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EARLY CHURCH

Ambrose
Ambrose, Pseudo
Andreas
Arethas
Aphrahat
Athanasius
Augustine
Barnabus
BarSerapion
Baruch, Pseudo
Bede
Chrysostom
Chrysostom, Pseudo
Clement, Alexandria
Clement, Rome
Clement, Pseudo
Cyprian
Ephraem
Epiphanes
Eusebius
Gregory
Hegesippus
Hippolytus
Ignatius
Irenaeus
Isidore
James
Jerome
King Jesus
Apostle John
Lactantius
Luke
Mark
Justin Martyr
Mathetes
Matthew
Melito
Oecumenius
Origen
Apostle Paul
Apostle Peter
Maurus Rabanus
Remigius
"Solomon"
Severus
St. Symeon
Tertullian
Theophylact
Victorinus

HISTORICAL PRETERISM
(Minor Fulfillment of Matt. 24/25 or Revelation in Past)

Joseph Addison
Oswald T. Allis
Thomas Aquinas
Karl Auberlen
Augustine
Albert Barnes
Karl Barth
G.K. Beale
Beasley-Murray
John Bengel
Wilhelm Bousset
John A. Broadus

David Brown
"Haddington Brown"
F.F. Bruce

Augustin Calmut
John Calvin
B.H. Carroll
Johannes Cocceius
Vern Crisler
Thomas Dekker
Wilhelm De Wette
Philip Doddridge
Isaak Dorner
Dutch Annotators
Alfred Edersheim
Jonathan Edwards

E.B. Elliott
Heinrich Ewald
Patrick Fairbairn
Js. Farquharson
A.R. Fausset
Robert Fleming
Hermann Gebhardt
Geneva Bible
Charles Homer Giblin
John Gill
William Gilpin
W.B. Godbey
Ezra Gould
Hank Hanegraaff
Hengstenberg
Matthew Henry
G.A. Henty
George Holford
Johann von Hug
William Hurte
J, F, and Brown
B.W. Johnson
John Jortin
Benjamin Keach
K.F. Keil
Henry Kett
Richard Knatchbull
Johann Lange

Cornelius Lapide
Nathaniel Lardner
Jean Le Clerc
Peter Leithart
Jack P. Lewis
Abiel Livermore
John Locke
Martin Luther

James MacDonald
James MacKnight
Dave MacPherson
Keith Mathison
Philip Mauro
Thomas Manton
Heinrich Meyer
J.D. Michaelis
Johann Neander
Sir Isaac Newton
Thomas Newton
Stafford North
Dr. John Owen
 Blaise Pascal
William W. Patton
Arthur Pink

Thomas Pyle
Maurus Rabanus
St. Remigius

Anne Rice
Kim Riddlebarger
J.C. Robertson
Edward Robinson
Andrew Sandlin
Johann Schabalie
Philip Schaff
Thomas Scott
C.J. Seraiah
Daniel Smith
Dr. John Smith
C.H. Spurgeon

Rudolph E. Stier
A.H. Strong
St. Symeon
Theophylact
Friedrich Tholuck
George Townsend
James Ussher
Wm. Warburton
Benjamin Warfield

Noah Webster
John Wesley
B.F. Westcott
William Whiston
Herman Witsius
N.T. Wright

John Wycliffe
Richard Wynne
C.F.J. Zullig

MODERN PRETERISTS
(Major Fulfillment of Matt. 24/25 or Revelation in Past)

Firmin Abauzit
Jay Adams
Luis Alcazar
Greg Bahnsen
Beausobre, L'Enfant
Jacques Bousset
John L. Bray
David Brewster
Dr. John Brown
Thomas Brown
Newcombe Cappe
David Chilton
Adam Clarke

Henry Cowles
Ephraim Currier
R.W. Dale
Gary DeMar
P.S. Desprez
Johann Eichhorn
Heneage Elsley
F.W. Farrar
Samuel Frost
Kenneth Gentry
Steve Gregg
Hugo Grotius
Francis X. Gumerlock
Henry Hammond
Hampden-Cook
Friedrich Hartwig
Adolph Hausrath
Thomas Hayne
J.G. Herder
Timothy Kenrick
J. Marcellus Kik
Samuel Lee
Peter Leithart
John Lightfoot
Benjamin Marshall
F.D. Maurice
Marion Morris
Ovid Need, Jr
Wm. Newcombe
N.A. Nisbett
Gary North
Randall Otto
Zachary Pearce
Andrew Perriman
Beilby Porteus
Ernst Renan
Gregory Sharpe
Fr. Spadafora
R.C. Sproul
Moses Stuart
Milton S. Terry
Herbert Thorndike
C. Vanderwaal
Foy Wallace
Israel P. Warren
Chas Wellbeloved
J.J. Wetstein
Richard Weymouth
Daniel Whitby
George Wilkins
E.P. Woodward
 

FUTURISTS
(Virtually No Fulfillment of Matt. 24/25 & Revelation in 1st C. - Types Only ; Also Included are "Higher Critics" Not Associated With Any Particular Eschatology)

Henry Alford
G.C. Berkower
Alan Patrick Boyd
John Bradford
Wm. Burkitt
George Caird
Conybeare/ Howson
John Crossan
John N. Darby
C.H. Dodd
E.B. Elliott
G.S. Faber
Jerry Falwell
Charles G. Finney
J.P. Green Sr.
Murray Harris
Thomas Ice

Benjamin Jowett
John N.D. Kelly

Hal Lindsey
John MacArthur
William Miller
Robert Mounce

Eduard Reuss

J.A.T. Robinson
George Rosenmuller
D.S. Russell
George Sandison
C.I. Scofield
Dr. John Smith

Norman Snaith
"Televangelists"
Thomas Torrance
Jack/Rex VanImpe
John Walvoord

Quakers : George Fox | Margaret Fell (Fox) | Isaac Penington


PRETERIST UNIVERSALISM | MODERN PRETERISM | PRETERIST IDEALISM

The Epistle of James
"Defense of the People" - Oblias

James 5:8 | Second Apocalypse (120-180)  | Cave Four scrolls reflect Jamesian Christianity | Is James "the Just" also called "the brother of John"?

"The Restrainer" of II Thess?

"Why do ye ask me concerning Jesus, the Son of Man? He himself sitteth in heaven at the right hand of the great Power, and is about to come upon the clouds of heaven." 

Mark Goodacre: Dating the Crucial Sources in Early Christianity (2008 PDF)

Does James Prove Early Date of Revelation?
ONLY TWO reference to "Crown of Life"

Revelation 2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. James 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. (James Died in A.D.62)
 
 

INTRODUCTION TO THE EPISTLE OF JAMES
From Student's New Testament Handbook By Marvin Richardson Vincent

The critical discussions are involved, and are complicated with different theories of the historical development of primitive Christianity. They include :

  1. The evidence of early tradition to the circulation and reception of the Epistle.

  2. The identity of the author. The meaning of the term "Brethren of the Lord." Whether the writer was an apostle.

  3. The date, which again involves the question : Whether the Epistle indicates the use of the Pauline and other New Testament writings. The stage of church development as indicated by the contents. This embraces : the absence of references to the controversy between Jews and Gentiles ; to the existence of Gentile Christians and the terms of their admission into the church ; to Jewish law and ordinances ; to the relations between Jewish and Pauline Christianity.

