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Old 07-24-2001, 01:02 PM   #21
Earl
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Nomad,

I'm not going to repeat the same debate we had on Ludemann. I cited the debate so Bill and others could have some more background regarding your orthodox position on the relationship between Paul, James and Peter.

Scholars are divided on this relationship, with conservatives defending the traditional view that there was a divinely supported, miraculous line of theological continuity from Jesus to all his early followers including Paul, James and Peter, and finally to the dominant Catholic Church where it has continued to the present day. More liberal scholars deny this picture and replace it with one stressing the virtue of scientific humility in the field of historical inquiry, and the humanness and fragmentation of early Christianity. Eisenmann and Ludemann are in the second camp, and Nomad and traditional scholars are in the first.

The question is whether there is overwhelming evidence either way so that the other side can be accused of begging the question, such as that of the relationship between the Ebionites, pseudo-Clementines, and pre 70 CE Christianity. Nomad has given us his view over and over again in a number of debates. History is an exact science and the evidence for the orthodox view of Christianity's history is overwhelming. In fact, the continuity running throughout the Church's history is so miraculous that this history by itself counts as a powerful, if not sufficient proof of Christianity's truth. But again, liberal scholars disagree. The evidence is not so clear and the study of history is not an exact science. There is always room in historical study for the sort of interpretive work done by Ludemann and Eisenmann. The relationship between the pseudo-Clementines and pre 70 Jewish Christianity is not obvious but requires the setting aside of traditionalism, a reinterpretation of Acts and many other factors. I'm not going to get into a detailed discussion of the pseudo-Clementines at this point. Eisenmann's and Ludemann's work, for example, is complicated and should be read by their opponents.

Liberal scholars live with uncertainties, grey areas, and the necessity of interpretation, whereas conservative scholars take a much more optimistic view of historical method. Each side can claim the other begs the question. The conservatives can claim that the liberals have to scrounge around in uncertain areas and indulge in unconventional, weak interpretations that contradict the orthodox, received view. The liberals, however, accuse the conservatives of presupposing the divine inspiration and therefore authority of the orthodox position.

One of the main reasons I'm in the liberal camp has to do with my view of miracles. Which side has the more daunting burden of proof? That is, which side is riskier to accept, the conservatives or the liberals? Which side fits best with historians' and scientists' findings in other areas? Does history tend to be neat and tidy or messy and hard to unravel? Taking a scientific, evolutionary view of things, I conclude that the conservatives have the more difficult burden of proof since their view presupposes a clarity, authority, and continuity that they explain in terms of divine support. Miracle claims are extraordinary declarations of fact and require extraordinary proof because their acceptance negates well-established scientific, non-theistic theories. Instead of offering overwhelming evidence to meet this extreme burden, the conservatives' view rests on faith rather than the scientific method.

One part of this alleged miraculous continuity involves the transition from Judaism to Christianity. Given that Jesus and his initial followers were firmly Jewish and emphasized the centrality of the Jewish law, a point which conservatives deny, can we so easily justify the notion that Paul's theology and view of the dispensability of Jewish law relative to the primacy of faith represent a smooth transition from Jesus, James, Peter and the Jerusalem Church? On the contrary, Paul's abrogation of the law would have been especially frustrating to Jews and more Jewish-minded Christians given the threat of Jewish assimilation to Hellenistic thought. The Jewish Christians wanted to keep their Jewish identity, whereas Paul saw no problem in accommodating alien, Hellenistic concepts at least to gain converts.

Paul may have said that faith requires good deeds, but this hardly amounts to a defense of the importance of Jewish laws and customs in particular. In Romans and Galatians Paul reinterprets Judaism in a way that most Jews would have found abhorrent. For Paul, the Jewish law was a "prison;" "now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law" (Gal.3:23, 25). Most Jews thought of the law very differently. They loved their laws and customs because of the distinctive identity these secured for them as, they believed, God's "chosen people." They loved their traditions just as faithful Catholics love their rules and regulations. Paul wanted to undermine the distinctive Jewish identity. Thus he said "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (3:28).

So the converted Paul was certainly no traditional Jew. The only other question, then, is how radical was Jesus. Did Jesus preach the abrogation of Judaism or at least a completely new conception of Jewish identity? Did Jesus want to start a new religion? Liberal scholars think not. And the more Jewish were Jesus and the Jerusalem Church, the more plausible becomes the view that they would not have gotten along well with Paul.

