Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Myth of Jesus

 Chapter Two
Jesus and the Number of the Beast


For most of my adult life I never doubted for a minute that there was a real Jesus a man of flesh and blood who somehow became associated with an exaggerated historical record which was used to found the Christian religion.  It only seemed natural given that Jesus was somehow 'Jewish' and the Jewish people sharply distinguish between 'their all powerful God' and a human being like you and me.  It had to have been those nasty Gentiles, filled with unrestrained 'pagan tendencies' which developed the 'god Man' idea in early Christianity.

This is how it is when you fall into the trap of recycling age old presumptions about something.  You end up missing the big picture.  Indeed for whatever crazy reason, I happened to be fairly well acquainted with the Samaritan writings of Mark.  I never thought for a minute about connecting Mark's interest in portraying Moses as god.  Indeed over and over again, Moses is not merely 'the Man of God' or ish ha'Elohim but Elohim or 'God' is one of Moses's most important titles in the Samaritan writings of Mark.

Surely if Moses could be conceived as 'God' or 'the Man of God' surely the Christians could have done the same for Jesus.  Of course the objection to this line of reasoning is that there should be a sharp distinction made between the story of Moses or the Samaritan interpretation of this retelling of this fifth century BCE text and the narrative of the gospel which was presumably written shortly after a real historical individual named Jesus walked the earth.

After all, tradition tells us over and over again that Mark developed his narrative out of the actual eyewitness account of the disciple Peter.  Maybe he added mystical bits to the original story.  Perhaps even - if my thesis holds up - these additions may have been based on kabbalah.  Moreover, as many neo-Evangelical thinkers have it, the idea that Jesus was God might well have been one of the most significant of these additions.  As such, the argument goes, it really doesn't matter whether Jesus was identified as supernatural figure in the gospel.  We should feel quite confident that a real historical man of flesh and blood has to exist underneath all 'exaggerations' made to the original story. 

There are two difficulties that arise out of that line of reasoning.  The first is the old analogy about the sandwich which has spent some time in a garbage dump.  It's not just a matter of brushing off some dust to make it as good as new for lunch.  If you follow the line of reasoning that the story began as an eyewitness account of a remarkable human being, the supernatural exaggerations have corrupted every aspect of the surviving account in the same way dumped coffee, trimmed dog hairs and used tissues have rendered the old sandwich inedible. 

But beyond this there is the second difficulty that the Marcionites - the tradition that had the oldest known New Testament canon and moreover the earliest exegesis of exclusively Christian scriptures - explicitly denied Jesus's humanity.  They passed on an extremely early understanding that the gospel describes a heavenly Man who descended from the highest heavens - a region unknown to the Jews and their god Yahweh - in order to save humanity in the year 6000 from Creation.

We can't simply brush off the Marcionite understanding because it seems strange to us.  The reason it seems so unfamiliar to us now is because the Catholic Church did an extremely effective job marginalizing this older rival.  Of course, we have all inherited the neo-Protestant supposition of a original 'historical Jesus' at the core of the gospel.  As such we have as it were built in internal mechanisms to discount any discussion of whether or not Mark originally understood Jesus to be a wholly supernatural being. 

Yet if we suppose for a moment that the original Marcionite gospel - described in some sources as a 'mystical' gospel of Mark - not only understood our Jesus to be wholly supernatural but wholly ignored any reference to a baptism by John, we find ourselves in a most unusual predicament.  For while it is true that the Gospel according to Mark as we have it now does very little to reinforce a 'supernatural Jesus,' at the very same time the narrative never has any of his disciples specifically identify him as a man named Jesus.  The only witnesses who seem to know who Jesus is are themselves supernatural beings. 

In other words, if I am from a working class neighborhood and I walk into a bar and everyone shouts out my name, someone traveling would assume I am 'one of the crowd.'  This Gospel according to Mark narrative has our hero pop out of nowhere unannounced, without so much as telling anyone his name.  This is undoubtedly why the Marcionites identified their Lord as 'the stranger' - it is hard to find so much as a soul who knows who he is.

Indeed in what seems to be the very first story in the Marcionite gospel of Mark, the heavenly stranger comes down from heaven and almost immediately enters into a Jewish gathering house, unknown by anyone there until a demon shouts out:

What have you to do with us, ΙΣ? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.

