30 June 2015

Confederate post-bellum exile colonies

After the end of the War of the Rebellion, many former Confederates emigrated into exile, mostly in Latin America.


The first ex-Confederates in Mexico immigrated there with Maj. Gen. John Shelby and the Iron Brigade.  Some of these settled in the northern states along the border (Nuevo Leon, Couahila, Chihuahua, Tamalipas), while others moved south to join the larger group.

Under the direction of former COMO Matthew Fontaine Maury of the Confederate Navy, ex-officers and troops established the New Virginia Colony in the state of Veracruz in Mexico at the invitation of Emperor Maximilian.  Located in the province bordering the Gulf of Mexico, its central city was Carlota, named for Maximilian’s empress.  Slaves were not allowed, slavery still being against Mexican law.

When the republican Juaristas (supporters of Pres. Benito Juarez, whom the French ousted in 1864) overthrew Maximilian’s government in 1867, these former Confederates returned north.

Interestingly, in 1851 Maury had once formulated a plan to both eradicate slavery from within the borders of the U.S. and slow or end Brasil’s slave trade with Africa.

Central America

Other former Confederates settled in what was then British Honduras (now Belize), a group of Virginians under the Rev. B. R. Duval establishing New Richmond near San Pedro, the seat of the community, as well as Toledo, Manattee, and eight others on the New River south of Orange Walk Town (most of these being Louisianans) and around the town of Punta Gorda, in addition to the majority of the former Confederate expatriates who remained in Belize City.  Within a few decades, these groups had assimilated and lost their distinctiveness.

Former Confederate cavalry Major Abednago Greenberry Malcolm led another group of mostly Kentuckians to establish a colony they called Medina in Spanish Honduras.

Two other communities of ex-Confederate exiles lasted for a while in Cuba and in Costa Rica.

South America

Upon being hired as a rear admiral in the Peruvian navy, ex-Confederate RADM John Tucker led a group of former Confederate expatriates into Peru to establish New Manasses.  At first the navy’s commander-in-chief, he resigned that post but retained his rank.  After resigning entirely, he was assigned to chart the Amazon River. 

Dr. Henry Price, former major in the Confederate medical corps, took another group into Venezuela to occupy large areas of the state of Guyana called the Price Grant, where they set up the short-lived settlements of Orinoco City, Las Tablas, Santa Cruz, Caroni, Paragua, Carratel, and Pattisonville.  Within four years, the effort collapsed entirely.

Los Confederados de Brasil

Of all these, Los Confederados de Brasil is the only former community whose descendants still survive as a distinctive ethnic group.  The best account I have seen of these expatriate groups is the 2007 master’s thesis of Justin Horton at the East Tennessee State University: “The Second Lost Cause: Post-National Confederate Imperialism in the Americas”; it is online.

Between ten and twenty thousand former Confederates emigrated to the Empire of Brasil at the invitation of Dom Pedro II, who wanted to encourage the growth of cotton.  The now multi-racial Los Confederados are extremely proud of their history and send young people to the American South every year to see the former homeland.  The original settlers included an ancestor of former First Lady Rosalyn Carter.

A large number of Los Confederados stayed in Rio de Janero.  Led by Col. William H. Norris of Alabama, others founded Norris Colony near Santa Barbara (now Americana); Col. Charles Gunter founded Gunter Colony on Lake Jurapaña and Rio Doce; Dr. James McFadden Gaston of South Carolina founded Gaston Colony near Xiririca; the Rev. Ballard S. Dunn founded Lizzieland on the Juquia River; Frank McMullen established New Texas on the Sao Lourenco River; Col. M. S. Swain founded Parangua on the Assunguy River; and Lansford Warren Hastings organized Santarem at the confluence of the Amazon River and Rio Tapaj.

Brasil abolished slavery in 1888.  Former slave owners, backed by the military, overthrew the imperial government in 1889.  A military dictatorship ruled the country till civilian republicans came to power in 1894.

Other groups

A small group of Confederates became expatriates in Ontario, the community including former Confederate generals John B. Hood, Jubal Early, and John C. Breckenridge (also former Secretary of War).

A few found refuge in England, many choosing there to settle because that is where they were at the time of the surrender. 

Some fifty former Confederate officers, along with a like number of former Union officers, obtained employment with the army of Ismail Pasha, Khedive (viceroy) of Egypt and Sudan.  The khedivate was an autonomous entity under the Ottoman Empire based in Constantinople.  Their service to the khedive ended in 1878.

29 June 2015

Nashville Pro-slavery Secessionist Conventions, 1850

Though little discussed in history classes even at the collegiate level, two conventions of southern supporters of slavery took place in Nashville, Tennessee in 1850 that put the lie to the claim that the secessions of 1860-1861 were not about slavery.

Wilmot Proviso

In August 1846, Congressman David Wilmot, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, attached a rider to an appropriations in the House of Representatives that if passed would ban slavery from all territories that might acquired from Mexico at the end of the Mexican-American War.  Even though a treaty have not even been signed much less adopted.

This measure became known as the Wilmot Proviso.  The measure passed in the House but failed in the Senate, where representation by states gave the slave-owners of the South held a majority.  When brought up again in February 1847, it again passed in the House, where the North’s greater population gave it a majority since representation there was based on that, but it once again failed in the Senate.

After the Treaty of Hidalgo was signed in February 1848 and went to the Senate for approval, anti-slavery Senators attached the Wilmot Proviso to it, but its inclusion failed once again, this time with help from northern Democratic Senators who had previously supported it, including Stephen Douglas of Illinois.

The Wilmot Proviso made an appearance once again in 1850.

Mississippi Convention

Senator John C. Calhoun of South Carolina initiated a drive for a convention of southern states to discuss ways to defend against “northern aggression”, code for attempts to limit the spread of slavery by restricting it from new territories.  This led to the bipartisan (Democrat and Whig) Mississippi Convention in October 1849, held in the state capital of Jackson.

The Mississippi Convention adopted resolutions condemning the Wilmot Proviso and calling on slave-owners to migrate into the recently-acquired territories of the New Southwest to “spread their voice” in order to protect “states’ rights” and the rights of “property”.  The “property” in question meant Afro-American slaves; “states’ rights” meant the ability of states to base their economy upon that “property”.

Its main accomplishment, however, was an agreement to hold a convention of southern states to devise a strategy for resisting “northern aggression”, to take place in Nashville, Tennessee, in June of the following year.

First Nashville Convention

Legislatures of eight southern states (South Carolina, Mississippi, Virginia, Alabama, Texas, Arkansas, and Florida) appointed delegates to the convention.  Tennessee sent delegates too, but since its own legislature took little interest, counties appointed their own delegates.  Out of the 176 who showed, 101 were from Tennessee. 

Again, attendance was bipartisan.  Whigs and moderate Democrats outnumbered the Fire-Eaters, who were already calling for secession.  In addition to calling for a subsequent convention in November to resolve matters further, the delegates adopted the following resolutions, presented here in full.

Resolutions of the first Nashville Convention

1. Resolved, that the territories of the United States belong to the people of the several states of the Union as their common property. That the citizens of the several states have equal rights to migrate with their property to these territories, and are equally entitled to the protection of the federal government in the enjoyment of that property so long as the territories remain under the charge of that government.

2. Resolved, that Congress has no power to exclude from the territory of the United States any property lawfully held in the states of the Union, and any act which may be passed by Congress to effect this result is a plain violation of the Constitution of the United States.

3. Resolved, that it is the duty of Congress to provide proper governments for the territories, since the spirit of American Institutions forbids the maintenance of military governments in time of peace, and as all laws heretofore existing in territories once belonging to foreign powers which interfere with the full enjoyment of religion, the freedom of the press, the trial by jury, and all other rights of persons and property as secured or recognized in the Constitution of the United States, are necessarily void 50 soon as such territories become American territories, it is the duty of the federal government to make early provision for the enactment of those laws which may be expedient and necessary to secure to the inhabitants of and emigrants to such territories the full benefit of the constitutional rights we assert.

