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Jesus' relations

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  • Kevin O'Brien
    To Jack Kilmon Dear Jack, This is one of my longer postings but your objections cannot be treated satisfactorily by a piecemeal type of response, so here goes:
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 15 8:14 PM
      To Jack Kilmon

      Dear Jack,

      This is one of my longer postings but your objections cannot be treated satisfactorily by a piecemeal type of response, so here goes: I think the best way to begin answering your objections, (there are many!) esp. concerning Jesus' relations is to give you my modification to the Hieronymian Hypothesis in detail and let you see how it affects your overall arguments to the contrary:

      Modifications to the Hieronymian Hypothesis
      My modification of the Hieronymian hypothesis outlined below proposes that the 'brethren' of Mark 6:3 par. John 7:5 consisted of two groups of two persons each. The first paired group consisted of Simon and (possibly) Jude as first cousins of Jesus. The second paired group consisted of James and Joses but not as blood-brothers of Jesus but nonetheless related to him as other than first cousins.

      Clopas/Cleopas - the same person, not from a philological derivation but from his shortened name arising from a domestic situation of living in the same house complex as the writer of the Fourth Gospel who gives us his shortened name -- and Joseph were uterine brothers. Alphaeus was only distantly related to them. How far distant no-one knows. Alphaeus' married the 'Mary' mentioned in John 19.25; Mark 15.40, 47; Matt 27.56. Their children were James and Joses. Alphaeus then died, (probably with Joseph killed in the civil war which raged in Galilee (see Jos. Antiquities), that ensued upon Herod the Great's death, by that leaving this same 'Mary' free to re-wed. Clopas first married an unknown woman, their offspring being Simon and Jude. Clopas' first wife then was the mother of Simon and Jude. Clopas' first wife then died, by that leaving Clopas free to re-wed.

      Both Clopas and 'Mary' then married, made easy by their both living in the same house complex beforehand. In the light of the customs of Israel and the age and certainly not unknown in modern societies there was nothing strange about a widow and a widower coming together to marry, and at the same time bringing their children with them to live together. The household of Clopas and 'Mary', is outlined thus:

      Clopas married 'Mary'. The household included: James, Joses, Simon, Jude and perhaps unknown sisters. As there are no clues as to the parents of these 'sisters', it will be assumed that their relation to Jesus was that of either legally recognized first cousins or as distantly related, but like James, Joses, Jude, Simon, all living together in the same house complex as Jesus himself (cf. Matt 10.35-36 for such-like domestic arrangements). Another possibility is that the 'sisters' of Mark 6:3 par. find their vocation as wives of Simon, Jude, Joses and James (see 1 Cor 9:5 where support is found for this interpretation).

      James, Joses are the children of Clopas' second wife, 'Mary', but their father, Alphaeus, was 'Mary's' first husband. James and Joses are always paired together as 'brethren' of Jesus as are Simon and Jude always paired together as 'brethren' of Jesus (Mark 6:3; Matt 13:55). These pairings do not vary. And because they do not vary, help is available to figure out who the father of Jude\'Thomas' was. The latter person's identity perhaps sounds surprising at any hearing. However, this identity looms large in the east Syrian tradition of Edessa and that city's general geographical area, which to this writer, is very possible indeed. For Jude was an unbelieving 'brother' (cf. John 7.5) as was 'Thomas' for a week at least after Jesus' Resurrection.

      We know that Clopas was Simon's father. Therefore since Simon and Jude are invariably paired together, Jude's father is Clopas. Can it at all be proposed that Jude\'Thomas' is Simon's twin? This hypothesis goes far to explain the unusual and peculiar prominence of 'Thomas' and his doings in the Fourth Gospel in comparison with the Syn's! An observation is pertinent here:

      If Jude\'Thomas' is the twin of Simon, then the former inherited his skeptical temperament from his father Cleopas, while Simon inherited his temperament from his mother who can rightly be called "the unsung heroine of the Gospels". Such character inheritance is a common enough genetic phenomenon with twins! In support: Clopas/Cleopas in Luke 24:18-24 displays scepticism and a certain element of petulance towards Jesus -- being exasperated at Jesus' ignorance of the recent past as did 'Thomas' show skepticism at the news of Jesus' Resurrection until 'Thomas' succumbed to seeing Jesus as risen a week later! To explain this further:

      Neither Hegesippus nor Eusebius say that James was the son of Clopas and in negative fashion they agree with the Canonical Gospels which provide evidence saying that a certain 'James' was a son of Alphaeus. Hegesippus implies that Simon was a Davidid, his being son of Clopas, who was uterine brother to Joseph, a Davidid (Matt 1:20; Luke 1:27; 2:4). Hegesippus says explicitly that the grand-children of Jude (one of the 'brethren' and therefore a married man during the Public Ministry as were the other three "brethren"; cf. 1 Cor 9.5) were Davidids, making Jude himself a Davidid (H.E. 3.20.16). If Alphaeus also was a blood-brother of Joseph and Clopas (which I veto) then his children James and Joses and any other offspring such as Matthew likewise were Davidids, and that brings in problems in his being a tax-collector in the pay of Herod Antipas, who being himself of the Herodian line "frowned darkly" like his father Herod the Great - to put it mildly -- on those reputed to be Davidids!

      If on the contrary Alphaeus was only distantly related to Cleopas or Joseph, then it is going beyond cautious exegesis to say that James and Joses were Davidids. But there again, even as distantly related to Jesus, they, with their father Alphaeus could yet be Davidids.

      This modification to the Hieronymian hypothesis, solves many a problem in the thorny thicket of probing Jesus' relations and 'brothers' and 'sisters'. It solves why the 'brethren' of Mark 6:3 par. and John 7:5 are called such, their living from boyhood in the same house complex, sharing their early lives together, and it solves how Paul can name James as a 'brother' of Jesus while Hegesippus names Simon-Symeon of Jerusalem as a 'cousin' of Jesus.

      James and Joses were sons of Alphaeus, but only distantly related to both Jesus and Simon-Symeon of Jerusalem. Nevertheless, like Simon-Symeon of Jerusalem they grew up with Jesus from boyhood in the same house Nazareth complex and accordingly not in a biological sense but in a domestic sense, were his 'brothers'!

      H.E. 4.22.4:

      After James the Just had suffered martyrdom for the same reason as the Lord, Symeon his cousin, the son of Clopas was appointed Bishop, whom they all proposed because he was another cousin of the Lord.

      It is evident that the word emphasised, AUTOU ('his'), must refer to Jesus. The uncle in question must be Clopas since he was Joseph's brother. Resulting from this analysis is that Symeon of Jerusalem is Jesus' first cousin; therefore, Symeon of Jerusalem cannot be the son of Joseph because he is the son of Clopas. The Helvidian and Epiphanian hypotheses are both rendered untenable;

      It is unlikely that James or Joses are sons of Clopas, since they are not thus described as is Symeon of Jerusalem, and that conclusion is reached apart from the force of the argument already presented above. Moreover, James' mother is 'Mary' while Symeon of Jerusalem's mother is unknown. Therefore, it is unlikely James and Symeon of Jerusalem are uterine brothers, otherwise the latter's name would be included as 'Mary's' son alongside James and Joses as would any other children such as your proposed Matthew! (cf. Matt 27:56; Mark 15:40, 47).

      The claim is registered that Simon and Jude were legally recognized first cousins to Jesus and James and Joses were distantly related to Jesus or unrelated and therefore unrelated to Simon and Jude, but all this is via the proposal that Clopas and 'Mary', both married originally to other partners, then married each other.


      You wrote:

      Shymeon was the son of Jesus' Uncle Clopas and the brother of both disciple/cousins Matthew and James, the Less. He must have been a disciple of equal standing, the number 12 really being a later creation.

      My reply:

      I am pleased we are in agreement that Shymeon was no less of equal standing with Jesus' Apostles although we part ways on Matthew and James being Jesus' cousins.


      You wrote:

      Shymeon is identified by Hegesippus, in Eusebius, as the son of Clopas, brother of Joseph (HE3.11.1; 4.22.4). His mother Mary is identified at John 19:25. Other references are Mark 2:14; 3:18; Mt. 10:3; Lk 6:15 and Acts 1:13.

      My reply:

      In regard to Shymeon's mother's name: Not so Jack if you give credence to my modification hypothesis above.

      You wrote:

      During the Domitian Persecution Descendants of David (relatives of Jesus) were being rounded up and this continued into the reign of Trajan when Shymeon was killed before Trajan stopped the practice. This was about 106-107 CE so Shymeon appears to have been a child of 10 or so at the time of the crucifixion and in his 80's when he died.

