Continuing discoveries this century are
shedding ever greater light onto one of the most opaque and
mysterious periods in history, illuminating the man and message and
1st century cultural impact of Jesus. Given the recent discoveries
of the "Dead Sea Scrolls", the
"Gnostic Gospels" of Nag Hammadi, and
now, apparently, even the long-sought "Gospel of the Nazirenes", far
more has been discovered about the earliest days of Christianity in
this century than in all the years previous.
And what is becoming
more and more clear from these discoveries is that the original
message of Christ differed sharply from the official doctrines later
adopted by the church.
Recently an Aramaic manuscript entitled "The Gospel of the Nazirenes"
was translated and published. Said to be an ancient scripture
forgotten for centuries in a Tibetan monastery, this work seems, in
virtually every respect, identical to a work by the same title that
was known and widely quoted from in the first centuries of the
Many of the most revered early church
fathers, as well as a surprising number of scholars today, have
boldly declared that the legendary "Gospel of the Nazirenes" was
nothing less than the long-lost ORIGINAL Gospel which, legend holds,
was collectively written by the actual 12 apostles in the period
immediately after Christ’s death, and upon which all three of the
Biblical synoptic Gospels were based.
If this recently published work indeed IS that original lost
scripture, it would be a magnificent treasure of unequaled value,
possessing incomparable relevance for the whole of Christianity. The
manuscript claims in no uncertain terms to be that same ancient work
composed by the 12 apostles, and, in fact, it makes an intriguing
and compelling case for being just that.
And it supports DivisionTheory, the scientific Life-After-Death
theology found in the Gnostic Gospels of Nag Hammadi in the 1940’s.
The Legend of
the Lost Gospel
For nearly 2,000 years, all we objectively knew of Jesus came to us
primarily through the four Biblical Gospels. But for all that time,
a great and enduring pall has hung over those lofty works. In the
fourth century, the authorities of Rome decided just which of the
countless books on Jesus in circulation at that time would make up
the present-day Bible, deciding once and for all, in effect, which
works were to be judged as genuine and authoritative and which were
This decision, unfortunately, carried
the undeniable taint of politics - and possible political compromise
- the Bishops making these decisions were doing so at the direct
command of the Roman Emperor, and their future financial and social
well-being was, everyone agrees, entirely under his control. It has
been whispered ever since the fourth century that much of the true
message of Jesus was edited out at that time, due to the oppressive
and theologically-obtuse influence of Constantine.
Many Christian scriptures that failed to be admitted into the Bible
were then outlawed, collected, and destroyed.
Prior to 325 AD, however, many of the early Church fathers had
included in their writings mention of an earlier Gospel, upon which,
they claimed in near-perfect unison, the synoptic Gospels of
Matthew, Mark, and Luke had ALL been based. Mentioned or quoted from
by such well-known church fathers as Papias, Hegesippus, Iranaeas,
Clement, Origen, Basil, Epiphanius, Eusebius, and St. Jerome, this
document had gone variously by the title
"Gospel of the Nazirenes"
(The word "Nazirene" comes from a "Nazirite-Essene" sect, or a
Nazirite sect of the Essene branch of Judaism)
"Gospel of the
"Gospel of the Ebionites"
"The Aramaic Gospel of
For nearly 2,000 years, historians considered this work to have been
irrevocably lost, but in 1870 a forgotten copy was said to have been
discovered hidden away in a Tibetan monastery, and was quickly
translated from the original Aramaic, published this time as "The
Gospel of the Holy Twelve". This work was, however, translated quite
clumsily into very dusty old-style King James English, and at the
time the work was not widely noticed or read. But now a new
translation has arrived, published in 1997, edited and restored by
Alan Wauters and Rick Van Wyhe.