4. Resolved, that to protect property existing in the several states of the Union, the people of these states invested the federal government with the powers of war and negotiation and of sustaining armies and navies, and prohibited to state authorities the exercise of the same powers. They made no discrimination in the protection to be afforded or the description of the property to be defended, nor was it allowed to the federal government to determine what should be held as property. Whatever the states deal with as property the federal government is bound to recognize and defend as such. Therefore it is the sense of this Convention that all acts of the federal government which tend to denationalize property of any description recognized in the Constitution and laws of the states, or that discriminate in the degree and efficiency of the protection to be afforded to it, or which weaken or destroy the title of any citizen upon American territories, are plain and palpable violations of the fundamental law under which it exists.

5. Resolved, that the slaveholding states cannot and will not submit to the enactment by Congress of any law imposing onerous conditions or restraints upon the rights of masters to remove with their property into the territories of the United States, or to any law making discrimination in favor of the proprietors of other property against them.

6. Resolved, that it is the duty of the federal government plainly to recognize and firmly to maintain the equal rights of the citizens of the several states in the territories of the United States, and to repudiate the power to make a discrimination between the proprietors of different species of property in federal legislation. The fulfillment of this duty by the federal government would greatly tend to restore the peace of the country and to allay the exasperation and excitement which now exist between the different sections of the Union. For it is the deliberate opinion of this Convention that the tolerance Congress has given to the notion that federal authority might be employed incidentally and indirectly to subvert or weaken the institutions existing in the states confessedly beyond federal jurisdiction and control is a main cause of the discord which menaces the existence of the Union, and which has well-nigh destroyed the efficient action of the federal government itself

7. Resolved, that the performance of this duty is required by the fundamental law of the Union. The equality of the people of the several states composing the Union cannot be disturbed without disturbing the frame of the American institutions. This principle is violated in the denial of the citizens of the slaveholding states of power to enter into the territories with the property lawfully acquired in the states. The warfare against this right is a war upon the Constitution. The defenders of this right are defenders of the Constitution. Those who deny or impair its exercise are unfaithful to the Constitution; and, if disunion follows the destruction of the right, they are the disunionists.

8. Resolved, that the performance of its duties, upon the principle we declare, would enable Congress to remove the embarrassments in which the country is now involved. The vacant territories of the United States, no longer regarded as prizes for sectional rapacity and ambition, would be gradually occupied by inhabitants drawn to them by their interests and feelings. The institutions fitted to them would be naturally applied by governments formed on American ideas and approved by the deliberate choice of their constituents. The community would be educated and disciplined under a republican administration in habits of self-government and fitted for an association as a state, and to the enjoyment of aplace in the confederacy. A community so formed and organized might well claim admission to the Union and none would dispute the validity of the claim.

9. Resolved, that a recognition of this principle would deprive the questions between Texas and the United States of their sectional character and would leave them for adjustment, without disturbance from sectional prejudices and passions, upon considerations of magnanimity and justice.

10. Resolved, that a recognition of tints principle would infuse a spirit of conciliation in the discussion and adjustment of all the subjects of sectional dispute which would afford a guarantee of an early and satisfactory determination.

11. Resolved, that in the event a dominant majority shall refuse to recognize the "neat constitutional rights we assert and shall continue to deny the obligations of the federal government to maintain them, it is the sense of this Convention that the territories should be treated as property and divided between the sections of the Union, so that the rights of both sections be adequately secured in their respective shares. That we are aware this course is open to grave objections, but we are ready to acquiesce in the adoption of the line of 36" 30' north latitude, extending to the Pacific Ocean, as a extreme concession, upon consideration of what is due to the stability of our institution.

12. Resolved, that it is the opinion of this Convention that this controversy should be ended, either by a recognition of the constitutional rights of the Southern people or by equitable partition of the territories; that the spectacle of a confederacy of states involved in quarrels over the fruits of a war which the American arms were crowned with glory is humiliating; that the incorporation of the Wilmot Proviso in the offer of settlement, a proposition which fourteen states regard as disparaging and dishonorable, is degrading to the country. A termination to this controversy by the disruption of the confederacy or by the abandonment of the territories to prevent such a result would be a climax to the shame which attaches to the controversy which it is the paramount duty of Congress to avoid.

24. Resolved, that slavery exists in the United States independent of the Constitution. That it is recognized by the Constitution in a threefold aspect: first, as property; second, as a domestic relation of service or labor under the law of a state; and, last, as a basis of political power. And, viewed on any or all of these lights, Congress has no power under the Constitution to create or destroy it anywhere; nor can such power be derived from foreign laws, conquest, cession, treaty, or the laws of nations, nor from any other source but an amendment of the Constitution itself.

25. Resolved, that the Constitution confers no power upon Congress to regulate or prohibit the sale and transfer of slaves between the states.

26. Resolved, that the reception or consideration by Congress of resolutions, memorials, or petitions from the states in which domestic slavery does not exist, or from the people of said states, in relation to the institution of slavery where it does exist, with a view of effecting its abolition, or to impair the rights of those interested in it, to its-peaceful and secure enjoyment is a gross abuse and an entire perversion of the rights of petition as secured by the federal Constitution: and, if persisted in, must and will lead to the most dangerous and lamentable consequences--that the right of petition for a redress of grievances as provided for by the Constitution was designed to enable the citizens of the United States to manifest and make known to Congress the existence of evils under which they were suffering, whether effecting them personally, locally, or generally; and to cause such evils to be redressed by the proper and competent authority, but was never designed or intended as a means of inflicting injury on others, or jeopardizing the peaceful and secure enjoyment of their rights. whether existing under the Constitution or under the sovereignty and authority of the several states.

Compromise of 1850

Crafted by Representative Henry Clay of Kentucky and Senator Stephen Douglas, this package of five bills passed in September 1850 enacted the following measures.

The State of Texas surrendered its claim over New Mexico Territory (which initially included the later Arizona).  Prior to the Compromise, it had been threatening war.

The Territory of California was admitted to the Union as a free state.

The Wilmot Proviso once again failed to pass.

The slavery question in Utah Territory and New Mexico Territory would be decided by the populations of those polities.

The slave trade, though not slavery itself, was banned in Washington City, District of Columbia.

The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 (there was one earlier, in 1793) was enacted.

Second Nashville Convention

With the passage of the Compromise of 1850, the more moderate delegates felt less threatened, and with tensions considerably eased, only the Fire-Eaters, the most rabidly uncompromising secessionists, showed for the convention in November.  Most notable of these, given later history, was Senator Jefferson Davis of Mississippi.

Below are the preamble and resolutions adopted by the Fire-Eaters.  Take particular note of the white supremacism expressed in the statements of the preamble.

Resolutions of the second Nashville Convention

We, the delegates assembled from a portion of the states of this confederacy, make this exposition of the causes which have brought us together, and of the rights which the states we represent are entitled to under the compact of Union.

We have amongst us two races, marked by such distinctions of color and physical and moral qualities as for ever forbid their living together on terms of social and political equality.

The black race have been slaves from the earliest settlement of our country, and our relations of master and slave have grown up from that time. A change in those relations must end in convulsion, and the entire ruin of one or of both races.

When the Constitution was adopted this relation of master and slave, as it exists, was expressly recognised and guarded in that instrument. It was a great and vital interest, involving our very existence as a separate people then as well as now.

The states of this confederacy acceded to that compact, each one for itself, and ratified it as states.

If the non-slaveholding states, who are parties to that compact, disregard its provisions and endanger our peace and existence by united and deliberate action, we have a right, as states, there being no common arbiter, to secede.

