Nazarani

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Nazarani speak and worship in the actual Aramaic language spoken by Yeshue and His apostles. We use the Peshitta, which are the Holy Scriptures preserved in His language. We follow the teachings of the Messiah from the perspective of His culture, and the writings of the fathers of the church. Although our numbers are now small, we were once the largest group of Yeshue’ followers in the history of the world.

When, during the course of the 18th century, the European started his great circumnavigation of the globe in order to create his ever expanding empire, the people he encountered were different from himself, espousing different cultural ideas which being who he was, he was unable to fully understand or appreciate. Instead he branded all native peoples as primitives and believing that they had nothing whatsoever to teach him, went about systematically destroying their cultures in favor of his personal Eurocentrism. The result has been a wide distribution of the western narrative, especially as regards the followers of Jesus. Now seen by the world as a primarily European phenomenon, the actual history of the church throughout Asia and most of the world has been and continues to be suppressed by those who wish to perpetuate the Eurocentric view of the faith.

In this western narrative, the followers of Yeshue are classified as Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants and fringe groups like the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists et cetera. This narrative intentionally discounts the great historical importance and continued existence of the Nazarani, the Aramaic speaking followers of Yeshue. However, even against the ravages of time, Nazarani still exist in small pockets throughout the world.

A large contingent of Nazarani are indigenous to Kerala in south India, and also to Iran, Iraq and in small pockets of eastern China. Modern Nazarani still use Aramaic in their liturgies and in their daily prayers, follow the most ancient teachings of Yeshue, and keep the older traditions.

To be sure, we are the followers of Yeshue, but we are not Christians according to what it means to be Christians in the western sense of the term. And although we are Jews, we’re not Talmudic Jews (who believe the words of the Rabbis over the scriptures), and we’re certainly not “Jews for Jesus”, who agree with the Talmudin and want to bring about the great ‘End of Days’, etc.

Instead, we are the radical traditionalists who keep the ancient traditions alive through prayer and scholarship, and by following the scriptures as they have been passed down to us in Yeshue's own language and by the fathers of the oriental church.

Etymology

The word Nazarani (Aramaic: נצרנ) is a Netseran Aramaic plural idiom which means simultaneously “keepers”, “keeping”, “kept”, “watchman”, “watchers”, “besieged”, “preserve”, “preservers”, “subtle”, “hidden things”, “monuments”, and finally “branches”. It is closely related to the Hebrew word Netser (נצר), but the Hebrew tsade is vocalized in Aramaic (but not in Syriac) as a zayin.

The word Nazarani is also used in modern Arabic and Hebrew to describe all of the followers of Yeshue; however in it’s original Aramaic form it specifically referred to those followers of Yeshue who resisted the Hellenization of the church and instead followed the ancient path which was laid out by Jesus and His holy disciples.

The Aramaic speaking followers of Yeshue of Nazareth use this word to refer to themselves, because He said,

"I am the Vine of Truth[1].,, “and you are the branches, whoever abides in me and I in him, will produce plentiful fruit, because without me you are not able to do anything. Unless a man abide in me, he is cast aside like a branch that is withered, and they pluck it and place it into the fire that it may burn. And now if you abide in me and my words abide in you, anything that you desire, shall be given unto you. For by this the Father is glorified by the abundant fruit that you bear and that you be my disciples." [2]

In Syriac Aramaic Natsarat (ܢܨܪܬ) is used for Nazareth, while "Nazarenes" (Acts 24:5) and "of Nazareth" are both nasraya (ܢܨܪܝܐ) an adjectival form. In the New Testament the Greek speaking followers of Jesus are called "Christians" while the disciples are known simply as "Nazarenes". The Rabbinic and modern Hebrew name for all of the followers of Yeshue is notzrim, is also thought to derive from Nazareth, and be connected with Tertullus' charge against Paul of being the leader of the sect of the Nazarenes, who are referred to as the Nazoraioi, meaning "men of Nazareth" in the Acts of the Apostles.

References

  1. (John 15:1) The Bible Translated by Hadrian Mar Elijah Bar Israel
  2. (John 15:4-9) The Bible Translated by Hadrian Mar Elijah Bar Israel