Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Myth of Jesus

Chapter 8
The Church Fathers, Jesus and the איש

I was asked to edit a book on the parallels between the Joseph and Aseneth story and early Christianity after a trip to Israel.  I will never forget the ride home.  I had this massive manuscript taken as carry on luggage on the plane.  It was cumbersome and my flight demanded I make three different changes.  So I tried reading the manuscript three different times on my journey.  I found it very difficult to control myself during this flight as the author had as his central presupposition that Jesus was a historical person. 

The question that kept coming in my mind as I read the book was - how could anyone think that our 'Jesus' was more like Joseph than his angelic twin in the narrative - 'the man of God'?  I couldn't understand the logic of the authors.  Joseph is portrayed in no uncertain terms as a historical ruler of Egypt.  It doesn't matter whether or not we can locate Joseph in history.  The point is that Jewish tradition assumes as its starting point that Joseph was a 'real' ruler.  The gospel on the other hand doesn't even try and pretend that Jesus was a king of anything on earth.  As he says in the Gospel of John "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders."

In other words, Jesus is simply was more like the angelic 'man of God' than Joseph the Patriarch.  Any attempt to compare Jesus to a historical figure doesn't quite work.  The first problem is that most people who are remembered two thousand years after they died are associated with some major accomplishment.  They were recognized in their own lifetime as a 'great' something-or-other in an ascendant culture which in turn propagates that 'great person' to all their subject peoples.  This is what the Europeans did when they conquered or put into chains various people around the globe with respect to the European Jesus.  The Muslims do the same thing with their Mohammed. 

But the Jews at the time of Jesus and at the time the gospel was supposed to have been written were at the lowest possible point in their cultural history.   Their native religion was on the verge of being wiped out, there was great uncertainty - why would Jews want to remember and indeed venerate someone who basically said that the coming end of their culture was a good thing?  It is for this and many other reasons that Christianity is usually identified as having been preserved by Gentiles essentially gloating in the already accomplished destruction of the Jewish religion and the Jewish nation.  Yet under this scenario - i.e. where a foreign culture, one that has little or nothing to do with 'Judaism' becomes the inventors of such a narrative - the certainty of the 'historical claims' surrounding Jesus all of a sudden don't seem very convincing. 

What are Romans and Greeks doing writing a story about Jews let alone an obscure Jewish figure whom no one had ever heard of before?  We become incredibly distanced not merely from Jesus but the culture which produced Jesus when we support the idea that the first gospel writers were Gentiles.  As I have noted before in a previous book, it all comes down to the identity of the person of Mark, what his association was with Peter and in turn Peter's association with Jesus.  If Mark was a Gentile who associated with upper class 'Roman knights' as our best information indicates, the idea that he would have just 'stumbled' into an associate of a historical nobody and started writing a book about him which became 'incredibly popular' while maintaining its overall 'historical accuracy' seems rather remote. 

However once you throw the Marcionite tradition into the mix the whole nature of the problem suddenly changes.  It's becomes a lot like spiking the Christmas punch with LSD.  Two recent monographs on this subject by two extremely authoritative scholars, Markus Vinzent and Matthias Klinghardt, which come to the very same conclusion - i.e. that this Gospel is the oldest of its kind and the inspiration and source for other gospels, especially the later canonical ones.  Scholars can grope in the dark trying to sort out 'what exactly the Marcionite gospel looked like' all they like, the bottom line is that we can only be certain about the implication of this research - if the Marcionite gospel was first then Jesus wasn't originally conceived as a person of flesh and blood.  That's all that matters at the end of the day for most people.  The implications are thus quite staggering and under-appreciated by researchers.

Indeed even if we go beyond the Marcionites the reality of the situation is that on the opposite side of the ledger - i.e. among the anti-Marcionite polemicists (viz. 'the Catholics) we never get the argument for Jesus we might suppose against this supernatural tradition.  We never get any of the Church Fathers saying 'You guys are nuts, Jesus was a nice Jewish preacher who's flesh and blood was quite ordinary in every respect.'  This is what, for instance, we might expect from a modern day Evangelical.  However it does not appear in any of the early Church Fathers which is quite strange if - as is usually asserted by Evangelicals - that Jesus was a historical figure. 

Certainly the canonical gospels can be argued to reflect to this idea.  There is no explicit denial of Jesus's 'humanity.'  But holding up these texts is a little like watching a Hollywood movie about a particular historical period.  Our existing canonical gospels claim to be written by actual witnesses to Jesus - Matthew and John by apostles, Mark and Luke by associates of the apostles.  But the Marcionites openly ridiculed these claims in surviving testimonies.  Yes, Matthew and John existed but they never wrote a gospel.  All the material that survives in the name of an eyewitness is counterfeit which is pretty much the view of modern scholarship (although the academic uses gentler language).

The reality that the Marcionites had the first gospel and nevertheless attributed that text to an apostle named Mark or Paul (assuming of course the two were originally conceived as separate people) who never actually witnessed the ministry of Jesus is an even more troubling situation for historicists.  This is undoubtedly why scholarship which assumes the existence of a historical Jesus desperately avoids Marcion or parrots the hostility directed toward him by the Church Fathers.  If the Marcionites needed to lie about their apostle 'seeing' Jesus's ministry they certainly would have.  We should never underestimate the manner in which desperation takes control of the human soul especially in the literary process.  How many people have lied about or exaggerated the significance of an encounter with celebrity?  The reason it didn't matter to the Marcionites is because they knew the gospel wasn't exactly 'historical.'

This doesn't mean of course that the narrative was 'all made up.'  This is where so-called 'mythicists' in the blogosphere and other anonymous places go way too far.  The Marcionites certainly thought the narrative was set in a particular year, undoubtedly one and the same year as the pagans knew the narrative to be set - i.e. 20 - 21 CE.  Thus Jesus's 'Passion' was understood to have actually occurred forty nine (that is seven times seven) years before the destruction of the Jewish temple.  There is something 'historical' going on here; it just didn't involve a historical 'Jesus' according to the original Christians. 

Our theory that the name for the Christian god in the oldest manuscripts ΙΣ is a literal transliteration of the Hebrew angel איש is the only theory which helps explain the understanding of the original Christian tradition.  The Marcionites called Jesus ISU because their tradition developed from Greek manuscripts of the gospel which had transliterated 'nomen sacrum' on the page.  No one knows how the Greek vowel episemon would have been written in the earliest manuscripts.  Wolfson thinks it is related to the 'horned' tittle mentioned in the famous gospel passage.  Whatever it was it probably was so unique that it opened the door to allow the Catholics to see it as a symbolic notation denoting an abbreviation.  The term Irenaeus uses is a 'dimidia' or 'half letter' and it seems to have been used first by the followers of Mark. 