The object of those who are urging on the federal government in its aggressive policy upon our domestic institutions is, beyond all doubt, finally to overthrow them, and abolish the existing relation between the master and slave. We feel authorized to assert this from their own declarations, and from the history of events in this country for the last few years.

To abolish slavery or the slave trade in the District of Columbia—to regulate the sale and transfer of slaves between the states—to exclude slaveholders with their property from the territories—to admit California under the circumstances of the case, we hold to be all parts of the same system of measures, and subordinate the end they have in view, which is openly avowed to be, the total overthrow of the institution.

We make no aggressive move. We stand upon the defensive. We invoke the spirit of the Constitution, and claim its guarantees. Our rights—our independence—the peace and existence of our families, depend upon the issue.

The federal government has within a few years acquired, by treaty and by triumphant war, vast territories. This has been done by the counsels and the arms of all, and the benefits and rights belong alike and equally to all the states. The federal government is but the, common agent of the states united, and represents their conjoined sovereignty over subject-matter granted and defined in the compact.

The authority it exercises over all acquired territory must in good faith be exercised for the equal benefit of all the parties. To prohibit our citizens from settling there with the most valuable part of our property is not only degrading to us as equals, but violates our highest constitutional rights.

Restrictions and prohibitions against the slaveholding states, it would appear, are to be the fixed and settled policy of the government; and those states that are hereafter to be admitted into the Federal Union from their extensive territories will but confirm and increase the power of the majority; and he knows little of history who cannot read our destiny in the future if we fail to do our duty now as free people.

We have been harassed and insulted by those who ought to have been our brethren, in their constant agitation of a subject vital to us and the peace of our families. We have been outraged by their gross misrepresentations of our moral and social habits, and by the manner in which they have denounced us before the world. We have had our property enticed off; and the means of recovery denied us by our co-states in the territories of the Union, which we were entitled to as political equals under the Constitution. Our peace has been endangered by incendiary appeals. The Union, instead of being considered a fraternal bond, has been used as the means of striking at our vital interests.

The admission of California, under the circumstances of the ease, confirms an unauthorized and revolutionary seizure of public domain, and the exclusion of near half the states of the confederacy from equal rights therein destroys the line of thirty-six degrees thirty minutes, which was originally acquiesced in as a matter of compromise and peace, and appropriates to the northern states one hundred and twenty thousand square miles below that line, and is so gross and palpable a violation of the principles of justice and equality as to shake our confidence in any security to be given by that majority who are now clothed with power to govern the future destiny of the confederacy.

The recent purchase of territory by Congress from Texas, as low down as thirty-two degrees on the Rio Grande, also indicates that the boundaries of the slaveholding states are fixed and our doom prescribed so far as it depends upon the will of a dominant majority, and nothing now can save us from a degraded destiny but the spirit of freemen who know their rights and are resolved to maintain them, be the consequences what they may.

We have no powers that are binding upon the states we represent. But, in order to produce system and concerted action, we recommend the following resolutions, viz.:

Resolved, That we have ever cherished, and do now cherish a cordial attachment of the constitutional union of the States, and that to preserve and perpetuate that Union unimpaired, this con­vention originated and has now reassembled.

Resolved, That the union of the States is a union of equal and independent sovereignties, and that the powers delegated to the Federal government can be resumed by the several states, whenever it may seem to them proper and necessary.

Resolved, That all the evils anticipated by the South, and which occasioned this Convention to assemble have been realized, by the failure to extend the Missouri line of compromise to the Pacific ocean; By the admission ofCalifornia as a state. By the organization of Territorial governments for Utah and New Mexico without giving adequate protection for the property of the South. By the dismemberment of Texas. By the abolition of the slave trade, and the emancipation of slaves carried into the District of Columbia for sale.

Resolved, That we earnestly recommend to all parties in the slaveholding States, to refuse to go into or countenance any national convention, whose object may be to nominate candi­dates for the Presidency and Vice-Presidency of the United States, under any party denomination whatever, until our constitutional rights are secured.

Resolved, That in view of these aggressions, and of those threatened and impending, we earnestly recommend to the slaveholding states, to meet in a congress or convention to be held at such time and place as the states desiring to be represented, may designate, to be composed of double the number of their senators and representatives in the Congress of the United States, intrusted with full power and authority to deliberate and act with a view and intention of arresting further aggression, and if pos­sible of restoring the constitutional rights of the South, and if not to provide for their safety and independence.

Resolved, That the president of this convention be requested to forward copies of the foregoing preamble and resolutions to the governors of each of the slave-holding States of the Union, to be laid before their respective legislatures at their earliest as­sembling.

19 June 2015

The Two Jesuses

I have to confess this essay is inspired in part by a few lines from the 1980’s British punk band The The called “Armageddon Days Are Here Again”.  The lines are “They’ve forgotten the message, and worship the creeds”; “If the real Jesus Christ were to come back today, he’d be gunned down cold by the CIA”; and “If he ever found out who’s hijacked his name, he’d cut out his heart, and turn in his grave”.


In America today, there are two overall versions, each of which have their own variations within them, one the invention of those who apply their own bigotries to their definition of Jesus Christ, the other somewhat closer to the actual truth.

White American Jesus

The Jesus Christ that the Christian Supremacist Right in America follows is white and advocates libertarianism, misogyny, American jingoism, chauvinist Zionism, American and Israeli exceptionalism, white supremacy (read between the lines), patriarchy, homophobia (sometimes to an extreme degree), neoliberalism, plutocracy, corporatism, trickled down economics, guns, and a style of theocratic government which places a class of wealthy white ultra-conservative evangelical Christians atop all others in society imposing upon it strict guidelines of behavior supposedly guided by their twisted ideology which is all the while set up to ensure that they are impossible to keep, making it therefore possible to fine (rob), confiscate from, imprison, enslave, and execute (murder) at will any who might stand up to oppose them.

In other words, they stand for everything the “real Jesus Christ” hated; they’re the ones who’ve “hijacked his name”.  It is not the name of Yahuweh written on their foreheads and left hands but that of their true god, wealth, or as the Revelation of John the Divine has it, the number 666.  All of them, every last member of the right-wing Christian evangelical movement.  Wealth is their ultimate god.  As for why so many are less than sound economically, well, part of the “prosperity gospel” is that their god grants material riches to those whom he favors, and the rest of the faithful are supposed to look up to and respect their “betters”, in the hopes that if they humble and abase themselves enough, and are submissive to power and obedient to Authority enough, maybe one day they too will be granted material prosperity also.

Someone should let them know that nirvana is samsara.

This version of Jesus Christ is known as White Jesus, American Jesus, or Republican Tea Party Jesus, and sometimes even as Supply Side Jesus.  And he is a complete ass.  Nor is he anything like the real Jesus Christ, who, by the way, would have no idea who the hell you were talking to or about if you addressed him as such.

Brown Palestinian Jesus

Who was the real Jesus the Christ, without the add-ons and extensions given to him throughout the centuries since he left (died, assumed to heaven, transported to a parallel universe)?

To start off, he was brown, maybe even dark brown, shorter than the average twentieth century American male, and Palestinian rather than European.  He probably had a large nose, a typical feature of Semitic people in the Southwest Asia.  He almost certainly wore a beard and mustache, but unlike as he is often portrayed, probably had short hair.  As he followed the Jewish version of the late ancient Israelite religion, he probably wore a kippah, a tefillin, and tzitzit as part of his daily attire.

As for religious practices, he almost certainly attended synagogue every Sabbath, fasted Mondays and Thursdays, and went to Jerusalem for the major pilgrimage festivals whenever he could do so.

