JETS 25/3 (September
THE RELATIVE OF JESUS
AND THE EXPECTATION OF AN
Julius Scott, Jr.
Both the NT and post-canonical
early Christian writings mention a man named James as a dominant figure
in Jewish Christianity during the middle of the first century. To distinguish
him from others named James(2) the sources designate this James as "the
Lord's brother" or "relative"(3) or as "James the
I. SUMMARY OF NOTICES
NT passages(4) usually
assumed to refer to this James portray him as a member of the family of
Jesus and as a leader of the church in Jerusalem. In Christian literature
outside the canon James appears as a member of Jesus' boyhood home(5)
and the recipient of a post- resurrection appearance of Jesus.(6) The
Pseudo Clementines and other writings place James in a unique position
of leadership over the church in Jerusalem.(7) In Gos. Thom. from
Nag Hammadi(8) Jesus designates James as head over all the disciples and
affirms that for James' sake "the heavens and earth came into existence"
(Logion 12). The fourth-century Liturgy of St. James calls him
"the brother of God."(9)
The best known description
of James is that of Hegesippus as recorded in Eusebius Hist. eccl.
3.23.1-18. He describes James as something of a Jewish "holy
man," an ascetic whose piety was controlled by ceremonial concerns.
He was frequently in the temple, where he prayed constantly for the people.
Because of his "excessive righteousness he was called 'the Just'."
During the Passover season, Hegesippus says, the scribes and Pharisees
attempted to have James dissuade the people from following Jesus. But
James bore positive testimony "concerning the Son of man" and
was thrown from the battlement of the temple, stoned and finally killed
by a blow to the head.(10)
29.4 quotes a similar if not identical tradition to that found in
Eusebius. However, while our Greek texts of Eusebius say only that James
entered the temple, Epiphanius and others(11) say that he actually went
into the Holy of Holies. Furthermore Epiphanius, Haer. 88, says
that James wore the high priestly petalon on his forehead.
II. DIFFERENCES BETWEEN
THE CANONICAL AND POST-CANONICAL TRADITIONS ABOUT JAMES
There are at least
three features of the portrayal of James in the non-canonical documents
that are distinct either in fact or in degree from that suggested in the
NT. The first is the character of James' religious outlook and the lifestyle
that reportedly resulted from it. Hegesippus and others depict James as
one holy from birth who drank no strong drink, ate no meat, did not shave
his head, anoint himself with oil or bathe, and wore only linen. He is
assumed to have been a narrowly legalistic Christian, devoted to the temple
and other external and nationalistic emphases associated with certain
forms of Second Commonwealth Judaism. For such a person Christianity would
be little more than a Jewish sect or party that accepted Jesus as Messiah
but recognized little or no resulting effects on established Jewish beliefs
In Acts 15 and 21
James advocates positions that show concern for Jewish interests and sensitivities.
Galatians 2:12 uses his name in connection with Judaizing influences in
the Christian community in Antioch. The epistle that probably bears his
name has a distinctively Jewish Christian emphasis. Yet these NT references
alone are hardly sufficient to identify James with an extreme Judaistic
interpretation of Christianity. It is questionable if such an association
would ever have been made(12) were it not for the influence on the interpretation
of the NT evidence exerted by post-canonical tradition.
The second distinctive
element is the nationalistic motifs in some non-canonical notices about
James. Most important is the implication of Hegesippus' statement that
immediately after James' death Vespasian began besieging the Jews (Eusebius
Hist. eccl. 2.23.18). Also, both Eusebius (citing Clement) and
Origen mention a statement by Josephus, not found in extant texts of his
works, in which the Jewish historian is reputed to have said concerning
the fall of Jerusalem, "And these things happened to the Jews to
avenge James the Just, who was the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ,
for the Jews killed him in spite of his great righteousness."(13)
The traditions behind these statements associate James with those individuals
whose person, piety and prayers were the only real defence of the nation.(14)
As Elijah and Elisha had been Israel's horsemen and chariots (cf. 2 Kgs
2:21; 13:14), for some Jewish Christian groups James was her "rampart"
or surrounding protective influence (Hiss. eccl. 2.23.7).
