Was "James the Lord's brother" Paul's thorn?

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gryan
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Re: Was "James the Lord's brother" Paul's thorn?

Post by gryan »

@John2

I agree that Jerome and Papias got it wrong in their reading of Mark: James the less is the blood brother of Jesus. Mary mother of Joses 15:47, is the mother of James the less, 15:40, and she is is the mother of Jesus and his other brother and sisters (6:3), in the hometown synogoge sense of the words brother and sister. Joses is the key. Mark did not come right out and call his mother the mother of Jesus because Jesus made the words mother and brother and sister into spiritual family designations (Mk 3:32:34). Jerome and Papias got it wrong with a purpose: to avoid facing the obvious evidence that Mary the mother of Jesus was not a perpetual virgin.

At the tomb is where I perceive an important distinction in Mark's symbolic world that others don't usually see. As I understand the logic: Mary of Joses (Mk 15:47) is identified by her middle son to differentiate her from another Mary, mother of another James (Mk 16:1). James the less is called the less/not-great to different him from another genuinely great James: the son of this other Mary. There are two other Jameses in Mark. Since the son of Zebedee is always named alongside his brother, John, this other James, the great one named simply must be James son of Alphaeus.

Do you follow the logic of this differentiation in the symbolic world of Mark? Here is the key transition point for your review:

Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses [and James the less and Jesus] saw where he was laid. When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James [son of Alphaeus], and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.

If you can see the logic of this (possible) disjunction between the two Marys mother of two different Jameses, then I will show you how it provides a clue to Galatians (and then also I will show you how there can be two Jameses in Jerusalem without denying Hegesippus). But first, can you see the logic of the distinction in Mark?
John2
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Re: Was "James the Lord's brother" Paul's thorn?

Post by John2 »

gryan wrote: Fri May 27, 2022 5:11 pm
James the less is so called the less/not-great to different him from another genuinely great James: the son of this other Mary. There are two other Jameses in Mark. Since the son of Zebedee is always named alongside his brother, John, this other James, the great one named simply must be James son of Alphaeus.

Do you follow the logic of this differentiation in the symbolic world of Mark? Here is the key transition point for your review:

Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid. When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.

If you can see the logic of this (possible) disjunction between the two Marys mother of two different Jameses, then I will show you how it provides a clue to Galatians (and then also I will show you how there can be two Jameses in Jerusalem without denying Hegesippus). But first, can you see the logic of the distinction in Mark?

I think there is one Mary besides Mary Magdalene in Mk. 15:40, 47 and 16:1 because I take Salome to be her daughter, and she is mentioned with the Mary in 15:40 and 16:1, and since the Mary in 15:40 was "watching from a distance," I think she's the Mary in 15:47 who "saw where his body was placed." And it would seem odd to me if Mary Magdalene and one Mary saw where Jesus' body was placed, and then Mary Magdalene and another Mary brought spices so they could anoint it.

It also seems a little odd to me that what I take to be the one Mary (besides Mary Magdalene) is mentioned as being the mother of this person in one place and of that person in another place, but at the end of the day, only Jesus' mother is said elsewhere in Mark to have had sons with those names.

As for the meaning of James the Less, all I can say is that since no one is called James the Great in Mark, my guess (and that's all it is) is that it refers to James' age (in the sense of being the younger brother of Jesus) or perhaps his stature or his status at that time (since he had presumably thought Jesus was "out of his mind" in 3:21).

You point to Mk. 10:42-45 regarding attaining greatness, but that is addressed to all of the disciples, and I don't see any reason to think James the son of Alpheaus was called "the Great" since he is only mentioned in lists of the apostles. I suppose he could have been called "the Great," but Mark nowhere says that or provides any details about him that suggest that to me.
gryan
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Re: Was "James the Lord's brother" Paul's thorn?

Post by gryan »

@John2

Thanks for your detailed reply. It shows me that you understand the claim that I'm making even though at every point, you have an alternative explanation that you still find more satisfying.