  4. Is the tone of the Epistle Judaic ? On these questions turn the decision as to an apostolic or post-apostolic date. Closely related to the last question (3) is that of

  5. The readers. Is the Epistle addressed to Jewish Christians out of Palestine ? Were there mixed churches outside of Palestine? Is it addressed to Jews in general, or to Christians
    in general, or to separate sects of Christians ?

  6. The doctrinal contents. Does the Epistle oppose the doctrine of justification by faith ? The assumed absence of the essential doctrines of Christianity. The teaching as to ritual and orthodox belief.

  7. The relations of the Epistle to other N. T. books and to the Pastor of Hermas.


The apostolic origin of the Epistle was questioned by ERASMUS, and was assailed by LUTHER on the ground that it contradicts Paul and all other Scripture in proclaiming righteousness by works. He assumed that some passages were borrowed from 1st Peter, and that Ch. IV. 5 is from Gal. IV. 17.

The author must have lived long after Peter and Paul.

LUTHER was followed by the Lutheran critics generally and by WETSTEIN. J. E. C. SCHMIDT (1804-5) maintained that the Epistle was a translation of an Aramaic original by a later hand. So L. BERTHOLDT (1812-19). SCHLEIERMACHER pronounced it a fabrication. DE WETTE suspected it on the ground of James's good Greek. BAUR ascribed it to a pseudonymous writer of late date, when Jewish Christianity and Paulinism were approaching reconciliation. Ebionitic in tone; shows an acquaintance with the Pauline Epistles, the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the Gospel according to the Hebrews. It is conciliatory in its discussion of the antagonism between the Gentile Christians, who are represented by " the rich," and the Jewish Christians or " the poor." It approximates to Paulinism in the ideas of "the law of liberty," Christianity a new creation, and faith as an inward and confident apprehension of the doctrine of salvation ; but it opposes the doctrine of justification by works to the Pauline doctrine of justification by faith.

BAUR'S view was developed by SCHWEGLER. RITSCHL refused to admit that the Epistle was post-apostolic, though holding that it represents the Jewish-Christian tendency against Pauline justification. HILGENSTFELD assigned it to the time of Domitian (81-96), and saw in it an attack on Paulinism from an Essenic point of view. REUSS thinks its genuineness not beyond doubt, but opposes the Tubingen conclusions as to its late date and sources.

Modern criticism has very generally recognized its authenticity. So CREDNER, NEANDER, KERN, THIERSCH, SCHAFF, W. BRUCKNER, WlESINGER, HUTHER, BLEEK, ALFORD, SALMON, WEISS, BEYSCHLAG, MAYOR.

Those who agree that the writer is the person known in the Acts simply as " James," differ as to whether this James is identical with James the Apostle or distinct from him.

Identical : EICHHORN, WIESELER, SCHNECKENBURGER, THEILE, GUERICKE, LANGE. 

Distinct: CREDNER, KERN, NEANDER, THIERSCH, SCHAFF, W. BRUCKNER, WIESINGER, BLEEK, ALFORD, HUTHER, BUNSEN, MANGOLD, WEISS, RITSCHL, BEYSCHLAG, LECHLER, SALMON, MAYOR.

On the question of the meaning of "Brethren of the Lord" see LIGHTFOOT'S Essay, in Commentary on Galatians, and MAYOR, in Commentary on James.

On the question whether the brethren of the Lord were apostles, see LIGHTFOOT'S Essay, MAYOR'S Commentary on James (p. x., sqq.), and WEISS, Introduction to the N. T. Readers,

(a) Jews in heathen lands: NEANDER, LECHLER, REUSS, HUTHER, BEYSCHLAG, BLEEK, MANGOLD, WIESINGER, SCHMIEDEL, DAVIDSON, SALMON, GLOAG, ALFORD.

(b) Jews, but not necessarily Jewish Christians: CREDNER, HUG, GUERICKE, LANGE, WEISS.

(c) Immature Christians, Jews and proselytes, without any organized Christian teaching : MAYOR.

(d) All Jewish Christians, including those in Palestine : J. C. K. VON HOFMANN, THIERSCH.

(e) Christians at large, figuratively styled Diaspora, after the analogy of the Old Testament people of God dispersed among the heathen : SCHWEGLER, DE WETTE, LUCKE, HlLGENFELD, SCHENKEL, KLOPPER, HOLTZMANN, VON SODEN.

Separate conventicles of Essenically disposed Christians : W. BRUCKNER.

Date.

(a) Earliest of the New Testament books, about A.D. 50 : SCHNECKENBURGER, NEANDER, J. C. K. VON HOFMANN, HUTHER, BEYSCHLAG, ALFORD, PLUMPTRE, RITSCHL, WEISS, P. EWALD, SLEEK-MANGOLD, LECHLER, MAYOR.

(b) A.D. 60 : DE WETTE, CREDNER, GUERICKE, G. H. A. EWALD, SIEFFERT, SCHULZE.

(c) Toward the close of James's life (acc. to Josephus, about 62 A.D.): WlESINGER, WoLDEMAR SCHMIDT, B. BRUCKNER, WORDSWORTH, FARRAR (Early Days of Christianity).

(d) Shortly before the fall of Jerusalem : DAVIDSON.

(e) During the reign of Domitian, A.D. 81-96: HOLTZMANN, VON SODEN.

(f) In the second century: W. BRUCKNER, A.D. 150; PFLEIDERER, possibly a little later.

Doctrinal Contents.

The opinion which assigns the Epistle to a later date rests partly on the assumption of the author's acquaintance with the Pauline writings and his antagonism to the Pauline doctrine of justification by faith. This latter point was made by LUTHER, and developed by BAUR, SCHWEGLER, and RITSCHL, though
RITSCHL refused to give up the authenticity of the Epistle.

HOLTZMANN says that the Epistle exhibits a faith devoid of moral impulse, and befitting the lassitude and somnolence of contemporary Christianity ; and KLOPPER declares that it " covers the utter absence of Christian sentiment with the withered fig-leaf of an inane, intellectual faith."

Relation to other Writings.

The assumed acquaintance of the writer with the Pauline Epistles and the Epistle to the Hebrews, as well as the unquestionable resemblances in the Epistle to 1st Peter, are used to push forward the date. The passages are drawn out in detail by HOLTZMANN (Einleitung, pp. 335, 336). Resemblance and dependence are also asserted with reference to the Clementine Homilies and the Pastor of Hermas. PFLEIDERER claims that the author was a contemporary of Hermas, and both he and SCHWEGLER assert that the Epistle is merely the Pastor stripped of its apocalyptical imagery. W. BRUCKNER claims that the Epistle is copied from ist Peter, and gives parallels from Romans, Corinthians, Hebrews, the Apocalypse, and the Gospel of Matthew, to show that it was written after these.

