The Myth of Jesus
The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until Shilo comes and the obedience of the nations shall be his.
The pattern here is very similar to what we have said about the interpretation of the gospel. Too little time is spent determining what was meant by the author and what could have been held by the early interpreters of the text. Too much time is wasted on reinforcing familiar viewpoints that happen to be our own. Indeed one can imagine a situation where the original author writing after the Babylonian Captivity cast into the mouth of Moses the useful claim with the end of that line of Jewish kings the angel would return to help establish once again the Law he gave to Moses. At the same time, a parallel argument could have been made that איש - that is the ΙΣ of the gospel - appeared in Judea leading to the departing of the scepter from Judah.
Scholars often seem to avoid acknowledging how many other possibilities there really are to explain a given phenomenon. It is a lot like a district attorney not revealing the evidence which exonerates a suspect, only in the realm of Biblical scholarship we must still believe that the suppression is done wholly unconsciously. The possibility that the gospel narrative is myth is rejected as 'completely ridiculous' long before anyone even has the chance to complete a full assessment of the scope of mythical possibilities. To this end, with the limited space that is left in the present investigation, I hope the reader will allow me the opportunity to take the first steps towards presenting the case for the gospel developing from a wholly Jewish myth.
For some reason which no one can explain, the author of the Pentateuch took an interest in the number 345. The Moses has a value of 345, the same is true with Shilo, the Name, my Name (in Aramaic), El Shadai and a host of other possibilities. While it is generally assumed that 345 just came about naturally through the act of the narrator 'reporting the facts' Moses is certainly a made up name. There may well have been a historical founder of Israel in Egypt, but his name was something other than Moses. Moses was a name which fulfilled the narrator's goal of assigning him a value of 345 rather than the other way around. The same holds true with the name Shilo. It is another made up name.
Interestingly enough the Samaritans apparently had an extremely important Biblical exegete who happened to have as part of his name the Roman praenomen Marcus. This individual is remembered as Marqeh specifically to allow him to be identified as another 345. Moshe Florentin Professor of Hebrew and head of the section of Hebrew studies in the Department of Hebrew Culture at Tel Aviv University has suggested that it has something to do with the vocative case, the form used in certain languages to identify the noun being addressed. There is no vocative case in Aramaic. So what Florentin is suggesting - and it is pretty eye-opening even to consider how this might have occured - the names 'Marcus' and 'Titus' were preserved as Marqeh and Tuteh in Samaritan from the Samaritan people addressing these figures in the Latin or Greek vocative form.
This is yet another illustration of how plausible our suggestion that ISU is a preservation in Greek of a Hebrew word. Marqeh and Tutah represent parallel phenomena going in the opposite direction (i.e. Greek to Aramaic). A marginal note in a Samaritan manuscript of Mark's writings in St Petersburg, Russia speaks of Moses as the 'apostle of (the age of) favor' and Mark 'the apostle of (the age of) disfavor.' To this end we must assume that the transliteration of the vocative case of a foreign language was purely chosen for its numerological significance. The implication was that Mark was Shilo, the second Moses and so it is understood in the contemporary Samaritan tradition.
If we are allowed to indulge in a little speculation it is worth noting that the first century Jewish historian Josephus makes the absurd claim that the Israelites built the pyramids. Many have drawn the inference that the Egyptians knew of the 3,
All Pythagorean triangles are Hero triangles that is, all right triangles whose sides (a, b, c) follow the equation a²+ b² = c², and that have all their sides as integers then have areas that are integers. A Pythagorean triangle are those where sides a and b are the shorter sides that meet at a 90 angle and side c is the hypotenuse. As noted above the formula a²+ b² = c² is the Pythagorean formula. To find the area of such a triangle, you multiply side a by side b and take half of this. This formula is written as A = ½bh in which A = area, b = base or side b, and h = height or side a. Thus, A = ½ab.
the number that belongs to becoming (as opposed to being) par excellence is the number six, for it is the product (genesis) of the first two numbers, two and three, the first even and the first odd number, representing the female and male element in the world. Six, therefore, is the first perfect number. The Pythagorean background of these remarks rings through loud and clear.
