These essay exam questions were written by my student, Jeff Poplin, UNC-Charlotte, class of 2001. These were the result of an advanced seminar I offered in the Spring, 2000 on James the Brother of Jesus.. Mr. Poplin’s responses represent a nicely done overview of the general content of the course itself.
Discuss the basic issues involved in the various theories about James and the brothers of Jesus, with particular emphasis on James himself-who were they, who was their mother, who was their father, what relation might they have had to the Twelve, and what sense can one make of the multiple persons named “James” in the N.T.
Many different theories exist pertaining to the brother of Jesus. Two theories however dominate popular culture, one being the eastern view and the other being west. The eastern view holds Mary to be a virgin not only at the time of the birth of Jesus, but remained so throughout her entire life. It goes on to portray a story of Joseph having the four so called brothers with another woman prior to Mary and brining them to the marriage. The western view is stricter in that it holds not only Mary, but Joseph also to be virgins throughout their entire lives. These “brothers” are merely cousins that seem to come onto the scene. Another possible theory on the bloodlines of each of the brothers has been put forward. It suggests that Jesus was the result of a physical relationship between Mary and some man other that Joseph (possibly a forced act by a Roman soldier) and then Joseph and Mary were married afterwards. Along the way, Joseph dies and as such has left Mary childless. This theory becomes very interesting in that it suggests Joseph had a brother and by Jewish law was required to step into his brother’s place to multiply and fill the earth. We do not know the name of this individual, but suspect the person named Clophas/Alphaeus recorded in the New Testament (Luke 6:15, etc.) is this man. Clophas/Alphaeus comes from Chalaf = replacer, to replace, to step in, one who replaces and is a nickname which surely would fit in this situation. Clophas/Alphaeus would have wed Mary and produced the four brothers of Jesus; James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon (Mark 6:3). Another twist to this theory holds that the four brothers are actually part of the Twelve. Relying on the Clophas/Alphaeus connection, one can draw that James the son of Alphaeus is James (Luke 6:15), Matthew is Joseph (Luke 6:15), Judas son of James is Judas (Luke 6:16), and Simon the Zealot is Simon (Luke 6:15). One may question the Judas son of James aspect of the theory and it is accounted for by suggesting Clophas/Alphaeus’s name was James. Whenever the four brothers are listed, James always comes first. This would imply that he is the oldest, followed by Joseph. It makes logical sense to say Mary married Joseph’s brother James and that he named his first child after himself. The second child born of this union would be named for/in honor of Joseph, Mary’s first husband. Painter tells us that the name James, derived from Jacob is used 60 times in the New Testament for up to eight different people. The first three are generally not in dispute by scholars; (1) Jacob the patriarch for the Hebrew Bible, (2) Jacob the father of Joseph (husband of Mary, Matthew 1:16), and (3) James the son of Zebedee, brother of John the fisherman. The remaining five are unclear, however (4) James the son of Alphaeus (one of the Twelve), (5) James the less, son of Mary and Clophas, (6) James the brother of Joses/Joseph, (7) James, the father of Judas (one of the Twelve Luke 6:16), and finally (8) James the brother of Jesus. Some scholars believe the eight James’ actually represent only five individuals. The first three are without question different persons. The combining occurs with numbers 4, 5, 6, & 8. Each seemingly separate reference to a different person is suggested to in fact be the same person. Number four and five agree with the Clophas/Alphaeus scenario presented earlier (possibly a wink to the reader, sons of Clophas/Alphaeus – “oh yeah him”), guy number six fits in because the brothers of Jesus were James and Joseph, and number eight is clearly a representation of the brother of Jesus. Therefore, each of the James’ mentioned in 4, 5, 6, & 8 above are presented as being one individual represented in four ways in sort of a cryptic manner for readers to understand. Finally, the number seven James, father of Judas, would represent the fifth James. As suggested earlier, Clophas/Alphaeus, Joseph’s brother, could have been named James. The four brothers names are James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon and if the theory held here to be true, Mary and James/Clophas/Alphaeus could be the parents of Judas. Although Painter puts forth the 60 recordings of the name James as referring to eight different individuals, it is easier to condense these into five persons using clear links, rather than eight people using cryptic language.
Discuss how the Gospels treat the entire issue of the “brothers of Jesus” with regard to their attitude and relation to him and his movement. You must carefully consider each Gospel individually, giving attention to its special way of handling the topic.
The Gospel of Mark has been seen as condemning the Twelve and the brothers for their misunderstanding/unbelief of Jesus. This negative view of the brothers is displayed in Mark 6:1-6. Jesus has gone to his hometown (Nazareth) to teach in the synagogue. Mark 6:3 is the core verse regarding the manes of the four brothers. Later in Mark 6:4 Jesus says, “prophets are not without honor…except among their own kin.” Taken literally, one can assume the author here is meaning kin as Jesus’ brothers. Looking at this verse in true Mark style, it can be taken to suggest the brothers do not believe Jesus and his teachings (this is only 1 of 2 verses in the New Testament to suggest the brothers were unbelievers). Under a more critical eye, it is possible to relate the kin in Mark 6:4 to the rest of Jesus’ family. Given that this is his hometown, he would surely have cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. living there. Mark’s reference to the kin would suggest other members of the Jesus family were indeed the topic of this passage and not the brothers. Earlier in Mark 3:31 we are told that the mother and brothers have come and were standing outside. Jesus is told of this and says, “who are my brothers and my mother” (Mark 3:33). Looking again at this passage with a critical eye would suggest that Jesus is not being disrespectful to the family for not believing, but rather showing he has a spiritual family not that he is on God’s mission. The author of Mark again attempts to shed a negative light on the brothers. The Gospel of John holds that family of Jesus in a more positive light than does Mark. Early in John 2:1 we are told that Jesus has gone to the wedding in Cana and his mother was there (the mother and brothers are normally held as one group). Later in 2:12 after the wedding Jesus goes down to Capernaum to set up the Galilee headquarters with his mother and brothers. It is this passage that readers are shown the close, intimate relationship displayed between Jesus and his mother/brothers. It appears that Capernaum is the permanent HQ of the Jesus movement and he, along with others, are residing there. One must ask, if the brothers were such unbelievers and did not agree, why then would they not only to with Jesus there, but also live in the same house too? John contains the second and last clear verse of the New Testament condemning the brothers of Jesus. John 7:5 reads, “for not even his brothers believed in him.” This passage does not appear to fit in with the general writing style and flow of John. Scholars have presented a theory that along the way of copiers translating and recopying the Gospel of John may have been influenced by the later traditions that the brothers were unbelievers until after the death of Jesus and therefore put that verse in arbitrarily to fit with modern belief/view of the brothers. Mark and John are the main texts of the Gospels, which look in depth at the brothers and provide somewhat negative references to them (John 7:5, Mark 6:3-4). Luke and Matthew differ in their approaches and attitudes towards the brothers and family of Jesus. One of the major differences is the fact that both of these add nativity scenes to the beginning of the narrative of the life of Jesus. It may be an attempt to portray Jesus as the Christ child coming from the Lord, but there are no references to such in Mark, John, or Paul. Luke is interesting in that while he adds the nativity scene, he fails to tell the readers the names of the brothers, how many there are, or even if Jesus had sisters. One reading Luke alone would not be informed of such detail and therefore would have an incomplete understanding of the story. First, in Luke 4:16-30, Jesus has gone to his hometown of Nazareth to teach the people. Unlike Mark and John, Luke fails to name the brother’s names or even that they were there at all! As can be seen later in Acts (virtually Luke II), Luke attempts to minimize the role of James by seemingly pushing him into the background. Perhaps the same is occurring here, the effort on Luke’s part to lower the statue of the brothers because they are seen as unbelievers until Jesus is killed and resurrected. Also worth noting, Mark and John portray the Nazareth scene in such a way it could be taken the brothers are in opposition to Jesus. Being that Luke fails to mention the brothers, he minimizes the confrontation aspect between the brothers, but keeps the strife between Jesus and his kinsfolk alive (Luke 4:24 “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown”). Luke 8:19-21 is the only major reference to the brothers and again, they seem to be pushed into the background. Jesus is talking to the followers when his mother and brothers came to him. Again, unlike Mark and John, Luke avoids the confrontational language by writing “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” Using this instead of who are my mother and brothers conveys a sense that Jesus is not in conflict with his family, rather combining them and his followers as one eschatological family. Luke does a good job of minimizing the brothers and family of Jesus as a major part of his life. In doing so, he avoids portraying them negatively, as can be seen in some of the other Gospels. He attempts to have a harmonious balance between telling the historical story of Jesus, while avoiding conflict and downgrading the status of the brothers in his life. Matthew… (Ran out of time in class to finish question)
Based on Acts and the letters of Paul, what can be known and said about the dominant leadership position of James in the early Christian community?