The Marcionites identified their ISU as a 'stranger' and 'sojourner' because of the familiar description of איש in the Pentateuch.  Yet the Church Fathers go one step further and identify them as calling ISU a 'man of war' - a reference straight out of the Book of Exodus (the Lord is a man of war, the Lord is his name Exodus 15:3.  The fourth century Church Father Ephrem the Syrian reports the Marcionites understood their  to be stationed near a sacred mountain associated with Moses and the prophets where he ascended and descended from heaven like the Samaritan understanding of Gerizim as Peniel - i.e. the place Jacob saw the angel on the heavenly ladder.  We have already seen that איש was intimately associated with this same mountain.  This is where he met the Patriarchs and ultimately had them buried. 

The fact that the Samaritans preserve a most ancient tradition which identifies Eden with mount Gerizim helps explain why איש would be 'hanging around here.'  Let's not forget that this is where Jesus first appears to talk to the Samaritan woman at the well.  The Marcionite identification of ISU as a man of war only further strengthens this association:

And if they say that he was far from him, infinitely far, if it was a mountain immeasurable and an endless path, and a vast extent without any limit, then how was that Stranger able to proceed and come down the immeasurable mountain, and (through) a dead region in which there was no living air, and (across) a bitter waste which nothing had ever crossed? And if they make the improbable statement that "the Stranger like a man of war was able to come," well if he came as a man of war-[though he did not come), (take the case of) those weak Souls whom he brought up hence, how were these sickly ones able to travel through all that region which God their Maker and Creator was not able to traverse, as they say?

This identification of the Marcionite 'Jesus' as a man of war occurs also in the writings of Tertullian.  It is by no means isolated and only complicated by false 'antithesis' developed by the Church Fathers with respect to Jesus's alleged 'kindness' - i.e. 'Jesus' was only 'God's man' that is God, Elohim, was kind.  ISU was his איש  and in particular a איש of war. 

There is some indication in the Dialogues of Adamantius a mostly corrupt third century text reworked again in the fourth century that the Marcionites connected Jesus to the anashim who visited Abrahm in Genesis chapter 18.  Yet the effective nail in the coffin to the modern 'conviction' that the gospel began rooted in a historical person named Jesus has to be seen by the manner in which even the 'anti-Marcionites' identify their Lord with the איש.  It is not that the Church Fathers deny that Jesus was a human being.  Indeed their writings usually make reference to the 'Virgin birth' in some form or other.  But what this 'virgin birth' meant to people like Justin is up for debate.  There were early Christians who understood the primal man's birth to the virgin spirit as being the concept indicated by Isaiah.  In other words, born from something other than a womb.

There can be no denying nevertheless that the  theophany is more important to the early Church Fathers to help explain who Jesus was than his alleged 'Jewishness' or historical reality 'in the flesh.'  This changes of course as we enter the third century.  But in the second century there was generally no doubt that humanity had been visited by a 'second divine being' who we can see was identified in the Hebrew text of the Pentateuch as איש.  Scholarship is aware of this phenomenon.  Even in the gospel we see Jesus speak of his meeting with Abraham.  Paul references his presence during the original Exodus.  The difficulty is that we have a tendency to project what is meaningful for our faith and cultural sensitivity (i.e. Jesus's alleged 'Jewishness') above what was important to the first Christians (i.e. the re-visit by the god who established Israel at what was 'the end times'). 

We can begin with 'who Jesus was' for Clement, a prominent crypto-Marcosian.  Jesus was an angelic power first and foremost.  We see him over and over identify Jesus with 'the heavenly man' of Genesis 1:26 as per Philo's Jewish tradition:

Now, O you, my children, our Instructor is like His Father God, whose son He is, sinless, blameless, and with a soul devoid of passion; God in the form of man, stainless, the minister of His Father's will, the Word who is God, who is in the Father, who is at the Father's right hand, and with the form of God is God. He is to us a spotless image; to Him we are to try with all our might to assimilate our souls. He is wholly free from human passions; wherefore also He alone is judge, because He alone is sinless.

The reality is that there is very little interest in Jesus the man of flesh and blood in the writings of Clement.  Indeed in their original form their was probably no references to an 'ordinary historical man' at all. 

We see in another work, the Exhortation to the Pagans, he speaks to his pagan audience in terms they might understand - that is, he portrays Jesus as an artist remaking man in his true image:

The Maker of the universe alone; the Great Artist and Father has formed us, such a living image as man is. But your Olympian Jove, the image of an image, greatly out of harmony with truth, is the senseless work of Attic hands. For the image of God is His Word, the genuine Son of Mind, the Divine Word, the archetypal light of light; and the image of the Word is the true man, the mind which is in man, who is therefore said to have been made "in the image and likeness of God," assimilated to the Divine Word in the affections of the soul, and therefore rational; but effigies sculptured in human form, the earthly image of that part of man which is visible and earth-born, are but a perishable impress of humanity, manifestly wide of the truth.

And in another work still the notion that Jesus was the heavenly 'perfect man':

Thenceforth he is one in his judgment and truly spiritual, wholly incapable of thoughts arising from passion and desire, one who is to be made perfect after the image of the Lord by the artist himself, a perfect man, already worthy to be called a brother to the Lord  as well as his friend and son.

Scholars have great difficulty understanding the fact that Philo and Clement are really saying the same thing.  It is their monarchian upbringing and effective 'brain washing' which doesn't allow them to see 'God' and 'his man' as two ultimately distinct beings. 

For Clement then Jesus 'the man' had come before to visit Abraham 'under the tree' just as he had later returned to re-introduce himself to the apostles:

"And Abraham," it is said, "served up for three, dinner under a tree, and waited on them as they ate." The same with fishing, as in the case of Peter, if we have leisure from necessary instructions in the Word. But that is the better enjoyment which the Lord assigned to the disciple, when He taught him to "catch men" as fishes in the water.    

Clement preserves the original Marcionite identification of Jesus with איש his only reservation (at least in public) was they argued for two distinct 'salvations' associated with the two gods of Israel - i.e. a 'just' redemption through the Law with Moses and now a 'merciful' or 'loving' doctrine through Paul.  The same 'Jesus' however appeared in each 'revelation.'  The distinctive character of each respective revelation has to do with the god or divine power the איש was manifesting to the world.

