5531Re: [GTh] James Brother of Jesus
- Apr 11, 2003
----- Original Message -----
From: "Tom Saunders" <tom@...>
Sent: Wednesday, April 09, 2003 2:42 AM
Subject: [GTh] James Brother of Jesus
> I have finished the second half of the Hershel Shanks and Ben
Witherington's "The Brother of Jesus." The first half of the book is about
the James' ossuary. The second half by Witherington is about James.
> There is mention of the GThom but not any argument that would qualify it
in terms of being an early work. I don't know if Witherington or Shanks
considered this possibility as it seems approaching Thomas as a later work
is the conservative approach to it at this time. Do we as a group subscribe
to Thomas as an early work and let others supply a burden of proof for a
Dear Tom Saunders:
I think that the version of Thomas that we possess was written c. 95 CE. I
do think that it contains some earlier strata--the earliest of which might
date to 60 CE.
As far as I know, there is no general agreement about dating Thomas. So,
ISTM, the burden of proof likes with any claimed date of composition--be it
early or late.
> I have the tendency to read things like this book and Crossan marking
references that could be important for the study of the GThom. Witherington
supplies some dandy evidence in regard to showing Jesus may have been
literate. "Luke 4.16-20 indicates that Jesus could read the scroll in the
> "16. And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and he
entered, as his custom was, into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood
up to read.
> 17. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And
he opened the book, and found the place where it was written,
> 18. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, Because he anointed me to preach
good tidings to the poor: He hath sent me to proclaim release to the
captives, And recovering of sight to the blind, To set at liberty them that
> 19. To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.
> 20. And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat
down: and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on him."
In excavations of Nazareth, no first century CE synagogue has been found.
This raises questions about the historical accuracy of Luke 4:16-20.
Don't get me wrong: I do think that Jesus was literate. I think so, though,
for reasons other than Luke 4:16-20..
> Further Witherington's references to James in concern with the decree to
Antioch, (Acts 15), and other duties related to being the head of Jerusalem,
and the letter to the diaspora indicates that he could write. At least it
provides some strong suggestion. It is not likely that James would be
literate and Jesus would not.
The Greek language decree to Antioch, even if genuine, is not evidence of
James being literate in Greek because it might have been written by a
Christian scribe rather than by him. I think that the question of whether
he was literate in Greek depends upon whether or not the Epistle of James,
which is written in very good Greek, is genuine. If it is genuine, then he
had a formal education that included learning how to read and write in
> I mention the likelihood of literacy with the core of the Christian
leadership as support that there is probable cause to think the Apostles
themselves could have provided the earliest written works for Thomas.
Shanks puts the population of Jerusalem at the time of 'J' at 40 to 50
thousand with a literacy rate of 20%. I think this may be high, but at ten
percent, the likelihood for an early Thomas grows. How does the burden of
proof shift in this argument?
Tom, the apostles were Galileans. They moved to Jerusalem only after the
crucifixion of Jesus. So, I think, the literacy rate in Galilee is what we
need to work with rather than the literacy rate in Jerusalem. As far as I
know, the literacy rate was very low in Galilee, which suggests that the
disciples were probably illiterate.
Also, we need to take into consideration the question as to *why* these
Galileans moved to Jerusalem after the crucifixion of Jesus.
I suggest that they did so because, they believed, Jesus rose from the dead,
ascended into heaven, and would soon be descending on the clouds of heaven
to Jerusalem--there to eternally rule. If so, then they moved to Jerusalem
in order to be able to greet him when he made his descent from heaven.
Therefore, that such a belief is absent from Thomas suggests, ISTM, that it
*not* written, even in part, by the apostles.
1809 N. English Apt. 17
Maplewood, MN USA 55109
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