The Book of Yohanan

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Elder Gideon
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The Book of Yohanan

#1 Postby Elder Gideon » Tue Jan 19, 2016 9:11 pm

The Person and Times of Yohanan

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace
(Luke 3:76-79).

The Person of Yohanan

It is fitting that the fruition of the entire Prophetic Succession concludes with a study of the Tzaddik of the Messiah, the Maggid of the Gospel. The Name of Yohanan the Baptist has several translations such as Yonah יוֹנָה (meaning Dove) and Yohanan יוֹחָנָן (meaning YHVH Has Graced). To fully appreciate the splendor of this one who is more than a prophet (Matthew 11:9) requires understanding the circumstances of his miraculous birth. His very elderly parents Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in their faith and service the whole of their lives, descending from priestly lineages, though without a child. As the parallel story with Abram and Sarai inaugurated the succession of Matriarchs and Patriarchs, Zechariah and Elizabeth’s miraculous conception of Yohanan inaugurates the Apostolic Succession.

While serving as priest, Zechariah entered into the sanctuary of the Temple when holy fear and awe before Archangel Gabriel seized him. But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him Yohanan. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord (Luke 1:13-17). Not many years after being born, his mother Elizabeth died, whereupon Zechariah committed Yohanan, as Gabriel instructed, to a Nazirite community of prophets to be raised in an ascetic life entirely dedicated to God (Numbers 6:1).

Unlike that any other prophets before him who preached in urban centers, even in kings’ private chambers, Yohanan’s entire career was withdrawn from the larger public. To hear his prophecies and teachings, one had to go deep into the wilderness to find him. There, along any particular shoreline of the Jordan River, Yohanan ceaselessly preached and initiated a modest assembly of ascetic practitioners, enacting a singular ministry of repentance through mikva, or water ceremony. Repentance is the sole thesis of all of the prophets before him, but what distinguishes Yohanan’s teaching came to fulfill the prophetic succession. His animal hide garb was traditional for many of the prophets (Zechariah 14:3), but his sustenance of locusts and wild honey elicits an otherworldly, angelic orientation more radical than his most extreme predecessors. His diet, combined with the severe tone of his preaching, suggest the utmost urgency he felt to prepare the conditions for the people’s reception of the Messiah.

This same fiery zeal, like most of the prophets before him, drew great numbers of people, as well the evil eye of the establishment. King Herod Antipas arrested Yohanan for accosting his unlawful marriage to Herodias, his dead half brother Phillip’s wife. Seizing the irreversible moment, her vengeance came through her own husband’s intoxicated promise of anything, even half of his kingdom, to his daughter, whose dance so aroused him and his guests (Matthew 14, Mark 6). Yohanan’s beheading marks the end of prophecy under the Law, initiating the covenant of the Messiah for the people, whom Yohanan was not only the first to evangelize, but usher into the world by the full offering of himself.

The Times of Yohanan

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod [Antipas] was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to Yohanan son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:1-3).

Three significant layers concentrically enclose the context of Yohanan: Rome, the Herodian dynasty, and the Temple high priests. Ever since the rebuilding of the Second Temple, the office of the high priest grew in prestige and great power, as well as the emergence of a scribe, or rabbi class. It is this time, roughly three hundred years before Common Era, that mobilized the canonization of the Tanakh—the Hebrew scriptures.

It was very difficult for the Jewish priests to keep out of the Temple Greek sacrilege. Following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE, his appointed regional successors competed for influence over the Palestinian region, which embroiled successive high priests, climaxing to the point of violent, Jewish animosity and revolt against Hellenism in 167 BCE, as recorded in Maccabees. Legitimacy of high priests in these compromising circumstances was contested in different degrees by emerging separatist groups, such as the Pharisees, and Sadducees, who all controlled membership in the priesthood. Sadducee and Pharisee sects manipulated and were manipulated by regional leaders continually claiming the high priesthood, even exerting their dominion against the Pharisees through the first forms of crucifixion.