The early manuscripts don't actually have the name 'Jesus' written on the page.  Instead we find short two and three letter forms of his name called 'nomina sacra' or 'sacred names' of which most scholars presume that "the short contracted form (= ΙΣ) was the first form used in the Christian writings."

So a Catholic at this point, not ignores the fact that it is only supernatural beings who seem to know who 'Jesus' is but moreover that the supernatural beings specifically identify him as another supernatural being - i.e. 'the Holy One of God' set on a mission to destroy the demon powers of the lower realm.  In fact, as we shall discuss shortly the Catholic has passed on an unusual way of reading the plain ΙΣ that appears on the page.  He tells his fellow Christians that wherever you see ΙΣ you are supposed to fill in some missing letter to end up with Jesus.  In other words, ΙΣ represent a 'contraction' of the familiar six letter name i.e. Ἰ[ησοῦ]ς.

There isn't a serious scholar in the world who doubts for a minute that the ΙΣ is Jesus.  And perhaps the reader should question my sanity for suggesting otherwise.  Nevertheless we shall leave this specific argument for another section of the book.  Let us go back to our original observation with respect to the 'strangeness' or alien nature of this ΙΣ figure.  He appears out of nowhere in the gospel and now - almost immediately he is identified for Mark's audience by a demon of all things.  ΙΣ is the 'Holy One of God' who is about to destroy the forces of evil on the earth.

The narrative continues continues for several chapters, but the next identification of this strange man as ΙΣ appears in chapter 5.  Here again  another demon immediately recognizes the being who is a stranger to men.  We are told that "when he saw ΙΣ afar off, he ran and worshipped him" and shouts out:

What do you want with me, ΙΣ, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!

Again no other human beings know anything about this ΙΣ figure.  Instead, as is the norm in Mark's gospel, only the supernatural beings 'know' who this ΙΣ person is.  They again identify him in supernatural terms - "Son of the Most High God" - and again fear that his mission is not only to destroy but now also 'torture' the evil beings who have secretly taken over the world.

One of the first human beings who 'recognizes' Jesus's divinity is the anonymous woman with the menstrual cycle for twelve years.  She doesn't know his name but we are told only that "when she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment."  The implication for the Marcionites was clearly that she only began to recognize that his flesh was like that of the angels.  Similarly when the blind man calls out "Son of David, have mercy on me" the Marcionites took special note that after his eyes were open - i.e. he received 'enlightenment' - he called him Lord.  In other words, he recognized him only as a divine being.

Clement of Alexandria not only testifies to this very same reading but also a variant text of the gospel where Peter when asked by ΙΣ to declare who he is, did not identify him as 'the Christ' but specifically "the Son of God."  Clement explains this passage by noting that immediately following these words ΙΣ said:

"for flesh and blood revealed not the truth to him, but His Father in heaven," -- showing that the Gnostic recognises the Son of the Omnipotent, not by His flesh conceived in the womb, but by the Father's own power.

Again the implication is as always that the true ΙΣ is something supernatural.  The original text of the gospel wants us to recognize ΙΣ in this manner.

Not surprisingly the last reference to someone knowing the identity of this stranger comes immediately following his crucifixion.  An angel of some sort is standing in the tomb and again tells them that either Jesus is not here.  As such the picture that emerges from the Gospel according to Mark is quite clear.  Our Jesus is an unknown figure to the world.  He is a stranger.  But to the angels and demons he is well known.  According to the tradition of the Marcionites this demonstrated in no uncertain terms that ΙΣ was a wholly supernatural being who took the form of a man. 


Of course to our way of thinking, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck.  In other words, the only reasonable possibility for the identity of Jesus is that he was a 'historical man' built up as it were with plenty of 'over enthusiastic' hyperbole.  Yet we have to take a second look at our assumptions for a moment.  Why would Mark have developed have developed a crazy narrative where only the angels and demons recognize Jesus as 'the Holy One of God' and the 'Son of the Most High'?  This can't be an accidental or 'incidental' feature of the narrative given what we know about the early exegesis of the gospel (= i.e. that the Marcionites believed he was wholly supernatural). 

The argument that Mark simply 'made up' stuff doesn't explain the structure either.  Surely if this 'exaggerated' addition to the original eyewitness of Peter is simply ignored, the integrity of Mark's testimony as a whole is hopelessly compromised.  The fact that ΙΣ is only known to supernatural beings and a stranger to everyone else is an essential part of Mark's literary composition.  One could make the case that 'the historical Jesus' was 'really' unknown to all his contemporaries and so Mark 'invented' the testimony of the supernatural forces in the world.  But why the demons quite specifically?  Surely 'the angels' might suit the notion of a 'divine plan' for a 'chosen' individual.  Yet the idea of God letting the demons in on this eschatological designs is wholly unsuitable suggestion. 

