Book Review: A Scripture Index to Charlesworth’s The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, by Steve Delamarter

[Steve Delamarter, A Scripture Index to Charlesworth’s The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, 2002, Sheffield Academic Press, London, UK, 99 pages]

delamarter

Essential Complement to Charlesworth’s OTP

To those of a Christian or Jewish persuasion (or those researching either of these belief systems) who own Charlesworth’s two-volume The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (OTP) I would call this an essential complement. It includes “all of the references of the Protestant scriptures contained in the footnotes and in the margins of the OTP” (p 7). Including the footnotes is quite the bonus.

After a very brief preface, followed by a short piece by James H. Charlesworth himself titled “Biblical Stories and Quotations Reflected and Even Adumbrated in the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha”, then a brief intro by Delamarter, there are two separate indexes, the first for Volume One and the second for Volume Two. In each of the latter two, Delamarter lists, in order by the 66 books of the Christian Bible (excluding the Apocrypha/Deuterocanon), first the Biblical reference, then its corresponding parallel/allusion/echo in the OTP to its right. If it’s an Old Testament reference following more closely the Septuagint (over against the Hebrew), the Scripture verse will have a parenthetical “(LXX)” following it. From Charlesworth’s first volume, for example, there are four OTP intertextual references to Genesis 2:7:

Apocalypse of Adam 1:2
Apocalypse of Adam 2:5
Testament of Isaac 3:15
Testament of Abraham 11:9 ftnt c

These are all on four separate lines in the index, with the last one adding (LXX) after Gen. 2:7, since this is an LXX, not an MT reference.

The author’s desire is “that, by means of this index, users will have a more convenient point of entry into the study of the intertextuality of scripture and Pseudepigrapha than has ever been available before” (p 10). I’d say this work succeeds marvellously in that aim.

Erratta: On page 47 it should be Jude 6 rather than Jude 5 as the reference from/to 1 Enoch 10:4.

Advertisements

The Son of God Given Authority to Judge Because He is ‘Human’: A Study in John 5:27, pt 2

[This is part 2 of a multi-part article. See part 1, part 3, part 4, part 5, and part 6, conclusion.]

‘Son of Man’ in the LXX

In the LXX, the Greek OT, υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου (huios anthrōpou), the words translated into English most often as “son of man” – though some use “human being” as a dynamic equivalent – are always anarthrous. However, it must be noted that sometimes the translator renders a particular term definite in a context in which the Greek connotes indefiniteness, or vice versa, when it seems to read better that way in English. But, importantly, this is a translation issue and does not indicate the force of the Greek grammar in these instances.18

In Psalm 80:1719 the context may indicate the people of Israel collectively, Israel as a nation, or a specific person in the king of Israel. In any case, this is best rendered the definite the son of man in English.

In Psalm 8:4 (cf. 144:3; and see Heb 2:6 in next section) υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου is in parallel with ἄνθρωπος (anthrōpos, man). In this context huios anthrōpou and its corresponding anthrōpos seem best understood as collective terms for mankind as a whole, rather than a singular person.20 That is, the terms should be seen as collective singulars, similar to the usage of ‘man’ in English in which it can be applied either singularly or collectively as akin to ‘humankind’ or ‘humanity.’21 In other words, ἄνθρωπος and υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου should be understood as synonymous here:22 “What is man that you take thought of him or son of man that you care about him?”23

The very first appearance of son of man is found in Numbers 23:19: “God is not man that he should mislead or a son of man that he should vacillate . . .”24 Here, like the previous example, ἄνθρωπος is in parallel with the expression υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου, with the latter possibly understood as qualitative as in “God is not [like] man[kind] that he should mislead or human . . .” In this instance huios anthrōpou appears to be qualitative-indefinite, as opposed strictly indefinite or definite, though some English translators preface it with “the”.

Throughout the Book of Ezekiel the vocative form (nominative of direct address) is used: υἱὲ ἀνθρώπου (huie anthrōpou).25] This form is used as a substitute for the name of the person, as in, e.g. ‘Mr. President.’ This particular term (υἱὲ ἀνθρώπου) is used in place of ‘Ezekiel’ nearly 100 times, and can be understood in English as “human!”26 This same form of the idiom is found once in Daniel, in 8:17, in which the angel Gabriel addresses Daniel as he interprets the vision of a ram and a goat for the Prophet.

The most discussed “son of man” verse in the OT is, of course, Daniel 7:13. In its full context, this verse is clearly messianic and, with the benefit of NT revelation, most understand it to refer to a yet-to-be-fulfilled prophecy regarding Jesus’ eschatological return. Importantly, however, Hurtado notes that the arthrous the Son of Man ( υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, ho huios tou anthrōpou), which is Jesus’ favorite self-reference in the New Testament, is not found in any literature – without some ambiguity regarding original transmission27 – before the recording of Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry.28 With this in mind, it would be anachronistic to claim that Daniel intended to refer to the figure in this verse as the definite “the Son of Man” (and, again, the articles are not used here or anywhere in the LXX). Instead, this passage should best be translated one like a son of man, construed as the qualitative-indefinite one like a human: “As I continued watching my night vision – lo and behold! – one like a son of man was coming with the clouds of heaven.”

Old Testament references to clouds in a setting like the one described here by Daniel are frequently “in connection with the presence of the Lord.”29 Yet describing this heavenly figure using the son of man idiom has “the effect of . . . intensify[ing] the quality in question, so that ‘son of man’ lays stress on the humanity of the person (Ps. 146:3).”30 Archer, interpreting Daniel through the lens of NT revelation, writes:

The messianic Son of Man is brought before the throne of the Ancient of Days (v. 13) to be awarded the crown of universal dominion (v. 14). This refers, not to his inherent sovereignty over the universe as God the Son (as consubstantial and co-eternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit), but to his appointment as absolute Lord and Judge by virtue of his atoning ministry as God incarnate – the one who achieved a sinless life (Isa 53:9), paid the price for man’s redemption (Isa 53:5-6), and was vindicated by his bodily resurrection as Judge of the entire human race (Acts 17:31; Rom 2:16).31

In assessing some of the various occurrences of “son of man” in the Greek OT it becomes clear that context indeed is a major factor in determining meaning. Next we’ll examine the NT to see if context plays a large part in assessing presumed authorial intent there as well.

Go to part 3.

 

18 An example of this sort of translational difficulty is found in ἐν υἱῷ (en huiō, in son) of Heb 1:2, in which the anarthrous noun in its immediate context seems best understood with a predominating qualitativeness (‘in one whose characteristics and standing is as a son’). Since the referent is clearly Jesus when the larger context is taken into consideration, many translations render it the possessive in His Son, which is a bit too strong. See Wallace, Grammar, pp 245, 247; cf. David Alan Black, It’s Still Greek to Me: An Easy-to-Understand Guide to Intermediate Greek (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1998), p 77. Moreover, as Dixon (“Anarthrous Predicate Nominative in John”) notes, “Often, the only way to effectively communicate a qualitative noun in the English idiom is by prefacing the noun with ‘a’” (p 47).

19 I’m using the chapter/verse numbering system found in most English Bibles for the Psalms, which are translated from the Hebrew Masoretic Text. This numbering differs from the Septuagint; hence, the Greek here is actually from LXX 79:18. This practice is continued throughout.

20 The psalmist certainly could have used the plural form of either or both of these terms. But that would appear to have lessened the rhetorical effect.

21 The use of singular pronouns (αὐτοῦ/ν, “him”) here does not preclude a collective understanding, in our estimation. For example, in English we could state: “The man ignored the fish [collective singular] on the menu, as he just doesn’t care for it [collective singular] in general.” Assuredly, one cannot impose English usage upon the Greek, but it seems the principle is correlative here, given the overall context of the Psalm (see vv 5-6).

22 F. F. Bruce [The Epistle to the Hebrews, NICNT (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1985 (1964))] notes the “synonymous parallelism” of the two terms (p 35); cf. William L. Lane [Hebrews 1-8, Word Biblical Commentary, B. M. Metzger, gen. ed. (Nashville, TN: Word, 1991)] who states that the writer of Hebrews in quoting the Psalm here, “understood that the parallel expressions ἄνθρωπος, ‘man,’ ‘humankind,’ and υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου, ‘son of man,’ ‘mortal,’ were perfectly synonymous and were to be interpreted in terms of this fact” (p 47). Perhaps one shouldn’t go so far as calling these “perfectly synonymous” – assuming this means exactly equative – as it seems the two are not 100% interchangeable (see corresponding text to note 30 below). Relatedly, υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου is not meant to be strictly gender-specific. There are other examples in which υἱός is gender non-specific, such as Luke 10:6, in which υἱὸς εἰρήνης is more literally son of peace, though Danker [Frederick W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2009)] renders it one devoted to peace (p 360 2.b.β).

23 My own translation, though I rely heavily on Accordance / OakTree Software (version 11.1.1.0, 2015) which parses all the words, various grammars, lexicons, and standard English Bible translations as guides. The translations throughout are handled similarly.

24 Credit must be given to David Alan Black whose rendering of the final verbal infinitive as vacillate in the International Standard Version translation seems to best capture, and succinctly state, authorial intent, given the context. My rendering of mislead is based on the LEH-2 [J. Lust, E. Eynikel, K. Hauspie, A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint, Second Edition, (Stuttgart: Bibelgesellschaft, 2003)], as from Accordance / OakTree Software, Inc., version 2.5, and Gary Alan Chamberlain, The Greek of the Septuagint: A Supplementary Lexicon (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2011), p 40.

25 See Decker, Reading Koine Greek, for more on the vocative case (pp 618-622).

26 See David R. Kirk, “Heaven Opened: Intertextuality and Meaning in John 1:51,” Tyndale Bulletin 63.2 (2012): 237-256, pp 244-245. Leslie C. Allen [Ezekiel 1-19, Word Biblical Commentary, D. A. Hubbard, G. W. Barker gen. eds. (Dallas, TX: Word Books, 1994)] prefers “human one” (pp 3, 38).

27 This even includes 1 Enoch (aka Book of Enoch) due to the fact that, while the original language is thought to be either Hebrew or Aramaic, or a combination of both (like the Book of Daniel), the only extant complete text is in Ethiopic [see E. Isaac, “1 (Ethiopic Apocalypse of) Enoch” in James H. Charlesworth, ed. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Volume 1: Apocalyptic Literature & Testaments (New York: Doubleday, 1983), pp 6-7]. Ethiopic lacks the article altogether – see Kirk, “Heaven Opened,” pp 246-247 – hence, 46:3, in which the term is usually translated as definite [see, e.g., Isaac, “1 Enoch,” p 34], could just as easily be a son of man. Cf. Darrell D. Hannah, “The Elect Son of Man of the Parables of Enoch,” in ‘Who is This Son of Man?’: The Latest Scholarship on a Puzzling Expression of the Historical Jesus, L. W. Hurtado and P. L. Owen eds. (London:  T&T Clark, 2011), pp 130-158, esp. pp 137-141.

