The Primordial Church was Shemitic and Hebraic

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Ripped from its Jewish origins, the Christian Church
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Friedrich Nietzsche wrote: "Christianity can be understood only in terms of the soil out of which it grew -- it is not
counter-movement to the Jewish instinct, it is its very consequence, one inference more in its awe-inspiring logic."

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Hebrew : it's not just for Jews


par Olidon Rodon
Christ au Sacre Coeur (Olidon Redon)


The Primordial Church was Shemitic and Hebraic

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The early church - and still a work in progress

see yeye.olade

by Bob Shepherd

Robert Shepherd For generations - or perhaps centuries -- a core of believers clung to their Judaic and biblical heritage, resisted the excess hellenizing and theologizing, disapproved Paul's policy of seeking and accepting Gentile converts who did not adopt the full obligations of Jewish practice. Paul and the Hellenizers were lowering the bar. The Judaic believers emphasized deed and practice, the doing of God's will (a living and a doing), as Jesus himself apparently taught, the straight gate and the narrow way. Paul and the Hellenizers, taking Christianity to Europe, while broadening and widening, drifted from what apparently seemed the impossible ethical standards of Jesus himself, replacing them with a beautiful theology instead. The gentile theology elevated the stature of Jesus higher, higher, higher, while demanding of the non-Jewish converts less, less, less.

Jesus himself had adamantly reprimanded even so much as calling a religious leader the honorific "Teacher" (rabbi) or "Sir" (father, abba). He rebuked a flatterer who called him Good Master, saying "There is none good but One, that is God." Yet the Gentile theology turned Jesus not just into a messiah (an anointed) but into God himself. Meanwhile, the words of Jesus, which he had claimed came from God, were downplayed to increasing insignificance. It was these "Christians" themselves who worshipped a creature more than the Creator. See Romans 1:25. (And then built their edifice on sand (hearing the word only) rather than the solid rock (doing the word).

Jesus himself must have been amazing. Lewis Browne says, "he spoke without the slightest flourish, using plain words and homely parables. He indulged in no philosophy or theology [although Gentile "Christians" later erected elaborate theologies and philosophies and Christologies around him]. Nor, seemingly, did he preach any inordinate heresies. unlike Buddha, to whom he is often compared, he did not preach a radically new gospel. 'Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets; I am not come to destroy but to fulfill.' His prayers were made up of verses which the Pharisee rabbis were wont to recite in the synagogues, and which are found even today in the orthodox Jewish litany of prayer. His garb, even to the wearing of the fringed hem, was the garb of the observant jew. He actually went out of his way to pay the Temple tax to the priests, and saw no absolute wrong in offering sacrifices. No, he was not a heretic in the sense that Ikhnaton or Zoraster or Buddha were heretics. Outwardly he was distinctly a conforming Jew." More Nazarene Loyalism - to Hebraic traditionalism

Nevertheless he ruffled feathers, and then some: Innumberable Jewish prophets had arisen before Jesus' time to attack the greedy priests. [The Talmud itself attacked their hypocrisy and bigotry, calling them 'the Pharisaic plague.' Browne p 265]

But did he say he was the Messiah? Lewis Browne calls this Messiah problem still unsolved. "Jesus' refusal to make the claim in public, the almost too astute way in which he avoided a direct answer whenever the question was put to him, presents to this day a dilemma..... There was a wondrous love in his preaching, and coupled with it, an air of certainty, of authority. For five hundred years some Messiah had been awaited [unless a collective "messiah" was indicated, ie - out of Egypt have I called my son Israel]. More than once apparent Messiahs had arisen from the basest sorts, and had been mistaken for "the One." Charlatans and madmen, arrant knaves and driveling fools, had time and again been hailed by the hysterical mob as the Awaited One. [Browne p 267]

