The Jesus Passages in Josephus – a Case Study, part 3h – ”The brother of Jesus, who was called Christ”: Origen’s knowledge; Church Father Eusebius, Hegesippus

Part 1
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Part 2a Part 2b Part 2c Part 2d
Part 2e Part 2f Part 2g Part 2h
Part 2i Part 2j Part 2k Part 2l
Part 2m Part 2n Part 2o Part 2p
Part 2q Part 2r Part 2s Part 2t
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Part 3a Part 3b Part 3c Part 3d
Part 3e Part 3f Part 3g Part 3h
Part 3i Part 3j
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Part 4
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Excursus

This is part 3h of the translation of my treatise Jesuspassagerna hos Josefus – en fallstudie into English.

Den svenska texten.

III. The brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James

Origen’s knowledge of another James passage

Church Father Eusebius

Hegesippus

Anyhow, Hegesippus and Josephus were occasionally confused, which incidentally also is the case in Pseudo-Hegesippus’ work which actually was named Iosippus because it was a Latin paraphrase of Josephus’ Jewish War (see Pseudo-Hegesippus). No matter from where Origen got the information, Eusebius in turn read Origen and without doubt found the paragraph there with the information that it came from Josephus. If the passage had occurred also in Eusebius’ manuscript of the Antiquities of the Jews, it should have survived to our time. He reasonably reproduced the passage without saying where it was found, since Origen did not convey that information. Jerome got the same piece of information from either Origen or Eusebius; both of whom he were familiar with. If that information was in the Josephan manuscript which Origen had access to, it could have been inserted there as early as the second century, because the idea that Jesus had biological brothers, in time became increasingly unpopular when the focus shifted to the Immaculate Conception.

According to the above quotation from Eusebius, the church father Hegesippus about the year 170 CE described, James’ death as follows: James was thrown down from the pinnacle of the temple and was then stoned, but survived both events; then a fuller, i.e. one who beat out clothes, beat him to death with a club. Hegesippus writes “that the more sensible even of the Jews were of the opinion that this was the cause of the siege of Jerusalem”. Also Clement of Alexandria, who moreover was Origen’s teacher, was of the opinion that James’ had died this way.[231]

There are accordingly two possible sources for Origen’s statement that the execution of James led to the destruction of Jerusalem, either Josephus or a Christian writer, then most likely Hegesippus. If Origen as he says got his information from Josephus, it was surely a passage which was not written by Josephus – since Josephus could not have said that the Jews were punished by having Jerusalem destroyed because of the execution of this James; and since the text then reasonably also would have survived. The Christians would not have allowed such a passage to get lost if it had been in all the manuscripts. If on the other hand Origen’s memory was at fault and he mistook for example Hegesippus for Josephus, it means that he did not testify that Josephus wrote anything about Jesus and James. Instead, Origen’s statement that Josephus had written the passage came to influence others, such as Eusebius, into believing this. Since the phrase “the brother of Jesus who was called Christ” is identical with the present James passage, Origen’s “mistake” should in such case be the source of also this interpolation.

It is difficult to decide what is the most likely scenario, but since Origen seems to know exactly in what book Josephus writes about John, he also should have known that the things he wrote about James occurred in Josephus (see: Did not accept Jesus as the Messiah).

Roger Viklund, 2011-04-08


[231] Eusebius writes:

“But Clement in the sixth book of his Hypotyposes writes thus: ‘For they say that Peter and James and John after the ascension of our Saviour, as if also preferred by our Lord, strove not after honor, but chose James the Just bishop of Jerusalem.’ But the same writer, in the seventh book of the same work, relates also the following things concerning him: ”The Lord after his resurrection imparted knowledge to James the Just and to John and Peter, and they imparted it to the rest of the apostles, and the rest of the apostles to the seventy, of whom Barnabas was one. But there were two Jameses: one called the Just, who was thrown from the pinnacle of the temple and was beaten to death with a club by a fuller, and another who was beheaded.” Paul also makes mention of the same James the Just, where he writes, ‘Other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.’” (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 2:1:2–4)

“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 you, restrain the people; for they are gone astray in regard to Jesus, as if he were the Christ. We entreat you to persuade all that have come to the feast of the Passover concerning Jesus; for we all have confidence in you. For we bear you witness, as do all the people, that you are just, and do not respect persons. Therefore, persuade the multitude not to be led astray concerning Jesus. For the whole people, and all of us also, have confidence in you. Stand therefore upon the pinnacle of the temple, that from that high position you may be clearly seen, and that your words may be readily heard by all the people. For all the tribes, with the Gentiles also, have 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: ‘You 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 you ask me concerning Jesus, the Son of Man? He himself sits 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 you, 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, ‘Stop. What are you doing? The just one prays 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. And immediately Vespasian besieged them.  These things are related at length by Hegesippus, who is in agreement with Clement. James was so admirable a man and so celebrated among all for his justice, that the more sensible even of the Jews were of the opinion that this was the cause of the siege of Jerusalem, which happened to them immediately after his martyrdom for no other reason than their daring act against him.” (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 2:23:3-19)

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