28 Larry W. Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003), pp 290-306. Hurtado does not find this expression in its arthrous form in any Greek text prior to the canonical Gospels (p 291). See the following blog post by Hurtado in which he briefly discusses this and surrounding issues (in it he provides a link to a pre-publication version of his final essay in a recently published work on this subject (referenced just above in note 27): “Summary and Concluding Observations,” in ‘Who is This Son of Man?’, pp 159-77): https://larryhurtado.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/enoch-the-son-of-man/.

29 Joyce G. Baldwin, Daniel: An Introduction and Commentary (TOTC), D. J. Wiseman gen. ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, (1978) / OakTree Software, Inc. 2009, version 1.5), p 158.

30 Baldwin, Daniel, p 158; emphasis added.

31 Gleason L. Archer, Jr., “Daniel,” in Daniel and the Minor Prophets: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary with the New International Version, Volume 7, F. E. Gaebelein, gen. ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1985) , p 91; emphasis added.

The Son of God Given Authority to Judge Because He is ‘Human’: A Study in John 5:27, pt 1

[This is the first part of a multi-part article. See part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, and part 6, conclusion.]

This article will argue that, properly understood, John the Gospel writer1 conveys in John 5:27 that Jesus Christ was given authority by the Father to judge due to His incarnational status of being fully human yet the Son of God. In other words, the Son of God was granted this authority as a result of becoming flesh (1:14), for when the preexistent divine Word (1:1) added human flesh to Himself (1:14) He became just like every other human being – in His humanity. Yet the Son of God is not merely human, for, just as He shares humanity with mankind (5:27), the Person of Christ shares divinity with His Father (1:1).

But one might ask, “How is this understanding much, if any, different from what most translations read?” The contention here is that the Gospel writer did not intend the Son of Man, as in the particularized, definite form of the expression ( υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, ho huios tou anthrōpou) found in 1:51, 3:13-14, etc., much less the indefinite a son of man. Rather, the evangelist had in mind son of man, understood as akin to human, though with an allusion to the Son of Man, as well. The interpretive key is provided by the syntactical structure of John 5:27 (micro context) in combination with the larger context of 5:16 through 5:30, plus the macro context of the entire Gospel, the larger Johannine corpus, and Scripture as a whole. The issue centers on the words υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου (huios anthrōpou), son of man, and the ordering of these words within the final clause of 5:27.

Relevant Terminology

First it may be helpful to define terms and concepts used throughout this inquiry.

Article:

In Koine (NT) Greek there is one article2 – many times translated into English as “the” when used with a noun,3 as in ὁ υἱός (ho huios), the son. There is no indefinite article (“a” or “an” in English).4 The technical term for a noun being used with the article is arthrous; conversely, when a noun lacks the article it is anarthrous. A synonym for arthrous is articular.

Unlike the definite article in English (“the”), which remains in the same form no matter the context, the Greek article, like most other words in Greek, is declined (inflected). That is, it changes form to match the person, number, gender, and case of the word or words with which it is connected. For example, in ὁ λόγος (ho logos, the word) both the article (, ho) and the noun (λόγος, logos) are masculine, first person, singular and in the nominative case (see below for nominative); comparatively, the feminine, first person, singular form of the article in the nominative case is ἡ (hē).

Definite noun:

An arthrous noun is definite, as it stresses individual identity. However, an anarthrous noun may also be definite, in which case context is one of the deciding factors. If the context surrounding an anarthrous noun emphasizes unique referential identity, the noun is definite. Stated another way, if the noun is referencing a specific member of a class, it is definite. Yet some anarthrous nouns are definite no matter the context, such as proper names, which are used with and without the article. Also, monadic nouns, one-of-a-kind nouns, such as (the) moon, (ἡ) σελήνης ((hē) selēnēs),5 are definite though sometimes lacking the article, an example of which is in Luke 21:25.6

Indefinite noun:

An indefinite noun is an anarthrous noun in which the context indicates a singular member of a class, without indicating which member. For example, in John 9:1 there was “a man blind from birth.” The anarthrous ἄνθρωπος (anthrōpos, man) reveals nothing about the man himself7 (though the descriptor “blind from birth” provides further identification).

Qualitative noun:

A noun is qualitative if it emphasizes quality, nature, or essence over definiteness or indefiniteness. “A qualitative noun . . . does not merely indicate membership in a class of which there are other members (such as an indefinite noun), nor does it stress individual identity (such as a definite noun).”8 Its focus is on the kind, accentuating class traits.9 To paraphrase Wallace, the emphasis of a qualitative noun is on the attributes shared by group members, while the stress of an indefinite noun is on a member of a group,10 and a definite noun highlights unique identity. When used qualitatively, a noun carries an additional function as an adjective, emphasizing a quality or qualities of the class.11

Obviously, an indefinite noun can never be definite, and vice versa; however, a qualitative noun can and most usually does include either definiteness or indefiniteness.12

Predicate nominative (predicate noun)

A predicate is that part of a sentence “which is said or asserted of the subject.”13 Taking a very basic sentence as an example, She ate, the subject is the noun “she,” which is the (subject) nominative, while the verb “ate” is the predicate. If we complete our sentence, She ate half the lemon meringue pie, the entire portion after the subject is considered the predicate (“ate half the lemon meringue pie”). Our interest here, however, is with a specific type of predicate, the predicate nominative (predicate noun).

A noun or noun phrase that explains the subject nominative (SN) and is used to complete the predicate is a predicate nominative (PN). The verb linking the SN to the PN is the (linking) copulative verb (CV). The most common CV is the verb be (is, am, are, was, were, has been, etc.); others are become, seems, feels, etc.   For example, in Johnny is the quarterback, the SN is Johnny, the CV is, and the PN quarterback.

The PN can infrequently connote an exact equivalence to the SN (such that SN = PN and PN = SN), though usually it is only somewhat, or nearly equivalent (PN ≈ SN). The relationship between the PN and its SN is most often that in which “the predicate nominative describes the class to which the subject belongs.”14 Sentences or clauses with PNs are constructed predominately in one pattern in English: SN-CV-PN. In Koine Greek, however, word order is more flexible, such that the following are found: SN-CV-PN; SN-PN-CV; PN-CV-SN; PN-SN-CV.15

Our concern here is in the possible semantic significance provided by the anarthrous PN-CV construction in John 5:27b (the positioning of the SN – which is absent here, though implied by the person and number encoded in the verb (He, the Son of God) – bearing no significance in these constructions):

PN: υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου CV: ἐστίν
PN: huios anthrōpou CV: estin
PN: son of man CV: (He [the Son of God]) is

This specific syntactical structure allows for either a definite (the Son of Man), an indefinite (a son of man), or a qualitative (son of man, i.e., human) meaning, with a possible nuance combining a predominant qualitative force with either definiteness (human + the Son of Man), or indefiniteness (human + a son of man). Before looking more specifically at the syntax in John 5:27b various LXX16 (aka Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew Old Testament) and New Testament usages of son of man17 will be analyzed. However, it is beyond the scope of this study to perform an exhaustive scrutiny of the LXX and NT occurrences of this idiom, though there will be much more focus on the latter.

Go to part 2.

 

1 Here we assume, without putting forth any sort of argument, that the Apostle John is the writer of the Gospel According to John (ΚΑΤΑ ΙΩΑΝΝΗΝ, KATA IO̅ANNE̅N).

2 Technically, there is no ‘definite’ article in Koine Greek. Per Rodney J. Decker [Reading Koine Greek: An Introduction and Integrated Workbook (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2014)], “There is no such thing as a definite article in Greek – only an article that may or may not express definiteness. Likewise, the lack of an article is not necessarily an expression of indefiniteness but may express a qualitative meaning or some other nuance” (p 39). Wallace [Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996)] notes, “No one questions that the article is used frequently to definitize, but whether this captures the essential idea [of the article] is another matter” (p 209).

3 In Koine Greek the article is also used with almost any part of speech in order to nominalize it (see Wallace, Grammar, p 209). For a lengthy discussion on the multitude uses of the article, see Wallace, pp 206-290, 306-309.

4 “There is no need to speak of the article in Greek as the definite article because there is no corresponding indefinite article” (Wallace, Grammar, p 209; italics in original, bold added).

5 See Wallace, Grammar, pp 248-249.

6 In the Luke verse we find ἐν ἡλίῳ καὶ σελήνῃ (en hēliō kai selēnē) – translated word for word: in sun and moon – with both terms clearly definite though anarthrous, which we translate into English as “in the sun and the moon.” For a complete discussion on definite nouns see Wallace, Grammar, pp 245-290, 306-309.

7 See Wallace, Grammar, p 244.

8 Wallace, Grammar, p 244.

9 See Wallace, Grammar, pp 244, 264-265.

10 Wallace, Grammar, p 266.

11 This is a point brought forth by Paul Stephen Dixon, whose Master’s thesis “The Significance of the Anarthrous Predicate Nominative in John” (Th.M. thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1975) we will be referencing more herein: “All nouns are lexically definite, in that they refer to particular objects. In usage, however, nouns may be adjectival. The stress then is on a quality or essence, and not definiteness” (p 9).   (See here: http://www.forananswer.org/Top_JW/dixon.pdf)

12 See Dixon, “Anarthrous Predicate Nominative in John,” pp 9-10; Wallace, Grammar, pp 243, 244.

13 Frank X. Braun, English Grammar for Language Students, (Ann Arbor, MI: Ulrich’s Books, 1947), p 15.

14 Wallace, Grammar, p 41, emphasis in original. Cf. 40-42.

15 Of course, the subject is not always explicitly expressed in the immediate context in Greek; however, for convenience’ sake we’ve placed “SN” before “CV” in such instances, since the subject is implicitly expressed by the verb and the immediate context. There are even verb-less structures, as in PN-SN (see Wallace, Grammar, pp 269-270.

16 The apocryphal books (known as Deuterocanonical books by the Roman Catholic Church), such as Tobit, Wisdom (of Solomon), etc., will not be included as part of this enquiry. Additionally, plural forms of the idiom are not considered.

17 Henceforth son of man and/or the Son of Man will be interchanged with ‘the expression,’ ‘the idiom,’ or ‘the term.’ Context should make the referent/s obvious to the reader.

