THEOSOPHY, Vol. 49, No. 10, August, 1961
(Pages 462-465; Size: 12K)

THE NAZARENE SYSTEM(1)

THE Nazarenes, although they existed long before the days of Christ, and even before the laws of Moses, were Gnostics, and many of them Initiates. They held their "Mysteries of Life" in Nazara (ancient and modern Nazareth), and their doctrines are a faithful echo of the teachings of The Secret Doctrine, some of which are here set down. The term Nazar means one "set apart." They were a temporary monastic class of celibates spoken of in the Old Testament who married not and who wore their hair long, cutting it only at their initiation. Paul must have belonged to this class of initiates, for he himself tells the Galatians (i, 15) that he was separated or "set apart" from the moment of his birth, and that he had his hair cut at Cenchrea, because "he had a vow" (Acts xviii. 18), i.e., had been initiated as a Nazar; after which he became a "master-builder" (I Cor. iii, 10). Joseph is styled a Nazar (Gen. xlix, 26). Samson and Samuel and many more were also Nazars.

The modern name of the Nazareans is El Mogtasila in Arabic; in European languages, the Mendeans. The Mendeans are also called Sabians and St. John Christians. The latter is absurd, since according to all accounts, even their own, they had nothing to do with Christianity, which they abominated. Those Nazareans who left Galilee several hundred years ago and settled in Syria, east of Mount Lebanon, also called themselves Galileans, though they designated Christ "a false Messiah" and recognized only St. John the Baptist, whom they called the "Great Nazarene." The modern sect of the Mendeans is likewise widely scattered over Asia Minor and elsewhere, and is rightly believed by orientalists to be a direct surviving relic of the Gnostics. The name Mendean properly signifies science, knowledge or Gnosis. They are found at the junction of the Tigris and Euphrates, principally at Bassorah, Hoveiza, Korna, etc., as well as established in Syria -- the latter composing a tribe of some 14,000 or 15,000; and claim that their religion is the same as that of St. John the Baptist and has not changed one bit since his day. Coupled with the name of Mendeans is generally that of the Ebionites. Ebionites (literally, "the poor") were contemporary, and though they were the genuine primitive Christians, existed as a sect when the term "Christian" had not yet been heard of. According to Renan, they numbered among their sect all the surviving relatives of Jesus, but, according to Epiphanius, they firmly believed, with the Nazarenes, that Jesus was but a man "of the seed of man." This does not show much orthodox Christianity either in the Nazarenes or the Ebionites, but seems to prove on the contrary that the Christianity of the early centuries and modern Christian theology are two entirely opposite things. Many of the relations of Iassou (Jesus), the adept ascetic around whom the legend of Christ was formed, were among the Ebionites; and as the existence of these mendicant ascetics can be traced at least a century earlier than the chronological Christianity, it is an additional proof that Iassou or Jeshu lived during the reign of Alexander Jannaeus at Lydda (or Lud), where he was put to death as stated in the Sepher Toldos Jeshu.

The Codex Nazareus, the "Book of Adam" (the term being used in the sense of Man or Humanity, anthropos), is written in the Chaldeo-Syriac dialect mixed with the mystery language of the Gnostics. It is almost incomprehensible. Still, while we see the few translators of the Kabala, the Nazarene Codex, and other abstruse works hopelessly floundering amid the interminable pantheon of names, unable to agree as to a system in which to classify them -- for one hypothesis contradicts and overturns the other -- we can but wonder at all this trouble, which could be so easily overcome. For every philosophy, whether of one or another nation, has its key in the Hindu sacred works.

There are three Trinities in the Nazarene system as well as in the Hindu philosophy of the ante and early vedic period. The Nazarene diagram, except in a change of names, is identical with that of the Gnostics, who evidently borrowed their ideas from it. In the Nazarene Cosmogony, the personified imagery found in the names of their Powers and Genii is much the same as that to which any kabalistic student is accustomed. The Trinities are as follows: The Supreme Lord of Splendor and of Light, luminous and refulgent, before which no other existed -- is called Corona (the Crown). The second member of the first trinity is Lord Ferho, the unrevealed Life which existed in the former from eternity. Lord Ferho is "the Life which is no Life" -- the Supreme God. He is the Cause which produces the Light, or the Logos in abscondito. The third is Lord Jordan (Jordanus Maximus), the Water of Life. He is the one through whom alone we can be saved; and thus he answers to the Holy Ghost (the feminine principle) and to the Shekinah (veil), or spiritual garment of En-Soph. These three constitute the unrevealed Trinity.