His first language was the Galilean dialect of Palestinian Aramaic, and he no doubt learned Hebrew also.  Given that the very Hellenistic and very Roman-friendly capital of Galilee, Autocratoris, was but a few miles from his hometown of Nazareth, he probably had at least a working knowledge of Greek and maybe even Latin.  Autocratoris had once been Sepphoris until it was destroyed after the uprising following the death of Herod the Great.  Herod Antipas rebuilt and renamed it upon becoming tetrarch of the Roman province of Galilaea and Peraea, making it his capital.  Shortly before the Bar Kokhba War of 132-135 CE, the name was changed again to Diocaesarea, in honor of Jupiter and of Roman emperor Hadrian.

He did not go by “Jesus”.  Though Clement of Alexandria and Cyril of Jerusalem both argued, if not strongly, that Iesous, the Greek form of the name Jesus, was his actual given name, he very probably did not go by that, though Galilee in the first century was much more cosmopolitan than its neighbor to the south and many had at least a working knowledge of Greek in addition to the common language, Palestinian Aramaic. 

In older Hebrew, the name Jesus becomes Yehoshua.  By the final centuries BCE, the more common form was Yeshua, but the older form regained some popularity in the Hasmonean era, especially in Galilee.  The West Aramaic form of the name was Yeshu, and it is by this name that Jesus the Christ is referred to in the Talmud.  However, Palestinian Aramaic, especially in Galilee, shared more features with Eastern Aramaic than Western, in which the name was rendered Isho.  That is the name by which Syriac language scriptures that the Oriental Orthodox Churches use call him to this day.

In the earliest days of the Church, before the books of the New Testament as most Christians know them were written, all in koine Greek, rather than “Jesus Christ” or “Jesus the Christ”, our subject was known as Jesus the Nazorean, or Isho Nasraya in his native tongue.  In his own day, when he was on the Earth, he went by Isho bar Yossef.  Throughout the remainder of this piece, I will be using the name Isho, or Isho the Nazorean.

Isho the Nazorean was a Galilean, not a Jew

The composer (or one of the subsequent editors) of the Gospel of John understood this, which is why he keeps referring to “the Jews” as antagonists of his protagonist.  It is not because he is a Christian attacking adherents to the parent religion.  The original author (there were at least two major writers/editors and possibly or three or more) was almost certainly from Palestine and would thus have been well aware of the difference.

In first century Palestine, the term Jew had two different meanings.  In a broad sense, it meant all those who followed the Jewish faith, those who had inherited that version of the Israelite faith by birth and those who had fully converted, got circumcised, followed the Torah.  In the Diaspora, there was little distinction between those of the Jewish faith whose families originated from different regions of Palestine, but in Palestine itself, this was not the case.

Among the non-Samaritan Israelites of Palestine, there were several different ethnic groups, divided by origins of their ancestors in the second century BCE.  To be a Jew in first century Palestine meant one came from the core territory of Judaea, called Yehud in Aramaic and Iudaeia in Greek and Iudaea in Latin.  The rest of the ethnic groups were made up of descendants of those in territories conquered beginning in the late second century BCE by the Hasmonean dynasts who ruled what was then called Iudeaia.

The first of these were the Idumaeans in the formerly independent land in the Negev also known by its Biblical name, Edom.  Second, were the Galileans, residents of Galilaea, or Galil ha-Goyim, “District of the Gentiles”, so-called because its original inhabitants were an Arab tribe known as the Itureans.  These Itureans were of the southern part of a broader domain; the northern Itureans remained independent of Yehud.  Third were the Peraeans, descendants of Nabateans, an Aramean group, living in territory east of the Jordan River conquered by the Hasmoneans in the early first century CE.

All three of these populations were forcibly converted.  To help cement their hold and get rid of undesirables, the Hasmoneans resettled hundreds of dissidents in Galilaea.  Others no doubt also moved there did so of their own accord, but those who voluntarily left the “holy land” were not looked upon favorably, so Jews, in the first century definition, had little trust for any Galileans.

Without grasping this cultural fact, it is impossible to understand things in the gospels such as the Parable of the Workers, or why the author of the Gospel of John, probably a Galilean who if he did not live in Galilee was almost certainly from there originally (or just very culturally aware), constantly spoke of the “Jews” as if they were a foreign people.

The Hasmoneans also conquered their neighbors to their immediate north a couple of years later the Idumeans, but treated the Samaritans as untouchables.  In large part this was due to rivalry going back to the ninth century BCE which had led to there being two Israelite kingdoms in Palestine in the first place.  Then there’s the fact that even after their temple was destroyed, the Samaritans refused to accept the temple in Jerusalem as their holy place.

Some of the anomosity was no doubt jealousy; Samaraea, called Samerina in Aramaic and Samareia in Greek, was the senior of the two, founded in the early ninth century by Omri the Israelite.  Before the conquest, it was also the wealthier and more cosmopolitan, and its temple atop Mount Gerizim near Shechem dwarfed that atop Mount Moriah in Jerusalem in both size and in opulence.

An analogy from twenty-first century Palestine may illustrate the overall point more clearly.  The (genetically half Southwest Asian, half European as it turns out) Ashkenazim make up the majority of Jews in both the State of Israel and throughout the world.  Despite there being many other ethnic groups of Jews, the rest are often lumped together under the name Sephardim because the Maghrebim, Mizrahim, Parsim, Temanim, etc. have adopted Sephardic liturgy and ritual.  The only real Sephardim are those who descend from the Jews expelled from Spain in 1492; the others are more properly called by their ethnonym.  The Parsim are Sephardic in that they have adopted the liturgy and ritual, but they are remain Parsim.  In a similar way, first century Galileans were Jewish in that they worshipped the same deity as and followed the religious traditions of the Jews, but they were still Galileans, not Jews.

Jesus of the Creeds

You won’t find Isho the Nazorean, “the real Jesus Christ”, by going to the creeds.  By the time those were composed, the real person Isho and his message had long been muddled and lost.  That actually began with Paul of Tarsus and the publication of the written gospels, though the latter do capture much of the essence, and even Paul’s writings in places.  (Several have opined that Paul’s emphasis on faith over works, especially vis-à-vis James’ contention that faith without works is empty, is in direct contrast to what Isho taught.  However, what Paul meant by “works” was diligently following the prescriptions of the Torah to such a degree that that was all that mattered; Isho taught the same thing, by deeds if not by explicit words, at least as he is reported in all the gospels.)

As early as the third century CE, for example, the first antipope, Hippolytus, launched his schism against the sitting bishop of Rome, Callistus, because the latter had the temerity to readmit sinners to communion after they had finished their period.  As I recall from the gospels, Isho never even required “penance”; he forgave sins immediately.  While Hippolytus was in schism, Callistus was killed during a riot and became the first martyred pope.

The creeds of the Church had nothing to do with the “real Jesus Christ”, Isho the Nazorean, and even less to do with his message.  They are entirely about trying to harmonize what little remnants of Israelite theology remained in Christianity with the Hellenistic philosophies of the Gentiles.  The drafting and enforcement of the first of these came about by and for the needs of imperial Rome, by then based in Constantinopolis, the modern Istanbul.

The actual Nicene Creed

The actual Nicene Creed, adopted at the First Ecumenical Council at Nicaea in 325 CE, was a bit shorter, and thinner on Christological doctrine than the one which now bears that name.  Its text is as follows:

            We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of all that is, seen and unseen.
            We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father; the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father: God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one substance with the Father.  Through him all things were made, both in heaven and on earth.  For us and for our salvation he came down, became incarnate, and was made man.  He suffered, and the third day he rose again, and ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.  He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
            We believe in the Holy Spirit.
            But those who say: ‘There was a time when he was not;’ and ‘He was not before he was made;’ and ‘He was made out of nothing,’ or ‘He is of another substance’ or ‘essence,’ or ‘The Son of God is created,’ or ‘changeable,’ or ‘alterable’— they are condemned by the holy catholic and apostolic Church.  Amen.

