Jesus ~ (James the Just & Simon bar Giora)

To find the historical Jesus, we apply the time shift hypothesis by Lena Einhorn (2006, 2012) and Robert Eisenman (2006), and Ralph Ellis (1998). The New Testament (NT) describes events around the destruction of Jerusalem and Temple in 70 AD, but these events are projected one generation back into time to 30 AD, in order not to alert the Romans and to allow Jesus the prediction of that downfall.

To find the historical Jesus, we also observe that he has at least two aspects: priest and warrior.

We already met Simon bar Giora, who after the fall of Jerusalem hid in the tunnels below the city, but after some days, when his food resources ran out, resurrected into the sunlight, dressed like a king, and proclaiming himself to be king of the Jews. He was captured, paraded in Rome, and executed. He may have been thrown from the Tarpeian Rock – whence perhaps his name Simon the Rock – Simon Petra – Simon Kephas. See Appendix 1 on the rock. (I didn’t check Richard A Horsley 1999.) The violent nature of this side of Jesus is emphasized in these points by Riaan Booysen – but see some criticism too. Overall, we see that properties of Simon bar Giora may be allocated to both Jesus (King of the Jews) and Simon Peter. This is a way for the writers of the NT to create a somewhat new story and still remain somewhat realistic w.r.t. the period.

Simon however is a warrior and cannot provide for the parables and theological points.

Jesus thus is too much to be true. The two aspects are too complex to fit one historical person. As a priest and theologian his teachings are too complex for a warrior. As a warrior his deeds that lead to the destruction of Jerusalem and Temple are too much for a priest and theologian. If Jesus had been a single historical figure then he would have broken down from internal tensions and we would have never heard from him. Jesus must be a composition of at least two historical persons – and perhaps two might be sufficient.

For comparison, consider Gaius Julius Caesar, who was both Pontifex Maximus of Rome and brutal in his military conquests (Alesia) but forgiving for his enemies when they submitted to his rule, and after his death was deified as Divus Julius. Caesar already combines the two aspects to some degree but apparently his own writings mostly deal with mundane affairs and not theology. Even Caesar is not enough to become Jesus, apart from that he wasn’t circumcised either.

The figure of Jesus must also be based upon someone with an awareness of the finer issues of theology. There are good reasons that this would be James the Just, a.k.a. James the brother of Jesus, most likely the leader of the Qumran sect.

Thus, we hypothesize that the historical Jesus ~ (James the Just & Simon bar Giora). For the divine dimension we can still look at the Ascension of Isaiah or Gnosis or the Samaritans. (For modern times, see Appendix 3.)

The present discussion looks at those reasons for James.

Horsley 1999

Horsley 1999

What is known about James the Just ?

Two important books are Eisenman James the Brother of Jesus (JBJ) (1997) and The New Testament Code (NTC) (2006). However, JBJ was written before Eisenman’s acceptance in NTC that key Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) are relevant for 70 AD. For now, we will only use what is available online. See a note in Appendix 2 below.

Information about James is somewhat dispersed. The murder of James may be mentioned by Flavius Josephus (FJ). There is only brief mention in Acts. However, Acts also contains a longer discussion of the murder of Stephen, and there are reasons to assume that Stephen ~James:

  • Both Jesus and James / Stephen claimed to see the Son of Man at the right hand of God – which theologically means the dismissal of the Jerusalem priesthood. See the theological argument here.
  • Both got killed for that same reason.
  • Both were killed under the responsibility of the Jerusalem priesthood, fulfilling the scheme of the Epistle to the Hebrews.

The only difference is that Acts turn James into Stephen who is stoned without permission by the Romans, and that the gospels have Jesus crucified with complicity by the Romans. Compare this with the murder of high priest Jonathan in 58 AD under instigation of Festus.

There may be some layers of editing here.

  • The insurgents could combine the priests and the Romans into joint culprits.
  • Roman Christian editors turn it into an argument for Jewish submission to Rome.
  • The (generations of) editors of the NT divide James’s death in three ways: (i) as Jesus to prove the NT point that the priests of Jerusalem are finished, (ii) as Stephen to cover up that James is used for Jesus (in a combination with Simon), and (iii) as himself but more in the background since the NT cannot avoid mentioning James as himself.

Eisenman (1997) observes that James is a cardboard figure like the other figures in the NT, but still, given his prominence, remarkably vague. However, this may be the result of above decomposition of his real role, required for the creation of the NT, rather than from suppression by Church editors. Though James seems a cardboard figure, he still would be historical, since the Dead Sea Scrolls clearly speak about a teacher of righteousness.

JBJ sees a link between Jesus, James and Stephen. We pursue that link, and insert the military aspect of Simon bar Giora. The NT hides the events of 70 AD and thus we need that military commander with the INRI crown too.

“Mentioned in various contexts in the New Testament, James the Just has been systematically downplayed or written out of tradition. When he suddenly emerges as a principal personality and leader of ‘the Jerusalem Church’ or ‘Community’ in Acts 12:17, there is no introduction as to who he is or how he has arrived at the position he is occupying. Acts’ subsequent silence about his fate, which can be pieced together only from extra-biblical sources and to some extent seems to have been absorbed into the accounts both about the character we now call ‘Stephen’ and even Jesus himself, obscures the situation still further.” (Robert Eisenman, in James the brother of Jesus, 1997, Introduction).