A Christian "Caliphate"
What was to become Christianity effectively began as a sect within Judaism. In the very ealiest period, there was no effort to even reach Gentiles. Jesus himself had specified as much. Then, with Peter's vision and the conversion of Cornelius, a change occurred. Almost at once a division arose, small at first, and the followers of Jesus began to drift into two opposing camps. The Hebraic camp intended no break with Judaism, never sought to destroy the law or the prophets, insisted that salvation is and would always be of the Jews, and required relatively rigorous conduct of themselves (see Acts 21:20-25). Their leader was James (or Jacob) the brother of Jesus, and they apparently would NOT have regarded Jesus as being equal with God, who is One. Following James' martyrdom, another relative in Jesus' family (Simeon), the son of a cousin of Jesus (Cleophas), became bishop of Jerusalem. (Thirteen other Judeo-Christians followed in succession as bishops of the Jerusalem group.)

The other camp, led first by Stephen, then later by Paul, consciously pursued the objective of reaching outward. What perhaps they could not see was that this shift would result in turning Jesus into a God. The theologizers strained to support the apotheosis of their Christ by sound Jewish logic. However, their primary leadership in Jewish history (or primary heresy) was in the wide open welcome they offered to non-Hebraics; and for this object they progressively lowered the standards of Torah-observance required. Forgetting the admonition of prophets from Moses onward that Jews were not to blur the differences between themselves and the nations round about, the Hellenizers self-consciously developed a theology that flung open the gates, missionary-fashion, to increasing assimilation and blending. Had their idealistic policy succeeded absolutely, the Jewish people would have disappeared as a distinct nation. Ironically, there are strong strands of universalism present in much of ancient Judaism, for example in Isaiah and the other prophets. But how far do you go?

The Hebrew party (called Nazarenes or Nazoreans, Acts 24:5), though eventually outnumbered, at one time numbered in the tens of thousands (myriads, Acts 21:20). They were at ease with their own committed devotion to the Jesus they knew, a fully Jewish, fully Mosaic, fully Biblical Jesus, who came not to destroy Judaism, but to fulfill; who declared not one jot or tittle should pass from the law, till its full fruition; who was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel. When this Judaic church spoke of Scripture, they meant the Law and the Prophets and the Writings. They took issue with the theologizing of the Hellenizing Christians. They seem likewise to have been bothered at the many compromises they saw the Hellenizers making, in order to welcome Gentiles.

James (or Jacob), the brother of Jesus, was a leader of the Judaic party. In traditional Semitic culture, family ties are all-important. Blood is almost always stronger than water. We see the principle repeatedly in Islamic history, particularly in the Middle East. In the second chapter of James, Jesus' brother puts forward the alternative view to the faith-is-all theology of Paul and the hellenizers. It is the deed that redeems. Obey the commandments. We must LIVE the creed we were given from of old. By doing the word, rather than hearing it only, we build our house on the rock of obedience, rather than the sands of pretence (or pseudo-religion).

Over time, the Hebrew party drifted geographically. They had been headquartered in Jerusalem, fully observant Jews, except for sacrifices, since Jesus himself had pointed them to follow Moses, and the prophets. God was One, to them. And Jesus the Prophet foretold by Moses, the anointed one they served, was a fulfillment of the biblical prophecy. (Deuteronomy 18:18).

Ultimately the Hebrew party disappeared. During the war with Rome (Titus and Vespasian), they fled Jerusalem and sought refuge beyond the Jordan, settling there for a time. Jesus had prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem, warning his followers to flee. Luke 21:20-24. Accordingly, the Jewish followers of Jesus escaped to Pella, across the Jordan. They clung to their Judaism, it seems, and some obviously sought to fully rejoin Diaspora Judaism. Others remained apart, like the Ebionites or like the Nazoreans (Nazarenes). They were hanifs, observing the sublime ethics of Jesus, minus the studied theology of Paul We are told that much, apparently most, of the pseudo-Clementine literature came from these Hebraic followers of Jesus. Ireneus compained about their adherence to Judaic practices, to circumcision, and their love (nostalgia) for Jerusalem. They clearly persisted as long as they could in their Jewishness, and the epistles of Paul show indications that he felt threatened enough by their own quiet Jewishness that he was compelled to direct his arguments against them. They were branded legalists, accused of promoting bondage, under the law, trusting in works. So much like the Essenes of JohnBaptist fame, their spiritual commitment inspired them to self-denial, living their values. What we see in Josephus, their focus was praxis, lives of sacrificial service and scholarship, almost a prototype of much of what Jesus would teach in the Sermon on the Mount.