Contrary to popular belief, it has been argued that James, the brother of Jesus, was the first bishop/leader of the Jerusalem church. In order to evaluate and give credit to such a theory, one must examine the texts of the New Testament in order to form one’s own opinion on the subject. The first item to be discussed in answering this question will be the text of Acts, followed by Galatians, and finally I Corinthians (the letters of Paul). Acts could be appropriately named Luke part II. It serves as a continuation of the Gospel of Luke with the first half being occupied with the Jerusalem church, its leaders, and their relationships. The issue at hand is attempting to uncover facts regarding the dominant leadership position of James in the early Christian community. James is mentioned predominately three times in the book of Acts. One might suggest that if James help such a prominent position in the early church, why then is he not given more recognition. The answer may lie with the author. Luke disagrees with James in that James takes a hard-line position with regard to circumcision and the following of the law, a view not shared by Luke. Providing this bias, Luke attempts to minimize the exposure that the reader must endure while learning of the events of the Jerusalem church. But, because of the prominence of James as its first leader, Luke cannot totally obscure James from his writings. Acts 12:17 is the first time James is mentioned by the author. Leading up to this verse is the story of Peter being captured by Herod Agrippa in the late 30’s CE and subsequently being set free by an angel/messenger of the Lord. Upon his release, Peter went to the house of Mary, mother of John, and instructed them that they should “Tell this to James and to the believers/brothers” (Acts 12:17). A question must be raised at this point, why would Peter tell these people to go and let James know the good news and not even enter their house, but instead leave for another place? The answer is simple, Peter is letting the leader of their movement know he is now free and ok. It naturally makes sense that a follower would let his leader know that he had been set free from prison. The point cannot be emphasized enough here that Peter went to his friend’s house and instructed them to go tell James of this news. Peter singles out James specifically and by name that he should be informed of the situation at once. This would suggest that James held some type of leadership position within the group that he should know immediately. Otherwise, Peter probably would have just told Rhoda the news and left, knowing that it would filter through to the rest of the movement. This is our first indication of the leadership role James has assumed in the early Jerusalem church. Acts 15:13 is the second mentioning of James in the book of Acts. Peter, Paul, and Barnabas are addressing the council of Jerusalem on matters concerning their mission to the Gentiles, specifically the Pharisees view that the Gentiles must be circumcised and keep the law of Moses. After Paul and Barnabas had finished their deliberation to the apostles and elders of the church, notice James replies to them. He says in verse 13 “My brothers, listen to me.” Later in verse 19, James says, “Therefore, I have reached the decision…” James is telling the other apostles and elders that his decision is to allow the Gentiles to be taught of the word and they must abide by the laws of Moses (Lev. 17-18), but do not have to be circumcised. By what right does James, the brother of Jesus, have to speak to the congregation in this manner? Obviously, this is a sign of a leader rendering a decision to his followers on an important matter. James has the authority to stand up and give his decision to be followed by the other members of the council and church over which he presides as their leader. Such a dominant leadership position is clearly seen in Acts 15:13,19. Acts 21:18 is the third occasion James is mentioned. Upon Paul’s third visit to Jerusalem, according to Acts, he goes to the house of Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple of the movement. Here, he stays during the first day of his visit. It is on the second day that he goes to visit James and all the elders are present too. This would imply that Paul has taken a day too prepare himself for a formal presentation to an important figure within the movement. While there, Paul relates the things God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. Again, here is a situation where the members of importance (elders/apostles) are being kept informed as to the progress of the movement and James is the only person named and singled out. Paul is reporting to the heads of the church all of his deeds in dealing with the Gentiles and James is the one who he intentionally goes to speak with. Notice that in verse 18, Paul goes to see James and all the elders are present. It gives the impression that James, being the leader of the Jerusalem church, was surrounded by the prominent figures essential to the movement. One would naturally find a leader surrounded by other important members of any group, be it a political organization or a religious movement. This is an extremely important verse because it stresses two important points of the James leadership. First, Paul makes a formal meeting with James, the only one he names specifically. Paul would be inclined to make a report to his superior regarding the status of his missions and teachings. Second, James is surrounded by the elders, giving the impression James is the leader and probably called an assembly, hearing Paul was in town, to hear his report on the progress of their movement. The three occasions James is mentioned in Acts relate a clear and vivid picture that James indeed held a dominant leadership position in the early Christian community. An analysis of Acts alone would not be sufficient to warrant the necessary evidence needed to give an adequate picture of the significance James held in the Jerusalem church. Next, the discussion will investigate further evidence contained in Galatians and I Corinthians (the letters of Paul). Galatians 1:19 is the first of three verses to be examined in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Paul is on one of his visitations to Jerusalem, probably sometime before 36 CE, and is staying with Cephas/Peter for fifteen days. While he is there, Paul makes note that he “sees no other apostle except James the Lord’s brother.” James if being afforded the status of an apostle by Paul. This reference in itself is enough to warrant some attention to James as being an important figure in the early Christian community. As discussed back in Acts, whenever a significant meeting of the Jerusalem church was called, the apostles and elders are always present and portrayed as the key players. There is no question Cephas/Peter is one of the apostles, being with Jesus from the beginning, but for Paul to label James as such shows he holds a key position too. Apostles take the movement over after the crucifixion of their leader and direct the spread of their message across Judea/Samaria and beyond. Paul making a reference to seeing no other apostles except for James confirms he holds a prominent position of authority, power, and respect within the Jesus movement. One of the more important pieces of evidence contained in Galatians relating to James’s leadership position comes from 2:9. Paul is on another visit to Jerusalem, this time to discuss his mission to the Gentiles so that the leaders may know he is not running in vain. One important note to make is that in 2:2, Paul says, “then I laid before them (though only in a private meeting with the acknowledged leaders)…” Later, in 2:9 he says, “…and when James and Cephas and John, who were acknowledged pillars…they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship.” Two key points are exhibited in this passage. First, the reference Paul makes to James as being one of the acknowledged pillars, naming him first no less, of the Jerusalem church. Although not specifically named James the brother of Jesus, this is no doubt he. Scholars have dated the time of this visit to Jerusalem between 46-50 CE and King Herod Agrippa had already killed the other famous James (the fisherman) in the late 30’s (Acts 12). Paul stated first that he was in a private meeting with the acknowledged leaders and goes on to name James as being the first of the three. Presented here is strong evidence supporting a dominant leadership position held by James the Just. Earlier in 1:19, Paul refers to James as an apostle and now as one of the pillars of the church. It has been theorized that a possibility exists whereby James may have been referred to in Matthew 16:18 rather than Peter. According to this theory, Jesus would