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11672Re: [XTalk] Jesus, James et al and Their Observant Parents

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  • Frank McCoy
    Nov 24, 2002
    • 0 Attachment
      > (Ted Weeden)
      The only Torah that Judaism possesses is a Judahite or
      Judean Torah composed by Ezra and the priestly
      contingent in the century following the Judahites
      return from Bablylonian captivity to Jerusalem, etc.
      The northern Israelites, prior to the Assyrian
      conquest, did not have a "Torah" as we conventionally
      understand Judaism's Torah. The northern Israelite
      tradition included the Decalogue and elements of the
      Mosaic Covenant. The ancient Israelite tradition can
      be found in Deuteronomy 1-11 and was transmitted to
      Deuteronomists in Judah by northern Israelites who
      fled south after the Assyrian conquest of Israel.
      Richard Horsley, for one, uses the same term "Judean
      Torah" in his _Archaeology, History and Society in
      Galilee_, e.g., 111. The Galileans at the time of
      Jesus who traced their ethno-religious tradition back
      to Israel resisted, as I see it, the imposition of the
      Judean Torah upon them from the time of Aristobulus I
      (104/103) on. Horsley does not think, and I basically
      agree, that the Judean cultic establishment "mounted a
      serious program to 'resocialize;' Galilean villagers
      in order to bring Galileans into conformity with the
      "official Judean Torah" (111).
      (Frank McCoy)
      Ted, this is an intriguing line of thought. Do you
      think that the Galileans rejected major sections of
      the Pentateuch used by the Judeans, the Alexandrian
      Jews and (with some exceptions) the Samaritans? If
      so, can you list these major sections of the
      Pentateuch they rejected?

      > (Ted Weeden)
      > What do you mean by "saved" from James perspective?
      > (Frank McCoy)
      > To come near to God.

      (Ted Weeden)
      And what does that mean, specifically with respect to
      James' theological orientation?
      (Frank McCoy)
      While I doubt that the Epistle of James is genuine, I
      do think it gives us a Jacobian perspective on

      As I perceive the Epistle of James, it posits that
      creation is unstable and that one who draws near the
      to the world gains a share in its instability,
      wavering between opposities in thought (i.e., being a
      facer both ways), and hangs on the body--becoming,
      thereby, one who is led by the desires, practices
      inequality, and accumulates a suplusage of material
      goods. Such a person finds death.

      On the other hand, God is absolutely stable and one
      who draws near to God gains a share in His stability
      and, so, has a faith without doubt. Such a person is
      unstained by the world and does not rely on the body
      and bodily concerns: refusing to heed the desires and
      giving any material surplusages to the needy.
      Further, such a person is a friend of God, and his/her
      soul remains steadfastly in a married union with God
      without any adultery with the world. The King's
      Highway/Royal road that enables one to draw near to
      God is the Word/Memra as the Law,--which Law, then, is
      the Royal Law. This Royal Law, being the utterance of
      God, is a perfect unwritten Law, of which the written
      Law of Moses is an imperfect copy--and its guiding
      principle of justice to men = love of men is summed up
      in Lev. 19:18. Traversing down this Royal road,
      veering neither to the left or the right, doing all
      that is enjoined by this perfect Law, one comes near
      to God and, so,is saved. This is the Law by which the
      Cosmos is governed, so that one who thusly obeys it
      lives in accord with the Cosmos and, as a result, is
      free--meaning that this Law is the Law of Liberty.

      > (Frank McCoy)
      > Oh, even though I have no evidence, I would think
      > parents in first century CE Judea would have wanted
      > their daughters to grow up to be beautiful and get
      > decent husbands rather than to grow up to be ugly
      > unable to get decent husbands.

      (Ted Weeden)
      Frank, Bruce Malina states the following in his _New
      Testament World_, 154: "[I]n Israelite tradition, a
      man's getting married because of *the beauty* or
      wealth of the bride *is equivalent to immorality*, the
      offspring of such marriages are almost tantamount to
      bastards, the symbolic opposite of holy seed" (my
      emphasis). Note in this regard, Sirach 25:21: "Do
      not be ensnared by a woman's beauty and do not desire
      a woman for her possessions." Contrary to your
      supposition that "parents in first century CE who were
      observant of the Judean cult would have wanted their
      daughters to grow up to be beautiful and get decent
      husbands rather than to grow up to be ugly and
      unable to get decent husbands," a daughter's beauty,
      as a mark of her desirability as a wife, such would
      not even be on the radar screen of cultically
      observant parents looking for a desirable wife for
      their son, or on the radar screen of a cultically
      observant male looking for a desirable wife.