      My reply:

      If you allow me to re-write what you have written for purposes of clarification: "During the Domitian Persecution Descendants of David (relatives of Jesus; Jude's grandchildren) were being rounded up because they were suspected by the Emperor of being Davidids. This continued . when Shymeon and most likely his entire family was crucified by one Atticus for being Davidids. This was in January of AD 71 and not during Trajan's reign over thirty years afterwards". Since Clopas and Joseph (blood-brothers) were of the same generation it is feasible to suppose that Jesus and Shymeon were both born approx. 5 BC, give or take a few years. In AD 30 the year of Jesus' death Shymeon would be 35 years of age (not 10 years of age) as would Jesus (give or take a few years). A re-arrangement of the historical record is called for here and for these reasons:

      The Year and Month of Symeon/B.D.'s Death.

      If we can find out the precise month and the precise year of Symeon of Jerusalem's death and the death at the same time of his evangelist, whom I am convinced from Fourth Gospel internal evidence, was his own son, esp. in its power to solve the "Johannine tongue" phenomenon, then we have at long last discovered the very latest date of the Fourth Gospel's composition, and that, to put it gently, is of truly enormous importance in understanding Christianity at its very origin. I cannot help quoting Dodd's penetrating insight here:

      The understanding of this Gospel (Fourth Gospel) is ... a crucial test of our success or failure in solving the problem of the New Testament as a whole. The Fourth Gospel may well prove to be the keystone of an arch which at present fails to hold together. If we could understand it, understand how it came to be and what it means, we will know what early Christianity really was, and not until in some measure we comprehend the New Testament as a whole shall we be in a position to solve the 'Johannine' problem.

      That excerpt from Dodd sums up my sole motivation in undertaking this present research.

      It is reported originally by Hegesippus (H.E. 3.11.1 and 3.12.1.) that Vespasian at the time he became Emperor after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 ordered that a search be made for all those of the line of David (of the royal family) still living so as to eliminate them all forever as potential dangers to Roman hegemony. However, there seems to be error here in this report. In contiguous verses Eusebius first mentions Symeon of Jerusalem as successor to the martyred James as leader of the Jerusalem Church and implies Symeon's Davidic lineage and then by idea association reports that 'Vespasian' determined to rid the land of these men.

      As Symeon was perhaps the most prominent Davidid alive, he would have been among the very first to suffer death according to the order from the Roman ruler -- the order coming from either Vespasian or far more likely, almost certainly, from his son, Titus holding the same patronymic. The name 'Vespasian' quite possibly has been substituted for 'Titus'. For Eusebius to be consistent, it was Titus not Vespasian his father, who ordered the move against the Davidids. E. Mary Smallwood inclines towards this view. She says that -

      It is possible that "Vespasian" is an error and that the search was actually ordered by Titus before his return to Rome in 71. 'The Jews under Roman Rule': Studies in Judaism in Late Antiquity, Vol. 20 (From Pompey to Diocletian) (Leiden, E.J. Brill 1976) 351.

      I agree with her in holding that Emperor Vespasian as personally responsible for action against the Davidids is an error. Eusebius provides the evidence that Vespasian himself was personally unaware of what his son Titus was intent upon doing in the Province in regard to the Davidids. If this is correct, then my contention that Symeon of Jerusalem died not during Trajan's reign but during Vespasian's reign at the hands of Titus, not Vespasian, is not only well-founded but proven.

      The Attribution of 120 Years of Age for Symeon

      Eusebius (H.E. 3.32.3) reports that Symeon of Jerusalem successor to James as 'Bishop' of Jerusalem, lived to the reign of Trajan, Symeon of Jerusalem reaching a hoary old age of precisely 120 years. In all, five men in post-diluvian antiquity are spoken of as living to that extreme age of 120 years. They are: Moses, Rabbi Johanan ben Zakkai, Rabbi Akiba, John the Apostle (at least according to Epiphanius), and most importantly, Simon-Symeon of Jerusalem. There is a common denominator here, namely that all these men were acknowledged widely as knowledgeable and holy leaders in their time, perhaps with exception of John the Apostle, for Acts 4.13 provides evidence that he did not impress the hierarchs nor Elders as a man anywhere equal to themselves in erudition.

      It is on record in the Jewish sources that to wish a man to live 120 years was to wish him to have a holy and studious life. To allot this span of years to a human life was not meant primarily to honour old age, although rightfully, old age well lived was honoured. It was meant mainly to honour holy leaders by symbolically giving them this age. It was in effect when written down, a literary genre.