This document certainly seems to be the same gospel referred to by
so many ancient commentators. Although that ancient original
scripture had indeed been lost, a number of its passages are still
known, having been preserved when various church fathers quoted them
in their own writings. Virtually all those quoted passages are found
again here in "Nazirenes" in their entirety (as are also virtually
the entire contents of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and
Numerous historical references thus seem
to confirm the authenticity of the 1870 manuscript, and many modern
scholars since 1870 have concluded as well that this work is, in all
likelihood, the original source of much of the material that
eventually found its way into the Biblical Gospels. If so, the
Biblical Gospels would then be mere edited versions of this earlier,
and therefore more authoritative work, just as many have argued over
The Stamp of
Far more than the Biblical Gospels, this work has the feel of having
been written by actual witnesses to the events it describes. The
detail is often both more natural and more explicit, and a great
many theological, social, and political issues come out making a
great deal more sense.
Often during the reading of this work, one feels that one is simply
reading the Bible, for many passages are, indeed, virtually
identical to that found in the canon. The familiar old stories are
told again, and either the working is identical, or, when expanded
upon or alternate wording is used, the stories come out making
rather more sense than before, clearing up many questions left
hanging in the authorized version.
Never does it seem that the unfamiliar
material is actually out- of-place, as if it had been pasted-in by
editors after the fact. Rather, in virtually every instance the
fresh material seems an integral component of the narrative, and, as
one reflects anew upon the more familiar wording of the authorized
Bible, the absence of this unfamiliar material seems now to stand
out as a lacking:
"And Herod with his men of war set
him at naught, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous
robe and sent him again to Pilate.
And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends, for before
they were at enmity between themselves." - Nazirenes 81:17
Nice detail. Its inclusion in the
narrative doesn’t seem necessary for any theological content or
other long-term significance, but it is nonetheless precisely the
sort of detail a group of 12 friends might see fit to include in
their narrative. Similar details occur throughout the text. In the
authorized Bible, for example, at Jesus’ death it merely reports
that the "veil of the Temple was ripped" by a powerful earthquake.
But in what is seemingly the more original, and detail-rich work, "Nazirenes"
"And behold there was great thunder
and lightning, and the partition wall of the Holy place, from
which hung the veil, fell down, and was rent in two, and the
Earth did quake, and the rocks also were rent."
Seemingly minor yet colorful and
narratively enriching details like this run throughout this text,
giving the compelling impression that this is indeed an original
eyewitness narrative, not a bland, confused, or glossed-over
retelling of a dusty tradition repeatedly handed down orally for 30
years of more before finally being committed to writing. Traditional
scriptural teachings maintain that the mighty works recorded in the
New Testament went unwritten for some 30 years or more before being
put down in writing, but this seems to make no sense.
At least some of the apostles were,
reportedly, quite literate and learned men, and it seems likely,
even prior to encountering a text such as this, that an already
close-knit group of 12 learned friends would have quickly pooled and
compared their memories in an effort to compose a definitive version
of their recollections of the man, teachings, and works of Jesus,
before anything of import could be forgotten.
And this text, now available for all to read, constitutes evidence
that such a collective testimony not only WAS composed (just as
reason suggests it would have been), but successfully survived the
centuries after all, even in spite of whatever political forces that
might at one time have been aligned against it.
It seems very much as if the authorized Gospels in the present-day
Bible were all various edited versions of this "Gospel of the Nazirenes". Some material originating in "Nazirenes", it seems, even
found its way into the Biblical books of Acts and Revelations.
In many ways, while reading it, the familiar age-old message of the
Bible comes through as always; but then one is suddenly jolted
upright, finding oneself reading startling passages that directly
defend the very NON-Western tradition of reincarnation (along with
equally unfamiliar tales of Jesus’ studying various mysteries and
wisdom traditions in India and Persia and Egypt, tales of
marriage and the subsequent death of his wife, and much more).
In many places, then, what is written in "Nazirenes"
sharply with the familiar story and message in the authorized Bible.
It teaches strict and uncompromising vegetarianism, describing how
Jesus’ anger at the Temple was not merely directed at the financial
business going on there, but was specifically over the selling and
slaughtering of sacrificial animals in the Temple, which was
supposed to be a House of Prayer, but had been changed, he cried,
into a slaughterhouse.
The idea that Jesus might have felt
outrage at seeing the cruel carnage of innocent creatures in the
Holy Temple seems fully consistent with his character as we have
collectively come to imagine Him, and this interesting variation of
the "moneychangers" story in "Nazirenes" comes across as fully
believable. In a word, it has the ring of truth to it.