We can get a better sense of the manner in which Clement saw 'Jesus' present talking with the Patriarchs in the Pentateuch when we look at an extended passage from his Instructor:

But our Instructor is the holy God Jesus, the Word, who is the guide of all mankind. The man-loving God Himself is our Instructor. Somewhere in song the Holy Spirit says with regard to Him, “He provided sufficiently for the people in the wilderness. He led him about in the thirst of summer heat in a dry land, and instructed him, and kept him as the apple of His eye, as an eagle protects her nest, and shows her fond solicitude for her young, spreads abroad her wings, takes them, and bears them on her back. The Lord alone led them, and there was no strange god with them.” (Deut 32:10)  Clearly, I trow, has the Scripture exhibited the Instructor in the account it gives of His guidance.

Again, when He speaks in His own person (prosopou), 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 the Instructor? This was He who appeared to Abraham, and said to him, "I am thy God, be accepted before Me;" (Genesis 17:1,2) 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."  (Genesis 28:15) There is the communication of the Instructor's friendship. 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 (the Instructor) 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.

It is He also who teaches Moses to act as instructor. For the Lord says, "If any one sin before Me, him will I blot out of My book; but now, go and lead this people into the place which I told thee." Here He is the teacher of the art of instruction. For it was really the Lord that was the instructor of the ancient people by Moses; but He is the instructor of the new people by Himself, face to face. "For behold," He says to Moses, "My angel shall go before thee," representing the evangelical and commanding power of the Word, but guarding the Lord's prerogative. "In the day on which I will visit them," He says, "I will bring their sins on them; that is, on the day on which I will sit as judge I will render the recompense of their sins." For the same who is Instructor is judge, and judges those who disobey Him; and the loving Word will not pass over their transgression in silence. He reproves, that they may repent. For "the Lord willeth the repentance of the sinner rather than his death." And let us as babes, hearing of the sins of others, keep from similar transgressions, through dread of the threatening, that we may not have to undergo like sufferings. What, then, was the sin which they committed? "For in their wrath they slew men, and in their impetuosity they hamstrung bulls. Cursed be their anger." Who, then, would train us more lovingly than He? Formerly the older people had an old covenant, and the law disciplined the people with fear, and the Word was an angel; but to the fresh and new people has also been given a new covenant, and the Word has appeared, and fear is turned to love, and that mystic angel is born--Jesus. For this same Instructor said then, "Thou shalt fear the Lord God;" but to us He has addressed the exhortation, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God."

No one can read this material and pretend that Clement identifies our Jesus as anything other than the  .  He begins by referencing the 'face' or 'person' that Abraham speaks with before the meeting with the three anashim.  His underlying argument is clearly that this 'person' is one and the same with the 'man' at Peniel who is at once 'the angel Jesus.'  Indeed if we go one level deeper we can also see that his criticism of the Marcionites seems rather feigned with the closing distinction between a legislative of 'just' redemption for the Jews but a 'loving' revelation at the end of times for Christians.

The reality of course is that most Christians today haven't the foggiest idea what the earliest writings actually say about Jesus.  Their idea about 'who Jesus was' has been shaped by their ancestors who - quite frankly - where either white or ruled by white people for a period in history.  These people had no real attachment to the original community of Christians other than the religion of Christianity became fashionable at the beginning of the fourth century.  The writings of the earliest Church Fathers start with the assumption that Jesus was the איש even if the exact understanding of how Ἰησοῦς developed from the Hebrew term was lacking. 

At the end of the second century Christianity actually expanded to adopt a more 'realistic' understanding of Jesus - that is as a mortal man born of a 'real woman.'  Instrumental in this development was Irenaeus of Lyons who nevertheless grounded in his innovation in the original Marcionite identification of 'Jesus' with the איש.  We read of a familiar cluster of scriptures attested also in the rabbinic anti-heretical writings which reinforce the same notion:

And again Moses tells how the Son of God drew near to hold converse with Abraham: And God appeared unto him by the oak of Mamre in the middle of the day. And looking up with his eyes he beheld, and, lo, three men stood over against him. And he bowed himself down to the earth, and said: Lord, if indeed I have found favour in thy sight. And all that which follows he spake with the Lord, and the Lord spake with him. Now two of the three were angels; but one was the Son of God, with whom also Abraham spake, pleading on behalf of the men of Sodom, that they should not perish if at least ten righteous should be found there. And, whilst these were speaking, the two angels entered into Sodom, and Lot received them. And then the Scripture says: And the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven: that is to say, the Son, who spake with Abraham, being Lord, received power to punish the men of Sodom from the Lord out of heaven, even from the Father who rules over all. So Abraham was a prophet and saw things to come, which were to take place in human form: even the Son of God, that He should speak with men and eat with them, and then should bring in the judgment from the Father, having received from Him who rules over all the power to punish the men of Sodom.

And Jacob, when he went into Mesopotamia, saw Him in a dream, standing upon the ladder, that is, the tree, which was set up from earth to heaven; for thereby they that believe on Him go up to the heavens. For His sufferings are our ascension on high. And all such visions point to the Son of God, speaking with men and being in their midst. For it was not the Father of all, who is not seen by the world, the Maker of all who said: Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me, or what is the place of my rest? and who comprehendeth the earth with his hand, and with his span the heaven----it was not He that came and stood in a very small space and spake with Abraham; but the Word of God, who was ever with mankind, and made known beforehand what should come to pass in the future, and taught men the things of God.

He it is who spake with Moses in the bush, and said: Seeing have I seen the affliction of thy people that is in Egypt; and I am come down to deliver them. He it is who came forth and came down for the deliverance of the oppressed, bringing us out from the power of the Egyptians, that is, from all idolatry and impiety; and delivering us from the Red Sea, that is, delivering us from the deadly confusion of the Gentiles and the grievous vexation of their blasphemy. For in them the Word of God prepared and rehearsed beforehand the things concerning us. Then He set forth in types beforehand that which was to be; now in very truth He has brought us out from the cruel service of the Gentiles, and a stream of water in the desert has He made to flow forth in abundance from a rock; and that rock is Himself; and has given twelve fountains, that is, the teaching of the twelve apostles. And the obstinate unbelievers He brought to an end and consumed in the wilderness; but those who believed on Him, and in malice were children, He made to enter into the inheritance of the fathers

To be certain Irenaeus did not think that the idea of Jesus being identified with the various ' theophanies' in the Pentateuch was particularly 'heretical.'  No less an authority than Justin Martyr, a man who lived and flourished in the first half of the second century was its greatest spokesman. 


We see in Justin's Dialogue with a Jew named Trypho the earliest explicit attestation of the Marcionite god in a Catholic treatise. There are simply too many references and allusions to Jesus being the איש in this text to allow for a detailed examination.  To save space we will cite one extended discussion between Justin and his Jewish opponent from the first half of the Dialogue and then follow it up with a summary of the resurfacing of the same ideas later in the text.  Nevertheless it has to be stressed again that there is an abundance of these references to the איש in the writings of Justin. 

