The Jesus Passages in Josephus – a Case Study, part 3j – ”The brother of Jesus, who was called Christ”: Origen’s knowledge; Possible scenarios, Which James?

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 3j 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

Possible scenarios

Which James?

If Jesus Christ is an addition to the James passage, it is not at all certain that Josephus even referred to the Christian James the Just. In classical antiquity there were only a limited number of names and also James was a very common name. Josephus refers to at least five people by the name of James (Jakob),[238] and out of these there is yet another James who is put to death in Book 20 in addition to the James being stoned at Ananus’ command. Sometime in the period 44-46 CE, the sons of Judas the Galilean were crucified. Their names were James and Simon.[239] Perhaps Josephus just happened to mention a James who died in about the right way and at about the right time, for a Christian to assume that James the Just was intended, and thus clarified what he believed was intended. The similarities between the fate of Josephus’ James and that of James the Just according to what the Christian tradition has said about his death (then apart from what has been included from Josephus), are quite superficial. The only real similarity is that they both were called James and that they were stoned at about the same time.

Hegesippus, who is the main source for the “martyrdom” of James, says that “immediately [after they had buried James] Vespasian besieged” Jerusalem. Thus, Hegesippus places James’ death at 67 CE,[240] and not at 62 CE, when according to Josephus Festus died and Albinus took the office and when his James consequently was executed. Josephus’ James was accused by Ananus in a trial for having broken the Law, and was sentenced to death by stoning. According to Hegesippus there is no trial, Ananus is not present, and James is not even convicted but is attacked and thrown from the pinnacle of the temple by the Scribes and the Pharisees. Since he was not killed by the fall they begin to stone him, but he is ultimately killed by a stroke on the head by a fuller’s club. Hegesippus is only talking about James, but according to Josephus both James and some others were stoned to death. According to Josephus this upsets “the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws”. Who are they and who are the others that are executed? If we are to believe that James was the Christian James who broke the Law, then also the others who were executed along with him should have been Christians. Are we to believe that those who disliked what was done also were Christians and by Josephus were identified as “the most equitable of the citizens”? And if more Christians apart from James were killed, how come that this event has gone by unnoticed in the Christian history of martyrs?[241]

The End of Section 3

Roger Viklund, 2011-04-10


[238] The five people named James are 1) the James of the Bible who has his named changed to Israel, for example in the Antiquities of the Jews 2:2:1 (Ἰακώβῳ); 2) the James who together with his brother Simon was crucified by Alexander, and who was the son of Judas, in the Antiquities of the Jews 20:5:2 (Ἰάκωβος); 3) the James who was convicted by Ananus and stoned to death, in the Antiquities of the Jews 20:9:1 (Ἰάκωβος); 4) James, the son of Sosas who was a Idumean military leader, for example in the Jewish War 4:9:6, 5:6:1, 6:1:8 (Ἰάκωβος), and 5) the guard James, for example in Life 18, 46 (Ἰακώβου).

[239] Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 20:5:2.

[240] The forces of Vespasian invaded Palestine in the spring of 67, but the actual siege of Jerusalem did not begin until April 70 and then under the leadership of Vespasian’s son Titus. A few months later the city also fell.

[241] Earl Doherty, Jesus: Neither God Nor Man – The Case for a Mythical Jesus (2009), p. 575–576.

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