have said “And I tell you, you are James, and on this rock I will build my church.” How controversial would this be if a Hebrew copy of Matthew were found in Baghdad from the 1st century. Second, 2:9 goes on to say “they (the three pillars) gave Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship.” Here again Paul is displaying the influence and power James possesses in that he has the authority to grant Paul permission to preach the gospel to the Gentiles (same situation in Acts 15:13). Galatians 2:12 is the last verse in Galatians dealing directly with the authority of James. Paul confronts Peter because he is being hypocritical in his ways. While with the Gentiles, Peter does not keep a strict observance of Judaism, but when “certain people came from James”, he drew back. At this point in the story there exists two separate missions of the church. On the one hand, James is the leader and head of the circumcision branch and Paul is the leading advocate of the uncircumcision mission. James has authority, as the head of the movement, to send messengers/people to check on Peter and Paul in their mission to the Gentiles. It is one of his administrative duties to check on the progress of his missionaries and see that the message is spread accordingly. Finally, the focus will shift to Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. I Corinthians 15:7 is a verse not specifically showing the leadership position James held, but rather showing the significant relationship to Jesus that lead to his acquisition of such a leading role in the Jerusalem church. Paul is writing about the resurrection of Jesus and naming the ones who he appeared to. First, he appeared to Cephas/Peter, followed by the Twelve, next to the more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, then to James, all the apostles, and finally to Paul. Jesus made personal appearances to three key individuals in Peter, James, and Paul. Peter is popularly held as the rock upon which the church is built and Paul is the missionary to the Gentiles. Both of these individuals are not in dispute as being important players in the early development of the Jesus movement, but look at the reference here to James. Many will argue that the brothers of Jesus were unbelievers throughout his mission and that they only came to believe in him following his crucifixion and resurrection. Such people may point to this passage in hopes of backing up their claims by stating Jesus is doing this to turn his brother into a believer. Other would suggest that Jesus is naturally appearing to a beloved brother, one who he held a special place in his heart for and one who helped and believed in Jesus before his death (brothers with him at Capernaum and Nazareth, etc.). For Jesus to make a personal appearance to someone, they must have held some type of important position in his life. The reference here shows readers that James was a special person in the life of his brother and as such would only be natural for him to take over and become leader of the movement following the death of the original leader. Based on the evidence presented from Acts, Galatians, and I Corinthians, it has been shown that James was a beloved follower of the Jesus movement. There is nothing to suggest he converted following the resurrection of his brother. It is however more logical to suggest he was a close follower of the movement and shared the ideals of Jesus. A clear portrait of the authority and dominant leadership position of James in the early Christian community is painted when one turns an investigative eye towards the works of the New Testament.
Discuss the evidence that Eusebius of Caesarea provides us regarding James the Just, brother of Jesus, with an emphasis upon his sources where we know them. In other words, what does Eusebius tell us about James “on his own” (no source given), and what does he attribute to other authorities (Clement, Origen, Hegesippus, etc.), and what difference does it make for our “quest for the historical James.” Is there a common body of agreed upon “facts,” that runs through all the materials, which material is earlier or later, which appears more or less embellished or cast in a tendentious manner for what discernable purposes?
Eusebius of Caesarea provides scholars with a valuable source of knowledge and history of the early church. Known primarily as a scholar and historian, Eusebius moved to and became Bishop of Caesarea where he was privileged enough to have access to its vast library. Regrettably, most of these texts have not endured the hands of time and thus we are left with his work to study primarily by itself. His writings, however are the core of extra biblical sources on James the Just, brother of Jesus. What makes Eusebius more notable than his fellow historians and scholars is he, more than anyone before him, identified his sources and quoted some of them verbatim. Generally speaking, Eusebius has proven himself to be a reliable scholar, although he sometimes summarizes his sources rather than directly quoting them. It is for this reason one must study and critique these works to see what is his own work, what he attributes to others before him, and if he has altered them in a way to push an agenda or slant through the material. Such an investigation would entail first examining each reference to James and the brothers, beginning with the first and working towards the last. Second, determining whom the author of each account is and finally concluded with an overall analysis of what type of picture the material paints for us regarding James. It will be of great importance to keep the chronology of authors clear throughout the presentation of the following material. Here is a list of writers along with their general time in history: Josephus 90 C.E. Hegesippus 130 C.E. Clement of Alexandria 220 C.E. Origen 230 C.E. Eusebius 325 C.E. Eusebius first makes reference to James in Book 1, Chapter 12 (1.12). The reader is shown a story beginning with a discussion on Peter/Cephas being one of the seventy disciples coming from Clement’s story out of Outlines Book V. Following this is a reference to the testimony of Paul regarding the same topic of resurrection appearances. The reader is clued here to the usage of Paul by the sentence “…as you would find if you considered the matter and accepted the testimony of Paul, who states that after…” Eusebius goes on to write, “Next, he says, He was seen by James, who was one of the so-called brethren of the Savior.” Paul is clearly attributed with this quote, most likely coming out of I Corinthians 15. One point, which needs to made here is that Eusebius tends to qualify James when providing his own summary information, but when quoting a source directly, he generally reproduces without qualification. Nevertheless, our first reference to James by Eusebius stems from the work of Paul in I Corinthians. Our next reference to Yaaqov emerges in Book 2, Chapter 1 (2.1.2-5) of The History of the Church. Eusebius asserts James was the first bishop of Jerusalem and was so appointed at/after the martyrdom of Stephen (2.2.1). (Placing James as first bishop may come from a list of bishops of Jerusalem from Hegesippus in 4.22.4, but that will be examined later on.) There exists no reference of mentioning of another source for this quote, yet Eusebius wants to back his own assertion up with a multiple quotes from Clement’s Outlines. Our initial quote comes from Book VI and discusses how Peter, James, and John chose James the Righteous as Bishop of Jerusalem after the Ascension of the Savior. Immediately after we are introduced to material from Book VIII claiming James the Righteous, John, and Peter were entrusted with a higher knowledge after the resurrection and they shared it with the other apostles and the Seventy. It goes on to briefly describe the death of to Jameses. Contained in (2.1.5) is material Eusebius attributes to Paul, obviously coming from Galatians 1:19. This citation is clearly characterized by Eusebius’s sentence, “James the Righteous is also mentioned by Paul when he writes…”(goes into quote from Gal. 1:19). Evidently this excerpt is intended to clarify the identity of James the Just (Yaaqov Ha Tzaddik). However, it is worth noting Paul uses James the Lord’s brother instead of James the Just/Righteous. Reading further, we come upon our third James source in (2.23.1-25). Here lies a rather long passage detailing the martyrdom of James ‘the Lord’s brother’ according to at least three labeled sources and possibly numerous others. Almost immediately Eusebius reminds his readers they were previously told of how James died by the words quoted from Clement. Eusebius further emphasizes the most detailed account of this event is given by Hegesippus in his fifth book. Hegesippus is introduced as belonging to