Re: [XTalk] James son of Damneus
On Wednesday 21 May 2003 09:04 pm, Stephen C. Carlson wrote:
> >(a) There is at least one other occasion in which Josephus identies an
> >individual by identifying his brother and in which this brother is not
> >mentioned earlier in the text, in Wars of the Jews 2.247, which refers to
> >"Felix, the brother of Pallas."
> I disagree that "the brother of Pallas" is used to identify Felix.
> Felix was already introduced earlier in the text and, as procurator
> of Palestine from 52-60, would hardly need identification to Josephus's
> Roman audience any more than Bill Clinton, the husband of Hilary, does
> to Americans. Pallas was also well-known and influential.
> I'd say that the only such precedent is with respect to well-known Romans,
> not to obscure Judeans, whose naming conventions (e.g. James, Joseph,
> Jesus) created a much larger need for disambiguation.
I have to agree that Josephus would likely not have needed to elaborate on the
identities of persons well known to a Roman audience and that such examples
do not shed light on cases in which Josephus is mentioning people who would
not have been known to his readers. If Pallas is well-known and Felix is
already identified, then some other example would have to be found where
Josephus uses a relative to identify another person, where that relative is
not previously identified and where the relative is not known to the
audience. I think I already searched Josephus on the word "brother," so I
won't be finding additional adelphonymics with this characteristic, and any
example would have to be a patronymic. But then it can be objected that the
people of Palestine, like many in Arab countries today, would have only a
first name and would be further identified with the father's name, which
would be the analogue of a last name. So it can be suggested that a
patronymic would be given by Josephus without his audience knowing the name,
while preserving the sensitivity of Josephus to his readers in providing
Based on the assumed sensitivity of Josephus in regards to identifications,
and without finding any examples in which Josephus uses a formula for "a
certain X" or "a man named X" without further detail, I recognize the force
of an argument against the proposals that Josephus wrote about "a certain
James" or that Josephus wrote Ant. 20.9.1 as it stands without an earlier
reference. Perhaps those who are inclined towards the idea that the name of
James was given without any further identification, but only as "a man named
James," could find a similar example in Josephus.
I had thought I had gotten out of the difficulty by proposing that James was
identified as "the brother of Jesus," whose father was Damneus. But:
> The linearity of text still has to be taken into account and the reader
> or listener is not going to know about material later in the text until
> it is read or heard. The reader or listener of the passage, at the time
> when a James the brother of Jesus was mentioned, would not know that
> the context would later include Jesus appointed high priest until several
> sentences later.* In fact, even if the audience had an inkling that some
> high priest was involved, the base name "Jesus" would not be sufficient
> to distinguish between the two Jesus's who served as a high priest in
> immediate succession, the son of Damneus and the son of Gamaliel. That
> is probably why (aside from the James passage) Josephus consistently names
> him as Jesus son of Damneus. The reconstruction would have Josephus
> abandon his naming convention for these high priest just when it is needed.
I am coming to see the ineluctable force of this objection. Let me take this
a little further. At the end of the passage, there is mentioned "Jesus, the
son of Damneus." Since Josephus needs to identify Jesus somehow anyway, why
wouldn't Josephus have done so already when mentioning him for the first
time? What we would expect to find is "the brother of Jesus, son of Damneus,
James being his name." If the identification of Jesus as "son of Damneus"
were to be missing at either point of the passage, it would have been missing
at the *end*, not when the name is first mentioned. So why is the
identification of Jesus given at the end? Probably in part so as to
distinguish this Jesus son of Damneus from the one Jesus brother of James
At this point one could fall back on the idea that Josephus had originally
written "the brother of Jesus, son of Damneus, James by name." But, for me,
at least, this would be nothing but a recalcitrant fallback position. The
very beauty of the hypothesis that I had offered is that it made the
interpolation so very explicable and plausible. But it is much harder to
imagine the scribe thinking somehow that "son of Damneus" actually meant
"called Christ." Not impossible, but not the best option.
Unless there is some consideration that I missed, I am now right back where I
started from, with the idea that the passage is presumably authentic.
> Interestingly, my index indicates that most recently named Jesus at this
> point in the text is the Jesus in the Testimonium.
That's true! I'm not sure what would follow though.
> In this respect, the detail of "called Christ" fits the bill quite well,
> since Josephus had written "the tribe of Christians so named for him" in
> the Testimonium.
If Jerome is any evidence, he may have written "he was believed to be Christ"
or somesuch as well.
> These differences do not seem much different from the usual divergences
> that occur with stories transmitted via parallel traditions, some of
> which are in the N.T. (death of Judas).
In this case, though, we would be dealing with a more or less contemporary but
brief historical account and a 100+ year later expansive and hagiographic
account, which would explain the differences. That's why I wouldn't use the
differences as a primary argument, only so as to deflect the criticism that
the coincidence of the Christian James and the Josephan James would be
extraordinary if they weren't one and the same. But I am now more inclined
to countenance that they are one and the same, on separate grounds.
Peter Kirby (Student at Fullerton College, CA)
2:33am up 5:26, Mandrake Linux 9.0, kernel 2.4.19-16mdk on AMD Athlon 750
Web Site: http://www.outofprintbooksearch.com/
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