The final feature
of the James material from outside the NT of concern to this study is
the position he is said to have held in the leadership of the early Church.
There is no question that James played a significant role in directing
the affairs of the Christian community in Jerusalem during the middle
third of the first century. What is not clear is the precise nature of
his leadership position and how he attained it.
In Acts 12, 15 and
21 James seems to occupy some special position in the Jerusalem church.
Paul in Galatians 2 restricts James' authority to the same level as that
of Peter, John and possibly others. Some of the non-canonical materials
appear to elevate James above other early Christian officials, including
the twelve. The Gospel According to the Hebrews, for example, claims
for James a place at the last supper, a personal appearance (possibly
the first) of the risen Jesus, and, in contrast to the twelve, says he
understood that Jesus would rise again. In such documents as the Pseudo-Clementines
and some from Nag Hammadi, James, appointed by Jesus himself, is virtually
the absolute leader of the Jerusalem church, which in turn is regarded
as the center of authority for the whole of Christendom.
The studies of Arnold
A. T. Ehrhardt(15) further underscore the significance of the James traditions
in the development of the organization of early Christianity. He shows
that although the various succession lists of bishops are beset with problems
and the sources exhibit a competition between James and Peter for first
place, in the Canon of Eusebius-Jerome this competition is decided in
favor of James. Thus succession in such centers as Jerusalem, Alexandria,
Antioch and originally even Rome is traced back to James.(16) Furthermore,
Ehrhardt suggests, the episcopal succession based on James was modeled
after that of the Jewish high-priestly succession, and to many in the
early Church James as first among the bishops stood at the head of an
order of Christian priests.(17) Ehrhardt's opinion is supported by statements
in an early Syriac document(18) in which the parallel between Jewish and
Christian organization is specifically drawn(19) and in which priestly
ordination within the Church is clearly traced to James.(20)
may have contributed to James' rise to prominence in the early Church
and to the growth of later traditions about him. James may have practiced
a form of personal piety especially appreciated by the type of Christian
groups remaining in Jerusalem after the exodus of the hellenistic Jewish
Christians.(21) He may have had the type of outstanding personality, ability
and wisdom that thrust him to the fore in the presence of such potentially
difficult and dangerous situations as those mentioned in Acts. Certainly
James' membership in the family of Jesus was significant in establishing
his role in the history of the early Church. But I am interested in another
phenomenon that may also have played a part in the formation of the James
traditions and may have been especially significant in producing some
of the disparity between the NT and non-canonical reports about him.
III. THE EXPECTATION
OF AN ESCHATOLOGICAL PRIEST
An examination of
the differences between the canonical and other James accounts indicates
at least two tendencies. First, most non-canonical sources stress the
presence of Judaistic features in extreme forms in James' life and activity.
Second, a number of the non-canonical sources describe James in language
or in roles usually reserved for the priesthood, the Messiah, or those
associated with them.
We have already noted
evidence that some early episcopal lists by implication ascribe to James
a position something like that of a Christian high priest. Other priestly
motifs in the James stories are even more striking. Eusebius/Hegesippus
center his activities in the temple and ascribe to him the role of intercessor,
a traditional priestly function. It is unclear whether Eusebius/Hegesippus
claim only that James frequented the temple precincts or that he was allowed
to enter the "court of the priests." Epiphanius' sources plainly
claim both that he had access to those parts of the temple restricted
to the high priest and that he wore the headdress associated with that
office. The Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions (58) seem to equate
James' position in the Jerusalem church with that of the high priest in
the Jewish community as they describe a dispute between "the chief
of the priests" and "James, the chief of the bishops."
