegated to the funny pages.  Jude's statement that Jesus spoke to Moses cannot be explained by a historical Jesus.  Yet such a reference is especially significant as the statement comes in the course of an attack against what is said to be a contemporary corruption of the original Agape ritual.  Everything 'Jude' says is a reaction to things being said by those who partake in the Agape.  Here he is saying essentially "yes, we acknowledge Jesus spoke to Moses from the burning bush" and later "yes, Moses's body was already taken up to heaven by Michael."  But the author's over-arching point is still the same - viz. this doesn't mean that all of you who partake in the same ritual as Moses will not escape judgement in the hereafter.[3]

This is the problem with most interpretations of the Epistle to Jude.  This isn't some disjointed 'attack' against the heresies.  It is condemnation of the alleged 'corruptions' that have crept into the contemporary Agape rite.  The focus is on Moses because of the appeal made to Moses by the heretics themselves.  Jude's point is to imply that the heretics were engaged in physical unions of men with men (v. 7), yet the heretics themselves undoubtedly argued that their Agape was spiritual in nature.  The underlying focus on Moses's role in the community is reflected in other contemporary reports of heresies.  In the case of the second century heretic Noetus for instance it is claimed that he and another man are both 'brothers' like Moses and Aaron and moreover Jesus was a wholly divine hypostasis who appeared as both Father and Son like the Being who spoke from the burning bush.[4]

The Epistle of Jude was clearly forged in the name of a Jewish bishop of Jerusalem a generation or two before this Noetus gained notoriety.[5]  We can safely assigned the text to a date after 147 CE and it was undoubtedly written by the same forger who penned the Second Epistle of Peter.[6]   In this case the author was using the authority of an early bishop of Jerusalem to denounce not only the Agape but the the traditions of a rival ecclesiastical tradition in the Christian center of Alexandria.  This was precisely why the letter was written in the name of a Jerusalem bishop - the forger was seeking to add weight to his demand for 'reform' in the Church by putting it in the name of an important and indeed semi-mythical voice from the past.

We should not be so naive as to think that the author of Jude was providing an independent witness to claims found in contemporary pagan attacks against Christianity.  The Agape undoubtedly did not change much from the time it was first established in the Alexandrian Church.  What was different by the middle of the second century was the whisper campaign to smear those who partook of this rite which as noted was rooted in the sudden transformation of Moses and Aaron into brothers from Exodus 4:27.   It is difficult to ignore the reality that the author of Jude was being influenced either directly or indirectly by the Octavian of Minucius Felix (c. 160 CE).  As we noted in our previous chapter, the world was convinced that the Agape was gay, not merely the author of Jude.

The reason the letter was included in the canon - in spite of it being recognized by some as a forgery - was because our Catholic tradition developed as a reform movement.  The Epistle of Jude in fact can be argued to have led the charge against the 'excesses' of the previous age. If the author wasn't Polycarp of Smyrna, the earliest historical person to make reference to the text, it was written by someone who shared his worldview.[7]  Yet the identification of Polycarp as the author helps explain why the work - despite frequent doubts about its authenticity - was included in the New Testament canon.  After all a man claiming to be the world's greatest authority on his teachings had a leadership position in the Church of Rome at the turn of the third century.

In a subsequent chapter we shall cite with great interest a recently discovered letter of Clement of Alexandria which connects what follows in Jude to a similar 'corrupted' love rite associated with a longer version of the gospel of Mark:

these people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted —twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever. [Jude 12, 13]

The important point for us to keep in mind here is that the Church of Alexandria is specifically being put in the cross hairs by means of this text forged in the name of a bishop of Jerusalem.  The main beneficiary of including this document in the New Testament was the Church of Rome.  After all, such a call to end the 'fornication' practices of the established order would necessarily have to be followed up with a new understanding of 'orthodoxy.'

For the moment however we should use the Epistle of Jude to open the door to the idea that the love feast was rooted in something that happened to Moses.  This idea is reinforced on every chapter of the document.  The brother-making rite is referenced in particular in the preface to the work where the author claims to be "Jude the servant of God, the brother of James."  After all the servant of God is a well established title of Moses. The apostle James was traditionally identified as a high priest like Aaron.[8]  The Latin Church Father Jerome basing his information on a lost Jewish Christian gospel writes that James "alone enjoyed the privilege of entering the Holy of Holies, since, indeed, he did not wear woolen, but only linen clothes, and went into the Temple alone and prayed on behalf of the people, so that his knees were reputed to have acquired the callousness of a camel's knees."