[ July 24, 2001: Message edited by: Earl ]
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Old 07-24-2001, 02:37 PM   #22
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This is an excellent overview Earl thanks so much for taking the time to post it. Some consider Luke-Acts to be accurate history while others see apologetic purposes behind the text. You have reminded us as to the reasons why we hold the views we do.
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Old 07-24-2001, 03:34 PM   #23
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Hi Earl, and thank you for your thoughts on this issue. A couple of points if I may.

First, when you use phrases like “liberal scholarship” let’s be clear. Eisenmann is Jewish, and Luddemann is an atheist. This is not “liberal” scholarship, nor is it somehow more subjective than orthodox Christian scholarship. So please do not play word games here. In identifying the sources we use, and the a priori prejudices they bring to the issues under discussion, then we can better inform others as to which camp we find most credible. I am not saying that you do not do this, by the way, only that your catch all term of “liberal” is not quite accurate.

Second, when you wish to use something like the pseudo-Clementines as evidence of what James believed, it is incumbent upon you to link these documents to James. Since this cannot be done, it is at best pure speculation as to how close of a link can be made between these books and James’ theology. Once again, I am simply stating a truism here. Luddemann would like to link the two together, and apparently so would you. But then stepping back and saying that we live with historical ambiguity is just a way of saying your speculation is just as good as any one else’s. Unfortunately, the problem is that there is no evidence at all that the Ebonionites can be linked to the pre-70 Jerusalem Church or to Peter and James. So claiming any faith in such a link is quite peculiar don’t you think? What could motivate one to believe in a link without evidence Earl?

On the flip side, we do have reports of what James thought written while James was alive (in the case of the Paulines, and possibly the letter from James), and written reasonably soon after his death (in Acts). Interestingly, those that place so much faith in the poorly attested pseudo-Clementines go to great lengths to dispute these earlier documents. Again should we inquire as to the motives that may lead a scholar to doing this? After all, if he or she wants to reject the 1st Century evidence, why would they accept 3rd and 4th Century evidence? And when this later evidence bolsters their ideological and theological beliefs, should we perhaps inquire more closely into their motives?

Your uncritical acceptance of such work is quite astonishing Earl.

Third, there is no question that Paul argued against the excessive legalism of the Jews of his day. At the same time, much of what he wrote concerned the specific issue of the need to circumcise Gentile converts to Christianity, and Paul very correctly noted that this practice was not necessary. At no point did he argue that the Jews themselves could not continue to be circumcised, nor did he reject their laws on dietary matters. What he recognized was that to God, these outward forms were not the central issue for our salvation and justification. There, as it has always been, we must rely upon faith. This is why he talks about Abraham’s faith being credited to him as righteousness, and that the righteous live by faith. These quotations are directly from the OT, the Hebrew Bible, and no Jew could deny them.

Romans 4:7-13 "Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him." Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham's faith was credited to him as righteousness. Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised. It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.

And did Paul deny the unique and special position of the Jews?

Romans 11:1, 26-29 I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin.
And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins." As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable.


Paul understood the Hebrew Bible, and its central message to the world:

Habakkuk 2:4 "See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright-- but the righteous will live by his faith

As I said in my last post, Paul was deeply concerned with what the law meant, and here his views mirrored that of Jesus (and James):

Romans 13:9-10 The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Paul shows very clearly that he understood the law just as Jesus did.

Mark 12:29-31 (see also Luke 10:27, Matt. 22:36-40) "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: `Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: `Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

And given the answers from the Jewish teachers, there appears to be universal agreement on this point.

Mark 12:32-33 "Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."

As for your comments about the required evidence for miracles, this is not the place to discuss that issue. Suffice to say that you are correct. The level of evidence needed to support the belief in miracles is much higher than is that for regular claims. But the claim that the pseudo-Clementines represents James’ theology is not a miraculous one. It is quite ordinary, and needs only the normal amount of evidence. The problem is that the evidence does not exist at all, so belief in what it represents depends upon the faith of the reader. On the other hand, the evidence given in the Paulines, and James and Acts is sufficient in my view. If you can establish that there was a significant theological conflict between Paul, James and Jesus, then please present your evidence. I hope you can appreciate my request that the evidence offered come from something closer to the events than a few hundred years.