On the other hand, it is held that Paul, Peter, and Hermas drew upon the Epistle of James. See especially MAYOR, The Epistle of James, who gives very full lists of passages. On the Epistle, the author, and critical questions generally, see : SCHWEGLER : Nachapostolische Zeitalter. RITSCHL : Entstehung der altkatholischen Kirche. KERN : Kommentar. WEISS : Introduction to the N. T. HOLTZMANN : Einleitung.
HUTHER : Introduction to Ep. of James, in MEYER'S Commentary, and BEYSCHLAG'S Edn., 1888. SIEFFERT : Art. Jacobus, in HERZOG'S Real-Encyk. REUSS : History of the New Testament, Vol. I., p. 142, with literature. J. B. MAYOR : The Epistle of St. James, 1892. The latest and best handbook on the Epistle. GLOAG : Introduction to the Catholic Epistles, 1887. W. BRUCKNER : Die chronologische Reihenfolge in welche die Briefe des N. T. verfasst sind, 1890.  LECHLER : Apostolische und nachapostolische Zeitalter. Eng. Transl., 1886. ZAHN : Geschichte des neutestamentlichen Kanons. STANLEY : Sermons and Essays on the Apostolical Age, 3d Edn., 1874. SALMON: Introduction to the N. T., Ch. XXIII. A very good bibliography is given by MAYOR, p. ccxiv. , sqq.


Imminence in the Book of James

James 5:7 "Be patient, therefore, brethren unto the coming of the Lord."

James 5:8 "Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh."

James 5:9 "Behold, the judge standeth before the door."

(On "Coming of the Son of Man")
"Why do ye ask me concerning Jesus, the Son of Man ? He himself sitteth in heaven at the right hand of the great Power, and is about to come upon the clouds of heaven." (Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History - Chapter XXIII)

"Why do ye ask me respecting Jesus the Son of Man? He is now sitting in the heavens, on the right hand of the great Power, and is about to come on the clouds of heaven." (Translated by Philip Schaff)


  • J.B. Cartwright - The Church of St. James - The Primitive Hebrew Christian Church in Palestine (1842 PDF) "In this interval, so remarkably ordered by Divine Providence, Josephus states that many of the most distinguished of the inhabitants forsook the city, and though he does not mention the Christians, they were undoubtedly of the number. It is related by Christian writers that they retired to a city called Pella, on the eastern side of the Jordan. Eusebius states that the whole congregation of the Church in Jerusalem, according to a Divine warning given to certain eminent persons before the war, were commanded to depart out of the city, and inhabit Pella, beyond Jordan. And Epiphanius, in allusion to this event, says in one place that they were warned by an angel, f but in another that they were forewarned by Christ. It was clearly the opinion of the ancient Church that the Church of Jerusalem was under the special care of Providence, and that its members were directed to avail themselves of the favourable opportunity which occurred of saving themselves from the overthrow of the city, in conformity with the words of our Saviour, " Let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains."

WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID

Baigent and Leigh
"The entire 'siege of Jerusalem', he [Eusebius] says, meaning presumably the whole of the revolt in Judaea [66 C.E.], was a direct consequence of James's death - 'for no other reason than the wicked crime of which had been the victim'."  ( The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception)

Eusebius
"Immediately after this [James' Execution] Vespasian began to besiege them." - (The History of the Church 2,23)

"These things happened to the Jews in requital for James the Righteous, who was a brother of Jesus known as Christ, for though he was the most righteous of men, the Jews put him to death."   - Eusebius, The History of the Church 2, 23 quoting Josephus (in a passage no longer extant)

(On the date of James' martyrdom)
The date of the martyrdom of James, given here by Josephus, is 61 or 62 a.d. (at the time of the Passover, according to Hegesippus, §10, above). There is no reason for doubting this date which is given with such exactness by Josephus, and it is further confirmed by Eusebius in his Chron., who puts James's martyrdom in the seventh year of Nero, i.e. 61 a.d., while Jerome puts it in the eighth year of Nero. The Clementines and the Chronicon Paschale, which state that James survived Peter, and are therefore cited in support of a later date, are too late to be of any weight over against such an exact statement as that of Josephus, especially since Peter and James died at such a distance from one another. Hegesippus has been cited over and over again by historians as assigning the date of the martyrdom to 69 a.d., and as thus being in direct conflict with Josephus; as a consequence some follow his supposed date, others that of Josephus. But I can find no reason for asserting that Hegesippus assigns the martyrdom to 69. Certainly his words in this chapter, which are referred to, by no means necessitate such an assumption. He concludes his account with the words kai euquj Ouespasianoj poliorkei autouj. The poliorkei autouj is certainly to be referred to the commencement of the war (not to the siege of the city of Jerusalem, which was undertaken by Titus, not by Vespasian), i.e. to the year 67 a.d., and in such an account as this, in which the overthrow of the Jews is designedly presented in connection with the death of James, it is hyper-criticism to insist that the word euquj must indicate a space of time of only a few months' duration. It is a very indefinite word, and the most we can draw from Hegesippus' account is that not long before Vespasian's invasion of Judea, James was slain. The same may be said in regard to Eusebius' report in Bk. III. chap. 11, §1, which certainly is not definite enough to be cited as a contradiction of his express statement in his Chronicle. But however it may be with this report and that of Hegesippus, the date given by Josephus is undoubtedly to be accepted as correct. (Eusebius Footnote, #291)

 James MacDonald
"The wave of ruin which swept over Jerusalem, and wafted them up to heaven, erased or prevented every human memento of their work of faith, their patience of hope, and labour of love. The prophecy that foretold them is their only history, or the only history of the part they were to take in the closing scenes of Jerusalem. We conclude, then, that these witnesses were two of those apostles who seem to be so strangely lost to history, or of whom no authentic traces can be discovered subsequent to the destruction of Jerusalem. May not James the Less, or the second James (in distinction from the brother of John), commonly styled the Bishop of Jerusalem, have been one of them? Why should he not remain faithful at his post to the last? According to Hegesippus, a Jewish Christian historian, who wrote about the middle of the second century, his monument was still pointed out near the ruins of the temple. Hegesippus says that he was killed in the year 69, and represents the apostle as bearing powerful testimony to the Messiahship of Jesus, and pointing to His second coming in the clouds of heaven, up to the very moment of his death. There seems to be a peculiar fitness in these witnesses for Christ, men endowed with the highest supernatural gifts, standing to the last in the forsaken city, prophesying its doom, and lamenting over what was once so dear to God.’(ibid., 161, 162.)


 Book II,  Chapter 23: The Martyrdom of James,
 who was called the Brother of the Lord

"But after Paul, in consequence of his appeal to C'sar, had been sent to Rome by Festus, the Jews, being frustrated in their hope of entrapping him by the snares which they had laid for him, turned against James, the brother of the Lord, to whom the episcopal seat at Jerusalem had been entrusted by the apostles. The following daring measures were undertaken by them against him. Leading him into their midst they demanded of him that he should renounce faith in Christ in the presence of all the people. But, contrary to the opinion of all, with a clear voice, and with greater boldness than they had anticipated, he spoke out before the whole multitude and confessed that our Saviour and Lord Jesus is the Son of God. But they were unable to bear longer the testimony of the man who, on account of the excellence of ascetic virtue and of piety which he exhibited in his life, was esteemed by all as the most just of men, and consequently they slew him. Opportunity for this deed of violence was furnished by the prevailing anarchy, which was caused by the fact that Festus had died just at this time in Judea, and that the province was thus without a governor and head. The manner of James' death has been already indicated by the above-quoted words of Clement, who records that he was thrown from the pinnacle of the temple, and was beaten to death with a club. But Hegesippus, who lived immediately after the apostles, gives the most accurate account in the fifth book of his Memoirs.

