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Jan 8, 2016 - on the dew, and I will make the son of Sarphith arise from the dead. […] ... Die Entstehung einer Weltreligion III, Inârah-Sammelband 7 (Schiler Verlag, .... Nasi became exclusive to the House of David, the tribe of Judah.

THE NASARA IN THE KORAN Eliminating the Nasara as a Late Fabrication?

A. J. Deus

Copyright: author A.J. Deus, updated version January 8, 2016 Original version December 14, 2015. [email protected] All rights reserved. No part, concept, or discovery of this paper may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

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Introduction Based on an analysis of textual changes, Eduard-M. Gallez made a far reaching proposal to eliminate some of the Nasara entries from the core Koranic text. Since his paper Suspicions of Ideological Manipulation and Codicology1 is a foundation for all researchers engaged in the historicity of the Koran, a link to the originating paper can be found in the footnote.2 Gallez’s paper is sufficiently referenced. Thus, repetitions are here not necessary. This paper, The Nasara In The Koran, focuses exclusively on an objection to some of Gallez’s conclusions and expects the reader to be familiar with his material. With the help of the Jerusalem Talmud, this answer proposes that the Nasara constitutes a continuance of Judeo-Christian Babylonians who may have regarded Muhammad as the Son of God.

Who are the Nasara? The Jerusalem Talmud contains a passage with a word play that reminds of the Nazareans. It can be compared to one who stole a doctor’s case of instruments (Narthecium): at the moment of his going out, his son wounds himself. He goes back to the doctor and says: My master, doctor, cure my son. I am willing to do so, answers he, but first give me back my case [authority], which contains my medicines, and I will cure thy son. In the same manner the Most Holy said to Elias: Go, and release thyself from the vow concerning the dew [Babylonian truths, given from below3], for the dead live only on the dew, and I will make the son of Sarphith arise from the dead. […] When the Israelites do bad actions and transgress the Law, the rain does not fall [Jerusalem truth, given from above]. In this case, an old man, for instance R. Yosse the Galilean, intercedes from them before God [Jesus as intercessor], and the rain falls. However the dew does not fall from heaven because of the merits of a creature.4

In order to understand this parable, it needs to be remembered that the Babylonian Talmud cut the ‘royal rights’ of the Sadducees (Levite-Korahites) in the wake of the loss of the Jerusalem Temple.5 The Jerusalem text essentially rebukes the Babylonian position and challenges its authority. ‘Give me back the authority’ it intends to say, ‘and I will heal you from your transgressions.’ The authority itself is the wellknown concept of the Nasi and its constituents were the ‘Nasirites’ or Nazarenes, here packaged in a word play, the Narthecium. Other than touching the core of the eternal Sadducee/Davidic conflict, it immediately suggests to be on the alert for manipulations of the term Nasara. The Nasara are mentioned in the Koran several times, and they are generally understood as Christians. While it would be prudent to maintain the word Nasara as an appendix (as in NasaraChristians), Gallez proposes to remove some of its entries from the original Koran, since he views them 1

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Edouard-M. Gallez, Suspicions of Ideological Manipulation and Codicology: A Provisional Synthetic Approach, in K.-H. Ohlig und M. Gross (Hg.), Die Entstehung einer Weltreligion III, Inârah-Sammelband 7 (Schiler Verlag, Berlin-Tübingen, 2014) updated 2014. https://www.academia.edu/9112322/Codicology_of_old_Koranic_Mss_and_suspected_manipulations_to_the_text_table_and_examples Moise Schwab, The Talmud of Jerusalem, Vol. I. Berakhoth (Williams and Norgate, 1886) ch. IV., p 88: In the time of rainy weather, R. Hagai recommends the following words to be said: “Bless unto us the rain;” and at the fall of the dew, “Bless unto us the dew, for Thou bringest together those that are scattered and whose hope is Thy justice. Thou wilt hold out Thy hand over the wicked, and all those who trust in Thee shall rejoice, when Thy town shall be rebuilt, and at the reopening of the Tabernacle and the return of the children of David […] [It is the opposite in the Babylonian Talmud. There, that “God shall come to us like the rain” is considered inappropriate.] Ibid., ch. V., 101. Talmud – Mas. Yoma 43b: Why is it that in the first confession he does not say ‘And the children of Aaron, Thy holy people’ and in the second confession he mentions: ‘The children of Aaron, Thy holy people’? — The schoolof R. Ishmael taught: Common sense dictates this: It is better that one innocent obtain atonement for the guilty, than that one guilty obtain atonement for the guilty.

