Category Archives: JESUS’ BROTHER JAMES

What was James to Jesus? Was he the eldest or youngest of the brothers and sisters? When did he become a follower of Jesus? Why was he sidelined in spite of being chosen by Jesus to head his movement? Why was James stoned to death? Was James the leader of the Essenes? What were the consequences of the death of James?

Consequence Of The Death Of The Brother Of Jesus

The Wrath Of God Was So Fierce That He Destroyed The Temple Out Of Anger For What Happened To James

Origen was so totally convinced about the righteousness of James the brother of Jesus that he narrates the reaction of Flavius Josephus in his twenty volume Antiquities of the Jews. Josephus is said to have written that James was held in such high esteem because of his righteousness that people suffered such enormous misfortunes because of his execution. The wrath of God was so fierce that he even destroyed the Temple out of anger for what had happened to James the “brother of Jesus who is called Christ.” (1)

Origen

Origen a scholar and early Christian theologian

Josephus had this to say about the murder of James – from a translation by William Whiston pg. 423 “but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, (Josephus probably means the Pharisees here) they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king [Agrippa,] desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified: nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria (Albinus was probably already a Roman official in Egypt when he received his appointment to the governorship of Judea), and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a Sanhedrin without his consent: whereupon Albinus complied with what they had said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which king Agrippa took the high priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest”. In those days “Jesus” was a very common name. Two of the high priests of that time were called Jesus. (2)

In his book James, Brother of Jesus Robert Eisenman, states that James was the leader of the Essenes in Qumran (See fig. 2) and that his death is the main reason for the Jewish Revolt of 66 CE.

Map showing location of Qumran

Showing the location of Qumran

We know from Paul’s letters and the book of Acts that the Jerusalem church held the leadership role and that the Jewish Christian views of Jesus were the more prevalent. However after the death of James the Pauline version of Christianity overshadowed the pro-Jewish adaptation of Christianity. This transformation was so total that today hardly any Christians know that James the brother of Jesus was the leader of the first Christian community. (3)

Jewish Christianity

To distinguish Jewish Christianity from the other forms of Christianity may not be easy. However it can be said that Jewish Christianity differed from the other versions in two significant respects. One: initially all the followers of Jesus were Jewish and two: they were from the Judaea and Galilee areas. However during that period there was no such a thing as a distinctly identifiable form of Jewish Christianity. While the early form of Christianity had a blend of the variety in Judaism, later form of Christianity was more homogenous because of the pressure for standardization. By the end of the first century the majority of Christians were outside the Judaea and Galilee areas. (4)

Early Christians Were Referred To As A Jewish Sect

When the movement began, it could have been referred to as a Jewish sect. But in time Christianity became so complex that to refer to it as such would have been far from correct. On the contrary by the middle of the second century the movement was more a Gentile experience. Over time a significant difference evolved between Jewish Christianity and the more common form of Christianity. This difference was referred to as Ebionism. While Christians in the Gentile form believed that Jesus was not only the messiah but that he was also divine. Jewish Christians on the other hand while accepting the messiahship of Jesus did not accept his divinity. This is perhaps the single most significant distinction between the Jewish and Gentile forms of Christianity. Whatever the differences between the two forms of Christianity, it must be remembered that initially the only Christians were the Jewish Christians. However, the Jewish form of Christianity ceased to exist after the two Jewish wars. (5)

In the Jewish form of Christianity that James the brother of Jesus and his followers intended to promote, they preferred to “maintain the integrity of the Jesus movement”. Painter refers to the argument of Eisenman who says that to understand James better he has to be seen as the “Qumran Teacher of Righteousness”. Eisenman relates the “events and teachings” of the Righteous Teacher referred to in the Habakkuk Pesher to James the Just.

Is James The Just To The Righteous Teacher Of Qumran?

Painter explains that Eisenman is able to relate James the Just to the Teacher of Righteousness because both are righteous sufferers. According to Painter, Eisenman also relates James to the Righteous Teacher of Qumran because the two are strict adherents to the law. However Painter contends that these grounds are also comparisons to Jesus himself and perhaps even to John the Baptist. Painter also states that James is definitely not the Qumran Righteous Teacher. However he concedes that the description of the Qumran Righteous Teacher fits the role of James in the Jerusalem church and in Jewish Christianity. (6)

Besides this the Righteous Teacher was supposed to be one who would receive the “secrets and mysteries of God”. This is what Jesus must have meant when he told the Apostles that James was one to whom “heaven and earth are open”. According to Theodor H. Gaster, a renowned Dead Sea Scrolls scholar, “the Teacher of Righteousness was the spiritual leader of the community.” (7) James the Just definitely possessed this quality.

One of the original seven Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in 1947 was the Habakkuk Commentary or the Pesher Habakkuk. It was found in Cave 1 in Qumran and was labeled 1QpHab. It was published in 1951. It is one of the most researched and scrutinized of the scrolls. This pesher is said to have been written sometime during the latter half of the 1st century BCE. The commentary is on the writing of Habakkuk done half a millennium earlier. This was thought of as the prophecies of Habakkuk. The commentaries attempt to relate contemporary persons to the prophecies.

The Habakkuk Commentary

According to the Habakkuk Pesher members of the Essene sect were expected to follow an individual referred to as the Teacher of Righteousness, a figure who is referred to in some of the other Dead Sea Scrolls. According to the pesher Teacher of Righteousness is an individual who is in direct communion with God and has learned the exact meaning of the scriptures. Although it is generally understood that the individual referred to as Teacher of Righteousness may never be identified, Eisenman not only draws parallels between James and Teacher of Righteousness, he believes that James was indeed considered to be this individual. (8)

The Burial of James (Also referred to as Jacob)

The first and most accurate recording of the death of Jacob (according to a New Testament translation tradition James the brother of Jesus was also referred to as Jacob) was given by Josephus which was in all likelihood referred by Hegesippus. But this account does not mention anything about the burial of Jacob. This is to be expected, as the primary task of Josephus was to write the history of Ananus the high priest and not a narration of the execution and burial of Jacob. In his work “The Jewish War” Josephus wanted to show that the perpetrators of the injustices meted out to the Jewish people were the rabble rousers and not the Jewish leadership. However although it is unlikely that someone executed for breaking the law would have been given a formal burial, Josephus explains that Ananus was removed from the office of high priest for what he did to Jacob, thereby laying the circumstances under which Jacob may have indeed been given a formal burial. (9)

The Mishnah Tractate Sanhedrin 6:5b-6a relates to persons executed by the Jewish council:

“They did not to bury him in the burial place of his fathers, but two burial places were kept in readiness by the court, one for those who were beheaded or strangled, and one for those who were stoned or burnt. When the flesh had wasted away they gathered together the bones and buried them in their own place.”

Under this provision it is quite likely that they first buried Jacob in one such place reserved for just such a situation and then later his bones were buried together with his own in a family tomb probably in an ossuary.

Of the different accounts of the execution of Jacob referred by Eusebius the account of Hegesippus alone refers to the burial of Jacob. Hegesippus notes “In this way he [Jacob] suffered martyrdom. They buried him on the spot, by the Temple, and his gravestone is still there by the Temple. He became a true witness to Jews and Greeks alike that Jesus is the Christ”. It is quite likely that Hegesippus’ account of the execution and burial of Jacob is accurate because he writes only about this one execution and no other. (10)

James the Just became a true witness to Jews and Greeks alike that Jesus is the Christ

Hegesippus does not specify as to who buried Jacob, but is instead vague by simply referring to those who buried Jacob as “they” probably because it was obvious that “they” referred to those who executed him. According to Jewish Law even criminals were buried “before the going down of the sun” (Jewish War 4.5.2). (11)

The law regarding the burial of men condemned to death as explained in the Mishnah tractate Sanhedrin is confirmed in three other sources: the Talmud, the Tosefta, and the Midrash Rabbah.