The only answer that makes any sense is that whoever ΙΣ was he had been spotted once before by the demons before humanity had a chance to get acquainted with him.  When was this?  The heretical tradition makes this absolutely clear - i.e. in the pre-history to Creation, that is the developed interpretation to Genesis 1:1 - 2:5, where the world was being formed by a heavenly Man sometimes called 'the Logos' or Word or a host of other titles.  The implication clearly is that ΙΣ is the supernatural man who 'commanded' the forces in the world into some semblance of order out of the primordial chaos. 

We get a clear sense of this understanding in the earliest 'gnostic' literature that has come down to us from the Nag Hammadi library in Egypt discovered in 1947.  In a text called the Secret Book of John whose contents seem to have been known to Irenaeus as early as the late second century, it is claimed that a Man-god figure was rumored among the demons from the beginning of Creation whose mission would ultimately be to destroy them:

This dim ruler has three names:
Yaldabaoth is the first.
Saklas is the second.
Samael is the third.
He is blasphemous through his thoughtlessness.
He said “I am God, and there is no God but me!”
Since he didn’t know where his own Power originated.

His rulers created seven Authorities for themselves.
Each of these Authorities created six demons apiece,
There came to be 365 demons altogether.

Here are the seven Authorities’ names and physical forms:
First, Athoth with a sheep’s face
Second, Eloaios with a donkey’s face
Third, Astaphaios with a hyena’s face
Fourth, Yao with the face of a seven headed snake
Fifth, Sabaoth who has the face of a dragon
Sixth, Adonin whose face is that of a monkey
Seventh, Sabbataios with a face of flame and fire.
These are the seven of the week.
These Authorities rule the world.

Yaldabaoth has many faces.
More than all that have been listed
So he can convey any face he wants to the seraphim around him.

Yaldabaoth shared his fire with his seraphim
But gave them none of his pure Light
Although he ruled them by virtue of the power and glory
Of the Light had received from his Mother.

[Therefore he called himself “God” and defied his place of origin.]

He united his thought’s sevenfold Powers with the Authorities who accompanied him.
He spoke and it happened.

He named those sevenfold Powers starting with the highest one:
Goodness paired with the first: Athoth
Providence paired with the second: Eloaios
Divinity paired with the third: Astaphaios
Lordship paired with the fourth: Yao
Kingdom paired with the fifth: Sabaoth
Zeal paired with the sixth: Adonin
Understanding paired with the seventh: Sabbataios

Each has its own realm modeled on one of the higher realms.
And each new name refers to a glory in the heavens
So that Yaldabaoth’s demons might be destroyed.

The demons’ own names, given by Yaldabaoth, are mighty names
But the Powers’ names reflecting the glory above
Will bring about the demons’ destruction and remove their Power.
That is why each has two names.

Yaldabaoth modeled his creation
On the pattern of the original realms above him
So that it might be just like the indestructible realms.

[Not that he had ever seen the indestructible ones.
Rather, the power in him, deriving from his mother,
made him aware of the pattern of the cosmos above.]

When he gazed upon his creation surrounding him
He said to his host of demons
The ones who had come forth out of him:
“I am a jealous God and there is no God but me!”

[But by doing this he admitted to his demons that there is indeed another God.
For, if there were no other God, whom would he possibly be jealous of?]

At once we see the identification of the Man with 'Truth' - which parallels the consistent gnostic translation of Jesus's familiar title 'Nazarene' with 'of the Truth' which has never been satisfactorily explained by scholarship.

Now on the one hand the Secret Book of John has a 'Man of Truth' and on the other hand the followers of Mark venerated an 'ΙΣ of Truth.'  The Secret Book of John understands the Jewish god and his angelic partners actually saw the 'Man of Truth' at the beginning of the world and created Adam in his image:

Then came a voice from the highest realms saying:
“The Man exists! And the Son of Man!”

Yaldabaoth, chief ruler, heard it
He thought it came from his mother
He did not know the true source of the voice:
The Holy Mother-Father
Perfect Providence
Image of the Invisible
Father of Everything
In whom everything has come to be.