Nomad

P.S. I am assuming that your post was written before you had a chance to read my last post of July 23. If you can offer evidence that contradicts what I wrote, or my conclusions, I would be happy to examine it.
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Old 07-24-2001, 06:35 PM   #24
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Nomad:

I agree that I went to far, put words into your mouth, without justification, when I said this:
Quote:
Now, I'm pretty sure that Nomad is replying from a fundamentalist Protestant perspective, automatically denying the Book of James (as did Luther himself) and the whole Roman Catholic Church. It's clear that Protestants and Catholics have major differences in their theology.
OK, then, I WILL APOLOGIZE FOR THAT STATEMENT!

Now, with that out of the way, will you please address the following points for my benefit here:
  • Where do you stand on the "faith alone" or "faith plus works" matter? In other words, which position do you assert that both James and Paul adhered to?
  • Where do you stand on the issue of whether or not James himself preached that true followers of Jesus had to follow Jewish Law, and upon what do you base your assertion of this position?
  • Where do you stand on the issue of whether or not Paul disagreed with James over whether or not Gentile followers of Christ had to obey Jewish law (such as the dietary laws required for "table fellowship" and the requirement for circumcision)?
  • And of course, we have the fundamental issue of the Trinity: where do you stand on that as to what Paul and James (respectively) preached, and upon what do you base your assertion?
I won't attempt a comprehensive answer to your various posts until such time as you have an opportunity to respond to these questions.

== Bill
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Old 07-24-2001, 06:59 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally posted by Nomad:
<STRONG>First, when you use phrases like “liberal scholarship” let’s be clear. Eisenmann is Jewish, and Luddemann is an atheist. This is not “liberal” scholarship, nor is it somehow more subjective than orthodox Christian scholarship. So please do not play word games here .</STRONG>
I would like to point out that Gerd Lüdemann is "an atheist" only to the extent that he declared, in his last book, that he could "no longer describe myself as a Christian." Personally, I'm not one of those who tend to see the world in "black or white" terms, such that either you are a Christian or else you are an atheist. (This should not be surprising, since I've long proclaimed myself to be an agnostic!)

Lüdemann is a particularly interesting case study for Christians. Here, we have a man who took his Dr. of Theology degree in 1974; who taught at Vanderbilt University's Divinity School (1979, 1980, 1984, and 1992-1998), and who was a reasonably well-known author of books on Christianity long before he wrote "Heretics" in 1995/1996 (German/English).

I think that Lüdemann's study of Gnosticism is what eventually led him to deconvert. As he studied and wrote about the Gnostic view, he became increasingly convinced that the Gnostic view was superior to the modern view. (This is what led to "Heretics," above.) Once he realized that he, himself, was a "heretic," the short trip to unbelief in Christianity wasn't all that hard to make.

But it really does Lüdemann a disservice to merely refer to him as an "atheist," even if that is what Lüdemann is in your own eyes.

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Old 07-24-2001, 08:50 PM   #26
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Nomad,

Regarding "liberal" scholarship, whichever term you want to use instead we have to acknowledge the general point that there is a split among Christianity scholars as to how much credence to give the orthodox account of the early Church. Why should anyone be surprised that those who doubt orthodoxy are not traditional Christians? The question is what comes first, the conviction that orthodoxy is false or the study of orthodoxy leading to a negative conclusion and an absence of traditional faith? The same question can be asked about the traditionalists: does their faith come first or subsequent to a study? Since traditionalism appeals to miracles to account for the authority of and continuity in Church history, and since the evidence is insufficient to establish rational belief in these miracles (because of the evidence's ambiguity and reasonable doubt about the orthodox account) the traditionalists must in the end fall back on faith.

Regarding the pseudo-Clementines, once again since I've already had this particular debate with you in the thread I quoted above, I'm not interested in rehashing it. If you're not satisfied with what I said in that earlier debate, that's fine because I quoted this debate primarily for Bill's benefit. Bill and everyone else can read both sides of that debate and judge for themselves. Moreover, I cited the pseudo-Clementines only as an interesting piece of evidence in this context, not as the whole case for the early Church's fragmentation.