The second Trinity is the manifestation of the first, and is composed of the three LIVES. The first (LIFE) is the similitude of Lord Ferho through whom he has proceeded forth -- the King of Light, Lord Mano. He is Rex Lucis, "older than the architect of heaven and earth." The second LIFE is Ish Amon. This is the Pleroma, or the boundless circle within which lie all forms; the THOUGHT of the power divine. It is the "vase of election," containing the thought of Jordanus Maximus; thus the type, or its intelligible reflection, of the prototype of the "living Water," who is the "spiritual Jordan." The third LIFE which is produced from the other two, is Abatur (Ab, parent or father). Abatur is the "Ancient of Days," the father of the Demiurgos of the universe. He is the Creator who calls inert matter into life, through his vivifying spirit. He is the father who creates the first Adam (who creates in his turn the second). "Abatur opens a gate and walks to the dark water (chaos), and looking down into it, the darkness reflects the image of Himself ... and lo, a SON is formed -- the Logos or Demiurge (Fetahil), who is the builder of the material world thus called into existence." This third LIFE is the architect of the visible universe which he calls into existence by the power of his genii at the order of the "Greatest."

Thus the first Trinity is the concealed or non-manifested. The second is the active, or the one revealed in the results of creation, proceeding out of its spiritual prototype. But the third Trinity is "the mutilated image of both the others, crystallized in the form of human dogmas, which vary according to the exuberance of the national and materialistic fancy."

Lord Mano, the "Lord of Loftiness," the Lord of all genii (the spiritual hierarchies), is higher than the Father (Abatur), being purely spiritual. While Abatur's only-begotten one is the genius Fetahil, creator of the physical world, Lord Mano, the "Lord of Celsitude" produces also an "only-begotten" who is called Lord Lehdaio, "a just Lord." This is the Christos. He is the Anointed, who "pours out the grace of the Invisible Jordan, the Spirit of the Highest Crown. (But in the later Christian theology, Abatur is made to answer to the "Father" of Jesus.)

The kabalistic version of the "War in Heaven" and the "Fall of the Angels" is also given in the Codex Nazareus, the scripture of the Nazarenes. Thus it is told how the "Father of the Genii" is ordered to construct creatures (to create). But as he is "ignorant of Orcus" ("the bottomless pit") he fails to do so, and calls in Fetahil, a still purer spirit to his aid, who fails still worse. This is a repetition of the failure of the "Fathers," the Lords of Light (of the Stanzas), who fail one after the other. This relates, as seen, to those hosts who could not create forms because devoid of the material element in their natures. Fetahil, though King of Light with the Nazarenes and the creator, in this instance is "the unlucky Prometheus, who fails to get hold of the living Fire necessary for the formation of the divine Soul, as he is ignorant of the secret name, the ineffable or incommunicable name of the kabalists."

One has to bear in mind that, like the three "Trinities," the various stages of "creation" are successive. There is a constant repetition and multiplication of events "downwards." The Codex relates the allegories of the rebellious angels in "the rebellious and foolish genii"; the story of the inimical Elohim, in its "seven badly-disposed stellars." When the spirit of the earth perceives that the newest "man" (the shells, emanations of the Pitris) was "changed" ... she awakens Karabtonos (Kamarupa minus Manas), "who was frantic and without sense and judgment." This relates, in harmony with theosophical teachings, to the period when the "Adam of dust" required the soul of Life to be breathed into him: the two middle principles, which are the sentient life of the irrational animal and the Human Soul, the former being irrational without the latter.

Pygmalion, who fails to animate his statue, and Bahak-Zivo of the Nazarene Gnostics, who fails to construct "a human soul in the creatures," are, as conceptions, far more philosophical and scientific than Adam, taken in the dead-letter sense, or the Biblical Elohim-Creators. Esoteric philosophy, which teaches spontaneous generation -- after the Sishta (seed) and Prajapati ("Progenitors") have thrown the seed of life on the Earth -- shows the lower angels able to construct physical man only, even with the help of Nature, after having evolved the ethereal form out of themselves, and leaving the physical form to evolve gradually from the ethereal, or what would now be called protoplasmic model.


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