20 Mar 2014 
#83 Hegesippus on James' death

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Hegesippus was a 2nd century C.E. Jewish Christian (110?-180?). Obviously, the following narration is very much embellished, fictitious and conflicting with Josephus' account of a trial by the "council of judges" for "breaking the law" and leading to a sentence of death by stoning.
 
Probably Hegesippus had never read Josephus' Antiquities but he knew likely about the Gnostic '2nd Apocalypse of James' which has this same sequence: James' speech and, as a result, casting down & stoning to death. Hegesippus is also in parts inspired by some passages in 'Acts' and Matthew's gospel.
 
But Hegesippus could not deny the Jewishness of James, even if he wanted to make a proto-Christian out of him (posthumously!) and a martyr (as Stephen in Ac7:54-60). Also let's notice there is no mention here of "Son of God" and "sacrifice" (which were resisted by Jewish Christians).
 
2) Eusebius 'The History of the Church' (HC), 2, 23:
 
 "... But Hegesippus, who lived immediately after the apostles,
[not exactly but at least two generations later. This is a typical Eusebius' exaggeration]
 
gives the most accurate account in the fifth book of his Memoirs.
[really? Despite all the conflicts with Josephus' version. And Eusebius had Josephus' Antiquities; he even quoted the whole passage in his HC following Hegesippus' account. But despite these two descriptions of James' death, Eusebius offered his own, a few lines before, with outrageous embellishments: "The following daring measures were undertaken by them against him [James]. Leading him into their midst they demanded of him that he should renounce faith in Christ in the presence of all the people. But, contrary to the opinion of all, with a clear voice, and with greater boldness than they had anticipated, he spoke out before the whole multitude and confessed that our Saviour and Lord Jesus is the Son of God."
If Eusebius could embellish so much on Hegesippus, then we can understand Hegesippus could also do so on some older "traditions"; but James as a non-Christian during his life could not be shaken up: see later]
 
He writes as follows: "James, the brother of the Lord, succeeded to the government of the Church in conjunction with the apostles.
[I digress here, but this is evidence that the Galileans did not start the church of Jerusalem]
 
He has been called the Just by all from the time of our Saviour to the present day; for there were many that bore the name of James. He was holy from his mother's womb; and he drank no wine nor strong drink, nor did he eat flesh. No razor came upon his head;
[no wine, no razor: part of the temporary vow of a Nazarite; James appears as a forever (& vegetarian) Nazarite!]
 
he did not anoint himself with oil,
[probably not to suggest any kingly ambition. Or, according to Josephus' Wars, II, VIII, 3"They [Essenes] think that oil is a defilement; and if one of them is anointed ... it is wiped off his body"]
 
and he did not use the bath.
[could be true: personal hygiene was not a high priority among Jesus and his followers (Mark 7:2, Luke 11:38). The Essenes did take (cold) bath, every day! Josephus' Wars, II, VIII, 4]
 
He alone was permitted to enter into the holy place [highly doubtful]; for he wore not woolen but linen garments.
[even more than doubtful, ludicrous: crude linen garments were affordable, so many people could have barged into the inner sanctum! Josephus' Wars, IV, VIII, 3 "... the people of the country [Jericho and around] are clothed in linen only."]
 
And he was in the habit of entering alone into the temple, and was frequently found upon his knees begging forgiveness for the people, so that his knees became hard like those of a camel, in consequence of his constantly bending them in his worship of God, and asking forgiveness for the people. Because of his exceeding great justice he was called the Just, and Oblias, which signifies in Greek, Bulwark of the people' and 'Justice,' in accordance with what the prophets declare concerning him. Now some of the seven sects, which existed among the people and which have been mentioned by me in the Memoirs, asked him, 'What is the door of Jesus? and he replied that he was the Saviour.
[notice the past tenseSaviour, allegedly, but only by having preached the way to salvation (through the "door"). There is no explanation to indicate otherwise]
 