Consider the following two passages:

“And they began to stone him as he did not die immediately when cast down; but turning round, he knelt down, saying, ‘I beseech Thee, O Lord God and Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

“Thus they were stoning him, when one of the priests of the sons of Rechab, a son of the Rechabites spoken of and by Jeremiah the prophet, cried out, saying, ‘Stop! What are you doing? The Just is praying for you.”

“Thus one of them, a fuller, beat out the brains of the Just with the club he used to beat out clothes. Thus he suffered martyrdom, and they buried him on the spot where his tombstone still remains, close to the Temple. He became a faithful witness; both to the Jews and to the Greeks that Jesus is the Christ. Immediately after this, Vespasian invaded and took Judea.” (12)

Two facts become obvious from this: One that “they” referred to the executioners and that not everyone in the crowd was a rabble rouser. There must have been some in the crowd of onlookers who sympathized with Jacob but were too afraid to show their compassion.

That there were sympathizers is also apparent from the following account of Hegesippus:

When Jacob (James) was questioned by the Scribes and Pharisees as to what the door to Jesus is, he answered them saying that they should not question him about Jesus the Son of Man as he sits in heaven at the right hand of the “Great Power”. Many in the crowd were confirmed, and glorified the testimony of James, and said ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’

And so James was buried in the graveyard meant for those who were burned or stoned to death. It is quite likely that he was buried by his sympathizers with the approval of his executioners who were as keen as anyone one else to adhere to the Jewish law relating to the burial of those condemned to death. The fact that Hegesippus notes that a gravestone was put where James was buried supports the claim that he was buried by his supporters. Certainly a gravestone would not have been erected by his executioners. (13)

Were Essenes the supporters of James the brother of Jesus?

James and the other early believers in Jerusalem still considered themselves as Jews. Like Jesus, James was a Jew and, in line with Old Testament prophecies, he believed that Jesus was an ordinary man chosen by God to lead his people. This was very different to the idea championed by Paul that Jesus was a divine being, born of God himself.

No historical evidence proving a relationship between the Essenes and early Christianity has ever been established. The striking similarities between the two faiths, however, strongly suggest that the earliest Christians were influenced by the Essenes. However scholars have identified similarities in principles, scriptures and religious practices between the Essenes and early Christianity and are convinced that the later evolved from the former. (14)

The early believers of Jesus in Jerusalem continued to think of themselves as Jews. And the early believers were basically Essenes. Like the Essenes they believed, in accordance to Old Testament prophecies, that Jesus was an ordinary man selected by God to lead his people. This was in line with the conviction of Jewish Christians that Jesus was a messiah but not divine. James too – initially at least – held a similar belief. (15)

In addition to this commonality, like the Essenes, James challenged the authority of the “priestly hierarchy of the Sadducees”

What is certain is that the later church took away some of the importance of James in the establishment of the early church. The fact remains that he was the one chosen by Jesus to head his mission after his death and not Paul.

Besides it became convenient for the later church to showcase Paul. However the fact remains that he was the one who added a messianic dimension to the personality of Jesus and caused much of the controversy.

Probably the most seminal of the controversies authored by Paul is the physical resurrection of Jesus. This, in spite of the fact, by his own narration, Paul saw the resurrected Jesus as a spirit and not in flesh and blood. Since Paul made this dogma the basic tenet on which Pauline Christianity was founded and accepted by the later church, there can be no compromise about this claim.

Did The Later Church Take Away The Importance Given To James By Jesus Himself?

So did the later church take away the importance given to James by Jesus himself? Was James the blood-brother of Jesus and then made step-brother /cousin only to be sidelined and give way to Pauline Christianity because it suited the later church better?

From the information gathered about James the brother of Jesus we are given to understand that the leadership of his mission was given to James directly by Jesus. We have also seen that this leadership was hijacked by Paul and the others and the original message of Jesus was modified to suit a predominantly Gentile audience. There is no doubt that James was later sidelined and his leadership of the early church was subsequently trivialized. If nothing else he deserved to be buried together with Jesus.

Be that as it may but we still have to figure out how the ossuary of James landed in the Talpiot tomb, if indeed it did, when he was supposed to have been buried where he fell, which is a couple of miles from Talpiot.

Please also read my other blogs:

James The Just – What Was He To Jesus? at 99
bit.ly/1Rg6dmw

James – full Brother of Jesus, his step brother or cousin? at
bit.ly/1ZlLU86

When Did James The Brother Of Jesus Become A Disciple? at
bit.ly/1PcC56x

Death Of James The Brother Of Jesus at
http://bit.ly/1OsnvIF

A Better Understanding Of What We Believe at
bit.ly/1lCK06H

References:

(1) Painter, John. (2004). Just James, The Brother of Jesus in History and Tradition. Columbia. University of South Carolina Press, pg 202.

(2) Ingermanson, Randy. (1999-2012). Retrieved 2012, from http://www.ingermanson.com/jesus/art/jjj.php

(3) The First and Second Jewish Revolutionary Wars with Rome. (n.d.). Retrieved 2011, from
http://www.entheology.org/library/winters/REVOLT2.TXT

(4) Painter, John. (2004). Just James, The Brother of Jesus in History and Tradition. Columbia. University of South Carolina Press, pg 228.

(5) Painter, John. (2004). Just James, The Brother of Jesus in History and Tradition. Columbia. University of South Carolina Press, pg 228.

(6) Painter, John. (2004). Just James, The Brother of Jesus in History and Tradition. Columbia. University of South Carolina Press, pg 234.

(7) Shirts, Kerry A.(1992). Who Was the Teacher of Righteousness in the Dead Sea Scrolls? Retrieved 2011, from http://www.ida.net/graphics/shirtail/deadsea.htm

(8) Habakkuk Commentary. (2012). Retrieved 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habakkuk_pesher

(9) Painter, John. (2004). Just James, The Brother of Jesus in History and Tradition. Columbia. University of South Carolina Press, pg 315.

(10) Painter, John. (2004). Just James, The Brother of Jesus in History and Tradition. Columbia. University of South Carolina Press, pg 317.

(11) Jasondulle. (2011) Biblical Archaeology 39: The Crucified Man. Retrieved 2011, from http://theosophical.wordpress.com/2011/09/19/biblical-archaeology-39-the-crucified-man/

(12) Hegesippus as quoted in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Book II, xxiii

(13) Mock, Robert D. (1999). The Murder of James the Just (62 CE) And the Final Years of the Hebrew Nazarene Ecclesia in Jerusalem. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.biblesearchers.com/hebrewchurch/primitive/primitive10.shtml

(14) Shirts, Kerry A. (1992). Who Was the Teacher of Righteousness in the Dead Sea Scrolls? Retrieved 2011, from http://www.ida.net/graphics/shirtail/deadsea.htm

(15) Leafe, David. (2006). Did Jesus Have a Secret Family? Retrieved 2011, from http://www.historyfiles.co.uk/FeaturesMiddEast/CanaanJesus01.htm
Picture Credits:

(Fig 1) Origen a scholar and early Christian theologian
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origen

(Fig 2) Map showing location of Qumran

http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/scrolls_deadsea/deadsea_scrollsdeception/scrollsdeception00.htm

(Fig 3) The Habakkuk Commentary
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habakkuk_Commentary

Death Of James The Brother Of Jesus

Although there is no mention about the death of James the brother of Jesus in the New Testament, there are non-biblical sources detailing the end of the brother of Jesus. The earliest report regarding the death of James is by Josephus (c37-c100) Antiquities; published approximately in 93 CE. Porcius Festus who was the Roman procurator of Judea died around the 60s CE. And in his stead Caesar sent Lucceius Albinus. At the same time Caesar removed Joseph from the position of high priesthood and in his place appointed Ananus, who was the son of Ananus.