We have now laid the ground work for the rest of the book.  We shall demonstrate in due course that the whole gospel narrative was originally developed not merely from the Book of Exodus but from the third and fourth chapters in particular.  It was here that Moses and Aaron were established as brothers through a mystical rite which was understood to give them incredible powers.  Indeed they performed signs and wonders which ultimately liberated the Israelites from captivity.  The heretics whom the author of Jude is writing against clearly believe that the Agape ritual cleansed Moses of his sins (= murder).  They said that the archangel Michael fought over the body of Moses with the devil and ultimately brought his soul into heaven as such he was proof that those who had undergone the same rite would avoid the Last Judgement.

In our next chapter we shall cite the traditional interpretation of the words of Exodus 4:27 "And the Lord said to Aaron, Go into the wilderness to meet Moses; and he went and met him in the mount of God, and they kissed each other (kai katephilesan allelous)" and demonstrate that the two men were bound together in a rite that resembled marriage.  The kissing aspect of this rite continues in all early descriptions of the Agape[9] yet the mysticism of this kiss is perpetuated also in Judaism.  Here it is preserved that when Moses kisses Aaron the Divine Presence touches his brother.  Both Moses and Aaron are said to have been translated into heaven by a 'kiss of death.'

To this end it should not be at all surprising that we suggest that the Agape developed from the experience of Moses.  After all, when we go through the writings associated with Clement, our earliest witness to the Christian tradition of Alexandria, it is amazing to see how references to Moses abound in his description of the mystic rite of his community.  In our last citation from the excerpts of Theodotos in the previous chapter it was said that the gnostic asks the question "and where is it granted to see God 'face to face'"?  This is an echo of the experience of Moses from the Book of Exodus.  Indeed Clement repeatedly references the same conception in his writings.

As we began to explain there were three grades on the path to becoming a gnostic - servant, friend and brother.  The second grade of initiation - that of "friendship (philian) with God' is always linked by Clement with the person of Moses.  So we read "accordingly it is said, "God talked with Moses as a friend with a friend." [10]  Clement also puts Moses on a higher level of his friendship with God than those who accepted his Law  - "and he who on fitting considerations readily receives and keeps the commandments, is faithful (pistos); and he who by love requites benefits as far as he is able, is already a friend."[11]  The only grade higher than being a 'friend of God' or Moses in the chain of command is that of being made a son of God or 'brother.'  It was the realization of this mystical experience which distinguished Christianity from Judaism.

Indeed if Moses defined the process of going from servant to a friend than the gnostic embodied that of becoming a brother through philia:

The cause of these (i.e. faith, hope), then, is love, of all wisdom the most sacred and most sovereign. For by the service of what is best and most exalted, which is characterized by unity, it renders the gnostic at once friend and son, having in truth grown "a perfect man, up to the measure of full stature." Further, agreement in the same thing is consent. But what is the same is one. And friendship (philia) is consummated in likeness (di' homoiotetos perainetai); the community lying in oneness. The Gnostic, consequently, in virtue of being a lover (agapetikos) of the one true God, is the really perfect man and friend of God, and is placed in the rank of son. For these are names of nobility and knowledge, and perfection in the contemplation of God; which crowning step of advancement the gnostic soul receives, when it has become quite pure, reckoned worthy to behold everlastingly God Almighty, "face," it is said, "to face." For having become wholly spiritual, and having in the spiritual Church gone to what is of kindred nature, it abides in the rest of God.[12]

The idea of philia being consummated in likeness is the core concept at the heart of the mysticism of this Alexandrian Christian religion.  Notice at once that 'friendship' is understood to be consummated in likeness being a lover of God.  The term agapetikos (= to have agape) is expressly connected with philia hence the name of the rite (= Agape).

The original gospel narrative is nothing more than a development of the account of Moses in Exodus especially.  Already in the Greek translation of the Bible God establishes 'agape' between himself and the community of Israel through Moses.  Nevertheless the Christian Agape rite is a development of the mystical experience of brotherhood established between Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.  The reader should be aware that Moses says he cannot face Pharaoh alone so Aaron is established by God as his brother.  Philo of Alexandria only hints at the same supernatural experience when he reports that Aaron's soul had already been prepared "for obedience through the watchful working of God, so he without hesitation he assented and followed" Moses.[13]  It will be our contention that the gospel writer deliberately sought to establish some state which was more perfect than that which is ascribed to Moses in the Pentateuch.  Moses ends up certainly having his flesh changed, corresponding to the echo of the heretical interest in 'strange flesh' in Jude.  His face shines with light when he comes down from the mountain after receiving the ten utterances.

