Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Lesson 17 James Brother of Jesus

There is some question as to exactly how many men bore the name James in the New Testament, but there were three who figured prominently in the ministry of Christ and the history of the early church. They were James the son of Zebedee and brother of John and an apostle (Matthew 4:21; 10:2; Mark 1:19; Luke 5:10), James the Less, son of Alphaeus and also an apostle (Matthew 10:3; Acts 1:13) and James the brother of our Lord (Matthew 13:35; Mark 6:3; Galatians 1:18, 19). Jesus had three other brothers in addition to James. They were Joses, Simon and Judas (Matthew 13:55). The Lord's sisters are also mentioned, but not by name (Matthew 13:56). We are not told how many sisters he may have had, but there must have been at least two. Roman Catholics, because of their belief in the perpetual virginity of Mary, argue that those who are mentioned as the brothers and sisters of our Lord were his cousins, or stepbrothers and sisters, children of Joseph from a previous marriage. There is absolutely no support for this idea in the Bible.
James, like the Lord's other siblings, was not supportive of Jesus during his early ministry. The apostle John makes the point that even his own brothers did not believe in him (John 7:5). However, that was to change. Among those disciples who were found with the apostles in Jerusalem following the Lord's ascension were his brothers, which obviously included James, who was to later play a prominent role in the Jerusalem church (Acts 1:14).
According to Paul, an inspired apostle, Jesus appeared to James following his resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7). Jerome, a fourth century Christian author, records a legend which says that James had made a vow to not eat or drink until he had seen Jesus raised from the dead. Supposedly, Jesus appeared to James and said, "My brother, eat thy bread, for the Son of man is risen from the dead" (F. W. Farrar, The Pulpit Commentary, Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950, Vol. 19, p. 484). As already noted, before the crucifixion, his brothers were unbelievers. It was the resurrection of Jesus which brought them to faith.
James became a leading figure in the church at Jerusalem. When Peter was released from prison he came to the house of Mary where many in the church had come together to pray for him (Acts 12:12). According to Peter's account of that evening, the Lord had instructed him to tell James and the brethren of his prison escape, which Peter then did (Acts 12:17).
When the controversy arose over certain Judaizers who were demanding the circumcision of Gentle Christians, Paul and Barnabas met in Jerusalem with the apostles and elders, and James played a significant role in that meeting (Acts 15:13-21). It was James who reminded them of Peter's encounter with Cornelius and how the Gentiles were to be brought into the kingdom. He further argued that this was in agreement with what the prophets had predicted. He then recommended they write a letter to Gentile churches in which they would be told to "abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood" (Acts 15:20). The apostles, elders and the whole church agreed, and it was done.
Following Paul's third missionary tour, he returned to Jerusalem. One day after his arrival in the city he reported to James and the elders what God had accomplished through him among the Gentiles (Acts 21:18-25). It is not surprising that James is again singled out among those in the church at Jerusalem. It was Paul who referred to James, along with Peter and John, as pillars in the church who had extended to him and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, and encouraged their work among the Gentiles (Galatians 2:9-10).
But, it is for the New Testament epistle which bears his name that James is most remembered. This epistle offered such a devastating blow to the doctrine of salvation by faith only or alone that Martin Luther refused to accept it as canonical, and referred to it as "right strawy" and thus of no value. Paul had written that Abraham was justified by faith (Romans 3:28). James asserted that Abraham was justified by works (James 2:23-24). But, the passages were not contradictory as Luther believed. Rather, they were complementary. Together they underscored the necessity of a living faith which always produces active obedience. This idea is plainly set forth in Hebrews 11 where believers were commended for demonstrating faith through action or deeds. Abel's faith produced an acceptable sacrifice. Enoch's faith led to a walk with God. Noah's faith built an ark. Abraham's faith caused him to pack up and move at God's bidding, and, ultimately led him to the point where, at God's command, he was prepared to offer his son, Isaac. Both Paul and James understood the relationship between faith and works (obedience) in regard to man's relationship with God. Luther, however, did not!
Other themes which James touched upon in his epistle included the nature of temptation and its source (1:2-18); pure religion (1:19-27); the dangers of the tongue (3:1-12); true and false wisdom (3:13-18); the source of discord among brethren (4:1-10); the future and how to face it (4:11-17); the dangers of wealth (5:1-6); and patience, prayer and confession (5:7-20). Addressed to the twelve tribes of the dispersion, it was among the most practical epistles of the New Testament.
According to Josephus, the high priest, Ananus (his father was also called Ananus), a man bold in temperament and very indolent, convened the judges of the Sanhedrin and brought before them a man called James, the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ, and certain others. He accused them of having transgressed the law and delivered them up to be stoned (Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, page 598).
Hegesippus, a second century writer, says that James was thrown down from the pinnacle of the temple, stoned, and finally killed by a fuller's club (Jack P. Lewis, Historical Backgrounds of Bible History, page 141).
Although at first unwilling to accept Jesus as the Son of God, James came to be a staunch believer and a respected leader in the early church. Ultimately, he died for his faith.
James the brother of Jesus is named in Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3, along with three other brothers (Joseph [or "Joses"], Simon and Judas [Jude]) and at least three sisters unnamed (the most explicit reference to these sisters in the canon being found in Matthew 13:56, "Aren't all his sisters with us?").
The Gospels indicate that neither James nor his brothers were followers of their elder brother before his crucifixion, but after the resurrection they are mentioned among the group at prayer before Pentecost (Acts 1:14). Paul mentions that the risen Jesus appeared personally to James, which may explain the change in heart (1 Cor. 15:7).
It seems that James quickly took the lead of the Church in Jerusalem, officiating at the Council of Jerusalem, thus he is viewed as one who did not oppose the lack of Jewish restrictions of Gentile believers.
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul mentions James along with John son of Zebedee, and Peter as the Pillars of the Church (2:9).
James was well enough known that in the New Testament epistle carrying his name, he refers to himself simply as "James, a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ" (James 1:1). To further evidence that James was well-known, Jude (the youngest of Jesus' brothers) simply identifies himself as James' brother, and a servant of the Lord in his letter (Jude 1). (See "author" section in Jude for why the brothers didn't identify themselves as the brothers of Jesus.)
In 61 AD James was executed at the instigation of the high priest Ananus. In the following centuries legends developed surrounding James, none of which are very reliable, but included the possibility that he was known as "James the Just" due to his amazing (Jewish) piety. Recently a burial box is said to have been found containing the bones of James, and giving further evidence to the existence of Jesus (as the inscription on the box reads: "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus"), but it has been found to have been an elaborate fake. (See original story from the Biblical Archaeology Society here and a CNN review of some later findings here.)
His epistle is well-known for its seeming anti-Pauline theology: "...a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone" (James 2:24). However, it is clear when read in context, that James was arguing against the belief (or similar) that faith and a total disregard for a faithful life was sufficient for salvation through Christ. Rather, James says, "Show me your faith without works and I'll show you my faith by what I do" (2:18).
James' point is that salvation is by faith over and above all else, but true faith will be expressed through actions - how can you say that you believe in God yet totally ignore him, trusting that your belief that the Cross had saving power is enough? You can't. In this way then, a person is justified by what they do, as an expression of their faith.
Interest in Jesus’ brother Ya‘aqov, Anglicized as "James," is flourishing. Among recent contributions, one might mention a presentation of texts and analysis by Wilhelm Pratscher,1 a semi-popular treatment by Pierre-Antoine Bernheim,2 and a careful, innovative contribution from Richard Bauckham.3 These books represent vigorous attempts to recover a critical portrait of James. They all respond, directly and indirectly, to the controversial thesis of Robert H. Eisenman, who has argued over a number of years that James is to be identified with the righteous teacher of Qumran.4 Among the many and vehement responses to that thesis, perhaps the most mature and effective is that of John Painter.5
Recovery of interest in James is a useful corrective in both historical and theological terms, in that his place within primitive Christianity had been all but eclipsed by the influence of Paulinism in its many forms. The vehemence of response to Eisenman’s thesis, quite apart from the specific questions it raises (exegetical, historical, and even archaeological), might best be explained on theological grounds. A silent James is, after all, more easily accommodated to the picture of a smooth transition between Jesus and Paul than is a James who (as in Eisenman’s reconstruction) substantially contradicts both Paul and Jesus.
Within this debate, a well defined set of issues has been perennially in play:6
was James really Jesus’ brother?
was James sympathetic to Jesus prior to the resurrection?
did James require circumcision of males along with baptism by way of initiation into the movement of Jesus?
was there any substantial place for non-Jews within James’ understanding of the covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?
did James oppose a Pauline teaching of salvation by grace with an insistence upon obedience to the Torah?
was James the most prominent person in Jesus’ movement between the resurrection and his own death?
None of the treatments already cited above fails to take a stand on each of these issues, and for the most part each issue is also responsibly engaged in those and other discussions. Of the six questions here cited, only one is easily dismissed on the basis of the evidence to hand. But even that, the third question—and the old canard that James required circumcision of all believers—continues to exert so great an influence in popular and scholarly discussion that it should be addressed here.
In what follows, we will work through the six questions to a conclusion, reviewing major primary sources as we proceed, and articulating what I take to be coherent assessments of the secondary literature in the positions which are staked out. The basis of my evaluation has largely been developed during meetings of "the Consultation on James," which I have chaired on behalf of the Institute of Advanced Theology. But the Consultation itself speaks through its own publications,7 and often expresses out ranges of agreement and disagreement, rather than set findings (in the manner, say of "the Jesus Seminar"), so that judgments expressed here are not attributable to other members of the Consultation.