According to Josephus, the younger Ananus was said to be very arrogant with a bad temper. The new high priest was a Sadducee who was said to be both harsh and rigid in his judgment of wrongdoers. Knowing that the new procurator was still on his way, he convened the Sanhedrin of judges and accused James and a few of his followers of breaking the law. He decided that these men be stoned to death (1).

James And His Companions Are Stoned To Death

As a result James the brother of Jesus and his companions were stoned to death. But to most of the citizens who were witnesses to the punishment meted out to James, this appeared as a gross injustice.

james is stoned to death

These citizens wrote to King Agrippa about this miscarriage of justice and some of them also went and met Albinus who was on his way from Alexandria. Albinus wrote to Ananus about his displeasure at what had been done and warned him of dire consequences if he should repeat something like this. However King Agrippa took sterner action and removed Ananus from the position of high priesthood (2).

Since the interregnum between Festus and Albinus can be accurately dated, we can to a degree of certainty say that James was executed in the year 62 CE. At this time Josephus was a priest in the temple and his account of the execution of James is probably an eye witness version (3).

The manner of the execution of James has probably been explained in greater detail by Clement. According to him James was first thrown down from the pinnacle of the temple before being stoned and then when his executioners found that he was still alive one of them hit him on the head with a fullers club.

Account Of The Execution Of James By Hegesippus

However the account of the execution of James by Hegesippus who lived a little after the time of the apostles is generally considered the most accurate. In the fifth book of his memoirs he notes that after the crucifixion of Jesus, James his brother was referred to as James the Just to distinguish him from the other James’ who were also involved in the church. Hegesippus states that James took charge of the church in conjunction with the apostles.

Then there came a time when the ruling elite, Jews, Scribes and Pharisees began to feel that there was a mood of uprising among the common people. So they went to James and pleaded with him to address the people when they gather for the feast of the Passover and persuade them not to be carried away because of the teachings of Jesus. They said that they had come to him because he is respected by both the ruling class and the common people. They asked him to stand on the pinnacle of the temple so that everyone who came to celebrate the Passover will see and hear him.

And when James stood on the pinnacle, the Scribes and Pharisees asked him about “the crucified one”. James answered them saying “Why do ye ask me concerning Jesus, the Son of Man? He himself sitteth in heaven at the right hand of the great Power, and is about to come upon the clouds of heaven”. When the Scribes and Pharisees realized that this was not what they wanted James to say, they discussed among themselves “We have done badly in supplying such testimony to Jesus. But let us go up and throw him down, in order that they may be afraid to believe him.’ And they cried out, saying, ‘Oh! oh! the just man is also in error.’ And they fulfilled the Scripture written in Isaiah”. Scribes and Pharisees went up to the steeple and threw down James after which he was stoned and dealt a deathly blow with a fullers club. It is said that James was buried at the spot where he fell.

According to Hegesippus the grave and gravestone of James the brother of Jesus were still there by the Sanctuary at the time of his writing his account of the death of James. The site of the grave was identified as a section of the Jehoshaphat Valley, a section of the Kidron Valley. However according to Painter this could not have been the location of James’ grave for the simple reason that according to Jewish law burials were prohibited inside the old city (4). The Talmud states that no tannery, grave, or carcass may be placed within 50 ells of a human dwelling (5). (See fig. 2)

According to Painter, this error in the account of Hegesippus was in all likelihood because while he may have known the Jerusalem of his time, neither he nor Eusebius could have known the old city and its Temple. When Hegesippus describes James being thrown down from the parapet of the sanctuary, he must have meant “the eastern wall of the Temple mount”. If this is what happened then James would have been stoned and hit with the fullers club nearby the burial ground in the Jehoshaphat Valley (6). There is another account of the execution of James and this is by Clement. According to him James was pushed down from the steeple of the temple and delivered a deathblow with a laundryman’s tool. While all the three accounts are a little different from each other, it would appear that the account of Hegessipus may have been written later than purported because he tries to distinguish between the Jews, the scribes and the Pharisees; a tendency to blame all Jews for the tragedies that happened to early Christians (7).

Jerusalem at the time of Jesus

Jerusalem at the time of Jesus showing the Temple. The Kidron Valley is referred to in the Bible as the “Valley of Jehoshaphat”.

Another important difference between the accounts of Hegesippus and Josephus is the year in which James was executed. Hegesippus states that Vespasian captured Jerusalem immediately after the execution of James. Since the siege of Jerusalem occurred sometime during 67 CE, it would mean that the execution of James was also around that year. However as stated by Josephus the execution of James occurred in 62 CE and this is probably the correct date because it has been corroborated by Eusebius (8).

Please also read my other blogs:

James The Just – What Was He To Jesus? at 99
bit.ly/1Rg6dmw

James – full Brother of Jesus, his step brother or cousin? at
bit.ly/1ZlLU86

When Did James The Brother Of Jesus Become A Disciple? at
bit.ly/1PcC56x

Consequence Of The Death Of The Brother Of Jesus at
http://bit.ly/1P2fKyJ

A Better Understanding Of What We Believe at
bit.ly/1lCK06H

References:

(1) Tabor, Dr. James.D. (1999). Essays on James the Brother of Jesus. Retrieved 2011 from http://religiousstudies.uncc.edu/people/jtabor/jamesessay.html

(2) Thiering, Dr. Barbara. (2007). Ananus the Younger. Retrieved 2011 from http://www.peshertechnique.infinitesoulutions.com/Biographies/Ananus.html

(3) Thiering, Dr. Barbara. (2007). Ananus the Younger. Retrieved 2011 from http://www.peshertechnique.infinitesoulutions.com/Biographies/Ananus.html

(4) Painter, John. (2004). Just James, The Brother of Jesus in History and Tradition. Columbia. University of South Carolina Press, pg 129.

(5) Bava Batra 2:9.

(6) Painter, John. (2004). Just James, The Brother of Jesus in History and Tradition. Columbia. University of South Carolina Press, pg 130

(7) MacDonald, Kevin . (1998). What are the Origins of Anti-Semitism?
Separation and Its Discontents: Toward an Evolutionary Theory of Anti-Semitism. Praeger Publishers, Westport CT.

(8) Painter, John. (2004). Just James, The Brother of Jesus in History and Tradition. Columbia. University of South Carolina Press, pg 130.
Picture Credits:

(Fig 1) James is stoned to death
http://www.biblerays.com/martyrs-mirror.html

(Fig 2) Map of Jerusalem at the time of Jesus
http://jerusalemexperience.com/maps-of-jerusalem/

When Did James The Brother Of Jesus Become A Disciple?