Symmachus the Ebionite, (a translator of scripture) even as late as the third century, adhered to this belief. Hegesippus, perhaps the first Church historian, was another Jewish Christian. Epiphanus, who became bishop of Constantinople, wrote Panarion, which identified several other Jewish followers of Messiah. Yet the end was near for Judaic followers of Jesus. The Hellenizers grew in strength, and in the end succeeded in ripping Jesus out of his Jewish origins and Jewish context, Jewish faith and Jewish practice. And before long, anti-Semitism crept into their attitudes. They forgot the simple truth that Gentile Christianity was grafted onto the Jewish tree. Not the other way around. They forgot the admonition of primordial Hebrew monotheistic unitrarianism against changing the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man. Soon, images appeared. The law given to Moses was disparaged as inapplicable under a New (and ever more Gentile) Covenant. Yet did not Jesus himself declare not one jot nor one tittle of the law would in any wise pass from the law?

If there was a flaw of the Judeo-Christians, it was their tendency to regard Jesus as one of their own, a Jew among Jews, Hebrew among Hebrews, Semite among Semites. Inevitably, they humanized and Shemiticized the Lord Jesus, perhaps paving the way for a more historical or Nestorian view of Jesus of Nazareth, a real person. Jesus had warned not one jot or tittle of the Law would pass. Often he asked his flatterers, "Why callest thou me good. There is none good but one, God. He had referred to non-Jews as dogs. He told the Samaritan woman that Salvation is of the Jews.

Jesus' brother (James the Less - "Yacov") first bishop of Jerusalem had emphasized obediance as the true proof of faith. The faith versus works debate is frivolous and moot, according to James' Epistle. Your action is the bottom line. If you don't LIVE your faith, it's dead. Or as Jesus himself taught, your house is built on sand. Wisdom must be lived, the Jewish view had always been. Jesus endorsed and reiterated that view, according to James (and the Judeo-Christians). A modern rabbi says as much. Abraham Joshua Heschel boils the Jewish conception into a pitthy phrase. The deed redeems. (Action is the bottom line.)

Hypostatic Union of the Theanthropic man
If there was a flaw of the Paulinian (Hellenizing) Christians, it was their almost docetic drift away from what Jesus actually said and did, and into a gentile, deifying, theologizing intellectualism. Theology became an idol. Given time, the Europeans came up with abstruse cerebral formulations, such as the Hypostatic Union of the Theanthropic man (to explain Jesus theological identity).

Lewis Browne points out the Saul the Jew "had never seen Jesus in the flesh or come under the spell of his loving gospel. But that made no difference to him. Actually he was but little interested in the gospel of the man Jesus; he was interested only in the death and rebirth of the savior-god, Christ. Christos is the Greek word for "Anointed One." [And Paul, in his whole outlook, was largely at odd with the ERETZ based Judaism of the sect of Nazoreans (Jesus poor followers in Israel).

"Jesus lived and died a Jew within the fold of Judaism. Jesus had lived and labored merely to guide his fellow Jews to those elements in their own Jewish religion which might make their sorry lives glorious. He had tried but to lead them to salvation through distinctly Jewish channels, and he had on occasion even turned away heathens who had come to him for help. He was not the founder of Christianity, but its foundling."

"Nor had his immediate disciples created the new faith. They had remained conforming jews, and the Messiah put forward by them had all along been the Jewish Messiah. The Kingdom of Heaven they had dreamed of inheriting was a kingdom reserved primarily for Jews. [Browne. p282]

Interestingly, in order to broaden the appeal of the gospel, they had to mystify it, and in so doing almost left the simple gospel of Jesus behind. While Judeo-Christians were content to walk the walk that Jesus walked, the Hellenizers turned Jesus into an idol and a deity, and ceased to "do" the deeds that the Lord had asked. The solid rock, acording the Jesus word, had been the rock of obedience, of doing and not simply hearing. It is your life that matters, Jesus urged them. It is your actions, your practice -- that is important. The deed redeems.