In the height of this regional chaos and violence, the Roman general Pompey was sent to depose regionally disputed leadership, making Judea a Roman province and Rome the dominant power of the area. As a result of one family’s allegiance in Judea with Rome, Herod emerged as the ruling leader of the region in 35 BCE, whose despotic paranoia of threats, even the unborn (Matthew 2:16-18), made his reign a dreadful terror. His vast embellishments of the Temple never won the trust of the Jewish people, for he also built temples to Roman gods and staged games in honor of Caesar. Following his death, authority ultimately passed to Antipas, one of his three sons, whom Caligula would exile to Gaul in 39 CE, leaving Herod Agrippa to win Pharisee support by eventually persecuting the first Christians, executing James the brother of Yohanan, and imprisoning Peter (Acts 12:103).

Internally, the entire structure of Jewish civilization was decomposing and dilapidated. High priests belonged to competing regional despots who were backed by an insurmountable superpower. Violent revolts and brutality from regional and Roman authorities, combined with a completely hollow Temple authority, characterized existence for many Judeans at the time of Yohanan’s preaching. Seditious false prophets and messianic figures who promised liberation were publicly destroyed by any one of Judea’s six successive Roman procurators, the most insidious of whom was Pontius Pilate. Insurrections of any kind were often squelched by Roman execution en masse. To feel Yohanan’s time is to relate it with any region today entirely destabilized by terror, violence, despair, and pending collapse. Sincere rabbis saw the writing on the wall and had already begun the process of committing their oral tradition of the Law to writing—the Talmud. From the End-of-Days of the Temple heralded a prophetic voice of one crying out in the wilderness (Isaiah 40:3), preaching repentance as every prophet before him, yet with Messianic fire as never before him.


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The Text of Yohanan

#2 Postby Elder Gideon » Tue Jan 19, 2016 9:15 pm

The Text of Yohanan

As Yohanan did not write, such as earlier prophets like Samuel and Nathan, to hear his teaching episodes gathered across the four canonized Gospels (Mt., Mk., Lk., and Jn.) builds a body of prophetic text compiled here as a conceptual book. While many of these episodes parallel across all three synoptic gospels (Mt., Mk., and Lk.) they range in details and emphases. The most detailed treatment of an episode is fully quoted and is first among shared citations.

Yohanan’s Birth Foretold

In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years.

Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. Now at the time of the incense-offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside.Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him Yohanan. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’ Zechariah said to the angel, ‘How will I know that this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.’ The angel replied, ‘I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.’

Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah, and wondered at his delay in the sanctuary. When he did come out, he could not speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He kept motioning to them and remained unable to speak. When his time of service was ended, he went to his home.

After those days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she remained in seclusion. She said, ‘This is what the Lord has done for me when he looked favourably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people’ (Luke 1:5-25).

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord’ (ibid, 1:39-45).

The Birth of Yohanan the Baptist

Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Her neighbours and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.

On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, ‘No; he is to be called Yohanan.’ They said to her, ‘None of your relatives has this name.’ Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. He asked for a writing-tablet and wrote, ‘His name is Yohanan.’ And all of them were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. Fear came over all their neighbours, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. All who heard them pondered them and said, ‘What then will this child become?’ For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.

Zechariah’s Prophecy of Yohanan

Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy:
‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has looked favourably on his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a mighty saviour for us
in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
and has remembered his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,
to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,
might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness
before him all our days.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.’
The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel. (ibid, 1:57-80)

Yohanon’s Central Mission

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near (Mt. 3:2).

“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God” (Lk 3:5, Mt. 3:2, Mk. 1:2, quoting Isaiah 40:4-5).

Yohanan Castigates the Priests

Yohanan said to the Pharisees and Sadducees that came out to be baptized by him, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire’ (Mt. 3:7-10, Lk 3:7-9).

