This is quite fascinating -
Bourgel, Jonathan (2010) "The Jewish Christians’ Move from Jerusalem as a pragmatic choice"
- in: Dan JAFFÉ (ed), Studies in Rabbinic Judaism and Early Christianity, (Leyden: Brill), p. 107-138.
References to 'tendentiousness of Josephus'; Titus's kindness ot the Jews; James heir: Symeon, son of Clopas; that 'Epiphanius's chronology tallies with Luke 21:20-21': as well as a thorough commentary on the Flight to Pella make this an interesting historical read.
According to the Church Fathers Eusebius and Epiphanius, the members of the Church of Jerusalem were commanded by an oracle to leave the Holy City before its destruction in 70 C.E. and to take refuge in the city of Pella on the east bank of the Jordan River. This episode, which is known as the “Flight to Pella,” is considered to be a central issue in the historiography of Jewish-Christianity in the post-apostolic period. R. Pritz has written in this connection: “any attempt to treat the post-New Testament history of Jewish-Christianity must first decide on the historicity of the reported flight of the Jerusalem Church to Pella.”1*
The fate of the Jewish-Christian community of Jerusalem during the First Jewish War has been a much debated question ever since 1951 when S. G. F. Brandon published his contentious work The Fall of Jerusalem and the Christian Church, where he opposed the dominant historiographic consensus about the historicity of the “flight to Pella”. He maintained, indeed, that the Jewish-Christian congregation remained in Jerusalem throughout the war and vanished (together with the Zealots) during the destruction of the city.2
- * This assumes the NT was well-written before the end of the 1st Roman-Jewish War
The objections lodged by Brandon appear to have had sufficient validity to force a reconsideration of the reliability of the Pella tradition and to enable
a revision of the traditional view of Jewish-Christianity. Moreover his work has provided a basis for further discussion of this issue. In the aftermath of this survey, other scholars have come to the conclusion that this tradition had to be discounted as unhistorical.3
The refutation of the trustworthiness of the account of the “flight to Pella” is based either on the apparent historical inconsistencies it contains or the obscure origins of its sources. .... The current discussion of this issue, however, has to avoid a twofold pitfall. The first of these is the tendency to accept the tradition as it has been handed down to us in order to preserve the traditional view of early Christianity, for such a stance usually derives from motives other than historical accuracy.5
In contradistinction, one must avoid the refutation of the “flight to Pella” outright simply on the grounds that it served the apologetic interests of subsequent Christian writers.6
The earliest account directly related to the migration to Pella occurs in the third book of Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History (III, 5, 2–3), which dates back to the first third of the fourth century (c. 324 C.E.).8 The story of the flight to Pella appears in Eusebius’ work after a statement related to the martyrdoms of several apostles (Stephen and the two James).
... it is difficult to determine the source whence Eusebius derived his account of the flight to Pella. This does not, however, mean that Eusebius’ data are to be dismissed out-of-hand ... we tend to uphold the reliability of Eusebius’ statement, even though we suspect him to have altered the chronology of the Jewish-Christians’ flight for his own purposes ...
- < .. snip .. >
It has also been proposed that Eusebius must have derived his information from the writings of Aristo of Pella (mid-second century C.E.).12 G. Lüdemann, for instance, argues that this tradition originated at Pella within a Jewish-Christian community which claimed a relationship with the apostles, and thus considers Aristo to be the most likely source for Eusebius. This suggestion is based on the fact that Eusebius’ report of the Bar Kokhba revolt is based on Aristo’s writings (HE IV, 6, 3); it was therefore assumed that the latter’s work included an account of the First Jewish War. However, this suggestion appears to be based mainly on Aristo’s presumed origin. In any case, these considerations are not decisive and are not enough to settle that Aristo was the source of Eusebius ...
... An original proposition has been put forward by J. Verheyden, who suggested that Eusebius contrived the Pella tradition for the needs of his apologetic presentation of the Jewish War: he was thereby able to demonstrate that the faithful Christians were saved from God’s punishment.14 This assertion is grounded on two facts: we do not know of any direct reference to a flight to Pella prior to Eusebius, and there are no indications that the latter was dependent upon a source. However Verheyden is unable to provide any convincing motives for Eusebius’ choice of Pella as a destination. Furthermore, even though Eusebius’ writings are apologetic, this does not necessarily imply that he invented them.
Subsequent explicit mentions of a flight to Pella are to be found in Epiphanius’ work. Epiphanius, who wrote in the second half of the fourth century C.E., refers to the migration to Pella three times in all in his writings.16 Both of the accounts which appear in the Panarion (XXIX, 7, 7–8; XXX, 2, 7) are related to the appearance of heterodox Jewish-Christian sects, the Nazoreans and the Ebionites, in Peraea following the [supposed] relocation of the Church of Jerusalem to Pella. The third mention of the flight of the Jewish-Christians appears in his treatise On Weights and Measures (xv), where Epiphanius reports Aquila’s encounter with “the disciples of the disciples of the apostles” who had previously returned from Pella to Jerusalem. The main features of Eusebius’ data are present in Epiphanius’ writings: namely the miraculous warning (although Epiphanius attributes this both to “the Christ” and to an angel on different occasions), the escape from Jerusalem and the settlement in Pella. It has been argued, therefore, that Epiphanius’ accounts are based on Eusebius.17
It is noteworthy that the Gospel of Luke, which originates from a heathen milieu, provides the most extensive depiction about the fate of Jerusalem. Although it contains two passages which refer to the forthcoming destruction of the city; viz. XIX, 42–44 and XXI, 20–24, we shall pay more attention to the latter account which seems more relevant to our investigation ...
... It appears though, that Luke’s data corresponds to the chronology given by Epiphanius which we prefer to Eusebius.
Scholars who oppose the suggestion that Luke XXI, 20–24 alludes to the Pella tradition note that these verses do not specify the destination of the flight of “those inside the city” ...
...we agree with Koester that the least one can say is that the author of Luke XXI, 20–24 did know of people who fled from Jerusalem during the First Jewish War. In this regard, Simon recognized that the New Testament writings strengthen the hypothesis of the historicity of the flight to Pella, rather than undermining it.32 Thus, if Luke’s Gospel does indeed contain a genuine account of the fate of the Jewish-Christian community of Jerusalem, his statement constitutes the most ancient record of their escape from the Holy City...
Two other writings possibly relevant to the question of the flight to Pella will now be considered. The 12th chapter of the Book of Revelation
is thought by some scholars to have preserved an allusion to the flight of the Jewish-Christians from Jerusalem.33
Finally we should mention a verse taken from the Ascension of Isaiah, a pseudepigraphical text dating from the second century C.E.,which relates that the believers “flee from desert to desert, awaiting the coming of the Beloved” (IV, 13). This flight to desert places has been identified by few scholars with the Christians’ migration to Pella.35 However, this theory is not universally accepted, for the account is too obscure.
The theory of a Jewish-Christian surrender to the Roman forces during the spring of 68 C.E. allows us to draw several conclusions. First, it must be stated that the migration to Pella did not lead to the religious separation between the Jewish-Christians and their Jewish brethren as several scholars have proposed.55
- Scope and significance
Indeed, according to Josephus, many Jews surrendered to the Roman forces in the course of the war. Their desertion took place for different reasons, but it cannot be considered as an abandoning of their Jewish identity or of their religious beliefs