In fact the title and activities of James as "bishop" or "archbishop"
(as in Recognitions 1:73) in some early Christian writings may
imply an equation of this office in the Jewish Church with that of priest
or high priest in Judaism.
The dominant and at
times absolute authority claimed for James in the Jerusalem church takes
on special significance when set within the context of a group that regarded
itself as a messianic community. Furthermore we might recall other parts
of the non-canonical James traditions that closely associate him with
the Messiah or messianic functions. They frequently note that he was from
the family of Jesus, the messianic family. Some writers claim that James
was appointed head of the Jerusalem church by Jesus himself.(22) James'
person, presence, prayers and piety are said to benefit and protect the
nation. Eusebius/Hegesippus ascribe to James the same prayer for forgiveness
for his murderers used by Jesus (Hiss. eccl. 2.23.16; cf. Luke
23:43). Such elements as these may reflect a tendency in some Jewish Christian
quarters to ascribe messianic qualities to James himself.
To postulate the development
of some of the James traditions within a messianic context may help explain
some otherwise puzzling statements about him. The affirmation in Gos.
Thom. that for James' "sake the heavens and earth came into existence"
would not necessarily be a compliment in strictly gnostic circles. But
it was similar to statements made by Jewish writers of the righteous,
Torah, the temple, deeds of lovingkindness, David, Israel and the Messiah.(23)
The ultimate extension of the sentiments of Gos. Thom. may be responsible
for those of a later period, reflected in the Liturgy of St. James,
where he is raised "to the dignity of the very brother of God."(24)
Ward has called attention
to a plurality of lines of development or trajectories in the traditions
about James.(25) I suggest that there is reason to suppose that two of
these elements in the James storiesthe priestly and the messianicmay
be closely related.
Jewish groups looked for the appearance of an eschatological priest to
be one of the features of the final age. Some even expected a priestly
Messiah.(26) The existence of this belief at Qumran and again in the person
of Eleazar, the priestly accompaniment of the pseudo-Messiah Ben Koseba,
demonstrates the strength of this expectation among some Jewish groups
both immediately preceding and following the apostolic age.
Both canonical and
later writings document the influence of the hope of a priestly Messiah
within Christian thought.(27) In virtually all Christian references the
one Messiah, Jesus, assumes the role of both Priest and Prince. Yet we
might expect that some Christians whose Jewish backgrounds had taught
them to look for a plurality of messianic figures, including a priestly
one, would have sought among the principals of the gospel narratives for
an individual in whom they could seek fulfillment of their expectation
of an eschatological Priest-Messiah.
The unique place of
the person and work of Jesus in the thought of early Christianity precluded
the ascription to anyone of a priestly messianic role superior or even
equal to that of Jesus. But certainly there was room in Jewish Christian
thought for the identification of a Christian priestly accompaniment for
the Messiah, someone to occupy a place similar to that of the priestly
associate of the Ta'eb in Samaritan thought or of Eleazar in Ben
Koseba's organization. Once such an identification was made, with the
passage of time it would be almost inevitable that Jews who had looked
for an eschatological priest before becoming Christian would begin to
see the details of this expectation fulfilled in the person and activities
of the one they recognized as the Christian priestly messianic accompaniment.
Thus pre-Christian Jewish expectation could have provided a fertile seedbed
from which numerous legends and traditions with both priestly and messianic
overtones could have grown up around the name of some early Christian
leader. Of all the leaders of the early Church(28) it was James, the relative
of Jesus, who by his background, nature, life and sympathy for the more
Jewish elements in Christianity was the most likely candidate for the
legendary position of priestly accompaniment of the Messiah.