None of the primary documents at issue is claimed by most scholars to have come directly from James himself. His views are attested even more indirectly than his brother’s. But the case of Jesus sheds light by way of analogy on James: for all that a Jesus of history is not "in" our sources, there is no doubt but that there is a Jesus of literary history behind them.
That is, the Gospels (as well as other documents) refer back to Jesus as their point of generation, and we may infer what practices Jesus engaged in, what beliefs he adhered to, so as to produce the accounts concerning him in the communities of followers which produced the documents. The framing world of those practices and beliefs in the formative period of the New Testament (whether in the case of Jesus or his followers) was Judaism. Practices and beliefs are attested in the documents manifestly, whether or not their attribution to Jesus is accepted, and that is a suitable point of departure for the genuinely critical question of Jesus. That question cannot be formulated as, What did Jesus really say and really do? The critical issue is rather, What role did Jesus play in the evolution of practices and beliefs in his name?8
That generative question may be broadened, of course, to apply not only to Jesus and the Gospels, but also to primitive Christianity and the New Testament.9 In the present case, that involves specifying the practices and beliefs that attach to James within the sources, and seeking to understand his place within them. Not every practice, not every belief may be assumed to be correctly attributed to James, but the various streams of tradition the documents represent do come together to constitute stable associations of practices and beliefs with James. The nodal issues of practices and beliefs, not "facts," represent our point of departure.
was James really Jesus’ brother?
The point of departure for considering this question is Mark 6:3 (cf. Matthew 13:55-56), where James is actually named as Jesus’ brother, along with four other men; at least two unnamed and unenumerated sisters are also mentioned. Until recently, Roman Catholic opinion has been dominated by the position of St. Jerome (in his controversial work, Against Helvidius), who argued that although "brothers" and "sisters" are the terms used in Greek, the reference is actually to cousins. Dispute has focused on the issue of whether that view can be sustained linguistically, and on the whole the finding has been negative. Before Jerome, Helvidius himself had maintained during the fourth century that the brothers and sisters were just what their name implies—siblings of Jesus: although he had been born of a virgin, their father was Joseph and their mother was Mary. That view clearly played havoc with the emerging doctrine of Mary’s virginity after Jesus’ birth, and that issue occupied the center of attention. In a recent work which received the Imprimatur, John P. Meier has endorsed the Helvidian theory, to some extent on the basis of support from second century Fathers.10 During that century, a group referred to as the Ebionites even denied Jesus’ virgin birth in the technical sense; his "brothers" and "sisters" were implicitly that in the full sense of those words (see Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1.26.1-2).
Richard Bauckham has given new currency to the view of Jesus’ relationship to James developed by Epiphanius during the fourth century (Panarion 1.29.3-4; 2.66.19; 3.78.7, 9, 13), and supported by the second-century Protoevanglium of James 9.2 and perhaps the Gospel of Peter (according to Origen’s Commentary on Matthew 10:17):11 Mary was Jesus’ mother, not James’, since Joseph had a wife prior to his marriage to Mary. Joseph’s relatively advanced age is traditionally held to account for his early departure from the narrative scene of the Gospels, and that reasonable inference lends support to this theory, while James’ emphasis on the Davidic identity of the Church (see Acts 15:16) is easily accommodated on this view. James’ seniority relative to Jesus might be reflected in the parable of the prodigal (Luke 15:11-32). The story of those with Jesus seizing him in the midst of exorcism (Mark 3:21; cf. 3:31-35) reflects the kind of almost parental concern an older brother might feel for a younger brother.
Another, more pragmatic consideration provides support for Epiphanius’ theory, although in a modified form. As mentioned, Joseph disappears from the scene of the Gospels from when Jesus was about twelve years old. His death at that time has been the traditional surmise, and such a chronology has implications for understanding Jesus’ relationships with his siblings. On the Helvidian view, Mary must have given birth to at least seven children in twelve years (Jesus, his brothers, and two or more sisters). Assuming that not every child she gave birth to survived infancy, more than seven labors would be required during that period, all this within a culture that confined women after childbirth and prohibited intercourse with a woman with a flow of blood, and despite the acknowledged prophylactic effect of lactation and Joseph’s age.
Although the consideration of a likely rate of fertility provides some support to the Epiphanian theory, in its unadulterated form it strains credulity in its own way. A widower with at least six children already in tow is not perhaps the best candidate for marriage with a young bride. A modified form of the theory (a hybrid with Helvidius’ suggestion) would make James and Joses the products of Joseph’s previous marriage, and Jesus, Simon and Judah the sons of Joseph with Mary. The latter three sons have names notably associated with a zealous regard for the honor of Israel, and may reflect the taste of a common mother. Absent their names, or even a count of how many were involved, no such assignment of marriages can be attempted for Jesus’ sisters.
On the Helvidian view, James was Jesus’ younger and full brother, in a family quickly produced whose siblings were close in age. On the Epiphanian view, James was older, and Jesus’ half brother, it seems to me that, suitably modified, Epiphanius provides the more plausible finding.
was James sympathetic to Jesus prior to the resurrection?
The Gospels, when they refer to James at all, do so with no great sympathy. He is listed at the head of Jesus’ brothers in the Synoptic Gospels, but in a statement of a crowd in Nazareth which is skeptical that one whose family they know can be responsible for wonders (Mark 6:1-6; Matthew 13:53-58). In John, he is presumably included among the unnamed brothers who argued with Jesus about his refusal to go to Jerusalem for a feast (John 7:2-10), and James is also referred to anonymously in the Synoptics as among the brothers whom, even with his mother, Jesus refused to interrupt his teaching in order to greet (Mark 3:31-35; Matthew 12:46-50; Luke 8:19-21). The most plausible inference would be that Jesus and James were somehow at odds during this period, but personal animosity is scarcely provable. The real breaking point came with everyone at Nazareth at the attempted stoning there (Luke 4:16-30), which seems to have made Jesus negative about his own family.
On the other hand, James is recognized within the earliest list of those to whom the risen Jesus appeared (1 Corinthians 15:7), and—closely associated with the Temple—he quickly emerged as the dominant figure in the Jesus movement. Taken together, that would suggest that, by the end of Jesus’ life, during his last pilgrimage to Jerusalem, James and his brother had reconciled. Aside from Paul’s reference to James in his list of witnesses to the resurrection, the New Testament does not record an actual appearance to James, but the non-canonical Gospel of the Hebrews does. There, Jesus assures his brother that "the Son of Man has been raised from among those who sleep" (cited by Jerome, Liber de Viris Illustribus 2). This vision occurs after James had fasted in consequence of his brother’s death. The authority of James, it seems, was a key force in the complete identification between Jesus and the figure of one like a son of man Daniel 7 (see also Hegesippus, as cited by Eusebius in his History 2.23.1-18)—an angelic figure in the heavenly court—after the resurrection.
did James require circumcision of males along with baptism by way of initiation into the movement of Jesus?
Acts attributes to James (and to James alone) the power to decide whether non-Jewish male converts in Antioch needed to be circumcised. He determines that they do not. Under the influence of the thesis of F.C. Bauer, it is sometimes assumed that James required circumcision of all such converts,12 but that requirement is attributed to Christian Pharisees in Acts (15:5), not to James. Nonetheless, James does proceed to command non-Jewish Christians to observe certain requirements of purity (so Acts 15:1-35). That may explain why emissaries from James make their appearance as villains in Paul’s description of a major controversy at Antioch. They insisted on a separate meal-fellowship of Jews and non-Jews, while Paul with more than equal insistence (but apparently little or no success) argued for the unity of Jewish and non-Jewish fellowship within the Church (Galatians 1:18-2:21). How precisely James came to such a position of prominence is not explained in Acts; his apostolic status was no doubt assured by the risen Jesus’ appearance to him.
Like Josephus (Antiquities 20.9.1 §§ 197-203), Hegesippus (in concert with Clement, Eusebius reports) portrays James as killed by Ananus at the Temple. In addition, Hegesippus describes James in terms which emphasize his purity in such a way that, as in Acts, his association with the Nazirite vow is evident (cf. Acts 21:17-36). James’ capacity to win the reverence of many Jews in Jerusalem (not only his brother’s followers) derives from this practice and his encouragement of others in the practice. The fact is frequently overlooked, but needs to be emphasized, that the Mishnah envisages the Nazarite practice of slaves, as well as Israelites, both male and female (see Nazir 9:1). James’ focus was purity in the Temple under the aegis of his risen brother, the Son of Man, but there is no trace of his requiring circumcision of Gentiles. It needs to be kept in mind that Jesus himself had expelled traders from the Temple, not as some indiscriminate protest about commercialism, but as part of Zechariah’s prophecy (see Zechariah 14) of a day when all the peoples of the earth would be able to offer sacrifice to the LORD without the intervention of middlemen. James’ Nazirite practice realized that prophecy in his brother’s name.
Josephus reports that James was killed in the Temple in 62 CE at the instigation of the high priest Ananus during the interregnum of the Roman governors Festus and Albinus (Antiquities 20.9.1 §§ 197-203). Hegesippus gives a more circumstantial, less politically informed, account of the martyrdom. James is set up on a parapet of the Temple, being known and addressed by his opponents by the titles "Righteous and Oblias," Hegesippus reports. The second title has caused understandable puzzlement (especially when Hegesippus rendering of the term as "bulwark" is accepted13), but it is easily related to the Aramaic term `abal, which means "to mourn." Recent finds in the vicinity of the Dead Sea (not only near Qumran) have greatly enhanced our understanding of Aramaic as spoken in the time of Jesus and his followers. The use of the term is attested there.14 James was probably known as "mourner."