      Those contemporary to Symeon of Jerusalem, knowing full well he was the B.D., probably gave him this symbol of honour as a fitting testimonial for Jesus choosing him, as his first cousin, to care for Mary, Jesus' mother until her death. Another motive for honouring him almost certainly was a testimonial for his contribution as major witness to events depicted so graphically in the Fourth Gospel.

      Symeon of Jerusalem is described graphically by Eusebius from the report of Hegesippus as suffering torture and then crucifixion in ca. 107 AD at the hands of a Consul governor named 'Atticus' (H.E. 3.32.3, 6). Patristic scholars have not found in that period (Trajan's rule) a Consul wielding Roman governmental powers in Palestine with that name. Obviously there is inaccuracy in Hegesippus' report on this point.

      Explanation: As the first century gave place to the second century, with decade following decade, the original 'literary genre' of 120 years for Symeon of Jerusalem was commonly misinterpreted by churchmen as his real age when he died. By Hegesippus' time, an elaborate legend was invented to account for Symeon of Jerusalem's death at the age of 120 years, where among other matters, his death during Trajan's rule (98-117 AD) was forced on Hegesippus. From the original allocation of 120 years to Symeon as a symbol of honour, that figure was later interpreted erroneously as pointing to his actual age when he died. As time receded from the second generation Christian age, the tradition of the B.D.'s identity became hazy but it was firm that the B.D. was one of Jesus' first cousins. However, and detrimentally so to the labours of historical investigators, especially those dedicated to the search for the B.D.'s true identity, the churchmen confused the persons of Jesus' first cousins. They chose John the Apostle the son of Salome who was the blood-sister of Mary, Jesus' mother and the Christian world since has accepted his candidacy as B.D. axiomatically. They should have chosen instead Symeon of Jerusalem, the legally recognized cousin-german to Jesus.

      It is clear from these data that the so-called Fourth Gospel substantially as we have it, including Chapter 21, was compiled in all its substance well before Symeon's death by crucifixion probably in Pella in the Trans-Jordan in AD 71 when this Roman pogrom was in full swing. How soon before that can be gauged from the fact that the destruction of Jerusalem passes unmentioned in that Gospel. Proposed is that the compilation of the Gospel was not being pursued while Jerusalem was being sacked. Nor would we expect it to be pursued while the place where it was in part being compiled, the Trans-Jordan area (more specifically Bethany over the Jordan) , was constantly subject to intense war-like activity from AD 66, the beginning of the troubles with Rome.

      With these factors taken into account, we can therefore drive its compilation back very easily indeed to the very beginning of the third decade after Jesus' death and Resurrection. Moreover, I am seriously proposing that the groundwork in compiling the Gospel was laid strong and sure in the 30's AD. This date drives back the commonly accepted date by 'Johannine' scholars of the final composition and completion inc. any redaction activity on the Gospel by over forty years at the very least!! There are many unavoidable lacunae in this posting. If you want a more comprehensive exposition and in the process eliminating those lacunae, you are welcome to consult my Web-page on my Homepage anon.


      Jesus apparently liked to issue nicknames to various persons, mostly signifying roles they were to play or were playing. He gave nicknames to Simon, i.e. 'Petros', the meaning of which in English is 'Rock'; to James and John, i.e. 'Boanerges', the meaning of which in the Greek, can be 'sons of thunder' or perhaps more accurately in the context, 'thunderous individuals'. It is disputed whether this is the real meaning of 'Boanerges'. Nevertheless, it is not straining exegesis because James and John were fiery individuals as several texts attest.

      Jesus nicknamed the chosen Twelve men closest to him on his travels as 'apostles' (Luke 6.13). Among other meanings, the term 'Apostle' was given to an official whose job was to arrange voyages of ships to other ports, presumably in the Mediterranean Sea. Either Jesus himself or Simon son of Clopas or his son-evangelist may have given Cleopas the name of 'Clopas' a shortened form of the same name, which is expected between relatives living under the same roof, Clopas being Jesus' uncle. If Jesus did not bestow the shortened name on Cleopas, it was not beyond him to call him 'Clopas', thus agreeing with either the reporter's (B.D.'s) or his son-evangelist's practice (cf. John 19.25b). In John 11.11 Jesus describes Lazarus as "our friend". It would appear from your objections Jack that the Graecised/Latin "Lazarus" and the Semitic name "Eliezer" are the same name without there being a shortening of the latter to the former. One would think that Jesus shortened, as was his habit, the name of Eliezer to Lazar despite the philological difficulties which you have uncovered. How would a Judaean person treat the name Eliezer if he was the Judaean's friend? As the initial aleph being dropped plays no part in the equation, would he call him by the name "Lazar" or "Eliezer"? Could he find a way to shorten his friend's name as becomes close friends?