the first generation after the apostles, quite possibly an attempt by Eusebius to qualify the accuracy of Hegesippus’s works. Eusebius relies heavily upon Hegesippus for an account of James’s martyrdom, as well as numerous other events contained throughout The History of the Church (as will be examined later). When the quotation of Hegesippus ends with “Immediately after this Vespasian began to besiege them,” Eusebius again merits its inclusion by stating the full account is in agreement with Clement (although Clement is later than Hegesippus and feasibly incorporated some of the earlier material into his own). Coming to (2.23.20-25) Eusebius quotes material from the now infamous historian Josephus. Presented are two quotations from Josephus, the first reemphasizing James’ death was the cause of Jerusalem’s destruction. A problem exists here because this quote does not appear in any of the current manuscripts of Josephus. Drawing from Antiquities Book XX, Eusebius communicates through Josephus’ words, in a second quotation, to recount how James was brought before a council of judges who were convening illegally. Book 3 out of Eusebius’s history contains within it five references to James and the brothers, several of which appear to be from Eusebius himself. First, we find in (3.5.2-3) Eusebius relaying to us a story about how after the Ascension of the Savior the Jews plotted and stoned Stephen to death, beheaded James son of Zebedee, and finally James lost his life in the way previously described. There is no mention of another source or author where this comes from so if may be inferred Eusebius is transmitting this information to us of his own account (relying on sources such as the Bible and early traditions). Second, (3.7.7-9) brings a reconciliation. Reconciliation between the time Jesus is crucified and when Jerusalem fell to the Romans by the end of the first revolt. Again, it would appear Eusebius is presenting material on his own, independent of any identifiable source. His reasons for this will be explored in greater detail later. Third we encounter the setting of Jerusalem after the capture and after the death of James (3.11.1 & 3.12.1). This passage continues to explain that “a firm tradition” tells of the apostles and disciples coming together to unanimously elect Symeon, son of Clopas, to occupy the throne of Jerusalem. A quick examination of this passage might lead one to believe Eusebius is presenting his own information, but upon further inspection we find that he is indeed utilizing other resources at his disposal. Eusebius bluntly states he is conveying “a firm tradition.” Although not identifiable, we can safely assume it is not his tradition. His Clopas referrals come from Hegesippus (again bluntly stated) and more than likely from sources like John 19:25 and Luke 24:18. Fourth, (3.19.1-3.20.7) brings to us information encompassing the family of James and Jesus. Material from Hegesippus is quoted again plus there is another referral to “an old and firm tradition” as can be seen in (3.11.1). Finally, Book 3 has information with respect to the martyrdom of Symeon, brother of James and Jesus. Contained within (3.32.1-6) is a testimony to the circumstances surround his death/martyrdom. Eusebius writes, “the authority for this statement is the writer whose history I have appealed several times already, Hegesippus.” He also goes on to write, “But we can do no better than to listen to the writer’s own version of the story.” Eusebius has no affliction utilizing Hegesippus openly and freely, nor does he have any hesitation giving credit where credit is due. Information contained in (4.5.1-4 & 4.22.4) are very similar and form a foundation upon which most of the present day traditions about James are founded. Eusebius is eager to let his audience know the list of early bishops of the Jerusalem Church. He naturally uses the earliest and in his view, most historically accurate source to do this. Hegesippus is credited with providing the quotation material contained within (4.22.4). He begins by informing the audience when James the Righteous was martyred like his brother, Symeon, the son of his uncle Clopas, was appointed bishop. It further goes on to say by being a cousin of the Lord; it was universally demanded that he should be second. Nowhere in this passage is it specifically stated James was the first bishop of the church. However, upon examination of the wording alone, one could logically deduce this is implying James was first since Symeon was second. This is an evaluation that Eusebius adopted not only in (4.5.1-4), but also throughout his entire writings. Hegesippus’s account of who the early bishops were in the Jerusalem Church is extremely important to understand for the overall depiction of the history of the church. It is from this source much of the tradition is based upon and carried on until present times. Finally, the last reference to James in The History of the Church comes in Book 7, Chapter 19 (7.19.1). Here lies a discussion about the throne of James. The passage continues to state James was the first to receive the episcopacy of the Jerusalem church from the Savior and His apostles. No other references to such a throne are to be found anywhere else in the work’s of Eusebius and without evidence to the contrary, we can accredit Eusebius with providing this information himself. Taking a step back for a moment, we can now see the magnitude James plays in history of the early Jerusalem church. An examination of the references to him, accompanied by their respective authors has just been presented. However, a question must be posed at this stage, what does this all mean? Armed with this knowledge, what can we say about James (what are the facts, how do we know them, and in what way is it presented)? A major underlying tone in the writing of Eusebius is one of an apologist. His apologetic tendencies show an innocent and virtuous church suffering persecution and through God’s work, successfully ending in triumph. Eusebius attempts to accomplish this goal by displaying the righteous of James from beginning to end and the continuity of the church before and after the first Jewish war. He is taking a position of apologizing for the wrongdoings of the early persecutors and showing how their mission failed because it was set against the God of Israel and his chosen people. Hegesippus had a great deal of influence upon Eusebius to display the early followers, specifically Jesus and his family, as righteous suffers. It is through the persecution and heresy of the early church that Eusebius can take an apologetic tone towards its history in an attempt to show the world how wrong the early people were to persecute this virtuous establishment and all of its people. Another objective sought through the writing of these works is to display the prominence of James and the leadership role he enjoyed in the church. When Hegesippus makes his list of bishop’s (4.22), he names Symeon as second only to imply that James was the first. Eusebius takes this listing and expands on it to specifically state James was the first (4.5). Eusebius is the earliest extant source to name James as first bishop of Jerusalem. He also includes in (2.23) the martyrdom account of James material by Hegesippus the reference to linen garments. Religious figureheads wear linen garments during this time period and the story goes on to assert that James alone was permitted to enter the sanctuary. This material was chosen for a specific purpose, one of portraying James as the righteous leader above all others in the community. Supporting evidence can be found in Clement’s accounts in (2.1.3-5). Book VIII of his works have James the Righteous, John, and Peter were entrusted with a higher knowledge to spread to the apostles. Here is seen the view of the leadership role of James even among the three pillars, very similar to Paul’s writings in Galatians 2:9. James’s ascent to the throne is in controversy though. Eusebius reports to us early in Book 2 James is elected to the throne following Stephen’s death. However, the Clement quotation suggests an earlier date, sometime “after the ascension.” The electing agents are not identified by Eusebius in his account, but are named (Peter, James, and John) by Clement as choosing James for the leadership position. Why does this inconsistency exist? It has been suggested Eusebius clearly is attempting to inform his readers James had the leadership role and was elected so by the other major players of the church. This being his main objective, the specific details of the account need not be worried about so much as long as the point is made and clearly understood. Eusebius conveys just enough information in his account to let the reader understand his angle, then he applies the quote by Clement