Receiving emails with subjects ranging from reminders of our duty as Christians, family relationship, recognizing the greatest gift of all to the meaning of washing feet, makes me appreciate that this is the time when Holy Week and Eastern bunny comes together. In an extended version of Catholic Mass celebrated to commemorate the Palm Sunday, I was surprised to the changes of terminology used during the ceremony. The two thieves crucified are now called “revolutionaries” and Jesus of Nazareth is now called ‘Jesus the Nazorean.” As those words emanated from the crowd, I looked around to see if I could detect any reaction. It there are, I failed to detect it as the faithful continued on. The change left me almost speechless. As I stood outside the church waiting for the rest of the family, I looked around and tried to listen if I could hear comment of at least a buzz about that change. Nothing.
The changes don’t originate from the local parishes or Dioceses; Roman Catholic Church is not known to make alteration to their Canons overnight. The fact that the town of Nazareth did not existed in time of Jesus was confirmed by archeology for some time and the change was the acceptance of that reality. The Jesus of Nazareth I knew and taught about doesn’t really exist; instead the New Testament is about Jesus the Nazorean. On the surface, the change seems to minor but if we consider the resulting difference of the meaning, it dramatically changes the complexion of the character. The former was an individual from a small insignificant town while the later was a highly accomplished religious leader. In the book The Templar Revelation, Nasorean came from Hebrew word notsrim, meaning keepers or preservers. Not everybody wanted to or can be a nasorean. Only those who have the ability and means can. The fact was that we could use the term “elite” to be one. He was not from some backward town. Another misconception is being a carpenter. In the book, the authors reported that the original word used was naggar which means carpenter or learned man. A religious leader or priest could be a carpenter but most likely a scholar---learned man. And as a man of stature, His recruit or disciples were most likely owner of fishing boats and not necessarily fishermen themselves. Men of means. Women with resources to support themselves or in modern terms, rich women were a rarity in those times. When she is somewhat different from the majority such as letting her hair falls or uncovered in public, she is called magdala. Magdala or Magdalene doesn’t necessarily mean prostitute, she is just unusual or special. Maria Magdala could mean Mary the unusual or Mary the special---very special.
A thief to revolutionaries is another transformation that made me squirmed as unlike the previous fact with archeology to back it up. The implication here was that Jesus was executed by Romans not Jews along with rebels fighting the Roman Empire. Crucifixion is a slow public torture resulting in death by suffocation and exclusively reserved to the enemies of the Empire i.e. rebels, zealots or Iscariots which leads us to the issue of zealots or freedom fighters (depending whose side you are on) in the mist of “peace loving” group. He was arrested by a cohort of Roman soldiers; cohort is an infantry unit about the size of company, more soldiers if a cohort is composed of non-Roman legionnaires. The numbers of soldiers involved in arresting an individual give us a hint of seriousness on the part of Romans during the operation. Surely the Roman occupation soldiers were not scared of a religious leader with twelve hard core followers. But when someone is capable of commanding and attracting thousand of people, prudent commanders adapt to the situation for the completion of the mission and safety of his men. The ability of organizing for feeding thousand of people with loaves of bread without enticing riot, by grouping them in companies or ranks of fifty, hundred and command them to sit upon the green grass (Mark 6:39-40) has a tint of discipline often found in military environment. Jesus the Nasorean was publicly put to death along with two zealots by the Romans as a warning and example for the Jews to take a heed. History tells us via Josephus that the Jews did not and fought on resulting in the destruction of the second Temple and the last stand at Masada.
These “small” detailed alterations might not be a noteworthy to the big scheme of things for one might observe that the central issue or Dogma has not change. The Nicene Creed was not amended, the Trinity, resurrection, one church and others were not modified. Certainly the modification will not cause a massive turnaround by the faithful. Years of being conditioned to respond and accept the teachings from the church took care of the Doubting Thomases, slight changes were not really that noticeable.
Freemasonry taught us not to accept its own lessons on its face value. There are meaning and messages behind the allegory, symbols and illustrations. As a creature expected to utilize our “corporeal and mental faculties to their fullest energy,” rational thinking minds will lead us to ask what other things in the Bible that might change in the future? And for the Knights Templars, who really was Simon of Cyrene?