"Nazirenes" claims that one of the biggest reasons
Jesus was so
adamantly condemned by the religious authorities of Israel was
because he advocated an end to blood sacrifices at the Temple. To
bring an end to these sacrifices, of course, would have completely
undermined the financial livelihood of much of the Temple priesthood
, and so they would have seen Jesus as embodying a personal threat
of no little consequence. In effect, he went right for their
wallets; an act more certain to elicit intense opposition from the
Judaic priesthood could scarcely be imagined.
"Nazirenes" also claims, not that Jesus was the "Only Begotten Son",
but, phrasing it quite differently, that he was the "First Begotten
Son" of God. The small change in terminology entirely undermines the
traditional church’s position that Jesus was a Divine being who
simply chose to become human; instead, this text now suggests, he
was at least also, in some respects, a human who, through persistent
effort and faithfulness to "The Law" (perhaps over many lifetimes),
had become a Divine being, suggesting the very gnostic notion that
anyone else might also attain the same accomplishment, which in turn
reminds us all of some of His Biblical comments:
"I have overcome the world." - John
"He who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and
greater works than these will he do...." - John 14:12
In a most modern slant, "Nazirenes"
directly advocates euthanasia, but only in cases of extreme
suffering. Always and everywhere throughout the book, the image of
Jesus is one utterly dedicated to gentleness and loving care for
others. Many scenes involved Jesus rebuking someone for cruelly
inflicting pain on others, whether people or animals.
Integrated into Christian Theology
I am delighted to report that this restored Gospel seems fully
consistent with, and in many respects powerfully supports my own
work, DivisionTheory, which maintains that the soul and
ancient scripture are the unconscious and conscious of today’s
science, which split apart after death, each going on to an entirely
separate afterlife experience. The unconscious soul, carrying one’s
memories and emotion, becomes trapped in a self-created heavenly or
hellish dreamlike unconscious netherworld of its own creation, while
the conscious spirit, carrying the intellect and free will, goes on
to a new incarnation utterly oblivious to the fact that it had lived
My long-standing fear was that some early Christian text of this
degree of apparent authenticity would eventually arise which would
decisively EXCLUDE DivisionTheory from the teachings of Christ (in
which case I would be forced to chuck the conclusions of 10 years of
work, to which, I admit, I have more than a little ego attachment);
but instead, such a work has now come to light which stands as even
more powerful SUPPORT for concluding that DivisionTheory is indeed
an accurate portrayal of those original teachings.
Losing the Soul
Like DivisionTheory, "Nazirenes" specifically teaches that man is a
triune being, composed of body, soul, and spirit (54:14), but also
teaches that this triune nature can be violated, that it is, in
fact, possible for one to lose one’s soul at death (25:10).
"Salvation", or "eternal life", was specifically described as
"saving one’s soul"; but this was contrasted with those who do not
"fulfill the Law", and therefore would "lose" their soul at death.
Losing their soul, however, did
apparently not mean that one’s whole being would become permanently
trapped in some netherworld, nor did it mean ceasing to exist; on
the contrary, even if the person "lost" his soul, HE WOULD STILL
REINCARNATE, the text insists. "Losing the soul", then, meant
something very different to the writers of this Gospel than that
meaning currently assumed in Christian circles. Just as the only
difference between reincarnation and eternal life would seem to be
in the issue of saving or losing one’s memories of one’s past, the
only difference between saving or losing one’s soul would seem to be
the difference between reincarnating as usual or acquiring "eternal
In that the concept of reincarnation
already incorporates the idea that death does not end one’s
existence, the "Nazirenes" concept of "eternal life" apparently
means more than simply continuing to exist after one’s physical
death. It means, rather, that one’s memories are retained, one’s
sense of self-identity is retained. And as modern science has taught
us that memory is stored in the unconscious, this would require that
the unconscious soul not be "lost", but rather be "saved".