The traditional way of looking at these allusions are that they represent an 'innovation' on the part of the Church Father - "Justin Martyr argued that, according to biblical texts, Jesus was “another God and Lord,” thus sacrificing clear monotheism to preserve Jesus' divinity."  Yet this is downright silly given the fact that many scholars of early Judaism have noted that Justin's ideas seem to stand at the end of many hostile passages in the rabbinic traditions.  In other words, Justin was part of a tradition that originally started within Judaism in the first century and spread to the Gentiles in the mid to late second century - i.e. at the time Justin was active. 

Interestingly Segal provides two examples of a rabbinic polemic where these 'two powers in heaven' Jewish sectarians who cite similar arguments to those found in the Dialogue take a deep interest in the איש or more specifically the 'איש of war.'  We read in one treatise, the Mekhilta of R. Simeon b. Yohai the Marcionite understanding resurface in a report about a Jewish sectarian group:

Another interpretation: YHWH is a man of war, YHWH is His name.
Because, when the Holy One Blessed be He was revealed at the sea,
He appeared to them as a young man making war.
YHWH is His name. He appeared to them at Sinai like an old man, full of mercy:
I beheld 'til thrones were set down. (Daniel 7:9)

So as not to give an opportunity to say "There are two powers in heaven."
Rather YHWH is a man of War .

(Another interpretation:) YHWH is a man of War. YHWH fought in Egypt.
YHWH fought at the Sea. And He is at the Jordan, He is at the Arnon streams.
And He is in this world, And He is in the world to come.
He is in the past and He is in the future to come.
As it is said: Behold now, that I, even I, am He, etc. (Deut. 32:39)
Thus says YHWH, the king of Israel , etc. I am YHWH, the first and the last, etc. (Isa. 44:6)

A different version of the same lost original report is preserved in the Mekilta of R. Ishmael:

I am YHWH your God: Why is this said?
Because When He was revealed at the sea, He appeared to them as a mighty hero making war.
As it is said, YHWH is a man of war.
He appeared at Sinai like an old man, full of mercy,
as it is said: And they saw the God of Israel. (Exod. 24:10)
I beheld 'til thrones were set down. (Dan. 7:9)

And of the time after they had been redeemed what does it say?
And the like of the very heaven for clearness. (Exod. 24:10)
Again, it says, I beheld 'til thrones were set down. (Dan. 7:9)
And it also says A fiery stream issued and came forth from him etc.

Scripture would not give an opportunity to the nations of the world to say " There are two powers,'"
but declares I am YHWH your God. (Exod. 20:2)
I was in Egypt. I was at the Sea, I was in the past, I will be in the future to come.
I am in this world, I am in the world to come.

As it is said: Behold now, that I, even I, am He, etc. (Deut. 32:39)
Even unto old age I am the same. (Isa. 46:4)
Thus says YHWH the king of Israel and his Redeemer the Lord of Hosts,
I am the first and the last. (Isa. 44:6)

And it says Who has wrought and done it?
He that called the generations from the beginning.
I, the Lord who am the first, and to the end I am He. (Isa. 41:4)

In all the commentary written about these texts not a single author has even recognized the significance of Exodus 15:3 or the איש concept in the Marcionite tradition.  The connection between these groups and Justin Martyr is recognized even if he never makes explicit reference to Exodus 15:3 in the texts that survive. 

The lost original source for both texts was clearly directed against the  tradition - whether that group be 'Jewish' or 'Christian' (i.e. Gentiles) cannot be strictly determined.  As Segal notes neither of these two text is likely the original proof text against the 'heresies' in question.  Both developed as a response to the community's interest in the איש.   The first text only explains how Israel should react to what the heretics say about the 'man of war' being a separate figure from the god of Israel. "The exegesis notes the repetition of the name YHWH in Exod. 15:3 and explains its significance "the Lord is a man of war" is to be interpreted as a descriptive statement referring to God's manifestation as a young warrior when He destroyed the Egyptians at the Red Sea. "YHWH is His name" is necessary because, at Sinai, He will reveal Himself as an old man, showing mercy. Hence, it is important for the Israelites to realize that the same God is speaking in both places, though the manifestations look different."

As Segal also notes, the situation with the second text is even more complex "and obviously the result of a long history of redaction."  He notes that we have "to notice that the issue is no longer merely the repetition of the divine name of YHWH. In this case, the dangerous doctrine is the idea that there are two different manifestations of God—one, a just young man, appearing at the sea; the other, a merciful old man, appearing at Sinai ... The most ancient layer, which we shall later show to be tannaitic (10 - 200 CE), must be carefully uncovered in comparing them. The common tradition must have been an exegesis of the meaning of divine names, probably also centred around the Sinai theophany ... From the rabbinic perspective repetition of the divine name did not identify 'two powers'; it only emphasized that the Israelites would have to recognize God in different forms throughout their history."

The one thing that everyone seems to agree upon is that Justin Martyr was closely related to this heretical group mentioned in the rabbinic literature.  It certainly helps that Justin's Dialogue is directed against Jewish who he sees as employing an incorrect exegesis of the Pentateuch - i.e. that because of the rise of Christianity 'the Jews' abandoned 'seeing an angelic man' present in the narrative - an angelic man that Justin specifically identifies with Jesus.  Very few scholars in early Christianity take Justin's claims very seriously because they can't believe that there was a 'Jewish way' of seeing 'Jesus' present in the stories about the Patriarchs.  Nevertheless we have I hope demonstrated a plausible explanation with respect to the 'איש theophany' especially significant given Justin's connection with Samaria. 

A careful reading of the first citation we will make from the Dialogue to demonstrate Justin's identification of our 'Jesus' with the איש will make it plain that a later Catholic editor 'corrected' the original text.  A secondary hand suddenly appears to 'correct' the treatise and purge Justin of any suspicion of heterodox opinions.  For we read Justin begin by saying to his Jewish adversary:

Justin: Moses, then, the blessed and faithful servant of God, declares that He who appeared to Abraham under the oak in Mamre is God, sent with the two angels in His company to judge Sodom by Another who remains ever in the supercelestial places, invisible to all men, holding personal intercourse with none, whom we believe to be Maker and Father of all things; for he speaks thus: 'God appeared to him under the oak in Mamre, as he sat at his tent-door at noontide. And lifting up his eyes, he saw, and behold, three men stood before him; and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the door of his tent; and he bowed himself toward the ground, and said . . .' (Genesis 18:1-2) 'Abraham went up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the Lord: and he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrha, and toward the adjacent country, and beheld, and, lo, a flame went up from the earth, like the smoke of a furnace.'

