Re: [XTalk] prophecy historicized in the passion of James?
----- Original Message -----
From: "Ken Olson" <kaolson@...>
Sent: Saturday, December 29, 2001 9:57 PM
Subject: Re: [XTalk] prophecy historicized in the passion of James?
> At 12:42 PM on December 29, 2001, I wrote:
> >>Bauckham believes that the narrative of James' death found in
> Josephus' _Antiquities_ 20.200 is basically an historical account in
> which James was put to death by the high priest by means of stoning.
> Bauckham argues that the early Christians, starting with no more
> knowledge of the event than is found in Josephus (though not directly
> dependant on him) created all the additional narrative details of
> their accounts under the influence of scripture and imagination.<<
> There is one further piece of information in Hegesippus that Bauckham
> argues had at least its origins in an historical event. He thinks
> that the manner of James' death (i.e., stoning) indicates that James
> had been charged with blasphemy and/or leading the people to false
> worship. Bauckham sees the reference to "the gate of Jesus" in
> Hegesippus' account (Eusebius' _Hist. Eccl._ 2.23.12) as a garbled
> allusion to Psalms 118.20, "This is the gate of the LORD; the
> righteous shall enter through it". It is Bauckham's opinion that
> James himself had identified Jesus with the LORD, and this led to the
> charges against him.
I think that the evidence, far from suggesting that James had identified
Jesus with the LORD, rather suggests that James had identified Jesus with
the gate and God with the LORD.
Let us look at the Second Apocalypse of James (55), where Jesus
tells James, "And those who wish to enter, and those who seek to walk in the
way that is before the door, open the good door through you. And they
follow you; they enter [and you] escort them inside, and give a
reward to each one who is ready for it. For you are not the redeemer nor a
helper of strangers. You are an illuminator and a redeemer of those who
(are) mine, and now of those who (are) yours."
Compare John 10:1-5, where Jesus states, "Amen.
Amen. I say to you, he that enters in not by the door into the fold
of the sheep, but climbs up elsewhere, he is a thief and a robber;
but he that enters in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To
him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and his
own sheep he calls by name, and leads them out. And when his
own sheep he puts forth, he goes before them; and the sheep
follow him, because they know his voice. But a stranger in no
way should they follow, but will flee from him, because they know
not the voice of strangers."
Note that, in each one, there is a shepherd who leads the sheep. In 2nd AJ,
it is James. In John 10:1-5, this person is not explicitly identified,
although the presumption is that Jesus is talking about himself. Also note
that, in each one, there is a group of evil people called the strangers.
Finally, note that, in each one, there is a door through which both the
shepherd and the sheep can go.
The obvious implication: the author of the Second Apocalypse of James
understood that, in 10:1-5, Jesus symbolically represents James: thereby
taking it to be a declaration, by James, that he is the shepherd of the
sheep--these sheep being his in the sense that they are the sheep of Jesus
entrusted to his care.
(Note: This exegetical technique by the author of Second Apocalypse is what
clued me in that, in John, "Jesus" sometimes represents James. See, for
example, my post of Dec. 19, 2001, titled "John 2:1-4:54": where I point
out two other passages (i.e., John 2:10-21 and 4:35-38) where "Jesus"
likely represents James. I believe, whether this be correctly or
incorrectly I know not, that the author of Second Apocalypse knew through
the traditions of his/her community that, in John, Jesus sometimes
represents his brother James and that, furthermore, this particular part of
their traditions was accurate).
Note that, in 10:1-5, "Jesus (i.e., James)", speaks of thieves and robbers
and of a door (thyra).
The identity of the thieves and robbers and the identity of the door is
revealed in 10:7-9, where Jesus (now speaking as himself) states, "Amen.
Amen. I say to you, that I am the door of the sheep. All whoever came
before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not hear them. I am
the door. If anyone enter in by me, he shall be saved, and shall go
in and shall go out, and shall find pasture. The thief comes not except
that he may steal and may kill and may destroy. I came that they might have
life, and abundantly might have (it)."
Here, we learn, the thieves and robbers are the Jewish religious leaders.
Here, we also learn, the door is Jesus. To be more specific, since it is
said that those who enter by Jesus are saved, the door is Jesus as the
So, to summarize, in John 10:1-5, Jesus symbolizes James. In it, James
speaks of himself being the shepherd of the sheep, i.e., the followers of
Jesus. He speaks of thieves and robbers and these are the Jewish religious
leaders. He also speaks of a door, and this door is Jesus as the Savior.
I do not think that James wrote John 10:1-5. Rather, I think, this passage
is the invention of the author of John and that, therefore, he puts an
imaginary speech into the mouth of "Jesus (i.e., James)".
However, I do think that, it tells us, the author of John understood that
James had called the Jewish religious leaders thieves and robbers and that
he had claimed that Jesus is the Door and is, as such, the Savior.
There is reason for thinking that this might be accurate information about
For example, shortly before his execution, some members of the high priestly
aristocracy stole tithes from the lower classes of priests.
