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Posted by on Aug 3, 2014 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

On the Historicity, Part 10.

This is the tenth part of my review of Richard Carrier’s On the Historicity of Jesus. The other parts of my review can be found here.

Today’s post won’t be so much a ‘review’ as it will a list of evidences to prove a point. I have previously listed numerous unusual similarities between Philo’s logos figure and Jesus. I suspect that Philo and Christianity inherited these similarities from a common tradition. If they were inherited from a common tradition, we could naturally expect such a tradition to continue evolving into new forms , and to see variants with deeply similar themes. As a matter of fact, we do have something like that: the Enoch traditions, which also have numerous peculiar similarities with Christianity (as well as some differences, a pattern which is best explained not with direct influence but through inheritance and variation on an older ‘common ancestor’ tradition).

The Enoch traditions we have indicate a large number of parallels with Jesus, such as:

[a] Enoch is an intercessor / advocate for humanity / mediator (1 John 2:1, p.107 and 112, The Enoch-Metatron Traditions, also see here).

[b] Enoch is a messiah (he is anointed by Michael in Enoch 22)

[c] Enoch is the Second Adam through whom humanity is restored (1 Corinthians 15:45, see analysis of Philip Alexander pp.111-113, “From the Son of Adam to the Second God: Transformations of the Biblical Enoch” in Biblical Figures Outside the Bible. Even more parallels with Adam and Enoch are found here). Also, Jesus becomes a giant in the gospel of Peter (this is exactly what happens to Enoch), and this event signifies his returning to Adam’s original size (per the discussion in Alexander, Adam was thought in Jewish legend to have been a giant prior to the fall).

[d] He is ‘Master of Mysteries’ (Mark 4:11-12, in which Jesus is the one revealing the mysteries of the kingdom of God, he is the ‘master of mysteries,’ and so is Enoch).

[e] The Metatron, with whom Enoch is identified, is the ‘heavenly high priest’ (Hebrews 8:1-2, and for Enoch see here.)

[f] Known as ‘the lesser YHWH.’

[g] Enoch has seventy names, and Jesus is also figured as having many names (Emmanuel, he has a ‘new name’ in Revelation 3, he is the ‘second Adam,’ etc.), though he is never said to have seventy names specifically.

[h] Is able to take sins upon himself and “carries away the sins of the people.” (2 Enoch 64:4-5, see discussion in p.108, The Enoch-Metatron Traditions).

[i] Enoch is the heavenly scribe, and Jesus, while not described explicitly as such, is granted the power to write and ‘blot out’ names in the book of life (Revelation 3).

[j] Enoch is identified as the “son of man.”

Interestingly, the Enoch literature was often written to depict Enoch as better than Moses (who by that point was considered a deity), and obviously the same could be said for the literature written about Jesus (see discussion in Enoch-Metatron, p.260-276, for Jesus as the New Moses, see here).

The Enochic literature is generally similar to Christian literature, ranging from apocalypticism to the belief that everything on earth has a counterpart in heaven.

A Digression: Was Mark’s ‘Youth’ Enoch?

As Orlov’s work shows, Enoch was frequently referred to as simply “Youth” by the angels. Michael, the archangel, strips the ‘youth,’ Enoch, of his earthly clothes and placed into ‘clothes of glory’ (2 Enoch 22). Mark’s gospel mentions a young man stripped naked (14:51-52) and later Mark says a young man was at the tomb (16:1-5), clothed in white (which are certainly ‘clothes of glory,’ see Revelation 3:5 and 3:18).

As Orlov comments: “The title ‘Youth’ stresses the unique role of Enoch-Metatron among other archangels-princes…” More to the point, isn’t it odd that Mark only calls this figure a ‘youth,’ never revealing his name… Unless the title ‘youth’ was all the information the audience needed to know what was going on?

2 Enoch probably dates between the first century BCE and CE (p.83, Harry Hahne, The Corruption and Redemption of Creation), which means the author of Mark certainly had access to it.