Nevertheless Moses is never directly identified as being a brother of God, only his 'friend.'  It is only through divine philia (= friendship) that Christian can ultimately take the next step to 'brother-making.'  In the same way that Moses abstained from sex before ascending the mountain of transformation, Christianity develops an interest in celibacy and asceticism.  To be merely become kasher (= pure) enough to behold God one must abstain from touching a woman.  Yet to ultimately join the divine brotherhood the initiate must make himself in the likeness of the angels (= ritual castration).

Once again we must stress that Philo never uses the word philia to describe the manner in which the religion of Moses functioned.  It is only used in the context of the love that citizens of the nation of Israel have for one another through their devotion to God.[14]  Indeed this is line with the normal use of philia in Greek.  For instance when Aristotle gives examples of philia in the pagan culture of his day he comes up with countless examples of philia - young lovers, lifelong friends, cities with one another, political or business contacts, parents and children, fellow-voyagers and fellow-soldiers, members of the same religious society, or of the same tribe.[15]  Only those human beings whose virtue towered above their contemporaries are ever described as 'friends of God.'  The most obvious examples are King Minos of Crete and Pythagoras the philosopher.

Thus if we were to define the one idea which set Christianity from all that came before it, the answer would have to be that it established a ritual setting where philia was extended to a relationship between man and God through another man.  Of course it would be quite bizarre to imagine a religion offering its adherents friendship with the invisible, unknowable God.  In his Rhetoric, Aristotle defines the activity involved in philia as "wanting for someone what one thinks good, for his sake and not for one's own, and being inclined, so far as one can, to do such things for him." John M. Cooper argues that this indicates "that the central idea of philia is that of doing well by someone for his own sake, out of concern for him (and not, or not merely, out of concern for oneself).... thus the different forms of philia [as listed above] could be viewed just as different contexts and circumstances in which this kind of mutual well-doing can arise" (1380b36–1381a2) As such there is a very good reason why Philo and other ancient writers did not use philia to describe the relationship between man and God.

So we must ask then how could Alexandrian Christianity claim that all its members would end up being 'friends of God'?  The answer again is to go back to the concept of seeing one's brother as God.  The idea that human beings were transformed into gods is as old as Alexandrian Christianity.  The Yale professor Stephen J Davis has demonstrated that the concept continues in the surviving Egyptian Church as part of its unusual use of the term 'incarnation.'   In short, the incarnation isn't something that just happened at the time of Jesus's ministry but a continuing process of Christ appearing in bodily form through his perfected believers.

Clement of Alexandria and his tradition certainly originally believed that Jesus got the ball rolling by establishing one particular individual as his 'brother.'  This individual was Simon Peter who was baptized by Jesus and who in turn had the rest of the apostles undergo his initiation.  As we shall demonstrate shortly this concept was at the heart of the longer gospel of Mark.  We will ultimately assume that this rite - the mystery of the kingdom of God - was one and the same with the Agape being attacked by the Epistle of Jude (hence Clement's reference to the material in his Letter to Theodore).

Yet it wasn't just the Alexandrian tradition which was rooted in the brother-making ritual.  There is evidence to suggest that in Jerusalem at least that figure was James.  In Edessa the figure named Judas 'the twin' (= thoma) must have been identified in these terms.  The gospel makes clear that many of the disciples were already 'friends' of Jesus.  One can see this as confirming that the apostles had attained equal status to Moses through practicing the same ritual celibacy and righteousness.  Indeed 'the apostle' is another often ignored epithet of Moses.

It shall be our contention however that the concept of the brother or twin of God, was something distinctly Christian.  The basic concept was drawn from traditional Jewish mystical interest in Exodus 4:27.  Yet before we get too deeply involved in the understanding of how Mark developed this original understanding we should attempt to ask a more basic question that is - what kind of cultural environment would lead to the positing of a brotherhood rite which made the participants greater than Moses?  The clearest answer that we get to that particular question is found in the writings of Celsus again.  At least part of this 'new myth' must have developed in light of the failed revolt of 70 CE.  The Jews must have appeared irrational for undertaking such an enterprise and as we see reflected in the pages of the True Word, the Jewish divine logos was blamed for the inherent irrationality of his people.

