René Salm has shared his findings on the historical roots of the term we know as Nazarene. The pdf file, The Natsarene and hidden gnosis, is available on the mythicist resources webpage.
This is from the forward of the 20-page article:
This lengthy Addendum follows the third installment (Chapters 3–4) of my translation from the German of Ditlef Nielsen’s book, The Old Arabian Moon Religion and the Mosaic Tradition (1904). . . . [That book] explores a number of still novel themes which are foundational to my thought, such as: the influence of North Arabian religion on early Israelite origins, and in turn on Christianity; the gnostic nature of the religion of Midian, where Moses allegedly sojourned and learned from Jethro; and the gnostic character of the most ancient Israelite religion.
. . . . In the Addendum, I show that these terms [Nazarene and Nazoraean] reflect the Semitic n-ts-r (nun-tsade-resh), a root with specifically gnostic connotations going back to the Bronze Age. The dictionary tells us that Hebrew natsar means “watch, preserve, guard.” Its cognates in related Semitic languages also signify “secret knowledge” and “hidden things.” . . . .
. . . . . For perhaps the first time, we can now see that Natsarene (or a close cognate, with Semitic tsade) was widely used in early Middle Eastern religions to designate the person of advanced spirituality, a spirituality linked to hidden gnosis. Hence the title of the Addendum, “The Natsarene and hidden gnosis.” . . . .
The table of contents:
- Noah, the first Natsarene
- Gnosis and flowing, ʻlivingʼ water
- Baptism, water, and Bethlehem
- David, Bethlehem, and the scribes
- The cave of Bethlehem
- Ephrathah and ʻcrossing overʼ
- The demise of gnosticism
- Bethlehem, Dan, Levites, and Aaronides
- Watchfulness, gnosis, and Christian scripture
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