“Christ” in the New Age

The Christian church in its many branches can serve as a St. John the Baptist, as a voice crying in the wilderness, and as a nucleus through which world illumination may be accomplishedThe church must show a wide tolerance, and teach no revolutionary doctrines or cling to any reactionary ideas.  The church as a teaching factor should take the great basic doctrines and (shattering the old forms in which they are expressed and held) show their true and inner spiritual significance.  The prime work of the church is to teach, and teach ceaselessly, preserving the outer appearance in order to reach the many who are accustomed to church usages.  Teachers must be trained; Bible knowledge must be spread; the sacraments must be mystically interpreted, and the power of the church to heal must be demonstrated.” [1]

                                                                — Alice A. Bailey, The Externalisation of the Hierarchy; 1919

The Christian life is a life of war as we continually fight against the flesh (our own sinful desires) and the attacks of the enemy (Satan and his minions).  During wartime, one method of attack is the attempt to destroy the enemy from within by chicanery – using deception as a strategy to infiltrate the opposing camp.  Satan, our enemy, has employed this method from the very beginning.  A particularly effective means to accomplish this goal is to redefine standard orthodox Christian terms and concepts in a way which permits those in the Church to understand them as seemingly orthodox resulting in – to borrow words from Hannah Newman, author of The Rainbow Swastika – a “Trojan Horse of semantics.”[2] This article will focus on the word “Christ” illustrating some of the various ways it is used within the New Age and occult.

Who (or what) is “Christ” according to the New Age / New Spirituality?  It all depends on context.  There are at least seven different meanings/aspects.  Obviously, this can lead to confusion both to the insider and the outsider; however, it is especially confusing to those of orthodox Christian persuasion.  And, it’s that way by design according to Alice A. Bailey (AAB), who acted as a medium through which “Master D. K.” (Djwhal Khul a/k/a The Tibetan) would channel, according to the opening quote.  The Bailey books and other New Age/occult literature are available through Lucis Trust (formerly Lucifer Publishing[3]).

Given that, “…The church as a teaching factor should take the great basic doctrines and (shattering the old forms in which they are expressed and held),” the goal of redefining concepts is clear.  The occult/esoteric teachings of the New Age are to be expressed in such a way that the unsuspecting church attendee does not catch on right away, if at all.  This goal must be accomplished by, “…preserving the outer appearance in order to reach the many who are accustomed to church usages….”  And, the greatest “basic doctrine” is, of course, that of the person of Jesus Christ Himself.

“Christ” in Christian Orthodoxy

It would be prudent to first provide the established orthodox Christian definition of “Christ.” The term comes from the Greek transliterated Christos which is defined “Christ,” “Messiah,” or “Anointed One.”[4]  Christos itself is derived from chrio, “to anoint.”[5]  From the Strongest Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, here’s the definition of Christos:

“Christ, Anointed One, Messiah, the Greek translation of the Hebrew 4899 (cf. Greek 3323).  The Messiah is the Son of David, an anointed leader expected to bring in an age of peace and liberty from all oppression.  In the NT, the Messiah is Jesus, who came first to bring liberty from sin and peace with God and who will come again to bring all things under His control [6]

In the New Testament, chrio is used five times, two of which refer to Jesus’ Baptism [Luke 4:18, Acts 10:38], another most likely to His Baptism [Acts 4:27][7], and once at or after His Resurrection or Ascension [Heb 1:9; cf. Ps 45:6-7, Isa 61:3, Php 2:9][8].  In the remaining instance, chrio is used to refer to Holy Spirit-endued Christians [II Cor 1:21].  The noun form of chrio is chrisma, “anointing,”[9] which is used only three times, and each time in John’s first epistle to denote the Holy Spirit anointing of believers [once in I John 2:20, twice in 2:27].

Both chrio and chrisma are always used in a sacred and symbolic sense; whereas, the Greek words aleipho [Matt. 6:17; Mark 6:13, 16:1; Luke 7:38,46; John 11:2, 12:3; James 5:14], epichrio [John 9:6,11], enchrio [Rev 3:18], and murizo [Mark 14:8], which are also translated anoint/ed/ing, are always used in a physical sense [10] in the NT.

The word “Messiah” is only used twice in the New Testament although it is derived from the Aramaic rather than the Hebrew [11].  This term is used solely in the Gospel of John [1:41, 4:25] and each time it is used in conjunction with Christos presumably for emphasis of Jesus Christ’s deity.  It is therefore noteworthy that when the word “Christ,” (Christos) is used in the NT, it is exclusively for the person of Jesus Christ and nothing or no one else (except when Jesus Himself is referring to false Christs as in Matthew 24).  As both Louis Berkhof and Wayne Grudem illustrate in each of their respective Systematic Theology’s, “Christ” is a term denoting His divinity.[12][13]

Unfortunately, many online lexicons define Christos as Christ = “anointed” which is misleading and confusing.  In the NT, Christos, though derived from chrio which means “to anoint” as noted above, is defining the unique Christ, Messiah, Son of God and He is thus the “Anointed One” as per the two sources for definitions above.  While Christians are anointed by the Holy Spirit at baptism, we are obviously not referred to as “Christ” (Christos) upon baptism; and, furthermore, Jesus was described as “Jesus Christ” at the virgin birth which means the term was applied to Him prior to Baptism (of course, He was always Christ as noted above) rather than later at His Baptism by John as these online definitions would suggest.  The importance of these distinctions will be made more obvious a bit later in this article.

The confusion likely stems from the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament from which early Catholic Bibles have been translated.  (Interestingly, many NT quotes from the OT are taken from the Septuagint rather than the Hebrew Masoretic Text.)  The term christos is rendered as “anointed” in Lev 4: 4, Lev 6:22, 1 Samuel 2:10 (appropriate by the contexts) as well as a few other passages[14] and designated with a lower case rather than a capital “c.”  In Psalm 2:2, the “C” in this term is capitalized (Christos) since this is considered a Messianic passage (prophecy about the coming Messiah).  This distinction in uncapitalization/capitalization is illustrated in Brenton’s The Septuagint with the Apocrypha: Greek and English[15].  In the NT, I’m reasonably sure the convention of capitalizing Christos in each and every instance is followed in both the NA27 Novum Testamentum Graece and the UBS4 The Greek New Testament. [I’ve not checked all the references; so, if a reader finds an exception, please let me know.]

Glossary of New Age/Occult Terms and Concepts

This section and the remaining sections constitute my current understanding of New Age doctrine and concepts.  Likely, at least some parts of individual sections will be amended in the future as my understanding grows.  I welcome any comments which could shed further light in this area.

It will be helpful to define some other New Age terms and concepts before we go on to define “Christ” in New Age/occult teachings.  Terms may be added, again, as my knowledge increases.  I want to caution readers that this is occult teaching and the goal is to confuse the reader into believing this is Biblical truth which, of course, it is not.  It is a ‘spin’ on orthodox Christian truth.  My reasoning for bringing forth this information is educational because, alarmingly, there are parallels of some of the following concepts with doctrines currently taught in quite a few of our churches!

Probably the most important doctrine in the New Age/occult is the belief that all humans have two natures, one human (of course) and one latent divine nature. 

Initiation:

“…an expansion of consciousness – a means of opening the mind and heart to a recognition of what already exists in reality.”[16]  Also known as overshadowing.  With each successive overshadowing the initiate is brought to increasing levels of soul-control, or, in other words, demonic possession.  While there are five initiations in total for the human, each overshadowing does not necessarily equate to one of these five ‘milestones’ of initiations.[17]  [Note: I personally do not believe true Christians can be demonically possessed although they may be oppressed.]

Evolution:

Evolution is a central tenet of occultism partly because, of course, it is in opposition to the creation account of Genesis 1 & 2.  The New Age belief is that mankind has been evolving over millions of years and we are now on the cusp of the next great evolutionary leap – from homo sapiens to homo universalis.[18]  On the macro level, this evolution will come forth as the collective “consciousness” of human minds expands to a certain “tipping point,” or “critical mass.”  On a micro level, individuals themselves “evolve” by the “expansions of consciousness” from man into godhood as Ascended Masters by taking all five initiations. [19][20]

This ascendance to godhood is the ultimate goal of all.  Unity is of primary importance since, without it, this “evolution” of the human race will not be possible.  Disunity or, the refusal to go along with New Age ideals, therefore, is considered the only real “sin” – the “sin of separation” or “sin of separatism.”  [See “Evil of Separatism” section of this Lucis Trust article.[21]]

Reincarnation:

Once an individual dies, his soul returns to the physical realm by reincarnating into a body with the same atomic makeup but with different outward physical characteristics as the previous one as determined by his birth parents.  This is also known as rebirth or being born again. Therefore, death is not seen as a negative thing at all as it provides another chance at life in which the individual may reach a state of perfection ascending into godhood and thereby becoming an Ascended Master.  So, the ‘removal’ of those who will not unify would be seen as best not just for the common good but for the individual ‘removed’ as well.  “Resurrection is the keynote of nature; death is not.”[22]  Souls reincarnate in groups.

Ascended Master:

An Ascended Master is a former human who, through extreme self-effort, enabled himself to transcend humanity by attaining divinity.  This is done when the “higher self”  (Christ within or Inner Christ) transcends the “lower nature”, (human), or Ego, so that the individual becomes a god.  This results in “the body of flesh” changing to the “body of bliss.”[23]  This requires five initiations.  One does not have to make all five in one incarnation as these initiations are cumulative carrying over from previous lives to subsequent ones.  Ascended Masters live in the Fifth Kingdom which is a spiritual state and these Masters have the ability to travel between the spiritual and physical planes at will [24].

This ‘ascent into godhood’ teaching is similar to Manifest sons of God doctrine which has been taught in some Christian churches [see Kris Vallotton and the “Mantle of Jesus Christ” / Bill Johnson on Corporate Anointing and Bill Johnson’s ‘Born Again Jesus, part II at the “Manifest Sons of God: The New Breed” section (especially Todd Bentley’s four floors/levels teaching) and Bethel to Feature Bob Jones at Upcoming Prophetic Conference under “The New Breed of the Elected Seeds” section].  At the fourth initiation one becomes a Manifested son of God with the ability to travel between the astral and physical planes at will[25].