A minor tractate of the Talmud lays down the rule that a mourner (‘aval) "is under the prohibition to bathe, anoint [the body], put on sandals and cohabit" (Semachoth 4:1). This largely corresponds to the requirements of a Nazirite vow and to Hegesippus’ description of James’ practice; for Jesus himself to have called his brother "mourner" would fit in with his giving his followers nicknames. A tight association with the Temple on James’ part is attested throughout and from an early period, but not a universal requirement of circumcision.
was there any substantial place for non-Jews within James’ understanding of the covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?
Hegesippus’ account of James’ prominence is confirmed by Clement, who portrays James as the first elected bishop in Jerusalem (also cited by Eusebius, History 2.1.1-6), and by the pseudo-Clementine Recognitions, which makes James into an almost papal figure, providing the correct paradigm of preaching to Gentiles. Paul is so much the butt of this presentation that Recognitions [I.43-71] even relate that, prior to his conversion to Christianity, Saul assaulted physically James in the Temple. Martin Hengel refers to this presentation as an apostolic novel [Apostelroman], deeply influenced by the perspective of the Ebionites, and probably to be dated within the third and fourth centuries.15
Yet even in Acts 15, the use of Scripture attributed to James, like the argument itself, is quite unlike Paul's. James claims that Peter’s baptism of non-Jews is to be accepted because "the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written" (Acts 15:15), and he goes on to cite from the book of Amos. The passage cited will concern us in a moment; the form of James’ interpretation is an immediate indication of a substantial difference from Paul. As James has it, there is actual agreement between Symeon and the words of the prophets, as two people might agree: the use of the verb sumphoneo is nowhere else in the New Testament used in respect of Scripture. The continuity of Christian experience with Scripture is marked as a greater concern than within Paul's interpretation, and James expects that continuity to be verbal, a matter of agreement with the prophets' words, not merely with possible ways of looking at what they mean.
The citation from Amos (9:11-12, from the version of the Septuagint, which was the Bible of Luke-Acts) comports well with James’ concern that the position of the Church agree with the principal vocabulary of the prophets (Acts 15:16-17):
After this I will come back and restore the tent of David which has fallen, and rebuild its ruins and set it up anew, that the rest of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles upon whom my name is called . . .
In the argument of James as represented here, what the belief of Gentiles achieves is, not the redefinition of Israel (as in Paul's thought), but the restoration of the house of David. The argument is possible because a Davidic genealogy of Jesus—and, therefore, of his brother James—is assumed.
did James oppose a Pauline teaching of salvation by grace with an insistence upon obedience to the Torah?
It is true that the Epistle of James sets out an elaborate argument—including a reading of Genesis 22 with seems to contradict Paul’s—to the effect that faith without works is dead, (see James 14-26 and Romans 4). But the Epistle does not set out Paul’s position in anything like detail; as Peter Davids has remarked, "There is no sense of the Pauline tension between faith and Torah piety, for James' community is in a different context."16 Paul is without doubt the most prominent explorer of that tension, but his position is subtler than what is refuted in the Epistle of James. That is no surprise, since Paul himself had to correct antinomian readings of his own views among those sympathetic to him (see 1 Corinthians 5-6). The Pastoral Epistles and 2 Peter 3:15-16 suggest this difficulty grew over time.
The dating of the Epistle of James, and particularly the question whether it was written before or after the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, continues to cause controversy. But the sense of social crisis reflected in the Epistle is unmistakable, as well as its urgent expectation of Jesus’ parousia (James 5:7-8, cf. 2 Peter 3:4, 12). But if we think back to Hegesippus’ description of James’ ethos, that is not surprising. With the threat to the very possibility of sacrificial worship in the Temple (whether after its destruction or in the turbulent conditions which preceded that trauma), a fundamental aspect of James’ position was compromised, an aspect with which Paul himself could agree (as Acts 21:16-36 Romans 15:16 suggest). What remained was Jesus’ identity as the Son of Man, and the challenge to James’ theology (before or after his own death) was to maintain and even enhance that identity, as worship in the Temple became increasingly problematic. In that context, whether James happened to have agreed with Paul in a doctrine that Paul had articulated in quite a different context appears a secondary concern.
was James the most prominent person in Jesus’ movement between the resurrection and his own death?
It is telling that, in his attempt to draw together the material relating to James, Jerome cites the Gospel according to the Hebrews alongside the New Testament, Hegesippus, and Josephus. The conflation attests the fragmentary nature of the references, as well as the appearance they give of having been spun out of one another, or out of cognate traditions. For all that use of these sources is unavoidable, as the necessary point of departure for any discussion of James, they all make James into an image which comports with their own programs. The Gospels’ James is kept at bay so as not to deflect attention from Jesus until the resurrection, when James implicitly or explicitly (in the case of Paul and the Gospel according to the Hebrews) becomes an important witness; the James of Acts reconciles the Church within a stance which leads on to the position of Paul; Paul’s James divides the Church; Josephus relates James’ death to illustrate the bloody mindedness of Ananus, the high priest; Hegesippus does so to illustrate the righteousness of James and his community; Clement makes James the transitional figure of the apostolic tradition, and the Recognitions use and enhance that standing in order to attack the figure of Paul.
Right the way through, James is deployed in these sources to assert what is held to be an authoritative construction of Jesus’ movement. Accordingly, he is marginalized (in the Gospels), appealed to as an authoritative witness (in Acts and Paul), criticized (in Paul), portrayed as a victim (by Josephus) or a hero (by Hegesippus), hailed as both a source of unity (by Clement and in the tradition of Acts) and the trump card to use against Paul (in the Recognitions). Everything that makes the figure of "the historical Jesus" in an historicist understanding problematic makes "the historical James" in that sense out of the question.
James’ devotion to the Temple and to his brother as the Danielic Son of Man after the resurrection made him the most prominent Christian leader in Jerusalem. The practice of the Nazirite vow was his distinguishing feature, and his belief in his brother as the gate of heaven, the heavenly portal above the Temple, made him a figure to be revered and reviled in Judaism, depending upon one’s evaluation of Jesus. Among Christians, he promulgated his understanding of the establishment of the house of David by means of an interpretation reminiscent of the Essenes, although he insisted that baptized, uncircumcised non-Jews had an ancillary role. As the bishop or overseer (mebaqqer, in the Dead Sea Scrolls ) of his community, he exercised a function which entered the Greek language as episkopos, and the influence of his circle is attested in the New Testament and later literature (including the Gospel according to Thomas, the Apocryphon of James, the Protevangelium of James, the First and Second Apocalypse of James, the Gospel of Peter, the Apocalypse of Peter, the Kerygma Petrou, the Kerygmata Petrou, the Acts of Peter, the Letter of Peter to Philip, and the Act of Peter (ca 200 CE or later).
Once James’ distinctive importance has been recognized, it is natural to ask: how great was his influence upon the earliest phase of primitive Christian and early Christian literature? It has been argued, for example, that passages within the Synoptic Gospels might well bear the stamp of James’ perspective. Within the narrative of Jesus’ passion in the Synoptics, only one passage makes the Last Supper correspond to Passover (Matthew 26:17-20; Mark 14:12-17; Luke 22:7-14), and that presentation conflicts with the Johannine and Pauline presentations. That would limit participation in the meal and in its commemoration to those circumcised, in the case of males (see Exodus 12:48), a move which would accord with James’ Israelite construction of the Church’s leadership.17 Similarly, the teaching attributed to Jesus in regard to vowing property as qorbana, a gift to the Temple, manifests an interest in and a familiarity with cultic institutions, as well as a style of exegesis associated with the pesharim of Qumran, which better accords with James than with Jesus (Matthew 15:1-20; Mark 7:1-23).18 Lastly, the story of the demons and the swine of Gergesa, with its emphasis on the impurity of non-Jews (Romans especially; Matthew 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-39) has been linked with a Jacobean cycle of tradition, and the secret knowledge of the demons that Jesus was Nazarenos, a Nazirite, is plausible linked to the same cycle.19
Conclusion
Within the terms of reference of early Judaism and primitive Christianity, no single issue can compare in importance to that of the Temple. The Nazirite practice attributed to James and those in contact with him provides a highly focused degree of devotion to the Temple. As usually practiced, of course, the social history of primitive Christianity and early Christianity has been Hellenistic in orientation. That is perfectly natural, given the actual provenience and language of the New Testament and the bulk of the corpus of Christianity in late antiquity. Still, social histories such as those of Wayne Meeks,20 Abraham Malherbe,21 and Dennis Smith and Hal Taussig22 have tended not to engage the sources of Judaism, and especially the Judaism of Aramaic and Hebrew sources, with the same vigor that has been applied to the Hellenistic dimension of analysis. That is perfectly understandable, given the particular documents they have dealt with, and the specific questions that they applied to those documents. But a figure such as James will simply remain a cipher, and in all probability a cipher for some form of Paulinism or another, as long as he is not located within the milieu which not only produced him, but which was embraced as a consciously chosen locus of devotion and activity. Many teachers associated with the movement of Jesus managed at least partially to avoid the Temple altogether; James is virtually found only there after the resurrection.
The specificity of that location raises the issue of James’ relation to other forms of Christianity, to other forms of Judaism, and especially to those responsible for the operation of the Temple. Here, the analysis of James in socially historical terms comes closest to classic history in its specificity.
Whether in the key of an emphasis on the "social" or the "historical" within socially historical analysis, what emerges from our consideration is a distinctive, cultic focus upon the validation of the covenant with Israel which blesses all nations on the authority of Jesus, understood in his resurrection to be identifiable with the "one like a son of man" of Daniel 7.