And when I had made an end of quoting these words, I asked them if they had understood them. And they said they had understood them, but that the passages adduced brought forward no proof that there is any other God or Lord, or that the Holy Spirit says so, besides the Maker of all things.

Justin: I shall attempt to persuade you, since you have understood the Scriptures, [of the truth] of what I say, that there is, and that there is said to be, another God and Lord subject to the Maker of all things; who is also called an Angel, because He announces to men whatsoever the Maker of all things—above whom there is no other God—wishes to announce to them.

I quoted once more the previous passage.

Justin: Do you think that God appeared to Abraham under the oak in Mamre, as the Scripture asserts?

Trypho: Assuredly.

Justin: Was He one of those three whom Abraham saw, and whom the Holy Spirit of prophecy describes as men?

Trypho: No; but God appeared to him, before the vision of the three. Then those three whom the Scripture calls men, were angels; two of them sent to destroy Sodom, and one to announce the joyful tidings to Sarah, that she would bear a son; for which cause he was sent, and having accomplished his errand, went away.

Justin: How then does the one of the three, who was in the tent, and who said, 'I shall return to you hereafter, and Sarah shall have a son,' (Genesis 18:10) appear to have returned when Sarah had begotten a son, and to be there declared, by the prophetic word, God? But that you may clearly discern what I say, listen to the words expressly employed by Moses; they are these: 'And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian bond-woman, whom she bore to Abraham, sporting with Isaac her son, and said to Abraham, Cast out this bond-woman and her son; for the son of this bond-woman shall not share the inheritance of my son Isaac. And the matter seemed very grievous in Abraham's sight, because of his son. But God said to Abraham, Let it not be grievous in your sight because of the son, and because of the bond-woman. In all that Sarah has said unto you, hearken to her voice; for in Isaac shall your seed be called.' (Genesis 21:9-12) Have you perceived, then, that He who said under the oak that He would return, since He knew it would be necessary to advise Abraham to do what Sarah wished him, came back as it is written; and is God, as the words declare, when they so speak: 'God said to Abraham, Let it not be grievous in your sight because of the son, and because of the bond-woman?'

Trypho: Certainly; but you have not proved from this that there is another God besides Him who appeared to Abraham, and who also appeared to the other patriarchs and prophets. You have proved, however, that we were wrong in believing that the three who were in the tent with Abraham were all angels.

Justin: If I could not have proved to you from the Scriptures that one of those three is God, and is called Angel, because, as I already said, He brings messages to those to whom God the Maker of all things wishes [messages to be brought], then in regard to Him who appeared to Abraham on earth in human form in like manner as the two angels who came with Him, and who was God even before the creation of the world, it were reasonable for you to entertain the same belief as is entertained by the whole of your nation.

Trypho: Assuredly, for up to this moment this has been our belief.

Justin: Reverting to the Scriptures, I shall endeavour to persuade you, that He who is said to have appeared to Abraham, and to Jacob, and to Moses, and who is called God, is distinct from Him who made all things—numerically, I mean, not [distinct] in will. For I affirm that He has never at any time done anything which He who made the world—above whom there is no other God—has not wished Him both to do and to engage Himself with.

Trypho: Prove now that this is the case, that we also may agree with you. For we do not understand you to affirm that He has done or said anything contrary to the will of the Maker of all things.

Justin: The Scripture just quoted by me will make this plain to you. It is thus: 'The sun was risen on the earth, and Lot entered into Segor (Zoar); and the Lord rained on Sodom sulphur and fire from the Lord out of heaven, and overthrew these cities and all the neighbourhood.' (Genesis 19:23) The fourth of those who had remained with

Trypho: It must therefore necessarily be said that one of the two angels who went to Sodom, and is named by Moses in the Scripture Lord, is different from Him who also is God and appeared to Abraham.

Justin: It is not on this ground solely that it must be admitted absolutely that some other one is called Lord by the Holy Spirit besides Him who is considered Maker of all things; not solely [for what is said] by Moses, but also [for what is said] by David. For there is written by him: 'The Lord says to my Lord, Sit on My right hand, until I make Your enemies Your footstool,' as I have already quoted. And again, in other words: 'Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever. A sceptre of equity is the sceptre of Your kingdom: You have loved righteousness and hated iniquity: therefore God, even Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your fellows.' If, therefore, you assert that the Holy Spirit calls some other one God and Lord, besides the Father of all things and His Christ, answer me; for I undertake to prove to you from Scriptures themselves, that He whom the Scripture calls Lord is not one of the two angels that went to Sodom, but He who was with them, and is called God, that appeared to Abraham.

Trypho: Prove this; for, as you see, the day advances, and we are not prepared for such perilous replies; since never yet have we heard any man investigating, or searching into, or proving these matters; nor would we have tolerated your conversation, had you not referred everything to the Scriptures: for you are very zealous in adducing proofs from them; and you are of opinion that there is no God above the Maker of all things.

Justin: You are aware, then, that the Scripture says, 'And the Lord said to Abraham, Why did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I truly conceive? For I am old. Is anything impossible with God? At the time appointed shall I return to you according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.' (Genesis 18:13-14) And after a little interval: 'And the men rose up from thence, and looked towards Sodom and Gomorrha; and Abraham went with them, to bring them on the way. And the Lord said, I will not conceal from Abraham, my servant, what I do.' (Genesis 18:16-17) And again, after a little, it thus says: 'The Lord said, The cry of Sodom and Gomorrha is great, and their sins are very grievous. I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to their cry which has come unto me; and if not, that I may know. And the men turned away thence, and went to Sodom. But Abraham was standing before the Lord; and Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt You destroy the righteous with the wicked?' (Genesis 18:20-23) And so on, for I do not think fit to write over again the same words, having written them all before, but shall of necessity give those by which I established the proof to Trypho and his companions.