But gentile Christianity was shifting away from the message of Rabbi Jesus, the Teacher sent from God. Instead, as Barrie Wilson demonstrates, gentile Christianity used a template borrowed from Greco-Roman mystery cults -- a Savior model of a divine God-man -- and inserted Jesus into it, at the same time detracting from his human and historical authenticity, and detracting from his Jewishness.

Aboriginal Judaism had retained a theology that was relatively uncluttered (however excess their ritual had become). We are tempted to argue that Jesus himself supported the Judaic conception of a divine King "eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God." [I Timothy 1:17] But the Hellenizers and Europeanizers needed more. A split was inevitable. Ultimately, Europeanized Christianity resorted to polemics against the Jews, seeds of which are found in the epistles of Paul even, and the gospel of John. By the fourthe century, John Chrysostom (the golden mouthed) wrote a series of eight fiercely anti-Semitic diatribes against the Jews. (Adversus Judaeos).

Long forgotten was Paul's admonition to Gentiles not to boast against the Jews. Judaism was the original "olive tree." The Gentiles are merely grafted on. Gentiles are "adopted" into the family of God -- a family that originally was Hebrew only, and Jewish. Has God rejected his first family, the Jews? Paul said unequivocally NOT. "For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance." (Romans 11:29)

Making Jesus "Christian" (and non-Jewish!)
In due course, the Hellenizers and theologizers succeeded in "winning" their rivalry with Judaic believers, but at what cost? The Judaic Christians could have helped balance out the dominant wing, and served as a check on un-Biblical tendencies, the drift into theology and docetic views. Judaic Christians offered a more solid continuity with Christianity's authentic Shemitic and Hebrew roots. They preserved a full awareness of Jesus the Jew. For all Jesus' criticism of religious hypocrisy and pride, we so often forget that he was clearly on the Pharisee wing of contemporary Judaism. He echoed the temperate and heartfelt Judaism of Philo of Alexandria. He talked like Hillel, and at times reaffirmed the inspired universalism of Isaiah. He even urged upon his followers aspects of the strict ethicism and personal moralism of the Essenes and of John the Baptist.

Forgotten by the increasingly Europeanized religion was the fact that the "Bible" of Jesus was thoroughly Hebrew, its milieu Shemitic and Judaic. Forgotten was such simple facts as what Renan declared: "the first founder of Christianity was Isaiah. By introducing into the Jewish world the concept of ethical religion, of justice, and of the relative unimportance of sacrifices, he antedated Jesus by more than seven centuries." (Le Judaisme comme race et comme religion, 1883.)


spiritual africa
Moses - the African connection

Christianity before "Christianity"

Upton Clary Ewing has written on The "Testament" of the earliest church was Middle Eastern, and Essene. Also see Adolph von Harnack: Christianity has lost sight of its birthplace, which was Shemitic and Hebrew. (Below) For more on Christianity before "Christianity"

The Jewish nation, Israel, revered their Torah and Covenant. But their God demanded so much from them. Strait was their gate, and narrow was their way. The multitudes of outsiders also needed hope, and a chance. Had not Abraham been promised his descendants would bless all the nations of the world? A lesser standard offered hope for the nations, the Gentiles in need of God. Jews called this "easier" entry, ger toshab, or "Proselytes of the Gate." God's love extended, via Abraham, even to the saving of the Gentiles

A parting of the ways had begun. Jews, who were God's own, were chosen for the more difficult path, with its 613 mitzvoth, its high calling before God and man. But the nations still had a chance. At least the door was cracked open -- wide open. The Bishop of Jerusalem, James (brother of the Lord), ruled that the Gentile converts need only observe the bare minimum. See Acts 15:29. Not even the Ten Words.