Eisenman 1997

Eisenman 1997

The role of Alexandrian logic

We don’t quite know what James ~ Jesus originally preached, though. The various Dead Sea Scrolls need not be consistent. The Sadducees had more room to collaborate with the Romans than the Pharisees, and James might have been like the latter, or have his own theological points to oppose both Sadducees and Pharisees.

I follow Roger Parvus that Paul originally was law abiding and only later turned against circumcision. The NT reverses his Paul / Saul role, and we reverse it back. Thus there is the distinction between a young Paul & a group abiding to the Torah / Tanakh versus the later Paul who abolishes the Torah / Tanakh, with also the curious distinction between the preachings of Jesus and the believing in Jesus.

Most likely:

  • Jesus ~ James ~ Stephen was killed for being more Torah-abiding than the Sadducees could live with. The reference to Melchizedek is in the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the removal of the Levi priesthood still fits a fundamentalist who abides to the core of the Torah.
  • The argument of the removal of the Levi priesthood was later improved upon with Alexandrian logic by using the human sacrifice, and then used to abolish the Torah and create a gospel for the gentiles.
From man to myth versus Men are pasted onto myths

While James & Simon bar Giora thus form the historical backbone for the figure of Jesus, there is of course the divine element that is provided by Melchizedek (supposedly a king but rather an angel of righteousness) and the ancient myths about a dying and resurrecting god. We can compare the situation with Santa Claus. Provided that the bishop of Myra existed, then he would be a historically selected counterpart that the Church pasted upon the neolithical myth of Wodan flying in the sky on his horse Sleipnir. When historical persons are pasted upon an already existing myth then this is different from a myth that develops out of a historical person. This may be called the issue of the origin of the myth.

Jesus would be not only the Davidic messiah or King of the Jews but also the new high priest in the order of Melchizedek. We found that the Epistle to the Hebrews argues in Alexandrian logical fashion that the priesthood in Jerusalem is theologically finished. Checking whether others had thought about the same lines, we found that this text at Crandall argues the same. (It may be wise to adjust a browser view option for readability.) A bonus is that it discusses the Qumran text 11QMelchizedek (11Q13) on Melchizedek and the Jubilees. Jesus’s arrival would be celebrated with the 10th Jubilee and a great liberation of all slaves – including the Jews who felt like slaves of the Romans.


We put the conclusions up front, and refer to the discussion below and some grounds from elsewhere.

The interpretation becomes:

(1) The myth of a dying and resurrecting god has neolithical origins. Historical figures can be imprinted on that myth. It would be unreasonable to argue the converse. Jesus as a historical person cannot resurrect anyway.

(2) James the Just would be historical as the leader of the Qumran community, and dies in 63 AD. His death is described by Flavius Josephus (FJ), and represented in Acts as the stoning of Stephen. James would be the priest-aspect in the figure of Jesus – with the reference to Melchizedek.

(3) The translation of Son of Man might be problematic, but not for the key occurrence in the confession(s) to the high priest that got both Jesus and James ~ Stephen killed.

(4) Simon bar Giora would be historical as one of the leading revolutionaries, eventually claiming to be their final leader, and dies in 70 AD. His death is described by FJ. He would be Simon Peter. He would be the military-aspect of Jesus – with the reference to King David.

(5) Jesus combines both aspects, but too much to be true. We find interpolations that are not convincing.

(6) It is more reasonable to assume that the figure of Jesus was created from both James the Just and Simon bar Giora. This creation by copying causes some problems in the stories where those historical figures occur themselves. But we may be able to trace how the editors handled those situations.

(7) The situation has become more complex because of the different objectives of generations of editors. Untangling the Jameses and Simons we can determine also a Basic Passion Story (BPS) about an event in 41-46 AD.

(8) The core is that James died in 63 AD and Simon bar Giora in 70 AD, and that their persons were combined in the story of a preacher annex liberator Jesus, who was executed on the Roman cross but resurrected in the euangelion of the New Covenant.

(9) The phrase Jesus is Santa Claus for grown-ups is warranted. For Santa Claus there is the bishop of Myra as the historical excuse, and for Jesus there are James and Simon bar Giora as the historical pegs. In these cases, historical figures are pasted upon already existing myths. There was no preacher Jesus who set an example that inspired a world religion of two millennia.

The main point remains that we will never know. Too much has been lost in history. The main relevance of this discussion is for education. See the bedrock certainties indicated before.






Let us consider the steps of the argument, starting with the Jubilee.

Numerical versus theological difference: 70 + 7 = 77 or 70 * 7 = 490

StackExchange has also a beta on Biblical Hermeutics. One of the questions is not really beta but rather old and worn. It is why Matthew 18:21-22 gives a translation difference between 70 + 7 = 77 and 70 * 7 = 490.

The answer uses that 7 * 7 = 49. The 50th year is a Jubilee. Thus we are speaking about 10 Jubilees – or a cycle of 500 years. As the Biblical texts on the Jubilee speak about the liberation of slaves, then Jews who would regard themselves as slaves of the Romans would want liberation too. The answer by Frank Luke “it is not an important theological difference” does not convince.

