The Brother of Jesus and the Lost Teachings of Christianity

By (author) Jeffrey J. Bütz

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The Brother of Jesus and the Lost Teachings of Christianity
By (author) Jeffrey J. Bütz

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Pages : 240

Book Size : 6 x 9

ISBN-13 : 9781594770432

Imprint : Inner Traditions

On Sale Date : January 25, 2005

Format : Paperback Book

While Peter is traditionally thought of as the leader of the apostles, it was James who led the disciples after the crucifixion. Jeffrey Bütz offers a vision that is sometimes at odds with Christian doctrine and concludes that James links Christianity, Judaism, and Islam and can serve to heal centuries of enmity.
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About The Brother of Jesus and the Lost Teachings of Christianity

Reveals the true role of James, the brother of Jesus, in early Christianity

• Uses evidence from the canonical Gospels, apocryphal texts, and the writings of the Church Fathers to reveal the teachings of Jesus as transmitted to his chosen successor: James

• Demonstrates how the core message in the teachings of Jesus is an expansion not a repudiation of the Jewish religion

• Shows how James can serve as a bridge between Christianity, Judaism, and Islam

James has been a subject of controversy since the founding of the Church. Evidence that Jesus had siblings contradicts Church dogma on the virgin birth, and James is also a symbol of Christian teachings that have been obscured. While Peter is traditionally thought of as the leader of the apostles and the “rock” on which Jesus built his church, Jeffrey Bütz shows that it was James who led the disciples after the crucifixion. It was James, not Peter, who guided them through the Church's first major theological crisis--Paul's interpretation of the teachings of Jesus.

Using the canonical Gospels, writings of the Church Fathers, and apocryphal texts, Bütz argues that James is the most overlooked figure in the history of the Church. He shows how the core teachings of Jesus are firmly rooted in Hebraic tradition; reveals the bitter battles between James and Paul for ideological supremacy in the early Church; and explains how Paul's interpretations, which became the foundation of the Church, are in many ways its betrayal. Bütz reveals a picture of Christianity and the true meaning of Christ's message that are sometimes at odds with established Christian doctrine and concludes that James can serve as a desperately needed missing link between Christianity, Judaism, and Islam to heal the wounds of centuries of enmity.
Excerpt

Book Excerpt


PERSONA NON GRATA:
JAMES THE BROTHER OF JESUS

Jesus . . . came to his hometown . . . On the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?”
(The Gospel According to Mark 6:1–3)

Jesus had siblings. This simple, seemingly innocuous statement actually raises a host of profound questions, the answers to which have startling implications. Perhaps it is because these questions are so sensitive to some Christians--indeed, divisive--that the subject of Jesus’ brothers and sisters has largely been ignored both by biblical scholars and by the Christian church. Yet the evidence of Jesus’ siblings is so widespread that there can be no doubt of their existence. The amount of information that exists on Jesus’ brothers, particularly James, is quite surprising. As we see above, Mark even provides the names of Jesus’ four brothers; nonetheless, in my experience both as a pastor of a Lutheran church and an instructor of world religions in a public university, people are almost always incredulous when told that Jesus had brothers and sisters. This is not something they have usually been taught in church or Sunday School.

The recent discovery, in 2002, of an ancient Middle Eastern ossuary (a burial box) made international headlines because of the startling inscription on the box, which identified this particular ossuary as once containing the bones of, “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” This find was shocking both to the academic community and the general public for two reasons. First, if genuine (and this is still a hotly debated question), the artifact would be the first archaeological evidence--literally written in stone--of the existence of Jesus, but even more intriguing to the public was the fact that this burial box was purported to be that of James, whom the New Testament refers to in several places as the “brother” of Jesus. The many newspaper and magazine articles which appeared after the announcement of this discovery all gave short shrift to the ossuary itself and devoted the majority of space to the controversy over whether Jesus could have had a brother. That is what most fascinated the public.