Aldersgate Weekend



Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Lesson 16 Pontius Pilate

Pontius Pilate ; Latin: Pontius Pilatus, Greek: Πόντιος Πιλᾶτος) was the governor of the Roman Iudaea province from A.D. 26 until 36. In modern times he is best known as the man who, according to the canonical Christian Gospels, presided over the trial of Jesus and ordered his crucifixion. Pilate's biographical details before and after his appointment to Judaea are unknown, but have been supplied by tradition, which include the detail that his wife's name was Procula (she is canonized as a saint in the Coptic Orthodox Church) and competing legends of his birthplace.
Birthplace
Pilate's date and place of birth are unknown. Fortingall in Perthshire, Scotland[1]; Tarraco (now Tarragona) in Spain, and Forchheim and its suburb Hausen in Germany have all developed local legends.[citation needed] The author of the Encyclopaedia Britannica 1911 article noted that Pontius suggested a Samnite origin—among the Pontii—and his cognomen Pileatus, if it derived from the pileus or cap of liberty, descent from a freedman. He is commonly believed to be descended from Gaius Pontius, a Samnite General.
Titles and duties
Pontius Pilate's title was traditionally thought to have been procurator. Tacitus speaks of him as such. However, an inscription on a limestone block — apparently a dedication to Tiberius Caesar Augustus — that was discovered in 1961 in the ruins of an amphitheater called Caesarea Maritima refers to Pilate as "Prefect of Judea". Archaeologists believe it to be genuine and settles the argument about the historicity of Pontius Pilate. (See Pilate Stone).
The title used by the governors of the region varied over the period of the New Testament. When Samaria, Judea and Idumea were first amalgamated into the Roman Iudaea Province, from 6 to the outbreak of the First Jewish Revolt in 66, officials of the Equestrian order (the lower rank of governors) governed. They held the Roman title of prefect until Herod Agrippa I was named King of the Jews by Claudius. After Herod Agrippa's death in 44, when Judaea reverted to direct Roman rule, the governor held the title procurator. When applied to governors, this term procurator, otherwise used for financial officers, connotes no difference in rank or function from the title known as prefect. Contemporary archaeological finds and documents such as the Pilate Inscription from Caesarea attest to the governor's more accurate official title only for the period 6 through 44: prefect. The logical conclusion is that texts that identify Pilate as procurator are more likely following Tacitus or are unaware of the pre-44 practice.
The procurators' and prefects' primary functions were military, but as representatives of the empire they were responsible for the collection of imperial taxes,[2] and also had limited judicial functions. Other civil administration lay in the hands of local government: the municipal councils or ethnic governments such as — in the district of Judea and Jerusalem — the Sanhedrin and its president the High Priest. But the power of appointment of the High Priest resided in the Roman legate of Syria or the prefect of Iudaea in Pilate's day and until 41. For example, Caiaphas was appointed High Priest of Herod's Temple by Prefect Valerius Gratus and deposed by Syrian Legate Lucius Vitellius. After that time and until 66, the Jewish client kings exercised this privilege. Normally, Pilate resided in Caesarea but traveled throughout the province, especially to Jerusalem, in the course of performing his duties. During the Passover, a festival of deep national as well as religious significance for the Jews, Pilate, as governor or prefect, would have been expected to be in Jerusalem to keep order. He would not ordinarily be visible to the throngs of worshippers because of the Jewish people's deep sensitivity to their status as a Roman province.
Equestrians such as Pilate could not command legionary forces, and so in military situations, he would have to yield to his superior, the legate of Syria, who would descend into Palestine with his legions as necessary. As governor of Judaea, Pilate would have small auxiliary forces of locally recruited soldiers stationed regularly in Caesarea and Jerusalem, such as the Antonia Fortress, and temporarily anywhere else that might require a military presence. The total number of soldiers at his disposal numbered in the range of 3000.[3]
Pilate according to early Jewish accounts
Most of the information about Pilate comes from the accounts of the first-century Jewish historian Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews and The Wars of the Jews. Pilate is said to have displayed some empathy for Jewish sensibilities. The two accounts in Josephus' writings of one important event may be summarised as follows:
On one occasion, when the soldiers under his command came to Jerusalem, he made them bring their ensigns with them, upon which were the usual images of the emperor. Roman battle standards were considered idolatrous by the Jews. The ensigns were brought in secretly by night, but their presence was soon discovered. Immediately multitudes of excited Jews rushed to Caesarea to petition him for the removal of the obnoxious ensigns. He ignored them for five days, but the next day he admitted the Jews to hear their complaint. He had them surrounded with soldiers and threatened them with instant death unless they ceased to trouble him with the matter. The Jews then threw themselves to the ground and bared their necks, declaring that they preferred death to the violation of their laws. Pilate, unwilling to kill so many, succumbed and removed the ensigns.[4]
Philo of Alexandria states that on one other occasion Pilate dedicated some gilded shields in the palace of Herod Antipas in honor of the emperor. On these shields there was no representation of any forbidden thing, but simply an inscription of the name of the donor and of him in whose honor they were set up. The Jews petitioned him to have them removed; when he refused, they appealed to Tiberius, who sent an order that they should be removed to Caesarea (Philo, Legatio ad Gaium,, 38).
Pilate is also said to have appropriated Herod's Temple funds for the construction of an aqueduct:
At another time he used the sacred treasure of the temple, called corban (qorban), to pay for bringing water into Jerusalem by an aqueduct. A crowd came together and clamored against him; but he had caused soldiers dressed as civilians to mingle with the multitude, and at a given signal they fell upon the rioters and beat them so severely with staves that the riot was quelled (Josephus, Jewish War 2.175–177; Ant. 18.60–62).
Pilate may possibly have responded so harshly to the unrest because, due to political machinations, the powerful neighbouring Roman province of Syria was unable to provide him military support.[citation needed]
Shortly after the account of this episode, the Antiquities of the Jews 18.63-64, a heavily disputed passage known as the Testimonium Flavianum and which many scholars think was interpolated, states that, "about this time", Pilate ordered the crucifixion of someone called "Jesus", whom the author identifies as "the Christ" (i.e. the Messiah), after whom "the tribe of Christians" were named.
In approximately 36, Pilate used arrests and executions to quash what appears to have been a Samaritan religious procession in arms that may have been interpreted as an uprising.[5] Pilate's behaviour was so offensive to the morals of the time that, after complaints to the Roman legate of Syria, Pilate was recalled to Rome, where he disappears from historic record. Pilate's supposed suicide[citation needed] is merely a legend, and not derived from any historical account.
The "Pilate Inscription" or "Pilate Stone" from Caesarea


Limestone block discovered in 1961 with Pilate's tribute in Latin to Tiberius. The words [...]TIVS PILATV[...] can be clearly seen on the second line.
The first physical evidence relating to Pilate was discovered in 1961, when a block of black limestone was found in the Roman theatre at Caesarea Maritima, the capital of the province of Iudaea, bearing a damaged dedication by Pilate of a Tiberieum.[6] This dedication states that he was [...]ECTVS IUDA[...] (usually read as praefectus iudaeae), that is, prefect/governor of Iudaea. The early governors of Iudaea were of prefect rank, the later were of procurator rank, beginning with Cuspius Fadus in 44.
The inscription is currently housed in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, where its Inventory number is AE 1963 no. 104. Dated to 26–37, it was discovered in Caesarea (Israel) by a group led by Antonio Frova.
Pilate in the canonical Gospel accounts


Christ before Pilate, Mihály Munkácsy, 1881
According to the canonical Christian Gospels, Pilate presided at the trial of Jesus and, despite stating that he personally found him not guilty of a crime meriting death, handed him over to crucifixion. Pilate is thus a pivotal character in the New Testament accounts of Jesus.
According to the New Testament, Jesus was brought to Pilate by the Sanhedrin, who had arrested Jesus, and questioned him themselves. The Sanhedrin had, according to the Gospels, only been given answers by Jesus that they considered blasphemous. The Gospel of Luke records that members of the Sanhedrin then took Jesus before Pilate where they accused him of sedition against Rome by opposing the payment of taxes to Caesar and calling himself a king. Pilate's main question to Jesus was whether he considered himself to be the King of the Jews, and thus a political threat. Mark 15:2 in the NIV translation states: "Are you the king of the Jews?" asked Pilate. "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied. However, that is a debatable translation of «ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς αὐτῶ λέγει, σὺ λέγεις». The KJV has Jesus' reply as: "Thou sayest it"; the NRSV has: "You say so"; the Jesus Seminar's Scholars Version has: "If you say so."
The Gospel of Luke also reports that such questions were asked of Jesus, in Luke's case it being the priests that repeatedly accuse him, though Luke states that Jesus remained silent to such inquisition, causing Pilate to hand Jesus over to the jurisdiction (Galilee) of Herod Antipas. Although initially excited at meeting Jesus, about whom he had heard, Luke states that Herod ended up mocking Jesus and so sent him back to Pilate. This intermediate episode with Herod is not reported by the other Gospels, which appear to present a continuous and singular trial in front of Pilate.
Unlike the synoptic gospels, the Gospel of John states that Jesus said to Pilate that he is a king and "came into the world ... to bear witness to the truth; and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice", to which Pilate famously replied, "What is truth?" (John 18:38)
In a volume of Believe It or Not, Ripley quotes Pilate speaking in Latin, "QUID EST VERITAS?" ("What is truth?") and adds that an anagram of this is "EST VIR QUI ADEST"--"It is the man who stands before you."