is known of the functions ascribed to the eschatological priest(s) in
Jewish thought. In QL he presided over the assembly, stood over other
priests, blessed the meal and the army, and (although not taking part
himself) directed the battles. The activities of the priestly accompaniment
of the Samaritan Ta'eb were primarily associated with the Mount
Gerizim temple. The Levitical Messiah of the T. 12 Patr. was both
a political and a religious leader, received personal praise, and brought
protection and salvation to Israel. Much of what is said of James in non-canonical
Christian literature is consistent with these functions.(29)
The Jewish Christian
sources from which Hegesippus drew his material, the Ebionites of the
Pseudo-Clementine sect, those concerned with the writings of Josephus,
the Jewish Gnostics behind Gos. Thom. are precisely the Christian
groups most likely to have been acquainted with the Essenes, Samaritans
and others who looked for an eschatological priest. It is not unreasonable
to suppose that some of these who identified Jesus as "a prophet
like Moses" began to think of James, his relative, as "a priest
I suggest that the
non-canonical sources about James, the relative of Jesus, contain traditions
that began with a kernel of historical fact but in their present forms
contain both exaggerations and additions. Particularly I believe that
the extreme Judaistic outlook and activities claimed for James, the nationalistic
significance of his person, and the virtually absolute authoritative place
in the leadership of the early Church ascribed to him have been read into
his character and activities by later Jewish Christians. I propose that
the expectation of the coming of an eschatological priestly figure within
some segments of first-century Judaism provided the stimulus and framework
for the development of some of these traditions and legends about James.
(1) This paper is
part of an ongoing study of the person of James the relative of Jesus
and his place in early Christianity. Part of my research is contained
in my The Church of Jerusalem, A.D. 30Ä100: An Investigation of the
Growth of Internal Factions and the Extension of its Influence in the
Larger Church (unpublished dissertation; Manchester, England: University
of Manchester, 1969) 265 ff., 271 ff. For a statement of my reconstruction
of the character of the Jerusalem church and James' place in it see "Parties
in the Church of Jerusalem as Seen in the Book of Acts," JETS 18
(1975) 217 ff.
I am grateful to many
friends and associates who have given encouragement and aid to this study.
I acknowledge special debts to past teachers F. F. Bruce and Robert A.
Kraft and to present colleagues E. Margaret Howe and Ronald A. Veenker.
(2) Luke 6:16 and
Acts 1:13 list one of the twelve as "Judas of James" (probably
meaning "son of James"). This James is otherwise unknown. James
the son of Alphaeus was another member of the twelve (Matt 10:3; Acts
1:13) who is usually identified with the man called "James the Little"
(or "the Less" or "the Younger") in Mark 15:40. The
best known member of the twelve with this name was "James the brother
of John, the son of Zebedee," who was executed by Herod Agrippa I
cat A.D. 44: see Mark 1:9 (=Matt 4:21); 3:17 (=Matt 10:2; Luke 6:14; cf.
Acts 1:13); Acts 12:2.
(3) Three major theories
have been put forward to explain the exact relationship between Jesus
and those called his "brothers" or "brethren" (Mark
6:3, etc.): (a) the Helvidian theory says they were later children of
Mary and Joseph; (b) the Hieronymian theory says that they were Jesus'
cousins; and (c) Epiphanius suggests that they were children of Joseph
by an earlier marriage. Although I accept the Helvidian view, out of deference
to other opinions I shall refer to James with the general designation
"the relative of Jesus."
(4) James is listed
with the other "brothers" of Jesus in Mark 6:3 ( =Matt 13:55).
All other direct references to James are in the writings of Paul and in
Acts. (1) Paul (a) says he saw "Peter and James, the Lord's brother"
during his first post-conversion visit to Jerusalem, Gal 1:18 ff.; (b)
includes James among those reputed to be "pillars" whom he contacted
during a subsequent visit, 2:1 ff.; (c) indicates that Peter's withdrawal
from table fellowship with Gentiles in Antioch was occasioned by the coming
of "certain from James," 2:12; and (d) mentions James as a witness
of the risen Lord, 1 Cor 15:7. (2) Acts says that (a) Peter gave instructions
to report his release from prison "to James and the brethren,"
12:18; (b) James played a leading part in the council described in Acts
15; and (c) during his final visit to Jerusalem Paul met with "James
and the elders" who suggested that Paul join certain Jews who had
taken a vow in the temple, 21:17 ff.