to not only confirm his assertions, but to add further detail on the subject. Another matter obvious in the material is Eusebius’s qualification of James while using his own summary information. Evidence of this is visible wherever he is discussing James and calling him the “alleged,” “named,” or “said to be” brother of the Lord. When Eusebius quotes another source, he generally reproduces without such a qualification. Apparently, Eusebius is caught between two opposing forces surrounding his writing. On one hand, he is a very notable historian and scholar and thus wishes to be as accurate as possible in his reproduction of other material. For this reason, he often will quote a source verbatim. On the other hand, it is thought he subscribed to the Virgin Mary theory of Jesus’ family. As such, he would not believe James is the true “brother” of Jesus by Mary and Joseph. This is the most likely reason for his qualifications of James when providing his own summary information. Our accounts of the martyrdom of James are also not in agreement. Eusebius makes certain his audience understands James dies by the hands of the wicked ones against him, but the manner in which he was killed is different throughout according to the existing sources we have. Josephus’ account of the martyrdom records James being stoned to death. Hegesippus also has James being stoned by the crowd but adds one blow of the fullers club to finish him off. Clement records James as being hit repeatedly about the head area with a fullers club. Are these different accounts meant to reveal something to the reader, a message? Stoning is more of a Jewish tradition when it comes to dispatching an individual from the earth. The accounts presented which include a fullers club are possibly an attempt to show James was no ordinary man and would not die by ordinary means. It could be that this is another way Eusebius and the other writers show the humbleness of James and the ignorance of the ones who would turn against him. These early opponents to the church could not even martyr James in the correct fashion, but rather by any means necessary. Included in that would be picking up a wooden club used to beat dirt from clothes to make then clean. Ironically enough, it would seem they beat the clean (James) from the dirt (opponents) or stated another way, beat the dirt into themselves and brought the vengeance of God and Vespasian down upon them. Eusebius challenged himself to give the world an accurate depiction of the history of the early Jerusalem church from its inception to the present time. To aid in this endeavor, he confers with, relates to, and includes numerous source materials from other knowledgeable historians (Josephus, Hegesippus, Clement, Origen, as well as other non-identified sources). Through the utilization of these earlier sources, he is hoping to bring as accurate and complete portrait as possible. It is through this incorporation of supplementary material we can reconcile differences in the text and see where history and tradition meet. The material shows signs of having apologetic tendencies, displaying the righteousness of the church members, and heresy of those who worked for its downfall. Clearly, his works are not without its biases and motives, but scholars agree overall that Eusebius successfully achieved his ultimate goal.
How do the varied traditions about James, brother of Jesus, found here and there in the Nag Hammadi codices, correlate with what we have learned or “know” about James from other sources, whether New Testament, church “fathers,” or more standard Apocryphal works? In other words, how is the picture of the “historical James” possible advanced by this important discovery in 1946?
When the Nag Hammadi texts were discovered on the eastern side of the Nile in 1946, there came to light many references to James and helped reinforce some of the traditions we have come to know before their discovery. Each of the texts is from a time when Gnosticism was flourishing 150-350 C.E. Gnosticism is the secret knowledge of how we got here, our state of existence, and how to get home. Gnostics believe we received this knowledge because a merciful God sent a Savior to rescue us. These Gnostic texts are built on a premise that Jesus taught publicly and secretly at the same time. We, the reader, are introduced to these secret teachings through reading the codices of texts found at Nag Hammadi. The major texts from the Nag Hammadi library under study are The Apocryphon of James (“secret book of James”), The First Apocalypse of James, The Second Apocalypse, and The Gospel of Thomas (Gospel of Judas). Each one presents its own unique depiction of James and will be examined closely. The Apocryphon of James is an account of James and Peter receiving knowledge, but stressing James is on a higher level. It has been argued that this text could be referring to James the fisherman, but such an argument is flawed. The fisherman is dead in 41 C.E. and we have no parallel sources to corroborate such a claim. We do have extra sources that would corroborate such a story of the brother of Jesus – James the Just. It sounds like James is part of the 12 at first by making reference, “that the Savior did not wish to tell to all of us, his twelve disciples.” It goes on to state, “…the twelve disciples were all sitting together…But I was writing…” This is clearly meant to display James as part of the inner group, the group of 12 privileged individuals experiencing the secret teachings of Jesus. Our text is reinforcing the notion that James is even higher than this group and Peter in that he receives two secret books. The Apocryphon attempts to insert James into Peter’s place when discussing conversations between Jesus and himself. An example of this is when James tells the Lord “we have forsaken our fathers and our mothers and our villages and followed you.” It is very similar to what we would find in Mark 10:28. Another example is where Jesus is telling the guys to remember his cross and his death, James (not Peter) comes up and says “Lord, do not mention to us the cross and death, for they are far from you.” We can see a correlation in Matthew 16:22. What can be said about this text as a whole? Its content is very Gnostic (3rd century), noticeably by its use of “men of light” and “light and life.” From other sources, we can deduce that the historical James the Just would not talk like what we are seeing here. The author of this text is rewriting history in essence to give James prominence over Peter – competing with emerging church who venerated Peter (putting James ahead). What has been suggested here is the author has utilized James in this text to enhance its credibility. From that we can examine the possibility of why would you use a person to enhance credibility unless they could do so? Although this may have little significance in furthering the historical details of James’s life, it can be surmised that James was an important enough individual to have a text use his name to enhance its authority. The First Apocalypse of James is dated as having been written at the beginning of the third century. It contains a set of dialogues between the Lord and James before the passion (Tuesday) and after the resurrection, plus his own death is foretold. With the first dialogue, Jesus is speaking with James and calls him my brother. He goes on further to say “For not without reason have I called you my brother, although you are not my brother materially.” This is a reflection of the values and belief of the author. He is showing he does not believe James is a true, “material” brother of the Lord. We can date this conversation as being before the passion because Jesus says “For they will seize me the day after tomorrow.” What is revealed by this statement is James was a follower and believer in his brother, Jesus, before the crucifixion and did not become one subsequent to that event (as is one widely held belief). We also are introduced to information why James is the Just. Jesus is explaining to James that he still no longer be James; rather the “One-who-is.” It is an explanation of how James will become divine in the days ahead and the reader gets the idea/notion of James being like a twin Savior. Twice in the material, Jesus embraces and kisses his brother. It is not so much a point for James as it is for stressing the risen Lord is not a spirit because a spirit has no flesh and bones to embrace and kiss. Jesus tells James of his forthcoming death and says to him, “When you depart, immediately war will be made with this land.” From Eusebius we have an almost identical reference according to Josephus (although found in none of the current materials) of how the destruction of Jerusalem resulted from the death of the righteous one. It is another parallel source