Sons of Thunder

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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Sons of Thunder

Post by John2 » Sun Apr 10, 2016 12:16 pm

MacDonald discusses some interesting resemblances between James and John the sons of Zebedee and Castor and Pollux in chapter four of the Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark, and I wouldn't mind seeing another point of view on them. ... er&f=false

Neil Godfrey has a table of some of them here: ... hmrpt1.htm

• J[ames] & J[ohn] were by birth the sons of Zebedee
• Renamed as Boanerges = sons of Thunder
• Were both fishermen
• James died a violent death
• John was thought to live till second coming
• James and John asked Jesus to sit at his right and left in glory
• Jesus refused their request (they were replaced to 2 thieves on his right and left on the cross)

• C[astor] & P[ollux] were by birth the sons of Laertes
• Renamed Dioscuri = lads of Zeus, the Thunderer
• Were both Argonauts (sailors on the Argo)
• Castor died a violent death
• Polydeuces could have lived forever
• Polydeuces asked Zeus to allow Castor and he to share immortality
• Zeus granted their request (in art they are depicted on right and left of Zeus)
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robert j
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Re: Sons of Thunder

Post by robert j » Sun Apr 10, 2016 2:34 pm

For another possible solution --- a Pauline solution and not one based on Homer --- see ---

Part 1 – “Sons of Thunder --- James and John in gMark”

Part 2 --- “Sons of Thunder --- Conclusions”

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Re: Sons of Thunder

Post by arnoldo » Sun Apr 10, 2016 2:47 pm

Paul = Hermes?
Barnabas= Zeus?

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Re: Sons of Thunder

Post by MrMacSon » Sun Apr 10, 2016 3:56 pm

I came across this recently -
The name Boanerges occurs only once in the Bible. Boanerges is the nickname that Jesus gives to James and John, the two sons of Zebedee (Mark 3:17). Jesus doesn't explain why He gives them this name, but author Mark explains that Boanerges means υιοι (uioi meaning sons; or figuratively, partakers) βροντης (bronthes meaning of thunder).

Jesus gives some of His disciples a nickname, and since we like to believe that Jesus was always full of love for His people, we also readily assume that His nicknames reflect that appreciation. But, quite contrarily, Jesus very often expresses His disappointment towards His disciples. Right before Mark mentions Boanerges, he reports that Jesus renders Simon the name Peter. Peter doesn't mean rock as many believe, but pebble (see our article on the name Peter). Peter is the footloose pebble, but his faith is the petra upon which Jesus would build His church. In Matthew 16:23, Jesus even goes as far as to call Peter 'Satan'.

Even though James and John would grow to be giants of the faith, their career started off with some serious hiccups. And those hiccups were invariably met by Jesus' insistence for the boys to pipe down. Luke tells the story of how Jesus and the disciplines are denied lodging in a Samaritan village. James and John helpfully offer to command fire from heaven to destroy the town. Jesus rebukes them by telling them that they have no idea of what kind of spirit they are, and supposed to be (Luke 9:51-56).

Fire from heaven is lightning, and the lightning part is the damaging part. All visible lightning comes with audible thunder, but not all audible thunder comes with visible lightning ... Calling James and John 'Sons Of Thunder' when they propose to command fire from the sky, is highly satirical.

He doesn't praise the sons of Zebedee with a lofty-sounding 'Sons Of Thunder', but rather 'Thunder Boys', that is 'Bunch Of Windbags', or 'All Bark, No Bite'. ... vRzguJ97IW
The article also proposes that
  • the first part of Boanerges - βοανεργες - is as likely derived from βους (bous; Latin bos) as it is from βοα (boa), meaning to shout or cry, or from the related verbs βοαω (boao) or βοη (boe), both also meaning to shout or cry. The Latin noun bos, means an ox or bull (hence the word bovine). And, sure enough, the Greek word for ox or bull is βους (bous). Ergo, to a Greek and Latin audience, the name Boanerges would look like it starts with the verb 'to low' (ie. the sound a cow makes).

    and the second part is derived from Ενεργεια (energeia) and/[or] its derivatives - ανενεργης (anenerges), meaning inefficacious; αυτενεργεια (autenergeia), meaning self-moving energy; or δυσενεργεια (dusenergeia), meaning lassitude (= weariness of body or mind; languor; lack of energy resulting from fatigue, says the Oxford Dictionary) Συνενεργης (sunenerges), meaning active simultaneously.
ie. Boanerges may mean 'Busy Lowing', that is "(They) Act Like Oxen", as much as it may mean 'Sons of Thunder' or *satire on 'sons of thunder'*.

Maybe 'Boanerges' is a double word-play??

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Re: Sons of Thunder

Post by Garon » Sun Apr 10, 2016 5:52 pm

I've heard the teaching of Rocco Errico. He says "Sons of Thunder" means James and John were fighters. They always wanted to take everything by force, but Jesus' teaching of non resistance and peace changed them.

Errico also explains the meaning of the Nickname "Peter." Simon is the disciple's name. He was given the Nickname Peter. Because Simon means dove. Doves are harmless birds that are shy and peaceful. Peter in Aramaic means stone, rock or pebble. Simon was a hardhead to Jesus' teachings about God. We say hardhead, numbskull, or full of rocks for brains. Slow to learn, but when Simon called Jesus the Christ the Son of God, Jesus praised him for being alert to the hearing of spirit not flesh and blood or human reason for calling Jesus The Christ. Not that Simon was any foundation (rock) to start a new religion.

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Re: Sons of Thunder

Post by John2 » Mon Apr 11, 2016 6:37 am

Robert J,

I hadn't seen those threads you started so I appreciate your links.

It looks like the meaning of "sons of thunder" is not cut and dried but if the other possible parallels between James and John and Castor and Pollux hold up then the connection with thunder would be fitting.
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Re: Sons of Thunder

Post by John2 » Mon Apr 11, 2016 6:49 am

The possible Homeric parallel that stands out the most to me though is Mk 10:35-37:
"Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. 'Teacher,' they said, 'we want you to do for us whatever we ask.' 'What do you want me to do for you?' he asked. They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”
MacDonald notes on page 27 that:
"In the art of the Roman imperial period, the Dioscuri commonly appeared on the right and left of an enthroned deity. A star above the head of each brother symbolized his heavenly glorification."
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Re: Sons of Thunder

Post by outhouse » Mon Apr 11, 2016 8:06 am

I thought we did this same thread last year here. No memories?

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Re: Sons of Thunder

Post by John2 » Mon Apr 11, 2016 9:12 am

As I said, I hadn't seen those other threads. And this one isn't about the meaning of "sons of thunder" (which those other threads seemed to revolve around) as it is all of the possible Homeric parallels between James and John and Castor and Pollux.
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Re: Sons of Thunder

Post by John2 » Mon Apr 11, 2016 9:38 am

The parallels between James and John and Castor and Pollux have been noted by others over the last hundred years or so (since at least J. Rendel Harris, who MacDonald mentions in the Homeric Epics: ... an-legends). Regarding the right side-left side parallel, Culpepper notes that:
Mining the Graeco-Roman legends for supporting data, Ronald Brownrigg contended that Boanerges was "a title exactly equivalent to 'the heavenly twins,' Castor and Pollux, the sons of Zeus the Sky-God, who sit on each side of him as 'the children of the sky' controlling thunder and lightning ...." ... er&f=false
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