Let us first look at prophet Daniel who gives this clue, using a week for a year-week or 7 years – and who rather describes a past but is taken by apocalypters to be a real prophet (or creating a self-fulfilling prophecy):

“24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.  25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.” (Daniel 9.24-25, KJV) (7 + 3 * 20 + 2 = 69)

The stack exchange question on Jesus in Matthew 18:21: Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?” 

The question by El’endia Starman: “The NIV has 77 whereas the NLT has 490. Interestingly enough, the footnotes for each on BibleGateway say that it could also be translated the other way. So, in this case, the difference between 77 and 490 seems to be purely the translator’s decision. This suggests that the Greek is ambiguous somehow…and I’m curious as to why.”

NIV: 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

NLT: “22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!

KJV: 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”

NA28: “22 λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· οὐ λέγω σοι ἕως ἑπτάκις ἀλλ’ ἕως ἑβδομηκοντάκις ἑπτά.

Frank Luke deserves a hat-tip for explaining how the problem arises:

“The ambiguity comes from a difference between the Hebrew Old Testament and the Septuagint (a Greek translation). Jesus is teaching to forgive by reversing the statement of Lamech in Genesis 4.

Gen 4:24 “If Cain is avenged sevenfold, Then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.” (NASB)

The NASB follows the Hebrew which has שִׁבְעִים וְשִׁבְעָֽה (shib’iym wshib’ah), which means “seventy-seven.”

Instead the Septuagint has ἑβδομηκοντάκις, (hebdomekontakis), which means “seventy times seven.”

If Jesus quoted the Septuagint, then He said “seventy times seven.” If He quoted the Hebrew, then He said “seventy seven (times).” A case could be made for either as both the Hebrew Scriptures and Greek translations of the same were in use in the Land.” (Frank Luke, on StackExchange, 2012-09-20)

But translation matters.

Peter’s question isn’t a mere correction on Gen 4.24 but induces a calculation that the end of submission to foreigners is near. LXX would take precedence over NASB.

When Alexander’s general Ptolemy Lagides – son of Lago, mr. Rabbit – took Egypt , he got Canaan included. Ptolemy created the syncretic god Serapis for both Greeks and Egyptians. For the Jews, the septuagint (LXX) was created. There is an argument by Russell Gmirkin that the Hebrew version was actually based upon LXX – check that rabbits aren’t mentioned. In addition, the Hebrew translators perhaps didn’t want to wait another 500 years.

Son of Many

It is sobering to read in wikipedia (a portal and no source) that the researchers cannot agree on son of man, like they didn’t on nazoraios:

“Son of man is an expression in the sayings of Jesus in Christian writings, including the Gospels. The meaning of the expression is controversial. Interpretation of the use of “the Son of man” in the New Testament has remained challenging and after 150 years of debate no consensus on the issue has emerged among scholars.” (Wikipedia)

Mogens Mueller  (2014, p321-322) lists the options given by Douglas Hare 1999, commenting “Of the six, the first three are easily excluded”:

  1. It was a well-known apocalyptic title.
  2. It was easily perceived as a title, even by those who may have been ignorant of its meaning.
  3. It was genuinely ambiguous, so that hearers/readers would not be immediately certain whether it was titular or nontitular
  4. It was a special idiom that was used only for general statements in which a speaker could refer to himself indirectly but not exclusively.
  5. It was an everyday expression meaning ‘a man’ or ‘someone’.
  6. It was an easily recognizable circumlocation for ‘I”. [ftnt]

Maurice Casey (1942-2014) would agree that translation matters. He may be best known for his attention for the translation of Aramaic br ‘nash(a) and what this son of man would mean. He reasons that if we can recover statements by Jesus – which would be in Aramaic – then Jesus would exist as a historical person. Jesus might also be a modest preacher and healer and no religious fanatic. The son of man expression in Aramaic could just be a figure of speech for “someone” or a reference to himself as “this person, me, myself”. Thus Casey would take the position that the myth would originate from a person. His view might fit the Dennis Potter film “Son of Man” (1969).

In this nice interview Casey declares himself a non-believer since 1962 and only interested in proper history.

“Jesus, his family, his disciples—his entire world—spoke Aramaic, while the New Testament was written in Greek. And therein lies a huge problem. Separating later and less trustworthy material from older, more plausible writing is greatly helped by teasing out the Aramaic originals behind Greek Gospel accounts. For centuries this was almost impossible, because there wasn’t enough Aramaic writing, especially idiomatic writing, available. “Before the Dead Sea Scrolls were found after the war, you just couldn’t do it,” Casey says. “And though most are in Hebrew, the Aramaic scrolls—the Book of Enoch for one—are written in a more popular style, full of stories and idioms.” With numerous examples (…) Casey makes a compelling case that Mark’s Aramaic underlay makes it both old and genuine in its storytelling: “one short step away from eyewitness testimony.” “ (Interview by Brian Bethune with Maurice Casey, Macleans 2010-12-23)

One wonders. Jesus might not have existed, been created in Greek, and then parts have been translated into Aramaic. That Jesus spoke Aramaic is an assumption.

