Chapter Thirty-One


       In the years immediately following the debacle of 70 CE, while
the Jewish world continued to turn inward in order to heal its wounds,
the gentile Christian churches continued to drift away from their Jewish
origins. Jewish Nazarenes, drawing close to their fellow Jews, were
unable to check this drift, and perhaps, as they watched the non-Jewish
Christians develop their own Christological religious traditions, these
Nazarenes may very well have decided that they wanted no part of the new
"heresy" being built upon the misery of Israel, a heresy which
expropraited the name and symbolism of Judaism, which claimed to accept
the "messiah" of Israel while rejecting Israel and distancing themselves
from Israel in their hour of need.

       Shortly after the end of the War, a book appeared under the name
of the apostle Paul, called Epistle to the Hebrews. The concensus of New
testament scholarly opinion is that this book is unauthentic, that is,
it was written by a Pauline Christian and ATTRIBUTED to Paul. The Book
of Hebrews purports to be a letter written by Paul to Jewish believers.
Its purpose is to show the superiority of Jesus and the Christological
religion of Paul over the Pharisaic Torah Judaism. It stresses two
themes; that the Christology of Jesus has replaced the priestly
sacrificial service of the destroyed Temple, and that the true followers
of G-d never gave much importance to the Land of Israel, or of
Jerusalem, as vital in the Divine scheme of things. In devaluing these
two themes it seeks to de-emphasize the original ethnic nationalistic
component of the religion of Jesus, and to disassociate that religion
all at once from the Jewish sacrificial system, the close ties of
Jerusalem and the Temple from the Zealot cause, and the sympathetic
affinity of the Zealots from the original followers of Jesus. In doing
so, it hoped to intensify the aspect of pacificsm toward Rome, and
de-intensify the aspect of political friction between a Jewish Jesus
(crucified by Rome as an insurgent) and a victorious and still
hegemonious Roman Empire which appeared to be invincible.

       In discussing Jesus as the new "high priest", the author of
Hebrews clearly stresses the so-called superiority of the new

    "Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have
    such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of
    the Majesty in the heavens; A minister of the sanctuary, and of
    the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. For
    every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices:
    wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to
    offer. For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing
    that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: Who
    serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was
    admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for,
    See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern
    shewed to thee in the mount. But now hath he obtained a more
    excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better
    covenant, which was established upon better promises.

                              Hebrews 8:1-8

       This attitude toward the now destroyed Jewish Temple is fully
expressed in the apocalypse known as the Book of Revelations. Originally
a Jewish apocalyptic book, Revelations was later taken over by the
Nazarenes and used as the Nazarene counterpart to the Book of Daniel.
After the debacle of CE 70, it was abandoned by them but was retained
and edited by the emerging gentile Church. Authorship of Revelations is
attributed to John the Beloved Disciple. He may indeed have been the
scribal apostle who originally expropriated the Jewish version of this
apocalypse and gave it its peculiar Nazarene flavoring. John may have
written the original description of a new Jerusalem that would exist in
the messianic era when Jesus returned. The gentile Christian redactor,
in his eagerness to disassociate his faith from Jewish geography,
decribes that Jerusalem as descending from heaven. A verse complimenting
the anti-Temple verses in Hebrews appears as follows:

    "And I saw no temple therein: for the L--d G-d Almighty and the
     Lamb are the temple of it."

                              Revelations 21:22

       The gentile Christian author of Hebrews wants his readers to know
that they have absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about in front of
their gentile neighbors and especially in regard to the Romans. He
maintains that the Christians, although their faith originated in Judea
as a Jewish sect, had absolutely no interest in Jewish nationalism or in
the rebellion against Rome. He further goes on to "prove" that this
"Christian" attitude toward the Land of Israel was really shared by the
pre-Christian "Hebrews" who are the real spiritual ancestors of
Christians rather than of Jews.

    "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but
     having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced
     them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the
     earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek
     a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from
     whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have
     returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an
     heavenly (one): wherefore G-d is not ashamed to be called their
     G-d: for He hath prepared for them a city.

                              Hebrews 11:13-16

       In like manner, he admonishes Christians to abandon any idea of a
"Jewish" messianic hope, and to look to the spiritual "Zion" since those
who looked to an actual free geographical Zion did not escape the wrath
of G-d:

    "But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living
     G-d, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of
     angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which
     are written in heaven, and to G-d, the Judge of all, and to the
     spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the
     new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better
     things than that of Abel. See that ye refuse not him that speaketh.
     For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much
     more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh
     from heaven."

                              Hebrews 12:22-25

    "For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come."