I will turn now to Galatians, our first person account of what I consider to be the same two Jameses. James the less is "James the Lord's brother". "Some from James" from the circumcision party come from James the less.

The James who gave Paul the right hand of fellowship was James the son of Alphaeus.

This distinction between the two Jameses allows for a closer reading of Galatians in each of three encounters between Paul and Cephas. Here is the text in Galatians related to Paul's first encounter with Cephas and also with James the Lord's brother:

"Unless there are some who are troubling [ταράσσοντες] you and wanting to corrupt the gospel of Christ, I am surprised that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ for a qualitatively different [ἕτερον] gospel which does not exist anymore.
8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be under a curse! 9As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be under a curse!

...But when God,
the One having selected me from my mother’s womb
and having called me by His grace,
was pleased 16to reveal His Son in me so
that I might preach Him among the Gentiles,
I did not consult with flesh and blood immediately
nor did I depart to Jerusalem to the apostles before me [immediately],
but I departed to Arabia [immediately];
C’.indeed, I returned back to Damascus [immediately].
B’. Only then, after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to make acquaintance with Cephas, and I remained with him fifteen days. But, belonging to the apostles, I discerned [εἶδον] no qualitatively different one [ἕτερον],
A’. except James, the Lord’s brother.

This exegesis of Paul's characterization of James the Lord's brother draws out ἕτερον: the same word means the same thing in 1:6 (a qualitatively different Gospel) and 1:19 (a qualitatively different apostle) and 6:4 ("the qualitatively different one").

Gal 6:4
Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to the qualitatively different one (τὸν ἕτερον).

In Gal 6:4 Paul is preaching what he practiced when he ate with Gentiles in Antioch and confronted Cephas to his face. He was standing alone for what he knew to be the truth of the Gospel, and not comparing himself to "the qualitatively different one"-- James the Lord's brother.

This analysis only makes sense if the James who gave Paul the right hand of fellowship was the other James, James son of Alphaeus. This is the James [son of Alphaeus] in Acts who said this:

Acts 15:25-26
"It has come to our attention that some from us (τινὲς ἐξ ἡμῶν)--to whom we did not (οἷς οὐ) give instructions--troubled you (ἐτάραξαν ὑμᾶς) by words. So we all agreed to choose men to send to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul..."

There is a lot to unpack in this parallel. Starting with the obvious: the word "troubled" (ταράσσω). In Acts, troubled you (ἐτάραξαν ὑμᾶς) is a literary echo of "troubling you" (ταράσσοντες ὑμᾶς) in Galatians 1:7,

"Unless some are troubling you (ταράσσοντες ὑμᾶς) and wanting to corrupt the gospel of Christ..."

In Galatians, the ones who caused trouble were "some from James [the Lord's brother]" and James the Lord's brother is "the qualitatively different one". Note also that Paul warns about "we or an angel from heaven" preaching a different Gospel. James the Lord's brother was one of "us." He was a leader in Jerusalem. But the "James" with real authority -- James the pillar, the great one! -- did not authorize the lesser James.

Acts is only confusing if we imagine James the Lord's brother is named anywhere in Luke-Acts. I maintain that he is never named by the author of Luke-Acts who did not want to put Paul's messy adversity with James the Lord's brother in his account. The mentions of James in Mark's hometown scene (Mark 6:3) and the scene at the cross (Mark 15:40) not repeated in Luke. Note that in Luke-Acts, the only use of Mark's Jameses are in the list of the 12 and at the empty tomb where Luke 24:10 copies Mark 15:47 with respect to "Mary of James," i.e. Mary mother of James [son of Alphaeus]. The author of Luke-Acts made these choices carefully and intentionally. In the symbolic world of Luke, the "Mary mother of James [son of Alphaeus]" (Lk 24:10) is identified as such to differentiate her from Mary, "the mother of the Lord" (ἡ μήτηρ τοῦ Κυρίου, Lk 1:43). The author of Luke did not disagree with Mark's Gospel with respect to the existence of "James the less", he only shifted the focus away from the whole hot mess with Paul's main adversary, lesser James, the blood brother of Jesus (an influential prototype of a "bishop" as it were). Instead, the author of Acts put the focus on Paul's main supporter, the greater James, the pillar -- James son of Alphaeus.