References to Jesus"'family,"
"friends" or "brothers" may include James by implication:
Mark 3:21; 6:4; John 7:5; Acts 1:14; 1 Cor 9:5. James the relative of
Jesus is traditionally identified as the author of the canonical epistle
(5) The Protoevangelium
of James claims James as its author ("Now I, James, who wrote
this history in Jerusalem . . ."; cf. Origen, Comm. on Matt. 10:17),
says Joseph was an elderly widower to whom Mary as a child of twelve was
committed for keeping, and states that the sons of Joseph, by implication
including James, were present at the birth of Jesus (18:1). Similar representations
are made regarding the family of Mary and Joseph in other apocryphal documents
such as Pseudo-Matthew, The Gospel of Mary, The History of Joseph the
Carpenter, and both the Arabic and Armenian "gospels of infancy."
Another infancy tradition relates how James, having been bitten by a snake,
was healed by the boy Jesus; The Gospel of Thomas, Greek Text A,
16; Latin Text 14 (divisions by M. R. James, The Apocryphal New Testament
[Oxford: University Press, 1953]).
(6) The Gospel
According to the Hebrews, quoted by Jerome (Of Illustrious Men
2): "Now the Lord, when he had given the linen cloth to the servant
of the priest, went to James and appeared to him. For James had sworn
that he would not eat bread from the hour wherein he had drunk from the
Lord's cup until he should see him risen again from among them that sleep.
And again after a little, 'Bring ye, saith the Lord, a table and bread':
and immediately it is added, 'He took bread and blessed and brake and
gave it unto James the Just and said unto him: My brother, eat thy bread,
for the Son of man is risen from among them that sleep.'"
(7) In the Pseudo-Clementine
Homilies (11:35) James is called "the brother of the Lord,
to whom was entrusted to administer the Church of the Hebrews in Jerusalem."
Recognitions 1:43 claims that James was ordained bishop by Jesus
himself, and 1:74 places him above all bishops with the title "archbishop.
" The Recognitions describe James as carrying on activities
characteristic of the head of the whole Church: receiving reports (1:66;
3:74), engaging in disputes with Jewish leaders as representative of the
whole of Christendom (1:66 95), detailing even Peter to specific tasks
(1:72), and sending testimonial letters of authorization with official
representatives of the Church (4:35). In the epistles attached to the
Homilies, Peter calls James "the lord and bishop of the Holy
Church," and Clement addresses him as "the lord, and bishop
of bishops, who rules Jerusalem, the Holy Church of the Hebrews, and Churches
everywhere excellently founded by the province of God, with elders and
deacons, and the rest of the brethren." In the Pseudo-lgnatian Epistle
ta Hero 3, and the longer edition of Ign. Trall. 7, deacons
are enjoined to be faithful to ministering to their bishops "as the
holy Stephen did at Jerusalem to James."
(8) In preparing this
study I have had access to only a few of the Nag Hammadi documents and
to some secondary materials about them. Standard lists of these documents
include an Apocryphon of James, First Apocalypse of James and Second
Apocalypse of James. The name "James" also appears in other
Nag Hammadi documents. It seems, however, that in the corpus as a whole
James the relative of Jesus is probably confused with James the apostle,
the son of Zebedee. Cf. R. McL. Wilson, "The Gnostic Library of Nag
Hammadi," SJT 12 (1959) 161 ff.; H. C. Puech, G. Quispel and
W C. van Unnik, The Jung Codex (ed. F. L. Cross; London: 1955); W. C.
van Unnik, Newly Discovered Gnostic Writings (SBT; London: 1960).
