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orion Eisenman's James, part2
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A LAYMANíS REVIEW OF EISENMANíS "JAMES"
Considering myself an "informed layman" rather than a scholar, I too
frustrated that the entire corpus of DSS manuscripts had not been made
available to scholars
other than that select few who could not possibly have published them
over several lifetimes.
Robert Eisenmanís role, along with Hershel Shanks, editor of BAR, in
breaking this deadlock
must be recognized and commended. I am surprised that there are still
those who criticize Dr.
Eisenman, calling his action "illegal." What did they want to do? Wait
another 50 years?
The discovery of the DSS produced hopes among Christians that at long
may be shed on the very earliest days of the Jesus movement perhaps even
writings of the apostles, perhaps finally "proving" that Jesus not only
existed but that he
was resurrected from the dead. The control of the DSS by a Christian
institution may have
fueled these hopes as well as provide fodder for conspiracy tales that
the Vatican had hidden
or destroyed parchments that revealed Jesus survived and moved to
Chicago to open a Bagel
Jewish scholars, like Schiffman, argued the scrolls were strictly
and debated their origin, whether Essene, Pharisee or Sadducee, whether
site at Wadi Qumran or the Temple, or Jerusalem. These debates still go
The Enochian-apocalyptic-Messianic style of some of the scrolls
represent a style
of Judaism into which the Jewish Jesus movement fit very well, being a
form of "Jesus Movement"
that existed prior to the birth of the Jesus. This explains the many
parallels between the
vorlage of the DSS and that adopted by Hellenic Christianity and
formerly believed to be
uniquely "Christian" in style. It is here that I must inject my own
opinion that the term
"Christianity" is entirely anachronistic to discussions of the DSS or
the society of James,
the Just/Righteous, or in reference to the immediate post-crucifixion
followers of Jesus. Quite
frankly, neither Jesus, the disciples and followers nor James were
Christians...nor would they be.
Many scholars use the phrase "Jewish Christianity" for this period but I
see that as an oxymoron. Others use the term Nítzarim which also brings
debate about the historicity of the birth at Nazareth
or misinterpretation of the Hebrew word for Nazirites (tsaddi vs.
zain). "Christianity" is a term
coined by gentiles in Asia Minor who fused elements of their
Graeco-Roman mystery religions into
their Christology. I personally have coined the term "Yeshuine Judaism"
for my own definition of the Temple associated, Torah observant
followers of Jesus stewarded by his brother James.
As a self-designated "informed layman," do I have the right to review a
book by Dr.
Eisenman? I contend that it is those such as I that are the targeted
audience of this and many
other recent works by Eisenman, Golb, Baigent and Leigh, Charlesworth
and others. Since
these tomes are designed for my consumption, I have the right to review
Now bringing together the DSS and "Yeshuine Judaism," Eisenman
in "James, the Brother of Jesus" his well known paradigm that James, the
Righteous was the
"Teacher of Righteousness" in opposition to Paul of Tarsus as the "Man
of the Lie" as mentioned
in the DSS, notably 1QpHab. Eisenmanís incorporation of his favorite
theory in the book is,
in my opinion, tendentious and one of the flaws of the book, detracting
from what I believe
should be the primary focus of the book...the search for the historical
James. To be fair, this
tendentiousness is not unique or rare among scholars who continue to
push their favorite
themes in continuing works at the expense of historical objectivity. I
think it is time to put
this one to rest. In this laymanís opinion, the identification of the
"Man of the Lie/Wicked
Priest" is strongly evidenced in one of the rare references to a
contemporary historical figure
in the DSS, that of Demetrius III (Euchaerus) in pesher Nahum (4Q169).
Until better evidence
arises, we should go with this strongest evidence that the "Man of the
Lie" is Alexander
Jannaeus and not Paul of Tarsus.