The Ascents of James
a lost work briefly described in a heresiology known as the Panarion (30.16.6–9),[n 1] by Epiphanius of Salamis; it was used as a source for a polemic against a Jewish Christian sect known as the Ebionites. The document advocated the abolition of the Jewish sacrifices, esteemed James, the brother of Jesus as the leader of the Jerusalem church, and denigrated Paul of Tarsus as a Gentile and an opponent of Jewish Law.
A Jewish Christian source document thought to be embedded within the Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions (1.27 or 1.33–71)... may be related to the otherwise lost work mentioned by Epiphanius... Distinguishing features of the text include an advocacy for the observance of Mosaic Law... The text recounts the salvation history of Israel from Abraham to Jesus from a Jewish Christian perspective.
In "Early Jewish Christianity", David Horrell writes about the Ascents of James:
The Gentile mission is accepted [by Ascents of James] and is regarded as a result of Jewish rejection of the message (1.42.1)... a belief in Christ's pre-existence.... and acceptance of the Gentile mission may also distinguish the writer of the Ascents from the Ebionites. One the other hand, the rejection of sacrifice in both the Gospel of the Ebionites and the Ascents, along with Hegessipus' description of James, like the EBionites, as abstaining from meat (In Eusebius HE 2.23), may suggest that the groups should not be neatly differentiated. The Ebionites may well have held James in high regard, just as they may also have done with Peter, if the Kerygmata Petrou is Ebionite.
Horrell also says that it's commonly considered a late 2nd c. work.
The part about James being vegetarian is curious, because on one hand in the gospels the closest Jesus comes to eating meat is fish AFAIK. So one might perceive a vegetarian practice among them. The Ebionites were known for vegetarianism as a rule. Paul criticized the idea of vegetarianism being a Christian requirement. The Epistles say:
Welcome all the Lord’s followers, even those whose faith is weak. Don’t criticize them for having beliefs that are different from yours. Some think it is all right to eat anything, while those whose faith is weak WILL EAT ONLY VEGETABLES.
1 Timothy 4
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; ... commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:
Philip Schaff in his History of the Christian Church
proposes that the Ascents of James
could be the basis for Hegessipus' account of James and that it is a source for the theory that James was Jesus' brother by law but not by blood:
The dramatic account of James by Hegesippus  is an overdrawn picture from the middle of the second century, colored by Judaizing traits which may have been derived from the "Ascents of James" and other apocryphal sources. He turns James into a Jewish priest and Nazirite saint (comp. his advice to Paul, Acts 21:23, 24), who drank no wine, ate no flesh, never shaved, nor took a bath, and wore only linen. But the biblical James is Pharisaic and legalistic rather than Essenic and ascetic.
The half-brother-theory regards the brethren and sisters of Jesus as children of Joseph by a former wife, consequently as no blood-relations at all, but so designated simply as Joseph was called the father of Jesus, by an exceptional use of the term adapted to the exceptional fact of the miraculous incarnation. ... This theory is found first in the apocryphal writings of James (the Protevangelium Jacobi, the Ascents of James, etc.), and then among the leading Greek fathers (Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Eusebius, Gregory of Nyssa, Epiphanius, Cyril of Alexandria)
16:7 They lay down certain ascents and instructions in the supposed 'Ascents of James,' as though he were giving orders against the temple and sacrifices, and the fire on the altar—and much else that is full of nonsense.
16:8 Nor are they ashamed to accuse Paul38 here with certain fabrications of their false apostles' villainy and imposture. They say that he was Tarsean—which he admits himself and does not deny. And they suppose that he was of Greek parentage, taking the occasion for this from the (same) passage because of his frank statement, 'I am a man of Tarsus, a citizen of no mean city.'39
16:9 They then claim that he was Greek and the son of a Greek mother and Greek father, but that he had gone up to Jerusalem, stayed there for a while, desired to marry a daughter of the high priest, and had therefore became a proselyte and been circumcised. But since he still could not marry that sort of girl he became angry and wrote against circumcision, and against the Sabbath and the legislation.
A book review by Robert Price of Van Voorst's The Ascents of James, History and Theology of a Jewish Christian Community
equating the Ascents with part of Recognitions says:
Van Voorst ... argues quite ably that Recognitions 1. 33-71 present us with ...the hitherto-enigmatic Ascents of James mentioned by Epiphanius. The work as Van Voorst isolates it, begins with a summary of the salvation history of Israel culminating with the career of Jesus, the Prophet like Moses, who came to replace sacrifices with baptism. Sacrifice had been allowed for the hardness of Israel's hearts (thus here is a difference from the well known Ebionite hermeneutic of the false pericopae). [It] is especially valuable in that it seems to preserve actual bits of [John the] Baptist polemic and theology.