J. Doresse (The
Secret Books of the Egyptian Gnostics [London: 19601 237) notes that
James the Great is placed on a level with supernatural powers and put
in charge of the great baptism. Van Unnik ("The Origin of the Recently
Discovered Apocryphon of Jacobi," VC 10 [19561 15 95.) notes that
the James document in the Jung codex depicts him dispatching early Church
leaders to various tasks. A. Bohling ("Zum Martyrium des Jakobus,"
Nov T 5  207 ff.) says the Nag Hammadi codices contain an
account of the death of James similar to that of Hegesippus, report a
lengthy speech by James just before his death, and suggest messianic overtones
for the death of James. R. B. Ward ("James of Jerusalem," Restoration
Quarterly 16 ) has dealt in some detail with the Nag Hammadi
(9) According to P.
Schaff, History of the Christian Church (New York: 1910; reprinted,
Grand Rapids: 1955), 1. 268.
(10) Josephus Ant.
30.9 §, 1 (= 199-201 ) also describes the death of James: "The
younger Ananus, who, as we have said, had been appointed to the high priesthood,
was rash in his temper and unusually daring.. .. He thought he had a favorable
opportunity because Festus was dead and Albinus was still on the way.
And so he convened the judges of the Sanhedrin and brought before them
a man named James, the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ, and
certain others. He accused them of having transgressed the law and delivered
them up to be stoned. Those of the inhabitants of the city who were considered
the most fair minded and who were strict in observance of the law were
offended at this." Note that Josephus implies that James' death came
after a formal trial where as Euseblus/Hegesippus seem to blame it on
a mob action or at least hastily conceived maneuvers by Jewish leaders.
Mention was made earlier
of an account of James' death in the Nag Hammadi documents. The Pseudo-Clementine
Recognitions (1:70) tell of an attack on James in Jerusalem but
give no indication that it resulted in his death.
and Latin versions of Eusebius; Jerome, Of Illustrious Men 2; Andrew
of Crete, The Life of James as cited by R. Eisler, The Messiah
Jesus and John the Baptist (London: 1913) 541.
of James that assume the accuracy of the extreme Judaistic character ascribed
to him in non-canonical writings are common. For example F. W. Farrar
(The Life and Work of St. Paul [London: 1897] 131) calls James
"a Legalist, a Nazarite, almost an Essene"; W. L. Knox (St.
Paul and the Church of Jerusalem [Cambridge: 1925] 226) thinks he
was "a Christian Pharisee." S. G. F. Brandon (The Fall of
Jerusalem and the Christian Church [2d ed.; London: 1957]; cf. K.
L. Carroll, "The Place of James in the Early Church," BJRL
45  49 ff.) attempts to reconstruct the Tübingen theory
of early Christian history by making James, not Peter, the leader of the
extreme Jewish faction and the great adversary of Paul.
(13) Here quoting
from Eusebius Hist. eccl. 2.23.40; cf. Origen, Against Celsus
2.12: "Titus destroyed Jerusalem, on account, Josephus says, of James
the Just, the brother of Jesus who was called Christ."
(14) Cf. Ezek 22:30;14:14
and the possibility of preserving Sodom because of the presence of the
family of Lot, Gen 18:22 ff. Also a Jewish tradition affirms that there
are in every generation thirty-six (frequently unrecognized) men with
whom the Shekinah rests and because of whose presence the community or
nation is preserved. They are sometimes called "The Lamed-vav-niks"
(since the Hebrew letters lamed and waw stand for the number thirty-six)
or "the Just Ones"; see "Lamed-waw," Jewish Encyclopedia,
Vol. 7, p. 596; G. Scholem, "The Tradition of the Thirty-six
Hidden Just Men," The Messianic Idea in Judaism and other Essays
on Jewish Spirituality (New York: 1971) 251 ff.
