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Re: Is the BD James Part I

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  • David Friedman
    Dear Frank, Thank you for the time you put into your response. I still do find the idea that the beloved disciple was one of Jesus brothers highly
    Message 1 of 78 , May 5, 2002
      Dear Frank,

      Thank you for the time you put into your response. I still do find the idea that the beloved disciple was one of Jesus' brothers highly problematic.

      >I beg to disagree. This is the first of several posts
      >pointing out evidence
      >that the BD is, in fact, James the Just, the brother
      >of Jesus.

      You surely realize that this would seem absurd on the face of it, considering the fact that the theology in John is hardly that of James, and that it opposes the Gospel of Thomas, which has a passage where Jesus appoints James as the head? Thomas/Q/James' more primitive Jewish-Christian views are entirely rejected. I'm sure the scene at the cross was written with Thomas 12 in mind, but I'll get to that later.

      >Let us look at John 13:23-25, which takes place during
      >the Last Supper,
      >"One of the disciples of him was reclining on the
      >bosom of Jesus--whom Jesus
      >loved. Therefore Simon Peter nods to this one, to ask
      >about who it may be
      >about whom he (i.e., Jesus) speaks. Having leaned
      >back, then, this one thus
      >on the bosom of Jesus says to him, 'Lord, who is it?'"

      >Now, in John 6:67-69, Peter acts as the spokesman for
      >the 12, so he is their

      >However, in John 13:23-25, Peter speaks to Jesus
      >through the BD. This
      >inidicates that the BD has an even higher status than
      >the leader of the 12.
      >Only one person had such a status in the movement
      >founded by Jesus--his
      >brother: James the Just. Therefore, 13:23-25 clearly
      >indicates that James
      >the Just is the BD

      This seems to be begging the question. I would agree with you that this passage indicates that the beloved disciple is superior to the leader of the twelve. The problem here is that this line of reasoning assumes that a writer referring to someone as superior to Peter would have to be referring to James, because of his (later) status. However, far from this being a certainty, the writers of the small, idiosyncratic, Johannine community, could easily have been inserting an anonymous disciple, the representative of this community, as the greatest authority. The status of James in terms of his authority in the early movement did not stop Paul from implying his superiority over him, nor did it stop many from asserting Mary Magdalene as the number one figure both during and after Jesus' lifetime. Communities had their own views of who was the greatest, who had VALID status in the movement, and could easily claim their leader was someone who had less influence than James. What you are doing is imposing your historical view onto a text that is making a theological claim. The Johannine community clearly did not think much of James' ideas, and therefore would assert their own disciple to counteract James' authority. You fail to take into account John 7:5, which shows that Jesus' brothers did not believe in Him. If it is historical that Jesus' brothers came to believe in Him DURING His lifetime, this would surely be a clumsy slip on John's part. While asserting that the criticism of the family of Jesus in Mark relate to conditions after Jesus died, those of you holding the view that the beloved disciple was a brother of Jesus apparently see this verse as referring to conditions within the lifetime of Jesus, correction most of His lifetime. We are to believe that John 7:5 is not a jab at Jesus' brothers, including James. I really can't accept this. Note that in all of John's writings there is no concept that one can join the community, the saved, after the death of Jesus. The community, despite existing long after the time of Jesus, are supposedly all original disciples (1 John 1-4), a fictional claim crafted to make the theology of the community believable and refute Docetists. According to the letters, how would one become a member of the community? There is no such way. There are people who were there from the beginning but went out as heretics. In John the Holy Spirit is promised to the disciples, and the promise is worded to indicate that this would only happen at a particular time, the fulfillment being in John 20. Thomas never received the Holy Spirit, which says little for the information in his Gospel, and since Jesus' brothers did not believe in Him during His lifetime (John 7:5) and the scene by the cross with the mention of the 'son' can be read metaphorically, the alternative to Thomas' 'becoming Jesus', something that John 13 refutes, John is indicating that James' brothers never became believers, not by his definition. If John meant to indicate that they did become disciples during Jesus' lifetime he was unclear, which I can't quite imagine would be the case when he seems to indicate that no brothers would have received the Holy Spirit. John 19 can easily be seen as a polemic against Jesus' brothers. According to John, the community is in the place of Jesus, though inferior in rank. So the beloved disciple is not a relative of Jesus but a true disciple who does something that Jesus would have done, giving this disciple first place in the movement after Jesus. If James really were the beloved disciple it would be difficult to explain why he isn't named as such, and why Thomas is attacked. The Scholars Version translation of the passage in John 19 clearly indicates that John did not believe this disciple was an actual brother of Jesus, so perhaps those who have studied Greek would like to address this.