(I suppose that the Epistle by James would require even more attention now. Has it been written in Aramaic ? NA28 gives his proper name Jacob – a fitting reference to the patriarch who cunningly took the birthright from Esau. One question is whether James wrote that Epistle by James indeed. The above creates the hypothesis that Jesus ~ (James & Simon bar Giora). What are consequences that might be tested ? For example, it would be somewhat strange if James would really write the Epistle by James and therein refer to Jesus, if that would be himself. Indeed, we find only two occurrences of “Jesus” or “Christ”, both in “Jesus Christ”, and these could be interpolations.)

Rembrandt: Jacob wrestling with the angel (Source: Wikimedia commons)

Rembrandt: Jacob wrestling with the angel (Source: Wikimedia commons)

Indeed, son of man sounds somewhat strange for a concept in Greek uios tou anthropou. But once the reference to Daniel 7.13 and Psalm 110.1 has been given, using the Greek septuagint, then its use should no longer surprise.

13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.” (Daniel 7.13)

“1 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” (Psalm 110.1, KJV) NB. The psalm gives words that are spoken by David. King David’s lord is Melchizedek, who is being seated on the right hand of Yahweh. See this earlier discussion of Melchizedek. There is also Thomas Aquinas on the right hand of God.

Mogens Mueller (2014) also discusses Casey’s work here, but I can only read some parts, don’t know Aramaic, and wonder what would be the use, given the logic of the case.

No doubt: Aramaic obviously is an important source. The Leon Levy DSS site explains: “While the majority of Dead Sea Scrolls [DSS] were written in Hebrew, the collection also includes many Aramaic and Greek texts, as well as some Arabic texts and a small number of Latin fragments.” See Appendix 1 for translation problems, and Stephan Huller’s suggestion that Paul ~ po’olo.

The hiding of the DSS can be dated to 70 AD with the destruction of Jerusalem and Qumran. Thus, it is remarkable that some passages can be found there already, and in Aramaic. But the discussion about passages indicates that we don’t have the main part of the gospel of Mark yet. This is the real issue. Passages can get into texts in various ways.

A search on “Son of Man” in Mark (KJV) gives 15 instances. They fit Christology of course. If I understand Casey correctly then much is not by the original preacher but added by the later Church. We might follow Casey’s suggestion and replace with “this person, me, myself”.

But would we do so also for the key confession that got Jesus and James / Stephen killed ?

Mueller 2014

Mueller 2014

The key statement that got Jesus killed

There is the crucial confession for the high priest that got Jesus killed. Jesus only acknowledges being the son of god – like King David, which differs from Trinity, see here. He only quotes Daniel and Psalms on the son of man. It is only the inference of others whether he claims such himself.

As far as I understand, Casey has not argued that Jesus’s statement for the high priest was a result of translating wrong from Aramaic …

61 But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? 62 And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” ( Mark 14.61 KJV)
The “I am” concerns kingship only. The text after “I am” only cites Daniel and the Psalm (above).

Overall, my suggestion is that it is important that Jesus gives a quote about the Son of Man here. It is a citation, so that a listener or reader may only draw a conclusion by inference. But why cite it at all, in answer to a question ? Only to suggest such an inference, one would think. One is invited to make at least the inference that the endtime has come.

An assumption is that the high priest was aware of the argument in 11QMelchizedek (11Q13). It may well be that Ptolemy, once LXX had been written, had started to deduce the logical ways to undo the Levi monopoly.

The other son of man occurrences in the NT would be less important. I cannot judge whether Casey’s work on those other translations is important for other reasons but they drop to the background because of the value of this key case, about which seems to be little disagreement.

For completeness, I refer to this text by Stephanie Fisher 2012 on Richard Carrier’s critique on Casey. See my earlier review of Casey’s failed book against mythicism. See my first response on Carrier’s book OHJ.

The same statement got Stephen killed

Let us first look at the death of Stephen, then secondly at the death of James, and thirdly about James ~ Stephen.

Stephen has 7 occurrences in Acts, KJV. The murder of Stephen is described in Acts 7, when he is speaking to the high priest (and others). Acts describes, as an all-knowing writer, what Stephen sees. But his verbal statement is the same as Jesus’s.

1 Then said the high priest, Are these things so? 2 And he [Stephen] said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, (…)  52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: 53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. 54 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. 57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. 59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 7, KJV)

March 10: FJ on Stephen

FJ reports about Cumanus (48-52 AD) who beheaded a Roman soldier who tore up the Torah. The writers of the NT would have kept the idea that the Torah is finished, and that the OT must be replaced by the NT. The Roman soldier remains anonymous. FJ mentions some Stephen, but he is only the victim of robbers who started the sequence of events. The NT nevertheless turns Stephen into the saint who preaches the same as Christ and who gets killed for it. All this is a fine example how the editors of the NT have used bits and pieces from FJ to compose a new story. In addition, the Christian interpolator in the works of FJ creates a link to a death of some James ten years later.