The Council at Nicaea came about because of a theological dispute between two presbyters of the church at Alexandria, Athanasius and Arius.  Athanasius was a proponent of the now traditional doctrine of the Trinity of three distinct Persons who are coequal and eternal, while Arius held that Jesus Christ (Isho the Nazorean) was the incarnate Logos, subordinate to the Father.  Thus, though the validity of the doctrine of the Trinity was somewhat involved, the nature of the dispute was mainly Christological.

Since the doctrine of the Trinity only began to develop well into the second century CE, it is more precise to speak of a dispute between the Athanasians and the Arians, rather than as most church histories do by retroactively calling the former “Catholics”.

Ironically, the first Christians to include the Creed in their Eucharistic service were the Arians whom it targeted, doing so as a form of protest, though this probably took place after the Church adopted its successor which is often mistakenly called by the same name.

The (Niceno-) Constantinopolitan Creed

Usually mistakenly referred to as the Nicene Creed, that which liturgical churches throughout Christianity recite as part of their Holy Eucharist was adopted at the Second Ecumenical Council at Constantinopolis in 381 CE.  It is thus  more accurately the Constantinopolitan Creed, or perhaps the “Niceno-Constantinopolitan” Creed.  Its text consists of bulletpoints of belief about the supernatural events of the gospels as well as the wholly Gentile doctrine of the Holy Trinity of which Isho the Nazorean and Paul of Tarsus would be appalled.  It reads thus:

            We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth,  of all that is, seen and unseen.
            We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all time: God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one substance with the Father.  Through him all things were made.  For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.  For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried.  On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.  He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
            We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father.  With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.  He has spoken through the Prophets.  We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.  We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.  We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Council of Constantinopolis later in the century tweaked several points of the original, dropped the anathemas, and firmed up the definition of the Holy Spirit.

Athanasian Creed

The Athanasian Creed is a rather cumbersome composition of the sixth century, probably in southern Gaul, probably by Vincent of Lerins. The name of the one most responsible for the Church adopting the doctrine of the Holy Trinity as its official party line became attached in fairly short order.  Its Christology reflects doctrinal matters decided at the Third Ecumenical Council at Ephesus in 431.  Although used widely in the West during medieval and early modern times, it never caught on in the East.  The Episcopal Church used to inflict its recitation on its members on thirteen occasions throughout the church year.

Chalcedonian Creed

The Chalcedonian Creed, or Definition of Chalcedon, was adopted at the Fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon in 451 CE.  It concerns itself solely with defining the two separate natures of “Our Lord Jesus Christ” in hypostasis, one individual existence.

The same Council also affirmed to the Virgin Mary the accolade “Theotokos”, variously translated into English, but most accurately as “Birth-giver to God”, rather than “Mother of God” (which would be Meter tou Theou) or “God-bearer” (which would be Theophoros).

Apostles’ Creed

The Apostles’ Creed of Western churches is an adaptation of catechismic answers to questions at the rite of baptism.  In form, it is a stripped down version of the Constantinopolitan Creed.

In the creeds, not only are both Isho the Nazorean, the “real Jesus Christ”, and his message entirely lost, but both theology and Christology are reduced to mere ideology.  They even leave out utterly the most singularly important point of the gospels, the primary reason for which they (at least the Synoptics) were written. 

18 June 2015

Historical Jesus

Once upon a time, and up until not very long ago, I believed that individual known to most English-speakers as “Jesus Christ” never existed as an actual, real, in-the-flesh human.  A big part of that was the Misty Mountain of bullshit that has been piled so deeply on top of any base that might have existed that the “real Jesus Christ” is farther beyond all possible hope of recovery than the actual historical figure behind the legend of King Arthur.  That doubt was related to, though not dependent upon, my atheism.

Light began to slice its way through the impenetrable fog, and I began to doubt my doubt.  Not my doubt about theism, but about the historical existence of a real human behind the legend and myth of Jesus Christ.

First, I had to ponder the fact that, in spite of there being a near equal amount of concrete evidence (in other words, virtually none), and with that splinter of a fragment of a section of truth likewise buried under a nearly equal amount of self-serving fraud, forgery, and fakery, I still believed that there was a real person behind the legend of “King” Arthur, I had to sort of reassess my then-current assessment. 

Some people are quite comfortable with the cognitive dissonance of holding completely contradictory notions in their head and denying any inconsistency, but I am not one of those humans.  I have sort of a phobia of self-deception.

My last year at Dalton State I took an early American lit class in which we studied at one point the growth of the story of Hannah Duston’s capture by and later escape from a party of Abenaki in 1697 Massachusetts.  Cotton Mather of Salem witch trial infamy wrote the initial story, which in the following century and a half grew faster and beyond recognition than the Universe after the Big Bang.

Don’t get me wrong; the Jesus Christ of the creeds is utter bullshit with zero trace of anything real remaining alive.  Christ the Vampire (or maybe Zombie Jesus) in a very real sense.  The Jesus Christ of the gospels is almost entirely fictional also, but at least there’s a trail of bread crumbs to reconstruct enough of the puzzle to get some of a picture, even if many of the pieces are missing.

The final kicker came during a wandering mindless harangue by one of the idiots whom I was forced to endure in what was called “chapel” at the mission I stayed at while homeless.  In order to drown out the noise, I began reading the only thing available, and came across the first chapter of Galatians.  What convinced me that there was a real person behind the legend of Jesus Christ was the fact that Paul seceded to James the Just, his chief antagonist as he saw it, the status of “brother of the Lord” is what convinced me. 

No one as much of a pompous, egomaniacal arse as Paul of Tarsus would make such a concession were it not beyond question that that status was a cold, hard fact.  And if there was a brother of Jesus Christ, then there must have actually been a Jesus Christ.  There is some evidence outside of the New Testament that such a person existed, which, unfortunately have been weighed down by “pious fraud” in terms of interpolations.


Of the three mentions of events relating to the life of Jesus Christ present in the second major work of Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, published around 90 CE, the first and most direct is also that which has been most heavily interpolated by Christian monks.  Called the Testimonium Flavianum, its fraudulent additions are so obviously forged and inserted that I am not going to bother.  However, I will supply what most scholars believe to be closest to the original:

Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

An Arabic copy dated to the tenth century is worded more or less the same, but adds after “did not forsake him” the following: They reported that he had appeared to them after his crucifixion and that he was alive; accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.  Not an endorsement of those beliefs, just reporting them.

The second is the account of John the Baptist, which Josephus places in the months preceding the outbreak of war between Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilaea and Peraea, and Aretas, king of the Nabataeans that took place in 36 or 37 CE, a few years after the death of Jesus Christ, rather than afterwards as per the gospels.

Third is the opportunistic judicial murder of James the Just and several companions by the new high priest, Ananus ben Ananus, that took place when the seat of procurator was physically vacant.  The text as we have it refers to James as the “brother of Jesus, who was called Christ”, not an endorsement of Jesus’ status but rather a designation of which James was meant.


In his Annales of 116 CE (Book 15, Chapter 44), Tacitus tells of emperor Nero blaming the Chrestianoi of Rome for the Great Fire, for which suspicion had fallen (almost certainly inaccurately) on him.  He describes their namesake, Chrestus, as having suffered crucifixion under Pontius Pilatus.  Later copies have the words “Christianoi “ and “Christos”, but textual critics agree these are not original. 


In his Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Suetonius reports in Claudius 25 that the Jews were expelled from Rome because of rioting stirred up by “Chrestus”.  In Nero 16, he echoes Tacitus’ report about the aftermath of the Great Fire, saying it was blamed on Christianoi.

The Acts of the Apostles reflects the first of these entries in describing Paul’s meeting of Aquila and Priscilla (18:2-3) who had left Rome for Corinth after Claudius expelled all the Jews of Rome, though the passage in Acts does not give the cause.  At the time of the expulsion, Jews made up some 10% of the city’s populace.  The Roman writers Cassius Dio and Paulus Orosius also speak of the expulsion.