FROM JACOB TO JAMES
We shall not go here into the particulars of the discovery and testing of the ossuary, which has been amply documented elsewhere;1 instead, our focus will be on the person whose bones are claimed to have once been entombed in that box: the brother of Jesus, most commonly known in church tradition as “James the Just” (because of his exceeding righteousness) or “James of Jerusalem” (his base of operations) or, much more rarely, “James the Brother of Jesus.”

James’ name is derived from one of the great patriarchs of Jewish history--Jacob. “James” is the English translation of the Greek Iakob, which is itself a translation of the Hebrew Ya’akov. In the English translation of the Greek New Testament, Iakob is always translated as “Jacob” when referring to Old Testament figures, and as “James” when referring to Christian figures. This is interesting because, as we shall see, James represents a bridge between Judaism and Christianity. The Greek “Jacob” became the English “James” by way of Latin, in which Jacobus and Jacomus are variations of the same name. The Latin also explains why in European history the dynasty of King James is referred to as “Jacobite” or “Jacobean.”

Iakob was an exceedingly common name in first-century Israel, as evidenced by the fact that eight different people in the New Testament bear the name. The scholarly consensus is that half of the occurrences of the name in the New Testament refer to James the son of Zebedee (the brother of John, also referred to as James the Elder), one of two apostles who bear the name. A third of the occurrences of the name refer to Jesus’ brother, who is, unfortunately, often confused with the James known as James the Less, but James the Less is correctly James the son of Alphaeus, the second of the two apostles who bear the name. That the brother of Jesus has sometimes been called James “the Less” is just one example of the many slights and indignations he has been forced to bear.

It is surprising that such widespread ignorance of Jesus’ siblings exists, for, besides the New Testament itself, there exist quite a number of non-canonical writings from the earliest days of the church which provide absolutely reliable evidence that Jesus not only had siblings, but that some (if not all) of his brothers played significant roles in the leadership of the early church. In fact, James was considered by many early Christians to be the first “bishop” of the church, the successor to Jesus following the crucifixion, making James in essence the first “pope,” not Peter as Catholic tradition has maintained. The church father Clement of Alexandria in his work Hypostases (Outlines), written at the beginning of the third century, makes the following rather startling statement: “After the ascension of the savior, Peter, James [the Son of Zebedee], and John did not claim pre-eminence because the savior had specifically honored them, but chose James the Just as Bishop of Jerusalem.”2 While Clement’s use of the title “bishop” is certainly an anachronism, it is a term that, as we shall see, does accord well with James’ role in the church as it is described in both the book of Acts, Luke’s history of the early church from the ascension of Jesus to Paul’s imprisonment in Rome, and in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, where Paul describes two meetings he had with James and the other apostles in Jerusalem.

Table of Contents

Table of content


Acknowledgments
Preface
Chronology
Introduction: Of Revolutions and Paradigm Shifts


Part 1--The Nature of Jesus’ Family
1--Persona Non Grata: James the Brother of Jesus
From Jacob to James
Bishop of the Church
Brother of Jesus
Early Hero
Forgotten Hero
2--A Family Divided: Jesus’ Family in the Gospels
The Family According to Mark
Analyzing the Synoptic Accounts
The Family According to John
Analyzing Mark’s Agenda
The Faith of the Family

Part 2--The Nature of the Jerusalem Church
3--James of Jerusalem: The Witness of Luke and Paul
James in Jerusalem
James as Apostle
James and Peter
James and the Resurrection
4--Pope James: The First Apostolic Council and the Incident at Antioch
The Circumcision Question
The Jerusalem Conference
The Apostolic Decree
Reconciling Accounts
The Incident at Antioch
5--Apostolic Intrigue: Paul’s Final Visit to Jerusalem and the Death of James
The Collection for the Poor
The Death of a Christian Pharisee
The Rise of Pauline Christianity

Part 3--The Nature of Jewish Christianity
6--Keeping the Candle Burning: James in History and Tradition
Eusebius’ History of the Church
Clement’s Outlines
Eusebius and the Death of James
Dynastic Succession
7--The Brother of God: James, Gnosticism, and Jewish Christianity
The Gospel of Thomas
The Apocryphon of James
The First Apocalypse of James
The Second Apocalypse of James
The Jewish Christian Communities
The Gospel of the Hebrews
The Pseudo-Clementines
Jewish Christian Orthodoxy