... It is a late work like the Acts of Pilate, though of course it may preserve early emphases or traditions here and there.
http://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/ ... scents.htm
I can see how this idea in the Ascents of James differs from the Canonical NT, wherein the sacrifices are replaced by Jesus' own sacrifice on the Cross, rather than with baptism. I also see how the Ascents' belief that sacrifices had been allowed could differ from the Ebionites' belief that the sacrifices were not part of the law. But maybe the two beliefs are reconcilable- sacrifices could theoretically be allowed under a Law while not being a commandment and rule component of that Law either.
Robert Price casts doubt on whether the Ascents of James is the same as the passage in the Recognitions. The Recognitions do copy major features of what Epiphanius says of the Ascents, but they don't narrate an "Ascent", although the title has been theorized to refer to James' ascent up stairs to give a speech narrated in the Recognitions.
Since Hegessipus is supposed by some scholars to base his writing about James on the Ascents or something like it, wouldn't that suggest that the Ascents of James could predate Hegessipus' History?
Some notes on the Periodoi Petrou
AKA Circuits of Peter:
Joel Willits mentions Stanley Jones' dating for it of 200 AD:
F. Stanley Jones ... believes [The Circuits of Peter] was composed around 200 C.E. near Syrian Antioch. In the first footnote he states that this text is what others call the Grundschrift, but rather than see this as a complied and heterogenous set of materials, he believes this source was the "first truly Christian novel". It should be pointed out too that Jones, as Stanton, dispenses with the so-called Kerygmata Petrou source hypothesis in his suggestion of the Christian novel The Circuits of Peter. In his essay does not provide an overview of the constitute elements of the Pseudo-Clementine writings in the way Stanton did, but he does assert that The Circuits of Peter was absorbed into the Homilies and Recognition texts which comprise the Pseudo-Clementine wrtings. Furthermore, he believes that The Circuits of Peter can be found in the places where the Homilies and Recognitions share ideas and phrases--much like the synoptic scholars hypothesize Q. Furthermore, he argues for two discernable sources that this hyopthetical source Circuits of Peter depends on: the Book of Elchasai and an "Anti-Pauline Counter-Acts of the Apostles". The former source is known to us through Epiphanius, Panarion 19:1:6 and is discernable in the Contestation (Contestatio) document of Pseudo-Clementines and the latter source is what Stanton referred to as an "Apologia for Jewish believers in Jesus" found in the Recognitions 1:27-71.
http://euangelizomai.blogspot.com/2008/ ... ature.html
Bernard Pouderon finds Origen's quoting of the Circuits of Peter reliable in his essay "Origène, le pseudo-Clément et la structure des Periodoi Petrou ":
Two pieces of evidence argue in favor of the authenticity of Origen’s quotations of the Periodoi Petrou: first, the agreement of these testimonies taken from two differents works: the Greek Philocalia and the Latin translation of the Commentary on Matthiew; second, the influence that the Clementines had on Origen’s thought. The consequences are very important for the knowledge of the genesis of the novel. Origen introduces his quotation of the Periodoi by indicating the number of the book where he took it from. Now this number doesn’t square with the number of the corresponding book of the Recognitiones, but with that of the Homilies. Consequently the structure of the Periodoi fits that of the Homilies, and not that of the Recognitiones. Another consequence: the discussion with Appion must have been present in the Periodoi Petrou, that is to say (in our opinion) in the Grundschrift.
http://www.brepolsonline.net/doi/abs/10 ... A.2.300554
The Encyclopedia Britannica says that the Clementine Recognitions and Homilies
attempted to exalt the position of the Oriental churches in relation to Rome and were based on an earlier work, the Circuits of Peter, attested by Epiphanius and probably mentioned by the ecclesiastical historian Eusebius of Caesarea and by Origen, the theologian of the Greek church (early 3rd century).
G. Mead, in Fragments of a Faith Forgotten
(1900), considered Circuits of Peter to be dated to the 2nd century, writing that Justin's Martyr's narrative about Simon Magus
is the nucleus of the huge Simonian legend which was mainly developed by the cycle of Pseudo-Clementine literature of the third century, based on the second century Circuits of Peter.
Above all things, the Ebionites were in bitterest strife with the Pauline churches. Later on General Christianity set itself to work to reconcile the Petrine and Pauline differences, principally by the Acts document; and in course of time Ebionite tradition was also edited by the light of the new view, and the name of Simon substituted for the great "heretic" with whom the Ebionites had striven. And so the modified Ebionite tradition, which was presumably first committed to writing in the Circuits of Peter, gradually evolved a romance, in which the conflicts between Simon Peter the Ebionite, and Simon the Magician, are graphically pourtrayed, the magical arts of the Samaritan are foiled, and his false theology is exposed, by the doughty champion of the "Poor Men."