On Christus/Chrestus vs. Christianoi/Chrestianoi

Evidence from several sources demonstrates that outsiders and even some insiders such as, for example, Clement of Alexandria and Justin Martyr, in the first few centuries of the Common Era used these terms interchangeably.  This, and the account mentioned above about Aquila and Priscilla make various speculations about the Tacitus and Suetonius entries about “Chrestus” referring to someone other than Isho the Nazorean rather fanciful.

A final thought

My last word about this is that while there is no direct empirical evidence either for Arthur the Soldier or for Isho the Nazorean, and the fact that supporters of both have over the centuries twisted facts into legends that have metamorphosed into elaborate myths, there are enough ripples, however small, in their respective times (separated by half a millennium), to show the path of a tiny pebble, even if it’s original trajectory remains lost.

Jewish messianic expectations, first century CE


In few cases in world history have humans forgotten the message for worshipping the creeds like they have in the case of the man known to most, in English anyway, as Jesus Christ.  That should really be “Jesus the Christ” because the latter is not a surname, but a title.  It is the Greek version of the Hebrew word meaning “The Anointed”, whose English rendering is usually “Messiah”.

What the creeds leave out completely, in their Hellenistic obsessions with doctrine and dogma and defining the undefinable which had little to do with the actually message and more to do with internal bickering, is the most important point of the Gospels, at least the Synoptics.  The undeniable goal of the writers of the gospels, and their later editors who interpolated and redacted and reorganized many parts of the originals, and their primary purpose, was to present Isho the Nazorean as the long-awaited Messiah ben David.

Before we get to that, however, we need a little lesson on what exactly a Messiah is, or at least was expected to be in Isho’s time.

The Four Craftsmen (or Four Carpenters)

In the first century CE, the Jews, most of them anyway, were waiting for not just one Messiah, but four, or at least four eschatological figures who’s coming would herald wars and rumors of wars ending in the establishment of the kingdom of heaven on Earth. 

This scheme of four figures was based upon the passage about the Four Craftsmen in the first chapter of Zechariah, verses 18-21.  According to the Talmud, since the time of Simon the Just (high priest Simon I in the late third century BCE), these four have been identified as Elijah the Prophet returned, the Messiah ben Joseph, the Messiah ben David, and the Righteous Priest. 

Interestingly, the Hebrew word kharash translated as “craftman” in this passage specifically refers to a “craftsman of wood”, or a carpenter, corresponding to the Greek word tekton used in that place in the Septuagint, as well as in the New Testament to describe the secular occupation of Isho the Nazorean.

Some of the pseudepigraphal and apocalyptic Jewish literature which flourished in the last two centuries BCE and the first century CE supply different, though related, designations for three of the four figures, all but Elijah.

The Prophet Like Moses, the Son of Man, are other eschatological figures that will be discussed later.

Elijah the Prophet

Elijah, the First Craftsmen to appear according to tradition, is to be the forerunner of the whole cycle of events.  Jewish mysticism holds that after being assumed into heaven, Elijah became the archangel Sandalphon, anchoring the root of the Tree of Life opposite his likewise-assumed predecessor Enoch at the top as the archangel Metatron.

The two main passages of the Tanakh used to indicate Eljah’s position as one of the Four Craftsman and as the Forerunner is Malachi 3:1-3 and 4:5-6. 

Pesach (Passover) and Matzot (Unleavened Bread) are the time of Elijah.  At the seder on Pesach (Passover), Jews set out a cup of wine in hopeful anticipation of his arrival.

Messiah ben Joseph

Also known as the Suffering Messiah and the Messiah ben Ephraim, the Messiah ben Joseph is the Second Craftsman.  His function is to prepare the way for the one who is to come after him by waging war against the Messiah ben David’s potential enemies.  Tradition holds that it will be he who leads the forces of righteousness against the armies of the “destructive one” in the war of Gog and Magog depicted in Ezekial 38-39, dying in the final battle. 

Rabbinic tradition names the leader of the armies of Gog and Magog as “Armilus”, whom the Gentile world worships as God and Messiah.  In Ezekial, Gog is the leader of Magog, but by the first century CE popular usage had turned Gog of Magog into Gog and Magog among Jews as well as members of the nascent Christian movement.

Most textual scholars have determined that passage on Gog and Magog is an interpolation from the second century BCE, reflecting the concerns and political situation of that time.  In Revelation, the war against Gog and Magog takes place after the thousand-year reign following the Battle of Armageddon against the Beast (Antichrist), False Prophet, and the Devil at the end of the seven-year Tribulation.

Two of the chief passages of the Tanakh with which the Messiah ben Joseph is identified are the Mourning for the “Pierced One” (Zechariah 12:10-14) and the Songs of the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 42:1-4, 49:1-6, 50:4-9, 52:13-53:12, and 61:1-3).  Others are Psalms 22 and 44 and the vision of the Seventy Weeks in the ninth chapter of Daniel.

Shavuot (Feast of Weeks), or Pentecost, is the time of the Messiah ben Joseph.

Messiah ben David

The key messianic figure of most Jewish eschatology in the first century CE was the Messiah ben David, or the King Messiah, referred to in some eschatological literature as the Messiah ben Judah.  The Messiah ben David is the Third Craftsman.

Several passages in the Tanakh relate to the Messiah ben David in Jewish tradition.  The most important are Psalms 2 and 110, but Psalms 45, 72, 89, and 132 are also associated with the Messiah ben David, if not quite as directly.

Among the most relative of many passages in Isaiah include 2:2-4 (about the future “house of God”); 7:10-16 (the Immanuel verses); 9:1-7 (about the righteous coming king); and all of chapter 11 (about the future peaceful kingdom).

The relevant passages in Jeremiah include 23:5-8 (about the righteous branch, or descendant, of David); 31:31-34 (foretelling the new covenant); 33:14-18 (combined prophecy of the righteous branch and the covenant with David).

The coronation of the Branch, the scion of the House of David, is foretold in Zechariah 6:9-15.

The vision of the two sticks in Ezekial 37:22-28 prophesies that Joseph and Judah will be reunited as one under the Messiah ben David.  This follows immediately after the vision of the valley of dry bones.

The Messiah ben David is represented in the vision of the menorah and two olive trees in the fourth chapter of Zechariah as one of the latter.

Sukkot (Feast of Booths) has been identified with the coming of the Messiah ben David since at least the first century BCE.  This is based on the passage in Zechariah 14:16-21 which follows the description of the “Day of the Lord”, the final battle when “all nations” come against Jerusalem and the people of Judah, and Yahuweh takes his stand on the Mount of Olives.  Then the survivors of the nations come to Jerusalem to keep the feast of Sukkot.

The hymn at the beginning of the fourth chapter of Micah (and the near identical passage at the beginning of the second chapter of Isaiah) is another passage associated with the expected kingdom of the Messiah ben David.  This passage contains the famous line, “And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nations shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore”.

The Righteous Priest

In the interpretation contemporary with the time of Isho the Nazorean, the Righteous Priest, elsewhere called the Messiah ben Levi and the Priestly Messiah, was expected alongside the Messiah ben David but subordinate in authority to him.    The Righteous Priest is the Fourth Craftsman.

The chief passages identified with the future Righteous Priest are 1 Samuel 2:35, Zechariah 4:11-14 (the two anointed ones), and Zechariah 6:12-14 (where he becomes high priest).

The fourth chapter of Zechariah tells of the rebuilding of the temple of Yahuweh, represented by a lampstand with seven branches (a menorah).  On either side of the menorah are two olive trees which represent two “anointed ones”: the Messiah ben David and the Righteous Priest who will oversee the temple.  The menorah itself represents the rebuilt temple of Yahuweh in which the Righteous Priest will lead the worship of Yahuweh.