      Finally, I assume you agree that Mark has no problem destroying the authority of James in his narrative. If Mark can do this despite James' status, not indicating to those who weren't familiar with the situation that James was a leader, why do you see it as necessary that a disciple said to be greater than Peter is necessarily James?

      >Indeed, there is evidence that Jesus loved his
      >brother, James the Just, in a
      >special way. See, in particular, the Nag Hammadi
      >text, The Second
      >Apocalypse of James, where James asserts (56), "And he
      >kissed my mouth. He
      >took hold of me, saying, 'My beloved!'", and declares
      >(57) that Jesus said
      >this to him, "Behold, I shall reveal to you
      >everything, my beloved."

      This sounds similar to what other Gnostic texts said about Mary Magdalene, is late, and is encounched in secret revelation, so I see no reason to see this as historical. You wouldn't happen to give Mary Magdalene special precedence by the better treatment that she gets, would you? She was the first to be identified by name as the most loved disciple of Jesus, and recently I referred to an article which argues that John originally had her as the beloved disciple. Your comments would be appreciated.

      >Again, in Post 1172 on the Yahoo Group Johannine
      >Literature Academic List,
      >dated 12-23-2000, Kevin O'Brien has masterfully shown
      >a literary
      >relationship between
      >4:6 and 13:25, stating, "The word hOUTWS as a
      >demonstrative adverb of manner
      >describing a physical
      >movement appears on two occasions only in the New
      >Testament and they
      >exclusively in the Fourth Gospel:

      >(1) to demonstrate Jesus' posture of rest ("like
      >this") in his sitting down
      >at Jacob's well (John 4.6);

      >(2) the B.D.'s own posture of rest ("like this") in
      >his reclining on Jesus'
      >breast at the Last Supper (John 13.25)!!"

      >Note that each of these two verses mentions two people
      >(1) 4:6
      >mentions Jesus and Jacob, the original owner of the
      >well and (2) 13:25
      >mentions Jesus and ???, the BD. In view of the
      >literary relationship
      >betwen these two verses, it is not difficult to
      >determine, here, the name of
      >the BD (signified by the "???")--it is, quite clearly,
      >Jacob (James).

      I checked a concordance, and the Greek word you mention was not found in John 13:25. What translation has "like this" in both verses? The Scholars Version of these verses shows no similarity. Even if your observation is correct it strikes me as too weak to place much confidence in. James and Jacob are different but similar names. That such a connection should be drawn seems speculative and it still needs to be answered why James isn't ever said to have been a disciple during the lifetime of Jesus. If he was known to have been a disciple during this time then an earlier source would have mentioned it. That Mark was critical of the family of Jesus would hardly prevent him from naming James as one of the twelve if he were. Rather, one would expect that he would be portrayed negatively. The other two Synoptics changed some of the names but James is still not mentioned, so one can reasonably assume that Jesus had no part in the movement until after the death of Jesus. If he did, it was not significant. James was not known as someone who had followed Jesus in the first century, or at least it seems that way. Thomas 12 is just propaganda from a Jewish-Christian author who naturally saw James as his leader. John's connection to Judaism is much less, and since James was not known to have joined the movement until after Jesus' death, and in John's mind the only disciples were followers of Jesus during His lifetime, it is clear that James was not meant to be the beloved disciple, let alone a disciple.