“Now there followed after this another calamity, which arose from a tumult made by robbers; for at the public road at Beth-boron, one Stephen, a servant of Caesar, carried some furniture, which the robbers fell upon and seized. Upon this Cureanus sent men to go round about to the neighboring villages, and to bring their inhabitants to him bound, as laying it to their charge that they had not pursued after the thieves, and caught them. Now here it was that a certain soldier, finding the sacred book of the law, tore it to pieces, and threw it into the fire.  Hereupon the Jews were in great disorder, as if their whole country were in a flame, and assembled themselves so many of them by their zeal for their religion, as by an engine, and ran together with united clamor to Cesarea, to Cumanus, and made supplication to him that he would not overlook this man, who had offered such an affront to God, and to his law; but punish him for what he had done. Accordingly, he, perceiving that the multitude would not be quiet unless they had a comfortable answer from him, gave order that the soldier should be brought, and drawn through those that required to have him punished, to execution, which being done, the Jews went their ways.” (FJ War 2.12.2)

“Now before this their first mourning was over, another mischief befell them also; for some of those that raised the foregoing tumult, when they were traveling along the public road, about a hundred furlongs from the city, robbed Stephanus, a servant of Caesar, as he was journeying, and plundered him of all that he had with him; which things when Cureanus heard of, he sent soldiers immediately, and ordered them to plunder the neighboring villages, and to bring the most eminent persons among them in bonds to him. Now as this devastation was making, one of the soldiers seized the laws of Moses that lay in one of those villages, and brought them out before the eyes of all present, and tore them to pieces; and this was done with reproachful language, and much scurrility; which things when the Jews heard of, they ran together, and that in great numbers, and came down to Cesarea, where Cumanus then was, and besought him that he would avenge, not themselves, but God himself, whose laws had been affronted; for that they could not bear to live any longer, if the laws of their forefathers must be affronted after this manner. Accordingly Cumanus, out of fear lest the multitude should go into a sedition, and by the advice of his friends also, took care that the soldier who had offered the affront to the laws should be beheaded, and thereby put a stop to the sedition which was ready to be kindled a second time.” (FJ Antiquities 20.5.4)

Three Jameses

In those days the calendar was important, for agriculture and the religious sacrifices and celebrations. Julius Caesar imposed a new calendar on the empire.  The Sadducees were willing to go along with this Sun calendar, while the Pharisees wishes to maintain the Lunar calendar. Who says calendar says astronomy and in those days astrology. See my essay The simple mathematics of Jesus (SMOJ) (2012).

Mark has 15 occurrences of “James”, mostly with John or Peter, giving Jesus’s 3 main leaders apart from the 12 apostles. (1) James and John are sons of Zebedee, called “boanerges” – “the sons of thunder”, see Mark 3.17 KJV. (2) Mark 6.3. has Jesus as the “brother of James”. (3) There is of course James, son of Alphaeus. For now, we neglect the latter.

To understand these names, it may help to think about the zodiac with the 12 houses, and the four cardinal points. One possible allocation is: North ~ Polar Star ~ Simon Peter with the key to paradise, that is the region in the sky with stars that never set (or die), with also the sign of Draco as the snake. West ~ John / Mark (Mars). East ~ James (Venus). South ~ Judas Thomas (Theudas) (Thomas means twin.) Jesus would be in the middle as the sun (or sometimes in the South position). The clear layout of the zodiac becomes fuzzy as James is split into three facets.

“First, since Judas Thomas/Thaddaeus is also called “Lebbaeus,” an apparent variant of James’ title “Oblias” (the Bulwark = the Pillar), we must suppose that the Heirs of Jesus and the Pillars were synonymous, which in turn makes the Pillar John a brother of Jesus. (Eisenman supposes there must have been a Pillar named John; it is his connection with the cipher “James son of Zebedee” that presents the difficulty.) Thus there is no problem accepting the Pillar John as the real brother of James the Just and of Judas Thomas and Simeon bar Cleophas. All were counted as Pillars or Bulwarks whose presence in Jerusalem kept the city safe. And remember the curious business with James and John being christened “Boanerges,” taken to mean “sons of thunder,” but (with John Allegro) more likely representing the Sumerian Geshpuanur (the prefix becoming a suffix as is common in Near Eastern names), meaning “upholder of the vault of heaven,” a title of one of the Dioscuri [Castor and Pollux] or heavenly twins (Acts 28:11). This is to make James and John at once both brothers and cosmic pillars. And since the two cosmic pillars upholding the roof of Solomon’s Temple (symbolic of the firmament of the heavens, as in all ancient temples) were called Boaz and Jachin, one may wonder whether Boanerges has something to do with Boaz, James/Jacob with Jachin. Like James, John is said (by Polycrates) to have worn the priestly ephod, and this would fit the Zealot-like rebel priesthood ideology of James and Judas Thomas (Theudas).” (Robert M. Price 1998, reviewing Robert Eisenman, James, the brother of Jesus)

Acts has 7 occurrences of “James”. The puzzle becomes ever intricate.

The Zebedee brothers James and Simon. Basic Passion Story (BPS)

In 6 AD there was a census, Judas of Galilee revolted and was likely crucified. In 46 AD his sons James and Simon were crucified.

“Then came Tiberius Alexander as successor to Fadus; he was the son of Alexander the alabarch of Alexandria, which Alexander was a principal person among all his contemporaries, both for his family and wealth: he was also more eminent for his piety than this his son Alexander, for he did not continue in the religion of his country. Under these procurators that great famine happened in Judea, in which queen Helena bought corn in Egypt at a great expense, and distributed it to those that were in want, as I have related already. And besides this, the sons of Judas of Galilee were now slain; I mean of that Judas who caused the people to revolt, when Cyrenius came to take an account of the estates of the Jews, as we have showed in a foregoing book. The names of those sons were James and Simon, whom Alexander commanded to be crucified.” (FJ, Antiquities, 20.5.2)

Acts 12 let James be killed simply.