confirming traditions surrounding James and his status in the early church. This text attempts to elevate James to a more spiritual status than may have been previously believed. It shows us his status with Jesus (brother), has James as a follower before the passion, and how he embraced the Lord after his crucifixion and resurrection. We are told why James is named the Just and told how he will become divine. So much so that by his death, Jerusalem will be overtaken and destroyed by Vespasian and the Roman 10th Legion. Reading this material also introduces the idea of James as a twin Savior. The Second Apocalypse of James is an extension of the first apocalypse, picking up at the point where the first left off. Why are there two apocalypses? By having two, it increases the weight of James being revered as a central figure in the early Jerusalem church. Here exists the discourse that James the Just spoke in Jerusalem. Two major themes emerge through the reading of this text, one is the emphasis of James’s relationship to Jesus and the other is James as a messiah-like individual. While James is speaking to the crowd, he is reminded of a time when Jesus came while James was deliberating. Jesus called to James, saying “hail, my brother; my brother hail.” James raises his face and noticing a sign of uneasiness on his face, tells James not to be frightened because Jesus called you brother. She continues to declare they both were “nourished with the same milk.” Finally, she tells James Jesus is not a stranger to us, but instead he is your stepbrother. As with the first apocalypse, the author is reflecting his own beliefs through the writing – calling James and Jesus stepbrothers instead of brothers. Later in the text, Jesus kisses James and calls him “my beloved!” This is again showing the intimate relationship James holds with Jesus. The author of The Second Apocalypse is attempting to show this close relationship while at the same time keeping them apart physically. James is a brother and it presents difficulty for the author to overcome. In an attempt to overcome this flaw in the story, the author uses stepbrother, as seen above, and has Jesus telling James “your father is not my father, but my father has become a father to you.” It appears to be the best way our author could come up with to keep the close relationship aspect without violating the virgin concept. The second theme emerging throughout the text is the idea of James as a messiah-like individual. He is giving a discourse to crowds in Jerusalem, striving to teach this mindless generation the path to righteousness. He communicates the knowledge passed to him by Jesus, telling them of the things Jesus had told him. James was told that he was an “illuminator and a redeemer of those who are mine” and then of he will be taken and judged just as Jesus before him had been. As the capstone to this theme, the author reveals to us James is taken by those in the crowd saying “come, let us stone the Just One.” They seize and kill him, but before he dies, James is heard uttering a final prayer reminiscent of the one Jesus spoke at his death. The idea of James as a twin savior is clearly evident and stressed upon throughout this text. With The Second Apocalypse of James comes a heavy emphasis on early traditions surrounding James and the early Jerusalem church. This texts presents information more about the suffering and death of James (twin savior idea) than any other point. Throughout the entire text, we find it agrees heavily with Hegesippus, which adds some historical validity to earlier traditions because of its independence from that material. Finally, it adds nice details to the stoning incident and the final prayer just before James’ martyrdom. Here, the account of his martyrdom differs from that of any other known account. It is portrayed to show the suffering of James. The crowd seizes and strikes James, they place a rock on his abdomen, and since he was still alive, made him dig a hole and bury himself up to his waistline. Following this account is a final prayer by James not noted by another source either. Finally, we examine The Gospel of Thomas (Judas). Our only reference to James in this text is located in logion 12. It reads as follows “The disciples said to Jesus, “We know that you are going to leave us. Who will be our leader?” Jesus said to them, “No matter where you are you are to go to James the Just, for whose sake heaven and earth came into being.” Presented here is a signal to the reader. We are to understand that James was chosen by Jesus himself before the passion. This is in confrontation with the Eusebius material in that he was elected by the apostles according to those accounts and is chosen here by the Savior. Jesus also calls James the Just/Righteous – a title given to a select group of individuals previously, such as Abraham, Moses, David, and the Messiah. The idea here is to display James as being the chosen successor of Jesus and to instill the notion of James being a righteous man and leader. As can be seen above, many of the traditions and stories we find in other known materials of the time were reinforced, added to, and revised by the discovery of the Nag Hammadi collection. Among the numerous aspects confirmed by the texts, we see that James as regarded as first bishop of the Jerusalem church and that he was part of the 12 and the Last Supper. Also visible are the records of his martyrdom and close relationship with his brother. Some of the accounts contained in these texts differ from those of other sources, yet the core lessons these stories are trying so desperately to convey are remain unchanged.
Compare the N.T. letter of James to the Synoptic Gospel material known as QMt and M (Matthew’s own material). What do you find parallel with regard to key vocabulary, essential content, themes, major ideas, and emphases? Is there enough similarity to speak confidently of a “Q floating in a living sea of M,” with M/Q in turn representing a tradition emanating from James? If so, can we add “James,” (given all this quite distinctive material) along with Paul, Synoptic Mark, Luke-Acts, and John as one of the major “pillars” or trajectories of earliest Christianity?
To define QMt is to look at each of the parts which collectively represent the whole. Q is defined as the material that Luke and Matthew have in common that is not found in Mark. This material appears to be a collection of the teachings or sayings of Jesus and would suggest Luke and Matthew were following the same source material, probably written. Matthew has a distinctive set of material of his own appropriately labeled as M. These are a supposed collection of the sayings of Jesus associated with James. In an attempt to give a definition of QMt, the theory is proposed that essentially states it is composed of Q, with M material inserted, and was written within the Matthean community. Given the latter two insertions, it is clear why such material is labeled QMt. As with any other scholarly endeavor, the materials M, QMt, and the letter of James should be compared and evaluated to see if any parallels exist in vocabulary, themes, or major ideas and if so, what to make of the connections. Some very distinct parallels do exist between James and Matthew with respect to key vocabulary and context links. Our first link pertains to the vocabulary word of “perfect.” Use of the word perfect in the modern English sense differs from the context in which it was utilized during the composition of these texts. Perfect in the earlier sources meant maturity or completeness in God, an idea conveyed in James 1:4 clearly and more or less so in a couple of examples in Matthew (5:48, 19:21). James writes “and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” Compare this to Matt. 5:48, “be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” and 19:21, “if you wish to be perfect…” James has the reader becoming complete and lacking nothing just as Matthew has the reader being perfect as the Father is perfect (lacking nothing). Look at each reference in Matthew with the “original” definition of perfect in the back of one’s mind and it becomes clear the relationship between the two texts. “Righteousness” is another linkage of the texts. James 1:20 & 3:18 both contain this word and Matthew has several references in chapters 3,5, & 6. This idea of righteousness stems from the Zaddik reserved for those who are worthy of the title. We know of Abraham, Moses, David, and James having this title. Reading further another parallel becomes apparent, the idea of God choosing/protecting the poor. Matthew 5:3 reads, “blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Where else can we see this idea presented? James 2:5 tells the reader of God choosing the poor of the world, which shall be rich in faith