      (Frank McCoy)
      You quote me as stating, "parents in first century CE
      who were observant of the Judean cult would have
      wanted their daughters to grow up to be beautiful and
      get decent husbands rather than to grow up to be ugly
      and unable to get decent husbands,"

      However, what I said is, "parents in first century CE
      Judea would have wante their daughters to grow up to
      be beautiful and get decent husbands rather than to
      grow up to be ugly and unable to get decent husbands."

      The change you make from my phrase "parents in first
      century CE Judea" to "parents in first century CE who
      were observant of the Judean cult" radically changes
      the meaning of my sentence.

      So, what you evaluate above is a misunderstanding of
      my actual thinking.

      Before I respond, I would like to know your evaluation
      of my actual thinking.

      (Ted Weeden)
      I think that Bruce Malina and the Sirach quote, noted
      above, have shown that the last thing that Mary's
      pious Judean parents would have been concerned about
      when Mary was born was that she grow up to be a
      beautiful woman like the Boethusian Miramme and for
      that reason they named her "Mary." As pious parents,
      and perhaps descendents of Hasmoneans (so Marianne
      Sawicki, _Crossing Galilee_, 133) their concern would
      more likely have been the future restoration of the
      Hasmonean dynasty and thus they named Mary after
      the Hasmonean Miriamme, wife of Herod the Great
      (killed by Herod, along with her two sons, the last
      descendents of the Hasmoneans), not because they were
      concerned about their daughter's and her desirability
      to some future husband. Besides how would their
      naming of their daughter ensure that she would grow up
      beautiful? I do not follow your logic.

      (Frank McCoy)
      It is, ISTM, highly speculative to think that Mary'
      parents had been pious Judeans and possibly
      descendents of the Hasmoneans: for, outside of some
      legendary material, we have no information on them.

      Further, this legendary material does not support this
      line of thought.

      See, for example, the beginning of the Gospel of the
      Birth of Mary, "The blessed and ever glorious Virgin
      Mary, sprung from the royal race and family of David,
      was born in the citty of Nazareth, and educated at
      Jerusalem in the temple of the Lord. Her father's
      name was Joachim, and her mother's Anna. The family
      of her father was of Galilee and the city of Nazareth.
      The family of her mother was of Bethlehem."

      Note that, this indicates, only her mother was born
      and raised in Judea. Even she moved to Galilee after
      her marraige. As for her father, he was Galilean
      through and through.

      Further, note that, this indicates, Mary was
      descended from David and, so, was of the tribe of
      Judah. The Hasmoneans, though, were of the tribe of

      Too, note that, this indicates, Mary was educated at
      the Jerusalem temple--where the High Priest from the
      opening of the temple until 5 CE was Simeon bar
      Boethus, the father of the ravishingly beautiful
      Mariamne. So, if there is any basis for this, then
      her parents had left the responsibility for the
      educating of her to Simeon and, so, had high regard
      for him and, so, had more likely named Mary after his
      daughter rather than after the Hasmonean Mariamne.

      Yes, you are correct in stating that there are
      weaknesses to the hypothesis that Judeans named many
      of their daughters Mary because they wanted these
      daughters to grow up to be as beautiful as the
      Boethusian Mariamne.

      There also is an alternative hypothesis that the
      Judeans were proud to have, in the Boethusian
      Mariamne, the reputedly most beautiful woman in the

      See, for example, the Jewish text, Joseph and Asenath:
      where, Asenath, appears to be modelled after the
      Boethusian Mariamne.

