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Re: [XTalk] prophecy historicized in the passion of James?

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    ... From: Ken Olson To: Sent: Saturday, December 29, 2001 9:57 PM Subject: Re: [XTalk] prophecy
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 31, 2001
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Ken Olson" <kaolson@...>
      To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
      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.

      Ken Olson:

      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!

      Frank McCoy
      1809 N. English Apt. 17
      Maplewood, MN USA 55109
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