Re: [XTalk] John 1:49-51
- --- Antonio Jerez <antonio.jerez@...>
>Yes, GJohn is not a history book, nor, IMO, is it
> Personally I find it a lot easier to find out which
> gospel sayings were definitely NOT
> spoken by the historical Jesus. A long list could be
> made. Just to give you some examples
> I could mention John 1:50-51, the whole of the
> wedding in Cana scene, the whole scene with the
> samaritan woman in chapter 4, chap 8:12-57,
> 10:22-39, 12:27-36, 16:1-4, 17:1-24.
intended to be. I view the Beloved Disciple as being
James the Just (after all, the Johannine Jesus
declares the BD to be the son of his mother and
declares his mother to also be the mother of the BD!).
Further, I take the appendix (Chapt. 21) to have been
written in Jerusalem c. 65 CE while the Johannine
community there was still traumatized by the recent
martyrdoms of James the Just and Peter. Further,
GJohn switches back and forth between straightforward
historical narratives and fictional historical
narratives which are, in reality, expositions on such
topics as important events in the history of the
Jerusalem Church and Christology.
The declaration that the BD has written these things
means, ISTM, that GJohn claims James as its ultimate
author. Most of the actual writing, I think, was done
by someone who could speak for James--presumably, the
one who had been his right hand man before his
execution. The likeliest candidate is the pillar
named John--who I think was more likely to be John
Mark than to be John bar Zebedee. Still, some of
GJohn might have been written by James himself.
Your first example, John 1:50-51 (or, more fully,
1:49-51) is an example of a passage which might have
been written by James, In this case.it is a part of a
fictional historical narrative section, written by
James, in which he is expounding on what he believes
to be the true nature of his brother.
1:49-51 reads, "Answered Nathanael and says to him,
'Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of
Israel!' Answered Jesus and said to him, 'Because I
said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, believe
you?' And he says to him, 'Amen. Amen. Henceforth, you
(plural) shall see the heaven opened and the angels of
God descending on the Son of Man."
Here, upon learning that Jesus saw him under the fig
tree, Nathanael declares, "You are the Son of God!"
In 1:49-51, then, Jesus is a Son of God who sees.
This is our first clue that James might be the author
of 1:49-51: for, in The Second Apocalypse of James
(46), James is pictured as stating, "The Lord who is
present [came] as a son who sees".
How could James have come up with this notion that
Jesus is a Son of God who sees?
A clue is found in The Confusion of Tongues (146-147),
where Philo states, "But if there be any as yet unfit
to be called a Son of God, let him press to take his
place under God's First-born (Son), the Logos, who
holds the eldership among the angels, their ruler as
it were. And many names are his, for he is called, the
Beginning, and the Name of God, and His Logos, and the
Man After the Image, and He That Sees, that is Israel.
And therefore I was moved a few pages above to praise
the virtues of those who say that 'We are all sons of
one man (i.e., Israel)' (Gen. xlii. 11). For if we are
not yet become fit to be thought sons of God yet we
may be sons of His invisible image, the most holy
Logos. For the Logos is the eldest-born Image of God."
The way I read this, Philo is saying that the Logos is
a Son of God who rules the angels. Further, one of
the titles of the Logos is Israel = He Who Sees.
Having made this identification of this Son of God as
being Israel = He Who Sees, Philo then allegorically
interprets Genesis 42:11 to mean, "We are all sons of
one Man, whose name is Israel = He That Sees". That
is to say, he allegorically interprets Genesis 42:11
as being a statement made by those who are sons of the
Logos--the Man who is Israel = He Who Sees.
Then, after identifying Jesus as being the Son of God
who sees (i.e., as being the Logos: the Son of God who
is He That Sees), Nathanael tells him, "You are the
King of Israel!"
This idea that the Logos, as the Son of God, will
become a King of Israel does not come from Philo.
Rather, I suggest, it comes from a certain way of
interpreting 4Q174, "'I will establish the throne of
his kingdom [for ever] (2 Sam. vii, 12). [I will be]
his father and he shall be my son (2 Sam. vii, 14).'
He is the Branch of David who shall arise with the
Interpreter of the Law [to rule] in Zion [at the end]
of time. As it is written, 'I will raise up the tent
of David that is fallen (Amos ix, 11)."
In particular, I think, the author of 1:49-51
interpreted "[I will be] his father and he shall be my
son" to mean that the Branch of David, the legitimate
heir to David's throne (and, so, the true King of
Israel), will be Philo's Son of God, the Logos,
incarnate in the flesh as a descendent of David (Note:
the translation of 4Q174 is by Geza Vermes).
