from KarenLyster Website
Continuing discoveries this century are shedding ever greater light onto one of the most opaque and mysterious periods in history, illuminating the man and message and 1st century cultural impact of Jesus.
Given the recent discoveries of the "Dead Sea Scrolls", the "Gnostic Gospels" of Nag Hammadi, and now, apparently, even the long-sought "Gospel of the Nazirenes", far more has been discovered about the earliest days of Christianity in this century than in all the years previous.
And what is becoming
more and more clear from these discoveries is that the original
message of Christ differed sharply from the official doctrines later
adopted by the church.
Said to be an ancient scripture forgotten for centuries in a Tibetan monastery, this work seems, in virtually every respect, identical to a work by the same title that was known and widely quoted from in the first centuries of the church.
Many of the most revered early church
fathers, as well as a surprising number of scholars today, have
boldly declared that the legendary "Gospel of the Nazirenes" was
nothing less than the long-lost ORIGINAL Gospel which, legend holds,
was collectively written by the actual 12 apostles in the period
immediately after Christ’s death, and upon which all three of the
Biblical synoptic Gospels were based.
manuscript claims in no uncertain terms to be that same ancient work
composed by the 12 apostles, and, in fact, it makes an intriguing
and compelling case for being just that.
But for all that time, a great and enduring pall has hung over those lofty works. In the fourth century, the authorities of Rome decided just which of the countless books on Jesus in circulation at that time would make up the present-day Bible, deciding once and for all, in effect, which works were to be judged as genuine and authoritative and which were not.
This decision, unfortunately, carried the undeniable taint of politics - and possible political compromise - the Bishops making these decisions were doing so at the direct command of the Roman Emperor, and their future financial and social well-being was, everyone agrees, entirely under his control.
been whispered ever since the fourth century that much of the true
message of Jesus was edited out at that time, due to the oppressive
and theologically-obtuse influence of Constantine.
For nearly 2,000 years, historians considered this work to have been irrevocably lost, but in 1870 a forgotten copy was said to have been discovered hidden away in a Tibetan monastery, and was quickly translated from the original Aramaic, published this time as "The Gospel of the Holy Twelve".
This work was, however, translated quite
clumsily into very dusty old-style King James English, and at the
time the work was not widely noticed or read. But now a new
translation has arrived, published in 1997, edited and restored by
Alan Wauters and Rick Van Wyhe.
Numerous historical references thus seem to confirm the authenticity of the 1870 manuscript, and many modern scholars since 1870 have concluded as well that this work is, in all likelihood, the original source of much of the material that eventually found its way into the Biblical Gospels.
If so, the
Biblical Gospels would then be mere edited versions of this earlier,
and therefore more authoritative work, just as many have argued over
detail is often both more natural and more explicit, and a great
many theological, social, and political issues come out making a
great deal more sense.
Never does it seem that the unfamiliar material is actually out- of-place, as if it had been pasted-in by editors after the fact.
Rather, in virtually every instance the fresh material seems an integral component of the narrative, and, as one reflects anew upon the more familiar wording of the authorized Bible, the absence of this unfamiliar material seems now to stand out as a lacking:
Nice detail. Its inclusion in the narrative doesn’t seem necessary for any theological content or other long-term significance, but it is nonetheless precisely the sort of detail a group of 12 friends might see fit to include in their narrative.
Similar details occur throughout the text. In the authorized Bible, for example, at Jesus’ death it merely reports that the "veil of the Temple was ripped" by a powerful earthquake.
But in what is seemingly the more original, and detail-rich work, "Nazirenes" elaborates convincingly:
Seemingly minor yet colorful and narratively enriching details like this run throughout this text, giving the compelling impression that this is indeed an original eyewitness narrative, not a bland, confused, or glossed-over retelling of a dusty tradition repeatedly handed down orally for 30 years of more before finally being committed to writing.
Traditional scriptural teachings maintain that the mighty works recorded in the New Testament went unwritten for some 30 years or more before being put down in writing, but this seems to make no sense.
At least some of the apostles were,
reportedly, quite literate and learned men, and it seems likely,
even prior to encountering a text such as this, that an already
close-knit group of 12 learned friends would have quickly pooled and
compared their memories in an effort to compose a definitive version
of their recollections of the man, teachings, and works of Jesus,
before anything of import could be forgotten.
It teaches strict and uncompromising vegetarianism, describing how Jesus’ anger at the Temple was not merely directed at the financial business going on there, but was specifically over the selling and slaughtering of sacrificial animals in the Temple, which was supposed to be a House of Prayer, but had been changed, he cried, into a slaughterhouse.
The idea that Jesus might have felt
outrage at seeing the cruel carnage of innocent creatures in the
Holy Temple seems fully consistent with his character as we have
collectively come to imagine Him, and this interesting variation of
the "moneychangers" story in "Nazirenes" comes across as fully
believable. In a word, it has the ring of truth to it.
bring an end to these sacrifices, of course, would have completely
undermined the financial livelihood of much of the Temple priesthood
, and so they would have seen Jesus as embodying a personal threat
of no little consequence. In effect, he went right for their
wallets; an act more certain to elicit intense opposition from the
Judaic priesthood could scarcely be imagined.
Instead, this text now suggests, he was at least also, in some respects, a human who, through persistent effort and faithfulness to "The Law" (perhaps over many lifetimes), had become a Divine being, suggesting the very gnostic notion that anyone else might also attain the same accomplishment, which in turn reminds us all of some of his Biblical comments:
In a most modern slant, "Nazirenes" directly advocates euthanasia, but only in cases of extreme suffering.