Yohanan’s Special Teaching to the Crowds

And the crowds asked him, ‘What then should we do?’ In reply he said to them, ‘Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.’ Even tax-collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, ‘Teacher, what should we do?’ He said to them, ‘Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.’ Soldiers also asked him, ‘And we, what should we do?’ He said to them, ‘Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages’ (Lk. 3:10-14).

Yohanan’s Messianic Preaching

As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning Yohanan, whether he might be the Messiah, Yohanan answered all of them by saying, ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’ So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people (Lk. 3:15-18, Mt. 3:11-12, Mk. 1:7-8).

The next day he saw Yeshua coming towards him and declared, ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, “After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.’ And Yohanan testified, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.’

The next day Yohanan again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Yeshua walk by, he exclaimed, ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!’The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Yeshua (Jn.1:29-34).

Now a discussion about purification arose between Yohanan’s disciples and a Jew. They came to Yohanan and said to him, ‘Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing, and all are going to him.’ Yohanan answered, ‘No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, “I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him.” He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease’ (Jn 3:25-30).

Yohanan’s Authority Questioned

This is the testimony given by Yohanan when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, ‘I am not the Messiah.’ And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ Then they said to him, ‘Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’ He said,

‘I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness,
“Make straight the way of the Lord,”'
as the prophet Isaiah said.

Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, ‘Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?’ Yohanan answered them, ‘I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.’ This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where Yohanan was baptizing (Jn. 1:19-28).

Yeshua’s Words About Yohanan

The disciples of Yohanan reported all these things to him. So Yohanan summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’ When the men had come to him, they said, ‘Yohanan the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” ’ Yeshua had just then cured many people of diseases, plagues, and evil spirits, and had given sight to many who were blind. And he answered them, ‘Go and tell Yohanan what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.’

When Yohanan’s messengers had gone, Yeshua began to speak to the crowds about Yohanan: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who put on fine clothing and live in luxury are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written,

“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.”

I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than Yohanan; yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.’ [add Mt 11:12-13 From the days of Yohanan the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until Yohanan came; and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.] (And all the people who heard this, including the tax-collectors, acknowledged the justice of God, because they had been baptized with Yohanan’s baptism. But by refusing to be baptized by him, the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves)

‘To what then will I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the market-place and calling to one another,
“We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we wailed, and you did not weep.”

For Yohanan the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, “He has a demon”; the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!” Nevertheless, wisdom is vindicated by all her children’ (Lk 7:18-35, Mt. 11:2-18).

Yohanan’s Imprisonment

But Herod the ruler, who had been rebuked by him because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the evil things that Herod had done, added to them all by shutting up Yohanan in prison (Lk 3:19-20).

Death of Yohanon

King Herod heard of it, for Yeshua’ name had become known. Some were saying, ‘Yohanan the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.’ But others said, ‘It is Elijah.’ And others said, ‘It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.’ But when Herod heard of it, he said, ‘Yohanan, whom I beheaded, has been raised.’

For Herod himself had sent men who arrested Yohanan, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For Yohanan had been telling Herod, ‘It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.’ And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared Yohanan, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, ‘Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.’ And he solemnly swore to her, ‘Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.’ She went out and said to her mother, ‘What should I ask for?’ She replied, ‘The head of Yohanan the baptizer.’ Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, ‘I want you to give me at once the head of Yohanan the Baptist on a platter.’ The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring Yohanan’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb (Mk 6:17-29, Mt 14:3-12).

The Coming of Elijah

As they were coming down the mountain, Yeshua ordered them, ‘Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.’ And the disciples asked him, ‘Why, then, do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’ He replied, ‘Elijah is indeed coming and will restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.’ Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about Yohanan the Baptist (Mt. 17:9-13, Mk. 9:9-13).