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as a later addition. He observed that Christians had never called themselves Nazarenes or were called by that name, whether in the West or in the East, and places their appearance post the creation of the Koran, after the ‘rupture of the Arab-Nazarene alliance,’ beginning in 639-640 AD. Many researchers use the term Christians (for Nasara) without qualification. The consequences of this lapse becomes clear if it were applied to the sixteenth century Europe: one of the defining eras of Christianity would get lost, and nothing of the Reformation could be understood since all adversaries were Christians. Like Catholic Christians and Protestant Christians (or Orthodox Christians), our subjects are Nasara Christians, perhaps Nestorians. The latter is a sect of like-Arian denomination, a term, which is identified in two papers of mine concerning the Umayyad relationship with the Koran and with Prophet Muhammad.6 However, given the context of the complex passage from the Jerusalem Talmud, the Nasara could have come to mean something else, for example Nestorians for al-nasrans. Both, the Talmud and the Koran leave no doubt that the Nazarenes and the Nasara had accepted some form of dualistic beliefs, including a Trinitarian variant of the Messiah. Thus, at the time of the Koran, they were perhaps like-Arian ‘Christians,’ even though they may have viewed themselves as Nasara Jews or Messianic Jews. The issue is made more complicated with the Jerusalem Talmud implicating the Babylonians as having accepted an intercessor. Some linguists have before pointed at the possibility that there could be a connection between the Rabbinic Nasi or Nazirite and the Christian Nasara. It is anathema. However, this is academia, and the question that arises is what Judaism may have looked like at the beginning of the seventh century. It appears that the research community is happy with traditions, but the Jerusalem Talmud opens an entirely new paradigm. In order to understand the Koran, should there not be some basic anchors as to what the various Judaic sects, including the many Jewish and Jewish-Messianic groups, really looked like? In other words, if reading the Koran rests on traditions from two hundred years later and the understanding of the Koran’s foundation rests on traditions from two hundred years earlier, the reputation of Islamic academia is in deep trouble. Hence, the Koran can but be a miracle that is detached from its Judaic relatives. According to the Jerusalem Talmud, the following occurred almost a thousand years earlier: 300 Nazarenes came forward, during the time of the Doctor Simon b. Shetach (brother-in-law of King Alexander-Janus); for 150 of them motives were found to render their sacrifices unnecessary, but not for the other 150.7

Long before Jesus, the Nazarenes were a group of Jews – and this is where history comes into agreement with one of Gallez’s main arguments, that most of the related passages in the Koran are concerned with Jews, not ‘Christians.’ But then again, the Jerusalem Talmud speaks about events from at least five hundred years before its time. Perhaps some of the Jews, as the text indicates, may have been open to innovations, but by no means all. Thus, the Nazarenes are an undefined Jewish sect that continued to fragment over time, perhaps overlapping with Christianity and thus creating Nazarene-Christian sects. 6

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https://www.academia.edu/4811730/The_Umayyad_Dynastys_Converstion_to_Islam_-_From_the_Low_Point_Until_ca._692_AD https://www.academia.edu/11958043/Muhammad_and_the_Umayyad_Conversion_to_Islam Moise Schwab, The Talmud of Jerusalem, Vol. I. Berakhoth (Williams and Norgate, 1886) ch. VII., p. 131.