In the original prophecy the olive trees stood for Zerubbabel the governor of the Iranian province of Yehud (Judah) and Joshua (Iesous in Greek, or Jesus), but had been repurposed by the second century BCE to indicate the Messiah ben David and the Righteous Priest.  The author of the Revelation of John the Divine later repurposed the motif yet again for the “two witnesses” in the first half of his “Great Tribulation”.

The figure of the Righteous Priest was/is identified with the mysterious Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of El Elyon (God Most High) whom Abraham encounters in Genesis 14:7-24.  The Targum and the Talmud further identify Melchizedek with Shem son of Noah.

Prophet like Moses

The Samaritans to this day await the Taheb, their name for the Prophet Like Moses foretold in Deuteronomy 18:15-19.  Not much was said about this eschatological figure in the time period in which we are talking about.

Son of Man

The seventh chapter of the pseudepigraphal, apocalyptic, predictive, retrodictive, canonical (for Christians), and deuterocanonical (for Jews) work called Daniel introduced the figure of the “Son of Man” as an eschatological figure.  The vision of the Son of Man comes after the vision of the Four Beasts, which represent four great empires.  But here the Son of Man serves merely as a representative figure.

In the final verses of the chapter, the author prophesies that his Son of Man will destroy the fourth empire, which is unlike the other three, and bring its ruler before his throne in Jerusalem for judgment.  This fourth empire has always been equated with Rome, which probably places this passage no earlier than the first century BCE, though the previous century is possible, as the Roman Republic was the ally who forced Antiochus IV of the Seleucid Empire to turn back from his invasion of Ptolemaic Egypt in 168 BCE.

His stopover in Jerusalem on the return to Damascus occasioned the alleged “abomination of desecration” in which Antiochus supposedly erected a statue of Zeus in the Holy of Holies in the temple.  In real life, Menelaus the high priest claimed that he stole the money from the Corban, the money dedicated to the temple, from the treasury, which would have been considered a desecration, especially by the avaricious priests.  What actually happened was that Menelaus used the money to pay the back debt he owed Antiochus for enthroning him over his brother Jason, whose bribe was less “sufficient”.

In chapters 38-71 of the pseudepigraphal, apocryphal, apocalyptic, and canonical (for the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox) work known as 1 Enoch, the Son of Man develops into a pre-existent figure who dwells with Yahuweh.  In this the figure corresponds somewhat to the concept of the Logos as interpreted by Julius Philo Judaeaus.

Also called the Chosen One, the Righteous One, and the Anointed One (or Messiah), in this section (called the Book of Parables or the Similtudes).  Since Messiah is one of this figure’s titles and Yahuweh makes him king and judge of all the earth, there can only be one Anointed One with whom to equate him: the Messiah ben David.

In the thirteenth chapter of the deuterocanonical work 2 Esdras, the vision of the Man from the Sea, the figure representing the motif of the Son of Man (and therefore the Messiah ben David, though the author does not make that precise connection) transforms into an individual concrete person, pre-existent and dwelling with Yahuweh but now also human. 

Son of God

In the Similtudes of Enoch (1 Enoch 37-71) again, we find the Chosen One first referred to as the “Son of God”, though not in the same coequal sense of orthodox Trinitarian doctrine.  For one thing, “Son of God” was a ceremonial titles of the Davidic kings, and may have been used by their successors, the exilarchs (or nasis) of Babylon.  And the presentation in 1 Enoch is of one who is divine but not deity.  From the kingly Messiah who was a mere mortal scion of the line of David ruling over just the restored and reunited Israel, the journey to a divine universal savior (some might say rather “journey to the dark side”) was now complete.


When Philo borrowed the Platonist nomenclature of the Logos in formulating his philosophical explanation of Judaism for Gentiles, he undoubtedly drew from Hellenistic Jewish philosophy as seen in 1 Enoch, as I mentioned above, which ties it to the expected Chosen One.  In the mystical terminology of Rabbinic Judaism, this designation became “Memra”.  Both terms can be translated “Word”, though they can also be used to stand for “Reason”.

Philo presents his Logos as a mediator between Heaven and Earth, an instrument or Hand of God on one hand and an advocate for humans on the other.


The Nehushtan derives from the Torah passage named “Parashah Chukat” (Numbers 19:1-22:1), in which Yahuweh send fiery serpents (nachashim) to plague the Israelites until they repent and save themselves by looking toward a bronze serpent fashioned by Moses mounted atop a pole, upon which the poison would vanish.  The full name in Hebrew for the Nehushtan was Nachash Bareach

The earliest Qabbalistic works described the Teli being that around which the stars and everything revolve; rabbis identified this Teli with the Nachash Bareach as well as with the Messiah, who is often called the Nachash ha-Kodesh, or “Holy Serpent”. 

Though these particular Qabbalistic works were published centuries after the first of the Common Era, strong evidence demonstrates the ideas were already around, perhaps through the Merkava.  The Merkava is the body of literature revolving around mystical philosophy about Elijah’s Havenly Chariot and the beasts who pull it.

Expectations of the Essenes

The Damascus Document, found in Old Cairo decades before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran, in which fragments of it were also found, relates that the community at Qumran, for which the name Damascus is code.  This colony, along with the extinct sect of the Essenes, was founded 390 years after the Babylonian Exile, or in 196 BCE, and that the Teacher of Righteousness came twenty years later, in 176 BCE. 

The Essenes considered the Teacher of Righteousness to be Moses incarnate (the prophet like Moses in Deuteronomy 18:18-19), and they also wrote of him as the Suffering Priest.

For the future, the Essenes did not look for Elijah, but they did look for a priestly Messiah ben Aaron (Deuteronomy 33:8-11) and a kingly Messiah ben Israel (Numbers 24:15-17).  In their scheme, the Messiah ben Aaron would take precedence over his more secular counterpart.

Expectations of the Samaritans

The only eschatological figure for whom the Samaritans of the first century CE looked was the Prophet like Moses, whose cult never gained much traction among mainstream Jews, at least not in the first century CE.  However, that is till this day the sole future savior looked for by the Samaritans.  They refer to this figure as the Taheb.

Isho as Messiah

Elijah is the only Jewish eschatological figure with which Isho is never identified in any work of the New Testament, that role early on having been assigned to John the Baptist.

Isho as the Messiah ben Joseph

Isho is indirectly identified with the Messiah ben Joseph in the story of Philip and Simeon the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts of the Apostles 8:26-40.  Here, Simeon is in his chariot reading about the Suffering Servant and Philip explicitly identifies Isho (Jesus) with that figure.  In fact, all four gospels, 2 Corinthians, 1 Peter, Romans, Hebrews, and Galatians quote the Servant passages, particularly the fourth, in reference to Isho the Nazorean in some way.

The cry of Isho from the cross in Matthew and Mark, “My  God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”, likewise identifies Isho with the Messiah ben Joseph, along with other references to Psalm 22.  The passages in which the writers of the gospels show Isho predicting his own suffering and death also point to this Messiah rather the Messiah ben David.

Abraham Abulfia, one of the two founders of Ecstatic Qabbalah who lived in thirteenth century Spain before fleeing to Messina, Sicily, then Malta, accepted Yeshua ben Yosef (Isho, or Jesus) as the Messiah ben Joseph.  Abulfia identified himself as both Messiah ben David and as Melchizedek, the eschatological figure of the Righteous Priest.

As a side note, the other founder of Ecstatic Qabbalah, was Isaac ben Samuel, originally of Spain and later of Acre in the Levant.  He is also noted for stating that the universe was, as of his own time, 15,340,500,000 years old, seven centuries before any scientist posited anything close (it’s actually 13,800,000,000 years old).