Fifth Kingdom in Nature:

There are five kingdoms in nature, the first four of which are: mineral, vegetable, animal and human, respectively[26].  The Fifth Kingdom is a spiritual state and is only fully visible by those who’ve taken the fifth initiation. This Fifth Kingdom will eventually materialize as the forthcoming Kingdom of God. [27]  The following quote captures the essence of this doctrine:

“Emphasis should be laid on the evolution of humanity with peculiar attention to its goal, perfection.  …man in incarnation, by the indwelling and over-shadowing soul…. …The relation of the individual soul to all souls should be taught, and with it the long-awaited kingdom of God is simply the appearance of soul-controlled men on earth in everyday life and at all stages of that control. …The fact will appear that the Kingdom has always been present but has remained unrecognized, owing to the relatively few people who express, as yet, its quality….” [28]

Kingdom of God:

The goal is “[t]hat the Kingdom of God, the Spiritual Hierarchy of our planet, can and will be materialized on earth.”[29]  This “Hierarchy” (of fallen angels) will be “externalized” on the physical plane, on earth, when the human race has fully evolved into homo universalis.  This will be a “return” to “the Garden of Eden” in which ‘gods walked with men’ and ‘men walked with gods.’  However, the “men” in this case will be “gods” also ( as Ascended Masters following the attainment of Manifested sons of God[30]).   One method to facilitate this is to “bring heaven to earth” as in Hermeticism[31] using ritual magick which can best be described by the phrase “as above, so below;” i.e., what happens in the spiritual (above) affects the natural (below) and vice versa.   The following explains this:

“Instruction is being given at this time to a special group of people who have come into incarnation at this critical period of world’s history.  They have come in, all at the same time, throughout the world, to do the work of linking up the two planes, the physical and the astral, via the etheric. [emphasis in original][32]

These individuals are using the spiritual, or etheric, realm in order to link the physical plane (that which we see) to the astral plane (the unseen) which is the place of the Spiritual Hierarchy.  This is the purpose as exemplified in the title of AAB’s book The Externalisation of the Hierarchy – to bring the astral plane to the physical plane while simultaneously bringing the physical to the astral through the merging of the two together using the etheric/spiritual by “expanding consciousness.”  Bringing ‘heaven to earth’:

“It is time that the Church woke up to its true mission, which is to materialise the kingdom of God on earth, today, here and now…” [33]

“…A new kingdom is coming into being: the fifth kingdom in nature is materialising, and already has a nucleus functioning on earth in physical bodies.” [34]

Spiritual Hierarchy; also simply the Hierarchy:

A hierarchy of spiritual entities claiming to be divine influencers in world and individual affairs which are, in reality, demons.  These include Sanat Kumara / Lord of this World (The Ancient of Days, The One Initiator), Ascended Masters, the Manu, the Bodhisattva (the Christ*, the World Teacher), the Mahachohan, and even a Solar Trinity.  For more about the Hierarchy, see “Descent and Sacrifice.”[35] (*“The Christ” will be defined more fully below.)

To accomplish and even hasten their plans[36] on earth, the Spiritual Hierarchy needs the cooperation of humans who act as “co-laborers”[37] with them.  Communication arrives from the Hierarchy to humans on the physical plane as “inspiration”[38] and “impressions.”[39]

Sanat Kumara, Lord of this World (The Ancient of Days, The One Initiator):

He is at the top of the Planetary Hierarchy and is better known, of course, as Lucifer.  He is never referred to as “the Devil” as this is instead used as a pejorative term sometimes describing the true Jehovah God, Christians, and Jews or Judeo-Christian principles and others who refuse to ‘evolve’ (sometimes “Satan” is used as well, although Blavatsky has used “Satan” as an alternate for Lucifer).  Notice how “Ancient of Days” has been reappropriated [see Daniel 7:9,13,22].  He is known as “the Great Hierophant,” “KING,” “Youth of Endless Summers,” “Fountainhead of the Will,” “the ineffable Ruler,” [40] “Great Lord,”[41] “Lord Maitreya,” and “Morning Star” [see Revelation 22:16 as reference for Jesus Christ] as well.[42]  In the context of some of the other writings, he is referred to as “the Christ,” the Son, and it appears he may also be the ‘Father’ as well as the ‘Holy Spirit.’

Solar Logos:

Made up of the Solar Trinity consisting of: The Father (Will), The Son (Love-Wisdom) and The Holy Spirit (Active Intelligence).  The Father is also known as “the first Logos” which is also claimed to be the “ONE ABOUT WHOM NAUGHT MAY BE SAID.”[43] This is obviously a distortion of the True Holy Trinity of orthodox Christianity.  In the diagrams on pages 48-49 [44] in the Bailey book Initiation, Human and Solar, the Solar Logos may appear as though it rules over Sanat Kumara but, this seems to be just a concession to make it look “Christian.”  It really depends on how one views the diagrams.  The way I interpret them, Sanat Kumara and the Solar Logos are one and the same.  This makes sense within the contexts of some other writings and in light of the fact that Lucifer wants to be God – his goal from the time of his initial rebellion.

Shambhala or Shamballa:

The place where the Planetary Hierarchy currently dwells.  It is said to be in the Gobi desert.  However, mere mortals cannot see the Hierarchy until the five initiations are completed.

Age of Aquarius:

Our current era/aeon is the Age of Pisces which is now coming to a close and giving way to the next one – the Age of Aquarius.[45]  Each age has its World Teacher.  This will be explained in more detail below.

The next few sections will describe the various ways in which “Christ” is used – distorted – in the New Age/occult.

“Christ Consciousness”

“Christ consciousness” is the current state of an individual’s progress towards attaining Manifested Sons of God / Ascended Master status[46] and even higher states via initiations or, to phrase another way, the extent of one’s overshadowing or soul-control.  The goal in increasing “Christ consciousness” is to evolve from individual to group consciousness and thus be united with other “gods.”  Each successive initiation brings the individual in increasing alignment with New Age goals; i.e., group-think and unity.  Bailey defines the term:

“The evolutionary force to which we give the name ‘the Christ consciousness’…focused itself in the person of the Christ* in a manner hitherto unknown. This is the potency, latent in every human heart which is described by St. Paul as “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col I.27), and is that which, under evolutionary law, brings man eventually into the Kingdom of God and “unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. IV.13.)  Of this potency and glory, Christ has ever been the symbol…” [47] [*see below for explanation of “the Christ” as the “Christ within”]

Transcendental Meditation (TM) in the East is a way to expand one’s “Christ consciousness.”  In Hinduism, for example, the aspirant chants “OM” repeatedly in attempts to unite with Brahma and thus achieve “at-one-ment” with the divine.  In the West, some churches are using Contemplative Prayer or “soaking prayer” with a goal to “experience God’s presence” and this practice bears a remarkable resemblance to TM, or, the expansion of the “Christ consciousness.”  This pursuit of “at-one-ment,” or unity with the divine, as exemplified in Christian Science, Unity and Divine Science and other metaphysical schools of thought is a New Age goal for the Christian Church[48].

Another way to effect change, to further goals of New Age “Christ Consciousness,” is to alter ‘outmoded’ procedures:

“It is not easy for the average person to be fluid and to change details and methods in relation to that which has been taught in the past about which he has evolved definite and distinct ideas.  Are you, therefore, prepared to throw these overboard and work in the way which will meet the new world need under the new incoming influences?

“ The disciple upon whom the Master can most confidently depend is the one who can – in periods of change – preserve that which is good and fundamental while breaking from the past and add to it that which is of immediate service in the present.  An attitude of spiritual compromise is right, needed and very rare to find.  Most of the things about which there may be argument and contention among disciples concern methods and relative non-essentials: they deal with points of organization.  They are not so important as the inner unity of vision and the ability to concede where no wrong is involved and where a fellow worker fails to see the point.  Disciples need to see to it that they do not hinder by any form of self-assertion, or by imposition of their own ideas or by any authoritarianism, based on past procedure.  Ponder on this…The task of the disciple is to sense need and then to meet it and this, again, is part of the new emerging technique of invocation and evocation.” [49] [emphasis added]

As noted above in the Spiritual Hierarchy section, new revelation; i.e., communication from the Hierarchy, comes in the form of “inspiration” and “impressions.”

The “Christ Within” or “Inner Christ”

As noted above, the New Age/occult view is that all individuals have two natures: one human and one of latent divinity.  The former is also known as the “lower self” [sometimes identified as “Satan”], or Ego, while the latter is the “higher self,” Christ within, or inner Christ.  Realizing one’s own inherent divinity is the first step on the path to actualizing godhood.  For this reason, a New Ager can say with a straight face “I am a god” – we are all gods even if we’ve not yet fully attained godhood.

In Gnosticism and some forms of the Kabbalah this is called a “divine spark.”  New Agers, Gnostics, and these Kabbalists (generally) believe everything – including minerals, plants, animals, as well as humans – has a Christ within, inner Christ or “divine spark” respectively.  This belief system is known as panentheism (God is in all).  Accordingly, their “god” is not omnipresent (present in all places at once) but rather immanent (within all), however, in addition, this “god” is also said to be transcendent (transcending the universe – the other aspect of panentheism: “all is in God”) being both impersonal and unknowable.[50]  [See Spiritual Hierarchy and Solar Logos above.]

From this panentheistic viewpoint springs the “green” movement, the belief in the “oneness” of all, etc.  The eventual goal is the release of these “Christs” within or ‘sparks’ so that the “reintegration” of all these ‘pieces’ of the ‘divine’ can be one again.  Once this occurs, “god” will be complete yet again after having scattered part of himself throughout the solar system in past millennia; and, simultaneously, all will be “god” and all matter, or “not-self” (which is evil), will be destroyed.  This stems from 2nd century (or 1st century depending on whose viewpoint we accept) Gnosticism or perhaps even earlier.

Of humanity’s “inherent divinity” which we must work towards achieving full actualization (think Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory), AAB explains:

“…Inherent in the human consciousness…is a sense of divinity…‘As He is, so are we in this world.’ (1 John IV:17) is another Biblical statement…“Christ in us, the hope of glory’ is the triumphant affirmation of St. Paul.” [51]

This “Christ within” becomes fully manifested by taking all five initiations.

The “Christ Anointing”

In the introduction to Levi Dowling’s well known New Age book, originally written in 1907, The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ is a list of questions with corresponding answers to aide the reader in understanding terms and concepts in the book.  Question 4 reads: “What is meant by ‘the Christ,’ as the Word is used in this book?”  The answer:

“The word Christ is derived from the Greek word Kristos [ed: actually “Christos”] and means anointed.  It is identical with the Hebrew word Messiah.  The word Christ, in itself, does not refer to any particular person; every anointed person is christed.  When the definitive article ‘the’ is placed before the word Christ, a definite personality is indicated, and this personality is none other than a member of the Trinity, the Son…” [52]

Here, Dowling is referring specifically to the occult meaning in which individuals are “anointed,” or “christed” (initiated) by “the Christ” [which Dowling refers to as the “definite personality” and “member of the Trinity, the Son” above] as “Head of Hierarchy” or by one acting on “the Christ’s” behalf, i.e., other demons.  While, according to the occult, every individual has the “Christ within” (inherent but not necessarily active divinity), not all have received the “Christ anointing,” and it’s this “Christ anointing” one needs in order to receive the five required initiations to reach Manifested sons of God and eventually Ascended Master status.