(15) A. A. T. Ehrhardt,
The Apostolic Succession in the First Two Centuries of the Church (London:
1953) The Apostolic Ministry (SJT Occasional Papers; Edinburgh:
(16) Ehrhardt, Succession,
pp. 81 ff., 107 ff., 158; cf. preface.
Syriac Documents: The Teaching of the Apostles," ANF 7. 667
(19) "The apostles
further appointed: Let there be elders and deacons, like the Levites;
and subdeacons like those who carried the vessels of the court of the
sanctuary of the Lord and an overseer [footnote equivalent, not to episkopos
but to skopos = watchman, as in Ezek. 33:7], who shall be guide
of all the people, like Aaron, the head and chief of all the priests and
Levites of the whole city" (ANF 8. 668).
received the ordination to the priesthood, as did all the country of Palestine,
and the parts occupied by the Samaritans, and the parts occupied by the
Philistines, and the country of the Arabians, and of Phoenicia, and all
the people of Caesarea, from James, who was ruler and guide in the Church
of the Apostles which was built in Zion" (ANF 8.67 [italics
(21) Cf. Scott, "Parties"
(22) Eusebius Hist.
eccl. 7.19. Again, quoting from the Hypotyposes of Clement
of Alexandria, Hist. eccl. 2.2 says James was appointed to his
office by the twelve or by the twelve and Jesus. But the Pseudo Clementine
Recognitions 1:43 clearly claims he was ordained bishop by the
(23) m. 'Abot 1:2;
cf. L. Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews (Philadelphia: 1925), 5. 67-68;
G. F. Moore, Judaism in the First Centuries of the Christian Era (Cambridge,
MA: 1927),1. 286, 383; 3. n. 37; Str-B 1. 917; B. Gartner, The Theology
of the Gospel of Thomas (Uppsala: 1955) 57 n. 3.
(24) Schaff, History,
(25) R B Ward, "James"
(26) The expectation
of the priestly Messiah was sometimes centered on such figures as Melchizedek
(Gen 14:18 ff.; Ps 110:4)or Phinehas (Num 25:10 ff.); cf. O. Cullmann,
The Christology of the New Testament (London: 1957) 88 ff. QL demonstrates
the expectation of a plurality of messianic figures, one of whom would
be a priest (1QS 9.11; 1QSa 2; CDC 12.23; 14.19; 19.10, 21). Furthermore
these writings indicate that the priestly Messiah would have primary place;
cf. H. J. Schonfeld, Secrets of the Dead Sea Scrolls (London: 1956)
61 ff., K. G. Kuhn, "The Two Messiahs of Aaron and Israel,"
The Scrolls and the New Testament (ed. K. Stendahl; London: 1958)
54 ff.; M. Burrows, More Light on the Dead Sea Scrolls (London:
1958) 70, 310-311; A. J. B. Higgins, "The Priestly Messiah,"
NTS 13 (1966-67) 211-239.
of the Twelve Patriarchs frequently point to the coming of a priest-leader
of the tribe of Levi (e.g. T Levi 8:15; T Reub. 5:7 ff.;
T Judah 21:1 ff.; T Dan 5:10-11; T Jos. 9:5-6). However,
these documents show the influence of Christian editors and must be used
contained the hope of the coming of a priestly accompaniment from the
tribe of Phinehas for the Messiah-Restorer (Ta'eb). This priest
would come from heaven with the Ta'eb, assist in his work, and
be killed and buried on Mount Gerizim. See Samaritan book Yom al-Din
67; cf. M. Gaster, The Samaritan Oral Law and Ancient Traditions.
Vol. I Samaritan Eschatology (London: 1932) 260 ff., 271 ff. Other
Samaritan sources, however, do not speak of a priestly accompaniment for
the Ta'eb but rather stress his own Levitic origin and priestly
functions; cf. J. Macdonald, The Theology of the Samaritians (London:
1964) 362 ff.