      The relevant passage (I), reads, "And there was a
      certain man in that city by name Pentephres, who was a
      priest of Heliopolis,...And he had a virgin daughter,
      by name Asenath, of eighteen years, tall and comely,
      and beautiful to behold exceedingly beyond evey virgin
      on earth. Now Asenath herself bare no likeness to the
      virgins of the daughters of the Egyptians, but was in
      all things like the daughters of the Hebrews, being
      tall as Sarah and comely as Rebecca and beautiful as
      Rachel, and the fame of her beauty spread abroad into
      all that land and unto the ends of the world, so that
      by reason of this all the sons of the princes and the
      satraps desired to woo her, nay, and the sons of the
      kings also, all young men and mighty, and there was
      great strife among them because of her, and they
      essayed to fight against one another. And Pharaoh's
      firstborn son also heard about her, and he continued
      entreating his father to give her to him to
      wife....And his father Pharaoh said to him: 'Wherefore
      dost thou on thy part seek a wife lower than thyself
      when thou art king of all this land?''"

      Note these features regarding Asenath:
      (1) she is the daughter of a priest whose home is in
      an Egyptian city, i.e., Heliopolis)
      (2) she is the most beautiful woman in the world and
      she is beautiful in a way that only a Jew can be
      (3) the ruler of the land (who is the firstborn son of
      Pharaoh rather than Pharaoh!) desires to marry
      Asenath, but is frustrated in his desire because she
      is of inferior status to him.

      Similarly, the Boethusian Mariamne had been the
      daughter of a prest--who, before moving to Jerusalem,
      had his home in an Egyptian city, i.e., Alexandria.
      Further, according to Josephus, Mariamne, a Jew, "was
      esteemed the most beatiful woman of that time"
      (Antiquities, XV, IX, 3). Finally, Josephus goes on
      to relate how the ruler of Judea, Herod the Great, had
      greatly desired her, but was initially afraid to marry
      her because she was of inferior status to him (which
      problem he "solved" by making her father High Priest,
      thereby making her a member of the high priestly
      aristocray and, so, of sufficiently high status for
      him to marry).

      These parallels are so strtiking that, ISTM, the
      Boethusian Mariamne was the model for Asenath: the
      heroine of Joseph and Asenath.

      This tells us, ISTM, that even many pious Judeans
      were proud that such a ravishing beauty as the
      Boethusian Mariamne was one of their own. If so,
      ISTM, it would only have been natural for many of them
      to have named their daughters after her.

      > (Frank McCoy)
      > That "James" does not identify himself as being a
      > brother of Jesus and that "Jude" identifies himself
      > being a brother of James rather than as being a
      > brother of Jesus is a red flag IMO.
      > If the epistles of James and Jude are forgeries,
      > I am puzzled as to why, to gain credibility for
      > the forgers didn't emphasise that they were written
      > brothers of Jesus. Perhaps I'm reading too much
      > what you are saying, but, ISTM, you appear to be
      > implying that this is because the forgers were
      > of the relationship of James and Jude to Jesus. Why
      > though falsely attribute an epistle to a person
      > whom you know so little? Too, in the case of Jude,
      > why would the forger expect the epistle to be taken
      > seriously when the only explicit claim its alleged
      > author has to apostolic authority is a relationship
      > a person named James?
      > If they are forgeries, I think it more likely that,
      > the forgers and their intended readers knew, James
      > Jude did not deem themselves to be true brothers of
      > Jesus.

      (Ted Weeden)
      We just see things differently here. Why would the
      authors of James and Jude think that sibling
      relationship was of any importance to mention or not
      to mention if the names "James" and "Jude" in and of
      themselves denoted apostolic authority?

      (Frank McCoy)
      Since Jude is only 26 verses long, the fact that its
      alleged author takes the pains to explicitly state he
      is a brother of James means that he did consider it to
      be a big deal.

      (Frank McCoy)
      > ISTM most likely that James was a only step-brother
      > Jesus rather than being a brother in the fuller
      > of having the same mother and father. In this case,
      > many called James the brother of Jesus because he
      > technically, a brother of Jesus, but James did not
      > believe himself to be a true brother of Jesus
      > he was not a brother of Jesus in the fullest sense
      > the term.

      (Ted Weeden)
      I think the Protevangelium of James, as Mark Goodacre
      suggests, is a better and explicit reference to the
      fact that James was Joseph's son by an earlier
      marriage. I do not rule out the possibility that
      James was Jesus' step-brother, either because he was
      Joseph's son by an earlier marriage, or because Mary
      was a victim of a rape (a la Jane Schaberg, _The
      Illigetimacy of Jesus_).