As noted above in the “‘Christ’ in Christian Orthodoxy” section, Christos always refers to the person of Jesus Christ in the New Testament; whereas, in the Old Testament Christos/christos would be defined as either “anointed” or “Christ” depending on context.  In the book of First John, the word for “anointing,” chrisma, denotes those endued by the Holy Spirit – Holy Spirit-indwelled Christians.

In hyper-charismatic circles the term “Christ anointing” or, simply, “the anointing” is used.  Is the Dowling book, or one like it, the root for this teaching?

“The Christ” as “Head of Hierarchy”

“The Christ” as “Head of Hierarchy” is “an official name” or title[53].  The current “Head of Hierarchy” is the one who has been assigned to be “the Christ” of the current age/aeon.  He is directly subordinate to “the Great Hierophant,” aka “Lord of the World,” [54] aka Lucifer who is, confusingly, also known as “the Christ,” the Son.  [See the Dowling quote above in “The ‘Christ’ Anointing” section.] The “Head of Hierarchy” is also the “Great World Teacher” and “Firstborn among many brethren.”  The “Head of Hierarchy” administers the first two initiations; whereas, the three others available to humankind are provided by “the Great Hierophant,” “the One Initiator,” “Lord Maitreya,” Lucifer, himself.[55]

The “Head of Hierarchy” for the Age of Pisces, our current age, is the “Master Jesus” [see below].  He will be succeeded in the forthcoming Age of Aquarius by the new “World Teacher.”  From an orthodox Christian perspective, he will be the Antichrist.

Here’s an explanation of this aspect/function from World Service Intergroup, a New Age website:

“Christ, in this aspect, is a name that is considered to be a title or office.  When the present head of Hierarchy surpasses Himself and moves on to a greater position, the One who will replace Him will also be called “the Christ.”  The Head of Hierarchy does not belong to any one religion but to all religions, to the whole of humanity.” [56]

Historical Christ 

In the New Age/occult teachings, the “Historical Christ” is the Son, the one of the “Trinity.”  He is referred to as “the Christ,” and, although listed separately in the Solar Logos above the Planetary Hierarchy, it seems that this “Christ” is one and the same [as is the rest of the “Trinity”] with Sanat Kumara, Lord of this World, The One Initiator, Lord Maitreya, etc.

Sanat Kumara, the One Initiator, provides the third through fifth initiations in humans whereas the subsequent sixth and seventh initiations of Masters in the Planetary Hierarchy are administered by “that One of Whom Sanat Kumara is the manifestation, the Logos of our scheme on His own plane” who “becomes the Hierophant”[57] which I assume to be “the Historical Christ.”  This seems to create a logical incongruity since it is claimed that when Jesus of Nazareth received His fourth initiation at the Crucifixion en route to becoming “Master Jesus,” simultaneously “the Christ” received the seventh from “the Father.” [58]  Further, as quoted above, “the One of Whom Sanat Kumara is the manifestation…” is referred to as “the Hierophant” yet Sanat Kumara himself is referred to as “the great Hierophant” [59] in the same book a few pages earlier.

Jesus of Nazareth / Master Jesus

With many previous incarnations including as Joshua, the son of Nun, Jesus of Nazareth was merely a man who had volunteered Himself to be used as a vehicle through which “the Christ,” as Sanat Kumara / Lord of this World, the One Initiator, manifested although He did eventually achieve “Master” status and is now an Ascended Master[60].

In Levi Dowling’s The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ  are the “Akashic Records” which purport to detail some of Jesus’ so-called ‘lost years’ between the ages of twelve and thirty[61], Jesus passed the “seventh brotherhood test;” and, in so doing, received the “highest degree, THE CHRIST.”  This title and degree had to be conferred upon Him by “God himself” at Baptism[62].  Prior to this, Jesus could not rightly be called “the Christ” or “Jesus Christ” as He was merely Jesus of Nazareth; however, after Baptism He was on His way to become “the Christ” as “Head of Hierarchy” for the Piscean Age.  Dowling’s book is in chapter/verse format so that it looks like a “Bible”:

“…and now you stand ready to take the last degree. 6 Upon your brow I place this diadem, and in the Great Lodge of the heavens and earth you are THE CHRIST. 7 This is your great Passover rite.  You are a neophyte no more; but now a master mind. 8 Now, man can do no more; but God himself will speak, and will confirm your title and degree. 9 Go on your way, for you must preach the gospel of good will to men and peace on earth; must open up the prison doors and set the captives free. 10 And while the hierophant yet spoke the temple bells rang out; a pure white dove descended from above and sat on Jesus’ head. 11 And then a voice that shook the very temple said, THIS IS THE CHRIST; and every living creature said, AMEN.” [63]

Dowling explains further about how Jesus received His title of Christ in the Introduction:

“The word Christ means “the anointed one,”* and then it is an official title.  It means, The Master of Love.  When we say ‘Jesus, the Christ’ we refer to the man and to his office; just as we do when we say…Lincoln, the President…Lincoln was not always President, and Jesus was not always Christ.  Jesus won his Christship by a strenuous life, and in chapter 55 [of Dowling’s book], we have a record of the events of his christing, or receiving the degree Christ.  Here is where he was coronated by the highest earth authorities as the Christ-King; properly speaking, ‘the Master of love;’ and after this was done he entered at once upon his Judean and Galilean ministry.

“We recognize the facts that Jesus was man and that Christ was God, so that in very truth Jesus the Christ was the God-man of the ages.” [64] [*This contradicts his assertion above as quoted in “The ‘Christ Anointing’” section that Kristos [sic] means simply “anointed.”  Further, Dowling stated that “the Christ” is part of the ‘Trinity,’ whereas Jesus of Nazareth is not, although he was anointed by “the Christ” and subsequently became “the Christ” as “Head of Hierarchy” for the Piscean Age which is what he’s trying to explain here.  My point is to show the logical incongruity in some of these teachings.]

Alice A. Bailey, in her 1937 book From Bethlehem to Calvary states essentially the same thing:

“This initiation [Baptism] marked a tremendous change in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.  Up to that time, for thirty years, He had simply been the carpenter of the little town, and the son of His parents.  He was a personality doing much good in a small sphere.  But after the purification in Jordan, having ‘fulfilled all righteousness,’ He became the Christ…” [65]

“The Christ,” as Sanat Kumara / Lord of this World, the One Initiator, which provided this initiation, remained with Jesus until the Crucifixion at which point “the Christ” left him:

“The Christ is an immortal being transcending all laws of nature and it is not possible for anyone to crucify or kill the Christ.  They killed his disciple Jesus through whom the Christ was speaking by crucifying him…” [66]

This is apparently where the “Jesus Died Spiritually” teaching of Kenyon/Hagin/Copeland, etc. originates [see also point 4 below: “Crucifixion on Mount Golgotha”].

The view that the “divine Christ” joined the human Jesus at Baptism and left him before His death is essentially the same view espoused by Cerinthus as noted in Bill Johnson’s ‘Born Again’ Jesus, Part I.

When Jesus was raised from the dead following His crucifixion it was not by his own power but by “the Christ”:

“Jesus was raised from the dead by his teacher the Christ who entered his body 3 days after his death. Jesus was no longer in that body and it was the Christ whose personal name Lord Maitreya who lived in that body for the 41 days after the resurrection.” [All as per original][67]

In the New Age/occult view Jesus did not provide Atonement on the Cross as the propitiation for our sins.  Rather, He provided a pattern/model for each of us to follow in order to actualize our own divinity and thus save ourselves (auto-soterism).  Dowling’s book claims to speak for Jesus post-Resurrection:

“My human life was wholly given to bring my will to tune to the deific will; when this was done my earth-tasks all were done.

“You know that all my life was one great drama for the sons of men; a pattern for the son’s of men.  I lived to show the possibilities of man.

“What I have done all men can do, and what I am all men shall be.” [68]

Jesus’ life is mapped out as symbolically (not actually) representing the five initiations:

1)      Birth at Bethlehem –  “the birth of Christ in the cave of the human heart.”[69] Recognizing the “Christ in you, the hope of glory” – your inherent but latent divinity (duality) [70][71].  “Freedom from the control of the physical body and its appetites.” [72]

2)      Baptism in Jordan – Water baptism “purifies the emotional nature” which precedes the “purification of the mind by fire,” [73] or the “baptism of spirit and fire aka baptism of the Holy Spirit,” thus providing the ability to consciously reject all evil [74]. “What therefore lies ahead for the initiate who has entered the purificatory water, or rather fire?”[75]  Jesus became “the Christ”[76] having received this title and name at Baptism [77][78] in working His way towards becoming “Head of Hierarchy” for our Age; and, similarly, we can receive the “Christ anointing” on our way to becoming Ascended Masters.

3)      Transfiguration on Mount Carmel – “transfiguration of the [human] nature” into “full-grown man in Christ” – learning to “die to self;” i.e., working towards overcoming the ‘lower, human nature.’  “Develops “fourth dimensional vision.”[79] Full-grown man working towards manifested son of God. [80]. Receives “terrific voltage” of Kundalini[81] “…the mind… …begins its true task as an interpreter of divine truth…” (i.e., new revelations)[82] “Third eye” is opened. [83]

4)      Crucifixion on Mount Golgotha –“The Great Renunciation.”[84]The “sacrifice of humanity” by totally “dying to (lower, human) self” in order to achieve divinity and to arise as fully manifested son of God [85]  Sin becomes impossible [86]  Moving towards attainment of full ‘group consciousness.’[87] Soul (spiritual) death “and the causal body, the soul body is relinquished and disappears.” [88][89]. “Liberated from the form side of life, of religion and matter, and demonstrated to us the possibility of being in the world and yet not of the world, living as souls, released from the trammels and limitations of the flesh, while yet walking on earth.” [90] = manifested sons of God.

5)      Resurrection and Ascension – “The cave of the tomb into the fullness of the resurrection life.” [91] Attainment to full status of Ascended Master in which the individual can move between and live in either the physical and the astral realms[92]. [93]

It’s important to stress that the above is only a symbolic representation of how we can attain divinity.  Jesus Himself did not actually achieve all five initiations in His lifetime as the following explains:

“…He [Master Jesus] is well known in the Bible History, coming before us as Joshua the Son of Nun, appearing again in the time of Ezra as Jeshua, taking the third initiation as related in the book of Zechariah, as Joshua, and in the Gospel story He is known for two great sacrifices, that in which He handed over His body for the use of the Christ [ed: at Baptism], and for the great renunciation [ed: the Cross] which is the characteristic of the fourth initiation.  As Appollonius [sic] of Tyana, He took the fifth initiation and became a Master of the Wisdom.  From that time on He has stayed and worked with the Christian Church, fostering the germ of true spiritual life which is to be found amongst members of all sects and divisions, and neutralising as far as possible the mistakes and errors of the churchmen and the theologians…” [94]

Jesus of Nazareth, reincarnated as Apollonius of Tyana, lived as a manifested Son of God having achieved this status as a result of His Crucifixion.  At the death of Apollonius of Tyana, according to this New Age/occult teaching, Jesus ascended and now this “Master Jesus” is “the Christ” as “Head of Hierarchy” who guides the Christian Church as well as all of humanity in this Age of Pisces.