                              Hebrews 13:14

       But next was to come something quite definitively new. Paul had
said that even if he had known Jesus after the flesh, he knew him so no
more. That it was, in fact, NOT the real earthly Jesus that counted but
the celestial one that he preached. For the historical Jesus had been a
Jew and Paul lived close enough to the real events of Jesus's life to
have known that as a Jew, Jesus was primarily interested in Jews and
things Jewish. Yet Paul had preached to his converts that in Christ
there is neither Jew nor gentile. Yet all the while that Paul had been
incarcerated, his whole view of Jesus had been undermined by Jesus'
Jewish followers. Jesus had, after all, been an historical person,
recognized by his Jewish followers as messiah of Israel. Paul had not
put emphasis on the historical Jesus but it was nevertheless important
for him that the now heavenly Jesus was once a real live human being for
even Paul's religion demanded an historical basis, the appearence of a
man prophecied about in Israel's scripture. Therefore someone who was a
follower of Paul's decided to use the opportune moment of Jewish
inability to contradict Paul's new religion to preset an historical
Jesus, but cleverly to place this Jesus within a somewhat Pauline
context. This person used the name of Peter's companion and disciple,
Mark. Somewhere between the years CE 70 and CE 75, he wrote a book which
laid the foundation for all subsequent "gospel" stories. This book has
come to be commonly called, The Gospel According To St. Mark. The author
of the the book continues to rehabilitate Paul and assert his view of
Jesus as "Christ" by using the prestige of Peter's name. he writes under
the name of Peter's constant companion, John Mark, he who had had a
falling out with PAul and had refused to continue travelling with Paul
once he became aware of Paul's heretical teaching about Jesus. In the
same manner that Peter was made to disavow his earlier antagonism to
Paul, so now was Mark made to do the same.

       The author of Mark, hereafter called simply "Mark", paints a very
simple yet effective picture of a Jesus who is human and lives among
Jews but who has very little good to say about the people among whom he
lives, and from whom he distances himself.

       Mark begins his gospel very simply:

     "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God."
                             Mark 1:1

       Here we have no geneologies, no Nativity story. There is not yet
the development of what later would come to be the typical birth and
childhood stories of the hero. Jesus is simply presented to us as the
Christ, the Saviour who lived among men as a man, and who nevertheless
was the Son of G-d. In not dealing with geneologies or with the
specifics of his Galilean background, Mark can avoid making his Jesus
too identifiable as a Jew. The author of Mark lived close enough to the
time to know that both the Zealot movement and the Nazarene movement had
their origin in Galilee, the seat of Jewish anti-Roman nationalism. he
also knew that both of these movements had some affinity towards each
other and that Jesus had included in his following at least four
Zealots. By ignoring the geneologies, Mark can also avoid dwelling on
the Jewish messianic aspect of Jesus as messiah, as we shall see.

     "And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan;
     and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him."
                         Mark 1:13

       Mark merely mentions that Jesus was "tempted" but does not let
his readers know the exact nature of the temptation, that it was a
repudiation of the role of JEWISH messiah. The later evangelists make
this quite clear; - Jesus refused to perform miracles of removing want
from the world, he refused to prove his invincibility, he refused to
become king of all nations, three definite signs of Jewish messiah-ship.
It ispossible that an original manuscript of Mark DID once contain this
information but for some reason, was edited out. It would fit in very
well with Mark's general dejudaizing of Jesus.

    "And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and
     they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the
     Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not? ... No man also seweth
     a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that
     filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse.
     And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine
     doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles
     will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles."
                        Mark 2:18,21,22

       Mark here wishes to show that Jesus has removed himself from all
identification with concern for specific Jewish history. All goups
recognize and memorialize Israel's past tragedies by means of national
fast days. Jesus' attitude is that there is no need to fast now that the
messiah is here among people. In fact, there is no need to mix in the
old religious observances when there is now something new being created,
the Church as the Kingdom of Heaven. To concentrate on specific Jewish
national and historical issues would be beside the point in the new
dispensation of non nationalistic relationship between G-d and man,
through Jesus. This new relationship is the new wine. Judaism and Jewish
concerns are the old bottles.

    "And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the
     Herodians against him, how they might destroy him."
                          Mark 3:6

       It is made abundantly clear, immediately, that both the religious
and political Jewish leadership were Jesus' mortal enemies. THEY, and
not the Romans, were to blame for his undoing (even thouogh it was part
of a divine plan).

    " ... and Simon the Canaanite ..."
                           Mark 3:19

       This name is found among the list of Jesus's disciples. It has
lomg been pointed out by nearly every New Testament scholar that this
name makes no sense at all. The original Greek KANANAION has nothing at
all to do with the original inhabitants of the Land of Israel. It is a
transliteration of the Hebrew KANAI, which clearly means "Zealot". This
is proven by the fact that the other evangelists, in their lists of
Jesaus' disciples, calls Simon, ZELOTES. Mark, however, wished to hide
any association of Jesus with the Zealot cause or Zealot sympathy, or
any other Jewish nationalist cause.

