James The Relative Of Jesus And The Expectation Of An Eschatological Priest -- By: J. Julius Scott, Jr.

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 25:3 (Sep 1982)
Article: James The Relative Of Jesus And The Expectation Of An Eschatological Priest
Author: J. Julius Scott, Jr.


James The Relative Of Jesus And
The Expectation Of An Eschatological Priest1

J. Julius Scott, Jr.*

Both the NT and post-canonical early Christian writings mention a man named James as a dominant figure in Jewish Christianity during the middle of the first century. To distinguish him from others named James2 the sources designate this James as “the Lord’s brother” or “relative”3 or as “James the Just.”

I. Summary Of Notices About James

NT passages 4 usually assumed to refer to this James portray him as a member

*Julius Scott is professor of New Testament at Wheaton College Graduate School in Illinois.

of the family of Jesus and as a leader of the church in Jerusalem. In Christian literature outside the canon James appears as a member of Jesus’ boyhood home5 and the recipient of a post-resurrection appearance of Jesus.6 The Pseudo-Clementines and other writings place James in a unique position of leadership over the church in Jerusalem.7 In Gos. Thom. from Nag Hammadi8 Jesus designates James as head over all the disciples and affirms that for James’ sake “the heavens and earth came into existence” (Logion 12). The fourth-century Liturgy of St. James calls him “the brother of God.”9

The best known description of James is that of Hegesippus as recorded in Eusebius Hist. eccl. 3.23.1-18. He describes James as something of a Jewish “holy man,” an ascetic whose piety was controlled by ceremonial concerns. He was frequently in the temple, where he prayed constantly for the people. Because of his “excessive righteousness he was called ‘the Just’.” During the Passover season, Hegesippus says, the scribes and Pharisees attempted to have James dissuade the people from following Jesus. But James bore positive testimony “concerning the Son of man” and was thrown from the battlement of the temple, stoned and finally killed by a blow to the head.10

Epiphanius Haer. 29.4 quotes a similar if not identical tradition to that found in Eusebius. However, while our Greek texts of Eusebius say only ...

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