      >Further, there is yet another way in which 13:23-25
      >also indicates that
      >James the Just is the BD.

      >That is, this passage is the first explicit mention of
      >the BD in John. The
      >obvious implication: The BD didn't become a disciple
      >of Jesus until shortly
      >before the Last Supper and participated in it along
      >with Jesus and the

      >Indeed, in conformity with the hypothesis that the BD
      >is James the Just,
      >there is evidence that he didn't become a disciple of
      >Jesus until shortly
      >before the Last Supper and participated in it with
      >Jesus and the Twelve!

      >Before Jesus' last journey to Jerusalem, James the
      >Just apparently did not
      >believe in him. This is indicated by both John 7:5
      >and Mark 3:31-34.

      >However, it could very well be that James the Just
      >came to believe in his
      >brother shortly before the Last Supper.

      >For example, let us look at a passage from the Nag
      >Hammadi text, the
      >First Apocalypse of James (25): which begins with
      >Jesus telling James, "'For
      >they will seize me the day after tomorrow. But my
      >redemption will be near.'
      >James said, "Rabbi, you have said, 'They will seize
      >me.' But I, what can I
      >do?" He said to me, 'Fear not James. You too will they
      >seize. But leave
      >Jerusalem. For it is she who always gives the cup of
      >bitterness to the sons
      >of light.'"

      >This is based on a tradition that James had been with
      >Jerusalem with Jesus two days before the crucifixion,
      >i.e., one day before
      >the Last Supper. If this is correct, then James did
      >come to believe in his
      >brother shortly before the Last Supper.

      >Again, it could very well be that James the Just
      >participated in the Last
      >Supper with Jesus and the Twelve.

      I find it unlikely that the beloved disciple was not a disciple all along. That wouldn't make him the best witness of the mostly fictional traditions in John. It is plausible that the beloved disciple was meant to be one of the two followers of John the Baptist who were the first disciples of Jesus. I don't see that his lack of inclusion from here to chapter 13 is any real problem. The idea that the beloved disciple became a disciple at a late stage is certainly not what John would want us to believe, for the reason that the key players in the Gospel are clearly meant to be seen as disciples from quite early on. There are a few early enrolments mentioned, and in chapter 6 there is the twelve as well as others. Thomas is mentioned first in chapter 11, though he was one of the twelve, so was there earlier. Just as there is no concept of joining the Johannine community, because only valid disciples are in the community, the disciples in the narrative do not become disciples late in the narrative even if they are first mentioned then. John 13:23 refers to the beloved disciple as the disciple Jesus loved most, which hardly indicates that this disciple had converted the day before. It indicates that this disciple had been with the group for some time. Peter was already convinced of his authority in verse 24, and can we really believe that this would be the case if James had just converted? I don't think you can prove that James was the prominent figure in the movement for at least a couple of days before Jesus died, but he was later, so if he is being mentioned here it would be an anachronism. Naturally this scene is not found in any of the other Gospels. Another point I might add is that John 3:18 says, "Those who don't believe in him are already condemned: they haven't believed in God's only son." I would consider it rationalizing to suggest that this doesn't condemn the brothers of Jesus for all time, as John 7:5 indicates that they didn't believe in Him. Interestingly enough, John 3:19-21 sounds rather like what is inserted in the narrative later, around John 7:5.

      John 3:19-21
      "This is the verdict (on them): Light came into the world but people loved darkness instead of light. Their actions were evil, weren't they? All those who do evil things hate the light and don't come into the light-otherwise their deeds would be exposed. But those who do what is true come into the light so the nature of their deeds will become evident: their deeds belong to God."