      (Frank McCoy)
      You make a good point here. I would only add that
      James the Just might have been a step-brother of Jesus
      by some third means as well.

      For example, let us look at the beginning of the
      Second Apocalypse of James, "This is [the] discourse
      that James [the] Just spoke in Jerusalem, [which]
      Mareim, one [of] the priests wrote. He had told it to
      Theuda, the father of the Just One, since he was a
      relative of his. He said, '[Hasten] Come with [Mary]
      your wife and your relatives."

      The text is somewhat corrupt, but it appears to
      envison that James was the son of a man named Theuda:
      who married Mary *after* the death of Joseph.

      Further, it envisons that Theuda was related to a
      priest named Mareim. If so, then Theuda and, hence,
      James, had likely been priests themselves.

      Indeed, there are a number of early Christian legends
      in which James acts as a priest or, even, a High

      (Frank McCoy)
      > The awkwardness of Luke as respects the place to
      > Peter went and as respects the identity of the other
      > James suggests that he is relating a tradition that
      > has elements to it that are embarrasing to him. For
      > example, it likely contained an element emphasising
      > that James was the head Honcho--which, if explicitly
      > admitted by Luke, would have made hash of his
      > presentation of Peter and Paul as the two leading
      > figures. Again, ISTM, it likely contained an
      > about how Peter fled to Rome--which, if explicitly
      > admitted by Luke, would have made hash of his
      > presentation of Christianity gradually moving from
      > Jerusalem, with Peter being the chief spokesperson
      > there, to Rome, with Paul being the chief spokesman
      > there.

      > So, I think it more likely that Luke is giving us a
      > highly biased account of a tradition whose accuracy
      > could not deny, even though he found some elements
      > it highly embarassing, than that he is giving us
      > fiction he dreamed up out of thin air.

      (Ted Weeden)
      I think that Luke was just finished with all he needed
      of Peter at that point and his real interest was to
      get on with Paul, the real hero of his historical
      novel which, as Dennis Smith suggest in his paper, is
      what Acts is at best--- a theologically slanted
      historical novel at that. I do not think that Luke
      is embarrassed by anything here. Luke briefly lets
      his reader know that James has assumed leadership in
      the church at Jerusalem so Luke can deal with that
      issue later in Acts 15.and it not become a surprise to
      the reader when the reader reaches Acts 15.

      (Frank McCoy)
      Let us look at Luke's introduction of James in Acts
      12:17, "And (Peter) said, 'Report these things to
      James and the brothers.'"

      This does not even inform the reader the identity of
      James, much less inform the reader that this James is
      the head of the Jerusalem Church. If Luke isn't
      enbarassed at all, then why does he fail to identify
      James and fail to tell us that James is Peter's

      As respects both Acts 12:17 and the hypothesis that
      Acts is a fictional work, Robert E. Eisenman states in
      the Brother of Jesus (p. 121), "Acts is not *simply*
      pure fiction. There is real truth lying behind its
      substitions or overwrites and the key often is *the
      family of Jesus*, particularly James, and how they are
      treated....The reference in Acts 12:17 to 'brothers'
      is interesting as well. One can take these 'brothers'
      as brothers in the generic sense, that is, communal
      brothers or the like, which is how it is usually
      taken. Or, since we are following the traces of 'the
      brothers' in this work, it is possible to take them as
      'brothers' in the specific sense, meaning James and
      the other brothers of Jesus. The first is more
      likely, but one should always keep in mind the
      possibility of the second, since Peter has gone to
      'Mary the mother of' someone's house to leave a
      message 'for James and the brothers'--otherwise

      In any event, the vagueness and awkwardness of Luke in
      Acts 12:17 as respects James and the "brothers" is,
      ISTM, a red flag that he is not writing fiction but,
      rather, relating a tradition with highly embarrasing
      aspects to it he wishes to hide by using deliberate


      > Still, that no Herodian apparently ever tried to
      > imprison and/or execute either Jesus or James is a
      > problem for the hypothesis that Mary was named after
      > the Hasmonean Mariamme and that she named two of her
      > sons after the Hasmoneans named Simon and Judas.
      > If this hypothesis is true, the expectation is that
      > second hypothesis (i.e., the hypothesis that the
      > of Mary named Jesus and James were pro-Hasmonean
      > therefore, anti-Herodian) is also true.