With Athanasius, Gentile Christendom made the determination that Jesus was truly God and truly man. If he was so thoroughly "man" then surely he suffered as a man, knew fatigue and weakness and frailty as a man. He also surely knew the same perplexities and growth pains of a human boyhood, and within a traditional (Jewish) context.
But Was Jesus spanked?

It was with Athanasius, that another wedge was driven between Judaism and Christianity. Earliest Judaic believers in Jesus as prophet and messiah, adhered to a view of Jesus as in some ways completely human, and certainly subordinate to the Father. Richard Hanson says, "Until Athanasius began writing, every single theologian, east and west, had postulated some form of Subordinationism." [quoted by Charles Freeman. p 165] For more on the human Jesus Esha the wayshower


The Shemitic Inception of Christian Faith

For sixteen centuries, the Nicene Creed has been the breastplate of orthodox belief for Christians in the Western world. In a lucid and compelling narrative, Richard Rubenstein, Professor of Conflict Management and Public Affairs at George Mason University, tells the story of the first major turning point in the history of Christianity, the epic fight, which lasted more than sixty years, resulting in the convening of the Council of Nicaea which adopted the Creed. He states that he decided to write his book because the controversy "tells us so much where we come from and what divides us. The story may even suggest how violent divisions can someday be healed. And, somehow I believe the figure of Jesus will play an important role in that healing. I think his life teaches us what it really means to be members of the human family."During the first three centuries following the death of Jesus, Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire in spite of periodic persecution. In October 312, Constantine the Great, who had recently become a Christian, became the ruler of the Roman Empire, which was undergoing a period of unprecedented change. In 313, the Edit of Milan was issued, ending the persecution of Christians, granting freedom of worship and compensating Christians for their prior years of suffering and depredation. Rubenstein states that the "true goal" of Constantine, "beyond favoring his co-religionists, was to unite the empire’s diverse, quarreling peoples in one huge spiritual fellowship." Imagine his surprise and dismay when his advisors informed him of a serious controversy among Christians in Alexandria, Egypt.

The controversy had begun several years earlier when a presbyter named Arius had publicly criticized the theology of Alexander, his bishop, who quickly convened a council of Egyptians bishops. The council condemned Arius and expelled him from his church. Arius refused to accept the edict of the council and sought support from powerful churchmen in Palestine, Syria and Asia Minor. This event marked the beginning of a division of the Christian community into warring camps, which Constantine realized threatened his dreams of "one huge spiritual fellowship".

The issue, which was at least a century old and had not been settled in the Christian community as a whole, was the relationship of Jesus the Christ to God, of the Son to the Father. The question behind the issue was how to be a monotheist believing in one God and still worship Jesus Christ. In the Arian view, Jesus was human, yet somehow more than human but less than God. For the Arians, the Greek word that described the relationship of Jesus to God, was homoiousios, meaning "similarity of essence". Bishop Alexander, who was succeeded by Athanasius, argued that Jesus could not be somehow subordinate or inferior to God. He had to be both fully human and fully divine. For the anti-Arians, the Greek word, which described the relationship to Jesus to God, was homoousios, meaning "identity of essence". Hearing of the growing controversy, Constantine decided to convene a conference at his summer residence at Nicaea to deal with the issue dividing the Church.

The Council of Nicaea began its deliberations in June 325. In his welcoming address Constantine made it clear that issue would be settled on terms favorable to the anti-Arians. He wanted a Church that was unified, at peace and respectful of hierarchy. After a month, the bishops adopted the Nicene Creed, an amended version of which is recited today by Christians around the world. Arius and his followers were expelled, leading Rubenstein to write that the Council "represents the last point at which Christians with strongly opposed theological views acted civilly towards one another."

The Council did not end the controversy. While a majority of the bishops of the Western Empire accepted the Nicene Creed, most bishops in the Eastern Empire supported the Arian side. Rubenstein writes that "the apparent consensus reached at the Council of Nicaea was, in large part, an illusion produced by the bishops’ desire to please the emperor and to restore the unity of the Church." Several years after the Council, the two sides began a stormy, bitter and often violent struggle for supremacy. The bishops met almost once a year for ten years to "rule on charges of criminal activity and heresy." The controversy, which Rubenstein chronicles and interprets, lasted over sixty years during the last days of the Roman Empire. Finally, in the year 390, following the Council of Constantinople, which slightly amended the Nicene Creed, the emperor Theodosious banned Arianism, and Nicene Christianity was officially declared the religion of the Roman empire.