He writes as follows: “James, the brother of the Lord, succeeded to the government of the Church in conjunction with the apostles. He has been called the Just by all from the time of our Saviour to the present day; for there were many that bore the name of James. He was holy from his mother's womb; and he drank no wine nor strong drink, nor did he eat flesh. No razor came upon his head; he did not anoint himself with oil, and he did not use the bath. He alone was permitted to enter into the holy place; for he wore not woolen but linen garments. And he was in the habit of entering alone into the temple, and was frequently found upon his knees begging forgiveness for the people, so that his knees became hard like those of a camel, in consequence of his constantly bending them in his worship of God, and asking forgiveness for the people. Because of his exceeding great justice he was called the Just, and Oblias, which signifies in Greek, 'Bulwark of the people' and 'Justice,' in accordance with what the prophets declare concerning him. Now some of the seven sects, which existed among the people and which have been mentioned by me in the Memoirs, asked him, 'What is the gate of Jesus? and he replied that he was the Saviour. On account of these words some believed that Jesus is the Christ. But the sects mentioned above did not believe either in a resurrection or in one's coming to give to every man according to his works. But as many as believed did so on account of James. Therefore when many even of the rulers believed, there was a commotion among the Jews and Scribes and Pharisees, who said that there was danger that the whole people would be looking for Jesus as the Christ. Coming therefore in a body to James they said, 'We entreat thee, restrain the people; for they are gone astray in regard to Jesus, as if he were the Christ. We entreat thee to persuade all that have come to the feast of the Passover concerning Jesus; for we all have confidence in thee. For we bear thee witness, as do all the people, that thou art just, and dost not respect persons. Do thou therefore persuade the multitude not to be led astray concerning Jesus. For the whole people, and all of us also, have confidence in thee. Stand therefore upon the pinnacle of the temple, that from that high position thou mayest be clearly seen, and that thy words may be readily heard by all the people. For all the tribes, with the Gentiles also, are come together on account of the Passover.'

The aforesaid Scribes and Pharisees therefore placed James upon the pinnacle of the temple, and cried out to him and said: 'Thou just one, in whom we ought all to have confidence, forasmuch as the people are led, astray after Jesus, the crucified one, declare to us, what is the gate of Jesus.' And he answered with a loud voice, 'Why do ye ask me concerning Jesus, the Son of Man? He himself sitteth in heaven at the right hand of the great Power, and is about to come upon the clouds of heaven.' And when many were fully convinced and gloried in the testimony of James, and said, 'Hosanna to the Son of David,' these same Scribes and Pharisees said again to one another, 'We have done badly in supplying such testimony to Jesus. But let us go up and throw him down, in order that they may be afraid to believe him.' And they cried out, saying, 'Oh! oh! the just man is also in error.' And they fulfilled the Scripture written in Isaiah, 'Let us take away the just man, because he is troublesome to us: therefore they shall eat the fruit of their doings.' So they went up and threw down the just man, and said to each other, 'Let us stone James the Just.' And they began to stone him, for he was not killed by the fall; but he turned and knelt down and said, 'I entreat thee, Lord God our Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.' And while they were thus stoning him one of the priests of the sons of Rechab, the son of the Rechabites, who are mentioned by Jeremiah the prophet, cried out, saying, 'Cease, what do ye? The just one prayeth for you.'

And one of them, who was a fuller, took the club with which he beat out clothes and struck the just man on the head. And thus he suffered martyrdom. And they buried him on the spot, by the temple, and his monument still remains by the temple. He became a true witness, both to Jews and Greeks, that Jesus is the Christ.” (Church History (AD 325)

Wolf-Peter Funk
Original language, date and place of origin: although there is no firm evidence for it, it is generally assumed that the extant Coptic copy of 2 Apoc. Jas. goes back to a translation from the Greek. The occasional appearance of a name or a loan-word in a Greek inflected form can be interpreted as an indication of the Coptic translator's lack of attentiveness; here and there the idea of a translation from the Greek is also helpful for our understanding of the Coptic text. The translation into Coptic will have taken place at the latest shortly before the making of the codex (middle of 4th cent.), hence in the first half of the 4th century, but at the earliest in the second half of the 3rd century. We know nothing of the original place and date of origin of the document; for lack of direct connections with literature which can be historically located, no firm indications can be gained from the content itself. We may however raise the question in what period and region the document would best fit according to our conception of it. Along these lines conjectures have been advanced which tend towards the 2nd century (middle, or even first half). In many respects the text stands close to the Fourth Gospel, as well as to the Antitheses of Marcion, although it cannot be recognized to be dependent on either of the two. The prominent role of James the Lord's brother appears to speak for the geographical area of Syria and Palestine rather than for any other." (New Testament Apocrypha, vol. 1, p. 328)

"On the question of relationships we are faced by one (or several) of the major riddles of this document, which is further aggravated by the destruction of some passages but would probably remain even if the text had been handed down complete. The name of James' father and Mary's husband is given not as Joseph but as Theudas (p. 44.18), and the special relationship of Jesus with James consists to all appearances not in the usual (half-)brotherly relationship, but on the one hand in a 'foster-brother' relationship through James' mother and on the other in some kind of blood relation through James' father (p. 50). There has been much speculation about the last statement; we probably have to read (despite a small lacuna) with a high degree of certainty 'he (Jesus) is a brother of your (James') father' - whatever is to be understood by 'brother' here. It is, however, to be noted that 2 Apoc. Jas. (in contrast to 1 Apoc. Jas.) contains no express rejection of a bodily brotherhood relationship between Jesus and James, and that here (even more clearly than in 1 Apoc. Jas.) the author works with the latent consciousness of this brotherly relationship (cf. the course of the conversation at p. 50). A certain natural relationship between Jesus and James is in any case of fundamental importance for the development of the main ideas fo the document. In addition the family, as already mentioned, is placed in a relation to a Jerusalem Temple priest (pp. 44 and 61; cf. the priest from the Rechabites in Hegesippus, Euseb. H.E. II 23.17). " (op. cit., p. 330)

Charles W. Hedrick
"The tractate as a whole is clearly gnostic in character, yet it shows remarkable restraint in treating usual gnostic themes. Nor can it be identified with any of the known gnostic systems of the second century. On the other hand, the author has made extensive use of Jewish-Christian traditions. James, who held a position of special prominence in Jewish-Christian circles, is regarded as the possessor of a special revelation form Jesus and is assigned a role in the gnostic tradition that rivals, and perhaps exceeds, that of Peter in the canonical tradition. For example, James is the "escort" who guides the Gnostic through the door of the heavenly kingdom and even rewards him (55,6-14; cf. 55,15-56,13). The description is similar to Peter's charge as the keeper of the keys of heaven (Mt 16:19).