This theory, however, that the character of Simon Magus was based on an Ebionite portrayal of Paul is put in major doubt by more recent scholarship.
In his book Whose Acts of Peter?
, M. Baldwin writes about how Bauer's view was based on a theory that the Pseudo-Clementines saw Peter as in conflict with Paul, with Simon Magus symbolizing Paul. Baldwin notes that "naturally this included a relatively early, Jewish Christian Acts of Peter or (Periodoi Petrou), dating from as early as the first decades of the second century."
Stanley Jones in his essay "Jewish Christianity of the Pseudo-Clementines" says that Circuits of Peter was the original name of the original version of the Pseudo-Clementines. He proposes that the places where the Recognitions and Homilites agree are places that reflect the original version, the Circuits of Peter.
Epiphanius himself took the view that the Pseudo-Clementines were inventions because they took positions opposite of the ones that Clement himself was known to hold from his known letters. Epiphanius said that the Circuits were used by the Ebionites and he concluded from the Circuits that the Ebionites performed daily washings, claiming to imitate Peter, abstain from meat, claiming to imitate Peter, avoid the "mixing of bodies", celebrate the eucharist once annually with unleavened bread and water, hold a dualism of powers established by God, the powers being Christ and the devil. (Source: Jewish Ways of Following Jesus: Redrawing the Religious Map of Antiquity
By Edwin Keith Broadhead)
M. Baldwin says that Origen's writing on the Circuits of Peter is often seen as cited in Philocalia 23:22. However, Baldwin then clarifies that this passage is not really a citation by Origen himself as it is taken to be from other scholars. Rather, the 4th c. Philokalia is itself the one that is associating the Circuits with the Pseudo-Clementines, even though the context is a review of Origen's writing.
So it looks like the Circuits of Peter are most clearly cited in Epiphanius and the Philokalia, whereas one must estimate how much they are reflected in the Pseudo-Clementines.
It's difficult to find much about the Ebionites' version of the other Acts of the Apostles
, and I even question whether a specific Ebionite "Acts of the Apostles" existed.
Epiphanius mentioned them in his Panarion.
Sakari Hakkinen writes in the anthology "A Companion to Second Century Christian 'Heretics'": "The explanation of the poverty of the Ebionites was, according to them, derived from the story told in Acts (Pan 30.12.2)." He then cites the Panarion passage, which doesn't actually quote from Acts, but only talks about their voluntary poverty as the basis for their name. Hakkinen next writes:
The connection to Acts 4:34-35 is obvious. It is clear that the Ebionites were committed to poverty and traced their origin back to the first Christian community in Jerusalem.... Was the Acts used by the Ebionites an abbreviated version of the canonical Acts of the Apostles? The connections between the gospel used by the Ebionites and Acts are also noteworthy. The Acts used by the Ebionties may have been based on the canonical Acts which was edited by the Ebionites.
In the same anthology, S. Jones writes that "Recognitions 1.27-71 draws from a source that was a Jewish-Christian refutation of Luke's Acts of the Apostles and blamed Paul not only for the failed mission to the Jewish nation, which was on the way to be baptised, but also apparently for the death of James the brother of Jesus."
It makes sense that just as the Ebionites had their own gospel that harmonized the Synoptics and included Luke that they could also have their own version of Luke's Acts of the Apostles.
Panarion 30 says after describing the Circuits of Peter:
"They also mention other Acts of the Apostles
.. In the Anabathmoi of James they accept some steps and stories for example that he preaches against the temple and the sacrifices".
My question here is whether based on the original Greek grammar this means that Epiphanius is not actually talking about another Acts of the Apostles, but about "other Acts of the Apostles", such as the Ascents of James. That is, does Epiphanius here by "Acts of the Apostles" mean "Acts" in the sense of the "Acts of Peter", "Acts of Paul", etc.?
HJ Schoeps on the other hand does specifically theorize an Ebionite "Acts of the Apostles". As F. Bruce writes in his book "The Book of Acts",
Schoeps pays special attention to similarities between the presentation of Stephen in Acts and that of jaes the Just in the pseudo-Clementine literature (which he finds to preserve much Ebionite material). .... the solution of the problem is not that propounded by Schoeps, who concludes that Stephen, 'far from being a historical character, is an ersatz figure brought forward by Luke, in order to unload on to him doctrines which the author found it inconvenient to acknowledge as his own'... For a critique of Schoeps on this point see M. Simon, 'Saint Stephen and the Jerusalem Temple," JEH 2 (1951); he concludes that on the contrary Stephen is the original and the pseudo-Clementine James the tendentious creation.