Eternal Life Vs. Reincarnation
"Nazirenes" teaches the doctrine of reincarnation as a certainty
(69:2, many others), but also teaches that acquiring "eternal life"
is only an OPTION. This "eternal life" is thus NOT merely the
eternal life of reincarnating, but was thought to be something
merely potentially possible for human beings to achieve, a
possibility that should be sought, but by no means was this ‘eternal
life" a guaranteed certainty.
Reincarnation was a guaranteed
certainty, but "eternal life" was not. Thus there existed, according
to this teaching, some OTHER form of "eternal life" superior to
merely reincarnating and forgetting one’s past lives, some OTHER
form of continual existence in which one’s past efforts and
hard-earned knowledge and wisdom and skills and loves and
accomplishments would never be lost again, as is normally the case
As in Adam, all are bound to cycles
of rebirth, so in the Lord shall all be made eternal. Blessed
are those who are made perfect .. for... their works do follow
- Nazirenes 69:2
And sounding very much like
DivisionTheory indeed, this eternal life, this "perfection", could
only be attained by a particular integrative interaction of the
unconscious soul and the conscious spirit:
"...every soul may be perfected by
the ascent of the soul into the spirit and the descent of the
spirit into the soul...."
- Nazirenes 96:16
Fulfilling "The Law" Within
In order to achieve this eternal life, "The Gospel of the Nazirenes"
declares, "The Law" must be fully obeyed. In this respect this book
shows us a very "Jewish" Jesus indeed, with His unequivocal focus on
‘The Law that must be obeyed’. But "The Law", to THIS Jesus, was not
altogether that same Law written in the Hebrew Old Testament, but
rather a universal Law pre-written into the inner being of Man.
The true Law given by Moses, THIS
claimed, had been altered and betrayed and adulterated by the
priests of Persia during the Jewish people’s captivity there. The
true Law given by Moses was, this scripture maintains, the same
ancient Law is always pre-written in the hearts of men - the "Law of
Love and the unity of all life in the One-Family of the All-Parent"
This work teaches that living according to that inner Law is the key
to salvation, Eternal Life, the Kingdom of Heaven. It teaches that
if one experiences hell after death, it is not because one was
condemned by God or anyone else, but by being "Self"-condemned
(18:1, 46:3). Whatever hellfires the evil dead suffer after death
would be those very same fires they themselves created in their own
unconscious souls prior to their deaths....
"Then he shall say to them on his
left hand, "Depart from me evil souls into the eternal fires
which you have prepared for yourselves."
- Nazirenes 67:11
.. by betraying the Law, the sense of
right and wrong, that was pre-written into their inner beings. Those
who did NOT follow and obey the true "Law" would not receive this
‘eternal life". They WOULD, however, still continue to reincarnate.
Reincarnation Vs. Resurrection
"The Gospel of the Nazirenes" teaches the Eastern doctrine of
reincarnation right alongside the traditional Western doctrine of an
eternal heaven and hell; just as in DivisionTheory, these two
traditions are shown united in a single integral vision of Life
After Death. And also like DivisionTheory, "Nazirenes" ALSO combines
the Eastern doctrine of reincarnation with the Western doctrine of a
coming Universal resurrection, in which all the world’s dead would
simultaneously rise to conscious life. But including, within the
context of reincarnation, this idea of a coming "universal
resurrection" at the end of time is a tricky proposition.
How can all the world’s dead rise at the
same time into physical bodies when each person shares identities
with his own other selves, his numerous past incarnations? Clearly,
such an event would have to be, as DivisionTheory claims, a time
when the memories of past lives and past selves would suddenly flood
back into the conscious world, when the dead awaken within us all,
within already-living bodies, as opposed to the spontaneously and
miraculously reconstituted bodies expected by traditional Western
"The Kingdom is within you. But the
time approaches when that which is within shall be made manifest
in the without, for the sake of the world."
- Nazirenes 91:3
Resolving the Doctrinal Conflict Within Nazirenes
Sadly, "Nazirenes" does not clearly
spell out how these two co-existing doctrines were successfully
integrated in the minds of Jesus and the 12 apostles, but, outside
of the DivisionTheory scenario of spontaneous past-life memory
restoration, the Bible’s prophecies of a coming Universal
resurrection into physical bodies seem incompatible with the
doctrine of reincarnation. Thus, it seems, only DivisionTheory
resolves the doctrinal conflict that "Nazirenes" presents.
