Gentile, Jews & Essenes
Originally there was only one type of "Christ disciple" - the Essene Nazarean family and followers of Yeshua. They had a very strong and unique "Essene" culture. They also had their own set of scriptures, different from the New Testament canon we know today. This original Nazarean Family had various levels and degrees of initiation and purification associated with it. Those on the outer probationary levels retained many of their former customs and beliefs, including gentile and Jewish ones, while those initiated into deeper levels became well versed in deeper Essene doctrines.
It appears that these early Nazareans were a Christ centered expression of the ancient Nazarites and a continuation of the ancient Essene Nazareans spoken of by Epiphanius, although Epiphanius himself is reluctant to admit this fact. It is also probable that these New Testament Nazarenes accepted both gentile and Pharisee Jews, along with many of their customs and varied beliefs, into the outer fringes of their society. Being the most viable and growing sect of their time, these Nazarenes eventually became the melting pot, especially after the fall of Jerusalem in 68 A.D., for a wide array of converts from all seven of the ancient Jewish sects, several Samritan sects, numerous gnostic and Pythagorean groups, as well as converted and semi-converted Roman and Greek pagans."Galatians 2:1 states that it was another 14 years before Paul went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and so we have a total of 17 years prior to the the meeting [with the apostles]. If we take the first 13 years as noted above, of pre-Pauline Christianity, and add the 17 years between Paul's vision and the Jerusalem Council meeting, we see that Christianity had a solid Jewish foundation of three decades -- thirty years -- before the question of admission of Gentiles was considered!"
- Miryam Nathan, "Acts, the Jews and the Torah"
Eventually a second and third type of "Christ disciple" evolved - the gentile Christians and the Jewish Christians. This second and third type tended to be non-jewish, or Pharisee Jewish, and were eventually unconnected with the original followers of the Messiah. They tended to have either Roman, Pharisee or Hellenic backgrounds and they tended to put great trust in the writings and doctrines of either Paul on the one hand, or the false Torah and Pharisee customs on the other. Their descendants did not like the original Nazareans very much and prefered a different non-essene culture and non-nazarean approach to their spiritual matters.
The more numerous gentile Christians set about redefining the mission and role of Yeshua the Messiah, recasting Him in the light of their Greek and Roman dying and resurrecting god myths. The Nazareans, or "Jewish-Christians" as some of them were eventually called by the Romanized Christians, did not appreciate this distortion of their Teachers of Righteousness. These Nazareans did not accept the writings and doctrines of Paul, nor did they take much account of the Gospels which found their way into the New Testament bible. Instead, they used the Gospel of Hebrews which denied, among other things, the Roman version of the virgin birth. (Their own version was no less holy, but it included Joseph as a participant)"...Modern theological studies suggest that the New Testament's two letters of Peter, the second speaking unctuously and unconvincingly of 'our brother Paul...so dear to us' (2 Peter 3:15), were most likely forged in Peter's name by some pro-Pauline writer, and that other letters attributed to Paul, notably the Pastorals, were fabricated to create a false impression of harmony. Recent computer tests have clearly confirmed what theological scholars have long suspected, that whoever wrote Paul's letters to Timothy and Titus was not the person [indisputably Paul) who wrote Galatians, Romans and Corinthians."
- Ian Wilson, Jesus, The Evidence
This original group of Nazarean disciples had firsthand knowledge of what Yeshua had taught and stood for, and were holding to the original vision. The non-nazarean "Jewish-Christians" and the "Gentile Christians", on the other hand, did not have or want the firsthand knowledge possessed by the original Nazareans, but instead prefered creating their own myths concerning the Christ. This led to conflict and eventual persecution of the Nazareans. The more powerful and numerous gentile Christians eventually removed most vestiges of the original Nazarean Way from their gentile gospel, and what little was left of the original Nazarean Way was only partially preserved by the monastic orders which slowely began to arise as the Nazareans were persecuted into extinction.
When they rewrote history, it appears that these Christians associated the original Essene-Nazarean disciples and their descendents with the semi-converted Pharisee Nazorenes and their remnants, refering to both groups as "Jewish Christians", casting them in the light of narrow minded Pharisee Jews incapable of fully accepting their Christ.
These true Essene Nazareans would not accept the gentile's "Christ", or the gentile "New Testament", because they knew both had been tampered with, altered and remade in the image of the Roman Gods. The confused Pharisee Nazorenes accepted the gentile's Christ and Bible, but clung tenaciously to many false Pharisee customs and laws. Eventually the true Essene Nazarean remants gravitated to various monastic orders in upper Egypt and elsewhere. In these monastic worlds they were able to preserve some of their original traditions, but also were forced to compromise on many issues. The uncompromising Pharisee-like Nazorenes faded from history as their monastic cousins blended more completely with the Rome centered new Christianity."Conceptions of the messianic orientation of the Jerusalem church based on the foundational revelation of Jesus' resurrection, as well as conceptions of the role, authority and positions of its leading members are likely to reflect the internal disputes and competing claims for legitimation of individuals and communities engaged in a mission to Gentiles beginning in the late forties and the decade of the fifties....This view of a foundational revelation to the leaders of the community in Jerusalem ascribing to them a superior authority and status may turn out to be in large part a diaspora version of beginnings in the homeland designed to support a mission to Gentiles among different factions of Jewish and Gentile Christians in the Hellenistic cities of the diaspora."
- Merrill Miller, "Beginning From Jerusalem..."
It is important to understand that the Nazarean's "jewishness" is not the jewishness which modern people associate with Judaism. Modern Rabbinic Judaism is an evolvement of the Pharisee sect of ancient Judea. Nazareans were from the Essene Nazarean Sect. They did not accept either the Old Testament, the Jerusalem Temple, the animal sacrifices, or even the celebration of Passover as we know of it today. They, therefore, are not correctly understood by the modern label of "jew". The ancient Nazareans were more akin to the Osseaen sect, which may be partially understood by studying the Dead Sea Scroll documents and historian reports, such as Josephus and Philo, on the Essenes.
(The later Nazorenes, spoken of by Epiphanius as totally Jewish and accepting of the Torah and other practices rejected by earlier Nazareans and Nazarenes, were probably a remnant of Pharisee converts who never fully gave up their old beliefs and customs when becoming outer level Nazareans. Epiphanius' report of later Nazorene beliefs is therefore probably inaccurate if applied to earlier Nazareans, being based on a later group descended from only semi-converted Nazorenes of the post-pella period. (Epiphanius himself admits that in the beginning all followers of Jesus, even non-jewish ones, were called Nazorenes.) In the same light, the eventually dominant Roman Church were probably descended from only partially converted gentiles on the outer fringes of the original Nazorene Way who never sluffed off their Hellenistic customs in favor of the full Nazorene-Essene lifestyle)
Due to rapid growth and a general "diaspora" dispersion due to persecution and other factors, original Nazarean quickly divided into numerous and varied factions and groups. The small central core of original Yeshua's disciples, attempting to live a pure Essene communal life, were quickly outnumbered by vast conversions from non-essene circles. These gentile converts, with their Roman and Greek customs and lifestyles, eventually rejected the original Nazarean Way in favor of their own adaptation and revision of the original Gospel. When they gained political power they rewrote history and the New Testament in a manner fitting their own divergent views and lifestyles, rendering it only a shadow of its original glory. They sucessfully destroyed, or drastically altered, most of the original writings and customs of the earliest disciples. This fulfiled a prophecy that the Times of the Gentiles would hold sway until an eventual resurgence and return of the true Israelite (Essene Nazarean Ebionite) Way.
The Nazarenes of Mount Carmel
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