This is my take on the key people and events in the first period of the
Jesus movement before any of the NT documents were written. It is not
practicable here to present the evidence for all of the assertions below,
but comments on specific points would be welcome.
(a) ca. 28-30 CE
Jesus was an influential Jewish teacher.
He appointed twelve 'apostles', among whom:
James, was his brother and the leading apostle;
Peter was the second most prominent apostle.
(b) ca. 30 CE
Jesus was recognized as the Jewish Messiah.
His head was anointed as a demonstration of this status (c.f. Mk 14:3).
His entry into Jerusalem enacted the prophecy of Zech 9:9.
A clash in the temple resulted in his arrest.
He was condemned to death for claiming to be 'king of the Jews'.
He was crucified by the Roman authorities.
(c) ca. 45 CE
James decided it was now time to have his brother's sayings written down.
For this task he needed someone who had writing and poetic skills.
So he co-opted as an apostle a certain 'Matthew' (the Matthias of Ac 1:26).
Matthew edited and penned the sayings of Jesus ('logia') in poetic form in
All the aphorisms of the logia were later to be translated into Greek and
incorporated, with varying degrees of accuracy and completeness, into one or
more of the three synoptic gospels.
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