“1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. 2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.” (Acts 12.2 KJV)

His brother Simon should be John/ Mark, the other Boanerges. However, the editor of Acts partly transforms him into Simon Peter who would be Simon bar Giora. Simon of Zebedee is killed, since he is “going into another place” but he might also live on, since Simon Peter bar Giora continues till 70 AD.

“3 And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)  (…) 6 And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. 7 And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. 8 And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. (…) 17 But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place.” (Acts 12.3-17, KJV) (In this verse Simon Peter may not know that James has been killed.)

SMOJ (2012:93-94) discusses this scene – partly following Hanhart – as a precursor to the NT story. Some of the clearest points apart from calendar intricacies:

  • It is Passover.
  • The sandals and girding refer to Exodus.
  • The guards refer to the three days between death and resurrection.
  • The sleeping guards refer to the other crucified and/or those sleeping at the grave.
  • There is a door to a new week.

The story itself may come from Agrippa’s earlier kind treatment of Simon of Zebedee in 41-44 AD when he wanted Agrippa blocked from the Temple.

“4. However, there was a certain male of the Jewish nation at Jerusalem, who appeared to be very accurate in the knowledge of the law. His name was Simon. This man got together an assembly, while the king was absent at Cesarea, and had the insolence to accuse him as not living holily, and that he might justly be excluded out of the temple, since it belonged only to native Jews. But the general of Agrippa’s army informed him that Simon had made such a speech to the people. So the king sent for him; and as he was sitting in the theater, he bid him sit down by him, and said to him with a low and gentle voice, “What is there done in this place that is contrary to the law?” But he had nothing to say for himself, but begged his pardon. So the king was more easily reconciled to him than one could have imagined, as esteeming mildness a better quality in a king than anger, and knowing that moderation is more becoming in great men than passion. So he made Simon a small present, and dismissed him.” (FJ, Antiquities, 19.7.4)

It may be called the Basic Passion Story (BPS) of ca. 41-44 AD, that codifies the miracle that Simon wasn’t killed. Simon of Zebedee still was killed by Tiberius Alexander anyhow in 46 AD. This BPS was later got reworked after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, but was not discarded and kept as a substory. Of course, we are still hypothesizing.

This should explain both the Boanerges and the potential confusion with Simon Peter bar Giora.

James the Just, brother of Jesus, may live till 63 AD

One reason why James ~ Stephen is that James the Just doesn’t die in Acts.

The key role for James in Acts is that he gives a verdict to allow Paul his gospel to the gentiles, without circumcision:

“12 Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. 13 And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: (…) 19 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:  20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. (..) 22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: (..) 24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:” (Acts 15.12-24, KJV)

Then later again:

18 And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present. (…) 21 And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. (…) 27 And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him,” (Acts 21.18-27, KJV)

In the Epistle to the Galaten, Paul claims that James gave permission for his gospel to the gentiles, replacing circumcision with baptism. His phrase “whatsoever they were” might refer to his seeing their spirits – which suggests that James the Just already had died.

1 Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. (…) 6 But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: 7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; 8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) 9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. 10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.” (Epistle to the Galaten 2.1-10, KJV)

This assumes that the writer of Acts knew about understatement. Paul’s “going to Jerusalem with Titus” might refer to the siege of Jerusalem. And “who seemed to be somewhat in conference” would refer to the uprising and defence of the city. This would fit the other hypothesis that Paul is Matthias, brother of FJ, and Barnabas is FJ (“son of the same father”).

Agrippa II and Tiberius Alexander were also at the Siege with Titus. A hypothesis that they would be Paul doesn’t look strong since they were educated as rulers, and we have no indication that they were preaching as much as Paul, while Matthias was raised to be a priest and is otherwise a clean slate.

FJ on the death of James the Just

Remember the list of high priests. It may have been based also upon the following data. In 63 AD Ananus ben Ananus is replaced by Joshua (Jesus) ben Damneus. Ananus executed James, was terminated in office and his fast replacement Joshua (Jesus) ben Damneus held the office for less than a year.

“But this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, [ftnt] who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity [to exercise his authority]. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king [Agrippa], desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrim without his consent. [ftnt] Whereupon Albinus complied with what they said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which king Agrippa took the high priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest.”  (FJ, Antiquities 20.9.1)

The text “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James” might be an interpolation. We don’t know what the original text was. Apparently he was important enough for people to protest and for Albinus and Agrippa to act like that. The opposition between Ananus and Damneus may give a clue, but there is no information about Damneus. One can quickly think of all kinds of scenario’s but those are useless without more information.

For our scenario to work: (1) It is unlikely that FJ would have referred to Christ, for reasons discussed elsewehere. (2) FJ could have referred to James in such a manner that a later Roman Christian interpolater could recognize James the Just, and inserted this reference. (3) Even if this James is merely the brother of Jesus, son of Damneus, and not linked to James the Just, then we might point to the historical occurrence of some Teacher of Righteousness and the NT report on the death of Stephen.

March 10: Doherty on James

Earl Doherty suggests, following R.G. Price (not to be confused with R.M. Price), and I tend to follow both, that the original passage may have been “the brother of Jesus, son of Damneus, whose name was James, and some others”. Since Jesus, son of Damneus, becomes high priest after this incident, he would be the more important person for this passage, and FJ then provides proper identification. The replacement of Ananus is at issue, not why he killed James.

