Monday, June 10, 2013

How Could a Jewish God Have a Human Name?

God couldn't have been named 'Jesus.'  I am deliberately avoiding the question of whether Jesus was God or could have been God.  The problem - as always - is that at the time of the gospel, divine beings and human beings didn't share the same name.  Yes Enoch ascended to heaven.  Jacob wrestled with an angel and became Israel.  But there were no angels named Larry, Curly and Moe.  The practice of naming your children with angel named - Michael, Gabriel, Raphael etc - only came much later in history.  The difficulty now as it was then is that there can be no God named 'Jesus.'

Of course the white man's cop out is inevitably that the Jews didn't know everything about God and the divine realm.  Yet if this is so, why bother follow the so-called 'Old Testament'?  There is no real answer possible here.  Non-Jews have no real idea why they are supposed to believe what they do.  I am not sure that Jews are any better individually.  But at the very least they swim around in the right pool of ideas.  There is at least logical consistency in the scenery.

At some point we are going to have to admit that the books of the Bible were man-made.  Whether or not it is possible or impossible to have divine inspiration a human being wrote the original gospel.  Of course Moses didn't write the Pentateuch, let alone angels or divinity.  But the question isn't whether a divinity 'out there' exists or not, but rather, is brilliance possible?  Could a man have been so inspired that he hit upon a new paradigm for existence which gives a deeper, richer experience for those who walked according to its precepts but for which he gave all credit to God?

There is no God 'out there' named Jesus or Jehoshaphat but rather there is a system of belief which names him so.  The point here is that there was no first century Palestinian Jewish religious movement which identified God by the name of Jesus.  There can be no doubt about that.  It may be argued that there was a historical Jesus who was a teacher or a magician or what have you who gained a following or something.  But this figure has very little to do with the religion associated with our gospels.

At the core of Pauline Christianity stands a god, rather than a man.  There was also certainly a gospel associated with that tradition.  We know this because the Marcionites tell us so and it is suggested by the other heretical groups.  All those who did not accept this Pauline message were identified as 'impoverished' or evyonim.  This name alone strongly suggests that there was a Semitic Pauline tradition but there are many other reasons to think so too.

But the fact that there was a tradition associated with 'Paul' which came to dominate Christianity as it emerged in the second century has forever transformed the religion.  There is no real way to go back to so-called 'primitive Christianity' despite what misguided scholars want to pretend.  Yes they develop fancy terminology and read each others books and articles, but it is a colossal waste of time.  Somehow, for reasons we can't make out clearly, Paul re-defined Christianity.

The late second century effort of Irenaeus and his followers to 'go back' to a faux conservativism - to re-introduce Jesus as he was before the influence of the Pauline heresies - is a complete and utter lie.  It was a similar contemporary effort within Judaism which convinced Jews to accept the absurd position that they were maintaining the practices of their ancestors - this even though they no longer had a priesthood, no longer had an altar or animals to sacrifice, were now stripped from their land, didn't know what to do if Passover fell on the Sabbath, how to calculate Jubilees - the list goes on and on.

That human beings will eventually adapt to change and believe just about anything about their own faithfulness is pretty much established.  But this doesn't change the situation that the first century Jews could not have accepted the idea that a god in heaven was named 'Jesus.'  It is for this reason that we should continue to investigate the preservation of an alternative name for him - אישו. The Samaritans already understood this to be a divine appellation.  It fits perfectly within the Pauline gnosticism of the early sects, and my friend Benny Tsedaka will have me the Hebrew prayers from within Samaritanism which make reference to this terminology shortly.  That is surely the place to begin.

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Stephan Huller's Observations by Stephan Huller
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