On account of these words
[and nothing else! Let's not forget Hegesippus would have loved to show James as a Christian. Instead, he only had at his disposal (as likely believed also by Jewish Christians & Ebionites then) "the door of Jesus" with some notion of salvation associated to it]
 
some believed that Jesus is the Christ. But the sects mentioned above did not believe either in a resurrection or in one's coming to give to every man according to his works.
[Jewish Christians in Hegesippus' times believed in Jesus as the Judge (Matthew 26:31-46)]
 
But as many as believed did so on account of James [and "the door of Jesus"!]. Therefore when many even of the rulers believed, there was a commotion among the Jews and Scribes and Pharisees, who said that there was danger that the whole people would be looking for Jesus as the Christ. Coming therefore in a body to James they said, 'We entreat you, restrain the people; for they are gone astray in regard to Jesus, as if he were the Christ. We entreat you to persuade all that have come to the feast of the Passover concerning Jesus; for we all have confidence in you. For we bear you witness, as do all the people, that you are just, and does not respect per sons. Do you therefore persuade the multitude not to be led astray concerning Jesus. For the whole people, and all of us also, have confidence in you.
[the author knew James never said Jesus is/was the Christ. Here, these Jews, scribes & Pharisees hope James is going to declare Jesus as not being the Christ]
 
Stand therefore upon the pinnacle of the temple, that from that high position you may be clearly seen, and that your words may be readily heard by all the people. For all the tribes, with the Gentiles also, are come together on account of the Passover.' The aforesaid Scribes and Pharisees therefore placed James upon the pinnacle of the temple, and cried out to him and said: you just one, in whom we ought all to have: confidence, forasmuch as the people are led, astray after Jesus, the crucified one, declare to us, what is the door of Jesus.'
 
And he answered with a loud voice, 'Why do you ask me concerning Jesus, the Son of Man? He himself sit in heaven at the right hand of the great Power,
[similar wording as in Acts 7:56, for Stephen "the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God"]
 
and is about to come upon the clouds of heaven.
[as in Matthew 24:30 "the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky".
The declaration (in bold letters) would be typical of proto-Christian belief. The "is about to come" is puzzling as written about one century after James' death: was Hegesippus upgrading a much earlier text?]
 
And when many were fully convinced and gloried in the testimony of James, and said, 'Hosanna to the Son of David,
[as in Matthew 21:9 "Hosanna to the Son of David"]
 
these same Scribes and Pharisees said again to one another,' We have done badly in supplying such testimony to Jesus. But let us go up and throw him down, in order that they may be afraid to believe him.' And they cried out, saying, 'Oh! oh! the just man is also in error.'
[James' declaration is obviously new & unexpected]
 
And they fulfilled the Scripture written in Isaiah, 'Let us take away the just man, because he is troublesome to us: therefore they shall eat the fruit of their doings.'
["Matthew" had Jesus fulfilling many prophecies by Isaiah!]
 
So they went up and threw down the just man, and said to each other, 'Let us stone James the Just.' And they began to stone him, for he was not killed by the fall; but he turned and knelt down and said, 'I entreat you, Lord God our Father, forgive them,
[as in Acts 7:60, for Stephen "he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them""]
 
for they know not what they do.' And while they were thus stoning him one of the priests of the sons of Rechab, the son of the Rechabites, who are mentioned by Jeremiah the prophet, cried out, saying, 'Cease, what do ye? The just one prays for you. And one of them, who was a fuller, took the club with which he beat out clothes and struck the just man on the head. And thus he suffered martyrdom. And they buried him on the spot, by the temple, and his monument still remains by the temple. He became a true witness, both to Jews and Greeks, that Jesus is the Christ.
[but Hegesippus did not dare to have James himself declare Jesus was/is the Christ!]
 
Cordially, Bernard

Tags: {"Nazarenes"} {"Nazarenes" NOT having been Christians} {Hegesippus} {James} {brother of the Lord}
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