      John 7:1-9
      "After this, Jesus moved around in Galilee; he decided not to go into Judea, because the Judeans were looking for a chance to kill him. The Jewish celebration of Sukkoth was coming, so his brothers said to him, "Get out of here; go to Judea so your disciples can see the miracles you're doing. No one who wants public recognition does things in secret. If you are going to do these (miracles), let the world see you." (Evidently, even his brothers didn't have any confidence in him.) Jesus replies, "It's not my time yet. It's always your time. The world can never hate you, but it hates me, because I provide evidence that its actions are evil. You go ahead to the celebration; I'm not going to this celebration because my time hasn't yet arrived." With this piece of advice, he stayed behind in Galilee."

      When compared, the second passage condemns the brothers of Jesus for good. Jesus says that the world can NEVER hate His brothers, which means they are of the world. They are not of the sheep, as shown by John 10:25-26. If they were, why didn't they believe in Him? The idea of a person who for a long time rejects Jesus but then later comes to accept Him does not fit in with the theology of John. John 12:35-36 shows that one has to believe in Jesus during His lifetime, and this excludes the brothers of Jesus from the saved. The brothers of Jesus apparently went up to the feast by themselves, and we can fairly assume that John meant for us to believe they left immediately after. They are not mentioned as present in the following chapters, which only mention disciples. John 7:39 was deliberately located near John 7:5, as it says that those believing in Jesus would receive the Holy Spirit. There apparently were no new disciples after this, the Bethany trio having been disciples previously. Since the brothers of Jesus did not believe in Him John is clearly indicating that they did not receive the Holy Spirit. James is never mentioned at the last supper. You refer to a text that has Jesus telling James to leave Jerusalem. According to Acts, he was there soon after the death of Jesus. Though I doubt this, I would be more inclined to believe this than a story in a much later document that is pro-James and contains a prophecy. That it is historical is doubtful, because James stayed in Jerusalem.

      >.So, William Barclay, in The Letters of James and
      >Peter (p.12), thusly
      >cites Jerome as giving this account of a passage from
      >the now-lost Gospel
      >According to the Hebrews, "Now the Lord, when He had
      >given the linen cloth
      >unto the servant of the High Priest, went unto James
      >and appeared to him
      >(for James had sworn that he would not eat bread from
      >that hour, wherein he
      >had drunk the Lord's cup, until he should see him
      >risen again from among
      >those that sleep)."

      >As can be seen, according to this passage from a
      >now-lost gospel, James did
      >participate in the Last Supper.

      That's right, but this Gospel also claims that Jesus first appeared to James. It was Peter in the earlier 1 Corinthians 15. It was Mary Magdalene in the Gospel of Mary. Appearances to people could be created to give authority to a leader. There may have been an appearance to James, but it was not the first appearance as described here.

      >Relevant to the discussion is Mark 14:18-20, "And as
      >they sat and did eat,
      >Jesus said, Verily, I say unto
      >you, One of you which eateth with me shall betray me.
      >And they began to be
      >sorrowful, and to say unto him one by one, Is it I?
      >and another said, Is it
      >I? And he answered and said unto them, It is one of
      >the twelve, that
      >dippeth with me in the dish.(KJV)"

      >If only the Twelve were participating in the Last
      >Supper, Jesus would have
      >said, "It is one of you that dippeth with me in the

      Considering Mark works under the presupposition that there were twelve disciples (Mark 3:14), and Mark 3:17 specifically says that Jesus came to the meal with the twelve, the disciples spoken of prior are the twelve, who ONLY ate the meal with Jesus. It seems to me that such a misreading is the result of your belief that James was present.

      >Of course, it can be argued that the BD, who reclined
      >on the bosom of Jesus,
      >apparently is John rather than James because of an
      >early Christian tradition
      >found in The History of the Church (Book 3, Sect. 31).
      >Here,: Eusebius
      >thusly quotes Polycrates, "Again, there is John, who
      >leant back on the
      >Lord's breast, and who became a sacrificing priest
      >wearing the mitre. and a
      >teacher; he too sleeps in Ephesus."

      >What is amazing, though, is that this John who sleeps
      >in Ephesus is a clone
      >of James, the brother of Jesus.

      >He "became a sacrificing priest wearing the mitre".