Now of course there are other explanations for this interest - most notably the fact that the number 216 has long been identified with the name of the second god. The name gevurah has a numerological value of 216 and is used throughout the early Jewish and Samaritan mystical writings to denote the angel of God. Yet the association with the concept of Shemhamphorasch or Shem ha-Mephorash "the explicit name" is so significant that provides a certain Jewish grounding for the Marcionite heavenly hypostasis.
The Jewish mystical tradition identifies three verses in Exodus chapter 14 which have a value of 216. The phenomenon was developed by Daniel Aronofsky into a popular movie Pi which tells the story of the implications of mathematical experiments done by the main character which result in a 216 digit number attracting the attention of both a shadowy Wall Street firm who believes it could be used to predetermine stock prices, and a group of Hassidic Jews who believe the number can be used to bring about the Messianic Age.
The 216 Letter Name of God is the composition of three verses of 72 letters each in Exodus. The Name composes into 72 triplets by taking the first letter of the first verse, the last letter of the second verse, and the first letter of third verse. The next triplet consists of the second letter of the first verse, the second to last letter of the second verse and the second letter of the third verse. We proceed this way until we form all 72 triplets developed from the following sections of text:
Exodus 14:19: The angel of God moved when it traveled in front of the camp of Israel, and went behind them.
Exodus 14:20 It came between the Egyptian camp and the camp of Israel. There was the cloud and darkness [for the Egyptians] and it [the pillar of fire] lit the night.
Exodus 14:21 Moses stretched out his hand over the sea and the Lord turned back the sea with a strong east wind [blowing] all through the night. He made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided.
Both Samaritans and Jews can be linked to the same practice of forming triplets from these three 72 letter verses. This is deeply significant given the fact that these traditions that have been separated long before the Common Era. As such shared practices are almost certainly ancient ones too.
In the Judaism the practice of constructing these 72 triplets from the 216 letters of Exodus 23:19 - 21 is first witnessed by the Biblical exegete Rashi (c. 10th century CE). The Samaritans have an ancient practice of inscribing these words on amulets. Nevertheless we see a similar reverence for the existence of 216 letter name in the writings of the prominent mystic and kabbalist Abraham Abulafia writes:
And the name of the holy high mountain is the Ineffable Name, and know this, and the 216 – ריו and secret of the mountain is Gevurah (might = 216), and he is the Mighty One, who wages war against the enemies of God who forget His Name. And behold, after this the letters are corporealized in the form of the Ministering Angels who know the labor of singing, and these are the Levites, who are in the form of God, who give birth to a voice of joy and ringing song, and teach with their voice matters of the future and new ways, and renew the knowledge of prophecy.
Gevurah, strength, has the gematria of 216 – גבורה. Abulafia might link Gevurah and ‘mountain’ through the phrase, “and the mountain” – וההר that also has the gematria 216. Indeed there are frequent allusions to the concept in Abulafia's writings and indeed those of his school.
The anonymous author of the Shaarey Zedek similarly notes “I set out to take up the Great Name of God, consisting of seventy-two names, permuting and combining it. But when I had done this for a little while, behold, the letters took on in my eyes the shape of great mountains.” The similarly anonymous Perus haTefillot, also written by one close to Abulafia states: “Know that every one of the letters of the alpeh-bet contains a great principle and a hidden reason, and it is a great mountain which we are prevented from climbing.” The ascent of the mountain is usually taken to mean a spiritual ascent alluding to prophecy.
There is an equally strong tradition associating the number 216 with the power that raises the dead.
The prophet Habakkuk’s name has gematria 216 – חבקוק. Owing to the gematria of the name Habakkuk the mystical tradition usually assumes that Habakkuk was the Shunamite’s son revived from the dead. In the he Zohar 1:7 it is specifically said that the 216 Letter Name of God to the revival of the dead. "By this Name, God will give life again in the world to come." While the 72 Letter Name has the power of redemption, the 216 Letter Name magnifies this power threefold resulting in the power of restoration.