I'll stop there for now and hope for feedback!
gryan
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Re: Was "James the Lord's brother" Paul's thorn?

Post by gryan »

PS. there are just a few small steps from the above exegesis to the link with the "thorn in the flesh"

τὸν ἕτερον, the qualitatively different one (Gal 6:4), preaching a qualitatively different Gospel (Gal 1:6), was discerned by Paul to be a qualitatively different apostle--James the Lord's brother (1:19)

In other words, "James the Lord's brother" was one of the "false apostles":

2 Cor 11:4 and 13-15
For if someone comes and proclaims a Jesus other than the One we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit than the One you received, or a different gospel (εὐαγγέλιον ἕτερον) than the one you accepted, you put up with it way too easily.... For such men are false apostles (ψευδαπόστολοι), deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not great (οὐ μέγα), then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness (δικαιοσύνης).

James the Lord's brother (in the flesh and blood sense of the word brother) fits the profile of a false apostle, masquerading as a servant of righteousness: οὐ μέγα -- not great (James the less/not-great one). Even Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.

This is the profile of a "thorn in the flesh, angel of Satan" understood as a human opponent.

It is ugly. I feel yucky repeating those words (but I'm letting go of that for the sake of authenticity in exegesis of Galatians/2 Cor 10-12). Such reticence is inherited from the tradition of Luke who did not want James the Lord's brother/James the less/the false apostle/Paul's thorn to be named in his narrative!

In Luke-Acts, only the pillar James, the recognized one, son of the other Mary, was given a name and a voice--James son of Alpheus (Lk 6:5/Lk 24:10 and Acts 15).
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GakuseiDon
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Re: Was "James the Lord's brother" Paul's thorn?

Post by GakuseiDon »

gryan wrote: Fri May 27, 2022 5:32 am @JohnT
...
That said, thanks for offering a traditional view on Paul's thorn. I think some form of the illness or injury interpretation will be on the winning side of this argument when the votes come in among various future translation committees. As far as I know, the idea that James the less/the Lord's brother was Paul's thorn is unique to yours truly. On the face of it, what are the chances that I'm right? What are the chances that I will convince the majority of scholars, being a non-PhD independent researcher? Not great.
I'm afraid I think JohnT's solution of some kind of disease is a better one for "thorn" than it being a person. (I'm an amateur so my opinion counts for little) Demons were often thought to be the cause of diseases, so calling it a messenger from Satan to buffet him fits the theme. Paul prayed three times to have it removed, suggesting a disease with periodic outbreaks. I like the idea of it being a nervous condition, perhaps schizophrenia, which sometimes involves hallucinations. But thinking of it being James is an interesting idea.
gryan
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Re: Was "James the Lord's brother" Paul's thorn?

Post by gryan »

@ GakuseiDon

Concerning "history" of the Jameses, I'd welcome your thoughts on my re-reading of Hegesippus.

Concerning the martyrdom of James, the brother of the Lord, from Book V.
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/t ... ippus.html

Hegesippus:
"James, the Lord's brother, succeeds to the government of the Church, in conjunction with the apostles. He has been universally called the Just, from the days of the Lord down to the present time. For many bore the name of James; but this one was holy from his mother's womb... in consequence of his pre-eminent justice, he was called the Just, and Oblias, which signifies in Greek Defence of the People, and Justice, in accordance with what the prophets declare concerning him."

Hegesippus never identifies James the Lord's brother a one of "those recognized to be pillars" or even as an "apostle." All he says is that he "succeeds to the government of the Church, in conjunction with the apostles." He adds: "many bore the name of James"!

It seems to me that this allows for my two Jameses reading of Galatians and Mark, for it is basic to my argument that Paul met at least two leaders in Jerusalem who "bore the name James." In my view, "James the Just" in Gospel of Hebrews and Gospel of Thomas was the pillar James, James son of Alphaeus.