Then I proceeded to what follows, in which these words are recorded 'And the Lord went His way as soon as He had left communing with Abraham; and [Abraham] went to his place. And there came two angels to Sodom at even. And Lot sat in the gate of Sodom;' (Genesis 18:33, Genesis 19:1) and what follows until, 'But the men put forth their hands, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door of the house;' (Genesis 19:10) and what follows till, And the angels laid hold on his hand, and on the hand of his wife, and on the hands of his daughters, the Lord being merciful to him. And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that they said, Save, save your life. Look not behind you, nor stay in all the neighbourhood; escape to the mountain, lest you be taken along with [them]. And Lot said to them, I beseech [You], O Lord, since Your servant has found grace in Your sight, and You have magnified Your righteousness, which You showest towards me in saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountain, lest evil overtake me, and I die. Behold, this city is near to flee unto, and it is small: there I shall be safe, since it is small; and any soul shall live. And He said to him, Behold, I have accepted you also in this matter, so as not to destroy the city for which you have spoken. Make haste to save yourself there; for I shall not do anything till you have come there. Therefore he called the name of the city Segor (Zoar). The sun was risen upon the earth; and Lot entered into Segor (Zoar). And the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrha sulphur and fire from the Lord out of heaven; and He overthrew these cities, and all the neighbourhood. (Genesis 19:16-25)

Justin: (After another pause.) And now have you not perceived, my friends, that one of the three, who is both God and Lord, and ministers to Him who is in the heavens, is Lord of the two angels? For when [the angels] proceeded to Sodom, He remained behind, and communed with Abraham in the words recorded by Moses; and when He departed after the conversation, Abraham went back to his place. And when he came [to Sodom], the two angels no longer conversed with Lot, but Himself, as the Scripture makes evident; and He is the Lord who received commission from the Lord who [remains] in the heavens, i.e., the Maker of all things, to inflict upon Sodom and Gomorrha the [judgments] which the Scripture describes in these terms: 'The Lord rained down upon Sodom and Gomorrha sulphur and fire from the Lord out of heaven.'

The Jew objects, why is He said to have eaten, if He be God? Answer of Justin

Trypho: (When I was silent.) That Scripture compels us to admit this, is manifest; but there is a matter about which we are deservedly at a loss—namely, about what was said to the effect that [the Lord] ate what was prepared and placed before him by Abraham; and you would admit this.

Justin: It is written that they ate; and if we believe that it is said the three ate, and not the two alone—who were really angels, and are nourished in the heavens, as is evident to us, even though they are not nourished by food similar to that which mortals use—(for, concerning the sustenance of manna which supported your fathers in the desert, Scripture speaks thus, that they ate angels' food): [if we believe that three ate], then I would say that the Scripture which affirms they ate bears the same meaning as when we would say about fire that it has devoured all things; yet it is not certainly understood that they ate, masticating with teeth and jaws. So that not even here should we be at a loss about anything, if we are acquainted even slightly with figurative modes of expression, and able to rise above them.

Trypho: It is possible that [the question] about the mode of eating may be thus explained: [the mode, that is to say,] in which it is written, they took and ate what had been prepared by Abraham: so that you may now proceed to explain to us how this God who appeared to Abraham, and is minister to God the Maker of all things, being born of the Virgin, became man, of like passions with all, as you said previously.

Justin: Permit me first, Trypho, to collect some other proofs on this head, so that you, by the large number of them, may be persuaded of [the truth of] it, and thereafter I shall explain what you ask.

Trypho: Do as seems good to you; for I shall be thoroughly pleased.

Justin: I purpose to quote to you Scriptures, not that I am anxious to make merely an artful display of words; for I possess no such faculty, but God's grace alone has been granted to me to the understanding of His Scriptures, of which grace I exhort all to become partakers freely and bounteously, in order that they may not, through want of it, incur condemnation in the judgment which God the Maker of all things shall hold through my Lord Jesus Christ.

Trypho: What you do is worthy of the worship of God; but you appear to me to feign ignorance when you say that you do not possess a store of artful words.

Justin: Be it so, since you think so; yet I am persuaded that I speak the truth. But give me your attention, that I may now rather adduce the remaining proofs.

Trypho: Proceed.

Justin: It is again written by Moses, my brethren, that He who is called God and appeared to the patriarchs is called both Angel and Lord, in order that from this you may understand Him to be minister to the Father of all things, as you have already admitted, and may remain firm, persuaded by additional arguments. The word of God, therefore, [recorded] by Moses, when referring to Jacob the grandson of Abraham, speaks thus: And it came to pass, when the sheep conceived, that I saw them with my eyes in the dream: And, behold, the he-goats and the rams which leaped upon the sheep and she-goats were spotted with white, and speckled and sprinkled with a dun colour. And the Angel of God said to me in the dream, Jacob, Jacob. And I said, What is it, Lord? And He said, Lift up your eyes, and see that the he-goats and rams leaping on the sheep and she-goats are spotted with white, speckled, and sprinkled with a dun colour. For I have seen what Laban does unto you. I am the God who appeared to you in Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and vowed a vow unto Me. Now therefore arise, and get you out of this land, and depart to the land of your birth, and I shall be with you. (Genesis 31:10-13) And again, in other words, speaking of the same Jacob, it thus says: And having risen up that night, he took the two wives, and the two women-servants, and his eleven children, and passed over the ford Jabbok; and he took them and went over the brook, and sent over all his belongings. But Jacob was left behind alone, and an Angel wrestled with him until morning. And He saw that He is not prevailing against him, and He touched the broad part of his thigh; and the broad part of Jacob's thigh grew stiff while he wrestled with Him. And He said, Let Me go, for the day breaks. But he said, I will not let You go, except You bless me. And He said to him, What is your name? And he said, Jacob. And He said, Your name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel shall be your name; for you have prevailed with God, and with men shall be powerful. And Jacob asked Him, and said, Tell me Your name. But he said, Why do you ask after My name? And He blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of that place Peniel, for I saw God face to face, and my soul rejoiced. Genesis (32:22-30) And again, in other terms, referring to the same Jacob, it says the following: And Jacob came to Luz, in the land of Canaan, which is Bethel, he and all the people that were with him. And there he built an altar, and called the name of that place Bethel; for there God appeared to him when he fled from the face of his brother Esau. And Deborah, Rebekah's nurse, died, and was buried beneath Bethel under an oak: and Jacob called the name of it The Oak of Sorrow. And God appeared again to Jacob in Luz, when he came out from Mesopotamia in Syria, and He blessed him. And God said to him, Your name shall be no more called Jacob, but Israel shall he your name. Genesis (35:6-10) He is called God, and He is and shall be God.

And when all had agreed on these grounds, I continued:

Justin: Moreover, I consider it necessary to repeat to you the words which narrate how He who is both Angel and God and Lord, and who appeared as a man to Abraham, and who wrestled in human form with Jacob, was seen by him when he fled from his brother Esau. They are as follows: 'And Jacob went out from the well of the oath, and went toward Charran. And he lighted on a spot, and slept there, for the sun was set; and he gathered of the stones of the place, and put them under his head. And he slept in that place; and he dreamed, and, behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, whose top reached to heaven; and the angels of God ascended and descended upon it. And the Lord stood above it, and He said, I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father, and of Isaac; be not afraid: the land whereon you lie to you will I give it, and to your seed; and your seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and shall be extended to the west, and south, and north, and east: and in you, and in your seed, shall all families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with you, keeping you in every way wherein you go, and will bring you again into this land; for I will not leave you, until I have done all that I have spoken to you of. And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and said, Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. And Jacob rose up in the morning, and took the stone which he had placed under his head, and he set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it; and Jacob called the name of the place The House of God, and the name of the city formerly was Ulammaus.'