Herod Thinks Yeshua is Yohanan, Risen

Now Herod the ruler heard about all that had taken place, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that Yohanan had been raised from the dead, by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the ancient prophets had arisen. Herod said, ‘Yohanan I beheaded; but who is this about whom I hear such things?’ And he tried to see him (Lk 9:7-9, Mt 14:1-2, Mark 6:14-16).

Yeshua Questioned About Authority

Again they came to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?’ Yeshua said to them, ‘I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of Yohanan come from heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me.’ They argued with one another, ‘If we say, “From heaven”, he will say, “Why then did you not believe him?” But shall we say, “Of human origin”?’—they were afraid of the crowd, for all regarded Yohanan as truly a prophet. So they answered Yeshua, ‘We do not know.’ And Yeshua said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things’ (Mk 11:27-33, Mt. 21:23-27, Lk 20:1-8). Many came to him, and they were saying, ‘Yohanan performed no sign, but everything that Yohanan said about this man was true.’ And many believed in him there (Jn. 10:41-42).


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The Message of Yohanan

#3 Postby Elder Gideon » Tue Jan 19, 2016 9:45 pm

The Message of Yohanan

Like a cord woven by time and diverse influences, isolating the many messages of Yohanan in Sophian Tradition requires an effort in attributing them to their particular sources. Sophian teachings of Yohanan are from four appropriated sources: New Testament, Kabbalah, Gnosticism, and the oral tradition of Sophian Tau, or Senior Lineage Holders. Having compiled above the most pertinent teaching episodes of Yohanan from the New Testament, it is necessary to sketch what other traditions have to say of Elijah-Yohanan.

The Kabbalistic Message of Elijah

Apart from a deeper study of Jewish sourceworks and legends (or midrashim), many Christians are ignorant of the significance of the prophet Elijah both in Jewish and Christian scripture. His name features so commonly throughout the Gospels that it must have been assumed by the reader who and what Elijah is: a resurrected figure inseparable with the coming Messiah. It would be impossible to summarize Elijah’s place and meaning in all Jewish midrashim. If he’s not appearing and disappearing to rebuke or bless rabbinical discourses throughout the Talmud or Jewish mystical texts such as Zohar, his spirit is certainly welcome to this day in the empty seat awaiting him at every rite of circumcision.

To fully hear the extent of the Jewish tradition’s relationship with Elijah requires a biblical vision of reincarnation. The Ari of Safed, Rabbi Isaac Luria, delves an entire chapter in his Sha’are Ha Gilgulim (Gates of Reincarnation) to analyze the composite soul of many ‘sparks’ that was and continues to be Elijah. Consider a post summarizing the Ari’s teaching called "Souls’ biography.” The Ari’s cosmology is founded on reincarnation, the evolution of souls, which seems assumed in the Gospels’ ambivalence about Elijah as Yohanan. As heralded by Archangel Gabriel to Zechariah, alluding to the prophet Malachi, the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17) are prophesied to go before Yohanan. As one who didn’t taste death, Elijah is fantastic and miraculous in the wildest extents of one’s mystical imagination, with one underlying mission across all generations: mending, unifying, clarifying, and preparing conditions for the full reception of Messiah. Taking at face value the Gospels’ many claims in diverse contexts of Yohanan as the reincarnation of Elijah provides a very powerful vehicle of contemplating Yohanan’s immense stature as the burning, shining lamp (Yohanan 5:35) initiating Messiah Yeshua.

Sophian Tau take the evidence in canonized gospels of the reincarnation of Elijah many steps further to include his protege Yeshua being a reincarnation of Elisha, anchoring this holy midrash of Yeshua’s baptism in the event of Elijah’s deathless departure. In 2 Kings, When [Elijah and Elisha] had crossed [the Jordan River], Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.’ Elisha said, ‘Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.’ He responded, ‘You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.’ As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, ‘Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!’ But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. Sophians see the fulfillment of this promise of twice the power of Elijah to Elisha at the Jordan river between Yohanan and Yeshua.