Whatever may be the familial relationship between James and Jesus, the association between the two has been a concern for a long time. But this concern has not been given the attention it deserves in order to better understand the importance of James the brother of Jesus to the embryonic church. From his study of the Encyclopedia Britannica one of the three points that John Painter drew attention to was that “James and the brothers and sisters of Jesus were not believers during the ministry of Jesus.” (John 7:3-5; Mark 3:21, 31-35). (1)

Nazareth as we have seen was at best a little village with just a sprinkling of houses and all its inhabitants were somehow related to one another. In spite of this it seems that all or most of them neither accepted the purported miraculous conception of Jesus or his divinity. This is apparent from the Gospels of Luke and Mark. Luke wrote:

“Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown.” (Luke 4:24).

Mark 6:4 quotes Jesus as saying “prophets are not without honor…except among their own kin.” From these two verses it would appear that not only was Jesus not accepted by the other people in Nazareth, he was not accepted by his “brothers”. John confirmed this in John 7:5 “for not even his brothers believed in him.”

We learn from other sources that the brothers of Jesus were unbelievers before his crucifixion. However, the resurrection of Jesus “brought them to faith.” (2)

Even more specifically we learn that James was “at first unwilling to accept Jesus as the Son of God”. However he became a fervent believer and a cherished leader of the incipient church. (3)

These statements contradict the Gospel of Thomas where he mentions “The disciples said to Jesus: We know that you will depart from us; who is it who will lead us?” Jesus said to them, “Wherever you have come from, go to James the Just, for whom heaven and earth came to be.” (4)

In fact a reading of the First Apocalypse challenged the notion that James was at first an unbeliever by showing the special relationship between James and Jesus. This reading (31.4 – 5; 32.7 – 8) showed that James embraced and kissed the risen Jesus. And the Second Apocalypse explained how Jesus embraced James and kissed him on the mouth.

It also showed that it is because of this affection between the two that Jesus told James: “My beloved! Behold, I shall reveal to you those (things) that (neither) [the] heavens nor their archons have known…. Behold I shall reveal to you everything, my beloved.” (56.14 – 57.5). The First and Second Apocalypse, the Ascents of James (Rec 1.43.3) and the Kerygma Petrou (Cont 5.4) showed that what Jesus revealed to James he does not make known to any of the other Apostles. This showed that the succession of authority passed from Jesus to James through this revelation as also the “authority of leadership.” (5)

Why would Jesus have asked his disciples to follow someone who did not believe in him? Why would Jesus have kissed James and called him “my beloved”? And why would he have appeared to him after his resurrection?

It is more likely that James followed Jesus to Jerusalem at the beginning of his ministry. However whether all his other brothers followed him is debatable. Whether or not James believed that Jesus was the son of God is debatable. But what is almost certain is that the relationship between the two was dear, and that he was so totally supportive of Jesus that James was the first choice of Jesus to lead his ministry after his crucifixion. This choice was made by Jesus himself before his crucifixion.

It can be gleaned from Acts, Galatians, and I Corinthians that James was a loving follower of Jesus and that he did not become a believer only after the resurrection. The fact that Jesus reposed trust in James to carry on his ministry with the necessary authority only showed that James was one who believed in the teachings of Jesus and shared his principles.

In the later chapters of the Acts of the Apostle James is described as an important leader of the Christian Church in Jerusalem. James the brother of Jesus was also the central authority to whom the apostles were required to turn to no matter where they traveled. In the codices of text found at Nag Hammadi, specifically The Apocryphon of James (“secret book of James”), there was an “account of James and Peter receiving knowledge”. In this account James was always shown at a higher plane than Peter. (6)

Even if as suggested by some scholars, The First Apocalypse of James was written by someone other than James but only used James’ name, it is evident from the reported conversations between Jesus and James that it referred to the days relating to Jesus foretelling his death, his crucifixion and his resurrection. The author quotes Jesus telling James “For not without reason have I called you my brother, although you are not my brother materially.” The author used this quote to show the special relationship between Jesus and James. The author again quoted Jesus as telling James “For they will seize me the day after tomorrow.” This proves that not only did this conversation take place just before the crucifixion, but also that James was a follower of Jesus and believed in his teachings before the crucifixion and resurrection. (7)

In The First Apocalypse of James, Jesus told James that on his death war will be waged against Jerusalem. This was also brought out by Eusebius who based his writing on Josephus about how Jerusalem will be destroyed because of the death of James. These two sources show that James is in fact more important than later literature had made him out. (8)

The Church of James

James and his followers in Jerusalem thought of themselves as Jews and continued to worship in the Jewish Temple and followed traditional Jewish laws. Outsiders considered them to be a different Jewish sect and described them as Nazarenes. (9)

The brand of Christianity advocated by James the brother of Jesus was unique and differed from the Christianity preached by Paul. James was more concerned with the here and now rather than the life after. It was also believed that had the James type of Christianity survived, the cross may not have had the significance it now does and that the disharmony between the major religions of the world would have been far less. (10)

Was James The Righteous Teacher Of The Essenes?

A group of Jewish Christians was the first followers of James. Some think that a section of these followers later became the secluded sect that confined itself to Qumran. (11)

Qumran Caves

The Qumran caves

Based on the fact that James was a zealous guardian of the Law and the sacrificial practices of the Temple, some scholars were of the opinion that it was he who was referred to as the Righteous Teacher of the Essenes. (12)

Some believed that James was the leader and perhaps even the nasi or high priest of a Hebrew community that lived in groups that shared their belongings somewhat similar to the life style of the Essenes. In addition to this James was also considered as a high priest who confronted the “priestly hierarchy of the Sadducees.” (13)

The Rivalry Between James And Paul

According to some scholars although James was the unanimous choice as the first bishop of Jerusalem he had a rival in Paul. This rivalry stemmed from a basic difference in their beliefs about Jesus. James who like Jesus was a Jew, believed that Jesus was an ordinary man who was appointed by God to lead his people. On the other hand Paul taught the idea that Jesus was divine and was God’s son. James chose to spread his brand of Christianity among the Jews to whom it was less difficult to sell his beliefs about Jesus. On the other hand, Paul whose audience was the gentiles, was not too averse to accept Jesus as the son of God. Paul based his teachings on “a series of mystical visions.” (14)

This was the principal difference but by no means the only difference. Contemporary historians are of the opinion that James preached a brand of Christianity that was complacent with Jewish tradition. Paul on the other hand considered it cumbersome to follow the Mosaic Law. James advocated adherence to the Mosaic Law and because of this his position in this regard was considered Judaizing. The Recognitions and Homilies of Clement are cited as proof of James’ thoughts on the subject. This source which is in the form of a novel dating back to the 2nd Century also shows James as a virtuous character who was assaulted by unnamed foes who some think could have been Paul. (15)

Another bone of contention between James and Paul was regarding the circumcision of Gentiles. The Pharisees were of the view that the Gentiles must be circumcised. However Paul was opposed to this condition. But after Peter, Paul and Barnabas had deliberated on this issue, James resolved this issue by deciding that while the Gentiles could be taught the word, they should abide by the Law of Moses, but need not be circumcised. (16)

Paul stressed the importance of faith. In contrast to this James emphasized the importance of works. He taught that they are not the ‘works of the law’, but instead they are works fulfilling ‘the royal law of love’ which make known the presence of genuine faith. (17) Further, Pauline Christianity was an amalgam of Jewish, Greek and pagan beliefs. As compared to this James was a typical Jew of that time: conscientious and particular about the observance of rituals and venerating the Temple.