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The moral of the Talmudic story is that the Nazarenes elected Doctor Simon as prime minister at the side of King Alexander-Janus.8 It is well established that the Nasi was the succession of the presidency of the Sanhedrin. The secret is that the Nasi came out of the ranks of the Nazarenes., the top layer of Jewish strata. As of the Maccabee Revolt, the Nasi would be the leader of the Sanhedrin, the city councils that dealt with religious matters. The title would be given to the political leader of Israel,9 and it seems that the Nazirites/Nazarenes were trimming the future leaders of the Promised Land out of their own ranks.10 After the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem but at a yet unspecified time, the role of the Nazirites and the Nasi became exclusive to the House of David, the tribe of Judah. The concept would return with Christianity. Like Samson, John the Baptist was a permanent Nazirite from conception11 and Jesus became one for life upon his baptism.12 Of course, all three were born Jews, not Christians. The idea of Nazareth (vs. Nazirite) as a place of origin of Jesus was a later innovation that served precisely the purpose to separate Christianity from the militant Nazirites, representing the branch (netzer) of Jesse (the House of David), whence comes about the consequence that Christians do not take the vow of a nazir. It is self-evident that Christians would distance themselves from ever having taken Nazirite vows. To apply similar sounding words for effect is a technique that is widely used in Judaic religious texts. After the destruction of the Temple, it was the intention to convey to outsiders that they were from Nazareth while the insider would still understand that they were in fact from the branch of David. The Nazirites constitute a layer of leadership that would also re-emerge with the Mandeans. [T]hose amongst the community who possess secret knowledge are called Naṣuraiia [Nazirites]— Naṣoreans (or, if the emphatic ‹ṣ› is written as ‹z›, Nazorenes). At the same time the ignorant or semiignorant laity are called 'Mandaeans', Mandaiia—'gnostics.' When a man becomes a priest he leaves 'Mandaeanism' and enters tarmiduta, 'priesthood.' Even then he has not attained to true enlightenment, for this, called 'Naṣiruta', is reserved for a very few. Those possessed of its secrets may call themselves Naṣoreans, and 'Naṣorean' today indicates not only one who observes strictly all rules of ritual purity, but one who understands the secret doctrine.13

For the Mandeans, the Nasoreans were the inner circle that pulled the strings of power from behind the veil for the Gnostics, the top strata. In the late fourth century, Epiphanius designated the Nasara a sect of the Jews without recognition of Jesus.14 While there is controversy whether Epiphanius’ entry of this group is fictitious, it would not 8

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Ibid., p. 131: Why, said the king, hast thou seated thyself between me and the queen? It is written, replied Simon, in the book of Ben-Sirah (xi. 1): Exalt her (the Law) and she shall promote thee (Prov. Iv. 8), and thy seat shall be among the princes. Let a cup be brought to him, said the king, so that he may recite the blessing for the meal. It was brought, and the Rabbi said: Let us bless God for the repast that Janus and his companions have had. Thus, thou art bent on railing me? Said the king. No, said the Rabbi, but what shall I say for a meal of which I have not partaken? Let food be given to him. The Rabbi ate, and included in the formula the words, “for the repast which we have eaten.” Leviticus 4:22. Judges 13:8: Then Manoah prayed to the Lord: “O Lord, I beg you, let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.” Luke 1:13: [John] is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from birth. Mark 14:25: I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God. E.S. Drower, The Secret Adam, p. ix. Epiphanius, Panarion, ca. 374-377 AD, 18:1:1-18:1:5: 1:1 Next I shall undertake the describe the sect after the Hemerobaptists, called the sect of the Nasaraeans. They are Jews by nationality, from