      Ten Lepers

      In the dim past I remember seeing somewhere that Simon's name was not that of 'leper' but a jar-maker or merchant. As Simon the Leper, sharing at different times the same malady lay at the base of my thoughts on the Ten Lepers, I reply in the following wise:

      (1) I trace Mary Magdalen's "seven devils" to a severe skin ailment like psoriasis (see the Jerome Biblical Commentary, pp. 726-727 #118 and its reference to Lev 14). It was not a case of diabolical possession but a serious affliction on her body which Jesus cured.

      (2) In one of my postings I argue that the "young man" of Mark 14.51-52 is Lazarus, deduced from his accompanying Jesus from the Bethany Last Supper. He had to return to his starting-point at Bethany late at night since the city perimeter gates were closed to him (in a previous reply on the X-Talk List you noted this factor as "news to us" - assuming you were one of the moderators at the time). The reason why he had so little clothing covering him on such a cold night was that he probably suffered the same severe skin ailment as did his sister, Mary of Bethany\Mary Magdalene. (I have four solid reasons for this identification, available on the Web-page on my Homepage coming soon.

      (3) As these two lived under the same roof at Bethany as Simon the Leper, the latter person could well have suffered previously as they did from psoriasis, loosely called "leprosy". Sometime during Jesus' Public Ministry he cured both Simon and Mary Magdalene (his wife; again I have six reasons for this unexpected identification!). Why he did not cure Lazarus at the same time can be explained by his not being present when Jesus cured the others. In any case, Jesus had long-range and far better plans for Lazarus, not of skin restored but his very life!!

      You wrote:

      There is no mention in the NT or Eusebius, of which I am aware, of the hometown of Cleophas/Clopas/Alphaeus.

      My reply:

      I am not sure here of why you mention this point. I take it that you mean either Nazareth or the Judaean Bethany. Would you please clarify for me?

      You wrote:

      We know that his son worked and lived in the Galilee and there is a tradition that links him as a benefactor to the Synagogue in K'far Nahum

      My reply:

      Galilee without special pleading can be included in the Eusebian report concerning the eye and earwitness testimony of Symeon of Jerusalem (see above). Again Jack, I am in agreement with you on this point.

      You wrote:

      . but I know of no references that link Clopas and Mary to Bethany either.

      My reply:

      The following is a piece of well-weighed speculation but loses nothing in its application to your objection: Having Symeon of Jerusalem as his son, Clopas, once owner of the two Bethany's, upon Symeon's wedding gave him the Judaean Bethany property as a wedding present. This might seem far-fetched and unprovable. It may be beyond proof but it is verified every time a critic of same donates a property as a wedding present to his/her son or daughter. That is how Symeon/Simon the Leper gained ownership of the Judaean Bethany. The link is to be found in Luke 22.31: After the Last Supper at Bethany (forced on us as a direct result of Jerusalem being sealed against all ingress and regress from sunset to the following sunrise (like all walled settlements), Jesus addressed a certain Simon, Simon in Luke 22.31. The person addressed was not Peter who 10-15 minutes later denied Jesus three times. With Peter eliminated as a candidate, (I have nine other objections to his candidature on my Web-page on my Homepage) we then scout through the NT for the name Simon as suitable candidates as a close disciple of Jesus. All but the Simon of Mark 6.3 and Simon the Leper (the same person) do not suit. The person addressed was Simon the Leper whose father was Clopas! Simon was the host-owner of the Bethany dining room who accompanied Jesus from it to Gethsemani. (It is curious to note this phenomenon: If one omits the vowels from "semani" we have the consonants SMN). Could it be that it is to be identified as "Simon's Press?! Simon was told by Jesus to return to Bethany and convert Simon's ("your brethren"). Those "brethren" were not the Apostles as ecclesially thought but Jude/Thomas, James and Joses. Mary of Clopas' connection with Bethany is remote because she had nothing to do in bringing Symeon into the world (see my Modification of the Hieronymian Hypothesis above). No doubt accompanied by his second wife Mary, Clopas visited the Judaean Bethany often, knowing it like the back of his hand, so to speak, having once owned it himself.

      Best regards,

      Kevin O'Brien


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