The conspiracies of James and Paul

Whatever their differences, and in spite of the fact that some of them may have been reconciled between the two, James and Paul distinctly belonged to two different “power blocks”. Paul belonged to the group of “rulers” that included the Romans and those who collaborated with them. And there was the James group: “the populists” that comprised of demagogues that railed against Roman occupation, early Jewish Christians, the communities of Qumran and others. (18)

In time however the control of the church steadily shifted from James to Paul. The primary reason for this was that Paul’s converts far outnumbered the followers of James. Besides this Paul was also responsible for setting up several churches and kept in contact with all the new churches while James was stuck in Jerusalem and had little or no contact with the outside world. (19)

Some scholars think that the differences between James and Paul may have arisen because of the fact that Paul was not a Jew in the true sense. Both Hyam Maccoby and Professor Robert Eisenman of California State University, Long Beach, think that the Ebionite charge questioning whether Paul was indeed a Jew is reasonable. Maccoby illustrates clearly in his Paul and Hellenism that it is unlikely that the epistles of Paul was written by a Jew because of the “anti-Semitic outbursts, their Mystery Religion affinities, their Gnosticizing exegesis, and their utterly non-Jewish view of the Torah as a burden”. Eisenman bases his conclusion alluding to the Herodian roots of Paul, his Roman citizenship and his relationship to a Herodian of the household of Aristobulus. The fact that he was also a Roman citizen made him eligible for special privileges when it came to a question of laws, property and governance. The Ebionite accusation implied that Paul was a sort of Greek pagan entering Judaism surreptitiously. Eisenman further notes that Paul disputes saying that he is “a Hebrew, an Israelite, even a Benjaminite, but he avoids calling himself a Jew!” (20)

The writers of the Ascent of Jacob (another name for James) say that Paul in his youth was impetuous and was in fact guilty of discrimination against Hebrew Ecclesia in Jerusalem. They also accused Paul of trying to kill James during a debate in the Temple against the leading rabbinic scholar in Jerusalem and the Ab Beth-Din, the Chief Officer of the Sanhedrin, Gamaliel. (21)

It was also said that when the disciple Paul was Rabbi Shaul he personally accosted James the Just and attempted to destroy him. Paul was different from James and the other apostles in many fundamental respects. He was born a Gentile into a rich family in an urban center which was the capital of a Roman province and raised in a predominantly Hellenistic setting where paganism was everywhere. When he came to Jerusalem he already had certain fixed notions of religion.

Paul never met Jesus during his lifetime nor was he acquainted with the Galilean way of life of Jesus or his followers. Paul spent most of his time in Jerusalem and in Judea but he did not develop any sort of relationship with anyone close to Jesus who at that time constituted the Jerusalem Council. As a consequence Paul was not familiar with the teachings of Jesus and formed religious ideas of his own that were often contrary with that of the teachings of the inner circle of Jesus’ followers. In fact Paul held Judaism in such low esteem that in Phil. 3 he referred to his earlier beliefs as worthless. (22)

It should therefore not come as a surprise that the disciples of Jesus were unable to identify with Paul nor reconcile to his version of the teachings of Jesus with whom they were closely associated. Unlike Paul, the associates of Jesus did not feel the need to disregard the requirements of the Torah as they believed that Jesus was a messiah. Paul concocted his own version of traditions and beliefs that were fundamentally different from the traditions and beliefs of the early founders of the church. (23)

James was for his part not altogether innocent. Some scholars believe that the differences between Paul on the one hand and James and Peter on the other were not just factional. It appears that the duo was instrumental in getting Paul arrested while at the Temple fulfilling his Nazarene vows. This is probably apparent from Paul’s angry outburst in Galatians against James and his followers accusing them of showing disregard for “Yeshuan love.” (24)

Even though the Judeo-Christian sect which considered itself as the true disciples of Jesus, rejected Paul as a false follower of Christ and a traitor to Judaism that was governed by the Torah. In spite of the schism that the Pauline brand of Christianity created it eventually prevailed. And from indications from the New Testament, it is apparent that much of what is basic to modern Christianity were propagated by him setting aside the objections of James and his followers. The form of Christianity that was promulgated by Paul and the one that survived to eventually evolve into what is the basis of the Christianity of today is a break-away from the teachings of John the Baptist and Jesus. Some scholars are of the opinion that Paul even attempted to position himself alongside God and Jesus “by beginning all his letters with words to the effect, ‘Greetings from Paul, God and Jesus,’ as if they were a triumvirate.” (25)

On one occasion Paul was arrested for following the course recommended by James and the Jerusalem church relating to circumcision and the Mosaic Law as they should apply to the Gentiles and his participation in a purification ritual in the Temple. On this occasion neither James nor the Jerusalem Church came to Paul’s rescue. Acts 23:12-22 refer to this as the plot to kill Paul. It was only because of the intervention of Paul’s nephew that he was saved (Acts 23:16). (26)

Please also read my other blogs:

James The Just – What Was He To Jesus? at 99
bit.ly/1Rg6dmw

James – full Brother of Jesus, his step brother or cousin? at
bit.ly/1ZlLU86

Death Of James The Brother Of Jesus at
http://bit.ly/1OsnvIF

Consequence Of The Death Of The Brother Of Jesus at
http://bit.ly/1P2fKyJ

A Better Understanding Of What We Believe at
bit.ly/1lCK06H

References:

(1) Just James, The Brother of Jesus in History and Tradition. Columbia. University of South Carolina Press, pg 12-13.)

(2) Rush, Roger. A. James, Brother of Jesus. (1999). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.gospelgazette.com/gazette/1999/jun/page5.shtml)

(3) Rush, Roger. A. James, Brother of Jesus. (1999). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.gospelgazette.com/gazette/1999/jun/page5.shtml

(4) New Testament Apocrypha: Gospels and related writings, By Wilhelm Schneemelcher, Robert McLachlan Wilson, Westminster John Knox Press, 1991, pg 119.

(5) Painter, John. (2004). Just James, The Brother of Jesus in History and Tradition. Columbia. University of South Carolina Press, pg 176

(6) Tabor, James. D. (1999). Essays on James the Brother of Jesus. Retrieved 2011, from http://religiousstudies.uncc.edu/people/jtabor/jamesessay.html

(7) Tabor, James. D. (1999). Essays on James the Brother of Jesus. Retrieved 2011, from http://religiousstudies.uncc.edu/people/jtabor/jamesessay.html

(8) Tabor, James. D. (1999). Essays on James the Brother of Jesus. Retrieved 2011, from http://religiousstudies.uncc.edu/people/jtabor/jamesessay.html

(9) The Council of Jerusalem and other developments. (2012). Retrieved 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_Christian#The_Council_of_Jerusalem_and_other_developments

(10) Justification by Faith and Justification by Works, Did James Contradict Paul? (n.d.). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/doctrine/JamesPau.htm

(11) Nag Hammadi Library hilites. (n.d.). Retrieved 2011, from http://sites.google.com/site/jesusgnosisorg/nag-hammadi-library-hilites

(12) Alford, Mark. (1998). James the brother of Jesus. Retrieved 2011, from http://alford.fastmail.us/james.html

(13) Mock, Robert D. (1999). Crisis in the Nazarene Ecclesia – The Sanhedrin and Rabbi Shaul are Coming. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.biblesearchers.com/hebrewchurch/primitive/primitive4.shtml

(14) Cromarty, Edward. (2010). Jonestown: The Search for Early Christianity. Retrieved 2011, from http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/AboutJonestown/JonestownReport/Volume11/Cromarty.htm