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come as a surprise if they had accepted Jesus between the fifth (right around the end of the Nasi in Tiberias) and the early seventh century. The writer perhaps viewed the Nasara erroneously as having been created post the advent of Jesus Christ.15 With the persecutions of Jews by the Roman Empire, they had no choice but to detach themselves from their history and lead a life as pretend Christians. The Palestinian Patriarch for the Rabbinic Jews16 ─ the Nasi ─ was deposed by the emperors of the Western17 and the Eastern18 Roman Empire at the beginning of the fifth century. The official endpoint in the evolution of the Jerusalem Talmud would be when the Jewish Patriarchate were to be terminated a few years later.19 Today, any Israelite can declare to be either a permanent Nazirite or one for a period, 30 days for example. At the end of the Nazirite period, a sin offering, an elevation offering, and a peace offering is brought to the temple, part of which is going to the Levite Kohanim priests. To believe that the Jerusalem Nasi and in particular the Nazirites ended in the fifth century is naïve. It is part of the natural mechanism of religion to simply move elsewhere under a different mantle, perhaps as identified in the Koran as the Nasara. We are left in the dark about its whereabouts, not its existence. The Jerusalem Talmud and the successive sectarian appearances of the Nasara suggests continuance and (at least partial) acceptance of Jesus. Not all Jews were willing to die for their religion. Thus, when Gallez passionately refutes the idea that Judeo-Nazarene theology would never have added that Jesus came ‘from before God’ as being too close to Christianity, he is in the territory of prejudice and wishful traditions. If that were the principle, we would have only one religion without any sectarian divisions. The problems were solved, and ISIS would never exist. While some linguists think that the Greek word Nazorean and the Nazirite vows are connected, others would insist that what was just said conflates the two terms, nasri and nazri or the Nasara and the Nazirite. The surviving concepts are more important than individual letters of words that may appear in deliberate or accidental different forms at different times and places. According to Rood and Rood, the people who are called Notzrim, Nasara, or the Nazoreans are those who are “the watchers,” or, translated often, as in Psalm 119:2, “the keepers of His testimony (Hebrew notsri edotaw).” The root verb netzer

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Gileaditis, Bashanitis and the Transjordan as I have been told, but descendants of Israel himself. This sect practices Judaism in all respects and have scarcely any beliefs beyond the ones that I have mentioned. 1:2 It too had been given circumcision, and it kept the same Sabbath and observed the same festivals, and certainly did not inculcate fate or astrology. 1:3 It also recognized as fathers the persons in the Pentateuch from Adam to Moses who were illustrious for the excellence of their piety—I mean Adam, Seth, Enoch, Methuselah, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Levi and Aaron, Moses and Joshua the son of Nun. However, it would not accept the Pentateuch itself [this, they share with the Samaritans]. It acknowledged Moses and believed that he had received legislation—not this legislation though, they said, but some other. 1:4 And so, though they were Jews who kept all the Jewish observances, they would not offer sacrifice or eat meat; in their eyes it was unlawful to eat meat or make sacrifices with it. They claimed that these books are forgeries and that none of these customs were instituted by the fathers. 1:5 This was the difference between the Nasaraeans and the others; and their refutation is to be seen not in one place but in many. Ibid., 19:5:4: For again, Elxai is associated with the Ebionites after Christ, as well as with the Nazoraeans, who came later. Rabbi Gamaliel VI was the last Nasi heading the Palestinian Patriarchate 400-415 AD. Honorius (Flavius Honorius Augustus) was Western Roman Emperor 395-423 AD. Theodosius II (Flavius Theodosius Junior Augustus) was Eastern Roman Emperor 408-450 AD. Ronald L. Eisenberg, Essential Figures in the Talmud (Rowman & Littlefield, 2012) 72: A decree of the Roman emperors Honorius and Theodosius II in 415, which stripped Gamaliel VI of all power and removed him from office, charged that he had disregarded the special laws against the Jews, had built new synagogues, and had judged disputes between Jews and Christians. The death in 426 of Gamaliel VI, who left no heirs, marked the end of the 400-year dynasty of the house of Hillel.