This understanding that the 216 Letter Ineffable Name has the power to restore life is illustrated by a story about the prophet Habakkuk. The Zohar writes:
They continued their journey and reached a certain hill at sunset. The branches of the trees on the hill began to shake and rustle and broke forth into hymns. Whilst walking, they heard a resounding voice proclaim: ‘Holy sons of God, who are interspersed among the living of yonder world, ye who are the lamps of the Academy, reassemble into your places to regale yourselves, under the guidance of your Master, in the study of the Torah.’A similar story is recognized from a work called the Book of Solomon where it said:
In fear and trembling they stopped and sat down. Meanwhile, a voice went forth again and proclaimed: ‘O, ye mighty rocks, exalted hammers, behold the Lord, lo, Him whose appearance is as a broidered pattern of many colours, mounted on His throne: enter then into your place of assembly.’ At that moment they heard a loud and mighty sound issuing from between the branches of the trees, and they uttered the verse: ‘The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars’ (Ps. 29, 5). R. Eleazar and R. Abba fell upon their faces and a great fear came over them. They then arose in haste and went on their way, and heard nothing more. They left the hill, and when they reached the house of R. Simeon the son of Lakunya they saw there R. Simeon the son of Yohai, and they rejoiced exceedingly.
R. Simeon said to them, ‘Assuredly ye traversed a path of heavenly miracles and wonders, for as I was sleeping just now I had a vision of you and of Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, who was sending you two crowns by the hand of a certain elder to crown you withal. Assuredly the Holy One, blessed be He, was on that path. Further, I saw your faces as if transfigured.’ R. Yosi remarked: ‘Well have ye said that “the sage is superior to the prophet”.’ R. Eleazar then approached and put his head between the knees of his father and told him all that had happened to them.
R. Simeon trembled and wept. ‘ “O Lord, I have the report of thee, and I am afraid” ‘ (Habak. 3, 2), he said. ‘This verse did Habakkuk exclaim at the time when he reflected on his own death and his resurrection through Elisha. Why was he named HaBaKuK? Because it is written, “At this season when the time cometh round, thou shalt be embracing (HoBeKeth) a son” (II Kings 4, 16), and he - Habakkuk - was the son of the Shunamite. He received indeed two embracings, one from his mother and one from Elisha, as it is written, “and he put his mouth upon his mouth” (Ibid. 34).
He (Elisha) traced on him the mystic appellation, consisting of seventy-two names. For the alphabetical letters that his father had at first engraved on him had flown off when the child died; but when Elisha embraced him he engraved on him anew all those letters of the seventy-two names. Now the number of those letters amounts to two hundred and sixteen, and they were all engraved by the breath of Elisha on the child to put again into him the breath of life through the power of the letters of the seventy-two names. And Elisha named him Habakuk, a name of double significance, alluding in its sound to the twofold embracing, as already explained, and in its numerical value (= 216) to two hundred and sixteen, the number of the letters of the Sacred Name.
By the words his spirit was restored to him and by the letters his bodily parts were reconstituted. Therefore the child was named Habakuk, and it was he who said: “O Lord, I have heard the report of thee, and I am afraid” (Habak. 3, 2), that is to say, I have heard what happened to me, that I tasted of the other world, and am afraid. He then commenced to supplicate for himself, saying, “O Lord, Thy work” which Thou hast accomplished for me, “in the midst of the years”, I pray, “let its life be”. For he who is bound up with the cycles of past years has life bound up with him.
