Jesus Considered an Adept by Some Pagan Philosophers and Early Christians

What would the pious Epiphanius say were he to resuscitate and step into St. Peter's Cathedral at Rome! Ambrosius seems also very desperate at the idea — that some persons fully credited the statement of Lampridius that Alexander Severus had in his private chapel an image of Christ among other great philosophers. "That the Pagans should have preserved the likeness of Christ," he exclaims, "but the disciples have neglected to do so, is a notion the mind shudders to entertain, much less to believe."

All this points undeniably to the fact, that except a handful of self-styled Christians who subsequently won the day, all the civilized portion of the Pagans who knew of Jesus honored him as a philosopher, an adept whom they placed on

the same level with Pythagoras and Apollonius. Whence such a veneration on their part for a man, were he simply, as represented by the Synoptics, a poor, unknown Jewish carpenter from Nazareth? As an incarnated God there is no single record of him on this earth capable of withstanding the critical examination of science; as one of the greatest reformers, an inveterate enemy of every theological dogmatism, a persecutor of bigotry, a teacher of one of the most sublime codes of ethics, Jesus is one of the grandest and most clearly-defined figures on the panorama of human history. His age may, with every day, be receding farther and farther back into the gloomy and hazy mists of the past; and his theology — based on human fancy and supported by untenable dogmas may, nay, must with every day lose more of its unmerited prestige; alone the grand figure of the philosopher and moral reformer instead of growing paler will become with every century more pronounced and more clearly defined. It will reign supreme and universal only on that day when the whole of humanity recognizes but one father — the Unknown One above — and one brother — the whole of mankind below.

In a pretended letter of Lentulus, a senator and a distinguished historian, to the Roman senate, there is a description of the personal appearance of Jesus. The letter itself, written in horrid Latin, is pronounced a bare-faced forgery; but we find therein an expression which suggests many thoughts. Albeit a forgery it is evident that whosoever invented it has nevertheless tried to follow tradition as closely as possible. The hair of Jesus is represented in it as "wavy and curling . . . flowing down upon his shoulders," and as "having a parting in the middle of the head after the fashion of the Nazarenes." This last sentence shows: 1. That there was such a tradition, based on the biblical description of John the Baptist, the Nazaria, and the custom of this sect. 2. Had Lentulus been the author of this letter, it is difficult to believe that Paul should never have heard of it; and had he known its contents, he would never have pronounced it a shame for men to wear their hair long,* thus shaming his Lord and Christ-God. 3. If Jesus did wear his hair long and "parted in the middle of the forehead, after the fashion of the Nazarenes (as well as John, the only one of his apostles who followed it), then we have one good reason more to say that Jesus must have belonged to the sect of the Nazarenes, and been called Nasaria for this reason and not because he was an inhabitant of Nazareth; for they never wore their hair long. The Nazarite, who separated himself unto the Lord, allowed "no razor to come upon his head." "He shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow," says Numbers (vi. 5). Samson was a Nazarite, i.e., vowed to the service of God, and in his hair was his strength. "No razor shall come upon his head; the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb" (Judges xiii. 5). But the final and most reasonable conclusion to be inferred from this is that Jesus, who was so opposed to all the orthodox Jewish practices, would not have allowed his hair to grow had he not belonged to this sect, which in the

days of John the Baptist had already become a heresy in the eyes of the Sanhedrim. The Talmud, speaking of the Nazaria, or the Nazarenes (who had abandoned the world like Hindu yogis or hermits) calls them a sect of physicians, of wandering exorcists; as also does Jervis. "They went about the country, living on alms and performing cures."* Epiphanius says that the Nazarenes come next in heresy to the Corinthians whether having existed "before them or after them, nevertheless synchronous," and then adds that "all Christians at that time were equally called Nazarenes"!+

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