The First Man
[This is the one who appeared to them.
He appeared in the form of a human being.]

All of the realm of the chief ruler quaked!
The foundations of the abyss moved!

He illuminated the waters above the world of matter,
His image shown in those waters.

All the demons and the first ruler together gazed up
Toward the underside of the newly shining waters.
Through that light they saw the Image in the waters.

Yaldabaoth said to his subordinate demons:
“Let’s create a man according to the image of God
And our own likeness
So that his image will illuminate us.”

Each one through another’s Power created aspects of the man;
Each added a characteristic corresponding to the psychic factors
They had seen in the Image above them.
They made a creature of substance
In the likeness of that perfect First Man
And they said, “Let us call him Adam, so that his name will give us the power of light.”

The seven Powers began to work:
Goodness made a psyche of bone
Providence made a psyche of sinew
Divinity made a psyche of flesh
Lordship made a psyche of marrow
Kingdom made a psyche of blood
Zeal made a psyche of skin
Understanding made a psyche of hair

Powers to create the limbs and the body itself. They put the parts together and coordinated them.

While the idea of a drama unfolding before the beginning of the world sounds rather crazy to us, there are good reasons for believing that this understanding forms the proper basis for understanding Mark's gospel narrative. 

As we shall demonstrate later in this work, our earliest Jewish sources paid great attention to the idea of 'the world before the Creation.'  Moreover there was a great deal of interest among certain Jewish sects about the hypostasis identified as 'His image' in the Hebrew text of Genesis.  Yet it is enough for the moment to note that this interest in the pre-existent 'Man of Truth' is shared by the followers of Mark.  It is impossible to escape the conclusion that this figure is one and the same with 'Jesu Nazarene' variously rendered in the literature associated with the Marcites.  'Nazarene' is consistently rendered as 'Truth' innumber of our sources, even though as Einar Thomassen recently noted "how this may be explained linguistically remain obscure."

While the word 'Nazarene' is something of a mystery, the answer certainly was understood to lie in the Hebrew language.  The members of the Valentinian heresy for instance interestingly rendered our familiar 'Jesus' not as a name but a Hebrew noun - i.e. 'Savior.'   Irenaeus and another Nag Hammadi treatise - the Gospel of Philip - make clear that 'Nazarene' means 'Truth' in Hebrew.  The best guess that anyone can seem to formulate is that Nazarene derives from nazir which in at least one highly influential Greek translation of the Bible was rendered as either 'consecrated' or 'holy.'  We shall examine the story of the birth of Samson again much later. 

The basic idea that develops from this understanding is that when the demon shouts out "What have you to do with us, ΙΣ? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God" - the "Holy One of God" epithet is related to 'Nazarene.'  This is apparently confirmed by the Valentinian rendering of the same word as 'the Truth.'  But the Valentinians also as noted above took Jesus as the Hebrew noun 'Savior' which doesn't make any sense in the demon narrative.  Indeed, why on earth would the evil being identify the Lord as 'the Savior ... the Holy One of God'?  He is destroying not saving the demons.

The difficulty with keeping ΙΣ as the name Jesus is it unthinkable that anyone who even stood near a Jewish house of worship could have imagined a wholly divine being named 'Joshua' - or 'Ernie' or 'Bert' for that matter.  The most obvious solution to the difficulty then is that the Valentinians were on to the right idea with respect to ΙΣ not being a name but a noun.  However they associated the 'nomen sacrum' with the wrong Hebrew word.  The original Hebrew noun transliterated into Greek as ΙΣ is איש.  The earliest translations of the Bible make this proposition absolutely explicit - i.e. that when Hebrews wrote איש the Greeks expressed the sound as ΙΣ.  To this end, the earliest heretics likely understood Iesou Nazarenon to mean 'the Man of Truth' or 'True Man.'


We will have plenty of time to examine the linguistic justifications for identifying the two letter 'abbreviation' in the oldest New Testament manuscripts as meaning 'Man' in Hebrew rather than Jesus.  As we already saw the Valentinians seemed to take the middle ground - i.e. a Hebrew noun related to the meaning of the name Jesus - between the Orthodox and the original followers of Mark.  Nevertheless it is important to note that the Valentinian conception is very close to the Marcionite formula where ΙΣ presumably came down from the highest heaven. The members of this sect said that a being named Man came down on top of Jesus in the water.  Sometimes the understanding is in reverse (i.e. Jesus in heaven comes down on Christ). 

