Warning. This article might be upsetting to Traditional Christians with little exposure to the historical context of Jesus.
Modern day Christians often react in fear and superstition to Mysticism and especially Eastern philosophies. Many Christian churches and television programs teach that anything “New Age” or beliefs ‘other’ than strict adherence of Paulinistic Christianity is demonic or satanic. When one thinks of G*D in such a small and limited way, Modern Christians fail to innerstand that G*D is unlimited and almighty and able to deliver His people in many mysterious ways that mere humans may not be able to fathom.
To better understand Jesus in the context of being an Nazar Essene, you might review this lesson first: yeshua-the-essene (esseneschool.com)
The Lands of Judea and Israel
Jesus lived in a fairly complex world that would have exposed Him to all sorts of religious ideologies. First of all, there was the Roman occupation, and the Romans were pagans. Through scripture we know that He was aware of their preferred gods and practices. (Plus, I mean, you know He was G*D, so He knew everything…) But thinking of Jesus as a man incarnate, He also would have been exposed to neighboring country practices. Jerusalem and the eastern shores of the Mediterranean included great seaports and trade routes from the Far East to the Middle East to North Africa and Europe. Major routes in the Land of the Bible included the Via Maris (International Coastal Highway), the Way of the Patriarchs, the Jordan Rift Valley Route, the King’s Highway, and the Jezreel Valley.
Mount Carmel (where the primary Nazarene commune was) created a physical barrier which made the International Coastal Route go inland through the Jezreel Valley (where the lowland Nazarene “Nazareth” commune was) and near… the Sea of Galilee! While not exactly Manhattan, the area would have filled with peoples and concepts that went beyond traditional Judaism.
If all humans are G*D’s children, do you think it possible that the incarnat Jesus might have been curious about all of humanity beyond His tribe. We know that He came to save His own people, but isn’t G*D infinite enough to want to bring a message to other peoples to plant seeds for future salvation?
There are many who claim that during the missing years of Jesus life, that not only did he study with His father in the carpentry/construction business and studied at temple to become a rabbi, BUT He would have had the means to travel to learn abroad. We know that His family made the journey to Egypt when He was a child. This was over a month’s journey each way. What kind of religious experiences was He exposed to during those early years in Egypt? The Holy Family had significant resources to allow this kind of advanced travel.
Later in Jesus’ life, it would have been a similar month’s journey walking and possibly shorter with a ship ride to get from Central Israel to Northern India where Buddha was a teacher, philosopher and spiritual leader. There are claims that this actually happened. Why would the church wish to squelch such rumors? Why would this travel be a problem for church doctrine? Buddha lived between the 6th and 4th century BCE. Buddhism was well established for hundreds of years pre-dating to Jesus’ mission. Is it possible that the legends of Jesus visiting India are true? While I am NOT claiming this, consider the similar sayings attributed to Jesus in the New Testament that do not have roots in Old Testament.
Similarly, Hinduism predates Buddhism, thus Buddha was influenced by Hindu teachings. Hinduism dates up to 2500 years before Jesus was born. Most Christians usually believe that Hindus are polytheistic. Actually, most Hindus are monotheistic and worship a single a central god, Brahman. While their practice recognizes additional minor gods and goddesses and includes the ideas of karma and reincarnation, they are taught to achieve dharma, through good conduct and moral behavior. And like the Essenes, most Hindus practice vegetarianism.
The First Monotheism
Even older than Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Greek philosophy, and yes, even the Abrahamic Judaism, is Zoroastrianism. This is the oldest organized religious philosophy that was born out of nearby Iran (which was Babylon). This faith believes a single supreme creator god, Ahura Mazda. They believed that good would always triumph over evil. They also held the Messianic belief that one day a man of peace, Saoshyant, would battle the forces of evil, melt down the mountains, leave the righteous unharmed, and after a judgement day would eventually restore the bodies of the dead to eternal perfection. Sounds a bit like Revelation? One interested in historic Christianity would be well advised to understand how Zoroastrianism played a part in both the development and the persecution of the early Roman Christians and ask why this happened? Also consider that the Magi from the East are thought to be wise priestly astrologers from Persia, thus Zoroastrians.
In addition, while there is no specific evidence to this, it is possible that the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten was somehow exposed to Zoroastrianism when he endeavored to bring monotheism to the 18th Dynasty of the New Kingdom of Egypt. This major change in Egyptian religion is thought to have influenced Moses, which provides the foundation for all of our Abrahamic religions, including Christianity.
“Western World” vs. the East
Many equate Zoroastrianism with the Babylonian religions because they are unfamiliar with their individual legends. They see Eastern or Middle Eastern looking religious iconography and essentially think “they all look alike!” The primary Babylonian religion was more pagan in nature with many gods, including Marduk, Enlil, Enki and Inanaa, etc. In many cases of ancient religions there was a concept of divine ‘multiplicity.’ Although many early religions were ‘polytheistic,’ they were generally henotheistic – with one god taking precedence over the others. Just for perspective’ sake, one must ask oneself how an outsider looking into Christianity would view the multiple divine nature of Father-Son-Holy Spirit. And the Chrisitan answers, “Well, that’s different.” hmmm?
My point is that rather than be fearful and suspicious of Eastern religions and mysticism, anyone truly loving Jesus might be at least curious about any possibilities and everything about His life and the things that He might have experienced and observed. I am not sharing any of this to discount the Divinity and the actions of Jesus, but to provide insight that it is potentially foolish to deride and denounce another faith without understanding the intricacies of their message AND their integral relationship to our Christian faith.