    "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on
     him: for they said, He is beside himself.  And the scribes which
     came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince
     of the devils casteth he out devils...  Verily I say unto you,
     All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies
     wherewith soever they shall blaspheme:  But he that shall
     blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in
     danger of eternal damnation:  Because they said, He hath an
     unclean spirit. There came then his brethren and his mother,
     and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him. And the
     multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother
     and thy brethren without seek for thee.  And he answered them,
     saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren?  And he looked round
     about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and
     my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is
     my brother, and my sister, and mother."
                         Mark 3:21,22,28-35

       Several relevant issues are expressed in these verses. Jesus
(Jewish) "friends" think that he is crazy (beside himself). They who are
close to him, do not see him for who he really is. They only perceive
that he is acting strangely. This is the author's perception of the
Jewish attitude toward Jesus, that he was a madman, and that is why they
did not follow him. On the other hand, the religious leaders commit a
much more serious sin. Their rationale for rejecting Jesus is that the
spirit that guides him is the devil. They thereby commit the
unpardonable sin, blasphemy against the Spirit of G-d. This theme of
devil association runs throughout the early Christian tradition. In
thelater Gospel According to St. John, Jesus is made to accuse "the
Jews" of being children ofthe devil. There is also the incident in which
Jesus calls the Pharisees, "children of hell", a phrase incidently,
which came to be bandied back and forth between the later Nazarenes and
the Pharisees. Finally, even Jesus' own family cannot escape Mark's
denationalization process. When Jesus is told that his mother and
siblings have come to see him, he treats them in a very "non-Jewish"
way, by an attitude of complete disrespect that insulting to anyone.
This is certainly not the way of honoring one's mother, by ignoring her
when she has made a trip to see him. But Mark writes this incident to
show that Jesus was tied to no Jews by nationality, not even his own
family. This was very daring of the author to do when it was still known
that Jesus' brother, then his cousins, became heads of the Nazarene
movement that he himself started.

     "Is this not the carpenter, son of Mary, the brother of James, and
      Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with
      us? And they were offended at him. But Jesus said unto them, A
      prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among
      his own kin, and in his own house. And he could there do no mighty
      work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed
      them. And he marvelled because of their unbelief."
                              Mark 6:3-6

       This is the quintessential message that Mark wishes to get
across to his gentile readers, that Jesus's own people were too close to
him to see him for who he really was. In sum, they were blind to his
power and to his status as the Son of G-d. Despite his miracles, they
reject him, something at which even Jesus marvelled.

    "Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the
     scribes, which came from Jerusalem. And when they saw some of his
     disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen,
     hands, they found fault. For the Pharisees, and all the Jews,
     except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of
     the elders. Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not
     thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat
     bread with unwashen hands? He answered and said unto them, Well
     hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This
     people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from
     me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the
     commandments of men."
                           Mark 7:1-7

       Mark has already told us that "all the Jews" have certain
religious traditions, so there is nothing strange in the religious
leaders asking Jesus why he deviates from these traditions. After all,
even the messiah is expected to do Jewish things. As a matter of fact,
he will do them BETTER than all other Jews. For this simple question,
the "loving" Jesus is made to excoriate them in a manner that is totally
"unJewish". Here, Mark is indicating the reason that "the Jews" rejected
Jesus, they were out of tune, not only with the prophetic tradition, but
also with G-d's will. "In vain do they worship me, teaching for
doctrines the commandments of men" is one of the most insulting verses
in the entire New Testament, and that is exactly how Mark meant it to
be. He not only wishes to estrange Christians from all things Jewish; he
wishes them to feel anomie towards them so that they will not be tempted
to question the new attitude of distancing the church from the original
Jewish source.

    "And the Pharisees came forth, seeking of him a sign from heaven,
     tempting him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why
     doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you,
     There shall no sign be given unto this generation."
                       Mark 8:11-12

       The religious leaders now ask him for a sign of his divine
calling, and "tempt" him thereby, much as Satan tempted him. He is now
in a posiiton to show the "blind" Jews the error of their ways, but he
refuses in a very petulant way, as though they do not deserve to be
shown. They have already been written off by him.

    "And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began
     to rebuke him. But when he had turned about and looked on his
     disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for
     thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that
     be of men."
                       Mark 8:32-33

       This vignette is quite instructive. "Mark" is supposedly that
disciple who is Peter's "interpreter" yet he is not above pointing out
that Jesus had a problem with "the Rock" from the beginning. Here Peter,
the Jew closest to Jesus, cannot be above repraoch. It is he who also
denies his Master three times during Jesus' trial.