Isho as the Messiah ben David

This being the main focus and central point of the gospels collectively, these points will be discussed elsewhere.

Isho as the Righteous Priest

The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews explicitly identifies Isho the Nazorean with how many interpreted the Righteous Priest in verses 5:10 and 6:20, and in the entirety of chapter 7.  However, the exact wording he uses, “high priest after the order of Melchizedek” ties the term to the definition of the Messiah as priest-king in Psalm 110.

In Peter’s speech at Solomon’s Portico after he has healed a lame beggar in Acts 3:11-26, the author portrays Peter referring to Isho as the prophet foretold by Moses (in Deuteronomy) who would be like him.

In the speech of Stephen the protomartyr before the council of the high priest in Acts 7, the lead character of the periscope refers to Isho as the Son of Man and as the Righteous One, both titles straight out of 1 Enoch.

Isho as the Son of Man

The title Son of Man as used in 1 Enoch is overwhelmingly the favored title of Isho the Nazorean in the gospels, coming in at being used to refer to him eighty-seven times to the seventeen uses of “Son of David” and the thirty-two uses of “Son of God”. 

Clearly, 1 Enoch had a huge influence over the writers of the gospels, both the original authors and their editors, most so than indicated by its rejection from the canon, although one could make the case that is has indirect canonicity through the statistic just cited.  In addition, the work is quoted in the Epistle of Jude and the Epistle to the Hebrews, influenced the secondary and tertiary stages of the development of Christian soteriology, and was cited by the  Church Fathers Tertullian, Origen, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Augustine of Hippo, Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, and several more.

Isho as the Logos

As for Isho’s identification with the concept of the Logos, the Second Editor of the Gospel of John clearly does so, as does the interpolator who inserted after “There are three that testify:” in 1 John 5:7 this: “There are three that testify in heaven, the Father, the Word (Logos), and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one.  And there are three that testify on earth:”.

Isho as the Nehushtan

The editor/contributor of the Gospel of John who wrote the third chapter lines “And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in him may have eternal life” (John 3:14-15) explicitly identifies Isho with the Nehushtan, and also bears witness that this concept of the Messiah existed then.

Isho as Chrestus

Literally meaning “good one”, “good servant”, or “useful implement”,  Chestus in Latin, or Chrestos in Greek, was a common name among Gentiles that could simply mean “good”.  It is used this way seven times in the New Testament.

In Greek, the word frequently followed the name of a deity as an epithet, as in Osiris Chreistos, Helios Christos, or Mithras Chrestos.  It was also used on tombs of dead humans.

Because of its similarity in spelling, this word was often confused, even by devout and in some cases quite knowledgeable believers, with Christos, the Greek translation of Messiah, for which there was no equivalent in Latin, unlike Chrestos-Chrestus.  Also, many who did know the difference still used the two words interchangeably.

In Book 2 of his Stromata, Clement of Alexandria wrote “All who believe in Chrestos (a good man) both are, and are called, Chrestianoi, that is, good men (Chrestoi).”

In the famous acrostic in the Sibylline Oracles of which the initials spell Icthus, or “fish”, the title is spelled “Chreistos” as in Iesous Chreistos Theoi Uios Soter Stauros (“Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior, Cross”).  Here, Chreistos could correctly be translated either way.

Justin Martyr also referred to himself as a Chrestianos, rather than a Christianos.

This Codex Sinaiticus, one of the earliest almost complete collections of the books of the New Testament, sheds some light on Tacitus’ use of “Chestianoi” rather than the more modern “Christianoi”.  There are three families of ancient manuscripts of the New Testament which scholars have classified by their text-type which also share certain phrases and passages not found in later texts, and they are missing some too, such as the Pericope Adulterae (story of the Adulterous Woman).  These three families of manuscripts have been designated the Alexandrian family, the Western family, and the Byzantine family.

The Codex Sinaiticus belongs to the Alexandrian family, the one almost universally recognized as generally being least tampered with by perpetrators of “pious fraud” to create a foundation for later ideology (this also applies to the Western family in some cases).  Where texts such as those of the Western and Byzantine families have the word “Christianoi” in the three places in the New Testament translated into English as “Christians” (Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28, 1 Peter 4:16), the Codex Sinaiticus has the word “Chrestianoi”.

Some argue that these discrepancies are a sign that the whole thing was made up.  I would just the contrary; that these discrepancies are a sign that the existence of a human individual upon whom the religion of Christianity is a reality, and that the nascent movement did not come from a mass production factory or a replicator.

Messianic pretenders of the Roman era

In terms of royal succession to a throne, to be a pretender means merely that one is a claimant, without judging the validity of the claim.  For instance, Charles Stuart, known as Bonnie Prince Charlie to his supporters, was called the Young Pretender, and by the rules of primogeniture he certainly had a better claim to the throne of Great Britain than the sitting monarch, George Welph (George I).

Several messianic pretenders rose up during the Roman era of  Palestine in the decades preceding and succeeding the time of Isho the Nazorean.

The first was Hezekiah ben Garon, a general of the former Hasmonean king Hyrcanus II, who rose against the Roman procurator Antipater, a Jew of Idumean descent, in 47 BCE, proclaiming himself King of the Jews.  His rebellion was put down by Herod the Great, then governor of the province of Galilaea.

After the death of Herod the Great, King of the Jews, in 4 BCE, revolts broke out in Iudaea (Judea), Galilaea, Peraea, and Idumaea.  Those in Peraea and Iudaea were led by messianic pretenders: Simon, a former slave of Herod, in Peraea, a man named Anthronges in Iudaea, and Judas ben Hezekiah (aka Judas the Galilean) in Galilaea.  The one in Idumaea was led by Herod’s cousin Achiab, who claimed the throne through that link.

The messianic pretender Judas the Galilean was back out in 6 CE, this time leading a revolt against Iudaea having been made a province under direct Roman rule.

Those were the rebellions led by a messianic pretender that took place in the decades before the time of Isho the Nazorean; several came after.

The Samaritan Prophet led his people in a rebellion against the prefect, Pontius Pilatus, taking his final stand atop Mount Gerizim, near Shechem (now Nablus), in 36 CE.  The brutality with which he put down this insurrection led to Pilate being sent back to Rome.

The revolt of the messianic pretender Theudas in Iudaea took place in 45 CE under procurator Cupius Fadus.

In 46 CE, Jacob and Simon, sons of Judas the Galilean, revolted against the procurator Tiberius Julius Alexander, a Jew from Alexandria.  The uprising lasted two years.

In 58 CE, a messianic pretender known to history as the Egyptian Prophet led a revolt that ended with a climactic battle on the Mount of Olives outside of Jerusalem.

Led by an unnamed messianic pretender, the Sikarii came out in 59 CE against procurator Porcius Festus, who made sure his troops slew them to the last man.

Three of the many, often infighting, leaders of the Great Jewish Revolt of 66-70 CE were messianic pretenders.  First was Simon bar Giora, a peasant leader from Iudaea.  Second was Menachem ben Yehuda (Judas the Galilean), leader of the Sikarii and grandson of Hezekiah ben Garon.  Third was John ben Levi of Giscala, leader of the Galilean Zealots.

In 115, a messianic pretender named Lukuas rose up in Cyrenaica, leading his armies in a swath of devastation that left Libya virtually depopulated, the two Jewish sections of the five in Alexandria burned, and inspired uprisings in Cyprus and Mesopotamia, before he was killed an his army destroyed near Jerusalem.

The last major Jewish revolt against Rome under a messianic pretender, Simon bar Kokhba in this case, broke out in 132, lasting until 135.

One of the two leaders of the revolt against the Roman empire under Heraclius (614-629) during the last Roman-Sassanian war, Nehemiah ben Hushiel, was a messianic pretender.  He was the son of the Exilarch, or Nasi, of the Jews of Babylon, and therefore of Davidic descent.