Monday, July 1, 2013

Proving The Marcionites Read the Nomen Sacrum ΙΣ as 'איש'

We have been examining the question of whether the nomen sacrum ΙΣ - the name for the Christian god in the oldest manuscripts - was actually interpreted originally as a reference to a divinity named Ἰησοῦς (i.e. where people 'knew' to take the first and last letters of 'Jesus' and fill in the rest) or whether it was rooted in a Greek transliteration of the mystical Hebrew name איש (= 'ish').  As we have already noted, the nomen sacrum itself would be naturally pronounced Ees which would be the natural Greek representation of איש (= Eesh).  We have already brought forward evidence that the Christian god was so called (= incantation bowl), that Samaritans used the term in their prayers and associated the title with Moses, the natural precursor of their savior.  It would seem that it is only our collective cultural habit of assumine that ΙΣ = Ἰησοῦς, that closes the debate. 

I think it is terribly unfortunate that most people aren't aware of the pre-existent Jewish expectation of the divine איש figure.  I have tried to draw attention to the works of other scholars who have noted that (a) איש is the most common term for 'man' in the Bible, (b) that it was applied as a feature of the divine theophany revealed to Abraham and Jacob and (c) that Jews in the period in which the gospel is generally understood to have been produced - i.e. c. 70 CE - had a strong attachment to the reappearance of their savior איש figure. 

Here again is the pertinent information from 4 Ezra - the so-called 'Man vision' - generally dated to the end of the first century but which Michael Stone argued goes back to older material which predates the composition of 4 Ezra chapter13.  The text reads as follows:

The seven days passed; and the next night I had a dream. In my dream, wind came up out of the sea and set the waves in turmoil. And this wind brought a human figure rising from the depths, and as I watched this man came flying with the clouds of heaven.Wherever he turned his eyes, everything that they fell on was seized with terror; and wherever the sound of his voice reached, all who heard it melted like wax at the touch of fire. Next I saw an innumerable host of men gathering from the four winds of heaven to wage war on the man who had risen from the sea. I saw that the man hewed out a vast mountain for himself, and flew up on to it. I tried to see from what quarter or place the mountain had been taken, but I could not. Then I saw that all who had gathered to wage war against the man were filled with fear, and yet they dared to fight against him. When he saw the hordes advancing to attack, he did not so much as lift a finger against them.  He had no spear in his hand, no weapon at all; only, as I watched, he poured what seemed like a stream of fire out of his mouth, a breath of flame from his lips, and a storm of sparks from his tongue. All of them combined into one mass ---the stream of fire, the breath of flame, and the great storm. It fell on the host advancing to join battle, and burnt up every man of them; suddenly all that enormous multitude had disappeared, leaving nothing but dust and ashes and a reek of smoke. I was dumbfounded at the sight.  After that, I saw the man coming down from the mountain and calling to himself a different company, a peaceful one. He was joined by great numbers of men, some with joy on their faces, others with sorrow. Some came from captivity; some brought others to him as an offering. I woke up in terror, and prayed to the Most High. I said, ‘You have revealed these marvels to me, your servant, all the way through; you have judged me worthy to have my prayers answered. Now show me the meaning of this dream also. How terrible,to my thinking, it will be for all who survive to those days! But how much worse for those who do not survive! Those who do not survive will have the sorrow of knowing what is in store in the last days and yet missing it. Those who do survive are to be pitied for the terrible dangers and trials which, as these visions show, they will have to face. But perhaps after all it is better to endure the dangers and reach the goal than to vanish out of the world like a cloud and never see the events of the last days.’  ‘Yes,’ he replied, ‘I will explain the meaning of this vision, and tell you all that you ask. As for your question about those who survive, this is the answer: the very person from whom the danger will then come will protect in danger those who have works and fidelity laid up to their credit with the Most High. You may be assured that those who survive are more highly blessed than those who die. ‘This is what the vision means: The man you saw rising from the depths of the sea is he whom the Most High has held in readiness through many ages;he will himself deliver the world he has made, and determine the lot of those who survive. As for the breath, fire, and storm which you saw pouring from the mouth of the man, so that without a spear or any weapon in his hand he destroyed the hordes advancing to wage war against him, this is the meaning: The day is near when the Most High will begin to bring deliverance to those on earth. Then men will all be filled with great alarm; they will plot to make war on one another, city on city, region on region, nation on nation, kingdom on kingdom. When this happens, and all the signs that I have shown you come to pass, then my son will be revealed, whom you saw as a man rising from the sea. On hearing his voice, all the nations will leave their own territories and their separate wars, and unite in a countless host, as you saw in your vision, with a common intent to go and wage war against him. He will take his stand on the summit of Mount Zion, and Zion will come into sight before all men, complete and fully built. This corresponds to the mountain which you saw hewn out, not by the hand of man. Then my son will convict of their godless deeds the nations that confront him. This will correspond to the storm you saw.  He will taunt them with their evil plots and the tortures they are soon to endure.This corresponds to the flame. And he will destroy them without effort by means off the law--- and that is like the fire.  Then you saw him collecting a different company, a peaceful one. They are the ten tribes which were taken off into exile in the time of King Hoshea, whom Shalmaneser king of Assyria took prisoner. He deported them beyond the River, and they were taken away into a strange country. But then they resolved to leave the country populated by the Gentiles and go to a distant land never yet inhabited by man,and there at last to be obedient to their laws, which in their own country they had failed to keep. As they passed through the narrow passages of the Euphrates, the Most High performed miracles for them, stopping up the channels of the river until they had crossed over. Their journey through that region, which is called Arzareth, was long, and took a year and a half. They have lived there ever since, until this final age. Now they are on their way back, and once more the Most High will stop the channels of the river to let them cross.  ‘That is the meaning of the peaceful assembly that you saw. With them too are the survivors of your own people, all who are found inside my sacred boundary. So then, when the time comes for him to destroy the nations assembled against him, he will protect his people who are left, and show them many prodigies.’  ‘My lord, my master,’ I asked, ‘explain to me why the man that I saw rose up out of the depths of the sea.’ He replied: ‘It is beyond the power of any man to explore the deep sea and discover what is in it; in the same way no one on earth can see my son and his company until the appointed day.  Such then is the meaning of your vision. The revelation has been given to you, and to you alone, because you have given up your own affairs, and devoted yourself entirely to mine, and to the study of my law. You have taken wisdom as your guide in everything, and called understanding your mother. That is why I have given this revelation to you; there is a reward in store for you with the Most High. In three days’ time I will speak with you again, and tell you some momentous and wonderful things.’  So I went away to the field, giving worship and praise to the Most High for the wonders he performed from time to time and for his providential control of the passing ages and what happens in them. There I remained for three days.

Much has been written about this 'Man' figure.  It is usually said to be related to the 'man of war' reference in the Song of the Sea (Exodus 15:3) and the 'Son of Man' expectation in Christianity (and the Christian additions to the Book of Enoch).  Yet few people realize that it is Marcionitism specifically which stands closest to this original borrowing.

Indeed as we shall show in our subsequent posts, the Marcionites seem to have said surprisingly - Jesus wasn't the expected name of the one to come.  He was, instead as Marcion noted, supposed to be 'the man of war.'  In fact Marcion argues that the original expectation was correct!  But to see this clearly we have to back to the original text of Tertullian's Adv. Marc. Book 3 and parallel sections of his other works.

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