Of course by "evidence" you mean something like "hard" evidence, such as a primary document self-evidently linking the Ebionites to James. This is why I stressed in my last post the different conceptions of historical inquiry. Traditionalists think in black and white terms and brook no theoretical guesswork or "speculation" because they trust in the authority of orthodoxy, the received view. I already admitted that there is no obvious reason to link the two groups, but this doesn't mean there is no evidence at all for the linkage. It makes no sense to link the two groups GIVEN the truth of orthodoxy, because orthodoxy accepts the NT picture of a relatively unified early Church. Those scholars who accept the possibility of the link doubt orthodoxy in general for hundreds of other reasons. Once the NT picture of the unified early Church is accepted not as literal history but as propaganda, white washing and so forth--again for a host of independent reasons--the theory that the Ebionites were intellectual descendents of James' Jerusalem Church doesn't seem farfetched, but on the contrary becomes a reasonable interpretation of the two groups' existence. Self-evident and established by "hard" evidence? No, the theory is supported by reinterpretations of evidence, theoretical, educated guesswork, and the theory's general fit with other accepted conclusions about James, Jesus, and so forth. This sort of detection method is unacceptable only to those who have a skewed, unrealistic picture of historical inquiry stemming from a prior explicitly faithful commitment which renders reinterpretation of the tradition gratuitous and sinful. This is one of the ways traditionalists rig the game: they accept only "hard" evidence" or primary documents--especially canonical ones--even though the early Church chose to canonize certain documents for the relative continuity they afforded, and persecuted its opponents as "heretics," making the history of disagreement and reinterpretation a dangerous, necessarily minority business.

Regarding Paul's view of the Jews, yes he said the Jews are important to God, but that's not the issue. The issue is Paul's extension of Judaism to Gentiles who could, he said, consider themselves no less loved by the Jewish God even though all they need is faith without a participation in the Jewish way of life. This is what would have angered the Jews, and this is what has angered the Jews throughout the Church's history, the indirect attack upon Judaism by means of the Christian rhetoric of "fulfillment." Paul tried to have it both ways; his attack on Judaism was indirect. If Gentiles could receive the Jewish God's favour and "salvation" through faith alone, that steals away the necessity for the Jewish traditions and laws for everyone including the Jews. Of course Paul didn't attack Jews directly by saying that they were foolish for continuing to follow the law. Let them follow the law if they want. But by implication they make their lives much harder by remaining in the "prison" set out for them by the "legalistic" interpretation of Judaism, because all they need is faith in Jesus. That was a way of indirectly undermining the distinctiveness of Judaism at a time when Jews were occupied by a foreign culture and might have feared assimilation.

Rom.13:9-10 represents a reduction of Judaism not an honouring of Jewish identity. If all the laws can be summed up in "love," and Jesus best represented love, then all anyone had to do is have faith in Jesus and this would count as perfect righteousness equal to the Jewish way of life. This is an assimilation of Judaism to a Hellenistic cult in which a person is worshipped rather than the Jewish God. We know that orthodox Christianity was abhorrent to Jews because for centuries the Christians punished them in various ways for denying the Christian claims of continuity and "fulfillment." These two terms are euphemisms for "assimilation."

And yes, the gospels have Jesus say something very similar about the summarized law. But in Mark there is no Pauline implication that living a Jewish way of life is unnecessary because the law can be so summarized; there is no implication that the law is a "prison." Moreover, there is some doubt as to whether Jesus actually made this remark, since this summary of the law was from Hillel, who summarizes Judaism thus in a rather sarcastic way. Hillel says to someone who asks for the whole Torah to be taught to him while he stands on one foot, "What you find hateful do not do to another. This is the whole of the law. Everything else is commentary. Now go study!" Hillel rather threw the summary out in mockery of the request for such a superficial boiling down of a whole wisdom tradition. With Paul, though, there is a complete reduction and no sign of an acceptance of the necessity to go and study Judaism itself. For Paul, faith in Christ sufficed.

[ July 25, 2001: Message edited by: Earl ]
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Old 07-25-2001, 09:06 AM   #27
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I will have to get to Bill's questions (which are very good one's BTW) a little later, when I have more time to give them the time they deserve. Similarily, I will reply to Earl's post, hopefully tonight.

