James the Brother of Jesus : The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls


James was a vegetarian, wore only linen clothing, bathed daily at dawn in cold water, and was a life-long Nazirite. In this profound and provocative work of scholarly detection, eminent biblical scholar Robert Eisenman introduces a startling theory about the identity of James—the brother of Jesus, who was almost entirely marginalized in the New Testament.

Drawing on long-overlooked early Church texts and the Dead Sea Scrolls, Eisenman reveals in this groundbreaking exploration ...

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James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls

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James was a vegetarian, wore only linen clothing, bathed daily at dawn in cold water, and was a life-long Nazirite. In this profound and provocative work of scholarly detection, eminent biblical scholar Robert Eisenman introduces a startling theory about the identity of James—the brother of Jesus, who was almost entirely marginalized in the New Testament.

Drawing on long-overlooked early Church texts and the Dead Sea Scrolls, Eisenman reveals in this groundbreaking exploration that James, not Peter, was the real successor to the movement we now call "Christianity." In an argument with enormous implications, Eisenman identifies Paul as deeply compromised by Roman contacts. James is presented as not simply the leader of Christianity of his day, but the popular Jewish leader of his time, whose death triggered the Uprising against Rome—a fact that creative rewriting of early Church documents has obscured.

Eisenman reveals that characters such as "Judas Iscariot" and "the Apostle James" did not exist as such. In delineating the deliberate falsifications in New Testament dcouments, Eisenman shows how—as James was written out—anti-Semitism was written in. By rescuing James from the oblivion into which he was cast, the final conclusion of James the Brother of Jesus is, in the words of The Jerusalem Post, "apocalyptic" —who and whatever James was, so was Jesus.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A passionate quest for the historical James refigures Christian origins, … can be enjoyed as a thrilling essay in historical detection."
The Guardian

"What a book! Impressive in elegance and painstaking scholarship."
—Neil Silberman, author of The Hidden Scrolls

"Fascinating reading."
Kirkis Reviews

Library Journal
In previous writings (most recently, The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered, LJ 2/1/93), Eisenman drew attention to apparent parallels between the Qumran community reflected in the scrolls and the early Jewish Christian community led by James, the brother of Jesus. In his latest work, he attempts to examine further those parallels and to rescue James from "the scrapheap of history." Eisenman believes James's role in early Christianity has been downplayed in the tradition(s) preserved in the New Testament, primarily the Gospels and Acts. Vestiges of the real James are blurred. Eisenman, therefore, chooses to place more confidence in extra-biblical writings, especially the Dead Sea Scrolls, for understanding James and his role in early Christianity; he takes every opportunity to deprecate the writings of the New Testament (except where they can be pressed into service to strengthen his case). At times it is difficult to determine whether the author's goal is to reclaim James or defame the New Testament. This piece of tendentious research is not the key to unlocking anything about early Christianity.-Craig W. Beard, Univ. of Alabama Lib., Birmingham
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140257731
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/28/1998
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 1136
  • Sales rank: 307,648
  • Product dimensions: 5.49 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.93 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Eisenman is Professor of Middle East Religions and Archaeology and Director of the Institute for the Study of Judeo-Christian Origins at California State University, Long Beach; and Visiting Senior Member of Linacre College, Oxford University. The consultant to the Huntington Library in its decision to free the Scrolls, he was the leading figure in the worldwide campaign to gain access to the Scrolls. A National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow at the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem, he was a Senior Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Postgraduate Hebrew Studies.

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Table of Contents

1 James 3
2 The Second Temple and the Rise of the Maccabees 13
3 Romans, Herodians, and Jewish Sects 31
4 First-Century Sources Mentioning James 51
5 Early Church Sources and the Dead Sea Scrolls 70
6 The First Appearance of James in Acts 93
7 The Picture of James in Paul's Letters 126
8 James' Succession and the Election to Fill Judas Iscariot's Office 154
9 The Election of James in Early Church Tradition 185
10 James' Rechabitism and Naziritism 217
11 James' Vegetarianism, Abstention from Blood, and Consuming No Wine 258
12 James' Bathing and Clothing Habits 310
13 James as Opposition High Priest and Oblias 353
14 The Stoning of James and the Stoning of Stephen 411
15 The Death of James in its Historical Setting 466
16 The Attack by Paul on James and the Attack on Stephen 521
17 The Truth About the Death of James 553
18 Peter's Visit to Cornelius and Simon's Visit to Agrippa 598
19 The Apostleship of James, Cephas, and John 647
20 James the First to See Jesus 689
21 Last Supper Scenarios, the Emmaus Road, and the Cup of the Lord 725
22 Jesus' Brothers as Apostles 770
23 Simeon bar Cleophas and Simon the Zealot 817
24 Judas the Brother of James and the Conversion of King Agbar 853
25 The Conversion of Queen Helen and the Ethiopian Queen's Eunuch 883
26 Judas Thomas and Theuda the Brother of the Just One 923
Epilogue 959
Chronological Charts 964
Genealogies 967
Maps 970
Note on Translations 977
List of Abbreviations 980
Notes 983
Index 1037
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2001