As to the date and place of composition, little can be said with certainty. Because of the basic Jewish-Christian traditions out of which the tractate is composed, it is probable that its origin is to be associated with Jewish-Christian circles. The absence of allusions to the later developed gnostic systems, and the almost total absence of allusions to the New Testament tradition suggest an early date for the origin of the tractate.

The tractate contains at least four sections artistically arranged. Because of their balance and stylized form they have been described as "harmonic prose" possessing a "hymnic" quality. Three of these units are aretalogies. One (49,5-15) is a series of self-assertions by the resurrected Jesus in the "I am" style. Another (58,2-20) is a series of predications about the resurrected Jesus made by James in the third person (i.e., "he is"). In a further aretalogy (55,15-56,13) the resurrected Jesus describes James' special role in the second person (i.e., "you are"). The entire description in the third aretalogy suggests that James is intended to perform the function of gnostic redeemer." (The Nag Hammadi Library in English, pp. 269-270)

Hegesippus
"James, the Lord's brother, succeeds to the government of the Church, in conjunction with the apostles. He has been universally called the Just, from the days of the Lord down to the present time. For many bore the name of James; but this one was holy from his mother's womb. He drank no wine or other intoxicating liquor,2 nor did he eat flesh; no razor came upon his head; he did not anoint himself with oil, nor make use of the bath. He alone was permitted to enter the holy place:3 for he did not wear any woollen garment, but fine linen only. He alone, I say, was wont to go into the temple: and he used to be found kneeling on his knees, begging forgiveness for the people-so that the skin of his knees became horny like that of a camel's, by reason of his constantly bending the knee in adoration to God, and begging forgiveness for the people. Therefore, in consequence of his pre-eminent justice, he was called the Just, and Oblias,4 which signifies in Greek Defence of the People, and Justice, in accordance with what the prophets declare concerning him.

Now some persons belonging to the seven sects existing among the people, which have been before described by me in the Notes, asked him: "What is the door of Jesus? " And he replied that He was the Saviour. In Consequence of this answer, some believed that Jesus is the Christ. But the sects before mentioned did not believe, either in a resurrection or in the coming of One to requite every man according to his works; but those who did believe, believed because of James. So, when many even of the ruling class believed, there was a commotion among the Jews, and scribes, and Pharisees, who said: "A little more, and we shall have all the people looking for Jesus as the Christ.

They came, therefore, in a body to James, and said: "We entreat thee, restrain the people: for they are gone astray in their opinions about Jesus, as if he were the Christ. We entreat thee to persuade all who have come hither for the day of the passover, concerning Jesus. For we all listen to thy persuasion; since we, as well as all the people, bear thee testimony that thou art just, and showest partiality to none. Do thou, therefore, persuade the people not to entertain erroneous opinions concerning Jesus: for all the people, and we also, listen to thy persuasion. Take thy stand, then, upon the summit5 of the temple, that from that elevated spot thou mayest be clearly seen, and thy words may be plainly audible to all the people. For, in order to attend the passover, all the tribes have congregated hither, and some of the Gentiles also."

The aforesaid scribes and Pharisees accordingly set James on the summit of the temple, and cried aloud to him, and said: "O just one, whom we are all bound to obey, forasmuch as the people is in error, and follows Jesus the crucified, do thou tell us what is the door of Jesus, the crucified." And he answered with a loud voice: "Why ask ye me concerning Jesus the Son of man? He Himself sitteth in heaven, at the right hand of the Great Power, and shall come on the clouds of heaven."

And, when many were fully convinced by these words, and offered praise for the testimony of James, and said, "Hosanna to the son of David," then again the said Pharisees and scribes said to one another, "We have not done well in procuring this testimony to Jesus. But let us go up and throw him down, that they may be afraid, and not believe him." And they cried aloud, and said: "Oh! oh! the just man himself is in error." Thus they fulfilled the Scripture written in Isaiah: "Let us away with the just man, because he is troublesome to us: therefore shall they eat the fruit of their doings." So they went up and threw down the just man, and said to one another: "Let us stone James the Just." And they began to stone him: for he was not killed by the fall; but he turned, and kneeled down, and said: "I beseech Thee, Lord God our Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."

And, while they were thus stoning him to death, one of the priests, the sons of Rechab, the son of Rechabim, to whom testimony is borne by Jeremiah the prophet, began to cry aloud, saying: "Cease, what do ye? The just man is praying for us." But one among them, one of the fullers, took the staff with which he was accustomed to wring out the garments he dyed, and hurled it at the head of the just man.

And so he suffered martyrdom; and they buried him on the spot, and the pillar erected to his memory still remains, close by the temple. This man was a true witness to both Jews and Greeks that Jesus is the Christ.

And shortly after Vespasian besieged Judaea, taking them captive.

Concerning the relatives of our saviour.6

There still survived of the kindred of the Lord the grandsons of Judas, who according to the flesh was called his brother. These were informed against, as belonging to the family of David, and Evocatus brought them before Domitian Caesar: for that emperor dreaded the advent of Christ, as Herod had done.

So he asked them whether they were of the family of David; and they confessed they were. Next he asked them what property they had, or how much money they possessed. They both replied that they had only 9000 denaria between them, each of them owning half that sum; but even this they said they did not possess in cash, but as the estimated value of some land, consisting of thirty-nine plethra only, out of which they had to pay the dues, and that they supported themselves by their own labour. And then they began to hold out their hands, exhibiting, as proof of their manual labour, the roughness of their skin, and the corns raised on their hands by constant work.

Being then asked concerning Christ and His kingdom, what was its nature, and when and where it was to appear, they returned answer that it was not of this world, nor of the earth, but belonging to the sphere of heaven and angels, and would make its appearance at the end of time, when He shall come in glory, and judge living and dead, and render to every one according to the course of his life.7

Thereupon Domitian passed no condemnation upon them, but treated them with contempt, as too mean for notice, and let them go free. At the same time he issued a command, and put a stop to the persecution against the Church.

When they were released they became leaders8 of the churches, as was natural in the case of those who were at once martyrs and of the kindred of the Lord. And, after the establishment of peace to the Church, their lives were prolonged to the reign of Trojan.

Concerning the martyrdom of Symeon the son of Clopas, bishop of Jerusalem.9

Some of these heretics, forsooth, laid an information against Symeon the son of Clopas, as being of the family of David, and a Christian. And on these charges he suffered martyrdom when he was 120 years old, in the reign of Trajan Caesar, when Atticus was consular legate10 in Syria. And it so happened, says the same writer, that, while inquiry was then being made for those belonging to the royal tribe of the Jews, the accusers themselves were convicted of belonging to it. With show of reason could it be said that Symeon was one of those who actually saw and heard the Lord, on the ground of his great age, and also because the Scripture of the Gospels makes mention of Mary the daughter of Clopas, who, as our narrative has shown already, was his father.

The same historian mentions others also, of the family of one of the reputed brothers of the Saviour, named Judas, as having survived until this same reign, after the testimony they bore for the faith of Christ in the time of Domitian, as already recorded.