Part 4 --The Nature of Orthodoxy
8--Orthodoxy and Heresy: James and the Quest for the Historical Jesus
A Parallel from John
Jesus and Judaism
The Legacy of F. C. Baur
The First Orthodoxy
9--The Forgotten Hero: James and the Origins of Christianity
Splitting Up the Family
The Fallout of War
Particularism and Universalism
The Righteous Martyr

Part 5--The Nature of the Descendants of Abraham
10--Thy Kingdom Come: A New Paradigm to Repair the Breach
The People of the Book
The Wall of Estrangement
Repairer of the Breach

Epilogue: Healing the Wasteland
List of Abbreviations of Sources
Notes
Bibliography
Index


Author Bio
Jeffrey J. Bütz is an ordained Lutheran minister and adjunct professor of world religions at Penn State University's Berks-Lehigh Valley campus. He lives in Catasauqua, Pennsylvania.
Reviews

Reviews

Book Praise

Book Praise

"[Butz'] scholarly survey of the Gospels, apocryphal texts, and histories of the Church reveals the connection of Jesus to his siblings and their support of his teachings in Jewish Christian orthodoxy....Butz explores the meaning of 'James the Just' and how early Christianity was invented by the Apostle Paul and turned an earthly Jewish Messiah into the divine Son of God."

Leo V. Kriz, Library Journal, Feb. 15, 2005



"This volume is eminently readable and accessible to nonscholars while being thorough in its research. . . . challenges readers to rethink the nature of both orthodoxy and heresy."

Publishers Weekly, Feb. 14, 2005



"The Brother of Jesus is an interesting work which certainly shines a strong light on an undervalued aspect of early Christianity . . . . offers an excellent overview of the Jewish/James approach to Chritian origins that is well-researched and documented."
Robert Burns, New Dawn, Sept-Oct 2005

"In telling the story of James, Jeffrey Butz provides us with a renewed consideration of the profound spiritual interconnectedness between Christianity, Judaism, and Islam . . . "
The Beacon, Mar-Apr 2006
Back Cover

Back Cover Copy

RELIGION / CHRISTIAN STUDIES

James, the younger brother of Jesus, has been the subject of controversy since the founding of Christianity. This book reveals his true role as Jesus’ chosen successor and demonstrates that the core message in the teachings of Jesus is an expansion, not a repudiation, of the Jewish religion.

James recently made international headlines due to the discovery of an ancient Jewish ossuary that bore the inscription: “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” Evidence that Jesus had siblings contradicts Roman Catholic dogma on the virgin birth, and James is also a symbol of suppressed Christian teachings. While Peter is traditionally thought of as the leader of the apostles and the “rock” on which Jesus built his church, Jeffrey Bütz shows that it was James who led the disciples after the crucifixion. It was James, not Peter, who guided them through the Church’s first major theological crisis--Paul’s interpretation of the teachings of Jesus.

Using the canonical Gospels, writings of the Church Fathers, and apocryphal texts, Bütz argues that James is the most overlooked figure in the history of the Church. He shows how the core teachings of Jesus are firmly rooted in Hebrew tradition and reveals the bitter battles between James and Paul for ideological supremacy in the early Church, explaining that Paul’s interpretations, which became the foundation of the Church, are in many ways a betrayal of Jesus’ teachings. Bütz reveals a picture of Christianity and the true meaning of Christ’s message that are sometimes quite at odds with established Christian doctrine and concludes that James can serve as a desperately needed link between Christianity, Judaism, and Islam that could heal the wounds of centuries of enmity.

JEFFREY J. BÜTZ is an ordained Lutheran minister and an adjunct professor of world religions at Penn State University’s Berks-Lehigh Valley campus. He lives in Catasauqua, Pennsylvania.

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