“In the midst of the years make it known”, to wit, that stage in which there is no life.’ R. Simeon then wept and said: ‘I also from what I have heard am seized with fear of the Holy One, blessed be He.’ He then raised his hands above his head and said, ‘What a privilege it was for you to see face to face the venerable Rab Hamnuna, the light of the Torah-a privilege I have not been granted.’ He then fell on his face and saw him uprooting mountains, and kindling the lights in the temple of the Messiah. R. Hamnuna, addressing him, said, ‘Master, in this other world thou wilt be the neighbour of the teachers of the Law in the presence of the Holy One, blessed be He.’ From that time onward R. Simeon named R. Eleazar his son and R. Abba Peniel (face of God), in allusion to the verse, “For I have seen God face to face” (Gen. 32, 31)
In other words, there seems to be good evidence to suggest that there was a precedent from within Judaism to support the Marcionite interest in the name ISU. Nevertheless, there can be little doubt that real inspiration was Plato and the grounding of his philosophy in Pythagoreanism. In the end, we have yet another example of the cross-cultural fertilization that occurred within Judaism and Samaritanism at the beginning of the Common Era.
The combined testimony of the gospel and the apostle witnessed ISU to be the ignored 'perfect man' who came down from heaven in the last days to perfect the souls of men. How did he accomplish this great feat? The idea is certainly already present in the Samaritan writings of Mark. In the gospel it made clear that he came to 'lay down his soul' for his friends - that is establish the mix of fire and water in the baptismal pool where initiations took place 'after six days' and lasting until the 'goings out' of the seventh - which is the eighth.
The reality is that the Pythagorean understanding of the Christian sacraments was so prevalent that even the orthodox retained the terminology and symbolism. Yet in due course the grand mystical vision originally put forward by Mark was lost. What was the purpose of creating the myth of Jesus? The complete reformation of man. This understanding is still retained in the rabbinic reference to the community of Christians as notzrim. It is undoubtedly the original term behind the title 'Nazarene' and - as I am about to demonstrate - it actually stands behind the seemingly familiar concept of the Passion of Christ.
It is my suggestion to read the term נוצרים as notsarim (root yod-tsade-resh, nif‘al participle). I believe this deserves serious consideration. Of course there could have been a pair of terms, an exoteric term notsrim from nun-tsade-resh meaning “guardians” and an esoteric term notsarim from yod-tsade-resh meaning “re-formed" or “those with a new yetser." A similar idea appears in the literature associated with the Qumran sect. The two spirits in the Community Rule bears some relationship to the rabbinic concept of two yetsers or 'natures' in man.
What we are suggesting now is that Marcionite tradition must have understood God as wanting to come down to earth in the Passion as a means of 'reforming' or 'transforming' humanity from a material being to a spiritual being. Think about what is introduced just before - ritual washing and the consumption of his spiritual flesh and blood. This reformation was made according to the principles of Pythagoreanism. As Clement of Alexandria notes "eight is the first cube, which is equality in all the dimensions -- length, breadth; depth" and moreover a little later in the same book "they called eight a cube, counting the fixed sphere along with the seven revolving ones, by which is produced 'the great year,' as a kind of period of recompense of what has been promised."
The Great Year is the concept whereby all the planets return back to their original position. As the near contemporary Philosophumena notes in the system of Pythagoras:
And the Sun calculates and geometrically measures the world in some such manner as the following: The world is a unity cognizable by sense; and concerning this (world) we now make these assertions. But one who is an adept in the science of numbers, and a geometrician, has divided it into twelve parts. And the names of these parts are as follow: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces. Again, he divides each of the twelve parts into thirty parts, and these are days of the month. Again, he divides each part of the thirty parts into sixty small divisions, and (each) of these small (divisions) he subdivides into minute portions, and (these again) into portions still more minute. And always doing this, and not intermitting, but collecting from these divided portions (an aggregate), and constituting it a year; and again resolving and dividing the compound, (the sun) completely finishes the great year.