It would seem that the Valentinians developed the original understanding of the existence of a 'heavenly Man' or 'light bearing Man' - a tradition which certainly predates Mark's authorship of the gospel - according to an extremely complicated understanding of divine pairs in heaven.  At least part of this understanding assumes the existence of a heavenly being named Jesus who, in a manner that parallels the much earlier traditions associated with the Apocryphon of John, assumes he fashioned the powers of heaven into the image of Man just as the Demiurge - i.e. the Creator - makes the physical man Adam. 

Again it was the Valentinians who seemed to introduce the idea that ΙΣ should be read as a transliteration of the Hebrew 'Savior.'  But the original interpretation - at least among those advocating a wholly divine status for the Lord was that of 'Man.'  We see this over and over again in the earliest Nag Hammadi treatises or at least those usually associated with with early second century 'heretics.'

The so-called Second Treatise of the Great Seth, a manuscript often identified with the teachings of the early second century Basilides is only one of many works which echoes the basic understanding we saw in the Secret Book of John - namely that Jesus was a heavenly 'Man of Truth.'  So we read at one point in the parallel pre-Creation narrative:

It was not possible for them to know who the Father of Truth, the Man of the Greatness, is. But they who received the name because of contact with ignorance - which (is) a burning and a vessel - having created it to destroy Adam, whom they had made, in order to cover up those who are theirs in the same way. But they, the archons, those of the place of Yaldabaoth, reveal the realm of the angels, which humanity was seeking in order that they may not know the Man of Truth. For Adam, whom they had formed, appeared to them. And a fearful motion came about throughout their entire dwelling, lest the angels surrounding them rebel. For without those who were offering praise - I did not really die lest their archangel become empty.

And then a voice - of the Cosmocrator - came to the angels: "I am God and there is no other beside me." But I laughed joyfully when I examined his empty glory. But he went on to say, "Who is man?" And the entire host of his angels, who had seen Adam and his dwelling, were laughing at his smallness. And thus did their Ennoia come to be removed outside the Majesty of the heavens, i.e.,the Man of Truth, whose name they saw since he is in a small dwelling place, since they are small (and) senseless in their empty Ennoia, namely their laughter.

The point here of course is that the deeper I dug into the early understanding of a 'heavenly Jesus' the more it appeared to me that ΙΣ seemed to be a Greek transliteration of Hebrew noun rather than the appellation of particular human being - i.e. 'Jesus.'

As noted earlier, most of Irenaeus's efforts were directed against the Valentinians because they must have been quite numerous still in Rome at the dawn of the third century.  Indeed a strong case can be made that the Catholic tradition itself developed from the garden of Valentinus.  Irenaeus makes explicit that it was the Valentinians 'who prefer to call him Savior.'  Yet the evidence also seems to suggest the Valentinians did not use the 'nomen sacrum' ΙΣ but IH - in other words, the name of the Lord had already been transposed into Greek by them.  Irenaeus takes them to task for this effort noting in an important part of the Second Book of Against Heresy for doing this because - as he notes - the proper name of the one they call 'Savior' developed in Hebrew.

One can imagine that the early heretics would have agreed with the Church Father on this point.  The Valentinians are identified as using this IH nomen sacrum to argue for the sacredness of the numbers 8, 10, 18 and even 888.  Irenaeus however notes that the actual name of this 'Savior' was spelled with 'two and a half' Hebrew letters and most importantly without the equivalent of an eta (H).  Indeed the Valentinian argument on behalf of the sacredness of IH seems rather forced.  As Irenaeus notes:

They also affirm that these eighteen 'heavenly powers' (AEons) are strikingly indicated by the first two letters of His name (Ihsous), namely Iota and Eta. And, in like manner, they assert that the ten 'heavenly powers' are pointed out by the letter Iota, which begins His name; while, for the same reason, they tell us the Saviour said, "One Iota, or one tittle, shall by no means pass away until all be fulfilled."

 While no one has ever satisfactorily explained this saying from Jesus there is a consistent understanding among early heretics that it has something to do with heavenly powers.