Recently, it has been suggested that the churches need to revisit Nicaea and to reopen the debate between Arius and Athanasius on the nature of Christ. The purpose of the debate would be two-fold: ( 1) to balance the emphasis of the Creed on the divinity of Jesus with an equal emphasis on his humanity and his Gospel and (2) to refashion the Creed in words and symbols that communicate its truth in contemporary language. This endeavor would also offer churches an opportunity to adopt a creed without the outcome being dictated in advance by the state. For those interested in undertaking this formidable task, this book would be required reading.

G. Richard Wheatcroft

There are some 20 Semitic languages in Africa, including at least 5 different varieties of spoken Arabic. For present purposes, the African Semitic languages can be divided into two main groups (cfr Hayward 2000):




The New Martyrs

Jesus the Jew, Jesus the Hebrew

Writing solely in Hebrew, Joseph Klausner has argued that contrary to the accepted version of Western Civilization, Jesus was really a loyal Jew.

a. "Jesus was a Jew and a Jew he remained till his last breath."

b. Jesus of Nazareth...was a product of Palestine alone, a product of Judaism unaffected by any foreign admixture. "There were many Gentiles in Galilee, but Jesus was in no way influenced by them. In his days Galilee was the stronghold of the most enthusiastic Jewish patriotism...In all this Jesus is the most Jewish of Jews...more Jewish even than Hillel ."

c. "From the standpoint of general humanity, he is, indeed, 'a light to the Gentiles.'" Joseph Klausner, Jesus of Nazareth (New York: MacMillan, 1925), pp. 363-413.

Klausner is convinced that Paul was the actual founder of a (Gentile) Christianity "that was harmonious with paganism," e.g., Klausner illustrates the similarity between Osiris and Jesus by noting that the "dead body of Osiris floated in the Nile and he returned to life, this being accomplished by a baptism in the waters of the Nile." [ref. Jesus to Paul (New York: Macmillan, 1943), p. 104. ] According to Klausner, Paul was the one who made the break with Judaism rather than Jesus and furthermore that there is nothing about Christianity that wasn't taken from Judaism:
a. "There is no moral concept in the gospels which cannot be traced to Moses and the Prophets. "

b. "Of course, Paul did not study in the schools of the Greek philosophers, and it cannot be possible that he consciously accepted the doctrines of the pagan mystery religions. Moreover, there is nothing in the teachings of Paul, and there is nothing in the teachings of Y'shua, which is not grounded on the Tanak or theApocryphal, Pseudepigaphical, and Tannaitic literature of his time." Jesus to Paul, p. 482

c. "However, Y'shua himself did not deliver a single word with intent to found a new religion or a new religious community..." Jesus to Paul p.260

In the 19th and 20th centuries Jews wrote much about Jesus and Christianity. Not only liberal and Zionist but also traditional Jews commented on Jesus and Christianity in diverse ways. Jesus was claimed to have been a nationalistic Jew, an ethical Hebrew personality par excellence. He had not wanted to found a universal religion -- so Joseph Klausner (1874-1958). Jesus was an apocalyptic, his followers were partly to blame for his death. He had only founded a Jewish sect, which then had been transformed into a universal religion. Jewish monotheism was and is the mystery of the power and influence of both Jesus himself and of Christianity and Islam.


Andrew Gabriel Roth
A second Albert Schweizer: Hugh Schonfield
Nile Refuge for the Holy Family in Egypt
Saint Takla Haymanot Holy Coptic Church
Ancient Treasures: the Coptic Museum - Egypt (and Ethiopia)
Gabriel II ~ 12th century ~ Coptic Church (African Christianity)
Ancient, enduring Ethiopia - this noble land "Forgot By Time"

Robert Shepherd
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