Justin: Permit me, further, to show you from the book of Exodus how this same One, who is both Angel, and God, and Lord, and man, and who appeared in human form to Abraham and Isaac, appeared in a flame of fire from the bush, and conversed with Moses. And after they said they would listen cheerfully, patiently, and eagerly, I went on: These words are in the book which bears the title of Exodus: 'And after many days the king of Egypt died, and the children of Israel groaned by reason of the works;' (Exodus 2:23) and so on until, 'Go and gather the elders of Israel, and you shall say unto them, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, I am surely beholding you, and the things which have befallen you in Egypt.' (Exodus 3:16) In addition to these words, I went on: Have you perceived, sirs, that this very God whom Moses speaks of as an Angel that talked to him in the flame of fire, declares to Moses that He is the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob?

Trypho: We do not perceive this from the passage quoted by you, but [only this], that it was an angel who appeared in the flame of fire, but God who conversed with Moses; so that there were really two persons in company with each other, an angel and God, that appeared in that vision.

Justin: Even if this were so, my friends, that an angel and God were together in the vision seen by Moses, yet, as has already been proved to you by the passages previously quoted, it will not be the Creator of all things that is the God that said to Moses that He was the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, but it will be He who has been proved to you to have appeared to Abraham, ministering to the will of the Maker of all things, and likewise carrying into execution His counsel in the judgment of Sodom; so that, even though it be as you say, that there were two—an angel and God—he who has but the smallest intelligence will not venture to assert that the Maker and Father of all things, having left all supercelestial matters, was visible on a little portion of the earth.

Trypho: Since it has been previously proved that He who is called God and Lord, and appeared to Abraham, received from the Lord, who is in the heavens, that which He inflicted on the land of Sodom, even although an angel had accompanied the God who appeared to Moses, we shall perceive that the God who communed with Moses from the bush was not the Maker of all things, but He who has been shown to have manifested Himself to Abraham and to Isaac and to Jacob; who also is called and is perceived to be the Angel of God the Maker of all things, because He publishes to men the commands of the Father and Maker of all things.

Justin: Now assuredly, Trypho, I shall show that, in the vision of Moses, this same One alone who is called an Angel, and who is God, appeared to and communed with Moses. For the Scripture says thus: 'The Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the bush; and he sees that the bush burns with fire, but the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will turn aside and see this great sight, for the bush is not burnt. And when the Lord saw that he is turning aside to behold, the Lord called to him out of the bush.' (Exodus 3:2-4) In the same manner, therefore, in which the Scripture calls Him who appeared to Jacob in the dream an Angel, then [says] that the same Angel who appeared in the dream spoke to him, (Genesis 35:7) saying, 'I am the God that appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother;' and [again] says that, in the judgment which befell Sodom in the days of Abraham, the Lord had inflicted the punishment of the Lord who [dwells] in the heavens;—even so here, the Scripture, in announcing that the Angel of the Lord appeared to Moses, and in afterwards declaring him to be Lord and God, speaks of the same One, whom it declares by the many testimonies already quoted to be minister to God, who is above the world, above whom there is no other [God].

Justin: I shall give you another testimony, my friends, from the Scriptures, that God begot before all creatures a Beginning, [who was] a certain rational power [proceeding] from Himself, who is called by the Holy Spirit, now the Glory of the Lord, now the Son, again Wisdom, again an Angel, then God, and then Lord and Logos; and on another occasion He calls Himself Captain, when He appeared in human form to Joshua the son of Nave (Nun). For He can be called by all those names, since He ministers to the Father's will, and since He was begotten of the Father by an act of will; just as we see happening among ourselves: for when we give out some word, we beget the word; yet not by abscission, so as to lessen the word [which remains] in us, when we give it out: and just as we see also happening in the case of a fire, which is not lessened when it has kindled [another], but remains the same; and that which has been kindled by it likewise appears to exist by itself, not diminishing that from which it was kindled.

This rather lengthy citation was necessary to allow the original source material to speak for itself.  This is not me manipulating Justin's testimony to make it seem as if Jesus was originally identified by him with the איש, rather he clearly touches upon a familiar group of passages where איש was understood to appear and proceeds to identify this figure in the scriptures with ΙΣ or 'Jesus.' 


If you were to take the time to read the entire treatise as a whole with a critical eye it would be readily apparent that our inherited notion of 'Jesus' as a Jewish rabbi was either not known to Justin or he ignored it complete.  This 'Jewish rabbi' claim is a convenient assertion given that we want to believe that Christianity was 'firmly rooted' in the 'sure bedrock' of a historical individual - preferably one named Jesus.  Instead we see in a second section of text from the latter half of the Dialogue a now familiar recycling of איש passages to identify 'Jesus' as been present in the Old Testament narratives:

Justin: But if you knew, Trypho, who He is that is called at one time the Angel of great counsel, and a Man by Ezekiel, and like the Son of man by Daniel, and a Child by Isaiah, and Christ and God to be worshipped by David, and Christ and a Stone by many, and Wisdom by Solomon, and Joseph and Judah and a Star by Moses, and the East by Zechariah, and the Suffering One and Jacob and Israel by Isaiah again, and a Rod, and Flower, and Corner-Stone, and Son of God, you would not have blasphemed Him who has now come, and been born, and suffered, and ascended to heaven; who shall also come again, and then your twelve tribes shall mourn. For if you had understood what has been written by the prophets, you would not have denied that He was God, Son of the only, unbegotten, unutterable God. For Moses says somewhere in Exodus the following: 'The Lord spoke to Moses, and said to him, I am the Lord, and I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, being their God; and my name I revealed not to them, and I established my covenant with them.' And thus again he says, 'A man wrestled with Jacob,' and asserts it was God; narrating that Jacob said, 'I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.' And it is recorded that he called the place where He wrestled with him, appeared to and blessed him, the Face of God. And Moses says that God appeared also to Abraham near the oak in Mamre, when he was sitting at the door of his tent at mid-day. Then he goes on to say: 'And he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, three men stood before him; and when he saw them, he ran to meet them.' (Genesis 18:2) After a little, one of them promises a son to Abraham: 'Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, and I am old? Is anything impossible with God? At the time appointed I will return, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. And they went away from Abraham.' Again he speaks of them thus: 'And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom.' (Genesis 18:16) Then to Abraham He who was and is again speaks: 'I will not hide from Abraham, my servant, what I intend to do.' Genesis 18:17 And what follows in the writings of Moses I quoted and explained: From which I have demonstrated that He who is described as God appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, and the other patriarchs, was appointed under the authority of the Father and Lord, and ministers to His will.