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appears countless times in the Davidic scriptures, in particular in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the Psalms.20 Thus, the nasara lie on a straight line from Biblical times to the Koran, and Byzantine Christianity had cut itself off from this branch. I presume that no serious academic would dare to present a reverse hypothesis that the Jews had broken off from Christianity. Thus, citing the Gospels as evidence is merely circular. They constitute the instructions of what should be believed in the traditions rather than what really was. In fact, the Koran is counter evidence to this contrary view. The Jerusalem Talmud provides for a much deeper insight than is generally assumed. For this, I need to refer to the discovery that the Jerusalem Talmud was not only a seventh century work but also that it lays the foundations of early Islam through Rabbi Abahoo aka Abu Bakr. This is demonstrated in the paper MHMT/MHMD And A Seed Of The Koran, available at academia.edu.21 It suggests that a messiah of the linage of David has arrived in the seventh century.22 The text talks about a reunion of the dispersed children of Israel. It seems that Abahoo, the head of the Academy of Caesarea (identified as Abu Bakr), was leading a reconciliation between the two opinions of Jerusalem and Babylon. The messiah figure was Tsemah aka Menahem, and he can be found in the Temple of Jerusalem AFTER the Persians had been defeated in the Holy City. The Tsemah represents an obvious mirror reading of Ahmet, which can also faithfully be found in the primary account of Sebeos as the Ishmaelite Mahmet23 – Muhammad the Comforter (Menahem). The Jerusalem Talmud reveals linage and origin of a ‘very young’ Menahem: his father was Ezechias from the royal town of Bethlehem in Judea [from a parable:] Son of Juda, said the Arab [traveler], son of Juda! Take back thy cow and thy plough, for the King, the Messiah, has just been born. What is his name? Menahem. And what is his father’s name? Ezechias. And from whence does he come? From the royal town of Bethlem in Judea.24

This is an allusion to the book of Mark.25 Menahem was from the linage of Jesse, King David’s father and ancestor of Jesus Christ.26 The parable seems to align his ‘birth’ with the failed attempt of the 20

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Judith Mendelsohn Rood and Paul W. Rood, The Testimony of the Nazarenes: Persecution of the Followers of the Jewish Messiah Brings Jesus to the Foreground of the Middle East Conflict, August 1, 2014. A.J. Deus, MHMT/MHMD And A Seed Of The Koran, 2015. https://www.academia.edu/19717676/MHMT_MHMD_And_A_Seed_Of_The_Koran Moise Schwab, The Talmud of Jerusalem, Vol. II. Berakhoth (Williams and Norgate, 1886) p. 44: R. Levi, on the authority of R. Aha bar-Hanina, says: Why, after this last benediction, does follow that which concerns the reunion of the dispersion of the children of Israel? Because of this verse (Ezek. Xxxvi. 8): “And ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel.” Why? “Because they are at hand to come;” that is to say: When the captives will be united, then the proud shall be humbled, and the righteous shall be happy. On this subject it has been said: The heterodox and the irreligious are included in the prayer, that the proud may be humbled; the proselytes and the elders in the one demanding protection for the righteous; and prayers are offered for David’s family in that which refers to the building of Jerusalem (Hosea iii. 5): “Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, David their king.” The Rabbis say: As for the King Messiah, whether he be among the living or the dead, He shall be called David (meaning whether he exist or no, he will be of a royal stock). According to R. Tanhooma, the reason would be this (Ps. xviii. 50): “Great deliverance giveth He to His king, to David His anointed.” R. Joshua ben Levi says: His name shall be Tsemah; and according to R. Judan, son of R. Aibo: It shall be Menahem (comforter). R. Hanina, son of Abahoo, says: You must not conclude that these two opinions contradict each other, for in fact these two names are the same. Sebeos, 30: In that period a certain one of them, a man of the sons of Ishmael named Mahmet [MHMT], a merchant [t’angar or t’ankangar], became prominent. Moise Schwab, The Talmud of Jerusalem, Vol. II. Berakhoth (Williams and Norgate, 1886) p. 44-45. Mark 2:7-2:19. Ibid., p. 45 (in continuance of the parable): Mother of Menahem [Palestine], come and buy clothes for thy child. Oh, said she, I should like to see the enemies of Israel strangled, for on the day of the infant’s birth, the Temple of Jerusalem is destroyed. We are certain, answered the [Arab] traveler, that if, because of his advent, the Temple is destroyed, it will also be rebuilt by him. […] [A few days later, the Arab traveler returned] “What hast thou done with thy child? he asked of the woman. I know not, answered she; since thou wast here there has been storm and tempest [the reversal of Xosrov’s permission], and my child has been taken from me.” R. Aboon says: Why all that from a tale concerning the Arab? A verse in the Bible sanctions it (Isa. x. 33): “Behold the Lord, the Lord of Hosts, shall lop the bough with terror;” and the following: “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse.”