He writes as follows: They came, then, and took the presidency of every church, as witnesses for Christ, and as being of the kindred of the Lord. And, after profound peace had been established in every church, they remained down to the reign of Trojan Caesar: that is, until the time when he who was sprung from an uncle of the Lord, the aforementioned Symeon son of Clopas, was informed against by the various heresies, and subjected to an accusation like the rest, and for the same cause, before the legate Atticus; and, while suffering outrage during many days, he bore testimony for Christ: so that all, including the legate himself, were astonished above measure that a man 120 years old should have been able to endure such torments. He was finally condemned to be crucified.

... Up to that period the Church had remained like a virgin pure and uncorrupted: for, if there were any persons who were disposed to tamper with the wholesome rule of the preaching of salvation,11 they still lurked in some dark place of concealment or other. But, when the sacred band of apostles had in various ways closed their lives, and that generation of men to whom it had been vouchsafed to listen to the Godlike Wisdom with their own ears had passed away, then did the confederacy of godless error take its rise through the treachery of false teachers, who, seeing that none of the apostles any longer survived, at length attempted with bare and uplifted head to oppose the preaching of the truth by preaching "knowledge falsely so called."

Concerning his journey to Rome, and the Jewish sects.12

And the church of the Corinthians continued in the orthodox faith13 up to the time when Primus was bishop in Corinth. I had some intercourse with these brethren on my voyage to Rome, when I spent several days with the Corinthians, during which we were mutually refreshed by the orthodox faith.

On my arrival at Rome, I drew up a list of the succession of bishops down to Anicetus, whose deacon was Eleutherus. To Anicetus succeeded Soter, and after him came Eleutherus. But in the case of every succession,14 and in every city, the state of affairs is in accordance with the teaching of the Law and of the Prophets and of the Lord....

And after James the Just had suffered martyrdom, as had the Lord also and on the same account, again Symeon the son of Clopas, descended from the Lord's uncle, is made bishop, his election being promoted by all as being a kinsman of the Lord.

Therefore was the Church called a virgin, for she was not as yet corrupted by worthless teaching.15 Thebulis it was who, displeased because he was not made bishop, first began to corrupt her by stealth. He too was connected with the seven sects which existed among the people, like Simon, from whom come the Simoniani; and Cleobius, from whom come the Cleobiani; and Doritheus, from whom come the Dorithiani; and Gorthaeus, from whom come the Gortheani; Masbothaeus, from whom come the Masbothaei. From these men also come the Menandrianists, and the Marcionists, and the Carpocratians, and the Valentinians, and the Basilidians, and the Saturnilians. Each of these leaders in his own private and distinct capacity brought in his own private opinion. From these have come false Christs, false prophets, false apostles-men who have split up the one Church into parts16 through their corrupting doctrines, uttered in disparagement of God and of His Christ....

There were, moreover, various opinions in the matter of circumcision among the children of Israel, held by those who were opposed to the tribe of Judah and to Christ: such as the Essenes, the Galileans, the Hemerobaptists, the Masbothaei, the Samaritans, the Sadducees, the Pharisees."

John P. Meier
"James' martyrdom, says Hegesippus, was followed immediately by Vespasian's siege of Jerusalem (A.D. 70). Eusebius stresses that Hegesippus' account agrees basically with that of the Church Father Clement of Alexandria (2.23.3,19); hence it was apparently the standard Christian story."  ( A Marginal Jew - Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Vol. 1.)

Philip Schaff
"I. James and the Brothers of the Lord. – There are three, perhaps four, eminent persons in the New Testament bearing the name of James (abridged from Jacob, which from patriarchal memories was a more common name among the Jews than any other except Symeon or Simon, and Joseph or Joses):

1. James (the son) of Zebedee, the brother of John and one of the three favorite apostles, the proto-martyr among the Twelve (beheaded a.d. 44, see Acts 12:2), as his brother John was the survivor of all the apostles. They were called the "sons of thunder."

2. James (the son) of Alphaeus, who was likewise one of the Twelve, and is mentioned in the four apostle-catalogues, Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:10; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13.

3. James the Little, Mark 15:40 (ὁ μικρός, not, "the Less," as in the E. V.), probably so called from his small stature (as Zacchaeus, Luke 19:3), the son of a certain Mary and brother of Joseph, Matt. 27:56 (Μαρια ἡ του̑ ̓Ιακώβου καὶ ̓Ιωσὴφ μήτηρ ); Mark 15:40, 47; 16:1; Luke 24:10. He is usually identified with James the son of Alphaeus, on the assumption that his mother Mary was the wife of Clopas, mentioned John 19:25, and that Clopas was the same person as Alphaeus. But this identification is at least very problematical.

4. James, simply so called, as the most distinguished after the early death of James the Elder, or with the honorable epithet Brother of the Lord (ὁ ἀδελφὸς του̑ Κυρίου), and among post-apostolic writers, the Just, also Bishop of Jerusalem. The title connects him at once with the four brothers and the unnamed sisters of our Lord, who are repeatedly mentioned in the Gospels, and he as the first among them. Hence the complicated question of the nature of this relationship. Although I have fully discussed this intricate subject nearly forty years ago (1842) in the German essay above mentioned, and then again in my annotations to Lange on Matthew (Am. ed. 1864, pp. 256–260), I will briefly sum up once more the chief points with reference to the most recent discussions (of Lightfoot and Renan).

There are three theories on James and the brothers of Jesus. I would call them the brother-theory, the half-brother-theory, and the cousin-theory. Bishop Lightfoot (and Canon Farrar) calls them after their chief advocates, the Helvidian (an invidious designation), the Epiphanian, and the Hieronymian theories. The first is now confined to Protestants, the second is the Greek, the third the Roman view.

(1) The brother-theory takes the term ἀδελφοίthe usual sense, and regards the brothers as younger children of Joseph and Mary, consequently as full brothers of Jesus in the eyes of the law and the opinion of the people, though really only half-brothers, in view of his supernatural conception. This is exegetically the most natural view and favored by the meaning of ἀδελφός(especially when used as a standing designation), the constant companionship of these brethren with Mary (John 2:12; Matt. 12:46; 13:55), and by the obvious meaning of Matt. 1:25 (οὐκ ἐγίνωσκεν αὐτὴν ἑως οὓ,comp. 1:18 πρίν ἢ συνελθει̑ν αὐτούς) and Luke 2:7 (πρωτότοκος), as explained from the standpoint of the evangelists, who used these terms in full view of the subsequent history of Mary and Jesus. The only serious objection to it is of a doctrinal and ethical nature, viz., the assumed perpetual virginity of the mother of our Lord and Saviour, and the committal of her at the cross to John rather than her own sons and daughters (John 19:25). If it were not for these two obstacles the brother-theory would probably be adopted by every fair and honest exegete. The first of these objections dates from the post-apostolic ascetic overestimate of virginity, and cannot have been felt by Matthew and Luke, else they would have avoided those ambiguous terms just noticed. The second difficulty presses also on the other two theories, only in a less degree. It must therefore be solved on other grounds, namely, the profound spiritual sympathy and congeniality of John with Jesus and Mary, which rose above carnal relationships, the probable cousinship of John (based upon the proper interpretation of the same passage, John 19:25), and the unbelief of the real brethren at the time of the committal.