As for the question of Gerd Ludemann's beliefs, if he is not an atheist, then my apologies to him. I certainly do not subscribe to the theory that anyone who is not a Christian is an atheist, but it was my (obviously mistaken) understanding that he had identified himself as an atheist. If he is not, and has merely become agnostic, that is fine, and I appreciate Bill setting the record straight here.

My larger point on using terms like "liberal" and "orthodox" to describe scholars is that it is a misnomer when applied to non-Christians. Further, many scholars do not neatly fit into such categories. For example, is an evengelical scholar like Craig Blomberg "orthodox"? What about more radical scholars like C. Peter Theide on one end, or Barbara Theiring on the other? Simple identification tags often cloud discussion, rather than clarify matters. So, if we identify scholars as being sceptics (M. Grant, Robin Lane Fox, G. Ludemann, R. Funk), liberals (Crossan, Borg, and B. Chilton), orthodox (R. Brown, N.T. Wright), Evangelical (Blomberg, D. Wallace, G. Habermas), Jewish (Eisenmann, G. Vermes), and some who are simply unknown (R. Griffith-Jones for example) theologically or ideologically, then I believe this is a more useful presentation of the type of scholarship upon which we are relying. An issue like this, and pigeonholing scholars into neat boxes, is not as black and white as Earl's post had made it out to be.

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Old 07-25-2001, 09:56 AM   #28
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Josephus (Antiq. 18 and Wars 2) says of the Essenes that they eschewed marriage, kept all things in common, appointed a treasurer to keep track of their communal property, observed purity laws and ate communal meals, sought righteousness, and endured a three year initiation after which time they were baptized.

It has been pointed out by many commentators that the Essenes as described by Josephus bears a striking resemblance to the Qumran community as described in the Community Rule (1QS). Qumran scholars are still debating the question but there is consensus for the view that the Qumran Sect were Essenes. The Qumran community had a three year initiation period, appointed a common treasurer, kept all things in common, were obsessed with righteousness (contrasted with wickedness), and had strict rules regarding marriage.

The parallels with the Jesus movement are equally striking. We learn from Luke-Acts that the post-Easter movement observed a ritual of communal meals begun by Jesus. (He also appointed a treasurer to hold their common assets.) Paul tells us in Galatians that he underwent a three year initiation after which time he sought out the leaders in Jerusalem. The theme of contrasting righteousness and wickedness is found throughout the NT texts and Eisenmann points out that James the "Just" was known as a pillar of righteousness. In a curious passage in the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus says "'In the place you are to go, go to James the Righteous, for whose sake Heaven and Earth came into existence." (Josephus argued that the destruction of the second temple was due to the anger of God against those who murdered James.)

I say all of this just to present a high-level overview of the reasons for why Bill made the statement that James and the Jerusalem trajectory of the Jesus movement could have been Essenes. It is not true that there is no support for the theory.
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Old 07-25-2001, 11:39 AM   #29
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When we consider the question of what constitutes evidence of James’ theology, the first and most obvious place to look is the NT Bible. After all, it is here that we have James mentioned by name, and he is connected with specific words and sayings. In this case, we can look especially at the letters of Paul (disputed or not, I accept that they represent his views), the book of Acts, and the letters of James, Jude and 1 and 2 Peter. I accept all of these sources as the best attested evidence available to us.

Now, what about the pseudo-Clementines mentioned by Earl and used extensively by Gerd Ludemann? The problem I have with these, as Earl has noted, is that there is no real evidence connecting them to James. After all, just because they represent the views of the Ebonionites, 3rd and 4th Century Jewish Christians, later declared to be heretical in their theology can hardly serve as proof that they came from an older doctrine taught by James and his disciples. A noted sceptical scholar and historian of antiquity put it very well:

“In the West, in short, early Christianity has lost its history, but there is one general point on which we can be more confident. And older view that heretical types of Christianity arrived in many places before orthodox faith has nothing in its favour, except perhaps in the one Syrian city of Edessa. In Lyons and North Africa, there is no evidence of this first heretical phase and the likelier origins are all against it. In Egypt, the argument has been decisively refuted from the evidence of the papyri. Details of practice and leadership did differ widely, but the later existence of so many heresies must not obscure the common core of history and basic teaching throughout the Christian world”
(Robin Lane Fox, Pagans and Christians, [Penguin Books, London: 1986], pg. 276.)