That the author of 1:49-51 might have understood that
Philo's Son of God, the Logos, became incarnate in the
flesh as the Branch of David, the true King of Israel,
on the basis of a passage from 4Q174 means that James
might be this author of 1:49-51: for there is evidence
he was aware of this passage's assertion that the tent
of David in Amos 9:11 is the Branch of David.
So, in Acts 15:16-18, James is pictured as stating,
"'After these things I will return and will build
again the tent (skenen) of David which is fallen; and
the ruins of it I will build again, and will set it
up, so that the remnant of men may seek out the Lord,
and all the nations upon whom has been called my Name
upon them' says the Lord who does all these things."
I think that this is genuine and that this is the
basic line of James' thought My brother is the
fulfiller of 4Q174. He is the tent that has fallen.
That is to say, he has, as the Branch of David, been
executed. However, he has built again by the Lord.
That is to say, he has been resurrected from the dead
by God. He has been set up by the Lord. That is, he
has been restored to his pre-incarnational glory in
heaven by God. This has been done so that the
righteous remnant of Israel and the Gentiles can be
Since all this has made it possible for the Gentiles
to be saved without having to observe the Law, this
enables James, in the ensuing Acts 15:19-21, to decree
that Gentiles need not obey the Law except for a few
In 1:49-51, after Nathanael identifies Jesus as being
the King of Israel (i.e., the Branch of David), Jesus
tells him, "Henceforth, you (plural) shall see the
heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and
descending on the Son of Man." In 1:49-51, then, it
is assumed that the Branch of David and the Son of Man
are the same person, i.e., Jesus.
That this assumption is present in 1:49-51 is another
clue that its author is James.
In The History of the Church (Book 2, Sect. 23),
Eusebius thusly quotes Hegesippus, "He (i.e., James)
replied as loudly as he could: 'Why do you question me
about the Son of Man? I tell you, He is sitting in
heaven at the right hand of the Great Power, and He
will come on the clouds of heaven.' Many were
convinced, and gloried in James' testimony, crying,
'Hosanna to the Son of David!'"
Here, upon James proclaiming his brother to be the Son
of Man, the people respond by proclaiming him to be
the Son of David, i.e., the Branch of David. The
implication: James preached that the Son of Man and
the Branch of David are the same person and that this
person is Jesus.
How could James have come up with his idea that the
Son of Man and the Branch of David are the same
I suggest that he could have done so by linking the
first part of the passage from 4Q174 ("I will
establish the throne of his (i.e., the Branch of
David's) kingdom [for ever]") with Daniel 7:14 ("His
(i.e., the Son of Man's) dominion is an everlasting
dominion which shall not pass away, and his kingdom
shall not be destroyed."), thereby equating the Branch
of David with the Son of Man of Daniel 7:13-14.
In support of this suggestion, James, as quoted by
Hegesippus, does, in referring to Jesus as the Son of
Man, allude to Daniel 7:13.
We are now ready to interpret Jesus' statement to
Nathanael, "Henceforth, you (plural) shall see the
heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and
descending on the Son of Man." It's meaning is this:
"The day is coming when everyone will see me, the
Branch of David = the Son of Man, returning to earth
in fulfillment of Daniel 7:13-14 to eternally rule, as
the angels, whom I rule as that Son of God who is He
That Sees (i.e., whom I rule as the Logos), ascend and
descend on me in homage and loving adoration."
In conclusion, there are links between thought and
ideas attributed to James in early Christian
literature and what is said in 1:49-51. Therefore,
this passage appears to reflect his thinking and might
even have been written by him. If so, then James
viewed his brother as having been Philo's Logos
incarnate in the flesh as the Essenes' Branch of
David. As such, he also believed his brother to be
the Son of Man of Daniel 7:13-14. In this case. it is
a passage from a Dead Sea scroll that was of vital
importance in enabling James to link the three figures
of the Logos, Branch of David, and Son of Man to his
The illustrates what I deem to be a very important
point. That is, even what is deemed to be fictional
in the gospels can be useful to us in our search fof
the historical Jesus. In the case of John 1:49-51,
what appears to be a fictional passage might give us
the Christology of Jesus' own brother and the leader
of the Jerusalem Church. And, if it might give us the
Christology of Jesus' own brother, then, surely, it
might even give us the self-conceptualization of the
1809 N. English Apt. 17
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