Hegesippus says nothing to preclude this interpretation. All he does say is that James the Lord's brother was the pre-eminent "James the Just". As I hear it, Hegesippus is making an overstated defense -- James the less was not such a bad guy vis-a-vis the other James who was regarded by Pauline followers of Jesus as the greater "James", "the Just one":

Hegesippus:
"...in consequence of his pre-eminent justice, he was called the Just, and Oblias, which signifies in Greek Defence of the People, and Justice, in accordance with what the prophets declare concerning him."

In my interpretations of Galatians and Mark, the pillar James was "slave of all": He both supported Paul's mission to the Gentiles and also took stance of subordination toward James the Lord's brother (Mark's James the less). In Galatians, as I read it, Paul smeared the name of the Lord's flesh and blood brother (aka James the less) calling him a "qualitatively different apostle" i.e "a false apostle". Against this smear, Hegesippus tried to say James the Lord's brother was not such a bad guy!

Jerome (based on Origin's defense of the perpetual virginity of Mary) took another step beyond Hegisippus: It was Jerome, not Hegisippus, who misidentified James the Lord's "flesh and blood" brother (Mark's "James the less") by identifying him as one and the same man as the first among "those recognized to be pillars" (James son of Alphaeus)!

Thoughts?
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GakuseiDon
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Re: Was "James the Lord's brother" Paul's thorn?

Post by GakuseiDon »

gryan wrote: Mon May 30, 2022 3:38 am @ GakuseiDon

Concerning "history" of the Jameses, I'd welcome your thoughts on my re-reading of Hegesippus.
I'm sorry, I don't really have the knowledge to add anything productive thre. From my perspective, the James in Paul's letter was probably meant to be Jesus's flesh-and-blood brother, whether it was original to Paul or a later interpolation. At least, that is the strongest possibility (amongst several) in my very amateur opinion. But then, I've already concluded for myself that a historical Jesus is the best explanation for the texts coming out in the First and Second Centuries CE. Adding/removing a blood brother doesn't impact that conclusion.

If the Jewish Christian church was mostly exterminated around 70 CE, then using Hegesippus who was writing a century later to determine the number of James involved in early Christianity seems problematic. You may well be right, but I simply don't know enough to evaluate your analysis. (Not that that doesn't stop me from reading and throwing out an opinion! :cheers: )
gryan
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Re: Was "James the Lord's brother" Paul's thorn?

Post by gryan »

John2 wrote: Fri May 27, 2022 7:01 pm
gryan wrote: Fri May 27, 2022 5:11 pm
Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid. When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.
I think there is one Mary besides Mary Magdalene in Mk. 15:40, 47 and 16:1 because I take Salome to be her daughter, and she is mentioned with the Mary in 15:40 and 16:1, and since the Mary in 15:40 was "watching from a distance," I think she's the Mary in 15:47 who "saw where his body was placed." And it would seem odd to me if Mary Magdalene and one Mary saw where Jesus' body was placed, and then Mary Magdalene and another Mary brought spices so they could anoint it.
Re: The identity of Salome

Since Salome is not mentioned by name in Mark 6:3, I think the 3X repetition of Joses is the key to identification of the Mary in 6:3, 15:40, and 15:47.

Since Salome in Mark 15:47 and 16:1 remains an open question in Mark, I look to Matthew for the identity of Salome. Here are the parallel passages:

Mk 15:40
And there were also women watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses and Salome.

Matt 27:56
Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.

So Salome="the mother of Zebedee's sons".
Note: "the mother of Zebedee's sons" links to Jesus teaching on true greatness:

Matt 20:20 (cf Mark 10:35–45)

Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and knelt down to make a request of Him.

21“What do you want?” He inquired.

She answered, “Declare that in Your kingdom one of these two sons of mine may sit at Your right hand, and the other at Your left.”

22“You do not know what you are asking,” Jesus replied. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”

“We can,” the brothers answered.

23“You will indeed drink My cup,” Jesus said. “But to sit at My right or left is not Mine to grant. These seats belong to those for whom My Father has prepared them.”