This theory was held by Tertullian (whom Jerome summarily disposes of as not being a, "homo ecclesiae," i.e. a schismatic), defended by Helvidius at Rome about 380 (violently attacked as a heretic by Jerome), and by several individuals and sects opposed to the incipient worship of the Virgin Mary; and recently by the majority of German Protestant exegetes since Herder, such as Stier, De Wette, Meyer, Weiss, Ewald, Wieseler, Keim, also by Dean Alford, and Canon Farrar (Life of Christ, I. 97 sq.). I advocated the same theory in my German tract, but admitted afterwards in my Hist. of Ap. Ch., p. 378, that I did not give sufficient weight to the second theory.

(2) The half-brother-theory regards the brethren and sisters of Jesus as children of Joseph by a former wife, consequently as no blood-relations at all, but so designated simply as Joseph was called the father of Jesus, by an exceptional use of the term adapted to the exceptional fact of the miraculous incarnation. This has the dogmatic advantage of saving the perpetual virginity of the mother of our Lord and Saviour; it lessens the moral difficulty implied in John 19:25; and it has a strong traditional support in the apocryphal Gospels and in the Eastern church. It also would seem to explain more easily the patronizing tone in which the brethren speak to our Lord in John 7:3, 4. But it does not so naturally account for the constant companionship of these brethren with Mary; it assumes a former marriage of Joseph nowhere alluded to in the Gospels, and makes Joseph an old man and protector rather than husband of Mary; and finally it is not free from suspicion of an ascetic bias, as being the first step towards the dogma of the perpetual virginity. To these objections may be added, with Farrar, that if the brethren had been elder sons of Joseph, Jesus would not have been regarded as legal heir of the throne of David (Matt. 1:16; Luke 1:27; Rom. 1:3; 2 Tim. 2:8; Rev. 22:16).

This theory is found first in the apocryphal writings of James (the Protevangelium Jacobi, the Ascents of James, etc.), and then among the leading Greek fathers (Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Eusebius, Gregory of Nyssa, Epiphanius, Cyril of Alexandria); it is embodied in the Greek, Syrian, and Coptic services, which assign different dates to the commemoration of James the son of Alphaeus (Oct. 9), and of James the Lord’s brother (Oct. 23). It may therefore be called the theory of the Eastern church. It was also held by some Latin fathers before Jerome (Hilary of Poitiers and Ambrose), and has recently been ably advocated by Bishop Lightfoot (l.c.), followed by Dr. Plumptre (in the introduction to his Com. on the Ep. of James).

(3) The cousin-theory regards the brethren as more distant relatives, namely, as children of Mary, the wife of Alphaeus and sister of the Virgin Mary, and identifies James, the brother of the Lord, with James the son of Alphaeus and James the Little, thus making him (as well as also Simon and Jude) an apostle. The exceptive εἰ μή, Gal. 1:19 (but I saw only James), does not prove this, but rather excludes James from the apostles proper (comp. εἰ μήin Gal. 2:16; Luke 4:26, 27).

This theory was first advanced by Jerome in 383, in a youthful polemic tract against Helvidius, without any traditional support,22 but with the professed dogmatic and ascetic aim to save the virginity of both Mary and Joseph, and to reduce their marriage relation to a merely nominal and barren connection. In his later writings, however, after his residence in Palestine, he treats the question with less confidence (see Lightfoot, p. 253). By his authority and the still greater weight of St. Augustin, who at first (394) wavered between the second and third theories, but afterwards adopted that of Jerome, it became the established theory of the Latin church and was embodied in the Western services, which acknowledge only two saints by the name of James. But it is the least tenable of all and must be abandoned, chiefly for the following reasons:

(a) It contradicts the natural meaning of the word "brother," when the New Testament has the proper term for cousin Col. 4:10, comp. also συγγενήςLuke 2:44; 21:16; Mark 6:4, etc.), and the obvious sense of the passages where the brothers and sisters of Jesus appear as members of the holy family.

(b) It assumes that two sisters had the same name, Mary, which is extremely improbable.

(c) It assumes the identity of Clopas and Alphaeus, which is equally doubtful; for ̓Αλφαι̑οςis a Hebrew name (חלפי), while Κλωπα̑ς, like Κλεόπας, Luke 24:18, is an abbreviation of the Greek Κλεόπατρος, as Antipas is contracted from Antipatros.(d) It is absolutely irreconcilable with the fact that the brethren of Jesus, James among them, were before the resurrection unbelievers, John 7:5, and consequently none of them could have been an apostle, as this theory assumes of two or three.

Renan’s theory.—I notice, in conclusion, an original combination of the second and third theories by Renan, who discusses the question of the brothers and cousins of Jesus in an appendix to his Les évangiles, 537–540. He assumes four Jameses, and distinguishes the son of Alphaeus from the son of Clopas. He holds that Joseph was twice married, and that Jesus had several older brothers and cousins as follows:

1. Children of Joseph from the first marriage, and older brothers of Jesus:

a. James, the brother of the Lord, or Just, or Obliam. his is the one mentioned Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3; Gal. 1:19; 2:9, 12; 1 Cor. 15:7; Acts 12:17, etc.; James 1:1 Jude 1:1, and in Josephus and Hegesippus.

b. Jude, mentioned Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3; Jude 1:1; Hegesippus in Eusebius’ Hist. Eccl. III. 19, 20, 32. From him were descended those two grandsons, bishops of different churches, who were presented to the emperor Domitian as descendants of David and relations of Jesus. Hegesippus in Euseb. III. 19, 20, 32

c. Other sons and daughters unknown. Matt. 13:56; Mark 6:3; 1 Cor. 9:5.

2. Children of Joseph (?) from the marriage with Mary:
Jesus.

3. Children of Clopas, and cousins of Jesus, probably from the father’s side, since Clopas, according to Hegesippus, was a brother of Joseph, and may have married also a woman by the name of Mary (John 19:25).
a. James the Little (ὁ μικρός), so called to distinguish him from his older cousin of that name. Mentioned Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:40; 16:1; Luke 24:10; otherwise unknown.
b. Joses, Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:40, 47, but erroneously (?) numbered among the brothers of Jesus: Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3; otherwise unknown.
c. Symeon, the second bishop of Jerusalem (Hegesippus in Eus. III. 11, 22, 32; IV. 5, 22), also erroneously (?) put among the brothers of Jesus by Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3.
d. Perhaps other sons and daughters unknown.

Commentaries on the Epistle of James by Herder (1775), Storr (1784), Gebser (1828), Schneckenburger (1832), Theile (1833), Kern (1838), De Wette (1849, 3d ed. by Brückner, 1865), Cellerier (1850), Wiesinger (in Olshausen’s Com., 1854), Stier (1845), Huther and Beyschlag (in Meyer’s Com., 1858, 4th ed. 1882), Lange and Van Oosterzee (in Lange’s Bibelwerk, 1862, Engl. transl. enlarged by Mombert, 1867), Alford, Wordsworth, Bassett (1876, ascribes the Ep. to James of Zebedee), Plumptre (in the Cambridge series, 1878), Punchard (in Ellicott’s Com. 1878), Erdmann (1882), GLOAG (1883).