As we can see from Lane Fox’s quote, the “hard” evidence not only does not support the link between the Ebonionites and James, but it actually refutes it. Further, it confirms that there was a common core on matters of basic teaching and theology, and this has been my central contention all along.

Effectively, if as it has been asserted, James, Peter and Paul were in some serious conflicts, then we would find it in the writings that most certainly reflect the thoughts and beliefs of these men. As I have said, I am perfectly willing to examine such evidence as it is taken from the Paulines and other epistles. I am also open to presentations of evidence from the Gospels, and even other non-Canonical writings if they can support the case of the sceptics. But I do not see how we can accept the speculation that documents from an heretical group of Jewish Christians (like the Ebonionites), written hundreds of years after the death of James and the fall of Jerusalem (both pre 70AD and even the final destruction of 135AD) can reasonably be connected to James himself. Surely, if such a rift existed, Paul would have been much more forceful in his denunciation of Peter and James. Were there disputes prior to the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15)? Of course. That is why Acts tells us about them, as does Paul himself. But were those rifts deep or abiding after that Council? I have yet to see compelling evidence to support this claim.

I will wait to see what Bill or Earl has to offer.

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Old 07-25-2001, 02:58 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally posted by James Still:

Josephus (Antiq. 18 and Wars 2) says of the Essenes that they eschewed marriage, kept all things in common, appointed a treasurer to keep track of their communal property, observed purity laws and ate communal meals, sought righteousness, and endured a three year initiation after which time they were baptized.
If this is meant to draw parralells to early Christian doctrines and teachings, then there are a few areas where differences are quite obvious, not only between the Essenes and Christians in general, but especially between the Essenes on one side and Jesus, John the Baptist, James and Paul on the other.

First, a common treasurer and communal property are very similar to what we know about Jesus and the disciples, as well as the first Christians. The problem, of course, is that here one would have to accept the account of Judas given in the Gospel of John, and of how Christians lived as described in Acts. Personally, I accept both, but I am unsure why the sceptic would be so convinced.

Second, the purity laws and emphasis on righteousness were important to all Jews of the time, so hardly should be surprising, given that all of the first Christians were Jews.

Third, there is no three year initiation period prior to baptizism, even for John the Baptist, nor was there for Jesus or Paul. The baptism of James is never mentioned in the NT, so we cannot know here. What we do know is that as soon as someone confessed Christ as Lord, they were baptized immediately. See the Ethiopian in Acts 8, Paul in Acts 9, Peter's speeches showing that new converts were immediately baptized (Acts 2) and so forth.

Forth, marriage was only not eschewed, but most of the first disciples (including Peter) were actually married.

Finally, while a communal meal was a feature of Essene life, we see no connection between that meal and a sacrifice, as we see in the Eucharist, making the meaning of these meal radically different to the Essenes as opposed to Christians (where it was the central event in worship).

Quote:
...The Qumran community had a three year initiation period, appointed a common treasurer, kept all things in common, were obsessed with righteousness (contrasted with wickedness), and had strict rules regarding marriage.
Again, this is no surprise, given that both the Essenes and early Christians were all Jews. And as we have seen above, the three year innitiation period did not apply to Christian converts.

Quote:
...Paul tells us in Galatians that he underwent a three year initiation after which time he sought out the leaders in Jerusalem.
Galatians 1:15-18 But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus. Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days.

While Paul mentions a three year gap between his conversion and going to Jerusalem to meet Peter and James, I do not see anything about an initiation. What are you talking about here?

Quote:
I say all of this just to present a high-level overview of the reasons for why Bill made the statement that James and the Jerusalem trajectory of the Jesus movement could have been Essenes. It is not true that there is no support for the theory.
As you can see, the parralells are very weak. But there is one especially big whole in the entire theory. The Essenes were deeply opposed to the leaders of the Temple, and would not go to Jerusalem to worship at that Temple. Jesus, His disciples, Paul and especially James were all very closely associated with the Temple, and did worship there. They did not avoid Jerusalem, and James, more than any other, lived their full time.

On this basis, trying to identify him with the isolationist Qumran community appears to be without foundation.

Peace,

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