    "And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the
     maids of the high priest: And when she saw Peter warming himself,
     she looked upon him, and said, And thou also wast with Jesus of
     Nazareth. But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I
     what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock
                       Mark 14:66-68

       Peter, Jesus Jewish leiutennant is not obedient. How different
from Paul, the apostle to the gentiles, who always obeys the voice of
his lord.

    "For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man
    is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and
    after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. But they
    understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.... And he
    sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man
    desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of
                       Mark 9:31-32,35

       Jesus disciples are all Jews who are supposed to know about
messianic prophecies but they are completely ignorant of any such
dealing with the culmination of their master's mission, and they are
afriad to ask. It is interesting to speculate how Jews who were NOT
followers of Jesus were supposed to recognize his messianic role when
his own close followers did not. The Jews desire to be first in the
messianic kingdom but they shall be the last.

    "Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not
    kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour
    thy father and mother. And he answered and said unto him, Master,
    all these have I observed from my youth. Then Jesus beholding him
    loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way,
    sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have
    treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
    And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had
    great possessions."
                       Mark 10:19-22

       The Jews know the commandments but they are more into materiality
than into spirituality or compassion, so they will not "take up the
cross" to follow Jesus. The implication is that Jews were given the
opportunity to follow but they knowingly rejected Jesus' message.

    "And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How
     say the scribes that Christ is the son of David? For David
     himself said by the Holy Ghost, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit
     thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.
     David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he
     then his son? And the common people heard him gladly. And he
     said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love
     to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces,
     And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms
     at feasts: Which devour widows'houses, and for a pretence make
     long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation."
                       Mark 12:35-40

       The people, in the final analysis, have been misled by the
religious leaders. They have told the people to look for an earthly
messiah-king to militarily and politically restore the kingdom of David.
But it is now evident that the messiah has to be someone greater than
that, someone more universal than a mere Jewish king. Jesus therefore
is made to tell "the common people" to disregard these hypocritical
leaders, for their way leads to destruction.

    "And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto
     him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!
     And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great
     buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that
     shall not be thrown down."
                       Mark 13:1-2

       Mark now addresses the recent catastrophe, the fall of Jerusalem
and of the Temple. The people were indeed influenced by their leaders
and attempted to bring about the messianic age by warring against Rome,
rather than accept the "spiritual messiah" that had been sent to them.
For that, they have been punished by losing their Temple and their
country, the very Temple that supposedly was the House of the G-d of
Judaism was now overthrown as was the "old wine" religion.

     "And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the
     Herodians, to catch him in his words. And when they were come, they
     say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no
     man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way
     of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?
     Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their
     hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that
     I may see it. And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is
     this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar's.
     And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things
     that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they
     marvelled at him."
                        Mark 12:13-17

       Here is the major thesis of Mark's gospel, the whole purpose for
which it was written, to disprove that the messiah was to have been a
political Jewish king in opposition to the Emperor. Had the people
listened to Jesus and remained loyal to the Romans Empire, they would
still be a "free" people in their land. It is the intention of Mark to
demonstrate to the Romans that Christians have nothing to do with Jewish
political asperations and Jewish disloyalty to Caesar.

        Mark's gospel set the tone for all future Christian apologetics
vis-a-vis the Romans. In doing so, it aided in the separation of
Christians from Jews, even from Jewish Nazarenes. From this point
onward, Christians would Use Paul as a paradigm for less and less
reliance upon Jewish and Nazarene traditions, and more upon guidance
from the Holy Spirit.

        There was, of course, Jewish Nazarene reaction to this trend
away from the real Jesus and the Jewish messianic tradition. In the
East, there was still active proselytization, and Judaization among the
churches. Many of the relatives of Jesus were still alive in Galilee.
Yet, with all ofthis, while the strength of new gentile Christianity in
the West was growing, the influence of Nazarenism in the East was
already waning. The Nazarene community itself was scattered throughout
the East. They no longer enjoyed the popular sympathy of the Jewish
people. With the Temple gone and the priesthood effectively serving no
activepurpose, the loyalty of the people went completely to the
Pharisees, the rabbis, and the rabbis were totally devoted to the
maintencance of Torah and mitsvot as the sole way of preserving the
Jewish people. All messianic speculation was pushed into the background.
G-d's very Temple had been trampled underfoot by the heathen, yet He
hadnot seen fit to send His messiah to help His people in their moment
of travail. All talk of a dead messiah that would return to save Israel
"someday" was meaningless to both Jew and gentile after the destruction.
Little by little, the Nazarenes began to feel themselves isolated, and
separated both from their fellow Jews and from their fellow gentile
believers in Jesus.

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