The Synoptic Gospels and John then state that it had been a tradition of the Jews to release a prisoner at the time of the Passover. Pilate offers them the choice of an insurrectionist named Barabbas or Jesus, somewhat confusing because Barabbas had the full name Jesus Barabbas, and Barabbas (bar-Abbas) means Son of the Father, so the crowd had been given the choice of Jesus Son of the Father or Jesus. The crowd states that they wish to save Barabbas (i.e., Jesus Son of the Father). According to the Synoptics, Pilate is aware that the priests had handed Jesus over because they considered him a threat, but Pilate himself does not feel that Jesus is any threat to the Roman Empire and, upholding a Roman tradition of sparing the subjugated, asserts that Jesus is innocent of the charges.
Pilate is forced to condemn Jesus to crucifixion, due to the pressure of the crowd, who according to the Synoptics had been coached to shout against Jesus by the Pharisees and Sadducees. The Gospel of Matthew adds that before condemning Jesus to death, Pilate washes his hands with water in front of the crowd, saying, "I am innocent of this man's blood; you will see".


Jesus at the hands of Pilate, oil on Canvas- Cucuta Cathedral Colombia by Master Santiago Martinez Delgado
Responsibility for Jesus' death
In all New Testament accounts, Pilate hesitates to condemn Jesus until the crowd insists. Some have suggested that this may have been an effort by Early Christian polemicists to curry favor with Rome by placing the blame for Jesus' execution on the Jews.[citation needed] Yet Pilate's ability to be swayed by the crowd and his subsequent unjust decision to execute the innocent man hardly seem complimentary of Rome. So perhaps to save face, he "washed his hands", said that his death was not on his hands, and let the crowd decide.
Roman magistrates had wide discretion in executing their tasks, and some readers question whether Pilate would have been so captive to the demands of the crowd (Miller, 49–50). (And see, Nettervile, "Jesus, etc pp. 22-23)[7] Summarily executing someone to calm the situation would, however, have been a tool a Roman governor could have used, and Pilate's reputation for cruelty and violence in secular accounts of the era makes it quite plausible he would have had no hesitation in using this tool.
With the Edict of Milan in AD 313, the state-sponsored persecution of Christians came to an end, and Christianity became officially tolerated as one of the religions of the Roman Empire. Afterward, in AD 325 the First Ecumenical Council at Nicaea promulgated a creed which was amended at the subsequent First Council of Constantinople in 381. The Nicene Creed incorporated for the first time the clause was crucified under Pontius Pilate (which had already been long established in the Old Roman Symbol, an ancient form of the Apostles' Creed dating as far back as the 2nd century AD) in a creed that was intended to be authoritative for all Christians in the Roman Empire. The main reason for this clause was to state the belief in Jesus as a real person, living in a precise moment and place, that is a historical Jesus. It is less clear that it was intended to implicate Pilate in Jesus' death. In modern times Western traditions regard Pilate as guilty, but those of Eastern Orthodoxy argue that he was clearly exonerated, and did all that he could to release Jesus.[citation needed]
Pilate in the Apocrypha
Little enough is known about Pilate, but mythology has filled the gap. A body of fiction built up around the dramatic figure of Pontius Pilate, about whom the Christian faithful hungered to learn more than the canonical gospels revealed. Eusebius (Historia Ecclesiae ii: 7) quotes some early apocryphal accounts that he does not name, which already relate that Pilate fell under misfortunes in the reign of Caligula (AD 37–41), was exiled to Gaul and eventually committed suicide there in Vienne.
Other details come from less respectable sources. His body, says the Mors Pilati ("Death of Pilate"), was thrown first into the Tiber, but the waters were so disturbed by evil spirits that the body was taken to Vienne and sunk in the Rhône: a monument at Vienne, called Pilate's tomb, is still to be seen. As the waters of the Rhone likewise rejected Pilate's corpse, it was again removed and sunk in the lake at Lausanne. The sequence was a simple way to harmonise conflicting local traditions.
The corpse's final disposition was in a deep and lonely mountain tarn, which, according to later tradition, was on a mountain, still called Pilatus (actually pileatus or "cloud capped"), overlooking Lucerne. Every Good Friday, the body is said to reemerge from the waters and wash its hands.
There are many other legends about Pilate in the folklore of Germany, particularly about his birth, according to which Pilate was born in the Franconian city of Forchheim or the small village of Hausen only 5 km away from it. His death was (unusually) dramatised in a medieval mystery play cycle from Cornwall, the Cornish Ordinalia.
Pilate's role in the events leading to the crucifixion lent themselves to melodrama, even tragedy, and Pilate often has a role in medieval mystery plays.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, Claudia Procula is commemorated as a saint, but not Pilate, because in the Gospel accounts Claudia urged Pilate to have nothing to do with Jesus. In some Eastern Orthodox traditions, Pilate committed suicide out of remorse for having sentenced Jesus to death.
Gospel of Peter
Main article: Gospel of Peter
The fragmentary apocryphal Gospel of Peter exonerates Pilate of responsibility for the crucifixion of Jesus, placing it instead on Herod and the Jews, who unlike Pilate refuse to "wash their hands". After the soldiers see three men and a cross miraculously walking out of the tomb they report to Pilate who reiterates his innocence: "I am pure from the blood of the Son of God". He then commands the soldiers not to tell anyone what they have seen so that they would not "fall into the hands of the people of the Jews and be stoned".
Acts of Pilate
Main article: Acts of Pilate
The 4th century apocryphal text that is called the Acts of Pilate presents itself in a preface (missing in some MSS) as derived from the official acts preserved in the praetorium at Jerusalem. Though the alleged Hebrew original of the document is attributed to Nicodemus, the title Gospel of Nicodemus for this fictional account only appeared in mediaeval times, after the document had been substantially elaborated. Nothing in the text suggests that it is in fact a translation from Hebrew or Aramaic.
This text gained wide credit in the Middle Ages, and has considerably affected the legends surrounding the events of the crucifixion, which, taken together, are called the Passion. Its popularity is attested by the number of languages in which it exists, each of these being represented by two or more variant "editions": Greek (the original), Coptic, Armenian and Latin versions. The Latin versions were printed several times in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
One class of the Latin manuscripts contain as an appendix or continuation, the Cura Sanitatis Tiberii, the oldest form of the Veronica legend.
The Acts of Pilate consist of three sections, whose styles reveal three authors, writing at three different times.
The first section (1–11) contains a fanciful and dramatic circumstantial account of the trial of Jesus, based upon Luke 23.
The second part (12–16) regards the Resurrection.
An appendix, detailing the Descensus ad Infernos was added to the Greek text. This legend of a Harrowing of Hell has chiefly flourished in Latin, and was translated into many European versions. It doesn't exist in the eastern versions, Syriac and Armenian, that derive directly from Greek versions. In it, Leucius and Charinus, the two souls raised from the dead after the Crucifixion, relate to the Sanhedrin the circumstances of Christ's descent to Limbo. (Leucius Charinus is the traditional name to which many late apocryphal Acta of Apostles is attached.)
Eusebius (325), although he mentions an Acta Pilati that had been referred to by Justin and Tertullian and other pseudo-Acts of this kind, shows no acquaintance with this work. Almost surely it is of later origin, and scholars agree in assigning it to the middle of the 4th century. Epiphanius refers to an Acta Pilati similar to this, as early as 376, but there are indications that the current Greek text, the earliest extant form, is a revision of an earlier one.
Justin the Martyr - The First and Second Apology of Justin Chapter 35-"And that these things did happen, you can ascertain from the Acts of Pontius Pilate."
The Apology letters were written and addressed by name to the Roman Emperor Pius and the Roman Governor Urbicus. All three of these men lived between AD 138-161.
Minor Pilate literature
There is a pseudepigrapha letter reporting on the crucifixion, purporting to have been sent by Pontius Pilate to the Emperor Claudius, embodied in the pseudepigrapha known as the Acts of Peter and Paul, of which the Catholic Encyclopedia states, "This composition is clearly apocryphal though unexpectedly brief and restrained." There is no internal relation between this feigned letter and the 4th-century Acts of Pilate (Acta Pilati).
This Epistle or Report of Pilate is also inserted into the Pseudo-Marcellus Passio sanctorum Petri et Pauli ("Passion of Peter and Paul"). We thus have it in both Greek and Latin versions.
The Mors Pilati ("Death of Pilate") legend is a Latin tradition, thus treating Pilate as a monster, not a saint; it is attached usually to the more sympathetic Gospel of Nicodemus of Greek origin. The narrative of the Mors Pilati set of manuscripts is set in motion by an illness of Tiberius, who sends Volusanius to Judea to fetch the Christ for a cure. In Judea Pilate covers for the fact that Christ has been crucified, and asks for a delay. But Volusanius encounters Veronica who informs him of the truth but sends him back to Rome with her Veronica of Christ's face on her kerchief, which heals Tiberius. Tiberius then calls for Pontius Pilate, but when Pilate appears, he is wearing the seamless robe of the Christ and Tiberius' heart is softened, but only until Pilate is induced to doff the garment, whereupon he is treated to a ghastly execution. His body, when thrown into the Tiber, however, raises such storm demons that it is sent to Vienne (via gehennae) in France and thrown to the Rhone. That river's spirits reject it too, and the body is driven east into "Losania", where it is plunged in the bay of the lake near Lucerne, near Mont Pilatus — originally Mons Pileatus or "cloud-capped", as John Ruskin pointed out in Modern Painters — whence the uncorrupting corpse rises every Good Friday to sit on the bank and wash unavailing hands.