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rededication of the Temple Mount under Nehemiah, the son of the Exilarch. The ‘birth’ means that the Christ (the Holy Spirit) has passed from Nehemiah to Menahem upon the formers’ death. For at least some believers in Menahem, the Messiah was born – the Son of God. The incredible paradox of a new paraclete, a concept that is denounced in the Koran, does not need to be resolved here. The answer to the mystery rests in untying the knots to the Judaic sects of the time. In brief, it merely reflects the difference between Sadducee and Babylonian Judaism at this point in time. For followers of Jesus as the Son of God, it would perhaps be natural to view the new messiah also as the Son of God, should they have accepted the newcomer.27 In the seventh century, the Jews had expected its arrival while some rejected Jesus. Yet, they would perhaps also be in agreement with the new messiah. Thus, while the Nasara in the Koran were Judeo-Christians, we have at least two messiahs that were venerated as the Son of God at this time. The Nasara of the Koran may have viewed the current messiah as the Son of God (also). In consequence, when the Muslim scripture addresses Trinitarian questions, researchers will need to distinguish between passages that may include Jesus and others that may refer to Menahem. Likewise, the notion that the Nasara typically appear together with Jews (Yahûd) makes little sense in a Jewish context. It is more likely that the proper term would be Judah, which bears a significantly different meaning.

Conclusion Since the Koran contains a Judeo-Messianic layer, perhaps the Nestorians can be identified as being the Nasara. They are Judeo-Christians, and they are a likely continuance of Babylonian Jews, halfhearted converts who maintained Jewish customs and rituals. Thus, they were Christians and Jews – Nasara Christians. It is a possibility that some of their passages were edited into the Koran late, but to toss them out would be an error. The Koran, as it stands, may provide for the missing primary evidence that the Lakhmids had indeed accepted Nestorianism, and Gallez’s findings could define the timing when they had become subject of the Muhammadeans. The Judaic and Jewish evolution prior to the Koran is in need of a thorough re-examination before the Muslim scripture can find its proper foundation. The Koran is under critical scrutiny by the global academic community. Not to apply the same for the Bible, the Gospels, and the Talmuds would be as hypocritical as the Koran accuses its opponents to be.

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It can be inferred from the Babylond Talmud that at least some would insist to reject the new messiah, but Joseph consistently supports the idea in both Talmuds: Talmud - Mas. Sanhedrin 99a: R. Hillel said: There shall be no Messiah for Israel, because they have already enjoyed him in the days of Hezekiah. R. Joseph said: May God forgive him [for saying so]. Now, when did Hezekiah flourish? During the first Temple. Yet Zechariah, prophesying in the days of the second, proclaimed, Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion, shout, O daughter of Jerusalem, behold, thy king cometh unto thee! he is just, and having salvation, lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.