As noted earlier it seems likely that 345 triangle associated with the numerological value of 'His name' and Moses was understood to be related to the number 6. Now we will take that argument one step further. When the lengths of that triangle are cubed or made into a three dimensional solid - i.e. (3 x 3 x 3) (4 x 4 x 4) (5 x 5 x 6) - we arrive at the magical number 216. 216 was one of the most important numbers in the Pythagorean tradition. It represents the cycle of years for the reincarnation of the divine soul. Yet in order to finally understand the myth at the heart of the gospel we have to move on to the Platonic adaptation of this Pythagorean discovery. In short, Christianity was founded on the belief that ISU would be able to found a new political order within the Empire.
only says that nothing is abiding, but that all things change in a certain cycle ; and that the origin of the change is a base of numbers which are in ratio of four to three, and this when combined with a figure of five gives two harmonies [he means when the number of the figure becomes solid] ; he conceives that nature will then produce bad men who will not submit to education, in which latter particular he may very likely be not far wrong, for there may well be some men who cannot be educated and made virtuous.
Aristotle himself nowhere shows the practical function of number and measure, either as a base of society or as an instrument of government but Plato clearly makes number the base of both, and connects his celebrated theory about the perfect state.
Yet anyone reading the material can already begin to see that this 'number of the state' increasingly takes on the character of that described as 'the number of beast' in the Book of Revelations which as most people know is 666. There simply has been no plausible explanation of what this number actually means. It certainly does not mean 'Neron Caesar' given that the text of Revelations was written in the middle of the second century - long after Nero had died and become irrelevant to Christian life. The suggestion put forward by Irenaeus - 'Latienos' - as the 'name of the last kingdom' doesn't make any sense either.
So we find ourselves taking a second look at Revelations. As the text stands now it seems to be suggesting that 'John' is criticized the theology associated with the followers of Mark and their 'Jesus' whose name had a value of 216. For generations to come, anyone pointing to Jesus having the value of 6 6 6 was immediately condemned as a servant of the Antichrist. But was this really true? Or was this idea grafted on to an older text in order to obscure the original beliefs of Christianity?
It is worth noting that immediately after mentioning the 'bad' number of the beast the text suddenly switches to mention of the author seeing before him "the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads." The implication would seem to be that they are inscribed with 'the true name' of Jesus distinguished from the ISU of the Marcionites, but can we really be so sure? We have to ask - could it be that the negative assessment of 666 have been added to the text by a later hand?
And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel." Rev 21:17
A lot of these ideas were anticipated in a short article published by Nicholas Humphrey in the New Scientist magazine on the significance of the 'number of the beast.' Humphrey rightly points to the underlying problem for Plato in the Republic was the need to establish the right rulers to rule the state. Numerology and the number 216 in particular was understood to provide the solution. He has Socrates declare that:
the rulers you have trained for your city are wise, reason and perception will not always enable them to hit on the right and wrong times for breeding; some time they will miss them, and then children will be begotten amiss
Socrates appeals to numerology for a solution:
the number of the human creature is the first in which root and square multiplications (comprising three dimensions and four limits) of basic numbers which make like and unlike, and which increase and decrease, produce a final result in completely commensurate terms.
To this end, Socrates is suggesting that literally breeding humans according to the 216 principle would raise perfectly good rulers.
Could it be that the author of the gospel was in effect offering much the same message with his gospel? Humphreys noting that the Greeks thought seven months was the minimum period a fetus needed for gestation and that the Pythagoreans also thought that the number 6 was a 'marriage number' because 2 - the feminine number - was multiplied by 3 - the masculine number. Yet the author of Revelations seems to go much further than Plato. Rather than merely having human being born after 216 days in order to ensure their readiness to rule, the author envisions a situation where the physical dimensions of the perfect 'city' or government would be divinely established according the number of ISU.
That the text of Revelations has been altered is confirmed by the frequency with which millennialism is associated with the text in early writers - a trait that has vanished from our surviving editions. Cerinthus, the presumed author of the book, said angels had revealed to him that after the resurrection the kingdom of Christ would be established on earth and that those who had been restored to bodily life would dwell in Jerusalem; for a period of 1000 years. This seems closely related with the idea found in the Epistle of Barnabas that after 6000 years of world history, at the beginning of the seventh millennium Christ's peaceable kingdom would be established (Barn 154-5), and a second creation will be made like the first (6:13). This means that the seventh millennium will correspond to the seventh day of creation or Sabbath.