This morning I diverted the attention of my Sunday School class away from James and in the direction of the whole Jesus family tomb controversy. I am confident that none in the class would doubt their faith on account of this documentary. Still, I wanted to do my best to put some information in their hands that they could use in conversations with family and friends about the controversy. I put together a one-page outline of the controversy and some of the counter arguments. Of course I am indebted to Drs. Bock, Bauckham, Witherington, Heiser, Goodacre and all the other bibliobloggers who have posted on the subject for their invaluable responses to the documentary.
For what it’s worth, you can download the PDF here. (Link now fixed.)
Please note that this document is extremely laconic in details as it is only an outline.
Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. (2 Timothy 4:2 NIV)
James Tabor blogs about Robert Eisenman’s newest release, The New Testament Code. The book is a sequel to Eisenman’s earlier treatment of James, the Brother of Jesus. Tabor also provides a table of contents which includes three chapters that look pertinent to my thesis:
- James as ‘Rain-Maker’ and ‘Friend of God’ 123
- Other Rain-Making ‘Zaddik’s in the ‘Primal Adam’Tradition 142
- Revolutionary Messianism and the Elijah Redivivus Tradition 173
Let me be clear, given my opinion of Eisenman’s previous work, I probably will not integrate much of his speculation into my own thesis. Nonetheless, he is one of the only authors who has paid any attention to the Elijah tradition as it pertains to James, along with the motif of eschatological rain. See his article: “Eschatological ‘rain’ imagery in the War Scroll from Qumran and in the Letter of James.” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 49 (1990): 173-184. In this article Eisenman only associates rain in James with images of eschatological judgment. This, however, ignores the wealth of Old Testament and early Jewish literature that associates rain with blessing (perhaps even eschatological blessing).
James Tabor posts on James the Just again. This time, in addition to stating that James the Just is none other than the disciple whom Jesus loved in the Gospel of John (see also here & here), but James is also the paraclete:
I have wondered whether the original idea now embedded in latter part of the gospel of John, about the “Comforter” coming, was originally referring to be James. The Greek word is Paraklete and refers to one who represents or advocates. Later Christians personified this one as the “Holy Spirit” but in the various passages found in the Gospel of John “he” is spoken of in a very personal way, in the masculine gender, very much as one would speak of a person. Jesus says of this one that he will be “sent in my name,” and that he will be a Teacher who will remind the community of all that Jesus has taught them. The Ebionites had this idea of the “Christ Spirit” that “hastened through the ages” and rested upon various ones in a successive way. In other words, the spirit of Truth, that was passed on from John to Jesus, was now being passed on from Jesus to James. Jesus tells them that this one “abides with” them and will be “among” them. This one will “not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”
I appreciate Tabor’s desire to highlight James the Just as a major player in nascent Christianity, but this seems like a stretch. Then again, he does preface his remarks saying, “I have wondered…” and labels his post “Late Night Speculations…”
Thomas Black at “Truth is Still Truth” responds to Tabor’s claims that the beloved disciple is none other than James the brother of Jesus. He notes:
…the [beloved] disciple names himself in John 21:20,24
John 21:20,24 Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them… This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.
If you accept the authorship of the gospel of John as being John, than the author has indeed identified himself.
This seems to be an interesting point, and I support johannine authorship (and the johannine identity of the beloved disciple), but the book still says nowhere that John wrote it, only that the beloved disciple did. The identity of the beloved disciple is still in question. It seems, however that the external evidence in support of johannine authorship is quite strong. Irenaeus, who knew Polycarp personally (who knew John himself) states, “John the disciple of the Lord, who leaned back on his breast, published the Gospel while he was resident at Ephesus in Asia” (Against Heresies 3.1.2.). See pgs. 23 ff. in Carson’s Pillar New Testament Commentary.
James Tabor, author of The Jesus Dynasty, has entered the biblioblogdom. Check out his Jesus Dynasty Blog. Dr. Tabor has also provided a convenient list of “Primary Sources on James the Just” as well as a student’s essays on James the Just (written for an exam).
Update: Note also his post on the “Beloved Disciple.” He suggests that the identity of this unamed individual is James the Just rather than John. An intriquing suggestion to say the least. I’ll have to take a closer look at his book on this.
Cormorant, of Martin Luther’s Stove, blogs on Martin Luther’s aversion to James in “The stove and throwing Jimmy into it.”
That epistle of James gives us much trouble, for the papists embrace it alone and leave out all the rest. Up to this point I have been accustomed just to deal with and interpret it according to the sense of the rest of Scriptures. For you will judge that none of it must be set forth contrary to manifest Holy Scripture. Accordingly, if they will not admit my interpretations, then I shall make rubble also of it. I almost feel like throwing Jimmy into the stove, as the priest in Kalenberg did. (LW 34:317)
Gotta love Luther! Lift a stein and read.