(15) Circumcision controversy in early Christianity. (2012). Retrieved 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circumcision_controversy_in_early_Christianity

(16) Tabor, James.D. (1999). Essays on James the Brother of Jesus. Retrieved 2011, from http://religiousstudies.uncc.edu/people/jtabor/jamesessay.html

(17) Nag Hammadi Library hilites. (n.d.). Retrieved 2011, from http://sites.google.com/site/jesusgnosisorg/nag-hammadi-library-hilites

(18) Alford, Mark. (1998). James the brother of Jesus. Retrieved 2011, from http://alford.fastmail.us/james.html

(19) James the Just. (n.d.). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.gospel-mysteries.net/james-the-just.html

(20) Price, Robert M. (1998). Robert Eisenman’s JAMES THE BROTHER OF JESUS:
A Higher-Critical Evaluation. Retrieved 2011, from http://depts.drew.edu/jhc/RPeisenman.html

(21) Price, Robert M. (1998). Robert Eisenman’s JAMES THE BROTHER OF JESUS:
A Higher-Critical Evaluation. Retrieved 2011, from http://depts.drew.edu/jhc/RPeisenman.html

(22) Conversion of Paul the Apostle. (2012). Retrieved 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conversion_of_Paul_the_Apostle

(23) Infighting Between Paul And The Jerusalem Church (Peter And James). (n.d.). Retrieved 2011, http://paulproblem.faithweb.com/infighting_paul_james_peter.htm

(24) Paul’s Office. (n.d.). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.voiceofjesus.org/pb2chapter3.html

(25) Paul’s Office. (n.d.). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.voiceofjesus.org/pb2chapter3.html

(26) Painter, John. (2004). Just James, The Brother of Jesus in History and Tradition. Columbia. University of South Carolina Press, pg 57.

Picture Credits:
(Fig 1) Qumran
“Kumeran4” by Tamarah – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kumeran4.jpg#/media/File:Kumeran4.jpg

James – Full Brother Of Jesus, His Step Brother Or Cousin?

James’ Relationship to Jesus

Although James is severally referred to as the “brother of Jesus”, “the Lord’s brother”, “brother of God” and so on, the exact relationship between the two may never be known. Assessing the actual relationship between the two has been made even more complicated because of the Christian conviction in the continued virginity of Mary. This belief, though not explicit, has been insinuated in the canonical New Testament. It was because of this conviction it was believed that
Mary could not have had any children after Jesus.

There have been several conjectures as to the probable relationship between Jesus and James (1)

Was He a Full Brother of Jesus?

According to the Mosaic Law Jewish couples were advised to be fruitful. Joseph and Mary being devout Jews would have been expected to follow Jewish tradition. Based on this hypothesis some scholars contend that the four brothers mentioned in Matthew 13:55, Mark 6:3 are the full brothers of Jesus. This line of reasoning also insinuates that Jesus was in fact the biological son of Joseph and not the result of a miraculous conception. (2)

Matthew, Mark, Paul, Josephus, and Hegesippus are all of the opinion that James was a full brother of Jesus. Many modern scholars are also of the same opinion. (3)

In the Second Apocalypse Jesus refers to James as “my brother” (50.16-17). This Gnostic understanding was further reinforced in James’ account “my mother said to me, “Do not be frightened, my son, because he said “my brother to you [singular]. For you [plural] were nourished with this same milk. Because of this he calls me ‘My mother’. For he is not a stranger to us. He is your […]” (50.15-22). (4)

Painter’s interpretation of this reading was that James was not the actual brother of Jesus nor was the mother of James also the mother of Jesus.

Jesus calls Mary his mother and James his brother merely because they were nourished with the same milk.

Painter drew three conclusions on the basis of Mary’s explanation to James:

“1) The mother of James also fed Jesus with her own milk, leaving no room for the theory that James was the child of Joseph by a first marriage while Jesus was the child of Mary. That the one who fed both Jesus and James was actually the mother of James is not in question here.

2) There is no room for the view that James was a cousin of Jesus.

3) The apparent mother was not actually his mother. There is no suggestion that some other woman was his mother. Rather, what the saying does is put in question that Jesus had any earthly mother at all.” Just James: The Brother of Jesus in History and Tradition, John Painter

This reasoning was reinforced by what Jesus tells James “I have called you my brother although you are not my brother materially.” First Apocalypse (V.24.14 – 15). (5)

However, when Mary referred to “this same milk” she was probably referring to herself. If she had meant the milk of another woman she would have probably just said “the same milk”. This therefore does not rule out the possibility that the age difference between James and Jesus was not much and that she had nursed them both.

He Was Not a Full Brother

Another theory by the proponents of the virginal birth of Jesus believe that Joseph and Mary lived as a sexually active couple after the birth of Jesus and therefore the siblings purported to be the siblings of Jesus were his co-uterine siblings. This they believed was confirmed by Matthew in 1:25. (6).

According to James Tabor Jesus was the result of a premarital relationship between Mary and (the Roman soldier) Panthera. After Joseph adopted Jesus he died issueless. Mary later married Joseph’s brother Clopas according to the Levirate law and fathered James and the other siblings. (7)

Christians of the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox traditions, as well as some Anglicans and followers of Lutheranism, reject the idea that Jesus had blood siblings, as their churches hold the doctrine of the Virgin Mary’s Perpetual Virginity. However in accordance with Hebrew and Aramaic traditions it was customary to refer to blood relatives as brothers and sisters. This was the reason why the supposed brothers of Jesus were referred to by some as “the brothers of Jesus” and not as the “sons of the Mother of Jesus.” (8)

The official Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox doctrine is that Mary was a perpetual virgin; this view is also held by many of the early Protestants, including Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli, as well as John Wesley, the 18th century Methodist leader. Indeed, the majority of early Christians seemed to have left this doctrine completely unquestioned. The Roman Catholic Church, following Jerome the Roman Christian priest, confessor, theologian and historian, concluded that the adelphoi were Jesus’ cousins, but the Eastern Orthodox, following Eusebius and Epiphanius, argued that they were Joseph’s children by his (unrecorded) first wife. (9)

Did Jesus Have Step Brothers and Sisters?

Those who advocate the continued virginity of Mary contended that James and the others could not have been full brothers and sisters and they were the products of Joseph’s earlier marriage. This contention was based on the apocryphal Gospel of James from the second century. This reasoning had the support of the Eastern Orthodox Church and some among the Roman Catholics. However according to the writings of Jerome and Augustine Joseph was not married prior to his marriage to Mary and that the brothers and sisters of Jesus were in fact his cousins.

After the passing away of the apostles, when Epiphanius spoke of James, he referred to him as the first bishop of Jerusalem; he also spoke of his relationship to Joseph and Mary. He elaborates that James although called the “Lord’s brother” was a son of Joseph together with brothers and sisters, by a previous marriage. This view was popular in the East (66.19.7 – 66.20.1). It was because of this relationship that Jesus referred to them as his brothers and sisters. (10)

Was James the Cousin of Jesus?

Jerome argued in his De Viris Illustribus, that James was not a full-brother of Jesus but only a cousin. He contended that James was the son of Mary of Cleophas who was the sister of Mary the mother of Jesus. Besides this, as both Aramaic and Hebrew did not have a word for cousin, cousins were traditionally referred to as siblings. Even in Greek, which was often the language of early Christian literature, the words adelphos and adelphe were not limited to refer to full brothers and sisters. As regards the Catholic Church, it preferred to believe that James and the others were the cousins of Jesus rather than his half-brothers and sisters. Some scholars proposed that James and the others were neither cousins nor step-brothers and sisters but related in some other way.

