[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
orion Orion James Brother of Jesus
In a message dated 97-05-17 08:14:04 EDT, you write:
<< Date: Fri, 16 May 1997 16:49:44 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: orion James the Brother of Jesus
<<I have been slowly working my way through "James the Brother of Jesus."
only about half way through so far, but it seems to me that the broad stroke
is something like the following:
With this one slow is the only way to go. The text is so packed with
references, cross-references, innuendo, and interpretation of allegory that
it does take some time and concentration to follow. Eisenman so far has
spent most of the text forming the foundation for what I expect shall be the
bottom line. I am only a third of the way through.
>> 1. James was a Nazorean/Essene/Rachabite/ priest whose approach to his
religion was in pari materi with the "Qumran Sect." (The implication is
so was his brother.)
It appears to me that the implication is that James was, in Eisenman's
contention, a significant leader in what was some form of alliance or
affiliation contra to the more accomodationist sects of the period. To the
extent that Eisenman outlines this affiliation as including the more
"zealous" (zealous for the Torah as they knew it) elements of the first
century, he presents that James was of one or more of these groups. This
affiliation he contends was known by a number of overlapping titles
reflecting terms he contends are synonymous if not the same as
Essene/Rachabite/Ebionite, etc. Included in this alliance are groups sharing
common goals and ideology with regards to "holiness" and its many concepts.
Nazarites, Rechabites, qumranites, and other's avowed toward ritual and to
some degree doctrinal purity are included in this group or so I gather to
this point in my reading. However, I think Eisenman tends more in this book
toward the position that James was of the group/s represented by the writings
or Qumran and more than that, was a significant player or leader in this
>> 2. James was stoned by Herodian backed Pharisees because he was
their control of, inter alia, the Temple.
The stoning of James in my reading to this point is averred to have been
undertaken not necessarily by Herodian backed Pharisees, but rather by the
Jerusalem establishment which included not only these Pharisees but also
collaborationist Saducees all garnering support and power through Herodian
empowerment. I don't see Eisenman as contending that this "opposition
alliance" was anti-temple, on the contrary, it was their very zeal for the
law and as a symbol this icon of Judaism (the temple) that was the cause of
this opposition's existence. The opposition Eisenman refers more correctly
in my reading as opposition to the corruption and ritual uncleanness going on
among the Herodian/Roman appointed caretakers of the Temple.
>>3. The "early church" (i.e., befoe Paul) had no message for Gentiles
It seems that Eisenman contends that no undertaking was made for any form
of Pauline-type evangelizing of the Gentiles. The way I read the book
James/The opposition alliance made no allowance for Gentiles entering into
the community of the "early church" as quoted above, without their full
compliance and adherence to the beliefs of James' community. Not an
exclusion of the Gentiles, rather an inclusion with the same conditions for
any other individual who wished to join the community. However, it seems
that no purposeful attempt was made to recruit Gentiles into this community.
>>4. The gospels and Acts are not accurate renditions of what the message
of James and his brother.
To qualify, nor are most of the other extant sources as noted by Eisenman,
each being shaded by ideology, corruption with time, and purposeful
distortion. Eisenman contends that the Acts, the Gospels and to some degree
the writings of later historians are compositions made of stories and
traditions taken out of context or which were originally applied to other
historical figures written of by Josephus and other early historians. To
some extent Eisenman contends that these transmogrifications are based on
confusion and in other cases they are knowingly corrupted to mold an
>>5. Paul was a Herodian/Roman backed Pharisee individual who used Jesus
as a touchstone to develop a position substantially left of the Pharisees.
I haven't got that far to speak of Paul's exact position in this text. At a
minimum, Paul is an individual who Eisenman connects intimately with the
Herodian establishment, not only in Israel, but in his native Tarsus as well
as Rome. Eisenman endeavors to show that Paul is shown as a man who the
writers of the Acts strain to place in harmony with the "original" apostles
and whose ideology the writers of the Gospels try to prop up through
corruption of the ideology of the Jerusalem church as led by James. I have
not yet clearly read motives ascribed to Paul's missionary activities but to
this point I gather from the tone of the text that they were to stifle the
efforts of the "zealots" and allowed continued Roman dominance. This is
inferred by the outcome betraying the motive.
>> 6. The Dead Sea Scrolls confirm the above.
The Scrolls confirm portions of the above. I think it fair to say that
Eisenman does not rely on the scrolls for confirmation. The book to the
extent I have read it shows great effort in bringing to it many varied
sources for its assertions. The sources brought into the text are
interplayed with the Dead Sea Scrolls to try to show the interrelation with
the scrolls, and in some cases to try to put events behind the cryptic verses
found in parts of the scrolls. I would say that so far the presentation I
receive is that the Scrolls do not in and of themselves confirm Eisenmans
assertions. This is the reason I believe Eisenman brings so many sources
into his book. I see much more reliance by Eisenman on the
PseudoClementines, Eusebius, and other early texts to support his positions.
I do not see great reliance on the Dead Sea Scrolls by Eisenman to confirm
items 1-5 above. The scrolls are only one piece of many he has so far
presented in this book to support his contentions. Although I haven't
completed the book, I haven't found the text to rely that heavily on the
>Is the foregoing a reasonable understanding of the book
My comments speak for themselves on this.
> and do others agree with the tight parallels drawn between James and the
>>Absolutely not. The early Church and the Qumran community may drink from
the same well- but they are not the same thing. (as Eisenman seems to
Whether they are or are not the same thing remains to be established. I
leave my mind open to either suggestion until the evidence is
incontrovertible one way or the other. Given the history of scroll research,
the bifurcation of some historians past and present, and the inherent
theological bias in this area, I think that the fairest course of action.
One thing I have gathered from the book. Eisenman does not suggest parallels
between the early church and Qumran, he delivers them. Philologically,
historically (to the extent that the early historians can be trusted), and
with theological comparison Eisenman thus far has provided numerous instances
where the "early church" expressed themselves in an identical fashion with
the writers of the scrolls. Further conforming evidence is given with
regards to "early church" history paralleling that of the Qumran sect. Other
evidence presented shows the parallels presented by early "heretical"
christian sects, contended as being offshoots of the theology found in the
scrolls. Heretical being in the eye of the beholder. By examining these
early sects and their writings and traditions Eisenman endeavors to trace
back the sources for these parallel beliefs and traditions as emanating from
the "opposition alliance" as represented in part by James. That being said,
the issue of this book, to paraphrase Eisenman's own words, is not whether
Pauline Christianity as opposed to that of the "Jerusalem community" of James
is right, wrong or otherwise. So far it seems to me that Eisenman is working
to show the writings of the Dead Sea Scrolls to reflect the beliefs of James
(if not his membership or leadership of the Sectarians) and by implication,
Palestinian Christianity and even Jesus himself..