The interpolator then changed “son of Damneus” into “who was called Christ” (or check the original Greek construction). Thus, there need not be any relation to James the Just, leader of Qumran, the Teacher of Righteousness. The only clue we might have is that an interpolator thought that such a link might exist, sufficiently strong to do the interpolation. Then see point (3) at the end of the former section.

Relation to Stephen: Robert Eisenman versus Ralph Ellis

We can take clues from Eisenman JBJ (1997) but he has no time shift yet. He points to parallels nevertheless. Ralph Ellis, King Jesus (2008), uses these parallels and applies a time shift. Eisenman’s parallels:

  • the trial is by the whole Sanhedrin (for Jesus, Paul and Stephen)
  • the accusation is blasphemy (for James we must guess)
  • Paul and Stephen have a long speech to an angry mob
  • “Of course there is a 20-year gap between them (…) It is almost as if the two documents are totally remaking each other’s chronology.” (Eisenman quoted by Ellis, King Jesus, p 42-43).

Eisenman’s conclusion:

“The ‘Stephen’ in Acts is a fictitious stand-in … for the attack by Saul on James … which was evidently considered so embarrassing by the early Church writers that it was unmentionable – but not forgotten. This is basically the only difference (between the two attacks).” (Eisenman quoted by Ellis, King Jesus p41-42)

Ellis must be taken more seriously as a student of the period. Earlier, I discovered that the Greek “translation” nazoraios has to do with the Hebrew nezer for the crown of a high priest. I had not seen this in online texts by academics, and was surprised to see it mentioned by Ralph Ellis in King Jesus. I was even more surprised when Ellis mentioned that the Greek word tarsos means basket – which thus indicates that Paul would be like a new Moses. Ellis also proposed the time shift hypothesis in 1998. These are not random hits by Ellis, and my suggestion to the academia is to consider and discuss his points and scenarios, and then provide proper reference.

Ellis makes an point that becomes obvious only when you start thinking about it. Judas Iscariot is vilified as the murderer of Jesus – who never existed – and it would be awkward for the story to let Judas be the hero who teaches the gospel of Jesus. Similary, when Saul / Paul murders James the Just – half the historical Jesus – then it is awkward when Paul becomes the main preacher of Jesus (with adaptation of the gospel). Hence, it is better to let Saul / Paul murder some Stephen.

Ellis’s next question: Why the choice of the name Stephen ? We only need a Greek dictionary. We find that Stephen simply refers to nazoraios.

“στέφᾰνος, , (στέφω) that which surrounds or encompasses, πάντῃ γάρ σε περὶ σ. πολέμοιο δέδηεν the circling fight, Il. 13.736; of the wall round a town, Pi.O.8.32; σ. πόλεος Anacr.72, cf. Orph.A.761,897; cf. στεφάνη I.2; καλλίπαις σ. circle of fair children, E.HF839. II. crown, wreath, chaplet, h.Hom.7.42″ (Liddell-Scott-Jones 99490)

James apparently was crowned as a high priest – either once in the Temple, or within the sect of Qumran, or perhaps we also have to think about the temple in Leontopolis / Alexandria. There would be the dissent between the Boethusians who Herod appointed from Alexandria (“Egyptians”) and the original priests in Jerusalem. See Antigonus of Sokho. Whence James got his alleged crown may remain a mystery.

Ellis 2008

Ellis 2008

PM. Ellis also argues that Jesus would have been a real king and descendent of Cleopatra. I wonder about the lack of theology. Ellis also proposes Paul ~ FJ, and, while I have considered that scenario myself independently too, I currently find it safer to try Paul ~ Matthias brother of FJ, since Matthias is a blank canvas.


Appendix 1: Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic. Rock vs stone. Paul ~ po’olo
1.1 An interesting suggestion

Stephan Huller has the interesting suggestion that the authors of the NT used Deuteronomy 32.4 for two names: Simon Peter and Paul, and we can now include James the Just.

“Mark must have taken the title ‘Paulos’ owing to his interpretation of tamym po’olo (Deut 32:4) in Book Four Chapter Two of this work. The basic point being that at the end of time God will reform the man created after Adam into a ‘perfect work’ through the agency of his glory.” (Stephan Huller)

KJV follows the Hebrew text with Rock, while LXX has no such thing. 

“He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” (Deuteronomy 32.4, KJV)

“θεός, ἀληθινὰ τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ, καὶ πᾶσαι αἱ ὁδοὶ αὐτοῦ κρίσεις· θεὸς πιστός, καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν ἀδικία, δίκαιος καὶ ὅσιος κύριος.” (Deuteronomy 32.4, LXX, German Bible Society)

For Deuteronomy, the online explanation with CEV has: “The Hebrew text has “rock,” which is sometimes used in poetry to compare the Lord to a mountain where his people can run for protection from their enemies.”

Thus there are some problems in translations between Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic, which causes the question whether Simon Peter the Rock is really a rock or a stumbling stone or even non-existent. Stephan Huller suggests that Peter is only kephas, a mere stone, and that the true leader is Paul, or in Aramaic tamym po’olo or in English his work is perfect (Deutoronomy 32.4).