      > However, that none of the Herodians apparently ever
      > tried to imprison and/or execute either Jesus or
      > suggests that James and Jesus had not been
      > pro-Hasmonean and anti-Herodian. This brings into
      > question the truthfulness of the second hypothesis
      > which, in turn, brings into question the
      > of the first hypothesis.
      > In order to give greater credibility to the first
      > hypothesis (i.e.,the hypothesis that Mary was named
      > after Mariamme the Hasmonean and that Mary named two
      > of her sons after the Hasmoneans named Simon and
      > Judas), I suggest that you address this problem area
      > to it.

      (Ted Weeden)
      I have trouble following your logic here. First of
      all, because Herod the Great murdered the Hasmonean
      Mariamme and Mary's parents named her after Mariamme,
      and Mary in turn named two of her sons after
      Hasmoneans, that makes Mary anti-Herodian and her sons

      (Frank McCoy)
      That's not what I was trying to say. I apologize for
      being unclear and will now make a revised argument
      that, I hope, will be clearer.

      To put the Hasmoneans back into power would be to
      remove the Herodians from power. So, if you wanted
      the Hasmoneans back into power, you wanted to remove
      the Herodians from power. That is to say, ISTM, to be
      pro-Hasmonean was to be anti-Herodian.

      Also, the Hasmoneans and the Herodians governed in a
      radically different fashion. The Hasmonean rulers
      were simultaneously King and High Priest. The
      Herodian rulers were never also High Priests.

      In this regard, the internal debate, between Essenes,
      over whether there would be one Messiah who is both
      King and High Priest or two Messiahs, one royal and
      the other priestly, is significant.

      In particular, ISTM, it indicates that the Essenes
      were divided into a pro-Hasmonean/anti-Herodian group
      and a pro-Herodian/anti-Hasmonean group.

      Parents play an important role in shaping the
      political opinions of their offspring. So, if Mary
      was the mother of Simon and Jude, and if Simon and
      Jude were named after the Hasmonean Simon and
      Hasmonean Jude, then she and her husband were
      pro-Hasmonean/antii-Herodian and, therefore, the
      expectation is that most, if not all, of their
      offspring would also be pro-Hasmonean/anti-Herodian.

      However, there is no evidence that any of the "sons"
      of Mary got into trouble with the Herodians--not even
      the two, i.e., Jesus and James, who came to the
      attention of one or more of the Herodians.

      Possbily, this is because they were really were
      pro-Hasmonean/anti-Herodian but didn't dare speak
      about this publicly for fear of imprisonment or

      However, neither Jesus nor James appears to have been
      the type of person to let fear silence his lips.

      So, ISTM, it is unlikely that Mary and her husband had
      been pro-Hasmonean/anti-Herodian.

      (Ted Weeden)
      How does that follow? And even if it did, does that
      mean that all the daughters named after the Hasmonean
      Mariamme and all the sons named with Hasmonean names
      in this period (as I indicated in my earlier post,
      Margaret Williams has made the case for the sudden
      increase in Hasmonean names in this period being due
      to pro-Hasmonean sympathy), does that mean that all
      these parents and their off-spring were

      (Frank McCoy)
      Did the names of Mariamne (Mary), Simon, and Judas
      increase in popularity because they were Hasmonean

      Certainly, this is likely. However, it could also be
      that other reasons were at least partially
      responsible, possibly even wholly responsible, for the
      increase in popularity of these names.

      For example, as pointed out above, there is reason to
      think that that the Boethusian Mariamne might have had
      something to do with the increasingly popularity of
      the name Mary.

      Again, it might have been that her father, Simeon
      (Simon) bar Boethus, played a role in the increasing
      popularity of the name Simon.