This version combined with anecdotes of Pilate's wicked early life were incorporated in Jacobus de Voragine's Golden Legend, which ensured a wide circulation for it in the later Middle Ages. Other legendary versions of Pilate death exist: Antoine de la Sale reported from a travel in central Italy on some local traditions asserting that after the death the body of Pontius Pilate was driven until a little lake near Vettore Peak (2478 m in Sibillini Mounts ) and plunged in. The lake, today, is still named Lago di Pilato.
In the Cornish cycle of mystery plays, the "death of Pilate" forms a dramatic scene in the Resurrexio Domini cycle. More of Pilate's fictional correspondence is found in the minor Pilate apocrypha, the Anaphora Pilati (Relation of Pilate), an Epistle of Herod to Pilate, and an Epistle of Pilate to Herod, spurious texts that are no older than the 5th century.
The Ethiopian Church recognized Pilate as a saint in the sixth century, based on the account in the Acts of Pilate.[8]
Pilate in later fiction
Plays and movies dealing with life of Jesus Christ often include the character of Pontius Pilate due to the central role he played in the final days of Christ's life. Authors have also found reason to make Pilate a main character and fill in unknown details of his life. Pilate has been interpreted in a number of different ways. At times he was portrayed as a weak and harried bureaucrat. Some portrayals show Pilate as a hard governor who ruled with an iron fist. Also, some authors have portrayed Pilate as a man who sees clearly how the story of Jesus will affect human history. Other writers have portrayed a Pilate oblivious to the significance of the Galilean he condemns to death.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Lesson 15 Judas Iscariot, The Betrayer

To this day Judas being called with the other disciples is somewhat mysterious. Judas Iscariot is noted in history as the one who betrayed Him (Jesus). Yet Judas was first numbered among the Twelve apostles (Lk.6:13, 22:3; Acts 1:16-17 numbered with us), “chosen” by Christ Himself, the “Apostle Judas” became a traitor? How could they not know a betrayer was in their midst. How could Judas go out and minister with them and see the same results and yet turn Jesus over in the hands of those who hated him?
Some things we need to notice about Judas, he called Jesus teacher, he never called Jesus Lord or master as the other apostles did. This may be a hint how he saw Jesus. Jesus wanted to be known as Lord, not just teacher (Mk.12:37; Lk.20:42; Jn.9:36-38). While the other disciples wondered what kind of man Jesus was, a man that could calm the sea by a word, Judas accepted him only as Rabbi.
One cannot be an official apostle without seeing Jesus’ resurrection, which Judas did not see because he hung himself beforehand. The 12 were called apostles (chosen sent ones) prior but did not become the apostles of the Church until the resurrection, for the church was not officially born until the Holy Spirit was sent on Pentecost. It was then the apostles were put in their office of teaching, planting churches and doing miracles in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Was Judas saved because he was a disciple and lost salvation? It is assumed he was saved because he traveled with the other disciples but it may be more prudent to take the position he was not. Judas was hand picked like the other disciples but his position was temporary (Jesus knew what was going on all along). He was given the job of treasury but he was secretly a thief. Jesus put Judas in charge of the very thing that would give either wings to his hearts corruption or for his repentance, money. Judas often heard Jesus speak on money but it did not change him. The possibility to reform him was always there but it did not occur because of his own heart not inclined to obey the words spoken by our Lord.
It was Judas who showed what was in his heart when he complained about the oil was poured over Jesus preparing him for his burial. John 12:2-8 “There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. Then one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denari and given to the poor?” This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it. But Jesus said, “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. “For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.”
Notice that in retrospect what they say of Judas. He was a thief in charge of the money given to the apostles.
He looked at the oil as if to bring in a lot of money (John 12:5-8). Judas estimated the value of the oil at nearly sixty dollars (worth hundreds of dollars today). His apparent concern for the poor was to conceal his own covetousness. He had just missed a chance of stealing on a larger scale than usual. Evidently, no one kept track of what was going inside the box and going out except Judas and Jesus.
Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denari, and given to the poor people?” Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it. Matt: 26: 8, But the disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, “Why this waste?” For this perfume might have been sold for a higher price and the money given to the poor.”
Mark 14: 4 records, “ But some were indignantly remarked to one another, “Why has this perfume been wasted?” Judas, who pretends to care for the poor, influenced the disciples to join with him in his rebellious spirit.
Jesus shielded Mary by cutting short the criticism. Let her alone. Jesus saw in Mary’s act a biblical significance- she kept this for the day of my burying. Mary had reserved this precious oil for Christ. She anticipated his death. Mary believed in Jesus’ words he spoke about this coming; in contrast to many who believed but did not understand, her faith included the work of the Saviour-his death.
It appears from the Synoptics that Judas was deeply offended by this rebuke, which could have prompted him to later strike a bargain with the chief priests to betray Jesus. He was not going to forfeit any money. Another point is hearing Jesus speak about his death, Judas could have looked at his position as temporary and wanted to take advantage of it. The love of money can twist ones good intentions to evil very easily.
There are two people in the Bible who are called the “Son of Perdition,” Judas and the Antichrist!! They both are very much into money. The Bible says the Pharisees loved money and so did Judas, so they had a common affection. This is why they were able to bribe Judas to betray our Lord.
One of the ways the antichrist will deceive and gather people on his side is he will pretend to care about the poor. He will misrepresent himself, as a great humanitarian and offer prosperity. Judas who is called a son of perdition is a type of the one who is to come, and we can learn much from his attitude. Considering that he was among those who did ministry from their heart wanting to serve Jesus with the right motives and he was among them did not.
One of the reasons Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus is because one of the chief priests “promised to give him money” (Mark 14:10-11). Those who were threatened by Jesus wanted him out of the way. We have to be on guard for those close to us that are doing something wrong that can affect us. The Devil's messenger, is often an angel of light who looks like a minister of righteousness. People will do almost anything for money when it is their priority in life. It is obvious from the remarks afterwards that Judas was never honest about his commitment just as Anannias and Saphirra, he was lying.
What are we to think of Judas being one of the disciples, even one of the 12 who were appointed to be an apostle. Mark 3:14-15 adds to preaching, “Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons”
Mark 6:7 And He called the twelve to Himself, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits. “We don’t know whom Judas was teamed up with but they all had the same message and power. “So they went out and preached that people should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them” (Mark 6:12-13). Matt. 10:1 adds “ …and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.”
Luke 9:10 “And the apostles, when they had returned, told Him all that they had done.”
Another time Jesus had the seventy he sent out who came back with stories of healing and deliverance “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). Jesus was more concerned about them then what they could do with his authority. Judas never understood this as he had his mind fixed on other things.
How did Judas become one of the 12 see the power and all these miracles and then apostatize? When someone's heart is not right and you give them power it only amplifies what is wrong, not what is right (another example is Peter with Simon the sorcerer). We are also told that Judas did not let the word cleanse him (John 13:10;15:3). He did not abide in Jesus’ teachings, instead he was enticed by the authority to do miracles given to those who followed and his love for the money prevented him from being a servant. Amazingly, Judas was among them having the same results without their suspecting he was a devil who would eventually betray their Lord. Judas a perfect example of those claiming to do miracles in Christ’s name and where Jesus turns to them saying he never knew them (Mt.7:21). Meaning he did not have a relationship (a two way correspondence of love) with the Lord. Demons were subject to him like the rest of the apostles but again as in Mt.7:21 it does not mean that if one uses his name and sees the miraculous they are saved. What proves one is saved is repentance, a continual confession of their sin and reliance on the Lords strength and the fruit of the Holy Spirit present in their life.
Peter learned well from Judas’ betrayal how money can corrupt ones heart. When Simon saw what signs the apostles could do he offered money for this power. Peters response was “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!” You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. “Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. “For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity” (Acts 8:20-23).At one point in Jesus’ ministry He speaks some strong statements that few understood and many began to leave him. As recorded in John 6 he asks the question to his close disciples (the 12) about their leaving him like the others disciples. But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. “Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil? “He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve (John 6:68-71.) Now we understand how Judas was included with the twelve. Jesus knew all along who he was - yet he chose him. And by doing so it was fulfilling the Scripture that cannot be broken.
Jesus said to the multitude “But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him” (John 6:64). Judas never believed even from the beginning. Jesus had known from the beginning who they were who did not believe and who would betray him.” It was more than one that had not believed. V.66 tells us many disciples left then. But from the beginning it is referring to Judas as the one who would betray him! For Jesus knew from the beginning who THEY WERE who did not believe and who WOULD be the one to betray him.
Jn.17:12 tells us no one will be lost, but the son of perdition, who is Judas. He fulfilled the position by the purposes of his own heart. Acts 1:24-25 states that he fell from the position of Apostleship, not from salvation, for it appears for all intensive purposes he never possessed it. So they picked another for his position by lots, Mattias who was with them from John and saw the resurrection.
The Scripture had to be fulfilled. Matt 20:17-18 “Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death; just before the time of the last Passover. Matt 26:14-16 “Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.”
Marks account says “And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. So he sought how he might conveniently betray Him” (Mark 14:11)
John 13:1-2 “Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him.”
Did God love Judas Iscariot, whom Scripture calls the son of perdition? At the last supper Jesus even washed Judas’ feet, showing love to his enemy. But showing love to your enemy does not guarantee they will repent. John 13:11-16 “For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean. So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you?” You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.” If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.”
How well do we love our enemies, do we try to wash their feet and serve them giving them room to repent. That is the love Jesus displayed for us.