Was the Youth of Mark Enoch? I don’t know. It’s a possibility, but not the only one. Andrei Orlov (here, pp.171-173) shows that several ancient texts (about Moses, Jacob, and Enoch) begin with the biblical hero becoming unified with his heavenly counterpart, even though the counterpart is initially described as a completely separate entity. This practice, while confusing for us, certainly has some deep meaning that we must try and explain. We should interpret this as showing that Moses (or Enoch) eventually becomes exactly like the Logos (the heavenly counterpart to man) as he ascends into heaven (see my digression below for further support). After all, mortality cannot inherit immortality, and flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15:50); When sinfulness is cast away you can enter the kingdom of heaven and be like the heavenly man.* The Young Man at the tomb might be Jesus transformed into the Metatron, just like Enoch eventually became one and the same as his heavenly counterpart, clothed in white. But, wasn’t Jesus sinless from the start? Why, then, should he be transformed if he was good enough to enter heaven as is? The answer to that is simple: the gospel of Mark is an instruction booklet, writing a fictitious life of Jesus to show how a Christian should live ideally. This is why it starts with a baptism and ends with a resurrection. The story intends to show what would happen to someone who lives according to Christ: eventually they would become like the well-known heavenly man, clothed in white (just as it says explicitly in Rev. 3:5).

Yet another possibility from Orlov:

“Is it possible that the figure of the angel of the presence serves as a transformative and literary device that allows an adept to enter the assembly of immortal beings consisting of the heroes of both the celestial and the literary world?
“…In the course of these mystical and literary metamorphoses, the heavenly figure surrenders his scribal seat, the library of the celestial books and even personal writing tools to the other, earthly identity who now becomes the new guardian of the literary tradition.”

Maybe the Metatron’s presence at the tomb indicate that he and Jesus have traded places, with the Metatron at the tomb and Jesus in the presence of God, acting as the new celestial high priest. This seems like the most likely interpretation.

Another Digression: On the Meaning of the Appearance in White Garb

The ancient Jewish Platonist Philo says:

And Caleb himself was changed wholly and entirely; “For,” as the scripture says, “a new spirit was in Him;” as if the dominant part in him had been changed into complete perfection; for the name Caleb, being interpreted, means “the whole heart.” And a proof of this is to be gathered from the fact that the mind is changed, not by being biased and inclining in one particular direction or the other, but wholly and entirely in the direction which is good; and that, even if there is any thing which is not very praiseworthy indeed, it makes that to depart by arguments conducive to repentance; for, having in this manner washed off all the defilements which polluted it, and having availed itself of the baths and purifications of wisdom, it must inevitably look brilliant.
(On the Change of Names, Ch. 21)

This helps us understand the meaning of Enoch’s change of clothes into ‘brilliant’ or ‘glorious’ white apparel.

UPDATE: There is a book titled The Messiah – A Comparative Study of the Enochic Son of Man and the Pauline Kyrios that corroborates my conclusion about Christianity being related to Enochic literature, see the review of the book here.

Endnote

* See the final chapter of Philo’s On the Life of Moses II. Moses’ new form becomes deeply similar to the form of the Logos.

  • Giuseppe

    Hi Nicholas,
    a last serious objection to Philo argument is from this comment (and next) from J. Quinton here:

    It seems to me that Philo was confused that the high priest Jesus was
    called “the East” and then said “Aha, this title makes no sense if
    applied to a person. But if the title ‘the east’ were applied to the
    Logos, that would make sense”. It doesn’t look like he’s saying
    that there was a heavenly Jesus who was the Logos. He’s saying that
    there was an earthly Jesus who was nonsensically given the title “the
    East” and argued that this title should actually belong to the Logos.

    Philo thinks that anatolé is a true & adequate title only if given to logos, not to historical man and priest Jesus (of Zech.). Contra J. Quinton, The logic of Philo can be this:

    1) anatolè is a better title if referred to logos
    2) the priest Jesus in Zech. 6 is hailed anatolè
    3) then the priest Jesus is logos

    but only the point 1 is explicit in Philo’s words. The points 2 and 3 can be logically inferred from his discourse at any moment but it’s not clear if Philo was interested more about ”Jesus” than only about the title ”anatolè”. J. Quinton is open to concrete possibility that not, Philo was no interested to infer the points 2 and 3 (and it’s strange that after he never mentions Jesus a second time) from the clear point 1: if Quinton is right, then Philo, by ignoring Jesus, takes for himself the privilege to correct Zecharia, that is sacre writing, and this is expected from Philo? I don’t know.

    Then this, I fear, would make the argument from Philo simply inconclusive for both mythist and historist thesis (fifty-fifty). What do you think?

    thank you,
    Giuseppe

    • ncovington89

      Maybe Philo thought the title “The East” applied to the heavenly counterpart of the earthly Jesus? In any case, the Christian Jesus was certainly a heavenly counterpart to the Old Testament Jesus, since the OT Jesus is a high priest who builds the temple and the NT Jesus is a heavenly high priest who builds the heavenly temple.