      It was he, not Herod the Great, who constructed the
      true temple--the Holy Place and the Holy of
      Holies---for only priests could build the true temple.
      So, he was one of a literal handful of people in all
      of Jewish history to construct a true temple. Further
      enhancing his prestige and authority was his long
      reign of almost twenty years as High Priest. Also,
      judging by the Essene texts, there were many Jews who
      believed the office of High Priest carries more
      prestige than the office of King, and these Jews would
      given more respect to Simeon (Simon) than to Herod the

      Too, perhaps Judas bar Saripheus had something to do
      with Jude (Judas) becoming a more popular name. In
      Antiquities (XVII, VI, 2), Josephus relates, "There
      was one Judas, the son of Saripheus, and Matthias, the
      son of Margalothus, two of the most eloquent men among
      the Jews, and the most celebrated interpreters of
      Jewish laws, *and men well beloved by the people,* (my
      emphasis) because of their education of their youth;
      for all those that were studious of virtue frequented
      their lectures every day."

      These possible other reasons for the increased
      popularity of these three names have a bearing on the
      hypothesis that Mary, Simon, and Jude were named in
      honor of Hasmoneans. To the extent that there other
      reasons for the increased popularity of these three
      names, the hypothesis is weakened.

      (Ted Weeden)
      And if children were named with Hasmonean names, and
      the Herodians did not imprison or execute them because
      they had Hasmonean names, does that mean they must
      been pro-Herodian and that the names then could not
      have been Hasmonean to begin with. Furthermore, are
      you suggesting that the enmity of Herod the Great
      towards the Hasmoneans in his day was the same enmity
      that drove Herod Antipas, Agrippa I and Agrippa II in
      their day?

      (Frank McCoy)
      There was wide-spread dissatisfaction of the
      Herodians, not just because they displaced the
      Hasmoneans, but also because of their Edomite ancestry
      and because of their staunchly pro-Roman stance and
      because of the socio-economic consequences of their
      urbanization schemes. The Herodians, faced with
      wide-spread dissatisfaction to their rulership, rarely
      resorted to imprisonment and/or executions except when
      opposition to them became overt and explicit. John
      the Baptist, for example, aparrently got imprisoned
      and executed for publicly criticising Herod Antipas'
      marraige to Herodias.

      Under the circumstances, I seriously doubt that merely
      possessing a name that had Hasmonean connotations
      would have gotten anybody imprisoned or executed.

      I'm reasonably certain that, during the reigns of the
      two Agrippas, if there were any people of Hasmonean
      descent with legitimate claims to rulership still
      alive (a big if), any such claimant would have been
      summarily executed if he had ever dared to openly
      criticise the Herodians and/or challange the
      legitimacy of the Herodian rulerships.

      (Ted Weeden)
      Finally, by extoling his mother's Hasmonean ancestory
      in his _Vita_ (2), does that make Josephus' mother
      anti-Herodian and, therefore, by the logic you applied
      to the sons of Mary being pro-Hasmonean, and thus
      anti-Herodian because of their mother, does that also
      make Josephus anti-Herodian, perhaps even more so
      because Josephus brags about his Hasmonean royal
      blood, whereas James and Jesus never mention their
      family's pro-Hasmonean sympathy? And were is it that
      we find the Herodian Agrippa II trying to imprison or
      execute Josephus because he has the royal blood of the
      Hasmoneans and brags about it?

      (Frank McCoy)
      We have no information on the political thinking of
      Josephus' mother: although, I agree, her Hasmonean
      ancestry is a strong indication that she probably was
      pro-Hasmonean/anti-Herodian. However, it is perhaps
      significant that Josephus is not a Hasmonean name. If
      nothing else, it indicates that his father was not
      pro-Hasmonean and nixed giving their son a Hasmonean
      name. Further, it is likely that Josephus' father had
      more influence on his political thinking than his

      The purpose of Josephus in this section of Vita is to
      establish his pedigree. To have blood that is not
      only priestly, but high priestly and royal as well, is
      to have a prestigious pedigree.

      I can think of no reason why Agrippa II would have
      wanted to imprison and/or execute Josephus. Because
      Josephus' links to the Hasmoneans were only through
      his mother, while descent was reckoned through the
      father, ISTM that Josephus could not claim to be a
      rightful heir to the rulership previously held by the
      Hasmoneans. If so, then he was not perceived by
      Agrippa as being a potential rival claimant to
      rulership. Further, Josephus was quite sympathetic
      towards Agrippa and even named one of his own sons

      Frank McCoy
      1809 N. English Apt. 17
      Maplewood, MN 55109

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