Then I went on to say what I had not said before: And so, when the people desired to eat flesh, and Moses had lost faith in Him, who also there is called the Angel, and who promised that God would give them to satiety, He who is both God and the Angel, sent by the Father, is described as saying and doing these things. For thus the Scripture says: 'And the Lord said to Moses, Will the Lord's hand not be sufficient? You shall know now whether my word shall conceal you or not.' (Numbers 11:23) And again, in other words, it thus says: 'But the Lord spoke unto me, You shall not go over this Jordan: the Lord your God, who goes before your face, He shall cut off the nations.'

Justin: These and other such sayings are recorded by the lawgiver and by the prophets; and I suppose that I have stated sufficiently, that wherever God says, 'God went up from Abraham,' (Genesis 18:22) or, 'The Lord spoke to Moses,' (Exodus 6:29) and 'The Lord came down to behold the tower which the sons of men had built,' Genesis 11:5 or when 'God shut Noah into the ark,' (Genesis 7:16) you must not imagine that the unbegotten God Himself came down or went up from any place. For the ineffable Father and Lord of all neither has come to any place, nor walks, nor sleeps, nor rises up, but remains in His own place, wherever that is, quick to behold and quick to hear, having neither eyes nor ears, but being of indescribable might; and He sees all things, and knows all things, and none of us escapes His observation; and He is not moved or confined to a spot in the whole world, for He existed before the world was made. How, then, could He talk with any one, or be seen by any one, or appear on the smallest portion of the earth, when the people at Sinai were not able to look even on the glory of Him who was sent from Him; and Moses himself could not enter into the tabernacle which he had erected, when it was filled with the glory of God; and the priest could not endure to stand before the temple when Solomon conveyed the ark into the house in Jerusalem which he had built for it? Therefore neither Abraham, nor Isaac, nor Jacob, nor any other man, saw the Father and ineffable Lord of all, and also of Christ, but [saw] Him who was according to His will His Son, being God, and the Angel because He ministered to His will; whom also it pleased Him to be born man by the Virgin; who also was fire when He conversed with Moses from the bush. Since, unless we thus comprehend the Scriptures, it must follow that the Father and Lord of all had not been in heaven when what Moses wrote took place: 'And the Lord rained upon Sodom fire and brimstone from the Lord out of heaven.' (Genesis 19:24) and again, when it is thus said by David: 'Lift up your gates, you rulers; and be lifted up, you everlasting gates; and the King of glory shall enter;' and again, when He says: 'The Lord says to my Lord, Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.'

Justin: And that Christ being Lord, and God the Son of God, and appearing formerly in power as Man, and Angel, and in the glory of fire as at the bush, so also was manifested at the judgment executed on Sodom, has been demonstrated fully by what has been said.

Then I repeated once more all that I had previously quoted from Exodus, about the vision in the bush, and the naming of Joshua and continued: And do not suppose, sirs, that I am speaking superfluously when I repeat these words frequently: but it is because I know that some wish to anticipate these remarks, and to say that the power sent from the Father of all which appeared to Moses, or to Abraham, or to Jacob, is called an Angel because He came to men (for by Him the commands of the Father have been proclaimed to men); is called Glory, because He appears in a vision sometimes that cannot be borne; is called a Man, and a human being, because He appears arrayed in such forms as the Father pleases; and they call Him the Word, because He carries tidings from the Father to men: but maintain that this power is indivisible and inseparable from the Father, just as they say that the light of the sun on earth is indivisible and inseparable from the sun in the heavens; as when it sinks, the light sinks along with it; so the Father, when He chooses, say they, causes His power to spring forth, and when He chooses, He makes it return to Himself. In this way, they teach, He made the angels. But it is proved that there are angels who always exist, and are never reduced to that form out of which they sprang. And that this power which the prophetic word calls God, as has been also amply demonstrated, and Angel, is not numbered [as different] in name only like the light of the sun but is indeed something numerically distinct, I have discussed briefly in what has gone before; when I asserted that this power was begotten from the Father, by His power and will, but not by abscission, as if the essence of the Father were divided; as all other things partitioned and divided are not the same after as before they were divided: and, for the sake of example, I took the case of fires kindled from a fire, which we see to be distinct from it, and yet that from which many can be kindled is by no means made less, but remains the same.

A careful reading of this section makes clear that Justin is quite aware of our original point that the two terms 'His Man' and 'His fire' are related in Hebrew.  Clearly our familiar figure of 'Jesus' is for Justin exactly what we find in the testimonies of the earliest known Marcionites - namely a 'fire man' who appears throughout the Bible.  The text gets noticeably more 'choppy' at the very point Justin is about to express this explicitly.  The editor feels compelled to interject and interrupt the original train of thought. 

To this end, we can say by way of conclusion that after careful scrutiny of these sections of Justin Martyr's Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, we find constant reinforcement of the understanding that the person of Jesus was related back to the angelic איש.  In no uncertain terms those passages which made reference to the איש were used to bolster Justin's argument against Jews who argued on behalf of a monarchian reading of the Pentateuch.  At this point in history at least, the world did not know of a historical 'Jesus' who was born to a Jewish mother and was well known by his contemporaries appearing in mortal flesh. This idea was a much later developed spawned undoubtedly by some in an insignificant corner of the world and later seized upon by Irenaeus and his associates. 

The true 'Jesus' of history was undoubtedly a heavenly man born from the imagination of the apostle Paul in order to explain the historic crucifixion of a popular figure who may or may not have been named Joshua.  Indeed, Judas is by far the more likely name, and this figure was undoubtedly more likely to have been associated with revolutionary activity hence the original association with 'the man of war' and the one like Moses who would come from Judah.  As is all too rarely acknowledged the sign which is hung from the cross can be read to have testified to the crucified one's claim to be the awaited Shilo. 

The testimony of the gospels is surprisingly contradictory about what the sign actually said but it was probably:

 “The King, Judah,” המלך יהודה in Hebrew or מלכה יהודה in Aramaic

No one outside of the Catholics believed that the man 'Jesus' was really crucified on the Cross.  This bit of historical nonsense was cooked up by those who wanted to avoid the original implications of having Judas as the first one to have taken on the perfect man.  Already half the world continues to adhere to the original truth set forth in the Marcionite gospels.  Go make a friend with a Muslim, the culture that dominates the region formerly associated with 'earliest Christianity.'  They will explain it all to you (or at least one small part of it) ...

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Stephan Huller's Observations by Stephan Huller
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