“Cosmic Christ”

“The cosmic Christ has existed from all eternity.  This cosmic Christ is divinity, or spirit, crucified in space…” [95]

“The Cosmic Christ [is] the soul of the Universe.  The Cosmic Christ can be recognized as the link standing between matter and spirit.  The Cosmic Christ is not only the bridge between Hierarchy and humanity but also the bridge between Hierarchy and Shambhala.” [96]

The following article from an online source explains the “Cosmic Christ” and at the same time delineates some of the other meanings of “Christ”:

“This does involve the recognition of the Christos as a vast spiritual principle which narrowed Himself to make entry through the prepared and perfected vehicle of Jesus, 2000 years ago.  Thus Jesus and the Christ are not identical.  The Master Jesus is now the Head of Hierarchy who work[s] to prepare the way for the Great Coming of the Lord.

“This lifting and thinking of the Cosmic Christ helps to clear much confusion about the relation of the Christianity to the other great religions.  All the great religions, as we have said before, foretold the descent of the Exalted Lord of the Spiritual Sun. None could know precisely when and how the event would happen.  Spiritual knowledge reveals that the descent of the I AM took place at Baptism on Jordan, at the deepest point on the surface of the Earth. [97]

The “Great Coming of the Lord” is also known as “the reappearance of the Christ,” or, in actuality, the coming Antichrist.

“Reappearance” of the Christ

New Agers are waiting for the new “World Teacher,” Lord Maitreya to “reappear.”  They use the word “reappear” as the belief is that he never really left.  He has been initiating other “World Leaders” throughout the ages and dwells in Shambhala.  And, while Christians await the Second Coming of Christ, Muslims await the Imam Mahdi, Jews await the Messiah, and Buddhists are watching for the Fifth Buddha, this new “World Teacher” will fulfill all these roles, according the New Age religion.

The Christ expressed Himself as Jesus. But it is not Jesus who will be reappearing, but rather Christ, the head of Hierarchy, Who is coming… [98]

This will culminate in the end of the Piscean Age and the beginning of the Age of Aquarius, also known as the Kingdom of God.  AAB in From Bethlehem to Calvary states:

“…We can produce, and as a [human] race, give birth to, the next kingdom in nature, which Christ called the kingdom of God; this is the kingdom of souls, the kingdom of spiritual lives, and herein, uniquely, Christ emerges…” [99]

Here Bailey is referring to the “reappearance” of “the Christ,” or Lord Maitreya.  Note her words: “give birth to.”  This sounds eerily similar to what is known as “Birthing the Man-Child” in some hyper-charismatic circles:

“The key event toward which all of today’s world events as well as all of earth history has been working since the cross is a birthing of a first generation of believers directly into a place of immortal union with Christ.  It is by this birthing that heaven will definitively declare that the kingdoms of this world have at last come under actualized captivity to the Lord and His church.” [all emphasis in original] [100]

And, here are some excerpts from Todd Bentley’s monologue from May 28, 2008 at the Lakeland ‘Revival.’  Notice the New Age references:

“’Tonight is a crossing over and we have a moment,’ says the Lord, ‘where we can labor and travail until Christ is formed in you…’

“…I feel if we gave it a big push that we can literally form Christ – Christ in you.  I’m talking about a maturing of what God has placed on the inside of your spirit.  It’s gonna come out of the birth canal – it’s gonna come out of the womb – because there is a labor and there is a travailing that is going on in the spirit…

“…And, we are saying LET THERE BE LIFE.  And, there was life—speaking things into existence.  I am talking about a creative realm… …Under the anointing you make a declaration and it forms tonight…

“…We’re going to go back into travail right now until Christ is formed.  God promised a day where heaven and earth must retain Him until the restoration of all things.  Heaven will hold back the coming of Jesus Christ until sons and daughters come into maturity.  It’s called the Manifestation of the sons of God

“Heaven will hold back the Second Coming… A mature church manifests the glory of God.  A mature church manifests the Word of God in truth and power.  A mature church walks in holiness and character.  A mature church walks in miracle, signs, and wonders.

“I’m talking about a maturity tonight – and it’s being formed in you.  Let Christ be formed in maturity.  Let the full man, let the fullness of God come forth, and let the womb open tonight… and let there be a great birthing…”  [101] 

Also, as part of the “Birthing the Man-Child” doctrine is the belief that Christ will return in “His body, the Church.”  This is what Bob Jones was speaking of in his monologue on August 8, 2008 at the Rick Joyner’s MorningStar Ministries when he proclaimed there will be “’Jesuses’ all over the world”:

The New Breed will be those that are partaker of the divine nature.  As you begin to grow into the likeness of Christ you’re gonna begin to partake of the divine nature.  And, once you begin to grow up in that-away you’ll continue to mature until you look like Christ all over the world.  Jesus was one person.  Now get ready for Jesuses [sic; plural of “Jesus”] all over the world.”  [102]

According to New Age, when “The Christ” “reappears,” he will also have the ability to manifest through many at one time:

“The Christ, when He comes into incarnation, will most likely project himself into many parts and be where he wants to be. This is called the Law of Divisibility, a term used in Agni Yoga that means a highly developed spirit—one who is able to contact, simultaneously, various people in various locations. For example, a Master can be seen in various groups at the same time. He can even be in different planes serving and teaching on different levels to meet various needs of the people. He can do different jobs in different places at one time. He impresses the space with his images, and so forth.”  [103]

In the following, “Christ” refers to the coming antichrist which will be empowered by “the Christ” aka Lucifer:

“Christianity will not be superseded.  It will be transcended, its work of preparation being triumphantly accomplished, and Christ will again give us the next revelation of divinity….” [104]

Contrary to AAB and the New Age, Christianity will not be transcended!

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. [Hebrews 13:8, NIV 1984]

But you remain the same and your years will never end. [Psalm 102:27, NIV 1984]

God is not a man that He should lie or a son of man that He should change his mind. [Numbers 23:19, NIV 1984]

In my opinion, by distorting the Christian faith, specifically the person of Jesus Christ, the New Age/occult is not only trying to “transcend” Christianity (its primary goal with respect to Christianity), it wants to deny seekers the true salvation through the atoning work of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, and/or to render Christians ineffective by the resulting confusion.

20 May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.  Amen [Hebrews 13:20-21, NIV 1984]

The following is how it is really going to end:

20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. [Romans 16:20, NIV 1984]

12 “Behold, I am coming soon!  My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” [Revelation 22:12-13, NIV 1984]

 

[This article will likely be changed/updated with new information as my understanding grows of the different terminology and aspects of the term “Christ” in the New Age religion.  This may include adding quotes and accompanying footnotes].

[1] Bailey, Alice A. The Externalisation of the Hierarchy. 1957 Lucis, NY, 6th printing 1981; Fort Orange Press, Albany, NY; p 510-511; [underlining from emphasis in original; bolding added.] While the book was not published until 1957, most sections within the book have corresponding dates.  The portion quoted here is from 1919, some of the earliest writings of Bailey/The Tibetan.

[2] Newman, Hannah. The Rainbow Swastika: A Report to the Jewish People about New Age Antisemitism.  <http://philologos.org/__eb-trs/naC.htm>  Quote taken from section C: “The Gods of the New Age.” par 1; as accessed 05/08/11. Excellent expose of the New Age movement especially from a Jewish perspective even though I disagree with some of her conclusions with respect to “Master Jesus” and the “Planetary Hierarchy.”

[3] Lucis Trust website. The Esoteric Meaning of Lucifer. <http://www.lucistrust.org/en/arcane_school/talks_and_articles/the_esoteric_meaning_of_lucifer>; as accessed 05/08/11

[4] Bauer, W., W. F. Arndt, and F. W. Gingrich. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 1958, 2nd edition; Chicago, Chicago, IL; pp 886-87.  Also known as “BAGD.” 

[5] Bauer, p 887

[6] Strong, James, Dr. The Strongest Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. fully revised by John R. Kohlenberg III and James A. Swanson; 2001, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; Strong’s #5547; p 1542

[7] Bruce, F.F. The Acts of the Apostles: Greek Text with Introduction and Commentary. 1990, 3rd Revised and Enlarged Edition, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI; p 157

[8] Bruce, F.F. The Epistle to the Galatians: A Commentary on the Greek Text; NIGTC. 1982, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI; p 20

[9] Bauer, p 888

[10] Vine, W.E., Unger, White. Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. 1996, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN; p 28 New Testament Section

[11] Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of John: A Commentary, Volume One. 2003, 1st Softcover Ed, 2010, Hendrickson, Peabody, MA; p 619.  Reference from Gustof Dalman’s Jesus-Jeshua: Studies in the Gospels. 1929; p 13

[12] Berkhof, L. Systematic Theology. 1941, 4th revised and enlarged ed, 1991, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 91-5, 312-13, 356-66

[13] Grudem, W. Systematic Theology. 1994, Inter-Varsity, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 233-38, 543-554, 624-33

[14] Thayer, J. H. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. 1979, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; p 672

[15] Brenton, C. L. The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English. 1851, 11th printing, 2005, Hendrickson

[16] Bailey, Alice A. Initiation, Human and Solar. 1951 Lucis, NY, 4th paperback ed, 1980, Fort Orange Press, Albany, NY; back cover.  First printing 1922.

[17] Bailey, Initiation.

[18] Hughes, Dennis. Share Guide: The Holistic Health Magazine and Resource Directory. Interview with Barbara Marx Hubbard. 2004, par 6; as accessed 05/08/11

[19] Bailey, Alice A. The Consciousness of the Atom. 1961 Lucis, NY, 2nd paperback ed, 1974, Fort Orange Press, Albany, NY.  First printing 1922.

[20] Bailey, Initiation.