Coins struck in the
first year (but in the first year only) of the revolt of the pseudo-Messiah
Simeon Ben Koseba (ca. A.D. 130) contain only his name but that of "Eleazar
the Priest" (cf. E. Schurer, The Jewish People in the Time of
Jesus Christ [Edinburgh: 1890], Div. 1, Vol. 2, pp. 299, 385 ff.;
The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus [rev. ed.;
Edinburgh: 1973], 1. 544-545, 606).
(27) The epistle to
the Hebrews seeks to establish that Jesus (the Messiah) is a priest although
not of Levitical descent (cf. Heb. 4:14). A fragment attributed to Irenaeus
says, "Christ was typified, and acknowledged and brought into the
world; for he was from Levi and Judah. He was descended according to the
flesh as King and Priest" ("Fragments from the Lost Writings
of Irenaeus," Frag. No. XVII, ANF 1. 571). Hippolytus, commenting
on Gen 49:1, 28, speaks of the arrival of future blessing with "one
of Judah and he who is typified in Joseph, and one who is found of Levi,
a Priest of the one Father." Julius Africanus, in his epistle to
Aristides, writes against those who "incorrectly allege that this
discrepant enumeration [between the genealogies of Matthew and Luke] and
mixing of names of both priestly men, as they think, and royal, was made
properly, in order that Christ might be shown rightfully to be both Priest
and King" (ANF 6. 125; the emphasis on the priestly implications
of Jesus' genealogies is not so clear in the version of Africanus' epistle
given in Eusebius Hist. eccl. 1.7.2 ff.). If there are indeed Christian
influences behind the present form of the T 12 Patr. (see previous
note), then this document when used critically may also testify to a Christian
belief in a Levitic priestly Messiah (c£ Kuhn, "Two Messiahs,"
57 ff.) could seek fulfillment of their expectation of an eschatological
(28) The most obvious
candidate for the role of eschatological priest in Christian thought might
have been John the Baptist, the son of the priest Zechariah. Evidently
this identification was never made (in spite of the assertions of Eisler,
The Messiah Jesus, 259 ff.). John is presented as a prophetic (Elijah-like)
herald; his priestly background is mentioned only incidentally. Probably
John's own specific denials (John 1:19 ff.) and the limited contact, both
geographically and temporally, between John and the public ministry of
Jesus prevented the growth of messianic traditions around the Baptist.
There seem to have
been some Christian group(s) who thought of the apostle John in a way
akin to priestly-messianic lines explored in this paper. Eusebius twice
refers to a tradition that describes "John, who lay on the Lord's
breast, who was a priest wearing the petalon, and a martyr, and a teacher"
(Hist. eccl. 3.21.3; 5.24.3). Lack of additional information prevents
further investigation of this line of thought.
(29) James' office
is said to have come by direct and special appointment of the Messiah
(Pseudo Clementine Recognitions 1:74, etc.). From Jerusalem he ruled the
whole Christian-messianic community (Recog. 1:43; 4:35), assigned
tasks to other leaders (1:72; Apocryphon Jocobi), and delegated
priestly episcopal authority throughout the whole church (Bishop lists:
Syriac Teachings). Subordinate officers are said to have been in
subjection to him and served him (Recog. 1:72; Pseudo-lgnatian
Epistles). James was addressed as "archbishop," "bishop"
(a messianic title in 1 Pet 3:25) and "Lord." It was claimed
that he was a man of great personal righteousness, that he used priestly
dress and that he lived a life of priest-like intercession, frequently
in the Temple (Hegesippus/Eusebius; Epiphanius). James led his followers
into battle (verbal battle=debate) against the enemy(Recog. 1:67
ff.) and suffered at his hand (1:70; cf. 73). For his sake, it is claimed,
heavens and earth were created (Gos. Thom. 12), and his death is
interpreted as the cause of the destruction of Jerusalem (Hegesippus/Eusebius,
Clement, and Origen's quotation from Josephus).
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