1.2 Aramaic

A problem with this suggestion is that Huller plunges his readers into Aramaic, while his readers generally will not know Aramaic. We have seen Maurice Casey getting busy with all occurrences of son of man while he lost focus on the most important occurrence (which is without doubt). We have seen above curious problem between LXX and Hebrew. It is very frustrating for a reader to be exposed to tamym po’olo without any reference, for there might be snakes in the grass.

When we google and check some sites, then we find the CAL Aramaic lexicon, and it appears that tamym = D to make perfect (and we may guess what the D stands for). Subsequently, work = p’l’. Or with copy-paste: pˁl, pˁlˀ   (pˁāl, pˁālā)   v.n.  labor, work.

Other meanings are, however, wage, reward, and possessions. We find for Hebrew Sa’ul = “asked for, prayed for” and Matthew = Matityahu = “gift of Yahweh”. W.r.t. the name there might be a link to Matthew, the brother of FJ.

1.3 A rock in Greek LXX

Above, the Hebrew inserted a rock where LXX has none. We thus wonder whether this holds for all rocks. However, there is at least a rock in Exodus – and some authors regard Mount Sinai as a reference to the great pyramid.

Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb [ Mount Sinai ]; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.” (Exodus, 17.6, KJV)

“ὅδε ἐγὼ ἕστηκα πρὸ τοῦ σὲ ἐκεῖ ἐπὶ τῆς πέτρας ἐν Χωρηβ· καὶ πατάξεις τὴν πέτραν, καὶ ἐξελεύσεται ἐξ αὐτῆς ὕδωρ, καὶ πίεται ὁ λαός μου. ἐποίησεν δὲ Μωυσῆς οὕτως ἐναντίον τῶν υἱῶν Ισραηλ.” (Exodus, 17.6, LXX, Germain Bible Society)

Moses has also the rock of meribah – strife:

“And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.” (Numbers 20.11, KJV)

1.4 Other strange translation differences

Another example is Shiloh. Yahweh’s covenant that gives kingship to the tribe of Judah need not be eternal, for there is always Shiloh. This term is not used in LXX. There is some discussion whether Greek LXX or Hebrew was earlier, and which is the translation.

“The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” (Genesis 49.10, KJV) (Using the Hebrew version)

“οὐκ ἐκλείψει ἄρχων ἐξ Ιουδα καὶ ἡγούμενος ἐκ τῶν μηρῶν αὐτοῦ, ἕως ἂν ἔλθῃ τὰ ἀποκείμενα αὐτῷ, καὶ αὐτὸς προσδοκία ἐθνῶν.” (Genesis 49.10, LXX, German Bible Society)

Shiloh: perhaps “he whose it is,” a Messianic title”  (Strong, Biblehub 7886. Shiloh)

We may wonder whether the writers of the NT intended a link between Sa’ul and Shiloh.

1.5 There are disputed rocks in Greek vs Hebrew

In that same Gen. 49 the Hebrew refers to a rock or stone, but the Greek original has κατισχύσας, which means overpowerer. There is also reference to a shepherd, so one presumes that the shepherd throws stones to get the flock going.

But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:)” (Genesis 49.24, KJV)

καὶ συνετρίβη μετὰ κράτους τὰ τόξα αὐτῶν, καὶ ἐξελύθη τὰ νεῦρα βραχιόνων χειρῶν αὐτῶν διὰ χεῖρα δυνάστου Ιακωβ, ἐκεῖθεν ὁ κατισχύσας Ισραηλ·” (Genesis 49.24, LXX, German Bible Society)

Online, we find this discussion by an exasperated reader, who tries to learn the languages and translations. We may  wonders why God had made his message so unclear.

1.6 Stephan Huller on rock vs stone

Let us return to Stephan Huller’s suggestion that Simon Peter is called Kephas, which is a mere stone, and which differs from a foundation rock. Peter would even be a stumbling stone. The proper translation issue may have to do little with Hebrew is rather between Aramaic kephas and Greek petra or lithos.

See the earlier discussion in Appendix 1 of the weblog entry on bedrock certainties.

Appendix 2: Eisenman on James the Just

My contribution in these weblog texts lies merely in logic and common sense. The above was basically written with reading only small online sections of Eisenman “James the Brother of Jesus” (JBJ) (1997). Perhaps I should read it, but I am no historian and biblical scholar, and it is not clear what I should do with all those details. My purpose is to arrive at an outline for education, and not test the nitty gritty details in Biblical scholarship. For my purposes it currently seems to suffice to take main points from summaries and book reviews by others, and check the overall logic in those. If some detail would upset the framework for education, reviewers trained in history apparently missed its importance too. But Eisenman’s book on James at least should be mentioned – like also his book The New Testament Code (NTC) (2006).

While I am challenged to read JBJ and NTC, I find: JBJ and NTC are not available at the Royal Library in The Hague, and neither at the library of Leiden University, nor at protestant Free University. The library of Groningen University that has the Qumran institute has copies of JBJ but not of NTC. The library of Amsterdam University has JBJ and a book review of NTC.

Appendix 3: Modern times

For completeness: It may be that the Samaritans have a role in this, and once we discuss bereshit then the modern Sofi Tsedaka cannot be avoided.


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