To many Modern Christians this is considered to be supreme blasphomy. Why? We know of course that Jesus was well-taught in his temple to read and know Old Testament scripture inside and out. He was called “rabbi” by his disciples. This was NOT a casual ‘teacher’ title thrown around in that culture. It denoted a recognized authority and a Jewish rabbi would live a very specific way as expected by His community. According to Jewish tradition, a rabbi should be married. While not technically required, it would have been highly encouraged. Generally rabbis are not ordained until after marriage and most communities will only accept married rabbis. Isn’t it interesting that Jesus did not start his ministry and perform his first miracle at a wedding feast? Could it have been His wedding?
This married rabbi observation, as well as the 3rd century non-canonical Gospel of Philip, discovered only recently at the Nag Hammadi library, has added fuel to this divisive topic. Interestingly – this Gospel describes exactly whom the Gospel of John said was at the crucifixion:
“There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary, his mother, and her sister (Mary – the wife of Clopas), and Magdalene, the one who was called his companion. His sister and his mother and his companion were each a Mary.”
“As for Wisdom who is called “the barren”, she is the mother [missing] angels. And the companion of the [missing] Mary Magdalene. [missing] her more than [missing] the disciples [missing] kiss her [missing] on her [missing]. The rest of [missing] They said to him, “Why do you love her more than all of us?” The Savior answered and said to them, “Why do I not love you like her? When a blind man and one who sees are both together in the darkness, they are no different from one another. When the light comes, then he who sees will see the light, and he who is blind will remain in darkness.”
If Jesus was both G*D and incarnate man, why would there be any question about Him actually being a “man?” Mankind is made in G*D’s image after all. But the patriarchy of the times and the early Roman church may have compromised history. Now consider Saul-Paul’s intense dislike of women, coupled with the emperor Constantine and his motivations for power, and the Roman Catholic church chronic misogyny and you can begin to put the pieces together. We may have potentially lost a more intimate understanding of our Savior. We know how profound His sacrifice was… now add on top of that that He possibly had a wife and even possibly children?!?! Imagine how much more His sacrifice must have been if He was to leave behind His beloved family. Really sit with this… such another level suffering and love that many have not even pondered before.
Most importantly the fact that of all of the apostles and disciples, it was only Mary Magdelene who was there at the crucifixion. And she was the first person who saw Him after the resurrection. In John 20:16-17 she is described that Mary was “clinging” (as in physically embracing him) when she realizes He has returned. the original Greek word is “haptou” meaning “to touch.” There is such intimacy here.
“Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and *said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher). Jesus *said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’”
The Disciple Jesus Loved
Combine these observations with the Gospel of John’s cryptic referrals to “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Most scholars believe this refers to a real person, and some believe it referred to the author John the Evangelist, but there is no consensus on this and it seems odd that he would refer to himself in such a manner.
Another radical explanation makes much more sense. The “disciple whom Jesus loved” was reclining beside Jesus at the Last Supper.
“Lying back on Jesus’ chest was one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.”
That sounds pretty intimate for another man to be lying back on His chest?!? And when Peter speaks next to this disciple it is translated as “him.” However the Greek pronoun used is αὐτὸν which can be masculine, neutral or feminine!
The disciple whom Jesus loved was at the crucifixion. Other than this mention of a beloved disciple, the Gospel of John, Matthew, Mark and Luke do not mention ANY of the 12 apostles being present at the crucifixion. Now, read John 19:25-27:
“Now beside the cross of Jesus stood His mother, His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. So when Jesus saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own household.”
It makes it sound like there were three women, plus an unnamed man present, which is rather odd. But note that the word huios is translated as “son.” However, the Greek word used can mean descendant OR anyone sharing the same nature as their Father AND can equally refers to female believers!!! So let’s re-translate this with the alternate and potentially accurate pronouns.
“Now beside the cross of Jesus stood His mother, His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. So when Jesus saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your child/daughter!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her into her own household.”
And finally John 21:20-23… there are more mistranslation of pronoun genders.
Peter turned around and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them—the one who also had leaned back on His chest at the supper and said, “Lord, who is the one who is betraying You?” So Peter, upon seeing him (touton in Greek meaning this-he-she-it), *said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man (touton in Greek meaning this-he-she-it)?” Jesus *said to him, “If I want him (auton, meaning he, she, it, they, them, same, third person) to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!”
“Therefore this account went out among the brothers, that that disciple would not die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die (apothnēskei in Greek simply meaning to die or decay), but only, “If I want him (auton, meaning he, she, it, they, them, same, third person) to remain until I come, what is that to you?”
So here we can translate this with potentially more accurate pronouns.
Peter turned around and *saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them—the one who also had leaned back on His chest at the supper and said, “Lord, who is the one who is betraying You?” So Peter, upon seeing her said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about her?” Jesus said to him, “If I want her to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!”
Therefore this account went out among the brothers, that that disciple would not die; yet Jesus did not say to her that she would not die, but only, “If I want her to remain until I come, what is that to you?”
The final nail in this cross (pardon the reference) is the grossly mistranslated very next phrase from the Gospel of John 21:24.
This (houtos this-he-she-it) is the disciple who is testifying (martyrōn bears witness) about these things and wrote (grapsas described) these things, and we know that his (autou he, she, it, they, them, same third person) testimony is true.
All of a sudden this scripture is not a strange self-referencing comment about the author and makes better sense as the follow up to the preceding comment about Jesus saying, “what IF I want her to remain?”
“She is the disciple who bore witness about these things and described these things, and we know that her testimony is true.”
I am not asking you to change your faith conviction about this topic, but be open minded about how great our G*D is that He would send His son to fully experience all that it means to be a man… a human being. For me to consider this makes my love for Jesus even more profound.