11672Re: [XTalk] Jesus, James et al and Their Observant Parents
- Nov 24, 2002
> (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).
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)(Ted Weeden)
> What do you mean by "saved" from James perspective?
> (Frank McCoy)
> To come near to God.
And what does that mean, specifically with respect to
James' theological orientation?
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)that
> Oh, even though I have no evidence, I would think
> parents in first century CE Judea would have wantedand
> 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.
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.
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.
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
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
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)as
> 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 athen
> 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 forthem,
> the forgers didn't emphasise that they were writtenby
> brothers of Jesus. Perhaps I'm reading too muchinto
> what you are saying, but, ISTM, you appear to beunaware
> implying that this is because the forgers were
> of the relationship of James and Jude to Jesus. Whyabout
> though falsely attribute an epistle to a person
> whom you know so little? Too, in the case of Jude,to
> 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?and
> 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(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?
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.
> ISTM most likely that James was a only step-brotherof
> Jesus rather than being a brother in the fullersense
> of having the same mother and father. In this case,was,
> many called James the brother of Jesus because he
> technically, a brother of Jesus, but James did notbecause
> believe himself to be a true brother of Jesus
> he was not a brother of Jesus in the fullest senseof
> 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_).
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
> The awkwardness of Luke as respects the place towhere
> Peter went and as respects the identity of the otherelement
> 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 explicitlyhe
> 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
> 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 elementsof
> it highly embarassing, than that he is giving ussome
> 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.
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 toa
> 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 thesons
> of Mary named Jesus and James were pro-Hasmoneanand,
> therefore, anti-Herodian) is also true.James
> However, that none of the Herodians apparently ever
> tried to imprison and/or execute either Jesus or
> suggests that James and Jesus had not beentruthfulness
> 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.(Ted Weeden)
> 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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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?
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
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