So, in Antiquities (Book XX, Chap. VIII, Sect. 8, Josephus relates, "And
such was the impudence and boldness that had seized on the high priests,
that they had the hardiness to send their servants into the
threshing-floors, to take away those tithes that were due to the priests,
insomuch that it so fell out that the poorest of the priests died for want."
If James had been upset over this stealing of tithes by the high priestly
aristocracy, this explains why he could have likened the Jewish religious
authorities to thieves and robbers.
Indeed, there is reason to think that had been upset. For example, in
Jesus and the Zealots (p. 168-169), S.G.F. Brandon writes, "James was
condemned to death for breaking the Law by the high priest Ananus and died
by stoning. His execution aroused the indignation of certain Jews against
Ananus, who was a leader of the Saccucean aristocracy and unpopular for his
violence against the lower orders of the priesthood. Since many of these
lower priests were members of the Jerusalem Church, it is probable that
James was sympathetic to their cause."
Also, if James had claimed that Jesus is the Door and is, as such, the
Savior, this could have been seen as blasphemous by his enemies, such as
Ananus. So, this would explain why James was stoned to death--for the
penalty for being blasphemous is death by stoning.
To summarize, underlying John 10:1-5 might be a portrait of James as one
who had called the Jewish religious leaders thieves and robbers and who had
claimed that Jesus is the Door and is, as such, the Savior. This could very
well be an accurate portrayal of James as he was around the time of his
conviction and execution by the Jerusalem Sanheidrin.
Now, since Hegesippus wrote his account about James c. 175, it clearly is
later than the postulated portrait of James in John 10:1-5: for John was
written at least 50 years earlier--possibly even more than 100 years
Therefore, what we have in Hegesippus' account might be a late and somewhat
garbled version of this much earlier postulated portrait of James.
Indeed, I suggest that this is the case.
See, in particular, this excerpt from the account of Hegesippus,
"Representatives of the seven popular sects already described by me asked
him (i.e., James) what was meant by 'the gate (pyle?--I don't have a copy of
Hist. Eccl. in the Greek) of Jesus', and he replied that Jesus is the
Here, James is pictured as being in conflict with the representatives of
seven popular sects. This is, I suggest, a late and elaborated version of
an earlier account which simply pictured James as being in conflict with the
Jewish religious authorities.
Again, here, these representatives ask James about "the gate of Jesus". I
suggest that this is a late corruption of an earlier account in which the
Jewish religious authorities had asked James about the Door or Gate of
In Jesus and the Zealots, S.G.F. Brandon (p. 124), states, "The
explanation of K. Kohler, in J.E. vii, 68, has much to commend it, namely,
that Hegesippus gave the original Jewish question: 'What is the gate of
salvation?' (sh'ar ha-yeshu 'ah), which possibly contained a reference to
Ps. cxviii. 20, and that this was later erroneously copied as sh'ar Yeshua
(the 'gate of Jesus')."
If so, then the original question was over whether Jesus is the door or gate
of salvation and James' response (i.e., his reply "that Jesus is the
Saviour.") is an affirmative answer to the question.
Now, as pointed out above by Brandon, the original question might have
involved Psalm 117(118):20.
In the Septuagint, this passage reads, "This is the gate of the LORD; the
righteous will enter by it."
In this case, the postulated original question to James (i.e., "What is the
Gate of salvation?") is, in effect , this, "What is the Gate of the
LORD--the gate which is the way of salvation because the righteous enter by
it?" Further, the reply of James (i.e., the reply that Jesus is the Savior)
was an affirmative response, confirming that, he believed, Jesus is this
salvific Gate of the LORD.
In this case, James believed that, in Psalm 117(118):20, since the Gate is
Jesus, the LORD is someone else. Who could this be other than God? So, in
this case, James believed that there is a Gate-keeper for Jesus as the Gate
and that this Gate-keeper is God.
Indeed, right in line with this, in John 10:1-5, "Jesus (i.e., James)"
speaks of the door (i.e., Jesus as the Savior) having a door-keeper! Who
can this be but God?
Relevant to the discussion is Philadelphians 9:1, where Ignatius states that
Jesus "himself is the door of the Father,..". So, Ignatius understood, the
Gate or Door is Jesus and the LORD is God the Father.
To conclude: It might be that, at the time that James was executed, he had
been calling the Jewish religious leaders (with, at least as respects the
high priestly aristocracy, justification) thieves and robbers and had been
claiming that Jesus is the door or gate of salvation. Indeed, it could be
that, at his trial, he was asked about this gate or door of salvation and
that he affirmed that it is Jesus and that it was this answer that led the
members of the Jerusalem Sanheidrin to find him guilty of blasphemy: leading
them to order his execution by stoning. Likely underlying James' claim that
Jesus is the door or gate of salvation was a belief, by himself, in the
idea that Jesus is the gate of the LORD mentioned in Psalm 117(118):20--with
the LORD of this verse understood, by him, as being God.
What do you think?
Happy New Year to all!
1809 N. English Apt. 17
Maplewood, MN USA 55109