Sunday, July 6, 2014

A Lost Witness to the Supernatural Jesus [Part Four]

We have been developing an appreciation for something that is 'old news' in the study of Samaritanism, namely that the Patristic reports identifying a certain 'Dositheus' as the founder of the 'Dosithians' is utterly contrived and wrong.  The Greek term Λοσιθιανοί which appears in Hegesippus's Memoirs is a distortion of an Persian term found in the Avesta and rendered as دوستان in the modern Farsi spelling which means 'friends' or 'lovers.'  This is term which exactly appears in Abu'l Fath, the fourteenth century chronicler working from much earlier material known to Origen and Epiphanius. 

We have already noted that the Greek translator of Hegesippus has a bizarre propensity for rendering group names with the Latinized -ian suffix.  I have argued that the 'Dosithians' may well have been the seminal in this regard.  The original Hebrew or Aramaic term was דוסתאן.  I think I have successfully argued that the Latinized form is an interpretation of this original terminology to mean 'those of' a certain Dositheus when in reality the original term derives from Persian.  In other words, that the Dustan identified themselves as 'friends' and 'lovers' in some form, most likely 'friends, 'lovers' or 'associates' of God. 

In favor of this proposition is the specific form that makes its way to us from Origen in his Contra Celsum - ∆οσιθεηνοὶ.  This clearly preserves the original Hebrew or Aramaic form דוסתאן without the Latinized ending.  The implication it would seem from this and other examples from the text of the Hegesippus which was used by Eusebius and Epiphanius is again that the author had a tendency to add the -ian suffix. 

Here are the names of heretical groups in the cited section from Hegesippus:
Σιμωνιανοί = (those of Simon)
Λοσιθιανοί, = (those of Dositheus)
Μενανδριανισταὶ (those of Menander)
Μαρκιανισταὶ (those of Mark)
Καρποκρατιανοὶ (those of Carpocrates)
Οὐαλεντινιανοὶ (those of Valentine)
Βασιλειδιανοὶ (those of Basilides)
Σατορνιλιανοὶ (those of Satornilus)

It is worth noting that in ancient Persian -an is a plural suffix.  'Friend' or 'lover' is dost; 'friends' dostan.  The immediate question becomes whether other names in this list betray any origins in Persian.  I suspect that to be the case with respect to Γοραθηνοί or Γοροθηνοί as it appears in Epiphanius where Gorothman is identified as the Persian name for heaven - "the highest or the seventh heaven of the Parsis called Gorothman (the abode of light) where Ahura Mazda lives with the Ameshapentas and the souls of the pure, corresponds to the idea of Vedic mukti (or emancipation)."

Here is an example of the use of Gorothman in the vedas of Zarathustra:

From hence on (or 'Therefore') praise and worship are to be offered up, (or 'to be offered with excessive 'zeal') by us to this one, (b) since now this is seen with both the eyes [that all good comes from Hormijda]. (c) It is through the deed and word of the Best Mind (d)that he who belongs to the Great Wise One the Lord becomes intelligent in (or 'through the truth'), [that is, through Hormijda's Din]; (e) and thus it is that we offer up our worship to Him in Garothmana on high.

It would seem to me at least that with respect to the Gorathenoi at least we are dealing with a pre-existent (pre-Christian) Samaritan sect which venerated a 'most high' God who lived in heaven. 

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