Even in the betrayal he was loved but this will not negate his responsibility in betraying Jesus and he will be punished for his disobedience that led to high treason. God loves the whole world and at times shows it personally to people yet he has allowed men to reject him and trample underfoot his love and fully knows who they are before they do this to him.
At the last supper Judas sat at the table on one side of Jesus, John on the other. Jesus quotes from Ps. 41 and attributes it to Judas in Jn. 13:18. The full verse from Ps. 41 is: “Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me,” v.9. Please note that Judas was once Jesus’ “close friend whom I [Jesus] trusted!” (Also, Ps. 41:9 states of the betrayer as Jesus’ “close friend”). Since Jesus “knew what was in a man” (Jn. 2:25), in his heart, how then could Jesus have trusted Judas early on if Judas was not to be saved? Jn.13:16-21 Jesus says he was not clean. In other words he heard the word day in and day out but did not take it internally (to heart), he really did not believe it or act upon it. He did not have living faith.
When Jesus said one of them would betray him they all wondered if he was speaking of them. They all said “Lord is it I,” but Judas said teacher. Judas knew it!
Luke 22:3 “Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve.” It is obvious that Judas had already been influenced by Satan which gave him leeway to enter him. He knew Jesus’ ministry was coming to a close. Judas loved the things of the world (money) and so even though he was among the learners and with Jesus personally he was the target that could be easily influenced for the greatest betrayal in history.
Matt. 26:23-24 He answered and said, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me. “The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”
Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, “Rabbi, is it I?” He said to him, “You have said it” (Matt. 26:25). Judas wanted to see if Jesus knew what he was doing. It didn’t matter if Jesus knew; Satan had a mission. Satan had the audacity to enter Judas at the last supper (the Passover), right in front of Jesus, and later brought Judas to identify him face to face fervently kissing him to be arrested and later to be crucified.
At the last supper we find Judas partook of the bread (a symbol of Jesus’ body- flesh), Judas dipped with the bread with Jesus but he left before he could partake of the wine (a symbol of Christ’s blood shed on the cross) Jn.13:26-30.
He identified with the humanity of Jesus but not His ultimate mission. He left to do his betrayal before the wine was passed to partake as the new covenant. So he partook of Jesus as far as what the bread stood for, but never partook of communion, a symbol of the blood that could cleanse him.
John 13:27-30 “Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.” But no one at the table knew for what reason He said this to him. For some thought, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus had said to him, “Buy those things we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. Having received the piece of bread, he then went out immediately. And it was night.” Interesting, Right after this Jesus gives the disciples a new commandment, to love one another as he loved them.
Judas left and was not present when he gave the disciples the promise in John 14 of his going away and coming again to take his believers to the place he is preparing in heaven.
John 18:1-3 “After Jesus partook the Passover, He went out with His disciples over the Brook Kidron, where he usually went. And Judas, knew the place; Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.”
Judas sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, which was the price of a dead slave. If your ox killed the neighbor’s slave he was valued at 30 pieces of silver and the owner would have to pay that amount to the owner of the slave. While the disciples slept as Jesus was praying about his soon coming sacrifice Judas is awake betraying him. The devil never sleeps Judas used the most intimate way to show his betrayal, with a kiss. Because of Judas’ betrayal Peter took up the sword to protect Jesus in his arrest, and the disciples scattered. Selling out Jesus does not just affect oneself but others. Though Peter was brave with a weapon in his hand he later acted like a coward by denying to know Jesus three times outside where his trial took place.
Mt.27:3-5 Later we find Judas is sorry for his betrayal but it was not a godly sorrow that would lead to repentance for salvation. “Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!” Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.”
Judas had known about the religious trial; seeing Jesus was condemned to death he is overwhelmed with remorse he even gives back the money that wanted so dearly. But this sorrow is not true repentance, so there is no hope for conversion.
The Priests got their way and didn’t care about Judas either, only themselves. This shows there is no honor among thieves. He betrayed Jesus, they betray him, a vicious cycle.
Under Jewish law ill-gained money cannot be put in the temple treasury. Matt 27:6-10 “But the chief priests took the silver pieces and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because they are the price of blood.” And they consulted together and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced, “and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.”
Mt. 27:3-10 tells us Judas hung himself. But Acts 1:18-19 states he fell down a cliff and his guts were spilled put. Is there a contradiction in the Bible between these two stories? When he return the money stricken by his conscience of the immensity of what he has done he is overwhelmed with guilt. So he hung himself when it wasn’t accepted.
The first night of Passover was Thursday night (the Jewish day ends at sundown when 3 stars are visible) The first day of Passover was Friday morning, the day before the Sabbath (evening). The Jewish law stated there is to be no dead body within the walls of Jerusalem or it would be defiled, unclean and the Passover sacrifice could not be offered. So they took Judas’ already hung body and threw it over the wall into the valley of Hinnom and his guts split open, so there is no contradiction in the Bible on this.
As Satan fell from his position so did Judas, he was numbered among the twelve. “for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry” (Acts 1:17). When the original group of twelve became eleven, the apostles sought another to take Judas’ office.
V.20 “For it is written in the book of Psalms: ‘Let his dwelling place be desolate, and let no one live in it’; and, ‘Let another take his office.’ Acts 1:21-22: “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time the Lord Jesus went in and among us beginning from the baptism of John to that day he was taken up from us One of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” They picked the new apostle from only two men among them. And they prayed over and cast lots of who was “to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place” (Acts 1:25)
Matthew 26:13 “Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.”
On the other end, the betrayal will always have Judas’ name attached to it. And for this reason he is listed with the 12 in Scripture and always listed last.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Lesson 14 The Herodians

Herodians
The Herodians were one of the Jewish parties of Jerusalem and Judea during the human lifetime of Jesus Christ, the others being the Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots and Essenes. Unlike the others however, the Herodians were primarily a political group, rather than religious - as their name implies, the Herodians were supporters of The Herods, and rule from Rome (see Ancient Empires - Rome). While the Pharisees and Sadduccees opposed Jesus Christ because they viewed Him as a competitor for religious leadership of the people, the collaborationist Herodians opposed the Messiah because they viewed His growing popularity as a political threat to their Roman masters.
The Herodians
The Herodians joined with the Pharisees to oppose Jesus Christ, even after witnessing His miracles:
"Again He entered the Synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. And they watched Him, to see whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. And He said to the man who had the withered hand, "Come here."
"And He said to them, "Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?" But they were silent."
"And He looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out, and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against Him, how to destroy Him."
"Jesus withdrew with His disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed; also from Judea and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from about Tyre and Sidon a great multitude, hearing all that He did, came to Him." (Mark 3:1-8 RSV)
Jesus' famous "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's" was in response to an attempted set-up by the Herodians and Pharisees:
"And they sent to Him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to entrap Him in his talk. And they came and said to Him, "Teacher, we know that You are true, and care for no man; for You do not regard the position of men, but truly teach The Way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?"
"But knowing their hypocrisy, He said to them, "Why put Me to the test? Bring me a coin, and let Me look at it." And they brought one. And He said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?"
"They said to Him, "Caesar's."
"Jesus said to them, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."
"And they were amazed at Him." (Mark 12:13-17 RSV)

The Herodians were a sect or party mentioned in the New Testament as having on two occasions--once in Galilee, and again in Jerusalem--manifested an unfriendly disposition towards Jesus (Mark 3:6, 12:13; Matthew 22:16; cf. also Mark 8:15, Luke 13:31-32, Acts 4:27).
In each of these cases their name is coupled with that of the Pharisees. According to many interpreters the courtiers or soldiers of Herod Antipas ("Milites Herodis," Jerome) are intended; but more probably the Herodians were a public political party, who distinguished themselves from the two great historical parties of post-exilian Judaism (Pharisees and Sadducees) by the fact that they were and had been sincerely friendly to Herod the Great, the King of the Jews, and to his dynasty (cf. such formations as "Caesariani," "Pompeiani").
It is possible that, to gain adherents, the Herodian party may have been in the habit of representing that the establishment of a Herodian Dynasty would be favourable to the realization of the theocracy; and this in turn may account for Tertullian's (De praescr.) allegation that the Herodians regarded Herod himself as the Messiah. The sect was called by the Rabbis Boethusians as being friendly to the family of Boethus, whose daughter Mariamne was one of Herod the Great's wives.
Priestly party under the reign of King Herod and his successors; called by the Rabbis "Boethusians," as adherents of the family of Boethus, whose daughter Mariamne was one of the wives of King Herod, and whose sons were successively made high priests by him. They followed the Sadducees in their opposition to the Pharisees, and were therefore often identified with the former (see Grätz, "Gesch." 4th ed., iii. 2, 693; Boethusians). According to the Gospels, their plot against the life of Jesus was supported by the Pharisees (Mark iii. 6, xii. 13; Matt. xii. 16); wherefore Jesus warned his disciples, saying "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the leaven of Herod" (Mark viii. 15; Matt. xvi. 6 has "Pharisees" and "Sadducees"). "Leaven" is explained in Matt. xvi. 12 to mean "teaching," that is, "bad teaching" (comp. "se'or sheba-'isah" = "the leaven in the dough," corresponding to the "yeẓer ha-ra'"; Ber. 17a). This shows that the Herodians represented a religious party. In Luke xii. 1 the Herodians have been omitted altogether, and the Pharisees alone are represented as the enemies of Jesus; and in Luke xx. 19 the scribes and chief priests are mentioned in place of the Pharisees and the Herodians (see also Mark xii. 13; Matt. xxii. 15-16).