Elijah and Elisha are not the only reincarnations in the gospels. The karmic continuum of Elijah seems to follow Yohanan, for when in his zeal for YHVH Elijah beheaded over four-hundred and fifty priests of Baal (1 Kings 18), he invoked the wrath of their king and queen, Ahab and Jezebel, who stopped at nothing to pursue and destroy him: Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, ‘So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.’ Then he was afraid; he got up and fled for his life (1 Kings 19:1-3). It seems too symmetrical to deny that the souls streams of Ahab and Jezebel, reincarnate as Herod Antipas and Herodias, had finally caught up with Elijah in their beheading blood vengeance. Such is the function of midrashim, Jewish and Christian, to fully grasp the drama of the perfect memory of the Law unfolding through the gospels.

The Gnostic Message of Yohanan

Contemporary with canonized gospels, Gnostic gospels continue to assert Yohanan as the reincarnation of Elijah to make even more radical claims of his essence as an enlightened emanation. Pistis Sophia echoes the mystery of Yohanan’s miraculous birth and nativity with its details in the Gospel of Luke equaling those of Yeshua’s. It is this Messianic Presence discoursing with disciples in Pistis Sophia who recounts his emanating movement into form, saying that the power of Yohanan was by the merger with Elijah, all under the auspices of the Little Iaō, whom Sophian Tradition regards as Hua: And when I knew that ye had not understood that I had discoursed with you concerning the soul of Elias which is bound into Yohanan the Baptizer, I answered you in the discourse in openness face to face: 'If ye like to accept Yohanan the Baptizer: he is Elias, of whom I have said that he will come' (I:7). This teaching, like others from diverse Gnostic traditions speaking of Yohanan, point to Yohanan being a pure emanation.

The power of Yohanan as an emanation features early the Sethian Testimony of Truth which praises Yohanan in the most peculiar way as the “archon of the womb”: He came to the world by the Jordan river, and immediately the Jordan turned back. And Yohanan bore witness to the descent of Yeshua. For it is he who saw the power which came down upon the Jordan river; for he knew that the dominion of carnal procreation had come to an end. The Jordan river is the power of the body, that is, the senses of pleasures. The water of the Jordan is the desire for sexual intercourse. Yohanan is the archon of the womb. While there are many ways to consider a ruler, or archon, of the womb, the context in this passage, and consistent with the dualistic Sethian view of physicality, simply suggests that Yohanan so fully mastered desire, the power of the Jordan River, that he broke through into freedom of the archonic gravity binding souls to matter, no longer necessitating incarnation which qualified him to witness, even facilitate, the descent of Yeshua. Great and lofty is Yohanan’s habad, his enlightenment.

As peculiar as the “archon of the womb” might sound, consider another Gnostic facet praising Yohanan as prophecy ceasing with his head from the Secret Book (or Apocryphon) of James: Then I asked [Yeshua], “Master, can we prophesy to those who ask us to prophesy to them? There are many who bring a request to us and look to us to hear our pronouncement.” The master answered and said, “Do you not know that the head of prophecy was cut off with Yohanan?” But I said, “Master, is it not impossible to remove the head of prophecy?” The master said to me, “When you realize what ‘head’ means, and that prophecy comes from the head, then understand the meaning of ‘its head was removed.’ This too is a very open-ended contemplation, suggesting, for starters, that the covenant of the Law is inseparable from the karmic continuum. The Holy One raised prophets to guide the people away from severe judgment under the Law, under the karmic continuum. Now that the Law and the prophets were fulfilled by the reception of the Messiah, the need for prophecy under the Law was no more. Yohanan is this fulfillment of the prophetic succession, initiating the Gospel of Grace. His headlessness is more than his being the first martyr of the Gospel: His supernal habad is from beyond the karmic continuum. The essence of the Law is the Gospel, which he was first to preach.