and heirs to the kingdom. A short reference can also be seen in Matthew 11:5, “…and the poor have good news brought to them.” Compare this to come Q material in Luke 6:20, “blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” QMk and QLk originate from the same source, each becoming differentiated by the addition of each respective author’s own material. Take note these three sources contain similar material not found elsewhere in the New Testament and all theorized as working from the same original source. Related to this theme is the condemnation of the rich (opposite of elevating the poor) found in James 5:6-7, Matthew 19, and Luke 19. James 2:13 presents the notion that to receive mercy in judgement is a result from being merciful to others. This idea that showing mercy to one’s brothers and sisters will result in a reward down the eternal and spiritual road is a unique idea common only to James and Matthew. Matthew 5:7 – “blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” Here can be seen an almost exact duplicate of ideas between the two texts of James and Matthew. A little differentiation occurs, but the central idea comes through the material and could be representative of the authors drawing from the same source material. Again a correlation exists between these texts and one in Luke. Luke 6:36, “be merciful, just as you Father is merciful.” The reader can notice a different style and application of the words, yet the main theme is constant. Another interesting correlation is the idea of teachers presented in James 3:1 and Matthew 23:8. Matthew is taking the position that there exists only one teacher (rabbi) and that no one is to be called such as we are all students. In contrast, James is teaching that not many of the readers should become teachers, for they will be judged with greater strictness. Although these two sentences may appear to be opposite, they both deal with the concept that there exists one true “teacher” and that men upon the earth may help distribute the word, but not consider themselves teachers. Hence, we are all students of the word, some may just help their fellow students understand the word a little better. Clearly the same motif is contained within the references presented here, yet they are presented in slightly different situations and ways. As would be expected of two different authors using a common source, the writing styles and preconceptions of individual writers’ results in variation upon duplication. Returning to James 3:18 we find yet another similarity to Matthew, this time in 5:9. Contained in the Sermon on the Mount material exists a reference that the peacemakers are blessed for they will be called children of God. James relates a similar tone, “and a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.” A very strong relationship is evident between Matthew 6:34 and James 4:13-14. In each passage, the theme of anticipating tomorrow as representative of mankind’s ignorance is clearly displayed. Two completely separate and independent writers are displaying the same concept/idea that today should be the focal point of life and not the future. This context is evident in the middle of Matthew’s so called Sermon on the Mount material (Ch. 5-7). Intriguing that Matthew records the material as emanating from Jesus, as opposed to James writing/speaking in the first person. Our next correlation involves the “church.” James 5:14 relates to the elders of the church. Matthew 16:18 gives us one of the most famous quotes in the New Testament. He is writing about building the church upon the rock called Peter. Again church can be seen in Matthew 18:17, when it addresses members telling their problems to the church. Notice here the use of church rather than synagogue. James 5:14 and Matthew 18:17 both display the prominence of the church by revealing to the reader whenever there is a problem or concern; it should be taken to the church. Can this be taken as more of an instructional approach of how the church is to operate? Regardless of the answer, both James and Matthew have essentially the same material. The notion of a “second” coming of the Lord is not particularly a distinctive plot pertaining to one writer in the New Testament. However, the way in which James and Matthew present this ideology is strikingly similar. James 5:7 is telling the reader to be patient until the coming, just as a farmer is patient with the early and late rains for his crops. Matthew has a variation of this in contained Ch. 24. He recounts the lament Jesus gave concerning the coming of the Son of Man. Our final parallel with respect to key vocabulary and context links is concerned with the “taking of oaths.” James 5:12 reads, “above all my beloved do not swear by heaven or by any other oath…” and Matthew 5:33 reads, “you shall not swear falsely.” Matthew obviously adds the word falsely to convey his point of lying rather than oaths. Taking this out we are left with another clear example of a direct linkage between the texts of these two authors. Each wording a phrase ever so slightly differently to fit it to their particular style or objective. There still exist many other themes or emphases which run parallel to one another throughout the two texts of James and Matthew. Ideas such as not committing murder (James 2:11; Matt. 5:21), teachings against hoarding of treasures (James 5:2; Matt. 6:19), and asking and receiving the wisdom (James 1:5; Matt. 7:7) are all present in both accounts. James 4:11-17 sounds like the Jesus out of Matthew and with some editing, could easily be placed in the Matthew Ch. 5,6,7 material collectively known as the Sermon on the Mount. Numerous examples still exist in these texts but an examination of all of them is not relevant to the objective of this paper. What then can we say about all of this evidence? It has been suggested that there exists enough similarity between the letter of James, QMt, and M to confidently say “Q is floating in a living sea of M.” Through an examination of evidence provided above, it is clear relationships do exist between the texts and they appear to contain similar, if not exact, representations of some earlier tradition. It could be that such a tradition was oral and then written, giving the authors a reference to work from. James and Matthew do appear to have drawn, at least in part, from a common source, applying parts to their own situations and changing them slightly to fit their particular style of writing and objective they wanted to convey to the reader. In the letter of James, the man named James in 1:1 is writing to the twelve tribes in the dispersion. This James is dispensing knowledge that seems to come straight from Jesus, yet is writing in the first person as if he were speaking the words for the first time himself. Some scholars have been critical about the author of this letter being the actual brother of the Lord. In response to this point, others have made the observation that there exists no other James during that time which would warrant recognition by one name alone. This would have been attributed to a man whom all the recipients knew and those associated the letter. Such a man would have been held in high regard most likely and also would have held some position of importance. As can be seen in the works of the New Testament, Eusebius, Nag Hammadi, and other traditions and works of the time, such a status is ascribed to James. Thus, if the author of the letter is the actual brother of Jesus, then if can be reasonably argued that he could have been privileged to speak and listen to Jesus during his times of teaching. These oral traditions may have later been recorded by James (i.e. his letter) and utilized by the writers and historians coming after him. Continuing with this line of reasoning would lead one to a logical conclusion that M/Q does in fact represent a tradition emanating from James. Distinctive material is identifiable (refer to above) attesting to the fact such a correlation exists and common material was used in the creation of latter works. It can be suggested then that the letter of James can be added along with Paul, Synoptic Mark, Luke-Acts, and John as a major “pillar” or trajectory of earliest Christianity. Doing so would add more evidence and support to the emerging picture of the early members and events surrounding the earliest Christianity.
We are all familiar with the historical-critical “Quest for the Historical Jesus” with its different champions and results (Crossan, Borg, Wright, etc.). What about the Quest for the Historical James? What can we know about James the brother of Jesus and how can we know it? Critically evaluate, now at the end of the course, from any and all sources you wish to use, what we can know about James and his place and role in the early Nazarene movement?
