Re: [XTalk] The Twelve
- Steve Black wrote:
>Nineham says in his commentary on Mark that because it seems that itI don't understood the force of this argument -- it makes no sense to me.
>seems that the twelve did not really play a very significant role in
>the early church, it is unlikely that they are a later invention.
Are we to assume the ancient Christians only made up stuff that WAS
important? And, for what it's worth, they DO become very important,
literarily & theologically, in Luke-Acts.
>This seems to make some sense. I remember this coming up on the listI don't. As has already been noted, Jesus presumably DID have followers. But
>quite a long long time ago. I was wondering if there are any folk on
>the list now who do *not* believe that the twelve are historical - I
>would be interested in the reasoning behind this point of view.
I'm pretty convinced "the twelve" -- as disciples of Jesus -- are a fiction.
Reasons for this:
1. The earliest reference to the twelve, in Paul, presents them as witnesses
to the resurrection, not disciples of Jesus. Moreover, this reference is
exclusive of Peter.
2. The lists of the twelve in the various gospels do not agree with each
3. Other sources, including the Talmud, and GThomas, inter alia, present
Jesus as having a smaller circle of disciples.
4. The earliest source that presents the twelve as disciples of Jesus is
Mark. Not great testimony, IMHO.
5. All of our traditions present Jesus as including women among his inner
circle, but none of the lists of 12 include women.
6. As already noted, the number is too significant -- it seems to imply a
reconstituted or alternative Israel. Not that it's impossible that Jesus
himself had such an agenda . . . but the number itself provides us with the
motivation for fictionalizing.
I've probably missed some stuff. None of this is "proof," of course, but
these are the reasons I'm more inclined to see this "inner circle" as
theological fictionalizing. A good book on this is by Heinz Geunther,
_Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus' Twelve_ or something like that.
Department of Religious Studies
University of Regina
Regina, Saskatchewan S4S 0A2
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- Frank McCoy wrote:
> --- Karel Hanhart <K.Hanhart@...> wrote:Frank,
> Historically, the original group of twelve were formed
> IMHO in the wake of the crucifixion, when various
> Judean factions from within the land and from the
> diaspora joined with Jesus' disciples, thus forming
> the beginnings of christianity. Luke reports on this
> major event in Acts 2 in hagadic fashion. As I
> suspect, out of this larger group of converts (3000,
> Acts 2,41) twelve 'apostles' were chosen to lead the
> movement headed by 'James, Peter and John' called
> 'pillars'. In other words, the 'historical' Jesus did
> not select 12 disciples during his lifetime to
> represent a 'new Israel'. The twelve, chosen soon
> after the crucifixion, were honored as "witnesses" of
> the risen Messiah and as such were called 'apostles'.
> (Comp. Paul's claim to be an apostle not "by men").
> I have tried to reconstruct the assumed original
> pre-Markan list of the twelve without a fictive Judas
> Iscariot and a symbolical Andrew, but including the
> three 'pillars' on pg 445 as follows: James (Jesus'
> brother), Simon (Cephas), John (of Jerusalem, an
> Essene), James Zebedee, John Zebedee, Thomas, Matthew,
> James (Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon (the Cananaean);
> Judas, (brother of James).
> I would very much appreciate your reactions to this
> Dear Karel Hanhart:
> The early Jerusalem Church, with its three pillars and
> twelve apostles, might be based on an Essene model,
> thusly described in 1QS (VIII, 1-4), "In the Council
> of the Community there shall be twelve men and three
> Priests, perfectly versed in all that is revealed of
> the Law, whose works shall be truth, righteousness,
> justice, loving-kindness and humility."
I was and am aware of this structure of the Qumran community.
However, as you also know, the differences of the Jesus' movement
and the Qumran community are considerable. On the other hand,
it seems clear to me that many followers of Jesus could be called
'chassidic' as compared to Pharisees, Zealotrs, Herodians and other
As I see it,( - but who can make bold answers to historical
questions concerning the early post-crucifixion Jesus' movement? -)
various chassidim as well as Judeans from the diaspora joined with the
disciples of Jesus and his Galilean followers soon after the
crucifixion. It seems to me that there may well be some connection
between the structure of the Qumran community and the number
twelve. The twelve may well have been regarded as representing Israel,
but certainly not as replacing the people of Israel..
Simon Peter, however, was not a priest; neither James, Jesus'
brother, as far as we know, James and Peter were naturally regarded
as leaders from the beginning. It seems to me that John (of Jerusalem) may
been a chassidic leader. We may not conclude, therefore,
that the election was modeled precisely after that Qumran structure.
The Jerusalem community could well be called chassidic in a broad sense.
The fact that neither Paul nor the authors of the Gospels refer to the
implies I think that many persons, sympathetic with the community at Qumran,
had joined with the disciples. I dare not go further than assessing the texts
Acts 1, 15 ff (some sort of an election took place!), the text of Acts 2; the
of James and the "pillars" in Acts and the epistles and the obvious
in the lists of the twelve we have.