[21] Lucis Trust website. <http://www.lucistrust.org/en/arcane_school/talks_and_articles/descent_and_sacrifice> par 8; as accessed 05/08/11

[22] Bailey, Externalisation. p 469

[23] Bailey, Alice A.  From Bethlehem to Calvary. Copyright 1937 by Alice A. Bailey, renewed 1957 by Foster Bailey; Lucis, NY, 4th paperback edition, 1989; Fort Orange Press, Inc., Albany, New York; p 237

[24] Bailey, Bethlehem. p 51

[25] Bailey, Bethlehem. p 187

[26] Bailey, Consciousness. p 58

[27] Bailey, Bethlehem. p 185

[28] Bailey, Externalisation. p 588

[29] Bailey, The Unfinished Biography. 1951 Lucis, NY, George S. Ferguson, Philadelphia, PA; p 294

[30] Bailey, Bethlehem. pp 57-58

[31] Discernment Research Group. “Yoism: Creating Heaven on Earth” <http://herescope.blogspot.com/2006/05/yoism-creating-heaven-on-earth.html> as accessed 05/08/11

[32] Bailey, Initiation. p 67

[33] Bailey, Bethlehem. p 210

[34] Bailey, Bethlehem. p 254

[35] Lucis, Descent.

[36] Bailey, Bethlehem. pp 262-63

[37] Bailey, Discipleship in the New Age, Volume I. 1972 Lucis, NY, 8th printing, 1972, Fort Orange Press, Inc., Albany, New York; p 32.  First printing 1944.

[38] Bailey, Bethlehem. pp 268-69

[39] Bailey, Telepathy and the Etheric Vehicle. 1950 Lucis, NY, 2nd printing, 1957, George S. Ferguson, Philadelphia, PA

[40] Bailey, Initiation. pp 38, 88

[41] Bailey, Initiation. p 93

[42] Newman, Rainbow Swastika. “The Gods of the New Age.” Part 4

[43] Bailey, Alice A. A Treatise on Cosmic Fire. 1925 Lucis, NY, 4th edition, 1951, George S. Ferguson, Philadelphia, PA; pp 146-48

[44] Internet Sacred Text Archive website. Bailey, Initiation, Human and Solar. <http://www.sacred-texts.com/eso/ihas/ihas09.htm> diagrams of pp 48-49; as accessed 05/08/11.

[45] Bailey, Alice A. The Destiny of the Nations. 1949 Lucis, NY, 2nd paperback ed, 1974, Fort Orange Press, Inc., Albany, New York; p 149

[46] Center for Christ Consciousness website. “What is Christ Consciousness?” <http://www.ctrforchristcon.org/christ-consciousness.asp> as accessed 05/08/11

[47] Bailey, Alice A. The Reappearance of the Christ. 1948 Lucis, NY, 4th paperback ed, 1979, Fort Orange Press, Inc., Albany, New York; p 75

[48] Bailey, Alice A. Esoteric Psychology, Volume II. 1970 Lucis NY, 6th printing (paperback), 1971, Fort Orange Press, Inc., Albany, New York; p 100.  First printed in 1942.

[49] Bailey, Discipleship I. pp 681-82

[50] Bailey, Bethlehem. pp 181, 185-86

[51] Bailey, Reappearance. P 145

[52] Dowling, Levi. The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ. 1907, 1935, 1964, 11th printing, 1987, DeVorss, Marina del Rey, CA; p 6.

[53] Bailey, Externalisation. p 588

[54] Bailey, Initiation. p 88

[55] ibid.

[56] World Service Intergroup website. Dubois, J.D. “The Christ, His Reappearance, and the Avatar of Synthesis” <http://www.worldserviceintergroup.net/#/christ-reappearance/4543145171> Point 3; as accessed 05/08/11

[57] Bailey, Initiation. p 92

[58] Bailey, Alice A. The Rays and the Initiations. 1960 Lucis, NY, 2nd paperback ed, 1976, Fort Orange Press, Inc., Albany, New York; p 697

[59] Bailey, Initiation. p 88

[60] Bailey, Initiation. pp 56-57

[61] Dowling, Aquarian. Back cover

[62] Dowling, p 82.

[63] Dowling, pp 82-83

[64] Dowling, p 8 

[65] Bailey, Bethlehem. pp 100-101

[66] einterface website. “The Master Jesus” taken from Benjamin Crème’s works Maitreya Mission, Volumes 1, 2, and 3. <http://www.einterface.net/gamini/indexju.html> par 5; as accessed 05/08/11

[67] einterface, par 3; as accessed 05/08/11

[68] Dowling, Aquarian. pp 7-8, 255

[69] einterface, par 2; as accessed 05/08/11

[70] Bailey, Bethlehem. pp 26, 47

[71] Bailey, Initiations. pp 114-15

[72] Bailey, Rays. pp 685, 664-673

[73] Bailey, Bethlehem. p 99

[74] Bailey, Bethlehem. pp 27, 47-48

[75] Bailey, Rays. pp 677, 673-687

[76]  Bailey, Bethlehem. p 100

[77] Dowling, Aquarian. p 83

[78] einterface, par 2; as accessed 05/08/11

[79] Bailey, Initiations. p 89

[80] Bailey, Bethlehem. pp 26, 48

[81] Bailey, Rays. pp 687, 688-89, 367

[82] Bailey, Rays. pp 688

[83] Bailey, Rays. pp 689-91, 368

[84] Bailey, Initiations. pp 56-57

[85] Bailey, Bethlehem. pp 28, 48-49, 184-85, 206-207

[86] Bailey, Bethlehem. p 202

[87] Bailey, Rays. pp 694

[88] Bailey, Rays. pp 695-699

[89] Bailey, Bethlehem. pp 178, 184, 186

[90] Bailey, Bethlehem. p 187

[91] Bailey, Externalisation. p 597

[92] Bailey, Bethlehem. pp 28, 49-51

[93] Bailey, Externalisation. p 468-71

[94] Bailey, Initiations. pp 56-57

[95] Bailey, Bethlehem. p 181

[96] World Service Intergroup; Dubois; point 4; as accessed 05/08/11

[97] Trevelyan, George. The Cosmic Christ in the New Age: A Wrekin Trust Lecture, 1977. <http://www.sirgeorgetrevelyan.org.uk/tht-cosmicchrist2.html> par 34-35; as accessed 05/08/11

[98] World Service Intergroup; Dubois; par 8; as accessed 05/08/11

[99] Bailey, Bethlehem. p 259

[100] Anderson, Chris. “Revelation 12: A Paradigm for Understanding the End Times” endtimespropheticvision website <http://www.etpv.org/2009/rev12.html> October, 2000; par 7; as accessed 05/08/11

[101] Bentley, Todd. Monologue from Lakeland Revival, Day 57 May 28, 2008. Originally accessed here: <http://injesus.com/index.php?module=message&task=list&GroupID-WB0062AX> access date unknown, website link no longer available.

[102] MorningStar Ministries, Media Store, VS19-000D. “Todd Bentley Healing and Impartation Service, 08-08-08” DVD.  Starting at 1934:39.

[103] World Service Intergroup; Dubois; par 5; as accessed 05/08/11

[104] Bailey, Bethlehem. p 20

The Kingdom of God is at Hand, part I

[see part II here.]

Jesus Himself stated, “The kingdom of God is at hand” in Mark 1:15 [NIV]; however, it is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew that He also said “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” [Matthew 4:17, 10:7 NIV] A quick examination of Scripture leads to the conclusion that the phrases “kingdom of God” and “kingdom of heaven” are synonymous. So, is the kingdom of God NOW?

Most first century Jews, according to their understanding of Scripture, were looking for a Messiah who would provide theocratic rule thus delivering them from Roman oppression and immediately establishing the Kingdom of God – the Age to Come. The then-current age – “Satan’s Time” – was one of sin, sickness, demonic possession, and evil in which evil men were triumphant.[1]

Consequently, even though Jesus Christ healed the sick, drove out demons and even claimed to have forgiven sins, the majority of religious leaders did not recognize Him as the Messiah in part because He did not try to overthrow Rome. Since many of the Pharisees – one of the religious parties of the day – did not believe Jesus’ claim as the “I Am” [John 8:58] they wanted to stone Him for blasphemy!

Historical background

Writings of the Intertestamental Era

400 years had already elapsed between the writing of Malachi, the last Old Testament book to be recorded, and the era of Jesus’ earthly ministry. In the intertestamental period (the time between the Old and New Testaments), the Jews were not a free people most of the time instead subjected to the rulership of various empires. There were no prophets providing correction or guidance; and, consequently, it was a rather unhappy time. As a result, it was a period marked by a surge in the production of literary works, the most important of which were the Septuagint – the Greek translation of the Tanakh – what Christians know as the Old Testament (abbreviated LXX)[2], the Apocryphal & Pseudepigraphic writings (some of the Apocrypha were translated from the Hebrew and Aramaic and included as part of the LXX)[3], and the Dead Sea Scrolls.[4]

The word Apocrypha, from Greek derivation, means “hidden” which has a view of the works being either esoteric and only to be understood by the initiated or, “hidden” in that the nature of the writings are questionable or heretical[5]. The term Pseudepigrapha is usually applied to Jewish (and Jewish-Christian) writings from 200BC to AD200 and comes also from Greek etymology meaning the writings were attributed to fictitious authors[6] although some have authorship ascribed[7]. From both groups of works the subject of eschatology has a significant role. Taken all together, this literature appeared to have a profound effect on the pre-Christian and the immediate post-Resurrection era[8] up through the destruction of the Second Temple in AD70[9]. [Note: for the purposes of this article the “New Testament Apocrypha” including the so-called “Lost Gospels, ” Acts of Andrews, Epistles of the Apostles, etc. are not considered.]

…These and other writings emerged during the long silence that fell between the death of the last OT prophet, Malachi (about 400 B.C.), and the appearance of John the Baptist. To some extent these writings attempted to discern what God was saying to a nation that, though it had repudiated idolatry, still suffered under the dominion of a succession of pagan powers… [10]

At the Council of Jamnia in AD90 Jewish rabbis rejected the Apocrypha (of which parts were included in the Septuagint) as canonical[11]. Yet, some of the Apocrypha are included in the Catholic New American Bible as Deuterocanonical (meaning later added to the canon) books[12]. Some of the Roman Catholic Church’s doctrine such as purgatory, masses for the dead, and obtaining the merit of God through good works come from these Apocryphal works[13].

The OT canon accepted by Protestants today was “very likely established by the dawn of the second century,” some time after the destruction of Herod’s Temple in AD70. However, the Apocrypha was still in common use by most Christians until the Protestant Reformation[14].

Societal Developments of the Period

Even though the Second Temple was in operation from 516 BC[15] until AD70[16,17] geographical constraints and oppressive regimes prevented easy travel for the typical Jew. Thus the synagogue was born. Synagogues can be likened to our modern day church buildings as they provided a convenient way to gather socially and to worship. Jesus Himself visited local synagogues [Luke 4:14-21; Matthew 12:9; Mark 1:21]; and, the Apostles [Acts 9:20, 13:5-43] and early Christian missionaries preached in them as well[18].