"The Gospel of the Nazirenes" also teaches that, even at Judgment
Day, the evil souls of the world will, even then, still have one
last chance to repent and turn and be saved (40:7, 46:23, 67:15), a
conclusion which DivisionTheory also arrived at, but a teaching
which does not seem to appear in the traditional Bible.
"Nazirenes" is in full agreement with both DivisionTheory and the
Biblical Gospels on at least one point: "Nazirenes" entirely
supports the doctrine of the existence of the devil.
As with DivisionTheory, "Nazirenes" Last Day vision describes a time
in which all humanity will end up sharing possession and experience
of a common conscious component, the same conscious and autonomous
spirit ultimately dwelling in the psyches of each of us, looking out
through the eyes of each of us, riding right alongside each of us in
our own minds, simultaneously dwelling in the psyche of each living
person on earth:
"We shall teach The Way to prepare
your children for the indwelling Universal Messiah."
- Nazirenes 96:20
the Two One
As with DivisionTheory, and the gnostic "Gospel of Thomas", "Gospel
of Philip", and "Gospel of Truth" found at
Nag Hammadi, reconciling
and integrating the dual nature of all being is a main focus of "Nazirenes".
God is repeatedly called not "Father", but the Father-Mother, or the
His attributes are repeatedly described
with equal-but-opposite word pairings such as "Love and Wisdom",
head and heart", "soul and spirit", "within and without", "right and
left", and "male and female", and the "Oneness" of this divine pair,
by whatever name, is constantly being mentioned, advocated, and
"And a certain prophet seeing
[Jesus] said to him, "Behold the Love and the Wisdom of the Most
High are One in thee...."
- Nazirenes 6:5
These things being done, Jesus spoke
these words ...:Thou has glorified me, Thou has filled my heart
with fire. Thou has set lamps on my right hand and my left, so
that no part of my being should be without light. Thy Love
shines on my right hand, and Thy Wisdom on my left."
- Nazirenes 76:11-12
"No one knows thee, save a Son, who also has the Daughter
within; or a Daughter, who also has the Son within. No one know
the Daughter or the Son save those to whom the Holy Spirit is
revealed, who is the Two-in-One."
- Nazirenes 44:14
"Far and near, the All-Parent knows His own. Yes, in each of
you, the Fatherhood and the Motherhood may be seen; for the
Father and the Mother are One in the All-Parent".
- Nazirenes 50:8
Like DivisionTheory, and like the
Gnostic Gospels recently unearthed in Egypt, "Nazirenes" declares
that salvation comes through the reconciliation and integration of
the two primordial elements of being:
"As it is above, so below. As it is
within, so it is without. As on the right hand, so on the left.
As it is before, so it is behind.
As with the great so with the small. As with the male, so with
the female. When these things shall be seen, then you shall see
the Kingdom of the Most High. For in me there is neither male
not female, yet both are One. The woman is not without the man,
nor is the man without the woman. isdom is not without Love, nor
is Love without Wisdom. The head is not without the heart, nor
is the heart without the head, in the Holy Spirit which atones
- Nazirenes 52:9-11
And one of them said, "Teacher, it is
written of old, 'The Elohim made man in their own image, male and
female created they them.' How can you say then that the Lord is
one?" And Jesus said to them,
"Verily I say to you, in the Lord
there is neither male nor female and yet both are one, and the
Lord is the Two in One.
He is She and She is He. The Lord is Perfect, Infinite, and One.
...the Elohim created man in the Divine Image male and female,
therefore is the Lord both male and female, not divided, but the
Two in One, Undivided and Eternal."
- Nazirenes 64:2, 6
And one said to him, "Teacher, when
shall the Kingdom come?" And he answered and said,
"When that which is without shall be
as that which is within, and that which is within shall be as
that which is without, and, the male with the female, neither
male nor female, but the Two in One. They who have ears to hear,
let them hear."
- Nazirenes 66:12
This book, "The Gospel of the Nazirenes",
edited by Alan Wauters and Rick Can Wyhe, restores the
sacred heart of Christian literature.