A near contemporary heretic who likely spoke Hebrew named Monoimus is recorded in another version of Irenaeus's Against Heresies as using the same saying from Jesus to bolster the case for his name meaning 'man.'  We read:

And this, he says, is what has been spoken in the Scriptures, "He was, and was generated." And the meaning of this is: Man was, and his son was generated; just as one may say, Fire was, and, independently of time, and undesignedly, and without being predestinated, light was generated simultaneously with the existence of the fire ... As an illustration, however, consider, he says, as a greatest image of the perfect man, the one jot--that one tittle. And this one tittle is an uncompounded, simple, and pure monad, which derives its composition from nothing at all. (And yet this tittle is likewise) compounded, multiform, branching into many sections, and consisting of many parts. That one indivisible tittle is, he says, one tittle of the (letter) iota, with many faces, and innumerable eyes, and countless names, and this (tittle) is an image of that perfect invisible man. 

Scholars who study Jewish kabbalah have long noticed the parallels between these ideas and those of the earliest mystics in Judaism. 

Elliot Wolfson notes that as a whole this text "bears a striking resemblance" to one of the most important kabbalistic texts - the Sefer Yesirah.  Here in this archaic Jewish work "the lower six of the ten sefirot (powers) are delineated as the six extremities, which include height, depth, and the four cardinal points or directions."  Moreover Wolfson says that in Sefer Yesirah, " each cosmic dimension is associated with a different permutation of the divine name, YHW."  But what Wolfson overlooks is that Monoimus is specifically talking about a being called Man and his offspring - a Man called 'Son of Man.'  The heretic is clearly interested in a being whose name was originally spelled in Greek letters but ISU (as confirmed by Ephrem's testimony about the Marcionites) but which corresponded to the pronunciation of the Hebrew אישו i.e. 'His Man.'

The figure of אישו is well known to Samaritans.  He appears in their liturgy as a development of their traditional title for Moses - i.e. the Man of God or eesh ha'Elohim.  Eeshu is simply a natural contraction or shortening of that title but it also exactly corresponds to the pronunciation of the later Greek name for the Lord Iesous (in Greek eesous).  There are incantation bowls that have been discovered where the name of the Christian god is spelled אישו. Monoimus's tradition, in a manner very closely related to the Syrian Marcionites, clearly held fast to an ancient tradition which spelled the divine name of the Christian Lord in Greek letters - Isu - that is iota-sigma-episemon.  Why?  Because of its numerological significance.

As Wolfson remarks about the report about Monoimus, "the iota is the monad that is comprised within the decade symbolized by the iota" and "the tittle of the iota is equated with the six days or powers" and the number six.  At this point Wolfson at this point 'switches' out of dealing with Greek letters and says "on the esoteric significance of the letter waw, whose numerical value is six, and its relationship to the Son of God ..." directing the reader to another of his published works.  However it is worth noting that it is clear from the original report that despite having an interest in Hebrew Monoimus was citing material from a Greek gospel - not one written in Hebrew, Aramaic or Syriac.  As such the final vowel of this name is an episemon not a Hebrew waw.  Indeed all the Christian material consistently identifies Jesus with the sixth Greek letter not the Hebrew equivalent.

In other words, Monoimus's testimony is clearly reflective of the Marcionite name of the Christian god - viz. Isu.  That the episemon would be written with a 'horn' (= jot) is well established.  To this end, not only was his gospel referring to the name above all names as ISU, just like the Marcionites did.  Indeed there is nothing stopping us identifying Monoimus as a member of that sect especially given their common interest in the sixth letter.   The important thing to take away from this initial investigation - the thing that struck me once I went down the proverbial rabbit hole - was that the followers of Mark specifically read the name ISU from the earliest nomen sacrum - i.e. ΙΣ with a 'jot' beside it.

Indeed Irenaeus specifically calls the heretics out for 'flip flopping' from Greek to Hebrew and back to Greek whenever it suits their designs - "transferring the name Jesus, which belongs to another language, to the numeration of the Greeks" "demonstrates in the clearest manner their overthrow or confusion, as well as the untenable and perverse character of their [professed] knowledge."  The question which consumed me for so long once I picked up on this habit manifesting itself even among the earliest of heretics - the Marcionites - was why would anyone resort to this bizarre and unconvincing methodology.  In short, what was in it for them?

The answer came to me one fateful date when I was reading the collected essays of a famous British cognitive psychology professor.  The original name of Jesus, when the three letters iota signa and episemon were added together represented the famous 'number of the beast' i.e. 6 6 6 ...

Email stephan.h.huller@gmail.com with comments or questions.

Stephan Huller's Observations by Stephan Huller
is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.