    Impressive Scholarship

    Drawing upon an impressive array of early church sources, contemporary secular writings, and recent discoveries of ancient texts found at Nag Hammadi (the Gospel According to Thomas, the 1st and 2nd apocalypses of James, etc.) and Qumran (the Dead Sea Scrolls), Eisenman presents a clear alternative to the establishment view of the development of early Christianity. By careful consideration of the implications of non-sequiturs in extant texts as well as glaring omissions, Eisenman clearly presents the working method of Acts and the Gospels as nothing more than deliberate obfuscation and rewriting of early church history in order to downplay the parts played by Jesus' brothers (especially James) and to try to justify Paul's doctrines with those really held by the Jerusalem Community. The ultimate point that Eisenman makes is that to the extent we can identify what James the brother of Jesus was really like, we can also determine what Jesus was like. Eisenman's arguments make it clear the James was a strict observer of Jewish law, a Nazarite, and unwilling to compromise with foreigners in general and with the Roman Empire and their Herodian puppet kings in particular.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The True First Bishop and leader of the Jerusalem Ecclesia

    This is a very outstanding and remarkable book and I strongly recommend it to all to read. You will never regret it and it will be the best money you will ever spend. It is the story of James, the brother of Jesus and their family, literally and figuretively. It is an entense presentation in the style of a forensic examination where all available parallel traditions are tracked and compared and within which the author points out intrusions of subsequent overwrites over original data. He leaves hardly any doubt who the culprits were and if you do know some of the history surrounging the Bible, the region, and the people, you are going to love being further exposed to the area. Dr Eisenman has two other boos now listed which may still be purchased througyh B&N and the Pseudoclemtine Recognitions are available through used and out of print services. Additionally, have a really great bible available (I recommend the new Oxford Annotated with Apocrypha and the Septuagint for your own parallel studies as you work your way through this. It is long. It is difficult. b You must work at it to understand and complete it. You may have to read a paragraph three times to get it because the inormation is so complex but it is there and it is clear and is is gratifying to finally have a way to separate fact from fiction. I hope the following makes reading it a little easier. In the book, there is a point that James falls from a place called the top of the stairs (steps) or pinnacle of the temple. Well, in aviation lexicon, a mountain summit (highest point) might hace sister peaks of lesser size but still peaks and still a part of the same mountaintop. A helicopter pilot might land to a pinnacle (step-peak, 200 feet down from the summit but still a separate peak and oinnacle in its 's own right. All one does is advise the landing pilot to approach the Southwest low peak 100 ' down from the sunnit on the SW side. If three sides fall away, the top of a cliff becomes a pinnacle approach/landing and egress is out the same way in. So I think the writers could have been right if they called the "top" of the stairs the "pinnacle" of the stairs I still have about 20% of the boo to go but I wanted to get this submitted while other pertinent books were available. If you participate as I have recommended, no one will know the bible better than you yourself ad you will have worked for thew informatio. Please do not let this pass you by and oick up recommended books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2004

    Both fascinating and scholarly

    This is a brilliant book that remains under constant attack for not supporting approved traditional interpretations of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Be sure to examine carefully and in depth the credentials of its critics -- few of the critics have many.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2003

    break on through


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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2001

    excellent research on the past

    i've been through the book completely and found it very othentic. the theme does not contradict from the believes of the christianity but it gives a broad way to find new ways that what had happened to jesus christ. because at the moment history is blind to so some extant in the means that nobody is rralising that where are we going to. involvment of church is not helping anybody to find the true facts and figures in this situation there eas a need of this type of book. when it was asked to 'Mirza Ghulam Ahmed ' of Qadian in late 1800s that if there were any true avidences he replied that God had told me that there were avidences and in one time the earth will prove those avidences itself.

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