24When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25But Jesus called them aside and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones (οἱ μεγάλοι) exercise authority over them. 26It shall not be this way among you. Instead, whoever wants to become great (μέγας) among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave...

------------'

I find it striking that Matthew leaves out οἱ δοκοῦντες (the recognized ones, Gal 2:9), the very element that links Mark's story to Galatians:

Gal 2:9
Ἰάκωβος καὶ Κηφᾶς καὶ Ἰωάνης, οἱ δοκοῦντες στῦλοι εἶναι
James and Cephas and John [son of Zebedee], the ones recognized to be pillars

Mark
Οἴδατε ὅτι οἱ δοκοῦντες ἄρχειν τῶν ἐθνῶν κατακυριεύουσιν αὐτῶν
You know that the ones recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them

Matthew
Οἴδατε ὅτι οἱ ἄρχοντες τῶν ἐθνῶν κατακυριεύουσιν αὐτῶν
You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them

-----------

Nevertheless, there is a striking convergence between Matt and my interpretation of Mark!

In Matt: there is no reason to doubt that "the mother of Zebedee’s sons" links explicitly to Jesus' teaching on greatness earlier in Matt.

In Mk: differentiating "James the less (the not-great James)" from "the James (the implicitly great James)" links implicitly to Jesus' teaching on greatness in Mark!

I suspect Matt was reading Mark's lesser/greater theme as I have done; but not satisfied with it, he put his own spin on the material. With respect to the reputation of James the blood brother of Jesus, Matt removes the stigma of being called "the lesser one".

Like Luke, Matt removes any trace of the ugly inter-textual link I have identified in Mark/Gal/2 Cor 10-13 wherein James the less=Paul's thorn.
gryan
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Re: Was "James the Lord's brother" Paul's thorn?

Post by gryan »

PS.
RE: the opposite of μεγας is μικρος in Matthew, but the opposition is only relative to context

Matt 11:11 presents a teaching on greatness (which appears also in Luke 7:28):

ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, οὐκ ἐγήγερται ἐν γεννητοῖς γυναικῶν μείζων Ἰωάνου τοῦ Βαπτιστοῦ·
ὁ δὲ μικρότερος ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τῶν οὐρανῶν μείζων αὐτοῦ ἐστιν.

Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater (μείζων) than John the Baptist. Yet even the least (μικρότερος) in the kingdom of heaven is greater (μείζων) than he.

This is an interesting backdrop for Matthew's decision to drop Mark's epithet "the less" from James:

Mark 15:40
Μαρία ἡ Ἰακώβου τοῦ μικροῦ καὶ Ἰωσῆτος μήτηρ

And there were also women watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome.

Matthew 27:55-56
Μαρία ἡ τοῦ Ἰακώβου καὶ Ἰωσὴφ μήτηρ

And many women were there, looking on from afar off, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him--among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

Whatever the significance of dropping the epithet, "the less", may be for Matthew, I think it has something to do with the teaching on the least and the great in the Kingdom.
davidmartin
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Re: Was "James the Lord's brother" Paul's thorn?

Post by davidmartin »

gryan doesn't the gospel of John support your theory, in that Jesus's brothers are said not to believe him and neither is James mentioned (by name)?
i think it does but i wondered whether Salome might be found in John somewhere?

it certainly seems the Ebionites revered James the brother going by the Clementines account
In my mind I can imagine reconstructing what went on and think about how an 'official' state sponsored version of Christianity might have arose and who better to lead it than an actual brother who may have never even been a disciple? It then magically ends up preaching standard Judaism and ruffles no feathers but was never original. I find that quite plausible, the stumbling block is did it arise before or after Paul. Could it have been a response to Paul rather than a response to the initial phase itself. I really don't have a clue on that one but I do wonder if that might have been the case.
In that scenario how quickly could an 'Ebionite' James just appear and start preaching it seems logical to give it a bit of time rather than imagine it appeared overnight out of nowhere. Paul seems to describe his opponents as preaching something both different and new to the Galatians?
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