      >This sounds like James--who, according to tradition,
      >acted as a
      >priest and wore the high priestly diadem. So, Eusebius
      >(Ibid., Book 2,
      >Sect. 23), quoting Hegessipus, speaks of James
      >entering the Holy Place and
      >the Sanctuary--areas open only to priests. Again, in
      >Those Incredible
      >Christians (p. 120), Hugh Schonfield thusly quotes
      >Epiphanius, "And moreover
      >we have found that he (i.e., James) officiated after
      >the manner of the
      >ancient priesthood....Furthermore, he was empowered to
      >wear upon his head
      >the high priestly diadem."

      Well, some of the stuff in late sources is exaggeration. I definitely would not give a fourth century writer the benefit of the doubt about John's vocation. James maybe, but John, the one who would have atonement through the blood of Jesus?

      Similarly, James, the brother of Jesus, was martyred.
      Again, in the epistle
      attributed to James, the author speaks about "we who
      are teachers".

      >How can we explain this fact that the John who sleeps
      >at Ephesus is a
      >clone of James, the brother of Jesus? The reason, I
      >suspect, is that the
      >tradition known to Polycrates underwent two stages in
      >its development. In
      >the first stage, it was this, "There is the BD, who
      >leant back on the Lord's
      >breast, and who became a sacrificing priest wearing
      >the mitre, and a martyr
      >and a teacher." Among those it originally circulated,
      >it was known that
      >this unnamed BD was James. However, it later came to
      >circulate among people
      >who didn't know that the BD was James. One of them
      >mistakenly took the BD
      >to have been a John who is buried at Ephesus. This led
      >to the second stage,
      >where the tradition took the form as recorded by
      >Eusibius. If so, then the
      >idea that the BD is John is a late idea that developed
      >in a group of people
      >who were ignorant of James being the BD.

      I disagree, but I'll refrain from comment. I should note that whether John was martyred or not depends a lot on which Church Father one consults.

      So in summary since according to John one does not eventually come to believe long after seeing Jesus, John 7 shows that John did not regard James or His brothers as disciples. After saying that they did not believe in Him Jesus implied that they were of the world. Unless you can show that someone 'of the world' can believe in Jesus, one has to look elsewhere for the identity of the beloved disciple. Those 'of the world' are unable to accept Jesus according to John's Gospel. There is no reason to believe that what we find in John 7 would be included if one of the brothers of Jesus were the beloved disciple, and with John's use of ambiguity Jesus' reference to the disciple as Mary's son does not mean he was related by flesh and blood. This disciple was put in the place of Jesus. John 1:12 says that those who received Jesus were given power to become sons of God. The clincher is John 1:13, which says that these people were not born of flesh and blood, but of God. Why read John 19 with such literalism?


      DavidGet more from the Web. FREE MSN Explorer download : http://explorer.msn.com

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    • Ted Weeden
      ... the ... and ... Rikk, you appear to be referring to James D. G. Dunn s statement in his footnote in _Jesus Remembered_ (207, n. 182), namely: Bailey s
      Message 78 of 78 , Apr 26 7:09 PM
        Bob Schacht wrote on April 22:

        > > We have had a number of extensive sessions on oral tradition on XTalk;
        > > there was a special seminar with Jimmy Dunn, and Ted Weeden offered an
        > > extensive critique of Bailey's theory of informal controlled oral
        > > tradition. While Weeden's critique has exposed serious flaws in Bailey's
        > > argument in support of his theory, that doesn't necessarily mean that
        > > idea of informal controlled oral tradition is not relevant to the First
        > > Century in general and especially to the period between the crucifixion
        > > the composition of the Gospels.

        Rikk Watts wrote on Monday, April 26, 2004, in response to Bob Schacht:

        > Bob,
        > You might want to check Dunn's assessment of Ted's criticisms in his JESUS
        > REMEMBERED. Not very impressed.

