Just James: The Brother of Jesus in History and Tradition

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A new edition of Just James became necessary with the announcement of the discovery of a Jewish ossuary, or burial box, inscribed in Aramaic with the words, as commonly translated, "James son of Joseph brother of Jesus." Through the publicity surrounding the controversial discovery many people are now aware that Jesus of Nazareth had a famous brother named James. How does the ossuary relate to understanding that James and that Jesus? Just James sets out the varied considerations concerning this question while providing access to the early sources concerning James. In the process John Painter buttresses the case for recognizing James as the direct successor to Jesus and the leader of the original Christian movement in Jerusalem.

Recognition of the leadership of James is evident in the earliest sources of the New Testament. It is not prominent, however, since the New Testament reflects other interests that focus attention on Peter and Paul -- though both acknowledged James's authority, whether willingly or reluctantly. None of the sources names any other single leader of the Jerusalem church. By the second century the leadership of James in Jerusalem and beyond was fully acknowledged, and the sources reveal the extent of his reputation. By then Jewish Christians, Gnostics, and the emerging Great Church all claimed James as a foundational figure.

Using the person of James as a prism, Just James brings the history of earliest Christianity and its relationship to Jesus and Judaism into clearer view. For many centuries the prism was clouded by competing traditions that found in James support for their own ideology. But in all of these the death of James received concentrated attention -- from Josephus, the Jewish historian; Hegesippus, the Jewish Christian; Clement, the philosophical Christian identified with Alexandria; and the authors of the Gnostic texts of Nag Hammadi. The most comprehensive record of James, marking the height of his influence, is in the fourth-century history of the church by Eusebius of Caesarea. Without this account the distortions introduced by the disparate traditions would prevail. Just James considers all the relevant sources, examines the forces that fractured the powerful image of James, and puts that image together again. James reemerges as the singular first force in earliest Christianity.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781570031748
  • Publisher: University of South Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/1997
  • Series: Studies on Personalities of the New Test
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.34 (h) x 1.27 (d)

Meet the Author

John Painter is Professor of Theology at St. Mark's National Theological Centre, Charles Stuart University, Canberra, Australia.

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Table of Contents

Preface to the Second Edition
Just James: The Death of a Legend 1
Pt. I The Gospel, Acts, and the Letters of Paul
1 The Gospels: James and the Family of Jesus 11
2 Acts: James as Convert or Foundation Leader? 42
3 The Letters of Paul: Paul and James 58
4 James, Peter, Matthew, and Paul: Diversity and Conflict in the Two Missions 83
Pt. II Images of James in the Early Church
5 Tradition in Eusebius: James the Just, Brother of the Lord, First Bishop and Martyr 105
6 The Nag Hammadi Library: James as Successor to Jesus and Repository of Secret Tradition 159
7 The Apocrypha and Later Christian Evidence: Bishop of Bishops and Bulwark of Truth 182
Pt. III James and Jewish Christianity
8 Jewish Christianity, the Righteous Sufferer, and the Epistle of James 227
9 Jacob Sons of Joseph Brother of Jesus 270
10 Jacob Brother of the Lord 295
Just Jacob: The Rebirth of a Vision 325
Excursus: Robert Eisenman's James the Brother of Jesus 333
App Reports and Opinions on the Ossuary 345
Bibliography 357
Index of Biblical and Ancient Sources 373
Index of Modern Authors 389
Index of Subjects 393
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