Is James the eldest or youngest?

The other controversy in the relationship between Jesus and James is whether he was the oldest or the youngest of the purported siblings. Since James was always listed first among the “brothers” in Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3 it was generally understood that James was the eldest. But not everyone agrees. The majority Catholic opinion is that Joseph was many years older than Mary and was a widower with six children – two girls and four boys. Four of those children were already married by the time Joseph took Mary to his house. Only James was a little boy and “Mary took care of James and raised him with Jesus.” (11). This theory seemed the most plausible considering the closeness between Jesus and James.

There is more evidence to suggest that James was the youngest of the four brothers. In the Nag Hammadi Library James is quoted as saying “Once when I [James] was sitting deliberating, he opened the door. That one whom you hated and persecuted came in to me. He said to me, “Hail my brother; my brother, hail.” And from the explanation of Mary, who was present there, we can reasonably conclude that if Mary had nursed both James and Jesus and if indeed James was the step brother of Jesus, he was surely the youngest of the four. (12)

Again in support of this claim is this passage from Luke “Then the priests answered, and said to my blessed mother: Go with Joseph, and be with him till the time of your marriage. Righteous Joseph therefore received my mother, and led her away to his own house. And Mary found James the Less in his father’s house, broken-hearted and sad on account of the loss of his mother, and she brought him up. Hence Mary was called the mother of James” Luke 24:10. (13)

In the Protevangelium of James – a document so called because of its content and the purported author is James himself – identifies James as Joseph’s son by an earlier marriage. This view took a back seat having been rejected by Jerome.

However early artistic depiction of the flight of Joseph and Mary into Egypt in the murals in the crypt of the Benedictine Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem and the refractory of a Jericho monastery, show Mary riding on an ass carrying baby Jesus in her arms and James leading the animal and Joseph walking just behind. (14)

Another piece of artistic evidence that may support the argument that James was the youngest of his step brothers is a painting in an ancient Greek Orthodox monastery set in the wilderness of the Judean desert where the surroundings were as they would have been during the time of Jesus. It is a painting of the holy family. However the peculiarity of this painting is that it shows four figures – all with a golden hallow. Three of these figures are immediately evident – Jesus on the shoulder of Joseph and Mary riding a little behind them. The uniqueness of this painting is the presence of a fourth figure carrying his possessions on a stick. This figure is that of James who was evidently only a few years older than Jesus. (15) (See fig. 1)

Holy Family Plus James

(Fig 1) A family affair: the painting shows Jesus on the shoulder of Joseph, followed by Mary and, behind her, what is now claimed to be Jesus’ brother, James

By the time Mary went to Joseph’s house two of his sons and two of his daughters by his marriage to Salome were married and stayed separately and Judas was old enough to go along with his father to Sepphoris to assist him in his carpentry work. Therefore the fourth figure in the painting can be none other than James.

Please also read my other blogs:

James The Just – What Was He To Jesus? at 99
bit.ly/1Rg6dmw

When Did James The Brother Of Jesus Become A Disciple? at
bit.ly/1PcC56x

Death Of James The Brother Of Jesus at
http://bit.ly/1OsnvIF

Consequence Of The Death Of The Brother Of Jesus at
http://bit.ly/1P2fKyJ

A Better Understanding Of What We Believe at
bit.ly/1lCK06H

References:

(1) James the Just. (2012). Retrieved 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_the_Just

(2) James the Just. (2012). Retrieved 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_the_Just

(3) James the Just. (n.d.). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.gospel-mysteries.net/james-the-just.html

(4) Painter, John. (2004). Just James, The Brother of Jesus in History and Tradition. Columbia. University of South Carolina Press, pg 175.

(5) Painter, John. (2004). Just James, The Brother of Jesus in History and Tradition. Columbia. University of South Carolina Press, pg 175.

(6) Ward, Dan Sewell. (2010). The Mother of All Family Trees. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.halexandria.org/dward933.htm

(7) James the Just. (2012). Retrieved 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_the_Just

(8) Desposyni. (2012). Retrieved 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desposyni

(9) Desposyni. (2012). Retrieved 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desposyni

(10) Painter, John. (2004). Just James, The Brother of Jesus in History and Tradition. Columbia. University of South Carolina Press, pg 209

(11) Christian Forums. (2002). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.christianforums.com/t4174785-6/
And
http://www.christianforums.com/threads/mary.4174785/page-3 retrieved 02-09-2015

(12) Nag Hammadi Library hilites. (n.d.). Retrieved (2011), http://sites.google.com/site/jesusgnosisorg/nag-hammadi-library-hilites

(13) History of Joseph the Carpenter. (2012). Retrieved 2012, from http://www.facebook.com/pages/History-of-Joseph-the-Carpenter/244801258866310?sk=wiki

(14) Just James, The Brother of Jesus in History and Tradition. Columbia. University of South Press, pg 199)

(15) Leafe, David. (2006). Did Jesus have a secret family? Retrieved 2011, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-424435/Did-Jesus-secret-family.html

Picture Credits: Portrait of the Holy Family plus James

(Fig 1) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-424435/Did-Jesus-secret-family.html
Retrieved 2011
And http://www.northernway.org/weblog/?p=3 retrieved Oct 2015

James The Just – What Was He To Jesus?

While it seems characteristic for the people in Jesus’ inner circle to be mired in controversy, it is James the brother of Jesus who is by far the most mysterious. James is probably the key to resolving the Talpiot conundrum. This is the story of James including the puzzles that were part of the life of one of the most important leaders of the early church.

James the Just was first mentioned in the gospels of Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3 where he was listed together with three other brothers and two sisters. All the brothers and sisters are older than Jesus and may not have been his full siblings. Although he is described in the New Testament as the “brother of Jesus”, and in spite of much debate, not everyone agrees about his actual relationship to Jesus.

Because of his strict ascetic way of life, his godliness and his sincerity he is also known as James the Righteous.

In the Liturgy of James he is described as “the brother of God” (Adelphotheos). James is also referred to as the first bishop of Jerusalem, the author of the Epistle of James, the first of the Seventy Apostles of Luke 10:1-20. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia which bases its conclusion on the accounts of Hegesippus it is quite likely that James the Just is the same as James the Less. He is thought of as one of the three pillars of the early church (1).

img-Saint-Hegesippus-of-Jerusalem
Hegesippus – early chronicler

The Epistle Of James May Not Have Been Written By James

As regards the Epistle of James, not all scholars agree that it was indeed written by the purported author. For instance author Raymond E. Brown suggests that the Greek in which this epistle was written was so effortless that it is unlikely that James whose mother tongue was Aramaic could have authored it. It has been suggested that while the epistles may reflect the ideas of James they were probably written by a scribe or one of the followers of James. However other scholars Luke Timothy Johnson and James Adamson argue that James could have been sufficiently fluent in Greek to have authored the epistle himself (2). In fact James the Just is particularly remembered for this epistle.

If indeed the Epistle of James was in fact written by him or even if someone else had helped him to write it, it would be one of the earliest New Testament documents (3). Some scholars believe that the authoritative tone in which it has been written would indicate that the author is indeed James – someone who actually knew Jesus.