        Rikk, you appear to be referring to James D. G. Dunn's statement in his
        footnote in _Jesus Remembered_ (207, n. 182), namely: "Bailey's claims
        regarding the stability of the stories told about Hogg have been seriously
        challenged, particularly by T. Weeden in
        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/crosstalk2/message/8301 and /8730. In
        personal correspondence Bailey has expressed his regret at some
        overstatement in regard to the Hogg tradition, but insists that his
        hypothesis is based primarily on his own experience of the haflat samar.
        Weeden's further critique of Bailey's anecdotes and their significance
        ["Bailey's Theory of Oral Tradition: a Flawed Theory, Part II"] misses much
        of Bailey's point, is unduly censorious, and weakens Bailey's case hardly at

        Let me provide a bit of background (for you and interested listers) to Jimmy
        Dunn's comment and the state of my critique of Bailey since the XTalk posts
        to which Dunn refers. Dunn presented a paper, "Jesus in Oral Memory: the
        Initial Stages of the Jesus Tradition," on an on-line seminar (arranged as I
        recall by Jeffrey Gibson), J_D_G_DunnSeminar@yahoogroups.com, in which list
        members of XTalk and members of other lists participated during the latter
        part of April and the first of May, 2001. In his paper Dunn declared his
        advocacy of Kenneth Bailey's theory of informal controlled oral tradition as
        a model to explain how the Jesus oral tradition was preserved in its
        integrity and authenicity in the years following Easter and up to the time
        of the composition of the Synoptic Gospels. Ken Olson in a response to Dunn
        raised questions about the reliability of Kenneth Bailey in accurately
        representing his only extant written source upon which he is heavily
        dependent for the validity of his theory. Olson's reservations led me to
        read Bailey's two articles ("Informal Controlled Oral Tradition and the
        Synoptic Gospels, " _Asia Journal of Theology_, 5 [1991], 34-54; and "Middle
        Eastern Oral Tradition and the Synoptic Gospels," _The Expository Times_,
        106 [1994-95], 363-367), in which he sets forth his theory, and I read as
        well the extant source in question, Rena Hogg's _A Master-Builder on the
        Nile_, her biography of her father John Hogg. In reading both Bailey's
        articles I found Ken Olson's reservations concerning Bailey's accuracy in
        representing Rena Hogg's anecdotes about her father to be well grounded. I,
        then, set about to write two essays, to which Jimmy Dunn refers, in which I
        challenged Bailey's theory of informal controlled oral tradition as a theory
        that is seriously flawed.

        Dunn became aware of my XTalk challenge to Baileys' theory via Jeffrey
        Gibson, and Jeffrey then arranged for Jimmy Dunn and I to exchange posts
        privately, an exchange that I found beneficial. I have since revised by
        critique of Bailey and I think considerably strengthened it. Dunn has not
        seen the revision as yet, though I have offered to send it to him and he, in
        response, has indicated he would like to see it. Since Bob Schacht had
        engaged me on XTalk with respect to my initial critique of Bailey, and
        raised himself some questions about my critique, I recently sent him my
        revised critique off-list earlier this month and invited his critical
        feedback on the revision. His feedback and suggestions have been very
        helpful and I am making further revisions as a result of them. Bob will
        need to speak for himself, if he wishes to do so, with respect to my case
        against Bailey's evidentiary support for his theory.

        Rikk, I would be happy to send you (off-list --- and to anyone else who is
        interested), my current revision to determine for yourself, quite apart from
        Dunn, whether my challenge to the validity of Baileys' theory, as he has
        presented it in his two articles with his evidentiary support, is well
        founded. Rather than summarily dismissing my critique by stating that Dunn
        was not impressed by it, I think it is only fair that you explain to me, and
        XTalk list members with whom you have registered your judgment, why your
        cryptic, perjorative statement, citing Dunn as your authority, renders my
        critique of Bailey's theory without foundation and merit.

        Best regards,.

        Ted Weeden
        Theodore J Weeden, Sr.
        Ph.D. (Claremont), retired
        Appleton, WI
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