Such habad Yeshua praises of Yohanan in the Gospel of Thomas, the oldest known gospel of all. While not naming Yohanan, there is clear resonance in Thomas regarding the principle of emanation affirmed above in Gnostic sources where Yeshua said, When you see one who was not born of woman, fall on your faces and worship. That one is your Father (Logion 15). This same verse recurs in canonized gospels as well, where Yeshua said, From Adam to Yohanan the Baptist, among those born of women, no one is so much greater than Yohanan the Baptist that his eyes should not be averted. But I have said that whoever among you becomes a child will recognize the (Father's) kingdom and will become greater than Yohanan (Logion 46). Such a praise of Yohanan is of a disciple for his spiritual master, his Tzaddik. While the concluding point here and in canonized gospels seems to negate or even subordinate Yohanan, the instances of recorded praise of Yohanan outnumber the negations for the simplest and most practical reason that is foundational to the whole of Sophian tradition itself.

The Sophian Message of Yohanan

Weaving Jewish and Christian scriptural canons with their respective mystical voices of Kabbalah and Gnosticism provides both the tradition and spiritual innovation Sophian Tau have embodied and transmitted, Tzaddik to disciple. Everything this lineage was, is, and, will be, depends upon the simple depth of discipleship. It is for this reason that the birth of Yeshua for Sophians is merely his physical beginning: Messiah was yet to fully come. Midway in the continuum of solar feasts between winter solstice and spring equinox, Sophians traditionally celebrate the full influx of Messiah at Yeshua’s Baptism in the Feast of Yohanan. Known also as the “Feasts of Lights,” “Maggid of the Gospel,” and “Tzaddik of Messiah,” this feast venerates how the embodiment of the Light of Messiah in the world, past and present, depends upon the energetic transmission of living tzaddikim.

When a disciple becomes indistinguishable with their spiritual Tzaddik, this is the peak of spiritual intimacy. Throughout synoptic gospels, ambivalence between Elijah and Yohanan seems to mirror a similar ambivalence between Yohanan and Yeshua. When Yeshua asks, ‘Who do people say that I am?’ And they answered him, ‘Yohanan the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’ He asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am (Mark 8:28-29)?, the public confusion of Yeshua and Yohanan is noteworthy. Herod betrays the same confusion of Yeshua: Some were saying, ‘Yohanan the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.’ But others said, ‘It is Elijah.’ And others said, ‘It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.’ But when Herod heard of it, he said, ‘Yohanan, whom I beheaded, has been raised’ (Mark 6:14-16). What is equally under-esteemed is how when questioned by Pharisees on his authority, Yeshua immediately counters with a question of the origin of Yohanan’s baptism (Mark 11:30), appealing publicly to his Tzaddik whom all regarded as a great prophet (ibid. v. 32).

Sophians interpret all of Yeshua’s praise of Yohanan as from a disciple to his Tzaddik. The instances are many, where Yeshua declares that among those born of women no one is greater than Yohanan (7:28), and Yohanan was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light (Yohanan 5:35), as well as asking, What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet (Matthew 11:7). For every one of these instances, however, Yeshua seems to counter or negate it, as when he says, yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than [Yohanan] (Luke 7:28), and I have a testimony greater than Yohanan (John 5:35). To interpret Matthew’s account of how Yohanan would have prevented [Yeshua], saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ (Matthew 3:14) is surprising, as is Yohanan’s narrative which describes a much greater distance between Yohanan and Yeshua, ranging as friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease, (3:29-30), to even not knowing Yeshua approaching (1:31, 33). What can one make of such simultaneous intimacy and negation?