James Lived An Ascetic Life

Some insight into the life of James the brother of Jesus is found in the canonical writing of the New Testament as well as in some of the written sources of the early church. While the synoptic gospels mention the name of James, there is nothing said about him in the Gospel of John and in the early chapters of the Acts of the Apostles. It was not for nothing that James was called “the Just”. He was a teetotaler and a vegetarian (4).

Besides this, James the brother of Jesus did not shave, bathe or anoint himself. He did not wear woolen clothes. His vestments were made of linen. He went into the temple alone so often and knelt as he prayed for others that his knees became as hard as a camel’s. The fact that he went into “Holy of Holies” where it was unlawful for anyone other than high priests to enter, Jerome suggests that James was considered a high priest based on the writing of Hegesippus (5). This was also suggested in the Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions. However in 1 Corinthians, Paul insinuates that James was a married man (6).

James the Just is sometimes confused with other important biblical characters bearing the name James, especially three who were important for their ministry of Jesus during the early church. These were James the son of Zebedee and brother of John and an apostle (Matthew 4:21; 10:2; Mark 1:19; Luke 5:10), James the Less, son of Alphaeus and also an apostle (Matthew 10:3; Acts 1:13). There is a James mentioned in Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians. According to Paul, an inspired apostle, Jesus appeared to James following his resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7). Based on the Gospel of the Hebrews, we learn that James was the first to see the resurrected Jesus (7). It is generally understood that this James is James the Just.

James Became The Leader Of The Christian Movement After The Crucifixion Of Jesus

James the Just was the leader of the Christian movement in Jerusalem for many years after the crucifixion of Jesus. In fact he was said to have been at the helm of the Jerusalem church for thirty years (till the seventh year of Nero). However there is not much information about him and what little is available is vague (8).

The principal sources of information relating to James are Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles of Saint Paul, the historian Josephus, and the early Christian author Hegesippus. Some Pauline Epistles contain information about James relating to the period 35 – 55 AD. The first-hand source of information relating to James the Just is contained in the letters by the apostle Paul. While according to some sources James is referred to as the brother of Jesus, scholars are of the opinion that he was only a brother in a spiritual way. However others claim that he was a full brother of Jesus or perhaps his stepbrother or maybe just a cousin or an otherwise close relative (9).

James Was Not Sympathetic To The Early Ministry Of Jesus

James like his other three brothers was not sympathetic to the early ministry of Jesus. This was borne out in John 7:5. But this was said to have changed after the resurrection of Jesus. After the resurrection of Jesus some or all of his brothers were said to have joined the company of the apostles (Acts 1:14). In fact after the supposed resurrection of Jesus, James became such a staunch believer that Jerome, quoting from the non-canonical Gospel according to the Hebrews said that James decided that he would neither eat nor drink till the risen Jesus appeared to him. And supposedly Jesus appeared to James and said “My brother, eat thy bread, for the Son of man is risen from the dead” (F. W. Farrar, The Pulpit Commentary, Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950, Vol. 19, p. 484). Even according to Paul, James was one of the few people that Jesus appears to following his resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7) (10).

In the closing portion of Acts 1: 14, Luke presents the family of Jesus that includes Mary his mother and the brothers and identifies only James by name. Here Luke explains that after the Ascension, the apostles return from the Mount of Olives and gather in an upper room in a house in Jerusalem to pray. Together with the apostles were Mary the mother of Jesus and the brothers. From Luke’s explanation it is plain that the piety of the brothers was not because of some radical change of heart as a consequence of “some resurrection appearance” (11).

From the Gospel of Thomas we learn that James the Just was appointed as the head of the church in Jerusalem by Jesus himself. According to this gospel the disciples asked Jesus “We know that you will depart from us; who is it who will lead us?” Jesus said to them, “Wherever you have come from, go to James the Just, for whom heaven and earth came to be.” In Galatians Paul showcases James as one of the three pillars of the early church together with Cephas (more commonly referred to as Peter) and John (12).

James Becomes The First Bishop Or Patriarch Of Jerusalem

However though the scriptures tend to show that James the brother of Jesus was the first bishop or patriarch of Jerusalem this did not seem to undermine the importance of Peter. The Roman Catholic Church insists that while James was the bishop of Jerusalem, he was by no means the head of the church and that this distinction belonged to Peter by virtue of being the “Rock” and the “Chief Shepherd”. According to the historian Eusebius, Clement of Alexandria had this to say about the appointment of James to the episcopacy of Jerusalem “For they say that Peter and James and John after the ascension of our Saviour, as if also preferred by our Lord, strove not after honor, but chose James the Just bishop of Jerusalem”. James was chosen the first bishop of Jerusalem because of his special relationship to Jesus and his devoutness (13).

The fact that James was the leader of the Jerusalem church from its inception lends credence to the argument that the family of Jesus was among his followers during the time of his ministry itself and not after the resurrection. The evangelist Mark was critical of Jesus’ family and of the twelve apostles because of the struggle that was going on for the leadership of the church of his time. The role of James has been marginalized by the authors of the New Testament because they did not want to promote the Jamesian point of view of the early church. The reason for this was that James represented a sectarian church that primarily targeted Jews whereas the Pauline form was meant for “the mission of the nations” that did differentiate between Jews and Gentiles (14).

Please also read my other blogs:

James – full Brother of Jesus, his step brother or cousin? at
bit.ly/1ZlLU86

When Did James The Brother Of Jesus Become A Disciple? at
bit.ly/1PcC56x

Death Of James The Brother Of Jesus at
http://bit.ly/1OsnvIF

Consequence Of The Death Of The Brother Of Jesus at
http://bit.ly/1P2fKyJ
A Better Understanding Of What We Believe at
bit.ly/1lCK06H

References:

(1) James the Just. (2012). Retrieved 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_the_Just

(2) James the Just. (2012). Retrieved 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_the_Just

(3) Waggoner, Robert L. (2003).An Overview of Matthew’s Gospel[1]. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.thebible1.net/biblicaltheism/0402overmatthew.htm

(4) James the Just. (2012). Retrieved 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_the_Just

(5) James the Just. (2012). Retrieved 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_the_Just.

(6) James the Just. (2012). Retrieved 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_the_Just

(7) Painter, John. (2004). Just James, The Brother of Jesus in History and Tradition. Columbia. University of South Carolina Press, pg 186)

(8) James the Just. (2012). Retrieved 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_the_Just

(9) James the Just. (2012). Retrieved 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_the_Just

(10) Rush, Roger A. (1999). James, Brother of Jesus. Retrieved 2011, from http://www.gospelgazette.com/gazette/1999/jun/page5.shtml

(11) Painter, John. (2004). Just James, The Brother of Jesus in History and Tradition. Columbia. University of South Carolina Press, pg 42.

(12) James the Just (2012). Retrieved 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_the_Just

(13) James, the brother of Jesus. (2012). Retrieved 2011, from http://www.churchhistory101.com/century1-p6.php

(14) Painter, John. (2004). Just James, The Brother of Jesus in History and Tradition. Columbia. University of South Carolina Press, pg 97.

Picture Credits: (Fig 1) Hegesippus – early chronicler https://www.google.co.in/search?hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1024&bih=635&q=Saint+Hegesippus&oq=Saint+Hegesippus&gs_l=img.12…4068.4068.0.11755.1.1.0.0.0.0.229.229.2-1.1.0….0…1ac..64.img..1.0.0.QEVoVcKe3kM#q=Saint+Hegesippus&hl=en&tbm=isch&tbas=0&imgrc=goVphXnKMmahrM%3A