The Herodians were political partisans of Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great. They favored the policies of Herod. Herod was dependent on the Roman power and his adherents therefore maintained the propriety of paying tribute to Caesar which the Pharisees denied. The Herodians were keenly opposed to Jesus and Jesus opposed to them. The group was probably formed under Herod the Great and held to the right to pay homage to a sovereign who might be able to bring the friendship of Rome and other advantages, but who had personally no title to reign by law and by religion. On this question they differed from the Pharisees. They were something more than a political party, something less than a religious sect. They were not opposed to idolatrous worship, were in favor of instituting pagan games and denied any future life.


King Herod the Great

Herod (73-4 BCE) was the pro-Roman king of the small Jewish state in the last decades before the common era. He started his career as a general, but the Roman statesman Mark Antony recognized him as the Jewish national leader. During a war against the Parthians, Herod was removed from the scene, but the Roman Senate made him king and gave him soldiers to seize the the throne. As 'friend and ally of the Romans' he was not a truly independent king; however, Rome allowed him a domestic policy of his own. Although Herod tried to respect the pious feeling of his subjects, many of them were not content with his rule, which ended in terror. He was succeeded by his sons.
Herod the Great I Herod the Great II Herod Archelaus Herod Antipas Philip Herod Agrippa Julius Marcus Agrippa
Herod's kingdom (©**)
Herod's reignHerod's monarchy was based on foreign weapons; the start of his reign had been marked by bloodshed. His first aim was to establish his rule on a more solid base. Almost immediately, he sent envoys to the Parthian king to get Hyrcanus back from Babylon. The Parthian king was happy to let the old man go, because he was becoming dangerously popular among the Jews living in Babylonia. Although Hyrcanus was unfit to become high priest again, Herod kept his father-in-law in high esteem. The support of the old monarch gave an appearance of legality to his own rule.
The new king started an extensive building program: Jews could take pride in the new walls of Jerusalem and the citadel which guarded its Temple. (This fortress was called Antonia, in order to please Herod's patron Mark Antony.) Coins were minted in his own name and showed an incense burner on a tripod, intended to signify Herod's care for the orthodox Jewish cult practices. These coins had a Greek legend -HÈRÔDOU BASILEÔS- which indicates that Herod considered his standing abroad. And the new king continued to please the Romans, to make sure that they would continue their support. He sent lavish presents to their representative in the East, Mark Antony, and to his mistress, the Egyptian queen Cleopatra.
These gifts almost were Herod's undoing. The relations between on the one hand Mark Antony and Cleopatra in the East and on the other hand Octavian and the Senate in the West became strained, and civil war broke out in 31. It did not last very long: in August, the western leader defeated the eastern leader, who fled to Alexandria. For the first time in his life, Herod had aligned himself with a looser.



(©!!)
He managed to solve this problem, however. First, he had Hyrcanus executed, making sure that no one else could claim his throne. Then, he sailed to the island of Rhodes, where he met Octavian. In a brilliant speech, Herod boasted of his loyalty to Mark Antony, and promised the same to the new master of the Roman Empire. Octavian was impressed by the man's audacity, confirmed Herod's monarchy, and even added the coast of Judaea and Samaria to his realm. Actually, Octavian did not have much choice: his opponents were still alive, and if he were to pursue them to Egypt, Herod could be a useful ally. As it turned out, Mark Antony and Cleopatra preferred death to surrender, and Octavian became the only ruler in the Roman world. Under the name Augustus, he became the first emperor. He rewarded his ally with new possessions: a.o. Jericho and Gaza, which had been independent.

Macherus (©!!!)
Herod's position was still insecure. He continued his building policy to win the hearts of his subjects. (A severe earthquake in 31 BCE had destroyed many houses, killing thousands of people.) In Jerusalem, the king built a new market, an amphitheater, a theater, a new building where the Sanhedrin could convene, a new royal palace, and last but not least, in 20 BCE he started to rebuild the Temple. And there were other cities where he ordered new buildings to be placed: Jericho and Samaria are examples. New fortresses served the security of both the Jews and their king: Herodion, Machaereus and Masada are among them.
But Herod's crowning achievement was a splendid new port, called Caesarea in honor of the emperor (the harbor was called Sebastos, the Greek translation of 'Augustus'). This magnificent and opulent city, which was dedicated in 9 BCE, was build to rival Alexandria in the land trade to Arabia, from where spices, perfume and incense were imported. It was not an oriental town like Jerusalem; it was laid out on a Greek grid plan, with a market, an aqueduct, government offices, baths, villas, a circus, and pagan temples. (The most important of these was the temple where the emperor was worshipped; it commanded the port.) The port was a masterpiece of engineering: its piers were made from hydraulic concrete (which hardens underwater) and protected by unique wave-breaking structures.
Although Herod was a dependent client-king, he had a foreign policy of his own. He had already defeated the Arabs from Petra in 31, and repeated this in 9 BCE. The Romans did not like this independent behavior, but on the whole, they seem to have been very content with their king of Judaea. After all, he sent auxiliaries when they decided to send an army to the mysterious incense country (modern Yemen; 25 BCE). In 23, Iturea and the Golan heights were added to Herod's realms, and in 20 several other districts.
With building projects, the expansion of his territories, the establishment of a sound bureaucracy, and the development of economic resources, he did much for his country, at least on a material level. The standing of his country -foreign and at home- was certainly enhanced. However, many of his projects won him the bitter hatred of the orthodox Jews, who disliked Herod's Greek taste - a taste he showed not only in his building projects, but also in several transgressions of the Mosaic Law.
The orthodox were not to only ones who came to hate the new king. The Sadducees hated him because he had terminated the rule of the old royal house to which many of them were related; their own influence in the Sanhedrin was curtailed. The Pharisees despised any ruler who despised the Law. And probably all his subjects resented his excessive taxation. According to Flavius Josephus, there were two taxes in kind at annual rates equivalent to 10.7% and 8.6%, which is extremely high in any preindustrial society (Jewish Antiquities 14.202-206). It comes as no surprise that Herod sometimes had to revert to violence, employing mercenaries and a secret police to enforce order.
Coin of king Herod (British Museum)
On moments like that, it was clear to anyone that Herod was not a Jewish but a Roman king. He had become the ruler of the Jews with Roman help and he boasted to be philokaisar ('the emperor's friend'), entertaining Agrippa, Augustus' right-hand man. On top of the gate of the new Temple, a golden eagle was erected, a symbol of Roman power in the heart of the holy city resented by all pious believers. Worse, Augustus ordered and paid the priests of the Temple to sacrifice twice a day on behalf of himself, the Roman senate and people. The Jewish populace started to believe rumors that their pagan ruler had violated Jewish tombs, stealing golden objects from the tomb of David and Solomon.
Herod concluded ten marriages, all for political purposes. They were probably all unhappy. His wives were:
Doris, from an unknown family in Jerusalem: married c.47, sent away 37; recalled 14, sent away 7/6.
She was the mother of Antipater, who was executed in 4.
The Hasmonaean princess Mariamme I: married 37, executed in 29/28. According to Flavius Josephus, Herod was passionately devoted to this woman, but she hated him just as passionately.
Five children: Alexander, Aristobulus, a nameless son, Salampsio and Cyprus.
An unknown niece: married 37. No children.
An unknown cousin: married c.34/33. No children.
The daughter of a Jerusalem priest named Simon, Mariamme II: married 29/28, divorced 7/6.
They had a son named Herod.
A Samarian woman named Malthace: married 28, died 5/4.
Their children were Antipas, Archelaus and Olympias.
A Jerusalem woman named Cleopatra: married 28.
They had two sons named, Herod and Philip.
Pallas: married 16.
They had a son named Phasael.
Phaedra: married 16.
They had a daughter named Roxane.
Elpis: married 16.
They had a daughter named Salome.
Herod's reign ended in terror. The monastery at Qumran, the home of the Essenes, suffered a violent and deliberate destruction by fire in 8 BCE, for which Herod may have been responsible. When the king fell ill, two popular teachers, Judas and Matthias, incited their pupils to remove the golden eagle from the entrance of the Temple: after all, according to the Ten Commandments, it was a sin to make idols. The teachers and the pupils were burned alive. Some Jewish scholars had discovered that seventy-six generations had passed since the Creation, and there was a well-known prophecy that the Messiah was to deliver Israel from its foreign rulers in the seventy-seventh generation (more...). The story about the slaughter of infants of Bethlehem in the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew is not known from other sources, but it would have been totally in character for the later Herod to commit such a terrible act.
A horrible disease (probably a cancer-like affection called Fournier's gangrene) made acute the problem of Herod's succession, and the result was factional strife in his family. Shortly before his death, Herod decided against his sons Aristobulus and Antipater, who were executed in 7 and 4 BCE, causing the emperor Augustus to joke that it was preferable to be Herod's pig (hus) than his son (huios) - a very insulting remark to any Jew.
However, the emperor confirmed Herod's last will. After his death in 4 BCE, the kingdom was divided among his sons. Herod Antipas was to rule Galilee and the east bank of the Jordan as a tetrarch; Philip was to be tetrarch of the Golan heights in the north-east; and Archelaus became the ethnarch ('national leader') of Samaria and Judaea. Herod was buried in one of the fortresses he had build, Herodion. Few will have wept.
LiteratureThe most important ancient source for the rule of king Herod was written by Flavius Josephus: the Jewish War and the Jewish Antiquities. Both books are based on the history of Nicolaus of Damascus, king Herod's personal secretary. Modern literature: Nikos Kokkinos, The Herodian Dynasty. Origins, Role in Society and Eclipse (1998 Sheffield) and D.W. Roller, The Building Program of Herod the Great (1998) supplement each other.
home : Judaea : index