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Luke's Treatment of Jacob

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  • Michael Grondin
    (Cross-posting to GThomas and Crosstalk2) The Gospel of Thomas goes out of its way to name Jacob the Righteous as a leader worthy of being followed, but Luke
    Message 1 of 42 , Jul 26, 2010
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      (Cross-posting to GThomas and Crosstalk2)

      The Gospel of Thomas goes out of its way to name Jacob the
      Righteous as a leader worthy of being followed, but Luke seems
      curiously reticent about him, never, for example, referring to him
      as "the Righteous one". Furthermore, although neither Thomas
      nor Luke informs us that this Jacob was a brother of Jesus,
      there are reasons to suppose that Luke had the opportunity to
      do so, but chose not to.

      The first reason to suppose that Luke should have indicated
      that Jacob was Jesus' brother is that, in Acts, this would have
      explained why Jacob was chosen to be head of the early Jesus
      movement. Luke clearly implies that he did have this leadership
      position, but leaves his readers in the dark as to why he was
      chosen. (We have to learn that by implication from Paul, and
      then more directly from later writers.)

      If the failure in Acts to indicate that Jacob was Jesus' brother,
      or to apply the term DIKAIOS to him, were oversights, the
      same cannot be said of Luke's handling of the "Rejection at
      Nazareth" scene. Both Mark and Matt name Jacob as among
      four brothers of Jesus in that scene, but Luke omits that little
      detail. It's not that Luke was averse to the idea of Jesus having
      brothers, since he clearly implies that elsewhere, but in this
      pericope, as in Acts, he avoids saying or implying that Jacob
      was Jesus' brother.

      Now there may be some perfectly innocent explanation of
      these Lukan omissions, but given the indication in Paul's
      letters of significant tensions between the Jerusalem
      leadership and the growing body of Gentile Christians outside
      Judaea, I have to wonder if Luke's omissions might not have
      been intended to do what they did in fact do, which was to hide
      the family connection, and thus to avoid any suggestion that
      that connection provided sanction for Jacob's views (and/or
      any sanction for future Judaean/familial leadership.) True
      enough, all the synoptics have a scene wherein Jesus
      rejects his family in favor of his disciples, but Luke seems
      to have gone a step further.

      Mike Grondin
    • Richard Fellows
      William Campbell has a very interesting piece in JBL, in which he analyzes the styles of self-designation by Josephus, Polybius and Thucydides. I have reviewed
      Message 42 of 42 , Sep 14, 2010
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        William Campbell has a very interesting piece in JBL, in which he
        analyzes the styles of self-designation by Josephus, Polybius and
        Thucydides. I have reviewed his article here:

        http://paulandco-workers.blogspot.com/2010/09/we-passages-thucydides-polybius.html

        I use Campbell's data to argue that the author of Acts was present
        with Paul before the "We passages" as well as during them. Campbell
        himself seems to have overlooked this possibility and comes to a very
        different conclusion.

        Let me know what you think.

        Richard Fellows
        Vancouver


        Kenneth Litwak wrote:

        > I hadn't been following this discussion so I'm sorry to be posting
        > "late." I'd agree with Richard's assessment generally. I need to
        > read Robbins' essay but I'm familiar with MacDonald (I was at an SBL
        > session on Acts where Alexander, MacDonald, and Penner all presented
        > and found MacDonald's thesis far from demonstrated--and open to the
        > same criticisms as raised by Karl Olav Sandnes in his 2005 JBL
        > article on MacDonald's method),
        >
        > It seems to me that "we passages" do not indicate historigraphy
        > or fiction on their own, but I'm not convinced that they affirm
        > nothing about the narrator's participation but could mean either
        > presence or absence.


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