 

The Infancy Gospel of James

Information on Infancy Gospel of James

The Infancy Narrative of James is also known as the Protevangelium of James. In The Other Gospels, Ron Cameron says that the name Protevangelium "implies that most of the events recorded in this 'initial gospel' of James occur prior to those recorded in the gospels of the New Testament." The gospel received this name when it was first published in the sixteenth century.

There are about one hundred and thirty Greek manuscripts containing the Infancy Gospel of James, but the vast majority of these come from the tenth century or later. The earliest known manuscript of the text was found in 1958; it is now kept in Geneva's Bodmer Library. The manuscript dates to the third century; however, according to Cameron, "many of its readings seem to be secondary."

Cameron identifies three different sources for the Infancy Gospel of James: extracanonical traditions, the Old Testament, and the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. The mythical element of birth in a cave, for example, is an extracanonical also known to Justin Martyr. Cameron states of the author's use of Jewish scriptures: "Not only are individual words, phrases, and even whole paragraphs reminiscent of the Septuagint; such discrete forms as the hymn and the lament of Anna also display conscious, direct 'remembrance' of the stories recorded in the scriptures." Concerning the use of the canonical gospels, Cameron observes, "Frequently the respective passages in Matthew and Luke are harmonized into a single story in the Protevangelium of James; in some instances the two texts are conflated. It is by combining composite traditions with a harmony of the synoptic infancy stories that the Protevangelium of James has constructed the dramatic scenes of its gospel."

F. F. Bruce writes of the Infancy Gospel of James (Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament, pp. 86-87):

 

There is, for example, the Protevangel of James, which begins with an account of the birth of Mary to Joachim and Anna in their old age, when they had given up all hope of having children. Like the infant Samuel in the Old Testament, Mary was dedicated by her grateful mother to the service of god in the temple, and there she was placed in [the] charge of the priest Zechariah. When she was twelve years old she was betrothed by her guardians to Joseph. The story of the angelic annunciation and virginal conception follows the nativity narratives of Luke and Matthew, with various embellishments: Mary's chastity is vindicated, for example, by the 'ordeal of jealousy' prescribed in Numbers 5.11-28. In a cave near Bethlehem Mary gives birth to Jesus, Salome acting as midwife. When Herod fails to find the infant, after the visit of the wise men from the east, he tries to lay hands on the child John (later the Baptist), but when he too is not to be found (having been hidden with his mother Elizabeth in a hollow mountain) Herod has his father Zechariah put to death in the temple court.

In The Complete Gospels, Ronald Hock divides the Infancy Gospel of James into three parts. In the first eight chapters, there is the story of Mary's own unique birth and childhood, wherein it is related that Anna, Mary's mother, becomes pregnant only after supplication to God. In the second eight chapters, the story starts "with the crisis posed by Mary's becoming a woman and thus her imminent pollution of the temple. The priests resolve the crisis by turning her over to a divinely chosen widower, the carpenter Joseph, who agrees to be her guardian, but refeuses to marry her." When Mary becomes pregnant, a priest suspects Joseph and Mary of wrong-doing and put the two to a test, which they pass. In the last eight chapters, we hear of the birth of Jesus with the visit of midwifes, the hiding of Jesus from Herod in a feeding trough, and even the hiding of John from Herod in the hills with his mother Elizabeth. These legends are embellishments upon the stories given in Matthew and Luke.

The author claims to be James, the stepbrother of Jesus. The author cannot have actually been James because the author seems to be dependent upon Matthew and Luke. Only Matthew tells us about the massacre of the infants arranged by Herod, while only Luke tells us about the birth of John to Elizabeth. Concerning the question of how John escaped Herod's wrath, Hock argues that the author "answered this question by having Zechariah choose death rather than tell of John's whereabouts and by having Elizabeth flee to the hills with John." Since James' death at the hands of Ananias occured in 62 CE and since the Gospels of Matthew and Luke were composed later, the Infancy Gospel of James must be pseudonymous.

According to Hock, a major development found in the Protevangelium of James is this: "Mary, the central character, is no longer a virgin in the ordinary sense of a young woman of marriageable age, but a virgin of extraordinary purity and unending duration." Hock goes on to argue: "Indeed, Mary's purity is so emphasized that it becomes thematic and thus answers the fundamental question which guides the narrative: why Mary, of all the virgins in Israel, was chosen to be the mother of the son of God. The answer: no one could have been any purer. Thus Anna transforms Mary's bedroom into a sanctuary where she receives no impure food and is amused by the undefiled daughters of the Hebrews (6:5). When she turns three years of age, these young women escort her to the temple in Jerusalem where she spends the next nine years in absolute purity and is even fed by the hand on an angel (7:4-8:2). When, at age twelve, she is made the ward of Joseph, she spends her time spinning thread for the temple with the other virgins from Israel (10:1-12:1). When she is later suspected of impurity, she passes a test and has her innocence proclaimed by the high priest (15:1-16:7). Finally, when she gives birth to Jesus, two midwives certify that she remains a virgin (19:18-20:11). In short, it is through her purity that Mary fulfills the blessing which the priests made when she was only one year old: that she might be blessed with a blessing that could not be surpassed (6:9)."

Cameron also sees another theme in this infancy gospel: "In using and expanding the infancy narratives, the Protevangelium of James has carried forward the aretalogical tradition of the gospels, including in the traditional enumeration of heroic feats the birth of the holy family. The bucolic scenes in the narrative of Jesus' birth recall other stories of the birth of 'divine men' in antiquity, and are part of that tradition of Christian propaganda which sought to demonstrate the superiority of Jesus among heroes and gods."

The terminus a quo is set by the use of Matthew and Luke. The terminus ad quem is set by a reference from Origen and by the Bodmer papyrus. Within this range, a dating in the middle of the second century is most likely. This dating is suggested by the prevalence of harmonies of Matthew and Luke at this time, as shown from Justin Martyr. The Infancy Gospel of James itself may have been dependent on a harmony of Matthew and Luke, but in any case it stands in the harmonizing spirit of the era before the four canonical gospels were considered to be sacred scripture.

 

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Date: 14 Jun 2006
Time: 16:54:10

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The discussion is interesting. One needs to, however, further consult the writings of Eusebius. The reference to the martyrdom of James (c. AD 62) is noteworthy (H.E. Book II.XXIII), but read a little further in Book III.XX, where Eusebius, taking from the earlier apostolic historian Hegesippus, mentions the grandchildren of the apostle Jude, who, when asked by the Emperor Domitian (AD 81-96, much later than the AD 70 destruction of Jerusalem), about Christ's kingdom and when it would appear, responded that "it was not a temporal nor an earthly kingdom, but a heavenly and angelic one, which would appear at the end of the world, when He should come in glory to judge the quick and the dead". Apparently, these worthy saints knew nothing about at least a full preterist view. -W. Chalfant

 

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