Always and everywhere throughout the book, the image of
Jesus is one utterly dedicated to gentleness and loving care for
others. Many scenes involved Jesus rebuking someone for cruelly
inflicting pain on others, whether people or animals.
The unconscious soul, carrying one’s
memories and emotion, becomes trapped in a self-created heavenly or
hellish dreamlike unconscious netherworld of its own creation, while
the conscious spirit, carrying the intellect and free will, goes on
to a new incarnation utterly oblivious to the fact that it had lived
But instead, such a work has now come to light which stands as even
more powerful SUPPORT for concluding that DivisionTheory is indeed
an accurate portrayal of those original teachings.
"Salvation", or "eternal life", was specifically described as "saving one’s soul"; but this was contrasted with those who do not "fulfill the Law", and therefore would "lose" their soul at death.
Losing their soul, however, did apparently not mean that one’s whole being would become permanently trapped in some netherworld, nor did it mean ceasing to exist; on the contrary, even if the person "lost" his soul, HE WOULD STILL REINCARNATE, the text insists.
"Losing the soul", then, meant something very different to the writers of this Gospel than that meaning currently assumed in Christian circles. Just as the only difference between reincarnation and eternal life would seem to be in the issue of saving or losing one’s memories of one’s past, the only difference between saving or losing one’s soul would seem to be the difference between reincarnating as usual or acquiring "eternal life".
In that the concept of reincarnation already incorporates the idea that death does not end one’s existence, the "Nazirenes" concept of "eternal life" apparently means more than simply continuing to exist after one’s physical death. It means, rather, that one’s memories are retained, one’s sense of self-identity is retained.
And as modern science has taught
us that memory is stored in the unconscious, this would require that
the unconscious soul not be "lost", but rather be "saved".
This "eternal life" is thus NOT merely the eternal life of reincarnating, but was thought to be something merely potentially possible for human beings to achieve, a possibility that should be sought, but by no means was this ‘eternal life" a guaranteed certainty.
Reincarnation was a guaranteed certainty, but "eternal life" was not.
Thus there existed, according to this teaching, some OTHER form of "eternal life" superior to merely reincarnating and forgetting one’s past lives, some OTHER form of continual existence in which one’s past efforts and hard-earned knowledge and wisdom and skills and loves and accomplishments would never be lost again, as is normally the case when reincarnating:
And sounding very much like DivisionTheory indeed, this eternal life, this "perfection", could only be attained by a particular integrative interaction of the unconscious soul and the conscious spirit:
The Afterlife - Fulfilling "The Law" Within
But "The Law", to THIS Jesus, was not altogether that same Law written in the Hebrew Old Testament, but rather a universal Law pre-written into the inner being of Man.
The true Law given by Moses, THIS
claimed, had been altered and betrayed and adulterated by the
priests of Persia during the Jewish people’s captivity there. The
true Law given by Moses was, this scripture maintains, the same
ancient Law is always pre-written in the hearts of men - the "Law of
Love and the unity of all life in the One-Family of the All-Parent"
Whatever hellfires the evil dead suffer after death would be those very same fires they themselves created in their own unconscious souls prior to their deaths....
.. by betraying the Law, the sense of
right and wrong, that was pre-written into their inner beings. Those
who did NOT follow and obey the true "Law" would not receive this
‘eternal life". They WOULD, however, still continue to reincarnate.
And also like DivisionTheory, "Nazirenes" ALSO combines the Eastern doctrine of reincarnation with the Western doctrine of a coming Universal resurrection, in which all the world’s dead would simultaneously rise to conscious life.
But including, within the context of reincarnation, this idea of a coming "universal resurrection" at the end of time is a tricky proposition.
How can all the world’s dead rise at the same time into physical bodies when each person shares identities with his own other selves, his numerous past incarnations?
Clearly, such an event would have to be, as DivisionTheory claims, a time when the memories of past lives and past selves would suddenly flood back into the conscious world, when the dead awaken within us all, within already-living bodies, as opposed to the spontaneously and miraculously reconstituted bodies expected by traditional Western theology:
Judgment Day - Resolving the Doctrinal Conflict Within Nazirenes
Sadly, "Nazirenes" does not clearly spell out how these two co-existing doctrines were successfully integrated in the minds of Jesus and the 12 apostles, but, outside of the DivisionTheory scenario of spontaneous past-life memory restoration, the Bible’s prophecies of a coming Universal resurrection into physical bodies seem incompatible with the doctrine of reincarnation.
Thus, it seems, only DivisionTheory
resolves the doctrinal conflict that "Nazirenes" presents.
Metaphysics - Making
the Two One
His attributes are repeatedly described with equal-but-opposite word pairings such as "Love and Wisdom", head and heart", "soul and spirit", "within and without", "right and left", and "male and female", and the "Oneness" of this divine pair, by whatever name, is constantly being mentioned, advocated, and described.
Like DivisionTheory, and like the Gnostic Gospels recently unearthed in Egypt, "Nazirenes" declares that salvation comes through the reconciliation and integration of the two primordial elements of being:
And one of them said, "Teacher, it is written of old, 'The Elohim made man in their own image, male and female created they them.' How can you say then that the Lord is one?"
And Jesus said to them,
And one said to him,
And he answered and said,