What was the Pentateuch other than the long overly symbolic account of the world's most dysfunctional family?  The Jewish logos, the pagan critic noted established instability in the minds of all who venerated its "conspiracies of brothers against one another."[16]  Let's at least consider for the moment that this narrative was at least identified by the evangelist as reflecting an underlying problem in 'human nature' - namely the lack of love in the hearts of men for their 'fellow brothers.'  This pattern would be seen as starting with Cain and Abel through the sons of Israel selling Joseph into slavery.  There are two principal moments in the Pentateuch when its unusually negative depiction of family relations allows for reconciliation - the example of Jacob successfully becoming divine through stealing the power and authority of his angelic brother Esau and the even stranger reconciliation between Moses and his otherwise unknown brother Aaron after the burning bush incident.

In either case there is an unusual pattern which has often been noted between the traditional interpretations of these two Pentateuch narratives.  God makes himself manifest to the Patriarch.  This is followed by the appearance of an angel who tries to kill the Patriarch - when the angel is identified in the early literature his name appears as some variation of the original Sariel.  After the Patriarch escapes the clutches of death the narrative suddenly shifts to an abrupt reconciliation of two brothers sealed with a kiss.  All of this can't be coincidence and it must have been the material which the author of the gospel drew from to establish his secret brother-making doctrine.

The original Jesus myth then is the idea that the divine power who was encountered by Jacob and Moses returns to the world to establish humanity's restoration through divine philia.  This mystical process is hinted at in many of Clement's statements especially toward the end of the Stromata.  He speaks of:

the holiness of the Gnostic in union with [God's] blessed foreknowledge (pronoia), exhibits in voluntary confession the perfect beneficence of God. For the holiness of the Gnostic, and the reciprocal benevolence of the friend of God, are a kind of corresponding movement of providence (pronoias). For neither is God involuntarily good, as the fire is warming; but in Him the imparting of good things is voluntary, even if He receive the request previously. Nor shall he who is saved be saved against his will, for he is not inanimate; but he will above all voluntarily and of free choice speed to salvation. Wherefore also man received the commandments in order that he might be self- impelled, to whatever he wished of things to be chosen and to be avoided. Wherefore God does not do good by necessity, but from His free choice benefits those who spontaneously turn.[17]

The reason Clement is so determined to show that this relationship is not determined - i.e. that it develops out of freewill - is as a conscious reaction to the criticisms which were developing among both pagan and Roman Christian writers.  As noted in the Epistle of Jude, to the outside observer those who partake in the Agape rite seemed to be engaging in magic owing to their claims that it freed them from even the authority of God.

Clement desperately tries to recast the relationship between man and God in a different manner.  God isn't induced or compelled by magic to become one with man at the Agape.  Rather it is man who is simply becoming like God through the working of 'divine providence.'   So it is again that Clement reassures his readership that those who partake in the Christian mysteries are best identified as 'philosophers' because Christianity is itself the 'true philosophy' (where philosophy = 'philia-sophia' is a reference to the initiates love of Jesus the embodiment of divine Wisdom) and notes that "the philosopher loves and likes the truth, being now considered as a friend (philos), on account of his love, from his being a true servant." [18]  Similarly, the Gnostic it is said by Clement to "not only praises what is noble, but endeavours himself to be noble, changing by love from a good and faithful servant into a friend, through the perfection of habit, which he has acquired in purity from true instruction and great discipline." [19]

It simply cannot be coincidence that the two titles of 'servant' and 'friend' of God are used here side by side.  Once again these are well established epithets of Moses derived from the Pentateuch.  Once again we see a reflection that the path to perfection mirrors Moses ascent up the mountain advancing from 'servant' (Ex 4:10, 13) to 'friend' (Ex 33:11) to 'brother.'  Moses, as we have already shown, never attains the level of 'brother' in the narrative.  So where did Mark get the idea that God would ultimately offer humanity the opportunity to become his brother?  Certainly Exodus 4:27 was one source.  Nevertheless he was certainly drawing from the parallel narrative of Jacob's encounter with his brother-angel.

As Clement repeatedly notes the god Jesus was already present with the Patriarchs blazing the path which would eventually be spelled out in the pages of the gospel:

Again, when He speaks in His own person, He confesses Himself to be the Instructor: "I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt." [Ex 20.2] Who, then, has the power of leading in and out? Is it not (Jesus) the Instructor? This was He who appeared to Abraham, and said to him, "I am thy God, be accepted before Me;" and in a way most befitting an instructor, forms him into a faithful child, saying, "And be blameless; and I will make My covenant between Me and thee, and try seed." There is the communication of the Instructor's friendship (philias). And He most manifestly appears as Jacob's instructor. He says accordingly to him, "Lo, I am with thee, to keep thee in all the way in which thou shalt go; and I will bring thee back into this land: for I will not leave thee till I do what I have told thee." He is said, too, to have wrestled with Him. "And Jacob was left alone, and there wrestled with him a man till the morning." This was the man who led, and brought, and wrestled with, and anointed the athlete Jacob against evil. Now that the Word was at once Jacob's trainer and the Instructor of humanity (appears from this)--"He asked," it is said, "His name, and said to him, Tell me what is Try name." And he said, "Why is it that thou askest My name?" For He reserved the new name for the new people--the babe; and was as yet unnamed, the Lord God not having yet become man. Yet Jacob called the name of the place, "Face of God." "For I have seen," he says, "God face to face; and my life is preserved." The face of God is the Word by whom God is manifested and made known. Then also was he named Israel, because he saw God the Lord. It was God, the Word, the Instructor, who said to him again afterwards, "Fear not to go down into Egypt." See how the Instructor follows the righteous man, and how He anoints the athlete, teaching him to trip up his antagonist.[20]
Of course as we have already shown it is by knowing this angel's name (= Yeshu) that Jacob was transformed into a divine being.[21]  The overt parallels between the stories of Jacob and Moses were such that - in the mind of the evangelist at least - hinted at a promise which was kept from the Israelites after the sin of the Golden Calf.

In the end then it should be seen that this new doctrine introduced by Mark in his gospel was not antinomian or if you will hostile to the Law of Moses.  It merely suggested that the Old Testament was good, but that the gospel and the gift of 'friendship' (philia) with God was something ultimately much better.  There is a lot of misunderstanding and misrepresentation in the study of what the earliest sects of Christianity actually believed.  To this end, in spite of all that has been written by scholarship on this issue we must take a critical eye and suppose that the beliefs and tradition associated with Clement of Alexandria must have been more in keeping with what the 'heresies' actually believed with respect of the 'inferiority' of Moses, his god and his revelation.

The key is to keep one's eye on the fact that the ancient Israelites received two revelation, the first being shattered owing to the sin of the Golden Calf.  What was ultimately received by the people the second time around was certainly inferior to the first.  After all, Moses and the elders originally saw God (Ex 24.9) with their own eyes.  The second time around Moses only saw God's back (Ex 33.23).  For a tradition which was so intently fixated on beholding God with one's own eyes this profound distinction between first and second revelations in the Book of Exodus could not have been lost on the first Christians.  Indeed we can be certain that it was the basis to their own claims to have a superior revelation.


[1] - Jesus "having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh."1 Apology 65
[4] Phil
[7] the Epistle to Barnabas was later corrupted.

[11] For innumerable companies of men from a countless variety of cities, some by land and some by sea, from east and from west, from the north and from the south, came to the temple at every festival, as if to some common refuge and safe asylum from the troubles of this most busy and painful life, seeking to find tranquillity, and to procure a remission of and respite from those cares by which from their earliest infancy they had been hampered and weighed down, (70) and so, by getting breath as it were, to pass a brief time in cheerful festivities, being filled with good hopes and enjoying the leisure of that most important and necessary vacation which consists in forming a friendship with those hitherto unknown, but now initiated by boldness and a desire to honour God, and forming a combination of actions and a union of dispositions so as to join in sacrifices and libations to the most complete confirmation of mutual good will. [special laws 1:70] "For we should acknowledge only one relationship, and one bond of friendship, namely, a mutual zeal for the service of God, and a desire to say and do everything that is consistent with piety. And these bonds which are called relationships of blood, being derived from one's ancestors, and those connections which are derived from intermarriages and from other similar causes, must all be renounced, if they do not all hasten to the same end, namely, the honour of God which is the one indissoluble bond of all united good will. For such men will lay claim to a more venerable and sacred kind of relationship; (318) and the law confirms my assertion, where it says that those who do what is pleasing to nature and virtuous are the sons of God, for it says, "Ye are the sons of the Lord your God,"{48}{#de 14:1.} inasmuch as you will be thought worthy of his providence and care in your behalf as though he were your father. And that care is as much superior to that which is shown by a man's own parents, as I imagine the being who takes it is superior to them. [ibid 371]
[12]  The critical example to look at again is that of Moses who was said to be "a better person than his own God—deprecating, yes and even forbidding, his wrath: for he says, "Thou shalt not do this: or else destroy me along with them."  Abraham had this relationship too.
[19] Paed 1.7
[20] It should be noted that the traditional understanding which develops from the root behind the name Israel (= yashar) is the Hebrew equivalent of Chrestos the title associated with Jesus among the heresies.

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