There’s a subtle instance that favors a great intimacy in Yeshua for his Tzaddik, whom he grieved when [Yohanan’s] disciples came and took the body and buried it; then they went and told Yeshua. Now when Yeshua heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself (Matthew 12:12-13). What also favors an underlying intimacy with Yohanan is that following his martyrdom, Yeshua begins effecting far more radical movements of power both privately for his inmost disciples at the Transfiguration and publicly in a larger campaign of followers growing with him leaving Galilee to build a greater base through the regional level in Judea and into his Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem at Passover. With Yohanan’s death comes both the end of any public confusion with his protege and a shift of center in the gospels, after which Yeshua seems to completely and unequivocally exert his the call. Sophian midrashim posit that Yohanan intentionally facilitated this very shift, baiting arguments with Pharisees and agitating Herod to draw all archonic attention to himself and away from his protege. By the time Yohanan was imprisoned and doomed to be executed, the fire of Messiah could not be extinguished.

If Yohanan and Yeshua are seen as intimately sharing the very same task in two phases of delivery—reception and transmission—then this implies an unspoken subtext between them. Yohanan’s message of public deference to Yeshua and his even feigning ignorance with his own disciples of what Yeshua was doing by relaying questions (Mark 2:18, Matthew 11:4) is for the fulfillment of his disciple, who in turn fulfills his Tzaddik. Both are modeling the humility necessary to move and consciously manage such spiritual power and force. This is what coming into being looks like in anointed discipleship. By a spiritual intimacy that co-creates and collaborates in mutual dependance upon the unique gifts one freely contributes to another, a Living Presence is felt and embodied where two or more are so humbly gathered.

Liken this circuit then as of a tree generating another seed-bearing tree, and propagate this cycle by as many who are drawn as are willing to enter into a greater grade of intimacy with Tzaddik and therefore each other. A kind of grove or orchard of circuits then manifests this Living Presence in a unified diversity. This is what coming into being looks like for an anointed community of disciples, a spiritual retinue branching from one righteous vine, all bearing good fruit. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:4-5). By this mutual giving and receiving, we live, move and embody the Living Presence and Power of Messiah.

A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master (Matthew 10:24-25).

Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them
(John 13.16).

HalleluMessiah! HalleluTzaddik!

With Tzaddik’s help, may we bear fruits worthy of repentance (Luke 3:8).

Amen and amen. Thank you Mother, for your help.

Elder Gideon

Posts: 363
Joined: Sun Aug 01, 2004 8:41 pm
Location: Nepal

Re: The Book of Yohanan

#4 Postby Marion » Sun Jan 31, 2016 10:49 am

Shabbat Shalom!

Thank you for these wonderful teachings of Yohanan, Praise be the Mother Spirit!
I was contemplating Yohanan's central message of repentance. I'm hearing repentance as an affirmation of our love of the Holy One, and that there's a need for constant re-affirmation as long as we have one of these bodies. I'm wondering if we can say that this is the foundation of the spiritual life? Contemplating these teachings, more and more I'm getting the sense of a tzaddik that is completely focused, this is a life lived in complete, immediate repentance of all sin. Is this the meaning of "one who has never sinned"? This reminds me of the verse in Malachi: "Return to me, and I will return to you." (3:7). Yohanan is one who is in constant return.

It was wonderful to learn that the word translated as "repentance" in the New Testament is the greek word: Metanoia, which means "after/behind one's mind." This reminds of what Elder Gideon spoke of the beheading of Yohanan the Baptist, alluding to supernal breakthrough.

I was also contemplating the name Yohanan—יחונן, with it's double Nun at the end. Nun means "fish" and is associated with death. I'm reminded of Yeshua's teaching about fish as souls when he says in numerous places throughout the Gospels: "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men." Fish here, seems to signify souls; therefore I am wondering if the double Nun in the name of Yohanan is alluding to a double portion of soul? It is said that we receive a double portion of soul of Shabbat, so is there an allusion to the eternal Shabbat in this name? Yeshua is called the "King of Shabbat," and Yohanan opens the way for Yeshua. I was also wondering if we could see the double Nun as a doubble death? We speak about two mystical deaths in the journey, one in the coming into being of Elders, and one in the coming into being of Tau. Yeshua was the first to embody the supernal light, and was Yohanan the first to break through?

Blessings and Shalom!

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