Throughout the course of this semester we have examined both biblical and non-biblical sources relating to James the brother of Jesus and his surrounding world during his time. Each contributing its own distinct view and piece of the historical puzzle of recreating the life, times, and prominence of James the brother of Jesus. As the end of the course is near, we need to look back to see what can be known about James and his place in the early Nazarene movement. Relating to biblical sources, Acts serves as a platform to base our evidence of the role of James in the early Christian community. James is mentioned predominately three times in the book of Acts. One might suggest that if James help such a prominent position in the early church, why then is he not given more recognition. The answer may lie with the author. Luke disagrees with James in that James takes a hard-line position with regard to circumcision and the following of the law, a view not shared by Luke. Providing this bias, Luke attempts to minimize the exposure that the reader must endure while learning of the events of the Jerusalem church. But, because of the prominence of James as its first leader, Luke cannot totally obscure James from his writings. Acts 15:13 is the second mentioning of James in the book of Acts. James is replying to Paul and Barnabas’ report, he says in verse 13 “My brothers, listen to me.” Later in verse 19, James says, “Therefore, I have reached the decision…” James is telling the other apostles and elders that his decision is to allow the Gentiles to be taught of the word and they must abide by the laws of Moses (Lev. 17-18), but do not have to be circumcised. By what right does James, the brother of Jesus, have to speak to the congregation in this manner? Obviously, this is a sign of a leader rendering a decision to his followers on an important matter. James has the authority to stand up and give his decision to be followed by the other members of the council and church over which he presides as their leader. Such a dominant leadership position is clearly seen in Acts 15:13,19. Acts 21:18 is also an important reference to James regarding his place and role in the early Nazarene movement. Paul has come to Jerusalem and on the second day goes to visit James and all the elders are present too. Again, here is a situation where the members of importance (elders/apostles) are being kept informed as to the progress of the movement and James is the only person named and singled out. Paul is reporting to the heads of the church all of his deeds in dealing with the Gentiles and James is the one who he intentionally goes to speak with. Notice that in verse 18, Paul goes to see James and all the elders are present. It gives the impression that James, being the leader of the Jerusalem church, was surrounded by the prominent figures essential to the movement. One would naturally find a leader surrounded by other important members of any group, be it a political organization or a religious movement. This is an extremely important verse because it stresses two important points of the James leadership. First, Paul makes a formal meeting with James, the only one he names specifically. Paul would be inclined to make a report to his superior regarding the status of his missions and teachings. Second, James is surrounded by the elders, giving the impression James is the leader and probably called an assembly, hearing Paul was in town, to hear his report on the progress of their movement. Continuing the search, we find that non-biblical source material reveals a wealth of references to James. This is a result, as has presented by scholars, of the fate of the early church coinciding with the fate of Jerusalem starting in 66 C.E. Also by later leaders attempting to include in the New Testament only material that would promote a Jesus mission to the rest of the world, to the Gentile nations. James was known for his ideology of keeping the mission contained to Jews in Palestine or so it was thought. Another contributing factor to James not being more prevalent in the New Testament is that members of the later churches did not see his relationship with Jesus as a true blood relationship. Being so biased, they were able to push James into the background and to obscure what little evidence about him they did allow to be left in. It is in these extra biblical sources we see the “unbiased” opinions and history of James as were seen at the time they were written, some early and others later. Two examples of such sources are the Nag Hammadi Library and Eusebius. The major texts from the Nag Hammadi library under study are The Apocryphon of James, The First Apocalypse of James, The Second Apocalypse, and The Gospel of Thomas. From The Apocryphon of James, the reader is given a detailed account of James receiving a secret book or teaching from Jesus. It is an attempt to elevate the status of James over Peter and even goes as far as to insert James in Peter’s place when conversations occur with Jesus. The First Apocalypse of James strives to elevate James to a more spiritual status than may have been previously believed. It shows his status with Jesus as his brother and has James as a follower before the passion. We are also told by James is named the Just. The Second Apocalypse of James shows a relationship between he and Jesus, yet keeping them apart physically. A second theme emerging throughout the text is the idea of James as a messiah-like figure. James is giving a discourse to crowds in Jerusalem and is giving to them knowledge given to him by Jesus. One major point revealed in this text is the death and final prayer of James – reiterating the twin savior idea. Finally, The Gospel of Thomas stresses one and only one point, James as being the chosen successor of Jesus and to instill the notion of James being a righteous man and leader. Eusebius assumes the mission of presenting the history of the early church. In an attempt to be as accurate as possibly, he confers with and references early source material directly relating to the Jerusalem church. In doing so, he comes upon a great deal of information dealing with the importance of James, as would be expected of a true leader. One of the objectives sought through the writing of these works is to display the prominence of James and the leadership role he enjoyed in the church. Although Eusebius contributes very little original material, he does include other sources providing good background information on the church. From Eusebius we learn that James was the first bishop of Jerusalem. We are also shown detailed accounts of James’s martyrdom, his role as a figurehead/righteous leader, that the cause of Jerusalem’s destruction is the death of James, and his relationship to Jesus before and after the passion. Given this extremely brief overview of the sources we looked over the course of this past semester, we are left to sift the material to see what we can know about James. Taken as a whole, the materials, texts, and traditions all push certain motifs and facts surround the life of James. We can know that James did indeed hold a leadership position in the early Jerusalem church, even that of first bishop, according to Acts, Galatians, Nag Hammadi, Eusebius, and Hegesippus. There is no doubt that James held the “throne”, but his ascent to that throne is in controversy. Clement has the appointment following the death of Stephen. Clement and Eusebius record James as being chosen or elected by Peter, James, and John, whereas The Gospel of Thomas depicts Jesus as handpicking James for the job. The way in which James ascended to the throne is of no great importance here, what is important is that James was indeed the leader of the early Jerusalem church. Another example of knowledge surrounded by small controversies is the accounts of the martyrdom of James. Eusebius makes certain his audience understands James dies by the hands of the wicked, but the manner in which he is killed vary somewhat. Josephus’ account of the martyrdom records James being stoned to death. Hegesippus also has James being stoned by the crowd but adds one blow of the fullers club to finish him off. Clement records James as being hit repeatedly about the head area with a fullers club. Last but not least, in The Second Apocalypse of James account, the crowd seizes and strikes James, they place a rock on his abdomen, and since he was still alive, made him dig a hole and bury himself up to his waistline. Then they commence to stone him to death while he is helpless and cannot move. Looking individually at the accounts with a critical eye makes a reader question the accuracy of any one account. Taken as an overall position, the central idea being pushed through is that James was martyred for his relationship to Jesus and to the early Jerusalem church. Although each text, source material, or tradition presents its own version of the occurrences surrounding James, we are able to extract the core meaning from such sources and can confirm their validity by cross-checking these with other know reliable sources. We know that James was a brother, devoted follower, and firm believer in his brother Jesus. So much so that he assumed leadership of the movement after the passion of his brother, becoming the bishop of the church and leading it for another 32 years. During his administration, the mission spread to the Gentiles through the efforts of Paul and others reaching out from Jerusalem and membership grew by leaps and bounds until it encompassed thousands of followers. We also know that the Jerusalem church in its present form came to an end with the martyrdom of James in 62 C.E. at the hands of his fellow people in Jerusalem. The end of the church coincided with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. (suggested as the cause of this was the killing of the Zaddik) and was to be lost forever, at least until scholars began searching for the history which is now being reconstructed. Knowledge of James and his place and role in the early Nazarene movement would not be possible by a study of the Bible alone. It has been shown that James was pushed into the background by those structuring the New Testament to reflect the values and beliefs at the time. It is only when one takes into consideration all of the sources, New Testament, tradition, Gnostic scriptures, and church historians that the true picture will finally be revealed for all to see and believe. This course has been another great battle in the war of discovering the original, historically accurate picture of James as a follower, believer, and righteous leader of the early Nazarene movement.