The Sanhedrin was a committee of Jews with recognized executive, legislative, and judicial power over Jewish faith and lifestyle during the Seleucid Empire (196 – 167BC), the Maccabean revolt (168 – 143BC) and within the limits imposed by Julius Caesar, Herod the Great, and Roman procurators during the Roman Empire (44BC – AD66).[19,20] Subordinate to the Sanhedrin were the religious parties or sects known as the Sadducees, Pharisees, Essenes, and the Qumran community[21]. Since the Sanhedrin had authority over these sects and ultimate authority over capital cases (yet subordinate to Rome during Roman occupation), Jesus’ trial is seen as being conducted illegally[22].

Beliefs of the Sects

Not much is known about the separative and isolationistic Essene group except that they were very legalistic living both frugally and communally while limiting contact outside their sect. While they did not condemn marriage in principle it was avoided and celibacy was celebrated. Their sect was continued on by the adoption of children. There was an expectation of an impending apocalyptic battle between good and evil. Evidence of a soon to emerge Messiah is in their writings also[23].

Even less was known of the Qumran community until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) which were first unearthed in 1947. The Qumranians are likely a sect that broke from the Essenes. This extremely sectarian group rejected the Jewish leadership referring to them as “sons of darkness” and “men of the pit” while referring to themselves as “sons of light” and “sons of truth.” They firmly believed they were living in the end times[24].

From the DSS it is evident that the Qumranians were highly legalistic with a commitment to study the Torah. The Qumran group believed they were living in the end times and accepted the guidance of a certain teacher of righteousness [ed: probably based at least in part on Malachi 4:5] who was presumably preparing them for the Messiah. Their own writings about this “righteous teacher” are too sketchy to determine the exact role of this figure; however, it is apparent that the community accepted his interpretations of the prophetic OT books regarding eschatology. Since the Qumran believed in a resurrection of the dead, it may be assumed in studying portions of the DSS that they expected the “teacher of righteousness to be martyred and eventually raised up[25]. Their Messiah figure, on the other hand, was more of a human son of David concept rather than a divine apocalyptic Son of man[26]. Some scholars construe that the Qumran belief system supports two or three Messianic figures[27,28].

As supernaturalists, the Pharisees believed in angels, demons, bodily resurrection [Acts 23:8], and immortality with reward for the righteous dead[29] in contrast with retribution for the unrighteous[30]. They were legalistic to the point of going beyond the Scriptures in attempting to adhere to the Torah; and, to this end added their own oral tradition to keep various points of the law. A good example of this is their view of the Sabbath [Mark 2:23-28]. The Pharisees “neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness” [Matthew 23:23 NIV] creating a more works-based religion than one with a personal God.

The Pharisees believed both in man’s free will and the sovereignty of God yet thought neither would cancel out the other. Ethics such as human equality were emphasized in their teachings but not necessarily from a theological standpoint[31]. They expected the Messiah to restore Jewish freedom[32].

One credible source stated outright that the Pharisees believed in reincarnation[33]; yet, the general consensus among Christian scholars is that Pharisaical belief regarding immortality adhered to orthodoxy instead. However, in the Apocryphal and Pseudepigraphic literature there are references to reincarnation[34]. In some camps, the Kabbalah was thought to be in use as early as the time of Moses as part of an oral tradition and reincarnation is one of the tenets of Kabbalistic doctrine[35]. While there are certainly some Jewish sects who currently espouse reincarnation[36], it is not clear when this doctrine first came about. The Apocryphal book Ecclesiasticus, or Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach[37], contains a warning against such esotericism [Sirach 3:20-22].[38]

The common people were predominantly middle class and identified mostly with the Pharisees in part because this party was of the same class[39]. It should be noted that not all Pharisees were of the same ilk as those represented in the NT. Some contemporaries within their own party recognized their hypocrisy and rebuked them for it[40]. Gamaliel appeared to try to honor a personal God with his words [Acts 5:33-41]. Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee, would, of course, become the Apostle Paul.

The Sadducees, more than any of these groups, had an interest in Temple ceremonies and sought a literal interpretation of the Torah. They appeared to reject extra-canonical sources for doctrine. As the most affluent of the religious groups, the Sadducees wielded political clout disproportionate to their relative size[41]. It is assumed that they held a large percentage of seats on the Sanhedrin.

The Sadducean view of eschatology was quite simplistic and widely divergent from the other sects as they did not believe in a resurrection [Matthew 22:23, Mark 12:18, Luke 20:27] or an afterlife and even denied the existence of a spiritual world altogether [Acts 23:8] attributing everything to free will[42].

Eschatological Views of the Pre-Christian and Immediate Post-Resurrection Era

With the exception of the Sadducean view, the predominant Jewish belief of the pre-Christian era included the imminent arrival of a Messianic figure (or figures assuming one of the viewpoints regarding the Qumran group) to deliver them from their Roman oppressors and immediately establish the Kingdom of God. Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stewart, in their book How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, describe the Jewish eschaton (view of the end of time) as the belief that the Messiah’s coming would usher in the “Age to Come” to be “characterized by the presence of the Spirit, righteousness, health, and peace.”[43]

Since Jesus Christ’s disciples/followers came directly from Jewish heritage or were familiar with Jewish eschatological beliefs, they were also expecting Him to soon usher in the Kingdom and overthrow Rome[44] while He was still on the earth. Consequently, Jesus’ arrest and subsequent death on the Cross was met with immense disillusionment among His disciples in part because of this assumption [Luke 22:61-62; 23:27, 48-49; 24:17-21]. However, their sorrow turned to joy with His Resurrection and Ascension!

Yet it was apparent that the end of the age had not come in full:

“Very early, beginning with Peter’s sermon in Acts 3, the early Christians came to realize that Jesus had not come to usher in the ‘final’ end, but the ‘beginning’ of the end, as it were. Thus they came to see that with Jesus’ death and resurrection, and with the coming of the Spirit, the blessings and benefits of the future had already come. In a sense, therefore, the end had already come. But, in another sense the end had not yet fully come. Thus it was already but not yet. [45] [emphasis in original]

First century Christians had to adjust their eschatological thinking to fit the events of the Resurrection and Ascension. However, apparently some were expecting the imminent return of Jesus Christ prompting the Apostle Paul to write the two Thessalonian letters to provide markers of what first must take place before His return. They still had a “kingdom now” mindset. This expectation of imminency with regard to Christ’s return continues in the mindset of most Christians today.

This “tension” between the already but not yet is an important hermeneutical tool in interpreting the New Testament[46]. Passages such as Colossians 3:1-2 illustrate this quite well:

1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. [NIV]

We are already raised up with Christ, yet we are still physically here on earth. However, since we have the future expectation of being raised with Christ, we are to already set our hearts and minds on heavenly things. Similarly, when Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is at hand” He was using this same principle. The Kingdom era has already begun; but, the consummation is yet to be fulfilled.

There are those today who are attempting to hasten Jesus Christ’s return by taking the not yet into their own hands. It is the doctrines of some of these which will be compared to the doctrines of the groups above in the second part of this article.

See Part II here.

Endnotes:

[1] Fee, Gordon D. and Douglas Stewart “The Gospels: One Story, Many Dimensions.” How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. second edition, 1993; Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; p 131

[2] Gaebelein, Frank E., Gen. Ed. “The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha.” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 1. 1979; Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 164-174. This section features Bruce M. Metzger as contributor.

[3] Gaebelein, Frank E., Gen. Ed. “Between the Testaments.” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 1. 1979; Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 179-192. This section features Harold W. Hoehner as contributor.

[4] Barker, Kenneth; Burdick, Stek, et. al. “The Time between the Testaments” NIV Study Bible. copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 1424-1425

[5] Gaebelein, Op.cit. p 161 Metzger

[6] ibid. pp 162, 170

[7] Marshall, I. Howard; Millard, Packer “Pseudepigrapha” New Bible Dictionary. third edition, 1996; Intervarsity, Downers Grove, IL; p 985

[8] Gaebelein, Op.cit. pp 173-174 Hoehner

[9] Richards, Lawrence O. “Apocrypha” Richards Complete Bible Dictionary. 2002; World Bible Publishers, Iowa Falls, IO; p 76

[10] ibid.

[11] Marshall, Op.cit.

[12] Gaebelein, Op.cit. p 162

[13] Richards, Op.cit.

[14] Barker, Op.cit. p 1425

[15] Richards, Lawrence O. “Ezra” Richards’ Complete Bible Handbook. 1987; Word, Inc., Dallas, TX; pp 233-234

[16] Wikipedia The Second Temple <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Temple> para 1; as accessed 10/17/10

[17] Richards, Op.cit. “The Second Temple” Bible Dictionary p 967

[18] ibid. “synagogue” pp 957-958

[19] ibid. “Sanhedrin” pp 894-895

[20] Gaebelein, Op.cit. pp 184, 189-191 Hoehner

[21] ibid. pp 192-193

[22] Richards, Op.cit. p 895

[23] ibid. “Essenes” pp 346-347

[24] Gaebelein, Frank E., Gen. Ed. “Dead Sea Scrolls.” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 1. 1979; Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 395-398. This section features William Sanford LaSor as contributor.

[25] ibid. pp 399-401

[26] ibid. pp 400-403 [The bulk of this information on the Qumran is from the work of William S. LaSor titled The Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972]

[27] Barker, Op.cit. p 1427

[28] Hanson, Kenneth “The Wicked Priest” Dead Sea Scrolls: the Untold Story. 1997; Council Oaks Books, Tulsa, OK; p 82

[29] Richards, Op.cit. “Pharisees” p 782

[30] Barker, Op.cit. “Jewish Sects” p 1473

[31] ibid.

[32] Richards, Op.cit.

[33] Gaebelein, Op.cit. p 192 Hoehner

[34] Gaebelein, Op.cit. p 165 Metzger

[35] Wikipedia “Primary Texts” Kabbalah. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kabbalah> para 2, also “History: Origin of Terms” para 1; as accessed 10/17/10

[36] Rich, Tracey R. “Resurrection and Reincarnation” Olam Ha-Ba: The Afterlife. <http://www.jewfaq.org/olamhaba.htm>  Copyright 5759-5760 (1999); Tracey R. Rich; para 4; as accessed 10/17/10

[37] Gaebelein, Op.cit. p 166

[38] Confraternity of Christian Doctrine “Sirach” New American Bible. <http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/sirach/sirach3.htm> 2002; Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC; Sirach 3:20-22; as accessed 10/17/10

[39] Richards, Op.cit. “The Common People” Bible Handbook p 443

[40] ibid. “The Pharisees” p 442

[41] Gaebelein, Op.cit. p 192 Hoehner

[42] Richards, Op.cit. “Sadducees” p 885

[43] Fee, Op.cit. p 132

[44] ibid.

[45] ibid. pp 132-133

[46] ibid. p 133